Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Thirty-five years after: Subway (1985)

For the next episode of Paura & Delirio, the podcast I co-host with my friend Lucy, we’re going to discuss Nosferatu, both the Murnau original and the Werner Herzog remake. As we usually do for our podcast, we are re-watching the movies to freshen up out impressions.

And as I was watching the Herzog movie, I remembered I saw it first in late 1985 or early 1986, and I checked the movie out for one reason alone – it features Isabelle Adjani, that I had first seen a few weeks before in a completely different movie: Luc Besson’s stylish thriller, Subway.

And so I stopped Nosferatu, and dug out Subway – because while I’ve seen the Herzog movie quitre a few times since 1985, it’s been thirty-five years since I last went town in the underground with Isabelle Adjani.

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Sword & Sorcery movies

I happen to be on a Sword & Sorcery roll. Big deal, you say, as if it was the first time. But really, in part this is because for Christmas I got the last volume in Glen Cook’s Dread Empire series, and so I’m finally setting out to read the whole bunch of novels in chronological order, starting with A Fortress in Shadow. In part it’s because another gift I got in my sock for the Befana festival is P.J. Thorndyke’s Barbarians at the Gates of Hollywood, this being a fun and opinionated survey of the golden age of sword & sorcery movies, to wit, the 1980s.

And as I was reading Thorndyke’s book, it happened – as it usually does – that I started feeling like re-watching these old flicks. because no one will be surprised to learn I saw each one of them at least once, and many of them (yes, I’m looking at you, Beastmaster) repeatedly, in many long summer nights, when sleep would not come, and a silly movie and a cup of ice cream was all that stood between my sanity and heat-induced madness.

And of course I’ve been watching a lot of movies since I started co-hosting the Paura & Delirio podcast with my friend Lucy – at least one movie per week, often watching it twice; more when we do our specials, like the one we did on New Year’s Eve about the Hammer Karnstein Trilogy, and what we’ll soon do with the two Nosferatu movies – Murnau’s and Herzog’s.

So the question is – do I have the time, between Cook’s book, my writing projects, my planning and building a vegetable garden and the idea of acquiring a new skill in February… do I have the time for these old sword & sorcery films? Say one per week, following P.J. Thorndyke’s excellent guide?

And, should I do it … what next?
I could blog about them, of course.
And maybe do something more – a film or two will maybe find a place in Paura & Delirio – because of the contiguity between sword & sorcery and horror/weird fiction.
But what of the rest?

I’ll have to find an idea.
But right now, I’ll have to go dig in the box of old DVDs for the titles in my viewing list that are not on VHS.
This is going to be fun…


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In the shadow of Arséne

And so finally the new Lupin TV series hit the screens, as a Netflix Original, and I spent a day watching it while my computer system was slowly grinding back to normal. Together with the fifth season of The Expanse, this was for me the highest expected show in the late2020/early 2021 season.
So, is it any good?

Short review: it is very good.

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New Year’s Movie: Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

Back when I was a kid, we used to go to the movies on New Year’s Day, or in the following Sunday – a film with all the family in the afternoon, and then a stop in a cafeteria or a tea room somewhere for some hot chocolate and a few cookies, and then home to heat up the leftovers from yesterday’s New Year’s Eve dinner or today’s New Year’s Day lunch.

Those days are gone forever, to quote the poet, but I still like to watch a new movie at the start of the new year, and as luck would have it, the masters of the streaming platforms have decided to start distributing on the first day of 2021 Roseanne Liang’s very pulp-ish action thriller Shadow in the Cloud.
And so I watched it, and it was a perfect way to start off the year.

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Kaiju and race cars

Sometimes we chance on a book we wish we had been smart enough to write ourselves. It’s the case of this weekend’s fun read, Gary Gibson’s Devil’s Road, a fast and entertaining science fiction novella that’s well worth the 3 bucks price tag. A class act from the cover on, Gibson’s story was just what I needed to take my brain off the recent worries.

In a plot that we could describe as a crossover between Fast & Furious and Pacific Rim, we Follow Dutch McGuire, a tough, no-nonsense race driver that’s freed from the Russian prison in which she’s serving time, to drive in a Death Race-like tournament. Years ago, a rift opened on an island in the South China Sea (Taiwan with the number plates changed) and a horde of kaijus descended on the land. Now the place is cordoned off by warships and is the seat of a yearly race, the prize five million dollars for the winner, plus all the revenue they can make from filming what they encountered along the track.

But Dutch, whose family were refugees from the island, is not here to win the race – the people that freed her from prison, are using the race as a way to get on the island, and retrieve a mysterious mcguffin.

The writing is crisp, the dialogue crackles with energy, and the setting is intriguing.
Dutch is a great character, and the action harks back to the sort of anime I used to watch as a kid – and I mean this as a compliment.
All in all, a highly recommended little book.