Wolf in White Van
by John Darnielle
2014, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
After reading a pre-release review of this novel, I had to preorder it. When it arrived, I read the whole thing that same day and then sat down to write this review. That alone should suggest how highly I recommend this book. If you’d like to skip the rest of the review, then: just read this book. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. This is a book that will stick with the reader, and it’s deep enough that everyone will take away something a little different. I know it will be in my mind for a long time.
Wolf in White Van, written by The Mountain Goats songwriter John Darnielle, has already been favorably reviewed online, featured on NPR, and been nominated for the National Book Award. All the praise is well deserved. On the surface this is a story about Sean–the survivor of a terrible teenage tragedy, currently the game master of a play-by-mail role-playing game–and his reflections on life and the game. At its heart, it is a story about the power of imagination, about coming of age in a time when being a geek was far from cool, and about dealing with life-changing and traumatic experiences.
Continue reading Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle
The Wild Hunt (2009)
Directed by: Alexandre Franchi
Written by: Alexandre Franchi and Mark Antony Krupa
Recommended? A hesitant yes.
Bechdel Test: Fail
The Wild Hunt is a Canadian drama-thriller that tells the story of a LARP-turned-Stanford-Prison-Experiment gone dreadfully wrong. A non-gamer crashes his brother’s Live-Action Role-Playing (LARP) game to “rescue” his girlfriend, and the situation spirals into a Shakespearean tragedy reminiscent of grotesque, gut-wrenching emo music. The movie is dark. Dark, dark, dark. Did I mention it’s dark? When you look up its IMDB movie keywords, the third is “attempted rape.” Consider that a major trigger warning.
All that aside, I’ve watched this movie three times in the past three months. I’m attracted to The Wild Hunt‘s affecting cinematography, its exploration of an unsettling human nature, and, of course, its rad LARP gameworld.
Continue reading The Wild Hunt (2009)
Knights of Badassdom
Director: Joe Lynch
Writers: Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall
Recommended? Not really, no.
Bechdel Test: See below.
It’s never any fun when your culture is represented by outsiders. Geeks know this as much as anyone—we’re much maligned, us people who favor strange costumes and make-believe. So like plenty of geeks, I’ve been waiting around for Knights of Badassdom for awhile now—finally, a film for us, by us. In fact, I’ve been waiting several years now. (There was a whole kerfluffle between the director and the studio that set it back a number of years and left us with a cut that is not what the director intended.)
But, well, if this is what geeks have to say about geek culture… then this is not our proudest day.
At the beginning of the film, a group of LARPers (Live Action Roleplayers) have their games ruined by a bunch of camo-wearing rednecks with paintball guns. Oh, the jocks… the geek’s natural enemy. I’m sympathetic to the LARPer’s plight.
Continue reading Knights of Badassdom (2013)