Friday, August 22, 2014
Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez return to Basin City after nine years to bring summer audiences A Dame to Kill For. This film is mostly a prequel to the last flick and contains two original Sin City tales. Stories fans will already know are A Dame to Kill For and the short Silent Night. Co-Directors Miller and Rodriguez get most of their original cast to return, with a few exceptions. Dwight is now played by Josh Brolin. (though it had to be a different actor for the plot) Michael Clarke Duncan's replacement for Manute however is the most noticeable. While Dennis Haysbert does an admirable job, he lacks the physical presence that Duncan brought, and this hurts his character's credibility. Devon Akoi is replaced by Jamie Chung for Miho and Chung has the screen presence to pull of the role.
A Dame to Kill For is a worthy sequel, though it lacks the excitement of the first, simply because this has been done before. Long time fans will be pleased with the translation of the Dame to Kill For story with both Brolin and Eva Green turning in perfect performances, expertly balancing the tongue in cheek elements with genuine emotion. Mickey Rourke's second turn as Marv is just as good as the first and continues bringing this cult favorite to the screen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt again proves he can handle a pretty tough role well. The film's standout is Powers Boothe as Senator Rourke. His maniacal speeches are performed with inflections that bring the heavy villain to life. He is the man you love to hate.
Both of the new stories are strong, and the Joseph Gordon-Levitt yarn was the most surprising. The continuation of Jessica Alba's Nancy was a let down from what I was hoping for. First and foremost there are multiple dancing sequences that stop the plot dead and provide the director's a chance to have the camera zoom uncomfortably close to Alba's crotch. They are also distracting as stripping sequences where she does not remove any of her clothing. Alba obviously is uncomfortable with onscreen nudity, but the directors could have worked around this in many different ways. It is even more noticeable as both Brolin and Green spend large chunks of their story completely nude. The bulk of her tale is also merely voice-over and dancing sequences. I was eagerly awaiting to the the physically scarred Nancy from the trailers, which makes up a minority of the film. Having her haunted by Hartigan is both a cool way to bring the character back to the screen and handled well. The sequences also add well the the surreal feel of the film.
If you liked the original Sin City flick, you'll probably enjoy this film. It is stylistic perfection with strong performances from most of the cast. While the excitement of the first has definitively worn off, I would recommend you returning to Sin City one last time.
Monday, July 21, 2014
~ Joseph Campbell
Never believe you are safe. No one is safe.
The dark forest is a state of mind.
DARK FOREST is the latest anthology from UNINVITED BOOKS.
These classic stories of the malignant wilderness come from the pens of illustrious authors like Ambrose Beirce, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, E. Nesbit, H. G. Wells and many others. Tales like THE WILLOWS, A VINE ON A HOUSE and THE PAVILION combine to create an intense atmosphere of surreal malignity. (Also included is Robert Dunbar’s novella WOOD.) Each tale is annotated by contemporary talents, and the insights and observations of writers of the caliber of Paul G. Bens, Ramsey Campbell, Sandy DeLuca, Robert Dunbar, James Everington, Greg F. Gifune, Kevin Lucia, Ronald Malfi, Lisa Mannetti, Elizabeth Massie, and B. E. Scully add a further level of erudition, deepening the reader’s appreciation of the work.
The dark is where we live. The dark is all there is.
Perhaps we should.
Long before haunted houses existed, haunted forests circled the globe. Homer knew it. The Brothers Grimm knew it. In legend, all the great mythic quests of self-discovery begin with a hero entering a forsaken wood.
Some journeys also end there…
“Your soul is a dark forest.”
~ Marcel Proust
UNINVITED BOOKS is an independent press dedicated to celebrating literary distinction in dark fiction. All serious fiction deals to some extent with dark themes, and many great works of world literature have employed supernatural, surreal or existentialist elements. These books have power. They endure… because they appeal to serious readers and provide thoughtful entertainment.
Friday, June 6, 2014
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Brian Mooreland’s new novella The Vagrants. With a page count of a shade over 100, Mooreland somehow manages to both create depth to his characters as well as create an entirely new world that could support an entire franchise if he wished it to.
The novella begins with Daniel Finely an ambitious college graduate with a journalism degree. He is in the midst of spending six months living with the homeless population in Massachusetts, and begins feeling disconnected from his old life as the days pile onto each other. He feels himself and his outlook on life changing. The camp Daniel had been living is then begins to become overrun by a small cult. This cult and its charismatic leader begin to recruit the occupants of the area into their ranks. Daniel feels the appeal but escapes their recruitment. Two years later when his book is being released the cult finds him, and try once again tries to bring him into their ranks...Full Review at Ravenous Monster.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Paul Verhoeven is a much maligned director, in great part due to the train wreck that was Show Girls. While that movie was utter shit, it shouldn't result in Verhoeven's body of work being discounted. This is the man behind such undisputed classics as Robocop and Total Recall. In my mind though Basic Instinct is his masterpiece and over 20 years later its easy to see why.
Erotic Thrillers as a sub genre get more shit than they deserve. And while there are scores of late night cable skin flicks that create this image, it shouldn't discount the solid entries the genre has produced. If you look beyond the nudity, the essence of the erotic thriller is film noir. The basic template of the genre comes from the nearly flawless 1950 Bogart flick in a Lonely Place. I say nearly flawless because no film ever needed to adress the sexual relationship between the two leads more. Instead their is a hokey scene and a subtle implication Bogart spent the night.
Catherine Tramell is the greatest femme fatal ever. While some may look at Stone's performance as hoeky now, it only comes off that way because it has been imitated ad nauseam. Tramell is sexy, smart and dangerous. One of the greatest keys to this is that it is NEVER clear she is the killer. While some see the infamous leg crossing scene as gratuitous nudity, it is a plot point, and a clever one at that. Michael Douglas' Nick Curran is another great archetype from the pulp error. Smart, reckless yet with a very clear personal code of conduct.
Paul Verhoeven's direction is top notch, owing much to Hitchcok. While some may whine about the sexuality on display, and as puriant as it is, the sex scenes in the film are also about suspense and character development. Nick and Catherine's big scene was nearly shot for shot like the opening murder, and Nick's rape of Jeanne Tripplehorn's Beth Garner shows both his repressed darkness, and implies a great deal about who she is.
When Paul Verhoeven submitted the film for a rating it was awarded an NC-17 and among a list of cuts, two major trims took place that I think bare a special look at. The first was an orgasm from the female murder in the opening. The second and most telling was the cunilingus between Nick and Catherine. In the theatrical version she goes down on him with reciprocating. Jerry Goldsmith's score also deserves a little extra recognition, with a great theme that haunts the images onscreen.
Basic Instinct represents the pinnacle of big screen erotic thrillers, and the film had an incredible impact that can be felt to this day, think of nearly ever drama on Premium cable for starters.
With a big screen version of 50 Shades of Gray on the way, I'd like to look back to 1992, when a blockbuster could have a sexually dominant woman in the lead.
Friday, April 11, 2014
There are some incredibly popular and influential Batman story arcs that receive a great deal of love, and rightfully so from the nerd community. And I’m with you. Batman Year One is amazing. Hush is incredible. Birth of the Demon is overrated but very influential and important to Batman’s development One arc that I feel is often left out is Knightfall. Right now I want to examine the first third of this epic. Yes it was an event comic designed to tell books, but that doesn’t mean it was of poorer quality. While I recognize a few different authors had a hand in this I’m going to credit Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench as the largest contributors.
Dixon and Moench’s script works on quite a few levels. The first few issues move fast, almost entirely self-contained and allow readers a chance to revisit the rogues gallery while tying each episode to the larger story, without ever sacrificing the action or pace. Arkham Asylum is a volatile place, with prisoners escaping quite regularly, so why not all at once. This action also helps to set up Bane as a formidable enemy. He respects Batman as an adversary yet is incredibly confident. Bane is one of Batman’s best villains, because Batman never beats him. In the entire Knightfall Arc Batman never triumphs over Bane. This makes it one of the most unique entries the cannon ever...
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Friday, March 21, 2014
I hadn't been active on goodreads for at least a month. My only use of the site recently was to accept friend requests from other users. As a small press author the site proved me a good way to connect with readers. I was active on good reads for roughly three years before my first professional publication was released and I found it to be a great site to find new books, and keep track of what I had read. Sometimes an author’s name would escape me, and my read list made it easy to find their name, and then other works by the author. It wasn't long before I was offered and took on the status of librarian. This allowed me to upload other small press authors I had discovered to the site’s listing of books, in the hopes that these people would find an audience.
The other day I tried to log into my goodreads account and couldn't. I assumed this was because I had changed my password and forgotten what I had changed it to. This is a common occurrence in my life. I clicked the refresh password button, and was told I had no account and never had. This was confusing because I still had email updates from goodreads. When I contacted their help desk I was told that my account was terminated because I was responsible for spaming other users. No one could tell me when this occurred and my recent lack of activity was shrugged off because apparently these cycles don’t run very often. Nor could anyone explain to me what I did to warrant being removed without any notification. I requested to be reinstated, and was told I could rejoin from scratch. All my reviews and posts lost forever, just like snap chat pictures, in that they aren’t lost and are stored permanently. This affects not just me and my meager status, but all those small authors I wrote reviews for in hopes of supporting their work, because writing can be a lonely process and it’s nice to know somebody is enjoying the product of your hard work.
I am not happy with this state of affairs for what I hope to be obvious reasons. I enjoyed using goodreads before being published, and once becoming published it was fun to use my ISBN number to create an official page for my book on a website I used. Alas all this has come to an end. I write this so that when others are inevitably kicked off because they were flagged by an algorithm it will not come as such a surprise and not be quite as pissed off as I was in the moment because it will be less of a surprise.