R.I.P. Progress Report #7

The purpose of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII is to enjoy books and movies/television that could be classified (by you) as: Mystery. Suspense. Thriller. Dark Fantasy. Gothic. Horror. Supernatural. Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

Lots to do in this final week of October. Finish work on one manuscript, ready myself for NaNoWriMo, finish reading some books. Wait a minute, that’s a week of total awesome-ness!  Since it’s October, this post is also a part of Blogger Dressed in Blood!

I really like Tor’s blog. Sure, it’s a publisher’s website and they want you to purchase product, but it’s also a hub for sci-fi/fantasy/horror news, commentary, art, and lots of great free fiction. This week is Ghost Week at Tor which is happiness for me. Ghosts are one of my favorite fiction tropes. Thus far, they’ve featured two ghost stories.

“The Terrible Old Man” by H.P. Lovecraft – I’ll be honest; I’m not a Lovecraft fan. I’ve found his writing to be too ornate, too oblique. Elder gods just don’t do it for me. (Although I can’t escape H.P.’s influence on me. “He who will not be named” does not evoke Harry Potter for me and, due to its tentacle-rich logo, this restaurant will always be known to me as Fish House of the Elder Gods.) This story was a nice, short, classic creepy house story. And one with the old-fashioned notion of the bad-guy getting their just deserts.

“Too Fond” by Leanna Renee Hieber – A lovely ghostly romance. I’m not familiar with Leanna Renee Hieber, but I suspect I will be reading her in the future. Yeah, if I’m reading a romance, it probably involves a ghost. Doubly great, a Scottish ghost.

Se7en was my favorite David Fincher movie until I saw Zodiac (2007). That’s not to say that Se7en isn’t great, but to me it’s more of a gimmick movie. Se7en has this ever-present darkness and rain (except for the ending) that are maybe too pervasive. The characters are easy foils for each other. The killings, based on the seven deadly sins, are too narrative and well executed. Se7en is too much of a fiction for me.

Zodiac is a more grounded movie, grounded in the 1960s-70s’ Zodiac killings. While the movie primarily follows cartoonist and writer Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), the lives and fates of many other characters are woven in and out of the narrative, most notably journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo).  The crimes, committed in several counties in California, vaguely fit a pattern. The investigation is hampered by multiple jurisdictions and lack of communication. The police and press work with and against each other. In the meantime, whoever might have been the Zodiac Killer fades away and becomes a cold case. Yes, for me, the movie based on real life where the killer gets away is more satisfying than the well-told fiction (even when the latter has a good twist ending).

I adore the writing in this movie. It’s witty and sly, and not just when Robert Downey Jr. is on screen. Like Se7en, it has a character that reveres books. The acting is excellent and the cast is filled with great character actors in small parts (Elias Koteas, Brian Cox, Clea DuVall, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch). The look and soundtrack of the movie are firmly placed in late 60s and early 70s California. While the pacing is rather deliberate, there are several scenes which make my skin crawl every time I see them. I can’t say that for Se7en or what might be Fincher’s third movie in a loose crime trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

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