more pelecanos

I couldn’t resist posting this great feature on George P. Pelecanos:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jul/27/television.books.culture

And just the thought of Pelecanos possibly helming a feature film adaptation of his fabulous Shoedog–the first book I ever read by him–certainly gets my wheels turning.  Published in 1994 in the US only in hardcover (it wasn’t issued in paperback until ten years later), it was extremely hard to come across and if you did manage to find a copy… most likely the price was jacked up by lot lice book dealers.  Anyway, the book is a hard boiled novel in the great tradition of the genre–fast, punchy, and darkly satisfying.  It may lack the social awareness and moral depth of his great books, but it’s still a favorite of mine for personal reasons.  Also, it’s got that fucking car.  Brilliant.

some of my favorite things #3: point blank (1967)

John Boorman’s 1967 neo-noir, Point Blank, comes on like a riot, simmers into a coiled narrative fighting stance, then springs into the weird currents of existentialist no exits in its closing, haunted moments.  It’s some kind of pop brutalism, my favorite Boorman film (Deliverance and the flawed The Emerald Forest aren’t too far behind, though), and a wonderfully intoxicating mix of Hollywood action fused with sidewinding avant-garde film techniques.  But most importantly it stars Lee Marvin.  Oozing drop-dead cool and tick-tock detachment, Marvin’s laconic though physically commanding performance holds steady throughout, smoothly delivering that snap, that “it” quality that only the great movie stars are able to harness.  This is an action film when physicality actually meant something, when meat and bone inhabited physical space, and the violence carried with it weight not measured in pixels and glossy poses.

The first video is the original theatrical trailer.  The second one is a short clip from when Walker (Marvin) hits a San Francisco go-go club hunting for the man who double-crossed him.

pelecanos

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:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/15/AR2008071502119.html?sid=ST2008071801830&pos=

guest blogging at the rushmore academy part 2

My second guest blog at Mr. Appleby’s great site is now up:

http://www.rushmoreacademy.com/2008/07/14/guest-blogger-derek-hill-on-the-darjeeling-limited

This time I’ve posted an excerpt from my book, the chapter on Wes Anderson’s film The Darjeeling Limited.

See you there!

guest blogging over at the rushmore academy

Monsieur Appleby from the nifty Wes Anderson fan site The Rushmore Academy has graciously invited me to guest blog a few pieces about… well, Wes Anderson of course!  Anderson, along with Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, Spike Jonze, Sofia Coppola, and Michel Gondry are the subjects of my new book.

Hope to see you over there!

http://www.rushmoreacademy.com/2008/07/06/guest-blogger-derek-hill-on-wes-anderson

some of my favorite things #2: “some velvet morning”

I don’t even know where to begin with this song.  It’s been covered repeatedly over the years–maybe most sensationally and disappointingly by Primal Scream and sex kitten Kate Moss, though the Lydia Lunch/Rowland S. Howard version has its murderous charms–but no one has been able to capture the wild doom and psychedelic potency of the original.  As an aside, director Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher) used the song in her second film Morvern Callar to great effect.

Without further ado… here’s Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra singing “Some Velvet Morning”.  One of the strangest, most beautifully bizarre pop songs ever.  Hell, it may be the best pop song ever.

kubrick advert on more4

Starting on July 15th and running through the 25th, Britain’s More4 channel is going to be celebrating the films of the great Stanley Kubrick.  Along with Francis Ford Coppola, Kubrick was the first director I fell in love with as an eleven-year old boy, sort of the first person who I understood to actually be a filmmaker and what it meant to be.

Here’s the wonderful ad promoting the film series, an hommage to The Shining, and also to Kubrick’s daughter Vivian’s short documentary Making The Shining.  Good thing Channel 4 didn’t try to reenact Kubrick berating actress Shelly Duvall.