Review: Rhiannon Frater – As the World Dies Trilogy

I am very much a fan of zombie lore, so whenever I find something worthy of my time, I tend to finish it in a second. Or maybe two weeks, because, you know – job, and real life obligations, and stuff.
Rhiannon Frater‘s As the World Dies is my first time reading a zombie novel written by a woman. And since her trilogy is so army-versed, it was very easy for me to get immersed in this universe, because all of the gun crazy talk felt very appropriate.
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The First Days is the first volume of the As the World Dies trilogy. The start is a bit shaky, but soon enough you find yourself a new pair of bad ass Thelma and Louise, stranded in Texan land, with zombie hordes following them diligently.
We meet Jenni and Katie, one a battered woman and one a prosecutor. Two girls that have nothing in common, except loss and the will to live, not just survive. The writing is also shaky this first book, but it gets so much better with Fighting to Survive, the second installment.
Book No. 2 finds them surrounded by survivors who look up to them, in a society determined to make the most out of this bleak situation. Maybe, if The Walking Dead wasn’t so keen on killing all the fans favorites, it would sound and feel like Frater’s trilogy. But thank god it doesn’t, because this girl knows what she’s saying and we needed something this good in our lives.
Rhiannon Frater plays out easy psychology with talent, and grows her characters into bad asses with natural pen-work. She masters the build up in a manner that never suggests that something big is going to happen. Her last book, Siege, is basically an avalanche waiting to happen, but you’d never guess that, after reading Fighting to Survive.
Of course, the author cannot help but kill off important characters, beloved ones even, because this is the Zombie Land and we are spared no tears, but Frater is very good at managing loss and gain when it comes to her characters.
As the World Dies might be a bit feminist, especially when placed into a world laced with the undead, but it’s a necessary read for all the zombie fans out there. You have beautiful, albeit one dimensional, female characters, LGBT representations, men without the annoying, unnecessary machismo, courage, fear, wilderness, pure evil and death by numbers. Rhiannon Frater’s universe is almost complete, so why not be a part of it?

Review: E. L. James – 50 Shades… Trilogy

Fifty-TrilogyThe lack of disappointment when it comes to 50 Shades of Grey and the rest of the vile  trilogy is unnerving. I started reading the books, hoping to finish them by February 14th, which marked also the release of the film, but I managed to reach the end chapter of the third book last week.

To say that the volumes are not so interesting is an understatement. I’ve read Ikea instructions more entertaining that this, but somehow, I took the time to read them in full, which is more than I can say about Deborah Harkness and her trilogy.

To say that E. L. James masters some kind of talent while writing her pages is a generous overstatement. Throughout the first book, I had to fight the vocabulary of a 13 year old with sexual needs, as well as my gag reflex, only to reach a boiling point expressed by the all mighty „inner goddess” which saturated almost every page.

After the second volume, though, things went more smoothly and I’m guessing that James had indeed improved her writing technique, making it a little more bearable for us, mortals.

To be frank, I used this book for a different purpose from what it was intended. I used it to fall asleep at night, when I usually closed my eyes after 2 or 3 pages of the stuff.

The erotica is very sparse, due to some very un-sexual characters, that make even the most hottest moment a dull one, repeatedly overflown with guilt, questions and thoughts that would make a nun yawn, the BDSM part of the story sounds like a treatable disease, as long as a fair maiden comes to the rescue of the perfectly chiseled man-trophy with money and abs to spare, and as for the abusive relationship so totted by feminists around the world – I truly see none.

No relationship whatsoever. What I see is two persons in love with the ideal image they have for one another, and even though I applaud the moments when these two love birds fight (because they give such an authentic vibe), the fact is that their personas do not exist. They are the idealization of the author when it comes to both women and men. Virginal, untainted vs. Manly, broken results in a change dynamic that turns the woman into a sexual predator, with a glorious career, a great husband, awesome taste in clothes, a mom and a race car driver vs. the sincere man, lovey-dovey-cutie-pie, amazing CEO and father, always at the whim of his woman.

Yeah, right!

There were moments when the build up could’ve been great, especially the plot with the oh, so enamored horny boss of the protagonist, or the plot with the sexy architect, or the plot involving the history behind the Greys, but after a few paragraphs, you could tell that E. L. James does not master enough literary eloquence in order to control her characters, so all of those moments flew out the window.

However, the books were captivating enough to keep me returning night after night, and I’d recommend them for the ease of language and the satisfactory pace of the story. If you love Sci-Fi, then brace yourselves – James masters this art with great ease. Never have I ever seen such incongruous array of characters, making it unbelievable for the common person to relate to all that turmoil, all that inconsistency, all that… Blah-factor.

I raise my glass to a period of three months well spent in regaining my love for good reading once more. Here’s to all of the E. L. James’ in the world, may you forever float in our universe, teaching us bad books so we can savor the good ones!

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Review: Taylor Swift – Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar

After a few years of musical anger, reflected by the personal demons in all the rock music that haunted my playlists, something weird happened and now my brain is wired along the pop waves that sweep through the nation.

And when I say nation, I am referring to, of course, the almighty internet.

With the release of 1989, I noticed that I am a big fan of the pop princess that is Taylor Swift. Her newest video is one of great cinematic importance, star studded and very Frank Miller-esque. Obviously, Taylor kills it in this video – she’s so inhumanly pretty and hot and bad ass, to the point I can’t stand her.

Although Bad Blood is a bit of a hot mess, especially because of all those pop culture references that Joseph Kahn seems to use ad libitum, but all in all, the final cut marks a whole lotta neo-noir and Taylor Swift‘s best video yet. I was saving this title for her previous effort, Style, but Bad Blood, coupled with the song, is clearly a work of art.

With nods to the likes of Sin City, Matrix, Kill Bill and Tron, the stars of the video assume aliases to help them get even with Arsyn, the Wrong-Doer (Selena Gomez), and help avenge Catastrophe (Taylor Swift).

The song is rumored to be about rival Katy Perry, who presumably stole some of Tay-Tay’s backup dancers, but who knows? Girls in pop biz are so up in each other’s biz-biz, right?! Anyhoo, the likes of:

Lily Aldridge (Frostbyte – sorry, not feeling it!)

Zendaya (Cut-Throat – I really don’t know why she’s famous, but here she slays it)

Hayley Williams (The Crimson Curse – cause of course she is, the Punk Princess herself!)

Gigi Hadid (Slay-Z – nice play on words, Kardashian undercover)

Ellie Goulding (Destructa X – a really appropriate nod to showcase her destructive ways with the charts)

Hailee Steinfeld (The Trinity – such a boring waste of visuals)

Lena Dunham (Lucky Fiori – awesome mob-like attitude!)

Kendrick Lamar (Welvin Da Great – What Da What?!)

Karlie Kloss (Knockout – a different way to spell Perfection, if you like)

Serayah (Dilemma – I am having one right now. Who is you?!)

Jessica Alba (Domino – or Little Nancy Callahan, that works even better!)

Martha Hunt (Homeslice – I was betting on Martha Stewart, sign of a gap in my current pop culture information)

Ellen Pompeo (Luna – oh, wow! Unimaginative as hell!)

Mariska Hargitay (Justice – I’m betting on supermodel here)

Cara Delevingne (Mother Chucker – beautiful, twisted beast)

Cindy Crawford (Headmistress – age is but a number, but beauty is forever?)

and, of course, Selena Gomez (Arsyn – doesn’t she look evil and mastermind with that short, geometrical bob?! Amazing!) team up for one of the greatest music videos of the summer.

Some of these personas do seem to make more sense than others, especially if you look at Arsyn, Headmistress, Mother Chucker, Domino, Knockout, Lucky Fiori, Destructa X, The Crimson Curse and Catastrophe. They make even more sense, once you take into consideration that the stars chose those names by themselves, so they must reflect almost on point the character they wanted to convey.

And even though Kendrick Lamar fails to prove himself once again, I really like the song (the original version lacks his unwelcome intrusion) and the video is exquisite. Dark, futuristic, visually compelling and creative – what more could one ask from a self-appointed pop princess?

Review – Doi si un tulnik

doi si un tulnikNimic nu doare mai tare decat atunci cand cineva vine si racaie in sufletul tau secrete pe care le acoperi cu momente superficiale de viata fugara. Doi si un tulnic, pardon, tulnik, spectacolul lui Alex Unguru, are aceeasi calitate dureroasa ca si Ka-chiiing! Pare menit sa vina sa te dezvaluie, sa te dezbrace de minciunile ordinare, vine sa deschida ochi si minti si sa te elibereze de tine.

Responsabil cu textul si regia, Alex Unguru face din spectacolul sau despre globalizare un amalgam de istorii cu personaje distincte, relativ dificil de urmarit, din punctul meu de vedere, de catre publicul neantrenat. In Doi si un tulnik abunda dedesubturi si subtilitati, si va spun sincer ca spectacolul va forteaza sa fiti atenti la fiecare replica, sa inspirati tot ce se intampla pe scena, sa rumegati in voi fiecare secunda si sa traiti fiecare gand.

Alex Unguru face echipa buna cu Misa Serban, care se modeleaza pe un tip de personaj la care exceleaza fara drept de apel. Cel mai bine le reuseste celor doi pasarea replicilor intr-un fel care le e foarte fluid si natural. Jocul de cuvinte dintre Alex Unguru si Misa Serban e foarte greu de urmarit, dar nu imposibil, si solicita atentia publicului cu fragmente de istorie, filosofie, muzica si sport, legandu-le cu fictiune si absurd intr-un fel care le devine propriu, caracteristic.

Tulnikul care impreuneaza toate aceste momente aparent disparate e reprezentat de Alin State, un om pe care stiu sigur ca o sa-l mai vad si in alte spectacole, pentru ca nu ai cum sa nu-l vezi si sa nu fii subjugat de prezenta lui. Alin State are o carisma aparte, pe care o pune in slujba artei, dar si a filosofiei, pe care o foloseste ca sa-ti demonstreze cat de mult te-ai indepartat de radacinile tale, dar si ca sa te sileasca sa te uiti inapoi, in tine, si sa vrei sa revii la ce ai fost o data. Magnetismul lui domina fiecare secunda petrecuta pe scena si spun din suflet ca ar fi meritat un public mai… Viu. Mai simtitor. Mai sensibil. Sau nu stiu, poate e vina omului modern, care se ascunde in rusini de clasa si ii e jena sa recunoasca faptul ca s-a pierdut un pic in capitala asta mare.

Spectacolul lui Alex Unguru e unul subtil si haotic, si permanenta intrerupere data de fenomenul numit tehnic breaking the fourth wall il face sa fie o provocare pentru spectactor. Doi si un tulnik e despre globalizare, dar si despre uitare, la fel cum este si despre filosofie, istorie, geografie, arta si muzica. Este la fel de mult despre femei, cum este si despre barbati. Despre soare, si despre ploaie, despre lumea noastra si despre luna noastra. Despre pinguini si comunism si, cel mai des, Doi si un tulnik e despre radacini si despre grai.

Imi plac spectacolele care ma fac sa gandesc, dar nu-mi plac cele care ma fac sa-mi amintesc. Pentru ca, dupa atata ras salbatic si zambete fugare la referinte pop culture relativ ascunse, imi dau seama ca m-am uitat prea mult pe mine, si o lacrima se grabeste sa atinga pamantul pe care noi cu totii l-am uitat. Si in clipa aia imi dau seama ca mi-am uitat graiul…

Voi nu-l uitati, si mergeti sa vedeti Doi si un tulnik. E musai!

Multumesc Godot Cafe Teatru pentru gazduire si lui Alexandru Unguru pentru invitatie.

Review – Ka-chiiing!

ka-chiiingIntr-o lume grabita sa se vanda, in fiecare zi tot mai mult, ce-ti mai ramane de facut? Pai iti ramane sa incasezi tot ce-apuci, nu? Ka-chiiing!, cum ar zice Alexandru Unguru, si tare bine mai zice!

Cum sa incepi sa vorbesti despre un spectacol la care, de fapt, asistam zilnic, la care suntem protagonisti involuntari? Ka-chiiing, si sper sa nu uitam sa taiem factura, ca zilele DNA-ului nu par chiar atat de numarate.

Teatrul Mignon este, cred, daca nu ma inseala memoria, cam la fel de mare precum sala de teatru in care faceam repetitii in liceu. Nu e genul de loc unde sa mergeti in gasca mare, pregatiti sa va distrati la comun, si apoi la o bere. Intimitatea spectacolului, insa, creeaza o conexiune speciala (sau cel putin asa s-a vazut de la mine, din randul 1) cu actorii de pe semi-scena improvizata, si va garantez o permanenta integrare in piesa, lucru aproape imposibil pe o scena mai mare.

Ka-chiiing! incepe simplu, cu un Cristian Stanoiu la fluier si un Doru Gabriel Sandu la chitara, de o boemie simpatica si o aparenta naivitate incredibil de reala. Prezenta lor si, mai tarziu, a Luisei Juverdeanu la ceea ce cred eu ca e un flaut, ajuta la trecerile intre scenele principale si, cu putin dialog, dar foarte multa credibilitate, cei trei actori amatori leaga universul banului intr-un mod realist si sincer.

Alexandru Unguru, cel care s-a ocupat si de regia spectacolului, este, practic, singurul personaj constant, in afara de cei trei observatori de mai sus, singurul care nu resimte o schimbare de atitudine, comportament sau viziune, singurul care, atunci cand se transforma, din blazat devine… Praf de stele.

Alexandra Laura Badea ar trebui sa primeasca premiul de cameleonul serii. Transformari care de care mai credibile si incredibile, si nu doar de costum, ci si de gesturi, mimica si voce, par a ii fi foarte la indemana actritei care se metamorfozeaza in fiecare clipa sub ochiul judecator al unui public care pare sa nu aiba altceva de facut decat sa fie subjugat de forta ei interioara. Recunosc, rar mi-a fost dat sa vad o asemenea putere intr-un actor, si ii multumesc din suflet ca a stiut atat de bine cum sa parodieze o societate ahtiata dupa bani, consum si pacaleala constanta.

Va recomand Teatrul Mignon, in special din randul 1. Acolo se intampla multe – puteti gasi un discipol de-al lui I(i)sus, o fata care vinde tigari, sau poate una care vinde TOT, o fata „de meserie” sau o cersetoare, sau, daca aveti noroc, cineva care sa va daruiasca vise. Pe gratis. Ka-chiiing!

Multumesc Teatrului Mignon (Str. Hristo Botev, nr. 1) pentru gazduire si lui Alexandru Unguru pentru invitatie.

Review – Sa nu ma uiti

SavedPicture-20154614410.jpgSambata, 4 aprilie, am avut program. Cu prietenii de la In Culise, fireste. A avut loc avanpremiera spectacolului Sa nu ma uiti, cu acelasi Florin Fratila de care nu ma pot desparti, se pare.

Daca nu stiti cine e Florin Fratila, va spun sincer ca mai mare pacat artistic n-ati facut in viata voastra! Cum se duce totul dracu’ este spectacolul meu de suflet, iar prestatia lui acolo este absolut magica.

Nu cred ca trebuie sa specific ca aveam aceleasi asteptari inalte si de la Sa nu ma uiti, nu?

Sa nu ma uiti incepe intr-un mod neasteptat – cu violoncelul lui Bach, pe care il iubesc si il ador, si pentru mine e semn de mare iubire artistica. Din fericire, semnul asta nu e pacaleala – iubirea e in fiecare minut pe scena, la loc de cinste, gata sa te mangaie si sa te aline, in timp ce te tortureaza cu gratie divina.

Inceputul pare un pic dificil, Cosmina Soare lasand sa se vada cateva tremururi de emotie care par sa contribuie la autenticitatea povestii, in timp ce se incadreaza perfect in tabloul pe care il (re)prezinta.

Florin Fratila este genul acela de stea pe care nu o banuiesti, dar care arde intens, mocnit, cu ciuda si patima, cu ura si iubire, si omul asta incredibil asta imi transmite de fiecare data.

Cei doi actori par a expune doi poli ai aceluiasi magnet, cu o naturalete incredibila, care a miscat fiecare persoana prezenta in seara de 4 aprilie in Copper’s Pub.

Sa nu ma uiti mi-a dat o replica numai buna de tinut minte pe vecie:

Poate sunt un personaj arhetipal, dar nu sunt arhetipul insusi.

Si o „coloana sonora” la fel de bine aleasa ca si pana acum la spectacolele de la In Culise.

Universalitatea subiectului abordat de Stefan Caraman, la fel de actual astazi, ca si acum o suta de ani, face din Sa nu ma uiti o caricatura generoasa a vietii de cuplu, creionata din momente trase la indigo si reprezentative pentru lipsa de comunicare ce intervine odata ce se instaleaza rutina si obisnuita, odata ce romantismul dispare pe geam si comunicarea fuge grabita pe usa din spate.

La un spectacol cu doar doi protagonisti e mult mai simplu sa observi de pe margine egoismul omului, care cere neincetat dovezi de iubire, fara sa le ofere la randu-i, si e tare usor sa-ti spui ca tu nu vei fi asa niciodata – sa cazi, adica, in capcana pe care Stefan Caraman, fin observator al bubelor cotidiene, ti-o pregateste intre zambete si rasete.

Sa nu ma uiti are un leitmotiv care se contureaza rapid si care devine o mantra, un simbol al pacii intre doua caractere orgolioase, vicioase si, mai presus de orice, iubite, iar rezultatul final este ca dragostea este distrugatoare, puternica si permanenta, indiferent de cum ajungi la el.

Sa nu ma uiti va avea premiera pe 10 aprilie, tot In Culise, la Copper’s Pub, pe Hristo Botev, nr. 25. Va sfatuiesc sa nu-l ratati, pentru ca asemenea introspectii merita atentia voastra.

 

Review – Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker

I am not very fond of animated movies, nor am I a shortie fan, but whenever I hear of something involving Tom DeLonge, I’m there. His latest effort with Angels and Airwaves is a very solid work of art, and I was expecting the same quality, if not better, from his upcoming short animated movie, Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker.

Fortunately, even if you see the trailer, you would not know what to expect from the final movie. Tom DeLonge mostly abuses hints and metaphors, and everything is amplified by the extensive use of Angels and Airwaves tracks.

The music is flawless, as one would expect from Mr. Tom DeLonge, and the visuals are stunning and worthy of your time. Voice wise, the movie could do a bit better, but I’ll let it slide… This time.

Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker is, basically, a magnificent blend between the fluidity of Aeon Flux and the sci-fi model experimented in Blade Runner. At the end of the day, the short animated movie brings back and forth concepts scantly explored, but it has the clear advantage of letting its viewers to draw their own conclusions.

And believe you me, those conclusions are all over the place, and watching the film will not be a one time thing. You’ll see it over and over again whenever you need to escape this ugly reality.