Month: February 2015

The Hangman’s Daughter Chapter 41

CHAPTER 41: BROKEN SCORPION

Where am I? Cole wondered as he woke up. He couldn’t see.

Something was weighing down on him, covering his face and chest.

He tried to move his right arm to push it off.

When he came to again, he made a mental note that he was not to move his right arm. It felt like a dislocated shoulder (or at least, it had in that split second before his brain had shut down from the agony.)

Left arm.

He pushed the weight off and very slowly got to his feet.

He looked around (carefully, as it felt as if he’d sprained his neck).

Darkness, walls, garbage.

An alleyway.

The thing that had been lying on him had been a body. It was not, as he gazed around, the only one in evidence. In fact, the alleyway only needed a layer of earth over it to qualify as a mass grave.

Did I kill them? he wondered groggily, did I do this?

He took a step.

When he came to again, he made a mental note that his left shin had been broken and that he wasn’t to walk on it.

(more…)

The Hangman’s Daughter Chapter 40

CHAPTER 40: THE HUNT

 

She ran.

She didn’t think. She didn’t stop. She didn’t let her mind wander.

She ran.

“Oh come on. Let’s at least make this interesting.” said a voice in her ear.

She screamed and he was right there beside her, leaning over her shoulder as she ran. And then in an instant he was gone, flitted away leaving only the burning brand of a skull on her retinas.

Now he was standing by the side of the road.

The fleshless skull grinned unflinchingly at her as she ran past.

He was toying with her.

And when he grew bored, he would drag her back to the house and she would forget everything.

So she would have to make sure he didn’t get bored.

She shifted through space, re-emerging around thirty yards off the road to her left. Without even pausing for breath she ran into the forest.

(more…)

CHARITY MOVIE DEATHMATCH: ROUND 2!

Face off

Blood on Snow

Kung Fu Panda

Boromir

Lurtz

Quint

Guys, I’m not sure we can keep doing this. I mean, the carnage we’ve seen in the last week…it gives the word “deathmatch” a bad name!

Week 2 is over and Kung Fu Panda, Maleficent and Land Before Time have all been dispatched to the big cinema in the sky. Our remaining and increasingly nervous fighters are:

Balto

An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West

Fritz the Cat

The Secret of Nimh

The Iron Giant

Watership Down

Only YOU can save your favourite movie and ensure it gets a review by donating any sum, small or large to Love Without Boundaries and email your receipt to unshavedmouse@gmail.com along with your vote. Now let battle resume!

I love this, God help me I do.

 

Mary_and_max_poster

Mary and Max (2009)

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

The Unshaved Mouse stared at the blank screen and tapped the keyboard lightly with one paw. His tiny brow furrowed and he twitched his whiskers anxiously. This, he knew, was going to be tough one. The movie he had to review was Mary and Max, a somewhat obscure but critically beloved Claymation film from Australia. And Mouse had not enjoyed it. Giving a bad review to a well-regarded film was always tricky, Mouse knew, as he would have to be doubly sure of every point he was making. And then there was the inconvenient fact that Mouse knew, deep down, that Mary and Max was not a bad film. So why did he dislike it?  Well, he knew that one of the things that rankled him about this film was its severe over-reliance on third person…
“Who said that?” Mouse exclaimed, looking around the room in a flurry of tiny mammalian panic. The narration continued smoothly, un-phased by the protagonist’s unprofessional behaviour.
“Okay, that is really, really intrusive and needs to stop right now” said Mouse indignantly “I do my reviews first person. Quit it.”
One might have reasonably wondered what Mouse intended to do about it, as the narration continued and Mouse realised that he would just have to learn to live with it.
“You’ll get yours, buddy.” Mouse squeaked, but in his heart of hearts he knew he had already lost. And then the thought dawned on him. Why not do the review in third person? It would be a way to shake things up, to inject some new energy into the blog and perhaps attract some news readers. The latter especially merited consideration, as Mouse was well aware that his viewing figures had cratered ever since he’d stopped reviewing Disney movies.
“That was uncalled for.” Mouse whispered, his spirit at last broken.
And perhaps there was another reason to do the review in such a manner? After all, how better to demonstrate his frustration with what he saw as the movie’s biggest failing? And maybe, just maybe, reviewing the film at such a…remove, would allow him to better confront just what it was about the film that made him so uncomfortable?
He resisted the idea at first.
“No.” he said aloud “I can’t. The joke will wear thin almost immediately. They’ll hate it. They’ll eat me alive!”
He couldn’t really do it, surely?
He couldn’t review the entire movie in third person?
Could he?

(more…)

The Hangman’s Daughter Chapter 39

CHAPTER 39: THE HANGMAN AND THE FIRE

The smell of soup was rich in the air and she could feel the warmth from the fire on her skin.

The lie was perfect, she thought.

There sat Doctor Toureil at the kitchen table, so perfect in every detail that she felt the urge to run into his arms and kiss his cheek. One thing that curtailed this impulse, by his right elbow was an open box displaying a small syringe and a vial of green liquid. How had Mabus captured the exact way he would purse his lips and close his eyes when he raised the spoon of soup to his lips?

“Hello, Marie.” said her father, turning around from the stove.

“Papa.” she said quietly.

She closed her eyes as he bent down to kiss her forehead.

It would be so, so easy.

(more…)

Charity Movie Deathmatch: FIRST BLOOD!

CMD1

CMD2

CMD3

CMD4

CMD5

CMD6

Oh, did you think we were playing? You thought this was a game? Perhaps now the stakes are a little clearer. Shrek? DEAD. How to Train Your Dragon 2? Wyrm-food. All Dogs Go To Heaven? For his sake, you’d better hope so.

The remaining movies are:

Balto

An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West

Fritz the Cat

Kung Fu Panda

The Land Before Time

Maleficent

The Secret of Nimh

The Iron Giant

Watership Down

Don’t want your favorite movie to go down like these punks? Or maybe your favourite is already dead and you want payback? You know how it works. Donate any sum, small or large to Love With Boundaries. Email your receipt to unshavedmouse@gmail.com with your vote.

Now let the games continue!!! BLOOD!

The Hangman’s Daughter Chapter 38

CHAPTER 38: CROSSING THE BRIDGE

 

“Marie?”

She was rooted to the spot.

“Marie?”

Isabella stood on the other side of the river.

Marie closed her eyes and tried to lift her foot off the path and onto the bridge.

It was like putting your hand on a tree and expecting it to follow the commands of your brain like a limb. The leg was connected to her body, but she couldn’t make it move.

“Marie, what’s wrong?” Isabella asked.

They had been on their way to the wood that nestled into the scrubland just outside Saint Anne, a cool shady playground filled with rabbits and blackberries and shiny red ladybirds and the cawing of crows. Standing here, rooted to spot, with the sun baking her scalp through her red hair, Marie very much wanted to be there. But she had been caught unawares.

That tiny, nagging little sensation that had stuck in her brain like a thorn, that feeling that something wasn’t right, had suddenly grown and overtaken her brain like black brambles.

(more…)

Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Film-t_720x1080

The fault in our shades

I have this idea for a non-fiction book that I may write sometime, tentatively called Everything I know about God I learned from Comic Books. It would be a look at how the history of superhero comics so often parallels that of the major world religions, like how issues of canonicity are decided (The First Council of Nicaea/Crisis on Infinite Earths), how older belief systems get incorporated into newer ones (Celtic deities becoming saints in Gaelic Christianity/ Captain Marvel becoming part of DC continuity), the violent schisms that can erupt between adherents of different sects (the Crusades/Cassandra Cain versus Stephanie Browne) and how they deal with the Problem of Evil/Frank Millar. I bring this up because, oddly, one of the best and simplest pieces of moral advice I ever received was from a comic book. It was an issue of X-Men where Bishop, a mutant cop from the future, almost kills the man who murdered his sister before realising that he can’t cross that line and simply arrests him. Bishop is tormented by guilt over what he almost did and Charles Xavier gives him this line (as near as I can remember it, it’s been years): “It is not our thoughts that mark us, but our deeds.”
This, I think, is a very important moral. We cannot control our thoughts, our desires, our prejudices or our emotions. And, take it from the guy with the Catholic upbringing, trying to is a real good way to go nuts. In fact, if you ever find yourself in the trenches and want to be invalided back to Blighty, don’t bother sticking underpants over your head, just try to not think about something for ten minutes and that should do the trick.  Having bad thoughts does not make you a bad person. Acting on them does.
Speaking of bad people, I hardly ever read other people’s blogs, which I feel incredibly guilty about because I always want people to read mine and that makes me a rather massive hypocrite. Honestly, it’s just a question of time. Between work, family, blogging, watching movies to review and trying to keep on top of other writing projects (not to mention a rather serious gaming habit) I normally just don’t have the hours. Recently however, I made an exception and plowed through all of author Jenny Armintrout’s extensive re-cap of Fifty Shades of Grey over on Trout Nation. It’s hilarious, excellently written and I heartily endorse it.
"I am Unshaved Mouse, and I approve this blog. All my readers should check it out!"

“I am Unshaved Mouse, and I approve this blog. All my readers should check it out!”

"Huh. My stats just went up by a barely perceptible ammount. As if theyd been kicked by a tiny, tiny ant."

“Huh. My stats just went up by a barely perceptible amount. As if theyd been kicked by a tiny, tiny ant.”

Now, even though I know damn well that every last one of you knows what Fifty Shades of Grey is, blogging law stipulates that I give some background on what I’m talking about on the off chance that one of you has awoken from a coma so here we go. Fifty Shades of Grey is E.L. James’ re-purposed  Twilight fanfiction where mousey milquetoast Anastasia Steele (Yes. Yes, really.) becomes involved with chiselled blonde billionaire Christian Grey and they have lots of badly punctuated sex. It was famously described by Salman Rushdie as the worst-written novel to ever be released by a major publishing house and so naturally became a huge commercial success.
"Welp, I guess they proved ME wrong."

“Welp, I guess they proved ME wrong.”

It is also porn.
And that’s not a criticism. It’s simply a statement of fact. It’s a piece of fiction written to get the reader off. Simple as. Now, during the course of the book Christian Grey does a lot of incredibly awful things. He emotionally manipulates Ana, plies her with alcohol, coerces her into sexual acts that she really does not want, beats her, threatens her, demeans her, isolates her from her friends and family and literally checks every item on the list for being an abusive partner (not hyperbole, Jenny actually did that very thing).

(more…)

trouserstitle

The Wrong Trousers (1993)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

The story of the most beloved characters in the history of British animation begins with the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 by the Military Junta of Argentina. Corporal Nick “Rottweiler” Park of Her Majesty’s Northumberland Fusiliers returned home from the war as a hero with over nine hundred certified enemy kills and was lauded in the press and both houses of parliament as the man who had almost single-handedly won the conflict for Great Britain. However, Park found it almost impossible to adjust to civilian life and, after an argument with a local grocer over the price of a packet of Cheese and Onion crisps, ended up taking the entire rural village of Dutchington-on-Fenth hostage. Incarcerated in Dartmoor prison, Park’s life was changed forever when a relative gave him the gift of a camera and some plasticine. Park later said that he was able to channel his uncontrollable urges to kill into plasticine figures, which he would use to stage horrendously violent scenes with the camera, teaching himself the basics of stop-motion animation in the process. “Once I got all that out of my system” Park would later say “I started experimenting with films where the characters didn’t kill everyone who ever crossed me, and Wallace and Gromit kind of came from that stepping outside of my comfort zone.” Upon being released from prison…

"Um...excuse me? Mr Mouse?"

“Um…excuse me? Mr Mouse?”

Oh, hello Nick Park. To what do I owe the pleasure?

"Um...excuse me? Mr Mouse?"

“Well…all that stuff you said about me.”

Yes? What of it?

"Well, I think you may have gotten some bad information. I never served in the Falklands. I've certainly never been in prison. And that business with the Cheese and Onion crisps has just been blown out of all proportion."

“Well, I think you may have gotten some bad information. I never served in the Falklands. I’ve certainly never been in prison. And that business with the Cheese and Onion crisps has just been blown out of all proportion.”

Ah. See, I don’t know how to tell you this Nick but…you’re too nice. The animators I cover on this blog tend to be half mad geniuses tormented by demons the likes of which normal men can scarcely conceive of.  I mean, have you even met Walt Disney?

"Um...I believe Mr Disney has been dead for many years.""

“Um…I believe Mr Disney has been dead for many years.”

Oh. Oh, you sweet summer child. But anyway, you’ll understand if I had to jazz up your life story a little for the intro. Sorry. Anyway, Wallace and Gromit.

It feels almost gauche to refer to Wallace and Gromit as a “franchise”. And yet, these characters are a pretty massive enterprise. Four short films, one feature, numerous spin-offs, comics, computer games, all manner of merchandise and huge global brand recognition. And yet, Wallace and Gromit have never felt “big”. The series has always had a kind of cosy, intimate charm that is thoroughly English while somehow appealing to a worldwide audience. The premise of the series is simplicity itself: Wallace (Peter Sallis) is a cheese-loving inventor with more technical skill than common sense. Gromit, his dog, is his loyal, long-suffering straight man. The first movie, A Grand Day Out, was begun by Park in 1982 when he was still in film school and finally finished eight years later with help from Aardman Animation who had hired Park to work for them. Today’s movie, The Wrong Trousers, is the second Wallace and Gromit short and is pretty unanimously considered to be the best of the series.

Why is it so good? Let’s take a look.

(more…)

Charity Movie Deathmatch: FIGHT!

For the month of February on Unshaved Mouse we are running the Charity Movie Deathmatch and I need YOU (yes you, no, not you, the person behind you. Yes. You.) to make it as big a success as possible. Here’s how it works.
 
Below are the twelve movies that readers of this blog expressed the most interest in me reviewing. Here’s how to play.
 
  1. Go to this year’s charity, Love Without Boundaries, and make a donation, small or large. Love Without Boundaries provides vital services to Chinese orphaneges and is ranked four out of a possible four stars on Charity Navigator.
  2. Email me your receipt to unshavedmouse@gmail.com together with your choice of movie (movie. Singular. Although you can donate and vote as many times as you like for as many different movies as you like). Remember: Generosity is your weapon.
  3. The three lowest scoring movies will be eliminated on the 13th and again on the 20rd with the highest scoring three movies at the end of the month getting reviewed.
 
Simple right? And now, let’s meet the movies that will be brawling to the death for your entertainment.
 
AllDogsGotoHeaven
All Dogs Go to Heaven
 
Studio: Sullivan Bluth
Age: 26
Runtime: 85 Minutes
AKA: “The Rabid Redeemer”, “Ol’ Killer.”
 
ELIMINATED
Balto_movie_poster
 
Balto
 
Studio: Amblin Entertainment
Age: 20
Runtime: 77 minutes
AKA: “The Disast-ah from Alaska”
 
Younger, hungrier, leaner, Balto is probably what keeps All Dogs go to Heaven up at night. If they could put their differences aside however, these two canine-themes movies might be unstoppable and both get a spot in the final three. Regardless, Balto will be a formidable opponent, with plenty of support from the crowd and a reputation for being able to go that final mile.
American_tail_fievel_goes_west
 
Fievel Goes West
 
Studio: Amblin Entertainment
Age: 24
Runtime: 74 minutes
AKA: “The Don’t-Suck Sequel”
 
An immigrant kid with a tough upbringing, Fievel Goes West has battled his whole life against anti-sequel prejudice. Now, he takes that fight to the ring with everything on the line. Fievel Goes West is battling to support a family of less successful sequels and so cannot afford to show mercy to his opponents. If they die, they die.
 
220px-Fritz_the_Cat_(film)
Fritz the Cat
 
Studio: Various
Age: 43
Runtime: 80 Minutes
AKA: “Fritz the Blitz”, “The X-Rated Executioner”
 
The oldest fighter in this year’s death-match is a heel through and through, bribing referees, using illegal moves and feeding on the hatred of the crowd. That hatred may be his greatest asset. The question is, who do the fans want to suffer more? The Cat, or the Mouse?
How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_2_poster
 
How to Train Your Dragon 2
 
Studio: Dreamworks
Age: 1
Runtime: 102 minutes
AKA: “Babyface”
 
ELIMINATED
 
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Kung Fu Panda
 
Studio: Dreamworks
Age: 7
Runtime: 92 Minutes
AKA: “The Beast from the East”
 
ELIMINATED
 
The_Land_Before_Time_poster
The Land Before Time
 
Studio: Sullivan Bluth
Age: 27
Runtime: 79 Minutes
AKA: “Extinction Event”
ELIMINATED
Maleficent_poster
Maleficent
 
Studio: Disney
Age: 1
Runtime: 97 Minutes
AKA:  “The Mistress of All Evil Morally Ambigous Anti-Heroism”, 
 
ELIMINATED
The_Secret_of_NIMH
The Secret of Nimh
Studio: Don Bluth Productions
Age: 32
Runtime: 82 Minutes
AKA: “Mouse of Pain”
Rounding out the trio of Don Bluth movies competing for a spot, Secret of Nimh may be the most formidable contender of them all. It’s not unknown for movies to enter the ring, see who they’re up against and say “Nah. Forget it. I quit. Yes, I know it’s a deathmatch. Just make it quick.”
Shrek
Shrek
 
Studio: Dreamworks
Age: 14
Runtime: 90 Minutes
AKA: “The Glaswegian Dandy”
ELIMINATED
The_Iron_Giant_poster
The Iron Giant
Age: 16
Runtime: 87 Minutes
AKA: “The Furious Fe”
Beloved by children, feared by his enemies, this gentle giant understands that as a role model he has to set an example. “STAY IN SCHOOL, EARTH-SPAWN!” he bellows as he crushes yet another challenger beneath his cold metallic heel.
220px-Movie_poster_watership_down
Watership Down
Age: 37
Runtime: 101 minutes
AKA: “The Black Rabbit of Inlé”, “The Tharninantor”
It’s a movie about bunnies. How tough can it be? Has been the last thought of too many movies to count.
***
Charity Movie Deathmatch will be running all through February 2015. Please donate whatever you can, big or small and vot for your favourite movie. And don’t forget to share on Facebook and Twitter and the backs of the heads of passing bald people.
See ya at the final bout.