POF Archive: July 2020

I have been writing this drivel for decades. Browse through my archives by clicking the links below.

The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy by Naoko Takahatake (9/10)

One of the best looking books on printmaking I've seen. Printed on a think matte stock, with over 100 catalog images and equally as many details and figures. The book opens with a few essays giving an overview of the process and a general history of the medium with its place in the Italian Renaissance. From then on it dives into the details of each print. For each example there's a page or two which follows the formula: a paragraph describing the content, then comparisons between various states and editions of the print, and, finally, the majority is dates and attribution being nitpicked over…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 11:36

Mediocre Saviors by Landon Knepp (8/10)

This was an enjoyable fantasy about a world that's been turned to blight everywhere except a single kingdom which seems to be protected by a tower. Not many of the details are explained here as this is slated as book one in a five part series. This was my main complaint about the book. It felt like the plot never really kicked in fully. In any event, there are scores of fun and interesting characters but I don't quite know why they are doing the things they are doing. I hopeful that the second book, which is supposed to be coming out this fall, will start to pull the elements together. My…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:29

1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder by Arthur Herman (8/10)

In the past ("the past" get it... oh, wait you haven't read the next bit yet), I have tried reading history books (see, history, past,  har har!) and they always seemed to disappoint. They're always overly concerned with pinning down dates and details to the point of tediousness. 1917 is not like this. It's an insightful look at two figures who managed to shape the course of the world. Wilson was no doubt one of the worst presidents ever to hold the office: an out-and-out racist and authoritarian who had visions of creating a perfect world. His bumbling allowed for the creation of the U.S.S.R…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 07/19/2020 - 22:31

La Mala Ordina (Manhunt) (7/10)

Well, here I go down the Eurocrime rabbit hole. The plot in this one is odd. The film starts with Henry Silva and Woody Strobe playing American hit men assigned to take out a seemingly low-level pimp with the caveat that they should make it well-known beforehand that New York wants this guy dead. For the first twenty minutes you think the hit men are the heroes, terrible acting and all. But then we start to follow the pimp and that's when the movie gets fun. There's a great foot chase and the climax is a junkyard fight involving a kitten, lot's of shooting, and a crane (the machine not the…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Thu, 07/16/2020 - 08:44

The Boss (8/10)

Another exciting Italian crime thriller directed by Fernando Di Leo, director of Caliber 9. All the characters are scum, even the supposedly innocent kidnapped daughter. The movie opens with a ridiculous mafia hit involving a movie theater and a grenade launcher shot at close range. These scenes of over-the-top violence are what make the film great. There's another mob hit at a construction site that goes from one victim to the next in ever more silly death scenes. The movie end with a "to be continued" title but I don't know if there is a sequel.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:44

Baby Driver (8/10)

The concept of this movie is that all the action and camera work is scripted to go along with preexisting music tracks. That made it sound like a it was going to be a two hour long music video, but it's not. Music choices are interwoven to become part of the plot and it all just works. This is helped by a simple, but solid story and interesting characters. The stunt driving is not as grounded as the awesome stuff you'd see in a Mission: Impossible movie, but it fits the film's style and I enjoyed it up until the forced happy ending sequence.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 08:41

Escape from New York (7/10)

Another gaping hole from my 80s cinema to-do list. The premise is extremely cheesy and the execution isn't much better, but it manages to surprise and entertain just enough. For a movie that I have always thought was considered quintessential eighties action, there really is not much action in it. Just a bunch of running, a wrestling match, a tiny bit of gun play, and several dated looking SFX sequences.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Mon, 07/06/2020 - 22:31

The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff (7/10)

I did not like this nearly as much as The Righteous Mind, but there are a handful of decent insights here about so-call "outrage" culture and where it comes from. The style is almost like a high school essay. Each chapter opens with them saying what they are about to say, then saying it, and finally recapping what was just said. You could easily just read the end-chapter bullet points and feel like you've read and understand the concepts of the book.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Thu, 07/02/2020 - 13:09

Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (8/10)

It's been years since I read me some Poirot and it was refreshing to dive back in. I am a better mystery reader now, and I almost solved this one. A rich heiress is murdered on yet another trans-European train ride and Poirot goes to the French Riviera to seek out clues. Things happen and the case get solved!

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 07/01/2020 - 21:50

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (8/10)

The historical fiction version of A Feast for Crows with the church versus the crown. It's a thick but quick-paced read with a lot of detailed accounts of building a cathedral and a lot of overly detailed rape scenes. Ken Follett is definitely a perv.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 07/01/2020 - 21:46