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Much too cleaver (Ripper Street, 2012-2014; Sept détectives, 2012; Mr. Jack, 2006)

Already missing Game of Thrones characters and still not getting any proper news about Telltale’s next episode?

Assistant to Spooks/MI5 Matthew Macfadyen enacting Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (yeah, historical character, head of CID of the Met Police at the time of Whitechapel Murders of Jack the Ripper), here is Jerome Flynn, that you also know as Bronn, playing Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake.

Sergeant Bronn Drake

In episode S01 E05, you may also see Ser Jorah Mormont, aka Iain Glen. Solid cast. Solid setup, nice costumes and good stories, as you can expect when someone dares to use XIXe century London as environment.

One of the latest Sept comic-series episode is also cast in Victorian period. That’s a good example of the best this series can provide -some episodes were unfortunately not overly good-, a series with no set genre, authors, characters, but just focused on this number : 7 (sept/seven). Selected authors are to come up with a story focused on seven important characters from a specific genre. And this one is named Sept détectives.

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Not a surprise, the seven detectives are inspired by the classics of the genre. Inspired but consistent, all of them. Graphics are good. Finally, and that’s probably what matters most in this genre, the story is well written, twisty I might add. I was not familiar with Herick Hanna’s work, the scenarist. Pretty pretty pretty good. Looks promising.

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To stay in context, you’d be wise to give a try to Mr. Jack. That’s a two players board game: one is trying to get the ripper on the large, the other behind bars. I found it well-balanced and properly designed. It does not takes hours to grab the rules neither does it gives too much room to luck. There are extensions to add cards or change scenery (New York version) that I have not tried but would be willing too.

After all, the streets of London can never be safe!

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Où est-il mon moulin de la Place Blanche ? Mon tabac et mon bistrot du coin ? (Fifth Gear, 2002-2015; Ulysse, les chants du retour, 2014; La Revue Dessinée #07, 2015)

I was getting used to it in TV show. For instance, in Fifth Gear, many times you just see the presenters talking, listening to themselves and any a laugh, instead of showing something actually on topic. When they are actually testing a car, you’ll see most of the time their faces instead of the car or the road. Why not, since it’s about how they feel with these cars, it could make sense.

But now it looks it goes also in comics. In Jean Harambat‘s Ulysse, les chants du retour, you’re often faced drawing not of Ulysses but of (somewhat) famous french people that studied him, as historian, scenarist or whatever. As if you were meeting them, or were watching a TV interview. Drawings are good. Thought about the whole Odyssey are smart. Nonetheless, I find these graphic interview somewhat disturbing. It add an extra layer. It’s not longer just about Homer’s epic poem, then I get in front of me someone posing.

It adds extra characters. I gave a lot of consideration to it and my conclusion stands: it’s distracting. Would Plato be fun on prime TV? Not so sure.

In some cases, like in Benoit Collombat et Etienne Davodeau Les barbouzes de la République, as published in La Revue Dessinée #07, since the story is really made as some sort of investigation, it’s actually ok. You see the characters interacting will people they meet and that have a direct influence on their understanding of what they investigate.

I guess in this case, it really add something. Instead of pretending to reconstruct the past, it just show a process to get familiar with it.

But then, in the same La Revue Dessinée, you get a whole investigation about illegal immigrants. Most of it (every drawing almost), you see a supposedly pretty white girl face expressing her view on the topic. There is really no reason to see her face at all. She’s on the side, not illegally immigrating and not affected in any way by illegal immigrants. But still, we see her face and listen to mushy mushy about how cool would be western europe if the whole planet was there.

So, really, I think something is wrong in general in this trend. And it’s obvious when the point being made is crap. Then you are just supposed to identify yourself to the faces you are submerged with, instead of actually thinking about what is being said.

Où ferez-vous alors vos culbutes, Vous, les pauvres gosses à Poulbot?

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Pour nous refaire des combats, nous avions à nos repas des gourganes et du lard rance, du vinaigre au lieu du vin (Long John Silver, 2007-2013; Black Sails, 2014; Expeditions: Conquistador, 2013)

Ahoy! Long John Silver, does it ring a bell? It should, that’s a character from Stevenson’s Treasure Island. And such, that’s also the title of a french comics by Xavier Dorison and Mathieu Lauffray. He was quatermaster under Captain Flint and this comic is kind of a sequel -the authors wrote they’d humbly rather call this a tribute-, the story of this pirate going to South America to find hidden treasures. I haven’t read Robert Louis Stevenson since so many years. I nonetheless felt with odd nostalgy this same ambiance of mysteries, treasons and struggles with the sea or forest. That’s a must read.

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So I was slightly disappointed it came to an end at tome IV, released during the second half of 2013. As such, Black Sails came as a good news – not a sequel but a TV-series prequel to Treasure Island. While being focused on the hunt of a treasure galleon, John Silver is there too, along with Flint real live and not as hearsay/legend. The general picture is consistent, there’s always something going on, that’s definitely good stuff. That’s a must see at the moment, at least if you like a bit of violence, dialogs, treasons and sex (but who doesn’t?).

Finally, I got Expeditions: Conquistador while it was on steam sale and had the good surprise to find the same keys ingredients: treasure hunt in an hostile environment with a team of moronic and fun lads and gals to deal with. Even though the game does not seems entirely bug free, even though sometimes I’m confused about the consistency of the difficulty (during fights, I tend to either get perfect success to total failure, not much middle ground), so far I enjoy the opportunity to play the Flint/Long John Silver somehow. So that’s a good buy, at least when it’s only sale.

Si l’histoire du Grand coureur a pu vous toucher le coeur, Ayez donc belles manières et payez-nous largement, Du vin, du rack, de la bière, et nous serons tous contents.

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They said he came from the wrong side of town (The Musketeers, 2014)

Missing some modern-eraish ambiance, waiting for the Witcher 3 to go public? Maybe you ought to give a try to The Musketeers. There is not much to say about the content: de cape et d’épée 101. Ok, I’ve read some review about how the king could have been portrayed otherwise, wtf with the sexy leather clothes, and this and that, but I wonder whether this kind-of-fun-to-read-review is really supposed to make a point or just working hard to be fun to read. Because it’s fun to read, this review, clearly. But, really, I enjoyed watching the Musketeers nonetheless.

That’s neither The Wire smart, nor 30 Rock lunatic, nor Family Guy educative, but still. I enjoyed hearing Constance Bonacieux telling her name in no way it would sound even remotely just a little bit like in french and, then, having d’Artagnan reacting and calling her by her name with perfect spotless french accent. And I rarely seen any musket being fired in any musketeers related movie before, so there’s something new here. Anyway, big picture-wise, I do not expect de cape et d’épée to be much more than what it is. Even Cyrano de Bergerac, which I thought so clever when I was 13 y.o. is based on a rather primitive plot (how to mindfuck the pretty girl, with some theory about ugliness/beauty of body/mind, while no one dare to wonder whether she has anything but her nice ass to show for). So I’m not tremendously ashamed to rather look forward next episodes, Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!, it’s actually more refreshing than any Modern Family episode of this season (blatant that comedian/authors now despises their characters so make such annoying caricatures out of them).

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It’s a long road up ahead of us, let’s forge on while we’re strong and leave our mark of honor once again (The Tudors, 2007-2010 ; Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, 2012 ; War of the Roses, 2012)

Seems to me that each few years after a great series was on TV, you almost always get video games that put you in the same ambiance. The Tudors was great: lot of violence and sex, stimulating enough, and depicting IMHO convincingly a the specific period of Henri VIII’s troubled reign. This short period is of obviously major importance in Europe, at the origin of anglicanism for fuck/god sake, and so was portrayed in many great books, most notably the well documented Christopher J. Sansom’s series of Matthew Shardlake crime novels -this guy makes good use of his PhD, read it! Same kind of moral issues you could also find in Jean Anouilh’s Becket ou l’honneur de Dieu, even though this one is about Henri II instead.

So it’s not a big surprise to get to Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Maybe it’s unrelated. True, Henri VIII isn’t actually medieval but modern instead. However, available weapons and kind of fortress and town you’re visiting are very late medieval than anything else. And after all it started as a free as in beer mod to HL²/Source engine  (which I think I even tried years before that), even though now the game uses Unreal3 engine. As such, the game is quite acceptable eye-candy wise. Maps are okay, weapons are hard to master but interesting too. But then I gave a try to War of the Roses. The ambiance is quite the same, taking place in the XVth century. Its engine is a specific one and could probably be improved a lot, especially performance wise in general and bugfixing in specific (for instance, you frequently have the music stopping/stuttering when navigating in the menus: don’t tell me the same thread is handling the visual interface AND the music output. Who would do such crap in 2012?). But the gameplay is way more fun than Chivalry one. More big melee fighting, easier interface, more interaction with other players (you can bandage harmed friendlies, etc) and such interaction rewarded with a XP plus Money system. You can customize a lot your classes to fit your playing style. Pretty pretty good.

Peignecul classe

So far, the only issue I noticed in WotR is with the duel servers – usually on the map called tournament. You should avoid them. Most of the time, players won’t really duel but will claim too. You’ll just get kicked in the arse at the very moment you defeated regularly your opponent. And you may even find yourselves against XP/Money whores that will play together in the opposite team, getting on you when you’re down, the first one (from your team) reviving you, getting XP/Money for that, and the second one killing you the second your up, getting XP/Money for that too, endlessly until you quit. But it’s easy to avoid this: play conquest. That’s funnier in all regards. With swords drawn to defend stood these noblehearted men, faugh-an-ballagh clear the way me boys

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I need the magic of a burning kiss (This Is Where I Leave You, 2012)

The other day, I mentioned Bush Falls/The Book of Joe (still no clue whether it’s the exact same book or not ; update: apparently the former is the UK title, which does not explain at all why such title was needed) today I think worth telling that I’ve just finished This Is Where I Leave  You, the latest Jonathan Tropper’s work.

If I had to evaluate it, I would dare to say it is one of my all-time favorites books. Yeah, right, I know the future, at least mine. But, no, I won’t evaluate it and won’t say too much about it, to avoid stating the obvious (well thought, realistic and lovable characters etc). I rather, instead, let you catch a glimpse, not spoiling anything I hope (main character mostly avoided!) :

‘I’ve got one,’ Phillip says. ‘When I was in Little League, I had trouble catching. So they put me out in right field. And in the last inning, I dropped two balls that cost us the game. Our coach was this fat guy, I forgot his name. He got all crazy and started screaming at me. He called me worthless. So Dad stepped between us and I didn’t see what he did, but next thing I know, the coach is on the ground, and Dad is stepping on his chest. And the says, “Call my son worthless again”.’

‘That’s fantastic,’ Alice says, clapping. ‘I never heard that one.’

‘This might sound twisted, but I hope, when I have a kid, that someone calls him a name, just so I can do for him what Dad did for me.’

‘That’s beautiful, Phillip,’ Mom says.

‘Yes,’ Tracy says. ‘But why not just hope that no one calls your child a name?’

Phillips looks at her. ‘Don’t do that.’

‘What?’

‘You know damn well what.’

‘I was just saying that as long as you’re being theoretical, why not aim higher?’

‘My dad stood up for me. I want to stand up for my kid.’

‘And teach him that violence is a legitimate means of conflict resolution?’

‘He’s going to have to learn it sometime.’

‘A few well-chosen words might have shamed your coach into apologizing.’

‘But if he had, I wouldn’t have had a story to remind me of how my father took care of me, and you wouldn’t have been able to suck all the joy out of it, and where would we all be then?’

Later…:

She laughs and stubs out her cigarette on a roof shingle. ‘In an alternate universe where Horry didn’t get his brains bashed in, he and I are married. Once in a blue moon I get to visit that universe.’

‘And it’s really that simple.’

‘My alternate universe, my rules.’

Way Later…:

‘I have a very nice life, with a good man,’ Wendy says. ‘I love him for who he is. Sometimes who he is isn’t enough for me, but most of the time, it is. There are women who would leave to find something better. I envy them, but I also know I’m not one of them. And how many of those women truly end up with a better man?’ She shrugs. ‘No studies have been done.’

‘And Horry?’

‘There is no HorryHorry is a fantasy. And that’s all I am to him. Time travel. We slept together as a favor to the kids we once were, not because there’s really anything besides history and some completely useless love.’

Still Later:

Paul stops walking and clears his throat. ‘I want to say something else.’

‘Yeah?’

‘What happened the other night. I said some things.’

‘We both did.’

‘Yeah, well, the point is, I’ve been pissed at you for a very long time and that didn’t do either of us any good. I wasted a lot of time being angry, time I can’t get back. And now I see you, so angry about what happened to your marriage, and I just want to tell you, at some point it doesn’t matter who was right or who was wrong. At some point, being angry is just another bad habit, like smoking, and you keep poisoning without thinking about it.’

Actually, I feel just like if I was listening to Lesley Gore, some song in beetween The Look of Love, Off And Running, and Maybe I Know – go pick one.

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But then we smiled no more (Young Adult, 2011)

How much Young Adult reminds me of Jonathan Tropper’s Bush Falls (side question: what’s the difference with The Book of Joe?) somehow disturbs me: you have the narrator, now big time book author, that returns back to its small hometown, where he meets his first and only love, lost memories, along with a somehow gay and ill friendly character that, obviously, have a hard time finding its own right place there.

But Young Adult Mavis Gary is no Bush Falls Joe Goffman and she just seems overly self-absorbed. The childhood love she’s trying to revive is not even big enough for her to take a little interest in what has become the loved one. Dialogs are just a sad reflection of her moral emptiness and complete lack of empathy. She does not even deserve the harsh words Joe Goffman gets from his old friends and his past lover, she’s not that interesting at all. Unlike Joe Goffman, she’s not capable of thoughts like “To err, as they say, is human. To forgive is divine. To err by withholding your forgiveness until it’s too late is to become divinely fucked up. Only after burying my father do I realize that I always intented to forgive him. But somewhere I blinked, and seventeen years flew by, and now my forgiveness, ungiven, has become septic, an infection festering inside me.” As result, this Mavis just seem in the end shallow as ever, I can’t focus, I just don’t care about her, her sadness and all the nasties attempts to break into the happy life of her childhood sweetheart.

I’m not sure my judgment is fair to Young Adult. I just cannot avoid the comparison with Bush Falls, that I thought of during the whole movie. And I must say I would have expected way better from the author Thank You For Smoking and Up In The Air, both movies with main characters hard to bear with but nonetheless lovable. Yeah, it was the only way it could be?