Sunday, November 10, 2019

My book has been released!

My book of short stories, Indifference: Short stories by No One in Particular is no for sale on Amazon! There is a Kindle and a paperback version.

These stories are based on earlier versions and notes about various things that have been lying around since the late 80s and through the mid 90s as well as some screenplays turned into short stories.

The subject matter does have an 80s punk/new wave feel to them and the humour is a little... odd, as some might say. I have spent almost two years putting this together so if you are a copy and make every person you have ever seen in the entirety of your life buy one as well. If you like it, please write stunning review and rate it so it has a chance of others finding it. If you don't like, we need never speak of it again.

I do not have any social media accounts, so feel free to tell people on Facebook, Instagram etc about it. To be honest I have no idea how to promote this thing other than what I am doing here, right now.

Amazon paperback: 9.99$ USD
Kindle: 7.55$ USd

Friday, November 1, 2019

Missing Link (2019) directed by Chris Butler

Budget 100 Million $
Box Office 24.7 Million $

Laika is one of the most innovative and high quality animation studios out there. They have not yet fallen into the sequel trap or remaking old ideas that other studios have these days. Original stories are hard to come by, animated films with original stories even harder. I have seem all their films to date and they are all beautiful, intelligent and well worth watching, buying and throwing your support behind.

Rant over. For now.

A hunter of mythical beasts, Sir Lionel Frost has not had much luck convincing the "Society of Great Men" to accept him into their club. Not because he isn't finding what is looking for, but more because he keeps messing up on the bringing back proof part. His latest subject is the Sasquatch - who has sent him a letter asking him to help him find his "cousins" the abominable snowmen in the Himalayas. This sets off the leader of the club who absolutely rejects any suggestion that evolution is a thing and makes a bet, one he is sure Frost will loose, of allowing entrance to the club on proof the creature exists. When he is told it does... he does everything in his power, including trying to kill Frost to make sure the news never gets out.

The characters, the animation and story are charming. The sasquatch is really funny, adorable and relatable. The set pieces are amazing, like in all Laika films, beautiful executed and they bring you into the world created. The romantic interest turns out to be less interested in romance than in having her own adventures and the creature brings out a side of Frost he never knew he had. The villains are pretty nasty, one is a crazy killer killer and the main one will stop at nothing to keep his worldview intact.  Well children will like parts of this, it's squarely aimed at teenagers and adults I would say.

This is not a perfect film to be sure but it's amazing, fun and wonderful and certainly worthy of your attention and support. If we want to get original films and not cookie cutter remakes, supporting this sort of movie is essential simply because it's a good movie, if for nothing else,.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Wolfman (1941) directed byGeorge Waggner

Part of the original classic Universal Horror series of films, the Wolfman is an iconic film from that era. Larry Talbot returns to his home town after his brother's death, meets a pretty girl, get introduced of the local legend of a man who turns into a wolf and quickly gets attacked by one and acquires that trait.

If you haven't seen this movie in a long time you might want to revisit it. It's probably not exactly how you remember it. Many aspects of werewolves we take for granted now are not in the movie or in a form that is very different from what is taken to be "true" legends. A fascinating thing about this movie is much of the lore in it was made up completely for the movie by the screenwriter and some of the more famous elements you might expect are missing, having been added in sequels to the film.

Two examples:
The little poem recited thought the film:
Even  man who is pure at heart and says his prayers at might; may become a wold when the wolfs bane blooms and autumn moon is bright. 

No mention of the full moon. That came in later movies. It is mentioned that the transformation takes place several times  a year but the full moon is mentioned as the cause.

The werewolf is not killed by a silver bullet. In fact, silver bullets are not mentioned. Both werewolves we see are beaten to death by the same silver headed cane.

Most of the cast is great, Maria Ousenskaya, Bela Lugosi, Claude rains are fantastic. Lon Chaney Jr is pretty terrible, though. You have to give him credit for sitting for up to 6 hours in makeup for the transformation, but he is not the actor his dad was. The effects are pretty good, the wolfman make up has become iconic and for good reason. The exterior sets are just so-so, you know are in a studio. The interiors are much better.

This film is.... not good overall - can you say that about such a classic? The editing is really inconsistent. No matter what Talbot is wearing when is becomes the werewolf, he is next seen an outfit we only see when he is in full make up. Does the werewolf make a fashion choice to change clothes before going out on each killing spree? Larry Talbot is a creep, spying on the romantic interest who is already engaged to a nice guy and pursues her anyway. The first time we see a werewolf... its just a wolf, but when Chaney transforms he is a different creature entirely. The dead Talbot brother's death is never fleshed out - he just died and both his father and brother seem pretty nonplussed about it.

Should you see it? Even after that last paragraph I would say yes. Parts are cringe worthy, but it is a classic and the makeup alone is worth seeing for yourself in action. The blu-ray restoration is excellent and the 180,000$ budget was put mostly to good use. In any case, it's MUCH better than the  2010 remake!

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Twilight Zone is 60 years old!

It's the 60th anniversary of the Twilight Zone TV show this year and it's another show I can not believe I did not think of before when doing this icons series. Rod Serling is a personal hero of mine, as much as I have heroes. Not just his writing and creativity, but his moral and intellectual stances are all things we should strive to integrate into our lives. His war experiences coloured everything he did afterword and he suffered that trauma by being a better person and giving us fantastic art with messages we can still learn from.

I tried to give the items in the illustration a glow, similar to what we would see on out black and white TV when I originally watched the show.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

L'aigle à deux têtes (1948) directed by Jean Cocteau

This film was based on the play, also written by jean Cocteau and was based very loosely on the deaths of Ludwig the second of Bavaria and Empress Elisabeth of Austria.


A queen whose king has died has kept her faced veiled in public for a decade life is changed and given a rather morbid direction when an anarchistic poet enters her chamber with the intention to kill her. She falls immediately in love with him, mostly because he a dead ringer for her dead husband but also because he is played by Jean Marias- Who wouldn't fall in love him?

Political intrigue ensues but there is a fatality about their love they can't escape. The queen states quite plainly they will be each other's demise at the start. She embraces this idea more than we think as, at the end, she angers the poet enough to stab her while he has taken poison to save her from political ruin. She thanks him for the knife in the back as she dies.

While not as sumptuous in style as Cocteau's more well know films, this film looks beautiful, not in small part because of the beauty of its stars - Edwidge Feuilliére and Jean Marias. Both are fantastic in  their roles and the cinematography shows off the countryside and castle sets in the best light possible. The story moves along a decent pace, taking time to build the characters that are both iconic and real feeling at the time.

A nice rare behind the scenes shot.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Raspberry Reich (2004) directed by Bruce LaBruce

WARNING: Explicit subject matter! 

This film tells the story of a would be terrorist group who kidnaps the son of a rich businessman for blackmail purposes. However, the son has recently come out as gay and was disinherited which complicates their plans. The group is led by a woman named Gudrun who constantly and I do mean constantly, spouts off radical philosophy histories and slogans - going so far as yelling "Fuck me for the revolution" as her boyfriend fucks her off the bed, out of the apartment and into the elevator. As this is happening, Che (another main character) is preforming oral sex on various firearms and finally shoots his wad - and a gun - in unison. Gubdrun is, in effect the only woman in this film save for a neighbour in the elevator and the rest are all young, sexy boys (mostly gay porn stars) who spend much of the runtime fucking each other. This film has an "unedited version" but maybe that's the version I saw both in the cinema and on DVD because, honestly, nothing is hidden or cut away from sexually. Full on oral and anal sex, cum shots - it's all there. In the end the hostage escapes with a member of the the group who has become his boyfriend and they spend their days robbing banks owned by his father. The other members end up in gay bars and less revolutionary jobs while Che is hired by middle east terrorists to film practice kidnappings. Gundrun and her boyfriend have a kid, hoping he will continue the revolution when he grows up.

To be fair to Bruce LaBruce, this movie falls inline with his other films, falling squarely into comedy/parody territory and while it's not a good film in many ways, it is fun to watch. Sure the explicit sex isn't exactly a minus but the slogans and  dialog, though delivered in a wooden manner, is pretty funny. The boys are sexy and hung and the lead actress gives an over the top performance that is both annoying and somehow captivating. It looks like a 70's low budget exploitation film and sounds like one as well. That is likely 1) on purpose and 2) because LaBruce films are known for having very, very low budgets. The music is interesting at points, but can be annoying and doesn't always fit with the action on screen. The opening segment is far too long and drawn out with strobing title cards  creating an epileptic's nightmare. You could probably cut 20 minutes from the total time and have a much more tight and evenly paced movie.

Like I said, it isn't good, but it does stick with you. The slogans like "The revolution is my Boyfriend!" and dialog such as "homosexually must only be used for revolutionary purposes" might find themselves being used by you in everyday conversation. Well, if you have conversations like I do. You might also find yourself declaring what is  "counter-revolutionary" after seeing this. According to the film that would include things like: Madonna, hip hop, cornflakes and masturbations among other things.

This film is not everyone's cup of tea but it is honest about what it is and thanks you "watching this porn" in the end credits. Bruce LaBruce is a singular filmmaker and keeps on making the things he wants to make and he should be admired for that alone. Plus he is Canadian like me so I am maybe little biased in his direction.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Portrait of Dorian Grey (1945) directed by Albert lewin

A classic film from a classic novel that explores the obsession with youth and beauty and how they can hide evil, hideous interiors. Basically a horror story, Dorian grey is a young beautiful boy who, while having his portrait painter falls under the corrupting ideas of the artist and his friend. He realizes that youth is not forever and makes wish on an Egyptian cat statue that he will remain the same while the portrait ages and changes. This  wish is granted and as his desires and actions become more and more corrupt and terrible, he finds he must hide the image in a locked room so no one can see how he "really" looks. 

The films follow the books fairly faithfully and the cast, which includes a very young Angela Lansbury as Sybil Vane is great. Hurd hatfield as Dorian looks the part. Innocent, you, pretty and manages to give the impression that is all a mask as he becomes colder and callous as the decades pass by. 

The cinematography is decent but if you see this film, be sure to see the retired blu-ray version that has the technicolour insets. The first time we see the painting, it's a beautiful colour shot and when we see it later... let's say the portrait is much less beautiful but the image is stunning and shocking in colour. So shocking, in fact, I won't put an image of it here in case you have never seen the movie, it's really better to first see it context. 

I had not watched this movie in along while and it was surprising how much I had forgotten, not in plot details but how they worked themselves out. I like how we see the corrupted version of the painting long before the film ends so we have an idea of how "wicked" the lovely Dorian has been all these years. We don't see many of his deeds but his treatment of Sybil Vane is so devastating and cold, you can easily believe the painting is relflecting Mr. Gray's  soiled soul. 

This is the best of the adaptions of Oscar Wildes book that i have seen and it focuses on all the right things while later versions use the story as an excuse to show more explicit sex and violence, this film opts for letting the viewer imagine the corruption that can happen when you can place all your sins somewhere out of sight. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

Podcast round up and odds and ends

It's been hard to make posts this summer, lots to do and no money to see movies. I have been keeping up with my podcasts and have a few recommendations.

Eager to Know
An old Boston friend moved to Chicago and started podcast about art, those who make it and their thoughts about it. It's very good, it has an NPR vibe to it in the best way possible and Ricky is really engaging as a host.

Max, Mike, Movies
Slammer alumni... released on good behaviour, Mike Love and his friend Max Levine talk about movies! They are pretty funny, sometimes drunk and group their discussions into series of related films.

The Projection Booth
The behemoth of film podcasts as far as I am concerned. Deep discussions, long interviews and varied opinions. One of those shows and can and should listen to the entire catalogue.

Monster Talk
The science show about monsters. The puns are terrible, and I do mean terrible but the show is really interesting as it discusses legends, monsters and cultural myths.

Kolchak Tapes
Are you as old as I am and watched "The Night Stalker" on TV in the 70s? Is the show as scary as you remember... or even good? Find out how this classic and influential show holds up to today's standards.

Twilight Zone Podcast
Really interesting takes on the classic series by Rod Serling. Reviews and synopsis of each show with trivia, history and the occasional reading of the original stories an episode was based on. They also did an excellent discussion of Serling's involvement in the film "Planet of the Apes".

Bone and Sickle
Part history, part weird visit with an eccentric millionaire collector of strange objects. From the man who literally wrote the book on the Krampus has a unique way to present folklore, really strange and sometimes gross history lessons and covers the bizarre spectrum of human beliefs and legends.

Anyone have any suggestions of their own to add? Let us know in the comment section!

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Twilight Zone (TV show) 2019 show runner: Jordan Peele

There have been a few attempts to recreate Rod Serling's Classic anthology show, The Twilight Zone. The original is a highlight in TV history and a monument to how good writing  and acting can produce truly remarkable and important art that can change how people think and feel. Those that followed were lesser shows, not always bad, but Serling is an act impossible to follow.

When the 2019 version as announced with Peele in charge I was reticent, but excited. He seemed a good choice. He was a Serling fan and had a sense of how to mix social commentary with great entertainment that made you think.

I won't be spring anything, just making a general comment of the show for his 10 episode run.

Overall: Pretty damn good. Great acting, actors, cinematography and the ideas were all solid. Does it live up to the original? Of course not, or not yet, anyway. It's a different show in a different time and Peele does not shy away from that while at the same time reminding us he knows he is treading on eggshells with fans and new viewers alike. Everyone has an idea what the Twilight Zone is - including those who have never seen even one episode. The entire season plays with the idea of recreating the original, then years off into its own thing, a smart move in my opinion.

Not every episode is successful but that can be said for the 60s version as well. We all know the classics stories over its 5 year run, but they weren't all classics. Some were pretty bad in fact, like every other show with 156 episodes and filmed on a time and money budget. The 2019 version looks fantastic and casting was amazing, but not every story will appeal to every viewer and I think most would have profited from a 30 minute over and hour format. There are plenty of Easter eggs to keep long time fans happy and it does not shy away from some biting social commentary. Sometimes it's way too on the nose for it's own good. There are connections from one episode to another and it seemed there was a theme beyond the stated "When the truth is not the truth - what dimension are you even in?". These connections and themes come around in the last episode which is totally meta commentary on the show itself and what it is trying to do.

One thing I wanted more of and didn't get were twists that hit me like they did in Serling's incarnation. Even knowing what the twist was, on repeated viewing they repeatedly shocked you. I had the opportunity to watch some Serling episodes with people who had somehow never seen the show and the look on their faces and how those twists suddenly opened them up to new ideas was amazing.

There is time for this show to do all that - it has been renewed and I have to say I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The legend of Leigh Bowery 2002 directed by Charles Atlas

Leigh Bowery was one of those 80s club and fashion legends whose name seems to have been, like too many others, lost because of time and the avalanche of death caused by the AIDS crisis. This movie goes a long way to remedy that and give the current generation a better idea of the world that allowed people like him to flourish, a world that is lost forever it seems.

The 80s were crazy in ways the 60s and 70s were not, they were self-aware and in your face - all things Bowery exemplified. He was outrageous, but his work was his art and he was a true artist. I would put him in the same drawer as Klaus Nomi as they were both outcasts with immense talent that were able to steer their eccentricities into a sort of fame. It's impossible to believe that if they came around today that they would succeed at all in their world of easy offence, nuance and context. Watching this documentary brought back memories of how subjects like Nazism, black face, gay sex and fashion were sometimes combined as a form a parody and the back lash was minimal because we at the time knew the context and intent of what was being presented, but not promoted.

He made the way for some current drag performers and fashionistas but was able to go much farther than they could dream of going.

Thanks to Michael Z. Keamy for finding this complete documentary online.