Follow Friday: Fiction Machine

Years ago, in the early days of Twitter, the #FollowFriday hash tag became a way of directing people towards tweeters who were doing interesting things. Over the years its become something less than that – The Oatmeal charts its demise pretty well – but the original concept has some merit. The internet is built on connections, after all, and there’s a lot of interesting things out there.

This isn’t twitter, but I still like the idea of the Follow Friday. A recommendation of someone who deserves your attention, plus sufficient context to determine whether it’s likely to be your kind of thing.

#FollowFriday: Fiction Machine

Grant Watson has long been one of my favourite Australian reviewers. Way back in 2007, when I was doing Clarion South, one of the tutors basically recommended subscribing to a local magazine purely on the strength of Grant’s Bad Film Diaries column.

Sadly, I missed the chance to do that. The magazine was shut down within a few issues of me finishing Clarion, and a lot of Grant’s review work seems to have migrated online since then, whether it’s in the form of his Angriest blog.

And don’t get me wrong, Grant’s blog is well worth following. His weekly Pull List comic reviews are one of the two resources I actually follow and pay attention to on the comic book front, and his ongoing Star Trek: The Next Generation series is almost enough to convince me that I should watch Star Trek despite my utter loathing of the entire franchise.

It’s not just that Grant is a smart, entertaining reviewer. It’s that he’s adept at doing what great reviewers do: putting sufficient context around their opinions that you can understand conclusions, and illuminating aspects of a narrative that you may not have considered. If you’re interested in any of the things Grant reviews on his blog – anime, SF TV, movies – you’re probably not going to regret following him over on blogger.

But his new venture, Fiction Machine, is where he really shines.

Essentially, Fiction Machine is the site where Grant engages in long-form review. Less an evaluation of the works he’s watching and more an up-close examination of what makes them interesting. Essay length reviews of the old school, where someone puts time and research into situating a film within a particular context. Fiction Machine is still pretty new –  it’s maiden essay on Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame was posted in early June and there’s only a handful of entries since then – but this isn’t the kind of blog you follow for daily reading. It’s a rare treat; a once-every-now-and-then morsel that takes apart a film and lays out its various components for the reader so you can examine them up close. It allows you to look at familiar films in a new way, and introduces you to films you didn’t know existed in a way that makes them utterly fascinating.

Plus, lets be honest, his spoiler policy is just about perfect.

If movies are your thing, or if you just like watching smart people being smart about the things they love, go start following Fiction Machine now.

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