Author: Elena Nola

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.
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district 9

Top 10 Science Fiction Movies of the Decade 2000-2009

All the end-of-year/decade lists going up right now inspired me to hit one up of my own. And all the hype about James Cameron’s Avatar, which is being trumpeted as some sort of monumental science fiction success, gave me just the topic:  the actual best science fiction movies of the aughts.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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game of thrones

Playin’ With Ice and Fire: A Game of Thoughts | Jon Snow Chapter 19

She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s  g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 19, a Jon Snow POV chapter.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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game of thrones

Playin’ With Ice and Fire: A Game of Thoughts | Catelyn Stark Chapter 18

She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the  newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s  g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 18, a Catelyn Stark POV chapter.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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joe abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold Interview

Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law trilogy and Best Served Cold.  I have been a fan since the first book in the First Law found me in a bookstore, so I was very excited to ask him a few questions.  We talk shop on everything from doing research for fantasy books to the inspiration behind his next book to his favorite curse word and more.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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adam Rex

Adam Rex Fat Vampire Interview

Adam Rex is an amazingly talented children’s illustrator, as well as being an author of both children’s and YA novels.  I had the pleasure of meeting him in person last month at BEA, and I made sure to line him up for an interview later before we parted ways.  His new novel, Fat Vampire, is due out next month, and it ‘s not your typical vampire novel.  Nor is it your typical coming of age novel.

Here I’ve got Adam talking about his inspiration for the story, his influences as a writer, his view of what it would be like to live forever (hint:  it’s not all sunshine and roses), and much more.  Sink your teeth in and enjoy!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – Review

I’m taking a page from Jay’s book and re-running some old reviews from my now-defunct personal review blog. For the most part they are unchanged in content, except for removing things that no longer apply and actual editorial scouring…no, not even my prose is immune. 🙂

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Imager with L.E. Modesitt, Jr. | Interview

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., is the best-selling author of several fantasy and science fiction series, and a name you can’t get through any bookstore’s SFF section without encountering.  I am only familiar with his work on the Imager Portfolio.  From the first book it became one of my favorite fantasy series, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about the books with him.  While I did get some great insight into certain elements in the series, the discussion somehow veered off into cultural territory that I found even more fascinating.  Note on that:  I’m breaking from my usual interviewing presentation and leaving my responses intact, even when they are long, because I’m not sure his answers would make sense without my set-ups.  That being said, I hope you enjoy the perspective!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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sharon shinn

Fantasy, Romance and Writing – a Sharon Shinn Interview

Sharon Shinn is the author of nearly two dozen fantasy novels, including the bestselling Twelve Houses and Samaria series.  She has won the William C. Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Pyr Editing with Lou Anders | Interview

This one’s for those of you who like to know what goes on before the book falls off the bookstore shelf into your hands.  Lou Anders is the editorial director of Pyr books, as well as being the man behind many anthologies on a wide variety of topics.  Over the past week or so I’ve had the pleasure of picking his brain about how he chooses manuscripts, how he builds anthologies, what he sees as the current state of science fiction and fantasy, and more.  If you’re a young editor, or someone trying to break into the field as a writer, or just someone who’s curious about the publishing industry from an insider’s perspective, be sure to read this interview!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Romancing the Nine Kingdoms | a Lynn Kurland Interview

Lynn Kurland is the author of the Nine Kingdoms romantic fantasy series, as well as a best-selling romance author.  For all my love of dark, bloodspurting, knights who say–er, frak–fantasy, I also love the lighter side of fairy-tale, love-story high fantasy, so this series fits right in to one of my reading sweet spots.  I enjoyed the chance to ask Lynn some questions about how this series came about, what’s been most different for her in switching between genres, how far the story might go, and more.  Keep reading to find out what she had to say!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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shana abe

A Female Sort of Revenge – a Shana Abé Interview

Shana Abé is a bestselling author normally found in the Romance section, but whose latest books are fantasy (or at least fairy tale) crossovers.  She’s also a personal favorite of mine–verify on our favorites page, if you doubt–and has just finished up her fabulous historical-fiction shapeshifter series that started with 2006’s The Smoke Thief and continued through five books to last month’s The Time Weaver.  I was beyond pleased when she agreed to an interview and completed my trifecta of conversations with my favorite writers.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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let the right one in

Best Fantasy Movies of the Decade: 2000-2009

When I was asked to write a companion piece to my Best Science Fiction Movies of the Decade list, I thought it would be equally as easy.  I was wrong.  There were a lot of kind of good fantasy movies over the last 10 years, but not really a lot of great ones.  I think a top five or a top 15 list would have been easier–I had a hell of a time deciding on the last two slots on this list, because I think compelling arguments could have been made for other movies for each of those last picks.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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scott pilgrim

The Scott Pilgrim Girlfriend Test

So you’ve finally met a girl who seems cool.  Outlook: positive…except that you can’t figure out how to suss out her level of nerdery without offending her or seeming even geekier than you are by running through every conceivable point of geekiness she might secretly have.  Well, you’re in luck, because the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim has been made into a movie that could literally double as a girlfriend test if your interests and/or lifestyle require a girl who is at the least tolerant of the geek in you.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Time Weaver by Shana Abé Review

The Time Weaver is the fifth and final book of Shana Abé’s drakon series, which is a historical fantasy-romance about, yes, glittering dragon people.  It follows Honor Carlisle, the only drakon Gifted with the ability to weave time, and her quest–aided or hampered by her adoptive mother who Dreams the future–to change the path of her destiny.  Not the part where she ends up with Alexsandru, the dark drakon prince of her dreams in every time she’s ever weaved herself into, but the part where everything and everyone she loves end up destroyed while she can only watch it happen.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin Review

This book is well-named.  Its title and subtitle are intriguing–they got me to look at its premise.  Which is also intriguing:  Two years after his murder, Matthew Swift wakes up again.  His house is no longer his house, and his closest friends are all dead.  He has no refuge except his wits and his quest for vengeance….

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Evermore by Alyson Noël Review

Evermore is the first book in Alyson Noël’s new YA series, The Immortals.  Fittingly, considering the title, a lot of E words popped into my mind when I was thinking of how to describe it:  Enchanting.  Exciting.  Enthralling.  Enticing.  All of them words, as well, of seduction and magic, which are two of the book’s main themes.

The third is loss.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Treasure Keeper by Shana Abé Review

Shana Abé’s drakón (read:  dragon) series is for people who read both fantasy and romance.  While the series does have an overarching plot of the drakón vs. their human hunters, the main focus of each book is the individual relationship developing between the hero and the heroine.  The books are thus correctly shelved in the romance section of most bookstores. The drakón are shapeshifters who can move between human, smoke, and dragon.  They are an insular clan living in wide-open secrecy in rural England.  The books are set during the mid- to late-1700s and conform to many standards of historical romance–basically, they are paranormal historical romances.  A couple key points to understanding the drakón as a people and as characters:  the females are for the most part unable to Turn out of their human form.  Gemstones and precious metals sing to the drakón and, in a high enough volume, can sometimes control them, drive them mad, or simply cause them to lose themselves in the song.  The tribe is ruled by an Alpha, who is somewhat answerable to the council who enforce the tribe’s restrictive laws; none of the tribe is allowed to leave their shire without permission, with death as the standard punishment for “running.”

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Review

Imager is the first book in a new fantasy world for Modesitt.  It introduces us to Rhenn, a young journeyman portraiteurist who begins to suspect that he might have a small talent for imaging when he begins to correct his own brushstrokes using only the power of his mind and his inner vision.  His talent is seemingly so small, so useless, that he does not present himself to Imagisle, home of all the city’s Imagers, to be tested.  His only ambition is to make it through the rest of his journeyman training and become a master painter.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith Review

Letter from Jane Austen to Seth Grahame-Smith

Dear Sir,

I have recently become acquainted with your work as a novelist, while I believe your acquaintance with mine is of a much longer standing.  Nevertheless, I do not scruple to use the term acquaintance to describe your relation to my work, despite the fact that it was the base for your own, for, in your attempt to re-envision my novel, you showed how soundly you had misunderstood it.

I hope my words do not bring you distress, but I believe them just, and will endeavor to explain to you my dissatisfaction with your manuscript.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland Review

The Nine Kingdoms series is another offering from a writer who normally writes romance. Despite the fact that these books are placed in the romance section at bookstores (along with the rest of Kurland’s work, which belongs there), they are fantasy. Not fantasy-romance like Shana Abé, but romantic fantasy–the difference to my mind being that in fantasy-romance, the plot and the events of the book are based on the love story (like traditional romance novels), while in romantic fantasy there is a larger story in which the romance is neither the main/only plotline nor the focus of the storytelling.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Darkborn by Alison Sinclair Review

Darkborn is a fantasy novel that I’m not quite sure how to further classify or qualify.  It’s not quite romantic fantasy, because even though it has strong themes of love, it is not a love story.  It’s not sword and sorcery, because there are no swords and almost no sorcery.  It’s not epic fantasy in the way most people mean the term, because even though the consequences of failure would affect their entire race, the mission is not a sprawling adventure that covers half the known world.  Dark fantasy is perhaps the closest (even aside from the lovely pun it makes on the title and the world itself), but even that term implies a moral ambiguity and intrinsic hopelessness that aren’t quite apt for this book.  So, it is simply a fantasy novel, an interesting story intersecting love, loyalty, politics, and mystery in a world that is not our own.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Bringing it On | a Jessica Bendinger Interview

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Jessica Bendinger, screen writer, director, and now author.  Her best-known work, at least in my age demographic, is writing Bring It On.  Jessica also wrote and directed Stick It, with Missy Peregrim and Jeff Bridges, and last December she published her first novel with Simon & Schuster, titled The Seven Rays.  It’s a young adult caper into karma and destiny and love and teenage hilarity, and I got the scoop on her inspirations, intentions, and more in our conversation…which you can read below!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Johnny Depp’s THE RUM DIARY Is Like Two Movies in One – REVIEW

I walked away from watching The Rum Diary with feelings as dichotomous as the two halves of the film.  The first half is what the film appears to be in the trailers, while the second is a fairly serious take on corruption and the censorship of news by those who control what is printed.  Neither part is entirely satisfying, for differing reasons, and the two halves hang together rather awkwardly.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS Is a Hot, Delicious Mess | review

I did not go into this newest version of The Three Musketeers with high expectations.  In point of fact, I expected the film to be kind of bad.  I find myself forced to confess a reluctant admiration for just how bad it turned out to be.

What I expected was a historically inaccurate melodrama, with some good swordfights, cheesy dialogue, a stable pretty men and an abundance of pretty costumes.  I got… a historically inaccurate… something.  I think it bordered on theater of the absurd, but I can’t come up with a film equivalency.  Oh, and (spoiler alert) airships.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Mortician | New Orleans Film Fest movie review

The Mortician is almost impossible to classify.  I saw it described as “post-apocalyptic,” but it’s not really SF; a fair number of people in line with me for the screening thought it was horror because the main character is a mortician, but it’s not horror; technically I guess it’s a drama, but it’s not what I think of when I hear “drama.”  The movie is set in a city that has gone to hell, with gangs running rampant and new bodies coming into the city morgue almost daily.  When a young woman’s body is fished out of a canal and brought to the morgue, the mortician (Method Man) finds himself embroiled in the tragic aftermath of her death, especially for her son (Cruz Santiago)—who is now also being targeted by the same man who killed his mother.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

96 MINUTES | movie review via New Orleans Film Festival

96 Minutes is a festival gem.  With the films screening in competition, you never really walk in sure of what you’ll get; like Forest Gump’s box of chocolate, sometimes the film’s a truffle and other times it’s a coconut macaroon (and you hate coconut).  I went into 96 Minutes almost blind—I read the blurb but did not watch the trailer.  The screening was at 9:50 on Saturday, day 2 of NOFF 2011, and the theater was maybe half-full, which is a shame because this movie is powerful. 

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

‘Bellflower’ is Long on Art, Short on Ultra-violence

South by Southwest favorite Bellflower finally made it to New Orleans this week. The movie’s description placed it well inside my sweet zone for films, so I made a point to go to one of its two screenings.  Overall I liked the film.  It had some beautiful and creative filming, the acting was solid—rare in an independent film—and the premise was both interesting and well executed.  I also, however, felt a little bit…oh, what’s the word I want here…underwhelmed by the level of violence which was not as “extreme” as the film’s descriptions implied.  Probably this says more about me than it does about the film, because there was violence, and it was devastating. 

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

‘Get Low’ Should Have Been Better | review

Get Low is one of those movies that really should have been better than it is.  The film has an interesting premise and the cast to pull that premise off, and yet somehow it simply falls flat.  I would like to know the intent behind the film, because intention is the difference between a failure of execution and a failure of conception, and perhaps that would matter to some viewers. 

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Ryan Gosling Steers DRIVE Past Good to Awesome

Drive just might be my favorite movie of 2011.  Certainly it is my favorite movie of the year so far.  I loved it.  Hands down.  It is one of those rare movies that I wouldn’t change a thing about, and I say that after going in with high hopes based on Valhalla Rising(director Refn’s previous effort).

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 | movie review

It’s…over?  After 10 years, eight films, and 1179 minutes (not to mention the books!), the Harry Potter series has finally come to its end.  To be honest, I feel a lingering disbelief, an unwillingness to recognize that after such a span—literally years of anticipation—the last credits have finally rolled. 

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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enuka okuma

Enuka Okuma – “Cookie” – Interview

Enuka Okuma is a young actress and now a director.  She will be back on ABC June 16th for season 2 of the summer series Rookie Blue “as the tough talking rookie cop, Traci Nash, that has a secret past and a killer right hook.”  She can also be seen on the big screen starting July 1, alongside Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in the latter-directed Larry Crowne.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Have a Drink on Ali Liebert on Harper’s Island – Interview

I recently had the pleasure of putting some questions to Canadian actress Ali Liebert, who I (and my long-time Boomtron followers) know best as “Nikki the bartender” from Harper’s Island.  We talk about what her current projects are–hint:  she has a lot!–and what it’s like working with people who have household name recognition.  Read on to find out what she had to say!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Black Death Tries Avoiding the Plague Like Cliches

The Black Death is about what you think it is.  Set near the beginning of the era of the bubonic plague, it follows a young monk out of his abbey while he serves as guide for a group of knights on an errand from their bishop:  to find a remote village said to be free of the sickness by a pact with the devil, and deliver its witches to the holy authority for condemnation.  What the monk sees on the journey will test his faith, and what he finds in the village will threaten his very soul….

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie – Review

The Heroes is a Joe Abercrombie book.  For better or for worse, Abercrombie has created a brand for himself with his world, his style of storytelling and characterization, and his view of epic fantasy—or at least his self-conscious decision to undermine its assumptions while working within its frame—that lead to an easy summary for a reviewer:  if you liked his other stuff, you’ll like this.  It’s a Joe Abercrombie ™ book.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Tangled and the Death of the Disney Fairy Tale

Like Nietzsche with God, last fall Disney declared that the fairy tale was dead.  In this case, that is, Disney would no longer be making animated features out of the old stories.

As a child of the golden years of Disney fairy tales in the early 90’s, I found this news unutterably depressing.  Forget that Disney is notorious for sanitizing the bloodiest aspects of the tales and turning the bitter endings sweet.  My love for the true stories, the old stories, the stories in my various anthologies (and it was various…as many as five, perhaps) of the original form fairy tales did not diminish my love for the Disney versions.  It still doesn’t, when the modernization is done well; case in point, The Princess and the Frog.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

I Saw the Devil: Feel Good Movie of the Year – review

“The count’s frozen face was petrified and ashen and the blood still poured down the parallel cuts.  His eyes bulged wide, full of horror and pain.  It was glorious.  If you like that kind of thing.” –William Goldman, The Princess Bride

If you like that kind of thing, then I Saw the Devil really might be your feel-good movie of 2011.  Like the Oldboy trilogy it was clearly influenced by, this is a revenge story as only Asian cinema can do it these days:  uncompromisingly brutal, undeniably artistic, and superlatively original.  When a serial killer (Choi Min-sik, who I know from Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and The Quiet Family) murders the fiancée of a special agent (Lee Byung-hun, from Three…Extremes, and GI Joe Rise of the Cobra), the agent hunts him down and tortures him for the express purpose of “making him feel the same pain she did.”

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

I Sell the Dead | movie review

I Sell the Dead is proof that not every IFC production is golden. It’s from a couple years ago now—2008, I think—and showed up on my Netflix recommendations page and sounded interesting enough to try. And that was the movie’s entire problem: it sounded interesting, but somehow wasn’t. It’s about a pair of grave robbers in the 18th century who get into the highly specialized sub-division of robbing graves with potential occult significance…accused vampires and zombies, etc. See what I mean? Hell, they had me at “18th century grave robbers,” because I love me a good historical movie, and that is both an intriguing topic and one that hasn’t been the focus of a movie, just a side point in Jack the Ripper type mysteries.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Source Code | movie review

Mozart originally ended his opera Don Giovanni with Don Giovanni descending into Hell, his soul claimed by the devil, and later added a final ensemble to bring the performance away from the bleakness of that end, which was considered too dark. For me, the opera is stronger with the final ensemble omitted, because it allows the sheer emotional and moral power of Don Giovanni’s fate to linger in your mind instead of being mitigated by the tidy cheerfulness of the dénouement. Source Code suffered from the same problem: there was a clear point of finality to the story, one artistic moment of filming and philosophy that to me was the natural ending…and then there was an epilogue to that. An add-on to the story which changed the impact and the implications of that previous scene, and, for me, was a serious detraction from what would otherwise have been a truly great movie.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Lincoln Lawyer – review

Matthew McConaughey is one of those actors that you just love even though they don’t really do that many good movies.  He’s done a handful over the years, maybe three or four, and he’s a man who makes a lot of movies.  Thus I’ve joked for years that, with the amount of roles he takes, sooner or later he’s going to make another good movie just by accident.  I am happy to tell you that I was right.  He did finally make a good movie (though whether it was an accident or not I couldn’t begin to say) in The Lincoln Lawyer.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Adjusting the Adjustment Bureau

When a movie could have been good, but wasn’t, it becomes an even worse movie experience than if there had been no expectation, no potential, for anything better.  So it was with The Adjustment Bureau.  This movie was like 30 Days of Night:  it had everything going for it—unique premise, great cast, decent if not brilliant filming, and a budget to support any necessary effects—and yet it somehow managed to squander them all and create a bad movie made worse by the simple fact that it shouldn’t have been.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Animal Kingdom | movie review

Animal Kingdom is not a movie about the jungle but simply the law of the jungle: it’s kill or be killed, and only the strong survive. As the poster tagline claims, it is a crime story, about a crime family–the Cody’s–and what happens when their anchor, their leader, is killed. The main character is teenager “J” who has to find a way to survive his crazy uncles’ schemes to get revenge and then to cover up the murders they commit, and to figure out where his own conscience is when it comes to the law and his family. This makes it equally as much a coming of age story as a crime drama, and it is effective in both genres.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Blue Valentine | movie review

Blue Valentine screened here at the NO Film Fest the same week Welcome to the Rileys, Black Swan, and 127 Hours did.  I did not end up seeing it due to a prior engagement the night it screened, and so I watched the controversy about its rating–should it be NC17 or R, and if the board said NC17 should they re-edit to get it downgraded to R?–with trepidation.  After all, I’d blown potentially my only chance to see the “true” film.  Thankfully the film’s producers successfully argued for an R rating without any adjustment of the film, and after watching it I really don’t understand what all the fuss was about.  There was nothing that I saw which came even close to being NC17, so far from it, in fact, that I had to reconfirm with my companion that it had not, in fact, been edited.  The whole situation created a lot of media buzz for the film, but what it should have been doing was highlighting the ridiculous double standards for violence and sexuality in our Puritanical rating system; 100 deaths an hour is no problem, but explicit, clearly non-exploitative sex is still Too Much.  At least they got this one right in the end; this is not an NC-17 movie.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The King’s Speech | movie review

The King’s Speech is a problematic movie for me.  On the one hand, it’s a really great underdog story, the acting jobs were fabulous, and it’s a movie about hope in a time of darkness…but on the other hand is the history buff I know pointing out that he was hardly the only heroic figure or even inspiring orator of his age, and I can’t really disagree with that.  In school we learned about Churchill, not the king.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Dilemma | movie review

I almost didn’t go see this movie for three reasons:  it was getting panned by Rotten Tomatoes (somewhere in the 20 percent’s when I checked, which is just shy of worst movie of the year numbers); acting opposite my boy Vince Vaughn was not Jon Favreau as I had thought from a half-watched preview but Paul Blart, Mall Cop; and the rating was PG-13.  However.  It had three arguments in its favor, and those proved to be stronger than the negatives–Ron Howard directed, I have yet to not be entertained by Vince Vaughn no matter how ridiculous the movie around him, and we are in that empty January stretch after all the good movies from December have been seen and before all the Academy nominees get wide-released for those who didn’t get them over the holidays.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Spellweaver by Lynn Kurland – Review

Spellweaver is the latest book in Lynn Kurland’s fantasy-romance Nine Kingdoms series and the direct sequel to A Tapestry of Spells.  This makes it the middle book of a trilogy that parallels the first three Nine Kingdoms books; at the end of this book the two stories had still not come together, but the distance between them has been cut down significantly, though, knowing where the third book will go (it’s set up very obviously at the end of this one), I’m not sure if the two sets of characters will intersect partway through the final leg of Ruith’s quest or not until he and Sarah have successfully finished it.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Nocturne by Syrie James – Review

Let me be honest:  Nocturne by Syrie James is not the sort of novel that I naturally gravitate to.  I read it because it was offered to me and sounded interesting enough to try–the sort of book that a friend lends you, or that you pick up from the airport bookstore’s limited options, at least for me.  The book does not attempt to hide what it’s about; if the cover doesn’t give it away, the first chapter from the hero’s point of view does, so I don’t feel it’s a spoiler to say that this is a vampire love story, and to admit that my primary point of interest was whether, in our collective exhaustion with the variations on the form, this new story might go back to what vampires are supposed to be.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

True Grit | movie review

True Grit is the latest movie from the Coen brothers, and their best since No Country for Old Men.  It convinces me that they should stick to movies that are not comedic in structure but simply in tone; this is a revenge story layered with dark humor, but the characters and the situations are always, usually literally, deadly serious.  The story is told from the point of view of 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), who sets out to bring her father’s murderer to justice in frontier Arkansas.  She hires the toughest, roughest, most ruthless U.S. Marshall in Fort Smith (Jeff Bridges) and insists on accompanying him into Indian territory on his hunt.  They run up against an uptight Texas Ranger (Matt Damon) who wants to bring the man back to Texas for trial.  It becomes a battle of wills and endurance to see who has the courage and tenacity to take Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) dead or alive…to see who has the true grit.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Tron Legacy – Review

Tron Legacy is the sort of movie that, in my opinion, requires a disclosure of a reviewer’s perspective up front.  So to that end, I feel compelled to admit that I have only seen Tron once, and that I saw it about three days ago with the specific end of watching the original before I saw the remake.

I mean, sequel.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Welcome to the Rileys | review

Welcome to the Rileys is the only special screening I tried to get into at New Orleans Film Fest but could not, due to how quickly it sold out (that fact made me take no chances with 127 Hours and The Black Swan).  My primary interests in the film were that it was set mostly in New Orleans, and all of us here love to see how our city is shown on the big screen, and that director Jake Scott is the son of Ridley Scott.  As with David Lynch’s daughter Jennifer, I was curious to see what someone from that kind of family background would do with a debut film.  After hearing all the positive chatter about this movie at other showings around the festival, I made a point to see the movie before it left theaters around here (I think it is still lingering in a few theaters elsewhere, if you haven’t seen it and want to).

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

A Tapestry of Spells by Lynn Kurland – Review

I had this book on my shelf for the better part of a year before I picked it up to read.  I had really enjoyed the original trilogy in the Nine Kingdoms world Kurland started in a couple fantasy-romance novelas (for anthologies), but she uses a style of storytelling that lends itself to a certain mood.  It has always struck me as being an almost tongue-in-cheek parodic tone poking (loving) fun at the quasi-archaic language and bardic tale form of many epic fantasy, while gleefully diving into the worst cliches of it.  So, between needing the mood for something light even its darkest moments and assuming this was a completely new cast in a completely new time period from the trilogy, it took me a while before I had that evening where I looked at my shelf and thought, Yes, THAT one.  Honestly?  Waiting that long was a mistake.  (Er…sort of.  The flip side of not enjoying this book sooner than I did is that I only have to wait a month for the sequel, which comes out in early 2011.)

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Naked Heat by Richard Castle – Review

This is the second book from ABC’s fictional crime author Richard Castle, and I think it did a better job than the first one of separating itself from the show and simply existing as a mystery novel.  If you watch the show, you know it’s the book Castle wrote after the cases he helped on in Season 2; if you don’t, all you need to know is that it’s the second book in the series, following last year’s Heat Wave.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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Troubled Waters | Sharon Shinn Interview

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharon Shinn last fall with all of the questions that had built up over a decade or more of reading her work.  After reading her most recent novel, Troubled Waters, I found I had a few more questions, most of them related to the new book.  I caught up with Sharon via email to discuss how it felt to write a single novel after spending so long on a series, what some of her inspirations behind the setting were, and what’s coming up next for her.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin – Review

In the first book in Kate Griffin’s series that continues to prove to the world how awesome urban fantasy would be if it the genre name had a goddamned thing to do with its content, Matthew Swift is resurrected by a spell, his soul animated with the life of the blue electric angels until they are he and he is them and they are light, they are life, they are fire.  He battles a shadow that is taking over London and killing all the sorcerers, and staggers away from the aftermath without any real direction for his new life.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski by Adam Bertocci – Review

Some of you may remember the brief spotlight I put on this project back when it was just a viral sensation on the web.  Others of you may remember my interview with the author.  What you may not have heard was that the website disappeared to make way for a formally (or “traditionally”) published book of the same basic text, only tweaked and edited and generally made better.  Bertocci’s publicist was kind enough to send me a copy of the final book as thanks for talking up the original, so please consider this a review of the product more than the idea.  The concept is, in two words, tearfully hilarious.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Black Swan review from the New Orleans Film Festival

I could review The Black Swan with one word:  amazing.  The film is dark and shifting, conflating dreams and obsessions into a terrifying reality where nothing is certain.  Natalie Portman stars as Nina, a ballerina dedicated to achieving perfection whose first starring role is threatened by a new member of the troupe, the restless and unrepentant Lily (Mila Kunis).  The only question is—is it Nina’s obsession, or Lily’s, that shapes the terrible path Nina finds herself walking?

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

127 Hours | movie review from the New Orleans Film Festival

Danny Boyle’s latest movie is based on a true story (chronicled in the memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston), and it would be a disservice to the story and the film for me not to be open about all of it.  So if you are looking to watch this movie as a “What happens?” narrative, this is not the review for you.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Gareth Edwards’ Monsters | movie review

Monsters is, as the title suggests, a monster movie.  Sort of.  It’s also an impressive achievement for a first-time director, much less one who had a tiny budget and created all the effects himself on an Intel-powered computer.  The basic premise is set up in about three sentences at the start of the film—that a NASA probe sent for proof of life crashed over Mexico and deposited that alien life there.  It’s quarantined as an “infected” zone, but nothing the military has done in six years has really contained it, and now the creatures are simply a fact of life around the zone….

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Never Let Me Go | movie review

Never Let Me Go is adapted from a book that I have not read.  So if you are looking for a book to film comparison, sorry, I can’t give you that—all I can judge is the story as presented in the movie.  And while I walked out of this film overwhelmed by emotion and feeling like it had been a good movie, after a day or so to think about it more rationally I came down on the side of disappointing.  Yes.  This was a disappointing movie; not bad, but not as good as it so obviously could have been.  I don’t know, however, whether it was a flaw in the story of the book or merely how it was presented here.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn – Review

It feels weird to call this book vintage Shinn and mean it as the highest of all compliments, because I loved all five books in the Twelve Houses series, and last fall’s novella collection was a delight.  But Troubled Waters was the first stand-alone book in a new world in a very long time, and it reminded me afresh why she’s my favorite author.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Art of the Steal – Review

Now this is what a documentary should be!  After my disappointment with Restrepo a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled to realize, after popping in this DVD, that The Art of the Steal was reminding me why I love documentary films in the first place.  It takes an important but relatively obscure conflict, lays out the history and the current state of affairs interspersed with personal opinions from some of the players involved (and makes those who declined to be interviewed look even worse), and it leaves you in suspense about the outcome to the very end…and possibly beyond, as nothing irreversible has been done yet.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

A Glimpse of Winter Falling – Game of Thrones

Since I missed the in-production teaser when it aired during the Countdown to True Blood on Sunday, I had to watch it on HBO’s website.  Which meant that I also read the introduction by the producers (thank goodness there were no obvious spoilers in there, even if they did reference things that haven’t quite happened yet!).  Basically, I agreed wholeheartedly with everything they (and then the actors and writers in the video) were saying about why an adaptation of A Game of Thrones needed to be an HBO production and why it needed to be a series.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Juliet by Anne Fortier – Review

I haven’t been as excited about a book as I was when I got to the end of Juliet in a long time.  A year, maybe.  Anne Fortier has managed what might well be the impossible:  making Romeo and Juliet fresh again.  Not in the way that West Side Story did, by re-setting and re-casting the story, but by taking the plain old medieval Italy Romeo and Juliet story and telling it straight and telling it well.  The premise of the book is that modernday Julie Jacobs finds out that she is really Giulietta Tolomei, last daughter of a cursed house, and a great-to-the-nth-power niece of the Juliet, the real Juliet, the one Shakespeare based his story on–Giulietta Tolomei of 1340 Siena.  Julie travels to Siena in search of a family treasure, but all she finds is a nest of convoluted clues, murky stories from the past, absurdly superstitious locals…and, perhaps, her destiny.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Valhalla Rising | movie review

Valhalla Rising is a movie we in my household have been praying would come to our local independent spot since the first trailer appeared online a few months back.  It has yet to do so, but it is currently available on demand from our local cable company (Cox; I would imagine it’s available on other carriers, too, and if not I think Netflix might have it for download).  So we ordered that, turned off all the lights, and prepared for a good bloodthirsty head-rolling beserker rollick through Viking-conquered Scotland.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Winter’s Bone | movie review

Winter’s Bone is about a rural Missouri teenager whose drug-manufacturing father left her between a rock and a hard place when he put their property up to post his bond and then failed to make his court date.  Ree, the teenage daughter holding together the family for her “sick” (read:  withdrawn and broken) mother and two young siblings has to try and find him—or his body—going to all the places he used to go and all his known associates…all of whom are just as poor and often even more degenerate than he was.  It’s a movie about desperation and consequences, and it creates a mood or melancholy or perhaps simply cold pragmatism that you can’t immediately shake upon leaving its confines.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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Jodelle Ferland Interview | Mum on Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon is a man of many secrets, and one of them is the precise nature of the threats or coercions he clearly uses to keep the cast of his latest project, The Cabin in the Woods, absolutely mum.  Is it hit squads?  Does he have the real-life model for Serenity’s unnamed Operative on speed-dial?  It has to be something about that dire, because no one on the Whedon-written, Drew Goddard-directed movie is talking.

I recently caught up with the young, talented, and fabulously self-possessed Jodelle Ferland on set in New Orleans.  I was there to talk about two of her other projects, but while there I couldn’t resist asking about The Cabin in the Woods, in which she plays a character named Patience Buckner, according to the movie’s IMDB page.  The most revealing thing I could get out of her was that she thinks “everyone will love it” when they finally see the movie.  And, no, Mr. Whedon, you don’t need to hit that #2 on your phone–girl stonewalled me like a divorce attorney.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Swords and Dark Magic edited by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan – Review

I grew up reading fantasy.  More than that, even, I had fantasy read to me before I could read for myself (clearly, I never had a chance).  There was a point, though, in adolescence, where I stopped reading epic, heroic, sword-wielding fantasy because it all seemed so…endlessly the same.  The irony of my timing (the mid-1990s) is that my giving up on the most mainstream part of the genre came at about the same time as the first glimmerings of a turning point into a darker and grimier place—the Martins and the Eriksons and so on.  But I didn’t hear about these “gritty” series until a few years ago, after coming back to fantasy thanks mostly to Scott Lynch (because of his intriguing title) and Joe Abercrombie (because I have a friend by the same name).

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Inception | movie review

Inception is probably the first movie of 2010 that movie lovers have been legitimately anticipating—that is, looking forward to since that very first preview back in February.  Certainly I was.  Sometimes that anticipation is a bad thing, as when your hopes are dashed against a mediocre production; sometimes it makes a movie even better, when it meets or exceeds all of your expectations.  Inception isn’t quite the latter but certainly isn’t anything else.  Mostly, I think, what few preconceptions I had about the plot or scenario the movie would cover turned out to be wrong, so I can’t call it what I expected, but the movie as it exists blew me away.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Twilight: Eclipse | movie review

I thought Eclipse was the best of the three movies so far, though not by as large a margin over New Moon as New Moon was over Twilight.  New director David Slade retained the same look established by the first installment and continued, for better or worse (in my opinion worse) by the second.  The only points of non-continuity were Victoria being played by Bryce Dallas Howard instead of Rachel LeFevre, and it showed—not that BDH did a bad job, just that she’s both obviously not the same actress and she just looked too…sweet—and Jasper’s wig service going from delightfully wild fro-let to coarse 19th-century bowl chop.  All the wigs and dye jobs were as ridiculous as the Cullen’s make-up, and while the wolves looked better than they did last time, they’re still obviously CG renderings.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

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Twilight with Jodelle Ferland | Interview

Jodelle Ferland is the young actress playing Bree Tanner in Twilight: Eclipse.  She’s got a resume a mile long already, even though she’s not even sixteen, and it includes working with heavyweights like Terry Gilliam and Jeff Bridges and on movies like Silent Hill and The Messengers , which pretty much everyone who likes horror movies saw when they came out.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – Review

For reasons I cannot adequately explain, even to myself, I prefer to read fantasy over science fiction, but I prefer SF movies over fantasy.  So I don’t actually read a lot of true science fiction novels.  The Forever War is a book my SF-reading fiance tossed my way as an outstanding novel that also presaged or even directly influenced several of my favorite SF pieces (Ender’s Game and the short film Letters from a Distant Star, to name two).  He also threw it at his best friend who is neither a grand reader nor much of an SF reader–and he actually finished it, which kind of speaks to the book’s qualities to engage and retain your interest.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer – Review

I’m assuming if you’re reading this you like Twilight and have already read the other books, yes?  And you want one of two things from me here–a recommendation about whether this new novella is worth picking up and paying the $9-$14 for (discount dependent), or a discussion of OMG What It Revealed.  In the interests of pleasing everyone (myself included!) I’ll do both.  Clearly delineated, so if you’re in the first camp you can get your recommendation spoiler-free, and then come back later to talk about it.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

BookExpo America 2010 Round-Up – Elena’s Day

I thought I’d play sweeper with our BEA 2010 coverage and leave my report for last, in case either Damon or B.T. missed something.  They didn’t, so instead of the triumph of recalling an appointment they forgot, I’ve left myself with a challenge:  how to tell you about the things we did in a new and interesting way (dare I make it a competition and say “more interesting way”?).

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Princess of the Sword by Lynn Kurland – Review

This third and final novel of the Nine Kingdoms trilogy was closer in style to the first than the second. It had more action propelling the story forward and less character development, since all the characters who needed to come to terms with who they are had taken care of that in the second book.

There was a pretty specific list of wrap-ups that had to happen:  the correct spell for closing the well of evil had to be found, then they had to reforge the magic sword Morgan broke at the end of the first book, then they had to go close the well, and then they had to fight the most evil putz of a sorcerer of all time–you know, the one the ancestors didn’t kill when they had the chance. And that’s what happened, along with some other minor happenings that it would spoil the surprise to talk about.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Mage’s Daughter by Lynn Kurland | Book Review

So this is the second book in the Nine Kingdoms series, and even though the first one ended on a cliffhanger, this section doesn’t actually pick up right where the first left off.  Rather, we come in a month later. Morgan has survived the poisoning by the evil mastermind sorcerer (whom Miach’s ancestors had a chance to kill and decided to let one of their descendents take out instead) that ends the first book.  She is still recovering at her childhood foster-father’s, and Miach has contained the spreading evil for the time being and can now follow his heart. Most of the book is wrapped up in the two of them finally admitting their love for one another, and Morgan getting past the whole Miach lied to her thing and then Morgan accepting who she really is–the daughter of an elven princess and one of the most evil mages of all time. (Except, you know, the one Miach’s great-to-the-nth-power grandfather chose to not kill.)

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Kick-Ass | movie review

Kick-Ass lives up to its name.  Best movie I’ve seen at the theater in months.  I had pretty high hopes going in–all the bad reviews I saw were focused on how violent it was, which just made me more excited–and sometimes that kind of anticipation makes the actual movie experience a let-down.  Not so in this case.  I had a smile on my face throughout the movie, which, while in some ways exactly what I was expecting, also managed to surprise me with its take on the superhero phenomenon.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin Review

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first book in a new series (The Inheritance Trilogy, which lends itself to some potentially hilarious confusion with The Inheritance Cycle) by a new author, and I think that shows.  The story and the world had quite a fascinating premise, but it was executed with mixed results, at least for me.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Cassandra Sawtell on Harper’s Island and Gilliam| Interview

Actress Cassandra Sawtell, whom we hear at the empire know from Harper’s Island, has been nominated for Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) at the 2010 Young Artist Awards for her work on the show. Cassandra joins fellow nominees Valentina Barron, Ryan Newman, Miley Cyrus, and Miranda Cosgrove in the category.   The 31st Annual Young Artist Awards  will take place on Sunday, April 11, 2010 at The Beverly Garland in Studio City, CA.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Repo Men | Movie Review

Repo Men is a movie I wish someone could repo from my memory banks.  It was the biggest waste of two hours of my life since Avatar (and possibly longer, since it’s not a film that has the cultural valence of James Cameron’s mega-hit), and I damn near walked out on it.  Ultimately I’m glad I didn’t, because the ending presented a twist that moved the film a couple steps closer to not quite terrible…but not anywhere near enough.  It was still terrible.

So what was so wrong with it?

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn | Book Review

Sharon Shinn’s novel Fortune and Fate is another in her Twelve Houses series, although this one was not part of the original story arc. It did have the same group of characters from the main arc as minor characters here, but the story was about the aftermath of the war rather than the building up to and then fighting the war itself. It picked up two years after the last book (Reader and Raelynx) ended, and followed a minor character from the last book who had a life-changing event happen during that story.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Robert Pattinson’s Remember Me | movie review

Um. Wow. I am really not sure how to approach this one. First of all, this movie was not what I expected.  It looked from the previews like a love story, possibly happy and possibly bittersweet, but a fairly straightforward story about a boy who starts seeing the daughter of a policeman he had a negative encounter with.  Okay, well, I guess that is what the movie’s about.  But it’s also full of the boy’s family drama, so much so that the subplot almost overwhelms the main story, and the existential tagline about “live in the moments” is pretty much nonexistent from the text of the film.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Adam Bertocci Interview

Sunday morning I brought the internet gem that is Two Gentlemen of Lebowski to your attention.  Now I’ve got the man of the hour himself here to explain what possibly prompted him to combine Shakespeare and the Dude, why he thinks he’s qualified to do it, and how he went about putting together the greatest mash-up of all time.  Or, at least, of 2010.  So far.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Daybreakers | movie review

Daybreakers, AKA 2010’s first vampire movie, is a pretty solid movie-going experience.  It delivers on its trailers, presenting an eerie future where almost all the humans on earth have been changed into vampires–and in having done so not just not solved but actually worsened all of the problems and injustices in the world.  The blood supply is on the verge of exhaustion, blood prices are skyrocketing beyond the reach of most of the populace, the number of vampires feeding on each other or themselves and becoming mutated monsters is exploding, and a non-toxic substitute has yet to be found.  Chief hematologist for the largest blood supplier, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), only thinks he has problems…until he encounters a group of humans who want him to find a cure.  Not for the blood supply crisis, but for vampirism itself.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Princess and the Frog – movie review

Brad Pitt called The Curious Case of Benjamin Button “a love letter to New Orleans.”  Well.  If Button was a love letter, then Disney’s The Princess and the Frog was a Homeric poem in the grand lady’s honor, because it caught the culture and flavor of New Orleans and southern Louisiana far better than the 2008 opus did.  I honestly don’t know how this movie will view to people across the United States, whether the region-specific presentation of the story and the setting will diminish its appeal or raise it for being a uniquely American fairy tale.  But for me, as someone who lives down here in the swamp, it was a fantastic movie.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle – Review

New York City is in the grip of a heat wave, and Detective Nicki Heat is in the grip of a stubborn case.  Real estate mogul Matthew Starr was pitched from his balcony, and the only suspects either have alibis or could not have accessed his apartment at the time of the murder.  The case gets more complicated when a second body enters the mix along with a multi-million dollar art theft.  And, as if things weren’t complicated enough, Detective Heat has a ride-along with her on this case:  Pulitzer-winning journalist Jameson Rook….

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Twilight New Moon | movie review

Going to a midnight movie is an experience that has to be included in the review of the film.  First, who was there?  Mostly female–about 1 in 10 people were male–and not as many shrieking junior high girls as I expected.  The audience was mostly high school/early college kids and adult women.  Didn’t see any grandmothers, but there were at least a couple bona fide cougars there.  Rrroooow.  And who were they picking up?  Was it the two dudes running around in actual Twilight T-shirts?  Was it the unintentional (or was it?) Emmett with his hat sideways?  No!  It was Ben, from the local college, who asked himself “how can I make this ridiculous female obsession work for me?” and came up with the idea to mousse up his hair like Edward, slap on the oversize movie-star glasses Edward wears in the first movie, and saunter around with the Cullen copyrighted “I’ve been bringing sexy back since 1917 and I’ve still got it” strut.  Girls were asking him for pictures right and left…I overheard some girl say he’d told her she was number 193 to ask for a picture so far that night–and this was in line for my drink and popcorn before the movie!  That guy gets the Young Entreprenuer of the Week award. I know he wasn’t selling anything, exactly, but he made himself a hot commodity, and got all the Facebook friend requests he could hope for.  Also he won the hearts of at least a few underage girls, because there was a pair sitting near us who kept giggling about him.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Quatrain by Sharon Shinn – Review

Quatrain is a collection of, as the name suggests, four all-new novellas from Sharon Shinn.  Each is set in a distinct world established from previous books, and each story stands firmly against the others.  Shinn did an excellent job of varying the up four short pieces, not just the setting but also the characters and even the type of stories themselves.  Two are love stories, and two are friendship stories (although one has intimations that more is possible); one involves a girl still discovering herself, one focuses on a young woman firmly grounded in her goals, and two feature women past the first reckless blush of youth; two are from blatant fantasy settings (read:  full of magic), and two are from fantastic science fiction settings; two are sequels and two are prequels to other books; there are lost loves, new loves, and loves that have always been there but never bloomed; there are characters we’ve seen before and completely new personalities.  In short, it has just a little bit of everything.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Elena’s World – Zombieland review

The best romantic comedy of the year!

I make that claim with only about 5% facetiousness. Zombieland, despite its name and premise (a pair of unlikely allies making their way through an America overrun with zombies) is much closer to a romantic comedy formula than a zombie movie formula.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Elena’s World – My Thoughts on Shane Acker’s 9

Shane Acker’s 9 is a movie that has been much anticipated around BSCReview.  We pretty thoroughly covered the media blitz for this movie, all of which I found intriguing and enticing:  the date tie-in, “9/9/9:  9.”  The taglines—“When our world ended, their world began,” and, “This isn’t your little brother’s animated movie.”  The previews that showed crumbling relics of human civilization awash in a post-nuclear-holocaust yellow and creepy machines that have taken the place of natural predators.  The teasers that just flashed the numbers and characters 1-9 with epic music scoring the montage.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by E. Van Lowe – Review

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie is a novel for young adults.  I read a fair amount of YA books, and I’m never quite sure how to judge them.  I mean, I can tell you whether I enjoyed it, of course, but it’s hard for me to gauge how the book’s intended audience would react—I suspect in large part because I never read YA fiction when I was at that age, but only after becoming an adult who got bored with relentlessly adult novels.  So, my thoughts on this book may be a little bit harder than would be the thoughts of the typical 14-year-old girl.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Eve of Chaos by S.J. Day – Review

Eve of Chaos is the third book in S.J. Day’s Marked series, following Eve of Destruction.  It isn’t necessary to have read the first two books to go ahead and jump into the series with this volume.  The author integrates summaries of the relevant back-story, and most of the action is self-contained despite it finishing up the story arc started with Eve of Darkness.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie – Review

Since the books in the First Law trilogy cannot stand alone, I consider them to be one work.  One super-massive-red-giant, thousands-of-pages-long, split-into-three-volumes work.  That makes Best Served Cold Joe Abercrombie’s sophomore effort–which is not to say it’s sophomoric, despite the copious amount of f-bombs.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Eve of Destruction by S.J. Day – Review

It picks up right where the first book left off, with Eve dying at the hands of an Infernal (denizens of Hell are called Infernals), but quickly skips to a few days after her resurrection, which cost her mentor and her handler, the brothers Alec (Cain) and Reed (Abel), an unknown amount of favors to various higher-ups.  Myself, I’d have liked to know more about the whole dying and resurrection part, but Day really tries to focus in on the pertinent events for her books, and that was not a pertinent event.  The part that mattered was that Eve got to come back and fight another day… although she still has yet to decide whether she’s fighting for the divine or for her own freedom from the Mark.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Gabrielle Faust | Interview

Elena recently caught up with Gabrielle Faust, author of the Eternal Vigilance series, to talk about inspirations, favorite vampires, and what happened to Texas’s football stadium when Austin got bombed in the apocalypse.  Read on for a fascinating look at her thoughts on vampires, dystopian futures, and more!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

EVirtuality | TV (FOX) review

Virtuality is a new original program that Fox premiered last night.  It was unclear to me whether it was a TV movie or the pilot for a new series that may or may not actually advance into further episodes.  The brief description I saw that made me tune it was that it is about a group of astronauts in space whose virtual reality program is either hacked or malfunctions or becomes sentient and unstable in its clumsy birth into a confusing world, because one way or another they start getting terrorized by the program.

Sure sounded cool.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Eve of Darkness by S.J. Day – Review

This book reminded me why expectations are so important to the reading experience.  I expected it to be “fun beach reading,” and that’s exactly what it is.  Had I expected something else, I might have been less pleased.

Eve of Darkness is an urban fantasy of the “ass-kicking chicks in leather” variety, and also one that could almost fit in the romance section, except it breaks too many rules of romance by being dark and violent and angry.  It is set in modern-day California, where the hapless (although presumably not guiltless) Eve is taken from her normal, orderly life and thrust into a world of demons and werewolves and other creatures that go bump in the night…and sometimes in broad daylight.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Chris Dane Owens | Interview

I am delighted to bring you a BSC exclusive interview with Chris Dane Owens!  Chris has recently created one of the most magical and fabulous fantasy videos of all time to accompany his new single, “Shine on Me,” from his forthcoming album, Blue Stone.  He was kind enough to let me pick his brain via email regarding his vision and his process.  I hope you will check out his work and support his wonderful artistic endeavor.

So, without further ado, on to the questions!

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

Living With Ghosts by Kari Sperring – Review

Those words are the summary the publishers chose to put on the back of Living with Ghosts, and I think they are as compelling and accurate a summation of this story and this world as possible.  The city of Merafi, built with blood bound into its stones to keep it safe from supernatural forces like ghosts and elemental magic, is under siege by two ambitious enemies of the state trying to unwork those bindings.  Already rain is falling unseasonably, and the river at the heart of Merafi’s commerce and location is rising.  A plague is breeding in the lower city, and civil unrest threatens the uneasy peace.  Creatures of mist and claws begin to roam the streets at night, and ghosts begin to rise and walk by day.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop – Review

The Shadow Queen is the latest installment of the Black Jewels series, either Book 6 or Book 7 depending on whether you count only the novels or include the novella/short story collection.  It is a series in the loosest sense; the books are set in the same world and there is some overlap of characters and timeline, but some are designed to stand alone.

The Shadow Queen is both a sequel of sorts to the original Black Jewels trilogy (Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness), in that it picks up with a new set of characters right after the cataclysmic world-changing end of the trilogy, and also a sequel to the only true stand-alone novel, The Invisible Ring, because it follows the descendents of the characters in that story.  This book introduces Theran Grayhaven, the last descendent of the Gray Lady—the last good Queen in his homeland of Dena Nehele—who needs to find a Queen who lives by the old ways to rule his people and help bring his land back to life.  He is sent a Queen named Cassidy, a woman who isn’t sure she’s up to the job and needs the validation of being useful as much as Dena Nehele needs a good Queen.  In order to accomplish the job she was sent to do, she must learn to trust herself—and convince the embittered, angry members of her new Court to serve her willingly.  If she can’t, Dena Nehele will fall.

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.