Two-Fisted Filmgazer Lisa Moore has written up her top 13 horror film classics over at the online arts journal Sinescope. I’ll hopefully have a couple of other guest bloggers doing the same over there, but that’s not final or anything. Anyway, hope you pop over and read Lisa’s piece and get some great ideas for horror films that aren’t the usual suspects you usually see on lists like this. Lisa really went for some great, unorthodox choices. But for admirers of her writing, that shouldn’t be a surprise.
John Wayne. Born May 26, 1907. Raise a toast (preferably tequila) to one of the true legends of American film… and the Western.
Here’s a brief scene (the ending) to Wayne’s finest film, John Ford’s The Searchers (1956).
I had no idea so much time had passed since posting something here. More detours… who knew? For those of you who do follow this blog and enjoy it… I should be back up and running soon. Cheers!
He reeks of death. But death is his trade and he has a taste for it. Yet he’s never “killed in hot blood” before, never killed in war.
As Mord, the royal executioner and ally to King Richard III (Basil Rathbone), Karloff personifies the cruel representation of political violence behind the throne, the workmanlike brute force that does his master’s bidding to preserve the peace.
Mord may hide behind the throne, but Karloff’s gleefully morbid turn is nakedly, aggressively terrifying. He is the prototypical executioner, the death dealer of our childhood nightmares. The first moment we see the powerfully built but cadaverous looking Mord–hunched over his grinding wheel, sharpening his oversize axe with a black raven perched on his shoulder–it’s like watching Cain himself readying the next murder. But where Cain acted impulsively, emotionally… Mord is pure professional. There is little overt art to his blood-letting, hence why he yearns for something a little more exciting, creative, arousing. Karloff is almost touching as he pleads to Rathbone to take him into battle. Warfare must be a wonderful, crimson bounty for a man like Mord. The opportunities for passion are no doubt endless. God knows how energized Mord will be when he returns from murder on such scale.
The long-lost FBI agent Phillip Jeffries has been to the land beyond beyond. He materializes from a dream into a dream; out of thin air with a mind crackling of electricity. He confounds agents Cooper, Rosenfield, and Chief Gordon Cole with his ravings, but each of them knows down deep that this wreck of a man has experienced something horrifying, something truthful.
“I’ve been to one of their meetings.”
He’s witnessed the inner workings of the Black Lodge. He’s been witness to their secret worship and seen what lurks behind the masks. How can any man keep his sanity after such things?
Monsieur Appleby over at the nifty Rushmore Academy blog, which focuses on all things Wes Andersonian, informed me last night that my first book, Charlie Kaufman and Hollywood’s Merry Band of Pranksters, Fabulists and Dreamers (Kamera Books), was highlighted over at David Hudson’s The Daily blog at IFC.com. Pretty cool, I think. The mention there is due to a new lengthy review of the book (which I did know about) in the latest online issue of the always interesting Bright Lights Film Journal. And if you head over there to read the review, make sure to check out the reviews for Richard Brody’s stellar book on Godard, Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, director Michel Gondry’s book You’ll Like This Book Because You’re In It: A Be Kind Rewind Protocol, a new book on cult exploitation director Jack Hill (Spider Baby!), and what looks like a great book on the much maligned but sturdy Epic film genre (a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine) by Jeffrey Richards.
I’ve been quiet for the last month or so… not because I’ve been hiding, not because I’ve been diligently working on something before doomsday (deadline). I’ve been unusually quiet because my laptop (which is only 10 months old) bit the dust. More or less. It sputters to life for a few minutes at a time… long enough to get my hopes up that it’s just been kidding… before blinking out again.
It’s been frustrating to say the least. I’m exhausted dealing with the Dell people from the US and the UK to resolve the problem. Luckily, someone finally seems to have stepped up to rectify the situation. My fingers are crossed, as well as my toes.
You can read more about my own (not-so) private crisis here. Luckily, at least for the next couple of days, a friend of mine is off to Dublin for a few days and has loaned me a computer to use, so I’m sure I’ll be putting up some new posts while I await the fate of my little laptop.
The great Dubliner died this afternoon after a long illness. He certainly had a good run and the streets of Dublin and every pub in this lovely country tonight move to the currents of his spirit and music.
The first video is an all-star tribute to the man, broadcast in February 2008 to coincide with the release of the single. My partner in crime and I were laying low in Doolin and just happened to catch it. Pretty great stuff. And the second clip is of the Dubliners performing Eric Bogle’s classic anti-war song, “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” Incredible stuff.
Starting Monday, blogger/writer/filmmaker/film historian Jeremy Richey will be paying tribute to director Richard Linklater’s brilliant 1993 film Dazed and Confused over at Harry Moseby Confidential. Linklater is one of the major subjects of my book, but unfortunately Dazed and Confused is not one of the films I deal with at length due to space and thematic issues. With any luck, I will be writing about the film in depth in a future book solely focused on Linklater. But in the meantime, I’ll be heading over to Richey’s site for two weeks of dazed and confused goodness.
Hope to see you there….
For fiction lovers, if you aren’t aware or haven’t read George Pelecanos then you are simply missing out on the finest living American crime writer. Since 1992 when A Firing Offense was published, chronicling the increasingly boozy and dire missteps of private investigator Nick Stefanos (Nick also featured center stage in Nick’s Trip, and Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go before coming in and out of the subsequent books) through the 2006 The Night Gardener (about the return of a serial killer who murdered three people in the 1980s) Pelecanos has charted the through-lines of crime, murder, and the possibility for redemption. These are moral tales in their way. Although I would hate to discourage anyone from reading them who loathes the Western genre, in many ways that’s exactly what Pelecanos’ tales of struggle are–urban Westerns. Much like the best shoot ‘em ups (think The Outlaw Josey Wales, Rio Bravo, The Wild Bunch) violence is only one facet, a corruptive end result within a far richer thematic canvass. The struggle of characters to maintain diginity, honor, and the essential need for comraderie/family in a world seemingly coming undone are the true preoccupations of his characters and of this consistantly fascinating writer.
For the record, I’ve always been partial to the stand alone Shoedog (the first book I read by Pelecanos back in 1997) and the early Stefanos novels, the “D.C. Quartet” books, and the Derek Strange and Terry Quinn series. Wait! That’s like all of the books.
I’m a fan.
Sunday the Washington Post ran a lengthy and good profile of Pelecanos… hence the reason for this blog post. I guess I should also mention that Pelecanos was also a contributing member of the HBO series The Wire… the best damn (non-fantasy) television show ever. Dont’ agree? Well, I know this cat named Omar Little who may be paying you a little visit then. He’s very persuasive. Very.
I’ve been doing my part in trying to get people to read Pelecanos since I first “discovered” him. In the last few years he’s caught on with the general public and each book has gotten richer, better, and more complex while still delivering the crime fiction goodies. But I know some of you still haven’t taken the plunge. Pelecanos’ new book, The Turnaround comes out in August, so there’s no better time to seek him out.
You can read more about Mr. Pelecanos here: