Tuesday, January 31, 2012
This is a brief discussion of how they created the sound track for THE DESCENDANTS. Having no experience with Hawaiian music-other than the idea it was all about doing a hula, I was very much taken with what real Hawaiian music was like.
Anyone out there a fan of this sort of music?
This is the saga of the Jordache family, from the end of the war through the 1960s.
Peter Strauss is Rudy Jordache and Nick Nolte, his brother, Tom. Susan Blakely played the girl they both loved.
Based on the book by Irwin Shaw this was water cooler TV in 1976 for a couple of months.
I am not sure if I would have chosen Nolte as the actor from RMPM to parlay his role into a great acting career, but women loved him. Peter Strauss and Blakely seem to have largely disappeared except for occasional guest appearances on network TV. For more forgotten movies, see Todd Mason.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Sergio Angelini A CLUBBABLE WOMAN (1970) by Reginald Hill
Yvette Banek Hag's Nook (1933) by John Dickson Carr
Brian Busby A Bullet for My Lady by Bernard Mara [pseud. Brian Moore]
Bill Crider Destinies Edited by Jim Baen
Martin Edwards The Bleston Mystery by Robert Milward Kennedy (Milward Kennedy and A.G. Macdonell)
Jerry House The Angry Planet (1945) and The Red Journey Back (1954, also published as SOS from Mars) by John Keir Cross
Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen Consequences of Sin by Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Cullen Gallagher Whisper His Sin by Vin Packer
Ed Gorman: A House In Naples by Peter Rabe
Randy Johnson See Them Die by Ed McBain
George Kelley TAMA OF THE LIGHT COUNTRY & TAMA, PRINCESS OF MERCURY By Ray Cummings
Margot Kinberg Bad Move by Linwood Barclay
Rob Kitchin The Dead Detective by William Heffernan
B.V. Lawson The Grey Flannel Shroud by Henry Slesar
Evan Lewis: Spartan Planet by A. Bertram Chandler
Steve Lewis hosting Marcia Muller: Paint the Town Black by David Alexander
Brian Lindenmuth: Tarantula by Thierry Jonquet
Todd Mason: Bob Shaw: MESSAGES FOUND IN AN OXYGEN BOTTLE and Terry Carr: BETWEEN TWO WORLDS http://socialistjazz.blogspot.com/2012/01/ffb-bob-shaw-messages-found-in-oxygen.html
J.F. Norris: Do Not Disturb by Helen McCloy
Eric Peterson: Zeppelins West By Joe R. Landsale
Thomas Pluck: Fast One by Paul Cain
David Rachels: Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
James Reasoner: The Bamboo Bomb by James Dark (J.E. MacDonnell)
Karyn Reeves: Loving by Henry Green http://apenguinaweek.blogspot.com/2012/01/penguin-no-958-loving-by-henry-green.html
Richard Robinson: Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle
Gerard Saylor: Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Ron Scheer: William Lacey Amy, The Blue Wolf
Kerrie Smith COLOUR SCHEME, Ngaio Marsh
Kevin Tipple: The Maya Stone Murders by M. K. Shuman
TomCat: Manly Wade Wellman's Find My Killer
Thanks to Todd!!!!
owner, Chronicles of Crime, your mystery bookshop, Victoria, BC, Canada
Thanks so much to F. Thorsen for this valuable information!
The link doesn't work but if you put www.archive.org in google, you should find it.
Since I can't turn my head, the SUMMING UP will come as permitted.
Ed Gorman is the author of the Sam McCann mysteries as well as those about political consultant, Dev Conrad. He also edits anthologies and writes westerns. You can find him here.
Ed Gorman: A House In Naples by Peter Rabe
Whenever I read Peter Rabe at his best--or hell, even when he's mediocore--I realize how bogus a lot of hardboiled fiction is. Raymond Chandler likely learned about crime from the pulps and B-movies. As did many pulp writers.
Today we tart things up in a way previous hardboiled writers didn't and that gives it a semblance of reality anyway. Or we parody it and that makes us feel superior to it. Nothing wrong with these approaches, either. They're entertaining, amusing, fun.
Maybe it was because Rabe approached his writing as mainstream instead of genre. While he honors the tropes set down by W.R. Burnett and his imitators Rabe's crime novels are idiosyncratic, sometimes to a fault. In a few books he wanders, gets lost, and it's always because he wants to tell us something fascinating but not germane to the story. I actually enjoy his side trips but they do damage a couple of his books.
A House in Naples is about two people who are pretty much despicable, deserters at the end of the big war who run a black market operation. They aren't much better morally than Graham Greene's Harry Lime. Charley and Joe they are, friends in greed. They are living in Naples and living well. But Charley doesn't have his papers and could get extradited. Uncle Sam is not looking favorably on deserters these days.
As the book opens Charley is wounded and recognized for who and what he is. He ends stealing the papers from a dying drunk and then ends up dragging the body into the Tiber to cover his tracks. But by this time his wound has taken his toll. He is barely concious when he looks up and sees a beautiful girl staring down at him from the bridge above. He falls in love. Rabe gives this unlikely moment an ethereal power that few others could have pulled off. You buy it.
The book is a fast, sure read and the ending is a shocker. But the characters and Rabe's observations on post-war Europe are the source of the book's rich bleakness. The bleakness is very much like the realist filmmakers who appeared in Italy right after the war.
Rabe uses The Girl to contrast Charley and Joe. In some respects she's almost a religious figure, a woman who can evoke good or evil in everyone she meets. She evokes what's in you already.
For some reason A House in Naples isn't mentioned as often as Rabe's other most successful novels. But its harsh poetry and exciting action will keep it in memory long after you're
Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen
Steve Lewis/Marcia Muller
Thursday, January 26, 2012
We saw this one in London in 1995. This was not the playbill.
It starred Miriam Margoyles as Sister George, a beloved soap opera character who is about to meet her end. She is also losing her young lover (Serena Evans). The play was written by Frank Marcus and he writes in the bill of the difficulty in mounting a play about lesbians on its first run in the sixties. The word lesbians was never mentioned.
This was not meant to be a tragedy though. It was a black comedy about the irony of a beloved soap opera character being a monster in real life. Sister George is offered a voice over of a cow in recompense. A bit mean that. There is also a film version of this story.
My memory of it is vague--as is so often the case.
Here is a great interview about the pervasive influence of THE WALTONS on American culture. Nigel Bird's brother made this radio show in the UK.
I doubt I missed an episode of THE WALTONS when it first played. One reason was it was one of the few shows that took the desire to be a writer (or a musician, or a doctor, or a aviator) seriously.
The show managed to be authentic without being sentimental to me. Nostalgic yes, but not saccharine. It did deal with issues of the time and often in subtle ways. Family values yes, but not inhumane attitudes to others. It was tolerant of others as Elizabeth tells us in this interview.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I just finished MEMORY by Donald Westlake for our FFB Westlake Day and I felt like reading it again. Anything I pick up next can never measure up.
Boy, did he ever get it right from first word to last. What was the last book you felt like doing that with? A book where you wanted to experience those words again immediately?
I'd say 6.5. And it would be memories of old movies, books and TV shows rather than people or places.
Phil picks 3. I'd better not leave the room.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
In Downton Abbey, O'Brien and Thomas conspire and connive to turn various characters against each other. I both love and loathe connivers. In life, they make me nervous, of course, but in a rather tepid episode of DA, they liven things up. Of course, they always stand in the way of true love.
In Julius Caesar, Cassius convinces Brutus to participate in a conspiracy. I think there are probably connivers in most of Shakespeare's plays.
In crime fiction, are there any famous connivers? Surely there must be.
Will Penny (Charleston Heston) plays a man hired to police another man's land. Joan Hackett plays a woman squatting in the cabin he's provided with. Great cast, great scenery in a classic Western. Loved Hackett. She died too young.
Sorry to be brief, but still wrestling with this cold. For more forgotten movies, check with Todd Mason.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Ron Scheer suggested that I ask if anyone remembers listening to westerns on the radio. I might expand that a bit to ask if anyone remembers listening to any dramas on the radios. I don't although I have heard an excerpt here on there. Anyone remember radio dramas?
El Gavilan: How I Came To Write This Book
By Craig McDonald
My first four novels were historical thrillers. They feature a 20th Century author and globetrotter named Hector Lassiter. The Lassiter books span many decades and continents.
My new novel, El Gavilan, is more contemporary and hits closer to home: it’s set, more or less, in the central Ohio town where I grew up.
In the 1990s, the Buckeye State began to undergo a sea change triggered by waves of illegal immigration.
The America southwest grabs all the national media attention with its insanely over-the-top cartel violence, self-appointed “Minute Men” roaming the desert with guns and calls for construction of Berlin-reminiscent, soaring border walls.
Fact is, exploitation of illegal workers, human trafficking and all the strife spinning out of the Mexican methamphetamine trade know no boundaries.
As a county sheriff declares to El Gavilan’s presumptive hero, small town police chief Tell Lyon, in a very real sense, “The border is now everywhere.”
As a central Ohio journalist, I saw communities changing as native Ohioans and assimilation-resistant undocumented workers and their families grudgingly struggled to strike some kind of live-and-let-live balance, mostly unsuccessfully.
I experienced this nexus of intimations:
An illegal cockfighting ring was broken up a few miles from my hometown.
In that same Westside enclave, a former blue-collar neighborhood of GM factory workers, nearly all of the signage was suddenly of a decidedly Spanish bent. The local library was scrambling to accommodate a growing population of English-As-Second-Language patrons.
On the opposite side of a looming overpass, an apartment complex became a target of arson. It proved to be a racially motivated firebombing. Lives were lost in that fire…mostly those of children.
The fallout came in many dark flavors and it came down hard. The residents of the complex, recent immigrants to Columbus, had no English. First-responders spoke no Spanish. The controversy spinning out of that case drew national attention.
A few counties away, word came of a sheriff who chose to use his slice of post-9-11, Homeland Security grants not to update radio equipment or to obtain bomb-sniffing dogs as so many others were doing.
This lawman instead bought up billboard space and posted warning messages directed at illegal immigrants. He sent bills to the federal government demanding reimbursement of jail costs his department sustained resulting from the feds’ failure to exercise adequate border enforcement.
All of these developments conspired to inspire El Gavilan. They also suggested the character of conservative hardliner and Horton County Sheriff Able Hawk.
My notion was to take a damaged Border Patrol agent, a man literally running from borderland grief and bloody cartel violence—a grieving recent widower—and drop him into this maelstrom…to confront him with Hawk.
Tell Lyon accepts the appointment to the position of small town police chief expecting to have a kind of Mayberry-like ride. Tell arrives in New Austin, Ohio, expecting to sort out nothing more serious than some drunk and disorderly hi-jinks…family dramas and little traumas of shoplifting and teens using fake I.D.s to try and buy cigarettes or the like.
It’s a miscalculation Tell comes to rue. He lands in town just in time for the murder of a local Latino woman—a brutal crime that triggers a firestorm of unexpected menace and threatens to trigger a race war.
It’s a cliché to say some novels read as if they were ripped from the headlines.
Clichés become clichés, as journalist-turned-author Ian Fleming once observed, because they’re typically so curiously valid.
In the case of El Gavilan, the novel is indeed ripped from the headlines, but they were headlines I sometimes wrote.
Craig McDonald is a novelist and journalist whose first novel, Head Games, set along the Mexican borderlands, was a finalist for numerous literary awards in the United States and France. His new novel, El Gavilan, is available from Tyrus Books. Visit his website at craigmcdonaldbooks.com
Sunday, January 22, 2012
I' m not . Some of the stories I thought were winners, took time to place. And others, ones I thought were weak, did not.
Some of the stories I got the most positive feedback about, I almost didn't send out.
For instance THE PERFECT DAY, which several people cited as a favorite story of last year recently seemed too tame to count as a crime story.
I wondered if people would have the patience to spend the day with this family. If they could wait around to see what the problem was.
Does this happen to you? Are you a good judge of your own work? If you had to name the best thing you've written, would the rest of us agree?
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Forty-five years ago, a nineteen year old girl and a twenty-two year old boy got married. Our courtship was short and we really didn't know each other the way couples today seem to after prolonged relationships. He was beginning graduate school and in those days, that was a good reason to get married--so we wouldn't be separated. We both like to read, see movies. That seemed like enough at nineteen.
Phil has never said a mean word to me. Not once. I have never gone to bed angry, sad or worried about anything to do with him. He has been my biggest bolster, my best friend. When people comment on the success of our marriage, it is truly because of Phil, the biggest blessing in my life. I am just the free rider on this journey.
Friday, January 20, 2012
The Summing Up, Friday, January 20, 2012
Patti Abbott, The Tree of Hands, Ruth Rendell
Serge Angellini, Fallen Angel, Howard Fast
Yvette Banek, The Case of the Constant Suicides, John Dickson Carr
Brian Busby, Masters of Time. E. Van Vogt
Bill Crider, Somewhere a Voice, Eric Frank Russell
Scott Cupp, The Coachman Rat, David Henry Wilson
Martin Edwards, Dorothy and Agatha, Gaylord Larson
Cullen Gallagher, Wake Up, Little Suzie, Ed Gorman
Ed Gorman, American Cinema, Andrew Sarris
Jerry House, The Marcot Deep and Other Stories, Arthur Conan Doyle
Randy Johnson, Queens Full, Ellery Queen
George Kelley, Almuric, Robert E. Howard
Margot Kinberg, Garnethill, Denise Mina
Rob Kitchin, Storm Front, Jim Butcher
K.A. Laity, If You Want to Write, Brenda Uelang
B.V. Lawson, She Shall Have Murder, Delano Ames
Evan Lewis, The Three Musketeers (2006) Alexander Dumas
Steve Lewis, Bad Man's Reutrn, William Colt MacDonald
Todd Mason, Dr. Holmes' Murder Castle, Rober Bloch
J.F. Norris, Benefit Performance, Richard Sale
Eric Peterson, The List of 7, Mark Frost
David Rachels, The Tease, Gil Brewer
James Reasoner, The Time Traders, Andre Norton
Richard Robinson, A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
Gerard Saylor, Fallen, T. Jefferson Parker
Ron Scheer, Told in the Hills, Marah Ellis Ryan
Kerrie Smith, A Box of Tricks, Simon Brett
Kevin Tipple. Barry Ergang, Drum Beat-Dominique, Stephen Marlowe
TomCat, Murder on the Way, Theodore Roscoe
My review of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO appears in Crimespree Cinema.
Ed Gorman is the author of the Sam McCann series of mysteries. You can find him here.
The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris
In 1985, Ruth Rendell was nominated twice for best novel of the year by the MWA. The Edgar went to THE SUSPECT by L.R. Wright, but the two Rendell books must be a record. Was anyone else every nominated twice for best book in the same year? The two books were AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS and THE TREE OF HANDS. In those days, I read every Rendell as it came out (library copies though).
In THE TREE OF HANDS, a young, divorced mother loses her two-year old child to a sudden illness. Her mother, a victim of some sort of mental illness, finds a replacement: a child abused by his own mother. At first, the young mother thinks the child must be returned but when she finds burns and other signs of abuse, she goes along with it and bonds with the child. This is page turner by any standard. Rendell was so brilliant, especially early on and especially with her standalones.
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang
Thursday, January 19, 2012
I saw SIDEMAN twice. The first time was in New York at the John Golden Theater in 1999 with Andrew McCarthy, Michael O'Keefe and Kevin Geer. It concerns the life of a jazz trumpet player, but one who never achieved stardom. It also concerned his failures as a a husband and father.
It was on Broadway for almost two years.
I saw in again in 2006 at the Hilberry Theater in Detroit.
I can't remember being that taken with it the first time, but we probably had season tickets at the Hilberry that year.
Bill Crider said the other day that he was brought up on tales of the Alamo. Were you brought up on tales? Was there a lot of oral story telling in your home? There was almost none in mine. My parents were not story tellers--even their own stories.
I wonder if story-telling is a Southern thing. Or a ethnic thing. Or a family thing.
My German-Scots-Irish, Pennsylvania background elicited very few stories.
If your family were story tellers, what kind of story did they tell? Family ones? Ones about the area you lived in? Historical stories? I am envious. Tell me your story.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
We had two things to buy: a pair of dress slacks for Phil; a moisturizer for me. Several shopping trips did not yield these items. The cosmetic counter at Macy's was always undermanned; the rows of black dress slacks spread throughout the store. His size never seemed to turn up.
I hate cosmetic stores because someone grabs you and before you know it the moisturizer has turned into a bunch of stuff or you're sitting in chair like the prize pig at the county fair.
And who wants to go into store after store looking for black dress pants.
Yesterday, I went online and in ten minutes ordered both items at a lesser price, with no shipping costs or tax. They had Phil's exact size; the cosmetic company threw in a gift for my $35 purchase.
Now how can brick and mortar compete with this? I hate this. I hate that online retailers are get such a break. But dang where is the upside of brick and mortar.
Would like to remind everyone of Gerald So's 5-2 Poetry Weekly where I read a very fine sestina by Kiberly Potevin this week.
This is one of those crazy movies from the mid-sixties that didn't make much sense but featured Tuesday Weld, who was always fun to watch and lots of music and mid- sixties stuff. This was the sixties that was all fun and games--not the real sixties that came right after.
Roddy McDowell is playing a high school student even though the actor was then in his mid-thirties. The cast is just crazy with Lola Albright, Ruth Gordan and so on. The plot is basically that Roddy is a magician and can get pretty Tuesday whatever her heart desires.
If you want a snapshot of that era, you could do worse than this because it's pretty snappy all told For more movie reviews, see Todd Mason.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Butch with his henchman, Worm in OUR GANG. Or THE LITTLE RASCALS.
Who are some of the best henchmen in movies? Certain actors specialized in playing the muscle. But sometimes it's a pathway to something better. For instance, Arnold S. played a henchman in Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE. And Martin Landau specialized in them early on (North by Northwest and many TV shows)
Who else? Did Bogart begin as a henchman? Here are some of the best.
Who did you like most as the muscle?
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I was reading some Lorrie Moore stories today and it occurred to me that I would have to name her as one of my biggest influences in learning (if I did) how to write a short story. There are many others, of course, but she's a definite mentor, or inspiration might be a better term. I see things in her writing, I tried to carry into mine.
Who are your greatest short story writing influences? Who did you read and admire before picking up a pen? Who made you think you could do it? Who were you in sync with in terms of style, character and plot?
Saturday, January 14, 2012
We just saw TINKER, TAILOR. SOLDIER, SPY, which we loved. It was so well done-from the smallest detail on up. The grimy, cheesy sixties- seventies never looked worse. But they make a swell setting for a spy drama.
What is your favorite spy novel? Or a few of them.
Friday, January 13, 2012
I feel like there are lots of typos here. I will be back at nine to correct. Someone once told me not to learn to type too well or I would be consigned to a life of typing for men.
I was anyway but wish my fingers could keep up with my brain. Adios, amigos. Off to see TTSS.
The Summing Up, Friday, January 13, 2012
Patti Abbott, Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley
Sergio Angelini, The Origin of Evil, Ellery Queen
Yvette Banek, Bodies in a Bookshop, R. T. Campbell
Joe Barone, Back Story, Robert P. Parker
Brian Busby, Mr. Gumble Sits Up, Douglas Durkin
Bill Crider, The Vortex Blister, ed. Sam Moskowitz
Scott Cupp, Abadazad: The Road to Inconceivable, J.A. Di Matteis & Mike Plong
Martin Edwards, End Game, Richard F. Stewart
Ed Gorman, How Like an Angel, Margaret Millar
Randy Johnson, Mountain Man, Robert E. Howard
George Kelley, The Swordsman of Mars and Outlaw of Mars, Otis Adelbert Kline
Margot Kinberg, The Deep Blue Goodbye, John D. MacDonald
Rob Kitchin, In a Lonely Place, Dorothy Hughes
B.V. Lawson, Spence at Marlky Manor, Michael Allen
Evan Lewis, The Crooking FInger, Clive F. Adams
Steve Lewis, Mourn the Hangman, Harry Whittington
Todd Mason, PITFCS: The Proceedings of the Institute for 21st Century Studies, Theodore R. Cogswell,
Terrie Moran, Separate Cases, Robert Randisi
J.F. Norris, The Mummy Case Murder, Dermot Morrah
Eric Peterson, Shoot, Douglas Fairbarn
J. Kingston Pierce, The Commissioner, Richard Dougherty
David Rachels, The Diamond Bikini, Charles Williams
James Reasoner, Rapture Alley, Whit Harrison (Harry Whittington)
Gerard Saylor, The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Michael Chabon
Ron Scheer, Babe Murphy, Patience Stapleton
Kerrie Smith, Murder at the Savoy, Sjowall and Wahloo
Kevin Tipple Dance on His Grave, Sylvia Dickens Smith
TomCat, Footprints, Kay Cleaver Strahan
I do urge anyone who loves the short story to join us in trying to read 365 short stories this year. You can find the site here.
Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad series and the Sam McCain series, both thoroughly enjoyable. You can find him here.
Patti Abbott-DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, Walter Mosley
Sometimes I think we are too cavalier at FFB about remembering books that became classics of a sort but are still growing old. I am embarrassed to say that the first crime fiction book I read featuring a black detective was DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS by Walter Mosley. I have read several more of his books, but this one will stay with me because it introduced such a great character and his sidekick and also the novelty of bringing the story forward by leaps and bounds with each new book. He is also a terrific writer who deserves more acclaim.
Devil in a Blue Dress appeared in 1990. The story begins with Easy Rawlins, our future detective, out-of-work and unable to pay his mortgage. He's offered a job finding a young woman named Daphne Monet, a white woman known to frequent African-American bars.
Nothing is what it initially seems and with the help of his friend, Mouse, Easy navigates some dangerous terrain. He is the perfect character, easy to like but suitably flawed.
Although I know Chester Himes wrote well before Mosley, this was my first experience with a black detective and Mosley was, and is, so skilled at capturing the times, the people, and serving up a darn good plot.
J. Kingston Pierce
Tipping My Fedora
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Every year at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford Ontario, they perform one play (at least) from a Canadian writer.
Robertson Davies, although he looks like a nineteenth century writer in this picture, only died a few years ago. He is perhaps, with the exception of Munro, Atwood and Richler, my favorite Canadian writer. His work is both humorous and erudite. He was a master at large casts and large plots-perhaps a bit like Dickens.
In 1992, the playwright Elliott Hayes developed Davies' Deptford Trilogy for the stage. It was not a very successful production. Davies' work is so laden with characters and events and locales that cramming them into a two-hour play was probably impossible. And the stage at the Avon Theater, before the reconstruction above, did not do it any favors. We also had bad seats.
But despite these caveats, I wouldn't have missed it for the world because parts of it still remain with me two decades later. I highly recommend the trilogy if you want to read Davies. But any of his many books will be a treat.
I am sad that flash mobs disappeared before I got to be in one. Or even got to see one in person. It really appealed to me on every level: spectacle, surprise, dancing. What more could you want?
I also wanted to say "you go, girl" once before it became passe. Didn't happen.
Don't you hate it when something goes away that quickly. Were zoot suits a one-week wonder? I know Nehru Jackets were.
What fad really spoke to you despite its quick demise?
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Thanks to Michael Bracken for letting me come out of the shed.
If at this point, you lost your personal library due to fire, flood, divorce, would you replace most of it in print books?
Or would you probably depend on ebooks for most of your reading?
What would be one or two books you would definitely still need to see on a shelf?
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Slings and Arrows was a Canadian series which ran on Sundance here from 2003-06. It deals with three seasons of plays and the players at a Shakespearean Festival (New Burbage standing in for Stratford, Ontario). Each season's main production's central quandary is mirrored by the actors in real life. Season One did the Scottish play; Season two, Hamlet and Three, King Lear. Humor is the main ingredient and a spot-on look at the acting life also. And the economics of putting on a show.
I saved the third season as long as I could because the actor playing Lear was an actor we saw play Lear some years ago (William Hutt). Sometimes holding onto something is good. Same reason I still have the last season of Deadwood to watch. Anyone else do that?
For more forgotten movies, check out Todd Mason.
Monday, January 09, 2012
I have been giving this a lot of thought lately. What writers have been most successful in creating fully realized characters. People who could walk off a page. Ones you come to understand over the course of a book.
And in one book, not a series, which is easier to do, of course.
Memorable characters for me seem to share a common trait: stubbornness. Three recent women who leaped off the page were Mattie Ross in TRUE GRIT; Ree Dolly in WINTER'S BONE and Jane Eyre. All three are negotiating the world at a young age and have to be smart, cagey and determined to survive. They have a mission more important than finding a man or a career. Theirs are life and death issues.
What characters are memorable for you? Who walks off the pages of a book and into your memory?
Hurray for Sheila Jordan-still singing today.
Who is your favorite female jazz singer?
Sunday, January 08, 2012
Tucson-back after a fabulous week in Tucson. Barely got my horrible computer to check the weather. Sorry if something got overlooked because I know I missed several emails with the computer which shall not be named.
I just saw the Fincher/English adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and found it superior to both the book and the first movie.
They cut a lot of boring economic stuff that preceded the real story and got rid of a worthless romance among other things. Fincher did a brilliant job of making every scene zing. He really knows what matters and how to make it matter to you.
But the real key for me was I could pay attention to faces and action and not the sub-titles beneath them. I kid myself sometimes when I say that sub-titles don't bother me because in a thriller, they do. I think they were a real hindrance in the Swedish version of this, for instance.
Here is a list of someone's idea of 50 films that were better than the book, and I would include this one. What is your favorite example?
Saturday, January 07, 2012
Friday, January 06, 2012
Thursday, January 05, 2012
This was the thrilling blues review of 1990 with Ruth Brown, Linda Hopkins, Carrie Smith and a bunch of great hoofers including the young Savion Glover. It played at the Minskoff Theater and it was a total treat.
The production was conceived and directed by Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli. The original production debuted in Paris.
- Kawasaki’s Rose (directed by Jan Hrebejk) A renowned psychiatrist is chosen to receive a significant Czech medal for his exemplary life. However, his son-in-law discovers that he once collaborated with state security agencies, informing on a former friend of his wife and bearing responsibility for the latter's forced emigration.
- Of God and Men (directed by Xavier Beauvois,) a group of French Trappist monks, assigned to a station in Algeria, must decide whether to stay or go when they are threatened by terrorists.
- Poetry (directed by Chang Long Lee) Jeong-Lu Yun stars as a woman who discovers she has Alzheimers at the same moment she discovers her grandson has committed a heinous crime. Her enrollment in a poetry class brings her a momentary peace.
- Incendies (directed by Denis Villeneuve) a brother and sister, now living in Montreal, follow the wishes of their deceased mother, and travel to the Middle East to discover what secrets her past held.
- Blue Valentine (directed by Derek Cianfrance) Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in the saddest love story of the last decade. This film is helped immensely by the caliber of acting and the director’s unwillingness to tack on a happy ending.
- Take Shelter (directed by Jeff Nichols) Michael Shannon plays a man wrestling with an apocalyptic vision that is either precognizant or the onset of mental illness. An amazing performance and Nichols nails the small town and its residents.
- The Artist (directed by Michael Hazanavicius )Jean Dijardin stars as a silent movie star who can’t make the transition to talkies despite the love of a good woman. Silent, black and white, and haunting with a mesmerizing performance.
- Drive (directed by Nicholas Refri) Ryan Gosling stars as the unnamed wheelman, whose hole becomes deeper after a heist gone wrong.
- Even the Rain (directed by Icíar Bollaín)A film crew, making a movie about Columbus, becomes embroiled in local politics and inadvertently commit the same atrocities the movie purports to critique.
- The Guard (directed by John Michael McDonough) One of the few good comedies I saw this year (although second place would go to THE TRIP). Brendan Gleeson, a small-town cop and Don Cheedle, an FBI agent, knock heads as they try to make sense of some goings-on in a small Irish town.
- Moneyball (directed by Bennett Hill) Brad Pitt does an outstanding job of playing Billy Beane, a baseball general manager who comes up with a new way of looking at baseball stats.
- Margin Call (directed by J.C. Chandor) a team of good actors actually make sense and art of the factors leading to the collapse of 2008.
- Source Code (directed by Duncan Jones) Jake Gyllenhal is our hero in a story of a man on a train who gets to repeat the last eight minutes before a crash until he gets it right.
Best Actor: Brad Pitt for both Moneyball and Tree of Life.
Best Actress, Jeong-Lu Yun for Poetry
Most movies on this list have a crime in it despite its best intentions. Perhaps all good movies do.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Patrick Dewitt has fashioned a very satisfying western with the story of two brothers who have carved out lives as henchman for the mysterious Commodore. Their current assignment is to take care of a Mr. Warm, a gold miner in California.
On the way from Oregon to Sacramento to fulfill their assignment, they meet lots of colorful characters and Eli especially begins to question their mission in life.
THE SISTER BROTHERS updates the classic western by adding a lot of humor that is not at the expense of a good tale. All the expected elements are here but tweaked a bit. The writing is excellent and the early blood-letting gives way to a more mature appreciation of a life examined. Highly recommended.
Links to more reviews can be found at Barrie Summy's blog.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
This is a terrific performance by James Mason in quite a shocking story. Barbara Rush plays his patient and resourceful wife. Walter Matthau, his friend.