Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Performed by Bela Lugosi, Edited by S. Michael Wilson

Some of my favorite news updates involve my own work. Yes, it is quite selfish. But there's nothing I love more than sharing my latest projects with people who might enjoy them.

In this case, I wanted to share the cover of my next book, Performed by Lugosi (due out in December), which is going through the final stages with my publishers, Idea Men Productions. This is looking to be the final version. What do you think?

Performed by Lugosi takes a closer look at several of Bela Lugosi's films that were adapted from or inspired by classic works of literature by some of the greatest authors of our time, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Not only are the similarities between the stories and films examined, but Lugosi's performances, career, and personal life at the time of the productions is also discussed. This is going to be a great cross over book for people who enjoy classic genre fiction as well as classic cinema.

I'm not going to promote too much more about the book until the release date firms up, but I thought this would be a fun sneak peak. Be sure to let me know what you think.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

My Bloody Valentine in 3D: Questionable Plot Point

Cover of "My Bloody Valentine"Cover of My Bloody Valentine

I just had to express one (of many) of the problems I had with My Bloody Valentine in 3D, not because it makes no sense, but because it almost makes sense.

The initial idea on a bunch of miners being trapped in a tunnel collapse, and then one of them killing all of the others to conserve all of the oxygen for himself, is not wholly far fetched or fantastic. Taking it one step further and having the homicidal survivor mentally snap and run around in full miner's gear killing everyone he comes across with a pick axe is also quite credible. You could even stretch the psychosis of the killer to his fear that every living soul he comes across is yet another threat to his life as long as they are still breathing.

But, just because this traumatic event occurred on Valentin's Day, our demented killer is somehow motivated to cut the hearts out of his victims, place them in heart-shaped candy boxes, and leave behind notes that read "Be Mine 4 Ever?" There's not even any back story involving a bitter love affair or an unfaithful wife leaving him the day of the accident to make this drastic connection between the two events even somewhat plausible.

And just to add frustration to the confusion, why go through the trouble of having him leave notes behind with the clever word play involving Mine, bother to show him using the number 4 instead of spelling it out, then having the tragic event happen in Mine Shaft 5, and not Mine Shaft 4?

It is little things like this that add insult to the injuries left behind by bad movies such as this.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglorious Basterds Review - Stephen Whitty: Film Critic or Nazi Sympathizer?

The following blog entry is a rebuttal to Stephen Whitty's critical review of Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Inglorious Basterds, which can be read here in its entirety.

Once again, Mr. Whitty, you deliver a review that is obviously a thinly-veiled attempt to justify your personal dislike of a film, for whatever reasons that may be.

While your review isn't studded with the several inaccuracies that sometimes grace them, it does feature one: you state "if [Quentin Tarintino] wanted a Morricone score, he could have actually hired the man to write a new one, rather than using old excerpts from other films." Of course, he did try to hire him to do the score, but a conflict in business schedules forced Morricone to decline.

Beyond that misinformation meant to slander the film maker's intentions, your review simply makes some pretty outlandish accusations. Like insisting that Brad Pitt is allowed to hog the film, when his character is not present for at least half of the movie. Why you would imply that using a big-name actor that manages to turn out a great performance is some kind of tragic mistake on the filmmaker's part is beyond me.

Your argument that Tarintino should have bypassed Pitt for "an actor who might have added just a dash of something -- regret, pain, doubt, madness -- to the sadism" defeats the point of the character. The character of Aldo Raine is indeed sadistic and bloodthirsty. In fact, heroes and villains alike in this film are cold and dispassionate in their violent acts and intentions. Aldo Raine is sadistic, yes. That is we he and his Basterds are the perfect foil to the Nazi Commanders and Soldiers whom we watch dispassionately and even casual discuss the inferiority of Jews and "Negroes". The power of the Basterds is that they are more bloodthirsty than the monsters they hunt. Considering that one of the theme's of the film is both the symbolic and literal act of Fighting Fire with Fire, I would think this would have been more apparent.

You also complain that the movie "is simply an action film" and "is almost insultingly

Cover of Cover via Amazon

unconcerned with the real war." Not being able to look past the entertainment value of Tarantino's work is no excuse for ignoring the thematic structure, and dismissing the film as not having any serious themes because of the historical revisionist ending (because everything in Saving Private Ryan was 100% fact, right?) is rather a simple and dishonest way of deconstructing the film into segments to bash and trivialize, instead of considering the work as a whole and praising it.

Most outrageous, however, is your distaste for Tarantino's "...arrogant -- perhaps even dangerous -- lack of concern with the story's moral dimensions." This honestly leads me to believe that you were not paying attention to the film during your screening, but merely jotting down notes for your pending critical review. Lack of concern for the story's moral dimensions? I hesitate to list scenes that debunk this assertion, as I am afraid there are too many to tackle without the risk of spoiling the film for those who have not yet seen it. I will try one, however; how you could view a scene featuring a Nazi audience joyously watching a war propaganda film glorifying the slaughter of enemy soldiers for national pride, displayed in a film that the real audience has been joylessly cheering similar acts of violence during, and not see the statement the film maker is making about the subjective nature of human morality and how easily the lines can be blurred? Every other scene in this film is layered in revealing displays of morality and how easily the thin veil of humanity can be pulled aside to reveal the true nature of the beast that is man (most probably better than Peckinpah ever managed to do), yet you dismiss the existence of such complexity because Tarantino enjoys mixing scenes of dark humor and stylized violence into the mix.

You claim that Tarantino's stylish touches (like David Bowie appearing in the soundtrack, for

Quentin TarantinoQuentin Tarantino via

heavens sake!) and layered, non-linear style was in danger of being confusing and disorienting. I sat in a packed theater full of moviegoers, and no one looked confused or disoriented. They looked happy and entertained. Yeah, I hate it when that happens, too.

And as for your complaint that "the illiterate spelling [of Basterds] is never really justified..." Do you really need everything explained for you?

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