Ever since The Professional, Luc Besson has ruled as the king of the Euro-spy genre. Even if everything he produces isn’t necessarily a spy film – they all feel like it.
In Taken, Besson is half of the screenwriting team and sitting in the producers chair, and the film gets marks for being no nonsense, take-no-prisoners, and kick ass while managing to keep it’s budget quality up there with the best of the Bourne again spy extravaganzas.
The set up is simple. Liam Nesson is a retired spy and over protective Dad. He’s trying, unsuccessfully, to reinsert himself into his seventeen year old daughter’s life after years of being in the field. When her trip to Paris with a girlfriend turns into Nesson’s worst paranoid nightmare, you know he’s going to get her back COME HELL OR HIGH WATER.
You know what you are in for when you go and see a Transporter film, and so you do here. Taken begins with an act of violence against a dangerous man. Ninety minutes and dozens of fights, chases, and explosions later, it ends with the destruction of an Albania sex traffick ring, a sheik assassinated, at least 50 people murdered, a couple of swarthy foreigners tortured, and France pretty well knocked about.
You just gotta give a wide ethical berth to a father fighting to save his daughter’s life – it’s so easy to root for Nesson as a righteous, raging, unapologetic, knife-wielding, CIA-trained human weapon, so feeble notions such as plausibility and morality don’t even register.
Taken is an adrenaline-fueled amoral thrill ride you almost – almost – feel guilty for enjoying. So what if Nesson electrocutes people from time to time in order to get information. So what if he occasionally shoots his friends’ wives when they get in his way. So what if he’d probably blow up the Louvre with every orphan in Paris trapped inside if it meant getting what he wanted? Taken moves so fast and with such single-minded, vindictive energy, there’s no time for moral ambivalence. There’s only time to bask in the reflected glow of a hero willing to use every means at his disposal to get what he (and we) wants.
Duplicity is a sly and stylish romantic spy caper right out of the ‘60s. The offspring of Charade and Arabesque or possibly Gambit and Kaleidoscope, director Tony Gilroy’s follow up to Michael Clayton is different from that film in every way except quality.
Here Duplicity hooks into the cool swagger and jazzy swing of the original Ocean’s 11, while stars Clive (yes, he would have made a fantastic 007) Owen and Julia Roberts bring a retro hipness to their snappy dialogue delivery and tastefully smoldering relationship – Mr. & Mrs. Smith without the bullets, bombs, and tabloid fodder.
As a duo of retired international spies – she from the CIA and he from MI-6 – who crossed bed sheets years ago, they have decided to pair up and go rogue on the warring cosmetics companies for whom they now work.
There is con job on con job, twists and turns, back-stabbing betrayals, and double-agent double-crosses – so much so there are time you thing you’re watching David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner in Dutch. Yes, it is a bit hard to follow, with back flashes and redos to keep bringing you up to speed, but somehow it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a creative moment in the film that hasn’t been stolen from a dozen other caper films, it doesn’t matter when you walk out of the theatre and suddenly figure out if Julia Roberts had a cell phone with a camera, the film’s climax would have deflated – but, wait, she did have a cell phone with a camera – it doesn’t matter if you (as some of us did) see the BIG twist coming, and it doesn’t matter if you get a little lost, it’s all gleeful fun and Owen and Roberts match up nicely. Duplicity can be nit-picked to death, but the bottom line is I was entertained for the full two hours – and that’s why I go to the movies.
The “Big W” has put his empty glass down on the bar and left on vacation, but he did leave behind another GREAT episode from summer 2008 of those Space-Age Pop Hi-Fi musical sounds of the 1950’s and the 1960’s to share with everyone once again this week….as always, in LIVING STEREO! It’s the BEST of “An Evening At The Buddies Lounge” – Show #2 - Originally aired on 7/6/08 as show #18. Yes, it's the "famous" live show!!!! Bottoms Up!
Best of “An Evening At The Buddies Lounge” #2 originally aired on 7/6/08 as show #18
Written by Leah Moore and John Reppion with reverence and a modern edge, artist Aaron Campbell completes the Victorian mood under the striking and iconic John Cassaday covers. Issue #2 finds Holmes in jail, fighting for his very life as "The Trial of Sherlock Holmes" continues!
THE BEST OF ROBERT E. HOWARD, VOLUME ONE: CRIMSON SHADOWS!
Illustrated by Jim and Ruth Keegan
The UK based small press Wandering Star issued glorious editions of Robert E. Howard’s work, including The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, The Ultimate Triumph, as well as two volumes of Howard’s Conan tales.
Subterranean Press is proud to continue this series of limited editions, beginning with Kull: Exile of Atlantis, exquisitely illustrated with color plates and black and white illustrations illuminating the text. We now continue with our second offering, Crimson Shadows, The Best of Robert E. Howard, volume one. We plan to match or better the quality of materials used in the Wandering Star editions, and will be doing a number of other books in the series.
Writer: Scott Beatty Penciller/Inker: Carlos Rafael Covers: John Cassaday, Alex Ross
The future begins now! Join us as we present pop culture's first hero - Buck Rogers! The first man out of time... the first man to be taken from his present and thrown into the future... the inspiration for countless heroes, and it all begins here!
From the thrilling adventure presented in Dynamite's introductory issue #0 last month, the creative team of writer Scott Beatty, artist Carlos Rafael and 50/50 cover artists Alex Ross and John Cassaday (Cassaday serves as the regular cover artist for the series) present this all-new issue #1!
In the tradition of modern stories for iconic legendary heroes, Buck Rogers is the next BIG hit series from Dynamite! Join us for an all-new presentation of this classic sci-fi hero as the future truly begins now! Hey, we could tell you more, but that would ruin the surprise of the comic adventure!
THE ADVENTURES OF SMOKE WADE VOLUME 1 BY ROBERT J. HOGAN!
Smoke Wade is a rough and tumble Arizona cowpoke who never came across a fight or a bet he was afraid to take on. He left the range and became the skipper of the American 66th Pursuit Squadron in WWI France. Flying a Pinto colored Spad he calls Jake, after his favorite Pinto ranch horse, Smoke always has his trusty six-shooter strapped to his leg. He makes frequent use of it during his aerial battles with the Germans, led by their evil ace Baron von Stolz.
When he isn't shooting down German planes, Smoke is getting in trouble with his superiors over his love for placing bets on just about anything that seems like a long-shot. Smoke most always wins these bets, and everyone from generals to mechanics is left owing him money and wondering how they had been snookered.
Author Robert J. Hogan's first job after graduating from St. Lawrence University was riding range for several ranches on the west slope of the Rockies. After that he tried amateur boxing and playing piano for silent movies and hoedown dances. Before he became a writer he also had built houses, manufactured leather goods, designed planes, and taught flying. It is easy to understand why Hogan had such affection for this lanky cowboy ace, Smoke Wade.
AGE OF ACES BOOKS APRIL 2009 $16.99 FOR MORE INFO CLICK HERE
WITH MY TRIP TO ITALY LOOMING, I’VE BEEN SMAKING DOWN ONE ITALIAN BASED MYSTERY AFTER ANOTHER. THE US EDITION OF ANDREA CAMILLERI'S TENTH AND LATEST MONTALBANO NOVEL, AUGUST HEAT, IS ANOTHER OUTSTANDING READ.
He was sleeping so soundly that not even cannon-fire could have woken him. Well, maybe not cannon-fire, but the ring of the telephone, yes. Nowadays, if a man living in a civilized country (ha!) hears cannon-blasts in his sleep, he will, of course, mistake them for thunderclaps, gun salutes on the feast day of the local saint, or furniture being moved by the upstairs neighbours, and go on sleeping soundly. But the ring of the telephone, the triumphal march of the mobile, or the doorbell, no: those are sounds of summons to which the civilized man (ha-ha!) has no choice but to surface from the depths of slumber and answer.
So, Montalbano got out of bed, glanced at the clock, then at the window, from which he gathered that it was going to be a very hot day, and went into the dining room where the telephone was ringing wildly.
‘Salvo! Where were you? I’ve been trying to get hold of your for half an hour!’
‘I’m sorry, Livia. I was in the shower so I couldn’t hear the phone.’
Britian’s ITV has commissioned a sequel to Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion, which will once again star Kelly Reilly and Ciaran Hinds. La Plante is, of course, best known for her series Prime Suspect starring Helen Mirren. La Plante has had many other novels successfully translated to the small screen.
Above Suspicion: The Red Dahlia will be a three-part drama based on La Plante’s novel of the same name, which focuses on detective Anna Travis.
It will be produced by La Plante Productions, with filming starting later this year.
Reilly will once again take on the role of Travis, with Hinds playing her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Langton.
ITV director of drama Laura Mackie said: “Above Suspicion was one of the highlights of the winter season on ITV1 and I’m delighted that Lynda is bringing Anna Travis back for another gripping investigation”.
La Plante added: “The response to Above Suspicion mirrored the response to the first series of Prime Suspect which is very, very exciting. To be making the second one now is a joy.”
FORGOTTEN BOOKS: THE VAMPIRELLA NOVELS BY RON GOULART!
Artist/illustrator Pepe González who drew many of the Vampirella comics for Marvel with great style and flare recently passed away. Looking back at some of his Vampirella artwork (which caused such a stir back in the day when comics were supposedly just for kids) reminded me of this series of Vampirella novels written by Ron Goulart for Warner in 1975-76.
The Warner (US) series ran to six titles, only three of which made it to the UK where they were published by Sphere in 1976-77. As in most cases, I prefer the UK covers beautifully painted by Gino D'Achille.
With the success of the comic version of Vampirella, some wag at Warners jumped on the success band wagon by proposing a series of original novels. Ron Goulart, one of the last of the great pulpmeisters, was hired to pen the series. Goulart’s background included a ton of similar novels, many written under pseudonyms. Among his more than 180 novels, many with large dashes of humor, he also wrote novelized versions of the Phantom and The Avenger.
Though very short (some only clocking in at 141 pages), the Vampirella novels were well packaged with eye catching covers (mostly artwork from the comics version) and over the top cover blurbs – The beautiful but deadly siren from the stars battles the evil of voodoo and the Undead of the Earth.
For those of us who are still in tune with our inner thirteen year old, our blood gets flowing when we read such an example of purple prose. Those who consider themselves more mature, however, just don’t get it.
You have to be in a certain mood to enjoy these. There is a lot of juvenile humor regarding Vampirella’s skimpy outfit and physical attributes. The horror element wouldn’t even register on the current scale. But there is an innocent pulp feel – voodoo ceremonies, naked sacrificial virgins, blood drinking, humorous drunks, hypnotism, werewolves, alter chainings, and tittering sex appeal – that makes all the lameness palatable.
I don’t see me rereading these anytime soon, but my inner thirteen year old still cherishes their memory and won’t let me condemn them to the Friends of the Library store.
The world is filled with wannabes aching to take over the planet, employing whatever means necessary to wrest control from those who rightfully have it. Enter Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) and Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), two secret agents given the mission by the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E) to stop the nefarious plans of men and women with delusions of grandeur who are gunning for the top spot. James Bond creator Ian Fleming contributed to the show's creation.
This Phastron meter was used on screen in Season 1: Episodes titled "The Deadly Games Affair" and "The See-Paris-And-Die Affair". It can be seen on screen in when Napoleon (Robert Vaughn) uses it in his car to track a rogue scientist and again when Illya (David McCallum) is doing surveillance looking for hidden jewels. It is a square metal "Phastron" gauge meter with a rubberized covering on the top edge and bottom edge. There are little handles on each side and six screw holes on each of the four sides, some of the screws from those holes are missing.
The meter still functions as it did during filming, we replaced the antique Ray-o-Vac D sized batteries, however the original batteries will be supplied with this prop. Very few working props ever surface from this classic Spy-Fi television series, making this a very rare opportunity for collectors of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.". As well, this prop may have been used in other episodes as well as many other television shows and movies during this era. This piece is presented in a custom display case that measures 17" wide x 13" tall x 12.5" deep.
There is a plate on the top that says "The Maxwell Smith Co." and spaces to fill in information such as type, part no., lot no., order no. and spec. no. There is a sticker on the underside with the name "Vectrex Corp." (the original prop house) and the numbers "11568" and "17" printed on it. Dr. Maxwell Smith was the person who owned the Vectrex prop company, and was the technical advisor on many science fiction films and television shows like Men Into Space, Science Fiction Theater, The Magnetic Monster, Gog, etc.
FELLOW C.O.B.R.A. WESLEY BRITTON GIVES ANOTHER EXCELLENT INTERVIEW ABOUT HIS LATEST BOOK, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TV SPIES, WITH JORDAN RICH AT WBZ/WCCO ~ IT'S ALL ABOUT THE AVENGERS, THE WILD WILD WEST, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. THE PRISONER, SECRET AGENT/DANGERMAN, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, AND MORE!
J. KINGSTON PIERCE HAS A COOL POST TODAY ON HIS RAP SHEET BLOG REGARDING THIS LATE LAMENTED TELEVISION SERIES . . .
A Baltimore Police homicide detective taught me how to carry a wallet. OK, it was a fictional TV detective, but so what? Detective Frank Pembleton, brought to life with brilliant intensity by Andre Braugher on Homicide: Life on the Street, explained to his partner, Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor), that men should carry their wallets in the front pants pocket. Like most men, I had always carried mine in my back pocket. Pembleton pointed out that carrying the wallet in the back pocket throws off proper alignment of the spine whenever you’re sitting down and makes it easier for a pickpocket to grab your wallet undetected. I’ve carried my wallet in the left front pocket of my pants ever since.
Homicide: Life on the Street ran for seven seasons on NBC-TV, from 1993 to 1999. It was based on a non-fiction book by David Simon, a longtime crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun (and the husband of newsie-turned-novelist Laura Lippman). In 1987, Simon took a year off from the newspaper to shadow a team of homicide detectives from the Baltimore Police Department. His book about that experience, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, was published in 1991. Although the TV show was fictional, it often depicted situations from actual cases worked by Charm City police detectives.
HERE'S A COOL WEBSITE DEVOTED TO THE CLASSIC ADVENTURE AND CRIME SHOWS PRODUCED BY ITC (THE PURSUADERS, MAN IN A SUITCASE, THE BARON, JASON, KING, THE CHAMPIONS, ETC). NOTHING NEW FOR THE HARDCORE FAN, BUT A NICE OVER VIEW.
JUST RELEASED, DAVID GEMMELL'S FINAL BOOK (FINISHED AFTER HIS DEATH BY HIS WIFE) AND THE FINAL BOOK IN HIS TROY TRILOGY. GEMMELL IS ONE OF THE GREATEST STORYTELLERS EVER!
Outside the golden city of Troy, Prince Hektor leads the Trojan cavalry in daring raids against the forces led by his young rival, the peerless warrior Achilles. Meanwhile, burning for vengeance after the brutal murder of his wife, Helikaon commands the Trojan fleet, sowing misery and death among the Mykene navy and supply ships. But even these mighty efforts are of scant avail against the hordes of battle-hardened Mykene infantry, the Myrmidon soldiers of Achilles, and the cunning strategies of Odysseus, compelled against his heart’s urgings to aid the cause of Agamemnon. Now, before the gates of Troy, Hektor and Achilles will find themselves inexorably drawn into a battle of champions that will decide the fate of the innocents trapped within the city walls.
EDITOR DAVID CRANMER COMMENTS ON THE LATEST BTAP OFFERING . . .
One of the highlights of the internet is interacting with extraordinary individuals you wouldn’t otherwise meet. I can’t recall if I came to know Ray Foster through James, Gary, or Patti’s site, but one day, Ray and I began corresponding via comments and emails and now I feel like I have known him for years.
Yesterday, Ray blogged about a recent health set-back, a “system breakdown” as he called it, noting the doctor recommended prioritizing his schedule. He wrote: “I have to start putting things into some kind of order - just not try to do everything at once.”
With Ray's story next in line for the Weekly Punch at BEAT to a PULP, I sent an email asking if he’d prefer to postpone, or, if he was feeling up to it, I would publish his story as planned. He replied that he would be glad to go ahead with it.
We are very pleased to be featuring “In an English Country Garden.” Ray has written many superb westerns as Jack Giles but this tale is the first written under his own name and it is a delightful divergence that I am certain will entertain.
So, click over and take a deep breath of the fresh country air. And please leave a comment for Ray, because, as we all know, writers love feedback and in this case it can be the best medicine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ray Foster has written nine westerns as Jack Giles, with number ten in the works, and two as Ryker Frost for Robert Hale Ltd. He blogs at Broken Trails where you may find some posts pertaining to his other interests, motorcycles and heavy metal music. "In an English Country Garden" is a departure from the westerns he has written and is the first story under his own name.
This week Koop Kooper heads to Hawaii with an incredible collection of home movies by Melbourne hepcat Rohan Pugh, plus your chance to win your very own copy, tracks from the latest Big Bad Voodoo Daddy album, some news on the downfall of the Muzak corporation, and a really cool book on tiki mugs for you.
John Barry 7 ~ James Bond ThemeLea Delaria ~ Call Me Martin Denny ~ Quiet Village John Shakesphere ~ Red Carpet Ride Love Jones ~ Lil Black Book Robertdrasden ~ voodoo Joe Loco ~ Nightmare Jimmy Vargas ~ Can Can Hell Mambo Cocktail Preachers ~ Martini 50 Lushy ~ Bella Beretta Big Bad Voodoo Daddy ~ How Big Can You Get Octobop ~ Playboy Theme Paige Delancey ~ Black Coffee Al Cailoa ~ Man From U.N.C.L.E. Jackie Gleason Velvet Brass ~ Driving Me Crazy