Round-Up: Crimson Peak Redux and Questionable Content

Crimson Peak 

crimson-peak-tom-hiddleston-jessica-chastain

Borrowed from whatculture.com

Watching this movie for the second time was actually a much more enjoyable experience than watching it the first time–and I already liked it the first time. I love it now.

One thing that stood out was how exemplary the pacing of the movie is. There isn’t a second wasted. Moments that seemed long and saturated with suspense the first time, seemed concise and to the point on a rewatch. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I wasn’t impatient for a second. This surprised me–I was expecting the movie to feel too long, especially those horror scene moments where they hint that something may or may not happen. But it really wasn’t. Those scenes don’t actually last a second longer than needed to get the point. The fact that it felt so long the first time around was only in my head.

And it probably helped my enjoyment of the movie, that I didn’t have to dread the horror aspects because I knew what would happen–again, not a horror person in general. But take out all of the suspense, and you still have an incredibly interesting story.

Watching Thomas and Lucille when I know what they’re about, and don’t have to guess as to their motives, is fun. Getting to pay attention to the character work is worth it.

Lucille remains the most compelling of the main protagonists, with that power behind her performance not remotely diminished with repetition. Thomas remains somewhat childlike in his views of the world.

And Edith…Edith changes. She begins as a sensible young woman who wants things from herself and from the world. She gets swept away by Thomas in what I assume is her first romantic experience. And then her world gets taken from her, and she falls back on what she has left in the moment, exactly as the Sharpes intended. But despite her being deliberately maneuvered into a position of vulnerability and having that taken advantage of, Edith is still curious, and tenacious, and resilient. And she only becomes moreso with each trial.

I said that Edith changes, but the way she changes is by becoming more resolute in the characteristics she already has. Fundamentally, she remains much the same. And yet, it’s hard to imagine Edith as she was at the beginning of the movie being capable of her actions at the end. She hadn’t quite been tested enough. She hadn’t reached the point where she’d have the determination and courage to stand in order to protect someone else. But while the movie made her harder, it didn’t make her hard, or broken, or completely disillusioned with the world. She was strong, and steady, and willing to kill if she had to–and the entire purpose behind her being there instead of running away was to save someone else.

Who she ends up at the end of the film is essentially a more resilient version of herself, and yet she feels so different. The expression on her face at the end encompasses the person she’s become, and yet it’s so hard to define. Seeing the movie for the first time, the Sharpe siblings stood out, with their mysterious motives and hidden faces. The second time, Edith’s subtler growth shined through.

It’s much easier to appreciate this movie for what it is, now that I don’t have my own expectations going in to wrestle with. And what it is, is really good.

Questionable Content

25961976

Borrowed from gr-assets.com

Genre: Slice of life/sci-fi

Synopsis: A group of friends go about their lives. Also, robots.

Series: Long running webcomic, updates every weekday.

Verdict: Good.

Available: Here. 

This webcomic has been around for a while, and I’ve been reading it for a few years. I didn’t start at the beginning, but jumped in at a certain point and just kept reading–the genre makes it easy to do that.

And I’ve kept coming back to the comic since, because this is really good. What stands out the most for me is how incredibly different many of the characters are. Every person has their own experiences, and it’s easiest to understand experiences that intersect at least a bit with your own. Many of the characters in Questionable Content are sharply different, the kind of difference that seem to cross a boundary between completely disparate types of understanding. And that makes the world feel very real. (Also, I’m just generally impressed with the author’s ability to get into the various personalities.)

I have developed a soft spot for many of the characters, but especially Hanners, whose freak-outs are nothing like mine but still manage to spark a feeling of connection.

Slice of Life isn’t a genre I’m too familiar with–nor is it exactly the most common one in Western media–so I’m a bit of a loss to describe what exactly makes a slice of life good. There’s character interaction and growth, sure. But each page that goes up has to be compelling in its own right. It has to make a point that fits into the greater framework of the world, but still stand alone. And that point has to be interesting enough to keep people wanting to come back to these characters and their problems. I’m not entirely sure how this comic does all these things, but it does.

Questionable Content has some spark of life to it that keeps drawing me back in, and that’s the closest I can come to describing it.

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2 Responses to Round-Up: Crimson Peak Redux and Questionable Content

  1. theo promes says:

    I haven’t seen crimson peak, though your glowing recommendation makes me think I should – I generally enjoy horror/suspense stuff not as much as other genres, I like to think that it’s because people being stupid and therefore getting eaten by gremlins breaks my suspension of disbelief and has nothing to do with me being a wuss, but who knows. I’ll give it a shot, Mockingjay part one held up after all 😉

    QC, though… my, we really have quite some of taste overlap 🙂 though that one in particular shouldn’t be surprising, considering how prominent XKCD is in academic circles… (at least that’s how I ended up there). I really like the author’s casual approach to singularity, its all wrong of course, but that’s beside the point – it has that firefly-esque approach of “no matter what incredible technology will come around tomorrow, people will still be people…” and that, it does very well.
    My favourite main character is probably Emily, though Hanners is up there, too…and Marten’s mom. But all characters have their moments, and the story in general is very quirky and entertaining. I find myself remembering references to really old QC strips every now and then, and spend way too long looking for them…like the Gary thing (strip 2070) after reading some friendly AI paper recently.
    But yeah, this is one of the few comic strips I read/catch up on regularly, and it never disappoints.

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    • Cool, good to hear you liked the first Mockingjay. I think I might have come across QC a few years back when I was looking up webcomics of interest, after discovering Girl Genius. I do look at XKCD sometimes, but in this case, that’s a coincidence–of course, as both of these are some of the most popular webcomics of all time, it’s a short step from discovering webcomics in general to finding them.

      It’s fair to say I like most of the characters in QC, but Emily is closer to the top. I have a tendency to relate to characters that are somehow socially awkward, and it can be nice sometimes when they’re not self-conscious about it.

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