Raising Steam is the 40th Discworld Novel. Thats astonishing, whatever way you think about it; 40 novels is just over 30 years, from a niche author for geeks to proper national treasure, and a journey that I've been on for the ride with since I read Mort way back when I was 14. I didn't get a lot of jokes back then, of course, but enough to fall in love with series that still dominates a full shelf-and-a-half of my bookcase. I think it's important to mention this affection - this history - in respect to Pratchett because than anything else I wonder if the reason I keep coming back to his work is just a desire to stay immersed in his work, rather than any objective quality of that work itself.
I've spent a few days pondering on Jack Reacher, because in some ways its a bit of an odd movie. On the face of it, it's what you'd expect, a big-name, potential franchise starter, with a bad-ass hero and some familiar beats, and on the other its got a curious tone at times at odds with the sort of middle-brow fare you'd expect it to be. Also, Tom Cruise, an actor who continues to confuse me by not settling in make movies I can confidently ignore, nor move over in the "reliably watchable" category either, so anything with his name on it tends to be a bit of a gamble.
Anyone who knows me even vaguely is probably aware of my life-long love of Lego. I mean, I've got tons of the stuff, bought in waves over the years, and then sold off or passed down, only to have another wave bought up again. Currently I'm divested of most of my Star Wars collection in favour of DC and Marvel Superheroes, but in a couple of years it'll probably be something else to sit alongside the Pirate Ships and the Millenium Falcon and the other stuff I've never managed to bring myself to part with. But a Lego Movie? That fills me with fear, because its hard to see how it can work; hard to see how it can't be anything but a soulless merchandising opportunity - which so many kids films are, even the good ones - that devalues rather than strengthened a toy that I love. So its a great relief that not only is the Lego Movie a really good film, it's a really good Lego film, too.
Is it still a Box-Set if I'm streaming from Netflix? At the risk of a diversion, we signed up to Netflix over the holidays mainly to watch Breaking Bad, but it's actually a pretty solid service, technically speaking, if a little sparse on the "current shows" front. But that isn't a big problem for us, being perennially behind, and it gives us easy access to the early runs of things like Sons of Anarchy, which we've been meaning to start on for ages. It also has the first 4 series of Justified, so if you've not caught this on it's "down the channel numbers" purgatory, you should get on that right now. More relevantly, it has three seasons of Archer, which is another show people keep recommending, but we'd yet to catch. Whats that? now we've seen 3 series in seven weeks? Guess it's OK then!
There is always the danger that any movie about the movies, or movie makers, will end up being some sort of self-referential case of Hollywood eating it's own tail, and yet strangely there are many films of this type that are actually pretty good. Ed Wood remains my favorite Tim Burton movie, The Aviator one of my favorite Scorsese films. It may be just that many of the people that wind up making important or influential movies are sufficiently messed up to be interesting subjects even in any walk of life, and so it's only natural that the industry they helped to shape wants to take a look at them, not just the films they made. Last year saw not one, but two projects based on the later work of Alfred Hitchcock, covering, oddly enough, consecutive projects. I've not seen the BBC's The Girl, about the making of The Birds, but this weekend we did get to sit down with the bigger-budget Hitchcock, about the making of Psycho.
Last year saw not one, but two comedies hit the screen that centred around a bunch of freinds facing the end of the world. On the face of it, they had a lot in common; both are ensembles that have worked together before. Both seem born out a matey desire to make a movie together. Both feature nearly all-male casts bonding over drugs and alcohol. Being British, I went to see the UK-set The Worlds End rather than the US-set This Is The End, but they make an interesting pair, as for all the superficial similarities, actually they're quite different beasts.