Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Cinema Retro tips us to this great package!
Fox and MGM will release a special campaign to promote 50 classic Hollywood musicals spread across 61 DVDs. The mammoth boxed set will also include postcard reproductions of the one sheet posters for every title. The shelf-breaking collection will be available on November 11 -- it's enough to have you fiddling on the roof!
Here is the official press release:
Start spreading the news… as Fox and MGM Home Entertainment present 50 of the most legendary musical motion pictures of all time in the Hollywood Musicals Collection on DVD November 11. These lively and larger-than-life production numbers span the golden age of musical theater and include multiple award-winning films such as West Side Story, which took home 10 Academy Awards, All That Jazz, which earned four Oscars, Guys and Dolls, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, Moulin Rouge! which won two Oscars and Sound of Music and The King And I, which took home five Academy Awards each.
This quintessential set brings live theater to the living room with remarkable performances from Elvis Presley (Clambake, Flaming Star, Follow That Dream, Frankie and Johnny, Kid Galahad, Wild In the Country), Marilyn Monroe (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There’s No Business Like Show Business) and Fred Astaire (Daddy Long Legs), among several other talented performers. Joining the melodic classics on DVD for the first time are the cherished Goldwyn Follies, Kid Millions and Whoopee!.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Special Edition – Two Disc
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM AMAZON AND SAVE $125!
FORGOTTEN BOOKS: TAFFIN – LYNDON MALLET!
This tale is better known as a 1987 film starring Pierce Brosnan as the eponymous Irish enforcer. I’ve watched the film several times, getting the same visceral enjoyment out of it I get every time I watch Patrick Swaze in Roadhouse. However, I enjoyed the film Taffin even more because it is a closer translation of its source novel than most film adaptations.
Taffin author, Lyndon Mallet, was a journalist and the road manager of a flying circus before becoming an advertising copywriter. In 1980 he published Taffin with British paperback publisher NAL, who also published two further Taffin titles – Taffin’s First Law in 1982, and Ask Taffin Nicely in 1984. Although, Mallet also wrote a dozen scripts for the long-running British cop series The Bill and various other novels and screenplays, the character of Taffin still remains his claim to fame.
Taffin is an Irish tough-guy debt collector who when not working or teaching young tearaways the fine art of intimidation, is happy to spend his time reading books on philosophy and theory. He is a big fish in the very little Irish pond known as Lasherham, and goes about his business in a quiet, polite manner. Nobody, however, wants a second visit from Taffin because it usually involves excruciating pain.
This is all very hardboiled and noirish in its own Irish way. Things heat up when the local community finds itself on the wrong side of ruthless developers who have sent their heavies into town to keep the locals quiet.
Fearing the planned chemical plant will pollute the environment and ruin the village, the townspeople see Taffin as their only weapon – even though they have always disapproved of his methods.
Asked to fix the problem, Taffin tries to explain the villagers will find his method of rectifying the situation unpalatable. They insist they can live with whatever he does, but Taffin knows different – he knows where violence inevitably leads.
I enjoyed the first two books in the Taffin series, and only in preparing this post did I find out there was a third book in the series – Ask Taffin Nicely. However, like the original Taffin title, this third entry appears to have dropped out of sight and been forgotten – but that’s a challenge that makes book collecting fun.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
DR. Syn: The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh premiered on Disney’s WonderFul World Of Color as a three part mini-series in 1963. It was later edited into a feature film for foreing distribution. Finally, it is soon to be available as a two DVD set as part of the Disney Treasures series.
I remember watching it with my Dad and enjoying the heck out of it. Patrick McGoohan was outstanding in the title role – essencially a Robin Hood / Zorro character set in the 1700s. I can still hear the wonderful title tune playing behind the Scarecrow galloping across the marsh in full halloween-style costume.
Year later when I was on a Rafael Sabatini reading kick (Captain Blood, Scaramouche, etc), I came across the original Dr. Syn books by Russell Thordike. Darker than the Disney television series, they were a sort of swashbuckling noir.
While Disney’s series is probably a bit dated by today’s over the top standards, The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh is still great stuff -- smugglers and swashbuckling adventure for the whole family.
A tip of the fedora to Tanner at Double O Section
Chris Crutcher has long been one of my favorite author – I will immediately put down whatever I am reading in favor of a new Crutcher novel – unless I’m reading a new Robert Parker novel, at which time I implode from trying to read both at once.
While Crutcher’s novels are to be found on the Young Adult shelves in bookstores, they defy the YA label – going far beyond any arbitrarily applied literary boundaries.
Crutcher’s latest, Deadline, does not disappoint. I rank it right up with my other personal Crutcher favorites: Whale Talk, Ironman, and the classic Stotan.
Like most of Cruther’s work, Deadline covers a lot of emotional ground. It’s a story of death and dying; of the nature of truth and the cost of lies; it’s about small town America (Trout, Idaho) and Malcom X; it’s about dysfunction and hope, football and craming the whole of a life into one very small timeframe.
When diminutive eighteen-year-old Ben Wolf is diagnosed with incurable lukemia, he decides to spend the next year living life for all it’s worth. To keep people from treating him differently, he doesn’t tell a soul about his condition – not even his major bi-polar mother, his understanding father, or his brother.
With the time he has left, Ben sets his sights on making his remaining time the best year ever. He decides to give up his status as the cross-country stud of his mall town (Trout, Idaho) High School and go out for the football team in hopes of starring alongside his quarterback brother.
He also vows to harras his narrow-minded civics teacher whenever possible – using ammunition from his two favorite books: Lies My Teacher Told Me and The Autobiography Of Malcom X. And last, but not least, Ben swears to make a run at the girl of his dreams, Dallas Suzuki.
His new go-for-broke attitude pays immediate dividens, but harboring his painful secret is harder than he ever could have imagined.
Crutcher revisits many of his familiar themes—death, child molestation, censorship and sports—but does so in the context of a startlingly heartrending plot that manages to be simultaneously wise and thought-provoking. As a writer, Crutcher has an amazing talent for taking the most complex ideas and distilling them to their truest forms, while never sounding preachy.
Crutcher's writing is often controversial and has been frequently challenged and even banned by individuals who want to censor his books by removing them from libraries and classrooms. His books generally feature athlete teens coping with serious problems, including abusive parents, racial and religious prejudice, mental and physical disabilities, and poverty. These themes are viewed in some quarters as too mature for his target audience. Other cited reasons for censorship include strong language and depictions of homosexuality. Despite this controversy, Crutcher's writing has received many awards and The American Library Association has named eight of his books as Best Books for Young Adults.
TO VISIT AUTHOR CRIS CRUTHER’S WEBSITE CLICK HERE
Another BBC crime drama I wish BBC America would broadcast is New Tricks, which follows the antics of three retired cops recruited by Superintendent Sandra Pullman to reinvestigate unsolved crimes in the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS).
The show has just finished it’s fifth season (or series – to put it in British terms) with strong enough ratings that BBC One (the network on which it is broadcast) has confirmed there will be a sixth series of New Tricks to air next year.
Filming on the old-timers cop show, which stars Amanda Redman alongside James Bolam, Dennis Waterman and Alun Armstrong, is expected to commence on a new run of eight episodes later this year in and around London.
Tom Sherry, executive producer of the show stated, “Amanda, Dennis, Alun and James have brought real depth, warmth and humour to their characters, but I know there is still much more we can do with the series. It is the show's ability to be both humorously entertaining and from time to time tackle darker issues which keeps all the team keen to come back and make next year even better."
New Tricks main characters include:
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT SANDRA PULLMAN (AMANDA REDMAN):
The head of the unit and the only currently serving police officer in UCOS, Sandra Pullman was previously a Scotland Yard high flyer and a highly successful career woman until an incident involving the shooting of a dog during the rescue of a hostage (which becomes a running gag during the series). Following this incident, her career stalled and she was given the dubious honour of running UCOS against her will. An intensely ambitious and competitive woman, she has sacrificed most of her personal life in pursuit of her career and likes to be in absolute control of every situation; a running subplot involves Pullman's lonely and unsuccessful love life, consisting of a string of adulterous relationships in her past and numerous failed efforts at romance (including, in one episode, speed dating). Pullman believes in following the rules, and is often exasperated by her colleagues' eccentricities and willingness to bend the rules in pursuit of a result. She does at times. An example is when the team were told to fix the accounts but the boys went behind her back and when she found out she went into the case saying "I'm a copper, not an accountant.". Although reluctant to lead UCOS, as time goes by, she begins to warm to her colleagues and view them as her friends, and at the same time change her attitude towards life. Her mother Grace is still alive, but recently had a stroke. Her father, Gordon Arthur Pullman, another police officer, died in 1975 from carbon monoxide poisoning when she was 14 after committing suicide while under investigation for corruption by Jack Halford. However, she did not find out about this until 2007, believing that he died of a heart attack.
JOHN ALAN "JACK" HALFORD (EX-DETECTIVE CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT) (JAMES BOLAM):
The highest-ranking ex-officer on the team and the first to be approached by Pullman when she was forming UCOS, Jack Halford is something of a second-in-command to Pullman and acts as a mentor to her on numerous occasions (based on their previous working relationship when she was subordinate to him on the murder squad). Halford retired from the police force to care for his dearly-loved wife Mary who had been involved in a hit-and-run incident; he is still haunted by her death, partly due to the fact that no-one was ever been charged in connection with it, and still speaks to his wife's memorial in his garden, often seeking her help and opinion in solving cases. A softly-spoken and gentle man, Halford nevertheless possesses a quick and at-times violent temper that he has unleashed towards several of the suspects in the cases that he has worked on.
GERALD "GERRY" STANDING (EX-DETECTIVE SERGEANT) (DENNIS WATERMAN):
Something of a 'Jack-the-Lad', Gerry Standing is very much an old-school police officer; in his time, he was 'a top thief-taker' ex Diplomatic Protection group officer who passionately enjoyed catching criminals but nevertheless mixed easily with them. As a result, allegations of corruption arose, which he angrily denies but nevertheless were among the reasons he left the police force (the other being that he punched his then-superior officer, Don Bevan, as a result of these allegations). Something of a ladies man, he has been married three times; although his marriages were unsuccessful, he is a devoted father to his three daughters and has a grandson, Gerry Jr, maintains amicable relationships with his three ex-wives (so much so that he occasionally manages to seduce them once again). Along with his familial commitments, he also has a keen interest in gambling and thus is keen to work in UCOS for financial reasons. Although he is a now a grandfather, he maintains his devil-may-care lifestyle, but insists that he is merely "a naughty boy, not a bastard". Although initial tension existed between them, he and Pullman share a mutually respectful but nonetheless barbed friendship.
Standing joined UCOS for financial reasons, and much to the consternation of DAC Bevan.
BRIAN LANE (EX-DETECTIVE INSPECTOR) (ALUN ARMSTRONG):
Brian 'Memory' Lane is an exceptional detective, possessing a keen attention to detail and a remarkable instant recall memory that allows him to call up obscure details not only regarding cases but the officers investigating them at the time. He is also extremely socially inept and highly eccentric, a sufferer of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and a recovering alcoholic; as a result, despite being an essentially well-meaning individual he possesses extremely poor social skills and a tendency for getting himself into trouble. He left the force under a cloud, having been partly held responsible for the death of a prisoner in his custody; although Brian maintains it is part of a conspiracy against him (and was, at least initially, consumed with attempting to discover who was behind it), his colleagues believe that he simply cannot admit he made a mistake. Brian is married to the long-suffering but caring Esther.
Philip Glenister & Life on Mars co-star John Simm have reunited for a racy crime thriller set in 1980s London. Tuesday will open in UK cinemas from 10th October.
But Tuesday sees the duo ditch their TV police personas and take on the characters of ruthless career criminals. They are joined in Tuesday by a stellar cast including veteran actor Kevin McNally (Valkyrie, Pirates of the Caribbean, Scoop, The Phantom of the Opera), as well as Ashley Walters (Sugarhouse, Waz, Hustle), Cristian Solimeno (Perfect Hideout, La Terze Madre, Unstoppable) and Kate Magowan (Stardust, Kidulthood, It's All Gone Pete Tong).
Written and directed by Sacha Bennett, Tuesday is a 'heist gone right' story, revealed by the suspects through a series of interrogations. The big question is who got away with it? As the investigating detectives (Kevin McNally and Dylan Brown) try and piece together the jigsaw, they start to realise that nothing is as it seems…
Philip Glenister, who stars as Earp – the head 'villain' – says the role is a world away from his TV character DCI Gene Hunt: "John and I are the bad boys," says Philip. "We rob a bank. We rob a few banks actually…"
Writer and director Sacha Bennett: "Seeing Phil and John as hardened criminals working on the other side of the law will no doubt take devoted Life on Mars fans by surprise. Joining them as the other two jewel thieves in their crew are Ashley Walters and Cristian Solimeno, and the dynamic between all four actors is terrific to watch. We've a great ensemble cast with Kate Magowan and Dylan Brown, along with Kevin McNally, Kirsty Mitchell and Linal Haft."
The film is written and directed by Sacha Bennett and is a JAPAN Films production, produced by Sacha Bennett and Jonathan Parsons. The executive producers are Berry Van Zweiten, Paul Fournel and Nigel Bliss. It was shot on location in Woolwich.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
LOOK UP AND DOWN AISLES TWICE BEFORE PROCEEDING . . .
A lady walks into Tiffany's. She browses around, spots a beautiful diamond bracelet and walks over to inspect it. As she bends over to look more closely, she inadvertently breaks wind.
Very embarrassed, she looks around nervously to see if anyone has noticed her little accident and prays that a sales person doesn't pop up right now.
As she turns around, her worst nightmare materializes in the form of a salesman standing right behind her.
Cool as a cucumber and displaying complete professionalism, the salesman greets the lady with, 'Good day, Madam. How may we help you today?'
Very uncomfortably, but hoping that the salesman may just not have been there at the time of her little 'accident', she asks, 'Sir, what is the price of this lovely bracelet?'
He answers, 'Madam, if you farted just looking at it, you're going to crap yourself when I tell you the price.'
Monday, August 25, 2008
Okay, so the brilliant Life On Mars has been hijack by the American television networks and it’s anybody’s guess how the American version will compare to the original (if you’re a betting person, I’d look at the track records of other American cop shows copied from British originals – case in point, the disasterous American version of Cracker or the better, but underappreciated, Snoops).
Rather than forcing us to watch an inferior retread can’t BBC America IMMEDIATLEY import Ashes To Ashes – the follow up series to Life On Mars, which British critics found as brilliant or more so than it’s parent series.
According to Wikipedia:
As with the parent series, the show's name comes from a David Bowie song of the era in which it is set, in this case the 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes".
It is established that DI Alex Drake, a trained police psychologist, has been studying the suicide of DCI Sam Tyler and is familiar with the detailed description he recorded of his experiences of life in 1973 (whilst he was actually in a coma in 2006).
When Drake herself is shot during a hostage situation and finds herself transported back to 1981, it is her familiarity with Tyler's world that leads her to deduce she is "hallucinating". She also draws upon her knowledge of Tyler's experiences in 1973 to inform her decisions on how to act in the world of 1981. For example, she spends time finding and tuning a powerful radio so that she can receive information from the "real world", because this is how Tyler received information about the progression of his coma in his world of 1973. Alex does eventually receive messages via radio and television from Zippy and George, characters from Rainbow - a well known British children’s program.
Drake is also stalked by a sinister clown in a Pierrot costume which resembles David Bowie's appearance in the "Ashes to Ashes" music video. The clown appears to echo the role of the Test Card girl in Life on Mars.
Drake learns from DS Ray Carling that Tyler returned to Manchester in 1973 and spent seven years serving faithfully alongside Gene Hunt. In 1980 he drove his car into a river during a car chase and is presumed dead, though the body was never found.
A newspaper clipping paying posthumous tribute to Tyler's achievements hangs in Hunt's office. Hunt subsequently transferred to the Metropolitan Police, taking Carling and Skelton with him.
As in the case of Sam Tyler in Life on Mars, from Hunt's point of view Drake has asked to be transferred to his division from elsewhere. Unlike Tyler in Life on Mars, Drake is a DI in both the present day and the past.
I’m not asking much from BBC America – just a break from their constant repeats of How Clean Is Your House and sexploitation specials. There is already a second season of Ashes To Ashes in the works – Listen up BBC America – Give us Ashes to Ashes NOW!
TO READ THE COMPLETE WIKIPEDIA ENTRY CLICK HERE
Coming in November – Ender in Exile, the new ender novel from Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game is not only one of my favorite science fiction novels, it is one of my favorite novels. I love giving this book to teen readers or any adult reader who has never experienced it – anyone I give it to never fails to come back and tell me they were blown away.
Now Ender is back:
Orson Scott Card returns to his best-selling series with a new Ender novel.
At the close of Ender's Game, Andrew Wiggin – called Ender by everyone – is told that he can no longer live on Earth, and he realizes that this is the truth. He has become far more than just a boy who won a game: he is the Savior of Earth, a hero, a military genius whose allegiance is sought by every nation of the newly shattered Earth Hegemony. He is offered the choice of living in isolation on Eros, at one of the Hegemony’s training facilities, but instead the twelve-year-old chooses to leave his home world and begin the long relativistic journey out to the colonies. With him went his sister Valentine, and the core of the artificial intelligence that would become Jane.
The story of those years has never been told… until now.
“Card's prose is powerful here, as is his consideration of mystical and quasi-religious themes. Though billed as the final Ender novel, this story leaves enough mysteries unexplored to justify another entry; and Card fans should find that possibility, like this novel, very welcome indeed." Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Children of the Mind
“Orson Scott Card made a strong case for being the best writer science fiction has to offer.” Houston Post on Xenocide
"There aren't too many recent sf novels we can confidently call truly moral works, but Speaker for the Dead is one. It's a completely gripping story." Toronto Star
"This is Card at the height of his very considerable powers – a major SF novel by any reasonable standard." Booklist on Ender’s Game
TO PRE ORDER VIA AMAZON CLICK HERE
In the above picture, Jeanne Chamberlain holds her uncle Lee Blair's 1932 gold medal for a watercolor painting.
Lee Blair won a gold medal for the U.S. in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles without ever training in a gym, on a track or in a pool.
Blair's event: watercolor painting.
Although nearly forgotten, the Olympics held from 1912 through 1948 included arts competitions, with the winners receiving the same gold, silver and bronze medals as the athletes.
In addition to Blair's category -- he won for a watercolor called "Rodeo" -- there were medals for oil painting, sculpture, architecture, music and literature.
TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE
THE RAP SHEET has an interiesting post today on the upcoming book, Quinn Martin, Producer: A Behind-the-scenes History of Qm Productions and Its Founder. This is an expensive ($35.00 paperback) outlay, but it’s a must buy anyone interested in the history of television.
Quinn Martin was the producer of such television shows as The Invaders, Barnaby Jones, The Untouchables, The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon and 12 O’Clock High, to name just a few. How each series made it to the networks, what problems occurred during their production, and why they were cancelled are examined. Martin’s devotion to his shows, his hands-on approach to the writing, casting and editing of each episode, his interactions with network executives, and the high standards he set for his crew and actors are widely admired in the industry.
TO READ EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK AT THE RAP SHEET CLICK HERE
Folye’s War has been one of my favorite traditional mystery series in recent years to come out of Britain. Created by Anthony Horowitz – who also created the fantastic teen spy, Alex Rider – Foyles War was a thinking person’s mystery with deep characters and a wonderful feel for its setting – wartime England.
The final series of Foyle’s War has recently concluded here in America (where it was broadcast on local PBS stations) with the characters celebrating VE Day. Now comes word, however, of plans for a post-war revival of the series under the title Foyle’s Peace.
Britain’s The Mail on Sunday has all the info in an article on their website:
In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, star of the show Honeysuckle Weeks reveals that Foyle’s War has given way to a new series entitled Foyle’s Peace.
Honeysuckle, who plays driver Samantha (Sam) Stewart to Michael Kitchen’s Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle, said: ‘I have the contracts so they’ve got quite far with it and, although I haven’t seen scripts, the idea is that it’ll be set after the Second World War.
Viewers were very attached to the prim, proper and ferociously loyal Sam, with 7.3million tuning in for the final episode in April in the hope that the stolidly single driver might seal her on-off romance with Foyle’s son, Andrew, played by Julian Ovenden.
Foyle’s War was created in 2001 by author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV1 to fill the void following the end of long-running detective series Inspector Morse.
Set in Hastings, it ran to 19 episodes and featured Foyle’s attempts to catch criminals taking advantage of wartime confusion.
Details of the new show have yet to be finalised, but Michael Kitchen is expected to reprise his role and Foyle’s peacetime exploits are likely to feature Sam more prominently.
READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE ON THE DAILY MAIL SITE.
Warner Home Entertainment has announced they will release a Limited Collector's Edition of 300on November 18th with a MSRP of $49.92.This release will contain everything from the previous two-disc version, plus To The Hot Gates: A Legend Retold - A comprehensive and dynamic description of the ancient legend, from Frank Miller’s graphic novel to the creation of Zack Snyder’s epic movie.
In addition to the new documentary, this set will also contain:
CommanderBond.net lets us in on the news the UK movie magazine Empire, as it did with Casino Royale in 2006, will devote it’s next issue entirely to James Bond and The Quantum od Solace.
The October 2008 issue of the magazine features ‘unbeatable access’ into Quantum of Solace, the 22nd 007 adventure, which Empire calls ‘the bloodiest Bond ever.’
CommanderBond.net breaks the news this ‘Quantum’ issue includes details on the different endings devised by screenwriter Paul Haggis and director Marc Forster, interviews with Mathieu Amalric and Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Craig discussing the Bond/Bourne comparisons, a photo spread, and much more.
TO CHECK OUT EMPIRE CLICK HERE
An article on CommanderBond.net by Devin Zydel tipped me to Martijn Mulder’s fabulous website On The Tracks Of 007 – the one-stop online guide to the exotic locations featured in the world of Bond.
Today, CommanderBond.net reports the exciting news that this unique travel guide will be debuting in book format this September. The press release follows:
Dutch 007 connoisseur Martijn Mulder has written a unique field guide to the exotic James Bond filming locations around the world. Four time Bond director Guy Hamilton contributed a foreword for the book, which is published by DMD Digital and is scheduled for release early September. Filled with historical background information, travel directions and location photographs, On The Tracks Of 007 brings you as close to the filming locations as you can get, enabling you to relive your favourite James Bond scenes AND travel the world within the turn of a page.
Together with his co-author, the late Dirk Kloosterboer from Germany, Mulder spent many family holidays researching, finding, mapping out and photographing all the locations ever used in the James Bond films. These—often spectacular—findings were turned into 30 detailed travel stories and for many years formed the heart of one of the longest running Bond related websites on the Net, Onthetracksof007.com. With Bond mania about to peak (the release of the new Bond film Quantum of Solace is later this year), Mulder edited the stories and 665 photographs, presenting a one-of-a-kind field guide that will definitely please fans, travellers, film buffs and adventurers from around the world.
“No Bond fan who’s thinking of visiting any of the countries in which 007 has had adventures should be without this indispensable guide!” says Graham Rye, editor and publisher of 007 Magazine, “Where the Bond traveller may once have wasted many valuable hours in an effort to locate the various film locations in whichever country, Martijn Mulder and Dirk Kloosterboer’s exhaustive work has lifted that burden from all 007 holidaymakers, making their trip to that country even more enjoyable.”
On The Tracks Of 007 is available with either B/W or full colour interior and features travel stories to exotic destinations like Jamaica, the Bahamas, Mexico, Japan, Egypt, Thailand and India, and cities like Paris, Hamburg, Istanbul, Hong Kong and Amsterdam. The 288-page book lists all used locations from Dr. No (1962) to Casino Royale (2006) and includes information on the latest Bond film Quantum of Solace (2008). Additionally, a full listing is included of all hotels ever used in the Bond films.
Visit On The Tracks Of 007 for additional details about this forthcoming release.