Thursday, January 29, 2009

Serial Killer vs. Forensic Genius

Lincoln Rhyme was one of the nation’s most brilliant criminologists, a genius in the field of forensics. Now an accident has left him physically crippled and emotionally stunted. But he’s about to be dragged into the most explosive case of his already distinguished career. A diabolical killer known as the Bone Collector has been stalking unsuspecting prey on the streets of New York, and it will take Rhyme’s investigative skills to stop him.

With beautiful police detective Amelia Sachs at his side, Rhyme must uncover a labyrinth of clues to prevent the next grisly crime. But a race against the clock becomes a terrifying battle of wits as Rhyme is drawn, step by chilling step, into the mind of a monstrous madman who won’t stop until he has stripped life down to raw bone…

Title: The Bone Collector
Author: Jeffery Deaver
Series: Lincoln Rhyme, Book 1
Start & Finished: 8/29/08- 8/30/08
Published: 1997
Publisher: Signet
Pages: 427 (Paperback)
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller

Several years before the popularity of TV shows like CSI, Jeffery Deaver wrote the first book in his bestselling Lincoln Rhyme series The Bone Collector. This new type of novel caught the attention of several people early on and besides winning some prestigious awards; a few years after it was released, it was made into a film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

Crime TV shows like all of the CSI’s, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Cold Case, etc. are some of my favorite shows so I knew I would love the book once I started. It did take me a little while to really get into it but once I did, I was totally 100% in. There are some humorous parts and that added to it but I just love a really smart character and like Gil Grissom from CSI and Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds, Lincoln Rhymes is practically a genius. A quadriplegic genius after his accident, but a total genius nonetheless.

What I found impressive was that Mr. Deaver himself is very clever. He gives the reader a few red herrings but they’re so subtle you aren’t sure whether or not to believe them. I was all but convinced about who the Bone Collector was but then was shocked at the identity and the ending itself. Now I simply have to read The Coffin Dancer to find out what happens next!

Vaguely, I remember seeing the movie when it first came out so it wasn’t until years later that I realized the film was based on a book (that has become a successful series, so far eight have been published). Once I finally started the book, some of the scenes from the movie came roaring back (like the scene with the rats- even though it was different from the books version) and now I can’t wait to see it again…

Lincoln Rhyme Series:
1. The Bone Collector (1997)
2. The Coffin Dancer (1998)
3. The Empty Chair (2000)
4. The Stone Monkey (2002)
5. The Vanished Man (2003)
6. The Twelfth Card (2005)
7. The Cold Moon (2006)
8. The Broken Window (2008)

Links: Author Wikipedia, Character Wikipedia
Interview: BookPage, Triviana Thriller Man

Interview Part 1:

Picture Explanations
Iron Bolt, Scraps of paper, ect:
The first set of clues that the killer leaves.
Falcon: a pair of falcons lives on Rhyme's window ledge.
Wheelchair: Lincoln's wheelchair

He takes his victims' lives and leaves behind mysterious pieces of a bizarre puzzle. And the only person who may be able to make sense of the serial killer's deranged plan is Lincoln Rhyme (Denzel Wahington), a onetime top homicide investigator. But after a tragic accident changes his life forever, Rhyme can only watch as other cops bungle the case...until he teams up with a young rookie, Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie), who bravely searches out the clues that help them solve the case.

But as the killer senses the cops closing in, Rhyme realizes that he and his partner are on the trial of a vicious, sadistic murderer who will stop at nothing on his deadly mission. And at any moment, Rhyme and Amelia could become his next targets - and their first case could become their last.

Title: The Bone Collector
Release: November 5, 1999
Genre: Drama- Thriller
MPAA Rating: R
Based On: The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
Writer: Jeremy Iacone
Director: Phillip Noyce
Music By: Craig Armstrong
Produced By: Martin Bregman & Michael Bregman
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Run Time: 118 minutes
Official Site

"It's a love story. It's a thriller. It's a detective story. And it's a story of renewal and resurrection,” said director Philip Noyce about his film The Bone Collector based on the first book in Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhymes series. So far, the only book in the series to be adapted to film, Deaver’s main characters come alive through actors Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. While a commercial success as it grossed $151 million worldwide, the film was considered a critical failure at the time of its release.

In a film where the main character spends the entire time flat on his back with no control over almost his entire body it takes a really strong actor to draw in the audience. In a book, the audience knows what the character is thinking and feeling so it’s easier to connect with them but in a film you need something more and that is just what they found in Denzel Washington. In an interview he said, "I've played some challenging individuals and parts in my days, but this was the most unique challenge, certainly physically. I've never had my tools taken away from me, the ability to express and move and turn my head as much as I wanted or to run or walk or laugh from the stomach, not just from the chest up.”

Somehow despite all these obstacles, Mr. Washington does manage to be the driving force behind the film. His leading lady Angelina Jolie plays Amelia Donaghy and while she does a good job with her character, she is still overshadowed by Washington. As one critic put it, she was “woefully miscast,” which I think has a good deal to do with how young she was (24) since although she is always gorgeous and gives a great performance, she never really convinced me that she was Amelia (this movie was filmed right before her breakthrough role in Girl, Interrupted). Surprisingly, one of my favorite people in the film is not actually in the book and that was Thelma played by Queen Latifah. In the novel, she’s actually a he named Thom but they both play an important role in the story.

This isn’t sounding much like a scary horror flick is it? Well to be truthful, it isn’t, The Bone Collector is more of a psychological thriller. However, it is rated R for the “grisly images” although it’s not overly gory either. There are just some disturbing scenes involving steam and rats. Overall, I thought the book was much better than the film because the way the killer operates through clues works more in the story through the book… nonetheless, whenever I read The Coffin Dancer, the second book in the Lincoln Rhymes series, the main character will have a lot more Denzel Washington in him for me.

Links:, Wikipedia
Interview: The Making of The Bone Collector Part 1, 2 (video)


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love Takes a Dive

A thrilling treasure hunt. Romantic intrigue. Exotic locales. Is this any way to save a divorce?

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson go for the gold (and the diamonds, emeralds and rubies) as a just-divorced couple who bicker and banter their way through an adventure- and laugh-packed undersea treasure hunt. McConaughey is Finn, in love with his ex (Hudson) and in deep with gangster Bigg Bunny. After eight years of searching, Finn gets a clue to the whereabouts of the Queen's Dowry, a fabulous fortune that mysteriously disappeared in the Caribbean in 1715. Now all he has to do is get the gold, get the girl and get going before Bigg Bunny gets him. Directed by Andy Tennant (Hitch), Fool's Gold glitters with danger, action, romance, comedy, great one-liners - and a great time to be had by all!

Title: Fool’s Gold
Release: February 8, 2008
Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Writer: John Claflin, Daniel Zelman, & Andy Tennant
Director: Andy Tennant
Music By: George Fenton
Produced By: Donald De Line
Distributed By: Summit Entertainment & Warner Bros.
Run Time: 113 minutes
Official Site

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson star in their second romantic comedy together called Fool’s Gold directed by Andy Tennant (Sweet Home Alabama) which is essentially a treasure-hunt film that just happens to be a comedy. The film’s plot does have its basis in reality, as the treasure they seek is part of the 1715 Treasure Fleet, which were seven ships that sank that year carrying treasure. Some of it has been recovered like in the film too.

McConaughey and Hudson were such a good match in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days that I just had to see this film when it came out. While the chemistry seems to still be there, I don’t think that this film was the best choice for them. It was just an okay movie, good but easily forgettable at the same time. It’s been compared to National Treasure a lot which isn’t very fair to either film but Fool’s Gold does attempt to have that same “feel” to it. The look however, is very different as it was filmed in places like the Bahamas and several locations in Australia. Actually, this movie is a slightly tamer, funnier version of Paul Walker/ Jessica Alba picture Into the Blue from 2005.

Okay, so the critics and I are being a little harsh. This was actually a very funny movie but I couldn’t help but expect more. I also didn’t really like Bigg Bunny the rapper either as he just adds to the comedy and isn’t a scary villain at all. So, for a fluffy comedy that will be quickly forgotten it wasn’t half-bad... especially for chasing the winter blues away!

Links:, Wikipedia, ReelzChannel,
Interview: with the cast and director



Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fighting for Liberty

Fess Parker captured the hearts of millions with his strong, confident portrayal of the legendary king of the wild frontier. There's never been a folk hero quite like Davy Crockett, and you'll see why when you watch him "grin" down a bear, battle an Indian chief in a tomahawk duel, and fight for freedom at the Alamo.

These are the action-packed adventures that led to 10 million children sporting coonskin caps and singing "The Ballad of Davy Crockett." As Walt Disney himself proclaimed, the story of Davy Crockett, with its entertaining blend of drama, humor and adventure, will always be a colorful reflection of the frontier spirit.

Title: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier
Release: May 25, 1955
Genre: Adventure
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Thomas W. Blackburn
Director: Norman Foster
Music By: Thomas W. Blackburn & George Bruns
Produced By: Walt Disney & Bill Walsh
Distributed By: Buena Vista Film Distribution Company
Run Time: 93 minutes (originally 150 min.)

Walt Disney’s TV show Disneyland introduced audiences to his films (both new and old), gave behind the scenes tours and showed people how the Disney magic was made but it also was entertaining. About once a week, a film would be broadcast too but on December 15, 1954, Disney released the first of three films about the legendary Davy Crockett: Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter. The following month Davy Crockett Goes to Congress delighted viewers and in February was Davy Crockett at the Alamo. Shortly thereafter, Disney Productions started marketing merchandise for the film version in which all three episodes were edited into called Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier.

Despite the fact that just about everyone had seen Davy Crockett’s adventures on TV, audiences flocked to the theaters to see it on the big screen, many adorned with their own coonskin hat- the “Crockett craze” was in full swing. That year the theme song The Ballad of Davy Crockett went to number one on the Billboard chart and several covers of it made it in the top 10 as well. Watching it now for the first time more than 50 years later, I can easily see why Disney’s version of Davy Crockett was such a huge hit with audiences young and old.

There were several reasons why I enjoyed each part of Davy Crockett’s journey but the actual “King of the Wild Frontier” was the main one. The real-life Crockett is rumored to have done many of the things that Disney’s version does but I doubt that he was quite as popular back then as he became in the 1950’s! As wonderfully sincere as Fess Parker is, as (and man, can he give a speech!) an actor, my favorite person in this film was Buddy Ebsen who plays Crockett’s friend and faithful companion George Russel. If it were any other actor, he may have been overshadowed by Parker’s larger than life character but in my mind at least, they shared the spotlight equally. Of course, with Ebsen being the companion, his character was mostly the comic relief though until the third part where Thimblerig (played by Hans Conreid, better known as Disney’s Captain Hook/ Mr. Darling) and Busted Luck (Nick Cravat) take over.

This was such an amazing film and I would have loved to be able to see the original unedited broadcasts of it because I can’t help but wonder how much was left out and added. However, if I had not already known that it was an edited version of three stories collected into one feature, I would hardly be able to tell at all. The story flows almost seamlessly from one scene to the next (although it was awful funny seeing “Davy Crockett” in a suit at one point) with Parker’s “folksy charm” shining through in every piece.

Besides having such brilliant actors in this amazing film, in addition to the beautiful matte art (painting on glass and placing it in the way of the camera so it looks like it’s part of the scene) by Peter Ellenshaw the Disney studio filmed in some truly gorgeous locations (besides California of course) like the hills of Tennessee and the Qualla Indian Reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina too. This is why at the beginning of the film it says:

We extend our thanks and gratitude to the members of the Cherokee Indian Nation
of North Carolina to the Forest Rangers of the Great Smokey Mountains National
Park and to the people of Tennessee and Texas for their generous cooperation in
the filming of this story.

Links:, Film Wikipedia, David Stern Crockett Wikipedia, Fan Page , Crockett Publicity Photos (some with Walt Disney)
Interview: Fess Parker in 2004, TVParty’s article on Davy Crockett- includes a Parker interview too, Fess Parker Life Story on video (3 1/2 Hours )

Fess Parker Sings:

Buddy & Fess:

Silly Ol' Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh was born on August 21, 1921, as a first birthday gift to a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne. Pooh grew up to become the most beloved and famous bear in the world. He has appeared in books and films, and on all sorts of things from bedcovers to postage stamps. How is it possible for a stuffed toy animal to achieve such greatness?

Pooh’s road to fame began with A. A. Milne, an English novelist and playwright. Inspired by his four-year-old son, Milne tried his hand at some children’s poems, which were well received. Thereafter, between 1924 and 1928, Milne published four classic children’s books that introduced Christopher Robin and his fanciful friends Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and little Roo. Together they live in the enchanted Hundred-Acre Wood, where silly bears get stuck in rabbit holes after eating too much honey, little piglets are blown away by the wind, and zany tiggers bounce around everywhere. The four books, all illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, were hugely popular, and by 1960, books sales were already in the millions.

While literary Pooh continued to win new generations of fans, an on-screen Pooh was destined to expand the appeal of the Hundred-Acre Wood. In 1961, Walt Disney acquired the exclusive film rights to Milne’s Pooh stories. Under Disney’s guidance, a twenty-five-minute animated featurette, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, was released in February of 1966. Disney managed to preserve much of the innocence and charm found in the original stories and illustrations, while making Pooh accessible to a wider audience through animation. This first featurette set the stage for the success of the three featurette(s) that were created after Disney’s death.

Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear is a tribute to the wonder of Pooh, from his origin and literary success to his brilliant animated career and continued popularity. This is his story; but, moreover, it is his art- including more than 200 illustrations that detail the evolution of Pooh and his friends from stuffed toys to Shepard’s drawings to animated characters. The films’ stories are retold and followed by galleries of many never-before-published art from the production of the Disney futurities: early concept art, storyboards, rough animation, background art, and final cels. This collection of exquisite art, accompanied by the history of Pooh’s creation and popularity, is sure to become a treasure that all Pooh fans will cherish.
Title: Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear
Author: Christopher Robin Finch
Start & Finished: 8/28/08- 9/19/08
Published: 2000
Publisher: Disney Editions
Pages: 176
Genre: Non-fiction-Reference, History/ Art-Animation

Artist, photographer, and author Christopher Finch has written several books about Disney and the art of Disney movies but his latest Winnie-the-Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear is also one near and dear to his heart (Finch's full name is Christopher Robin Finch). Starting appropriately with A. A. Milne and ending with Disney's interpretations, this beautifully illustrated book is a must-read for fans of the "chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff."

I’ve read several books about Winnie the Pooh over the years and of course the A.A. Milne stories themselves, not to mention every Walt Disney film adaptation of my favorite bear (which were my introduction to Pooh) so I already knew most of the stuff about the history of Pooh. However, the author’s narrative was very unique and he included some truly gorgeous photos- including pictures of the original Christopher Robin’s stuffed animals, concept art for the Disney movies, the original book illustrations by Ernest Shepherd and much, much more.

Christopher Robin Finch’s Celebration of the Silly Old Bear was a wonderful little book and even though I admit to being a little more partial to Tigger myself, I really liked this book. It was very thick and awkwardly shaped though but the photos and art make it well worth the discomfort in the end.

Related Posts
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Links: Winnie the Pooh Wikipedia, A.A. Milne Wikipedia,, Winnie the Pooh and Pals


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The End Is Nigh

From the director of The Descent comes an action-packed thrill ride through the beating heart of hell! To save humanity from an epidemic, an elite fighting unit must battle to find a cure in a post-apocalyptic zone controlled by a society of murderous renegades. Loaded with ferocious fights and high-octane chases, Doomsday grabs you right from the start and doesn't let go till its explosive end!
Title: Doomsday
Release: March 14, 2008
Genre: Action/ Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: R
Writer: Neil Marshall
Director: Neil Marshall
Music By: Tyler Bates
Produced By: Benedict Carver & Steven Paul
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Run Time: 113 minutes
Official Site

Neil Marshall’s 2008 film Doomsday could have been a typical "killer virus" science fiction film but the writer and director made the end-of-the-world scenario only quarantined to one location-Scotland. This country had all the modern conveniences before its people were left to die but at the same time, there were castles from the olden days so it was only natural for the survivors to either become “futuristic soldiers” or “medieval knights” in order to survive. Marshall was also inspired by several movies from the 80's like Escape from New York and Mad Max.

If I had not already known that this was written by the director I would probably think that like many movies lately, it was based on a graphic novel or something. This film reminded me a bit of I Am Legend but while I really disliked that film, Doomsday was actually a whole lot better than I expected. Of course, it is a little gross at times (it‘s rated R for a very good reason), but still manages to be a somewhat intelligent and interesting action/ sci-fi film! I liked the idea of how a society would survive when the world abandoned them by creating their own worlds in the past or future.

Another thing the film has going for it is the fact that it has quite a few great actors attached such as Rhona Mitra (Underworld) as Major Eden Sinclair, Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) as her boss and mentor Bill Nelson, and even Malcom McDowell has a pivotal role as former scientist Marcus Kane that has now set himself up in a castle as a king, plus many, many more.

Even though Neil Marshal is known for his horror films, Doomsday isn't one of them. It's bloody, gory, and sometimes disgusting (there are cannibals on the other side of the wall) true, but this post-apocalyptic film is more of an elaborate drama. Would I enjoy this film half as much if it had had a smaller budget? Probably not, but I would have liked it a whole lot more if some of the "ew" and "ick" parts were removed.

Links:, Wikipedia,
Interview: Director with Reelzchannel & Craig Conway (Sol) with the Sunday Sun


Neil Marshall Interview:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crooks With Hearts of Gold

The film that made Shirley Temple a star, LITTLE MISS MARKER was the first filmed version of a tale by Damon Runyan (GUYS AND DOLLS). Temple plays Markie, who is left behind by her father as collateral for a gambling debt. She swiftly charms the hardened bookies and crooks (including classic Hollywood character actor Adolphe Menjou) who are taken her in with her precocious singing and dancing and childish cleverness. After this film Temple would go on to be one of the box office's biggest draws for the next few years.

Title: Little Miss Marker
Release: June 1, 1934
Genre: Family- Drama
MPAA Rating: N/A
Based On: Little Miss Marker by Damon Runyon
Writer: William R. Lipman, Sam & Gladys Hellman
Director: Alexander Hall
Music By: Ralph Rainger
Produced By: B.P. Schulberg
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 80 minutes

A newspaperman and author who specialized in tough guys- usually gamblers, gangsters, or hustlers- wrote a short story for his collection of stories Guys and Dolls. Several of the stories in the book went on to be adapted into films including Little Miss Marker, which has been re-made into four different films over the years. The first Little Miss Marker however was one of the very best as it was Shirley Temple’s first starring role in a film.

Little Shirley Temple’s path to stardom wasn’t always easy and she was actually turned down the first time she auditioned for the role of Little Miss Marker- “Markie” for short. Temple will always be the cutest child star there ever was and she was just adorable in the film. She did steal the show a bit from her co-stars but I couldn’t help but be impressed with “Sir Sorrow” aka Sorrowful Jones played by Adolphe Menjou and Bangles Carson who is played by Dorothy Dell. She had a wonderful voice and Temple remembers her fondly in her autobiography. She had such talent (she sings one of my favorite pieces in the picture “I'm a Black Sheep Who's Blue“) that it was nothing short of heartbreaking when a car accident cut short her life and career soon after this film was made.

It was a little funny watching a film from so long ago and trying to put out of your mind the present during the film. You see certain things in the film that your brain automatically thinks, “Like that would happen,” and I sincerely doubt there would be any kind of happy ending nowadays but it works for the time. One thing that I did find fascinating was a hospital scene because it’s so different from what I’ve always known hospitals to be.

The fact that a tiny little girl was put up as a “marker” (hence the name) by her father and then kills himself when he couldn’t pay the debt, leaving his daughter orphaned and in the care of some shady individuals- mostly men really bothered me. Yet, somehow, the film comes off as charming though when she and “Lady Guinevere” (the club singer Bangles- or Gold-digger as Sorrowful calls her) help turn the gamblers into men with hearts of gold.

Links:, Film Wikipedia, Author Wikipedia

Monday, January 19, 2009

Can a Person Be Too Charming?

Paddy de Courcy is Ireland's debonair politician, the "John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin." His charm and charisma have taken hold of the country and the tabloids, not to mention our four heroines: Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia. But though Paddy's winning smile is fooling Irish minds, the broken hearts he's left in his past offer a far more truthful look into his character.

Narrated in turn by each woman, This Charming Man explores how their love for this one man has shaped their lives. But in true Marian Keyes fashion, this is more than a story of four love affairs. It's a testament to the strength women find in themselves through work, friendship, and family, no matter what demons may be haunting their lives. Depression, self-doubt, domestic abuse-- each of these women has seen tough times in life, and it's through Keyes's wonderful storytelling ability that these subjects are approached with the appropriate tone and candor. Her deft touch provides a gripping story and, ultimately, a redemptive ending.
Title: This Charming Man
Author: Marian Keyes
Start & Finished: 8/24/08- 8/26/08
Published: 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 563
Genre: Women's Fiction

International bestselling Irish author Marian Keyes draws upon her own life experiences as a recovering alcoholic and an Irish citizen in her newest novel This Charming Man. The major theme of the book however is abuse and since the author had no experience in this area, she did research by talking to the director of the Women’s Aid in Ireland who helped her get in contact with real abuse victims. A lot of the abuse featured in the actual story is based on those real-life experiences.

In an interview (below), Marian Keyes said that it’s somewhat hard to describe her book without giving anything away and I agree. This being my very first time reading her, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew that she was known as a chick-lit (more appropriately known as “women’s fiction”) author but other than that, I was clueless. Imagine my surprise when I found out this wasn’t some lightweight, fluffy story! The serious issues of alcoholism, abuse, and politics (I can’t stand politics usually but these were interesting) are the main features of this novel so of course there aren’t too many things that I found amusing. However, there were many things that I enjoyed, things that I hated, things that made me angry, and things that made me uncomfortable… but I was never once bored.

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the book or not, especially since the author opened with her character Lola who; I guess to distinguish her even more from the other three ladies, writes in a more “journal type form” (which means that she doesn’t use proper grammar). Nothing can yank you out of a story faster than trying to puzzle out the meaning of what the character is saying like, “Please do not say ‘oatmeal,’ Rossa Considine, is irritating word.” or usually something very similar. Somehow though I stuck with it because I felt like the book had potential and I really wanted to find out what happens. Funnily enough, Lola turned out to be my favorite character by the end (even though for the first half of the book she was a bit of a nutter)!

As I said there are three women other than Lola (who is a stylist that describes herself as shallow but isn’t really) that narrate the story and sometimes it got a little annoying switching perspectives but I eventually got used to that too. If I were able to pick a second favorite, it would be Grace the journalist and twin sister to Marnie (one of the other women who narrate). Grace and Marnie are as different as night and day but I loved how vulnerable all of the ladies in the book were even if it sometimes made for awkward and disturbing reading. I guess you’re wondering about the fourth person in the book now. That would be Alicia who is marrying de Courcy. She doesn’t get as much “screen time” as the other three but I was okay with that since she wasn’t very likable.

Links: Wikipedia, Fan Page
Interviews: NY Daily News (spoilers), Evening Herald

Author on the Book Show:

Author Discusses Novel:

Author Talks about Alcoholism:

Picture Explanations
Cigarette: Almost everyone smokes in the book and one of the main characters is trying to quit.
Vodka: Marnie is an alcoholic and this is her drink of choice.
Leopard Heels: After Lola runs away to a cottage in a small town, she eventually meets up with some "trannies" and being a personal shopper before she ran away, is able to help them get the clothes without anyone finding out.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's All About Men!

Be careful what you say in private. It could become a movie. Some gossip overheard by Clare Boothe Luce in a nightclub powder room inspired her Broadway hit that's wittily adapted for the screen in The Women.

George Cukor directs an all female cast in this catty tale of battling and bonding that paints its claws "Jungle Red" and shreds the excesses of pampered Park Avenue princesses. Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Mary Boland and Paulette Goddard are among the array of husband snatchers and lovelorn ladies. Norma Shearer is jilted Mary Haines, who ultimately learns to claw without ruining her manicure.
Title: The Women
Release: September 1, 1939
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG
Based On: The Women by Clare Boothe Luce (play)
Writer: Anita Loos & Jane Murfin
Director: George Cukor
Music By: David Snell
Produced By: Hunt Stromberg
Distributed By: MGM (originally) & Warner Bros.
Run Time: 133 minutes

Clare Boothe Luce wrote a play called The Women that opened in 1936 and was performed more than 600 times. In fact, the play was so popular that it was adapted into a film directed by George Cukor only a few years later. The all-female cast (more than 130 women) featured some of the best actresses of the day including Norma Shearer who plays the main character Mary Haines, Rosalind Russell- her gossipy friend Sylvia, and Joan Crawford as the homewrecker Crystal Allen. Although not an award-winning film, The Women was a still very successful. It was even adapted into a musical called The Opposite Sex in 1956 (which does include men) and there was a remake of The Women in 2008.

There are so many women in this film it's nearly impossible to keep them all straight but there are some great minor cameo roles that should be recognized like Marjorie Main who plays Lucy. Main is one of the funniest actresses to have ever graced the screen with her presence in my opinion. Gossip columnist of the day Hedda Hopper has a brief part as Dolly Dupuyster too.

One of the crowning achievements of the film is the brief interlude in which all of the main characters in the film partake in watching a fashion show, which is the only part of the film that is in color. All of the designs in the entire film are by the famous Hollywood costume designer Adrian (probably best known for his work in The Wizard of Oz). I was a little shocked that not everyone has been able to see this beautiful piece since it has been edited out of many viewings but it recently has been restored.

I truly love this movie with its all female cast. Any movie that has Rosalind Russell (who I just loved in His Girl Friday), Marjorie Main, and Joan Crawford in it is going to be funny no matter what. True, the sniping, bickering, and backstabbing that the ladies do give women in general a bad name (not to mention the catfights) but it's honestly such a good film!

Links: Wikipedia,,, A Who’s Who in “The Women” Past & Present


Funniest Moments:

Friday, January 16, 2009

1896 New York

Step into another time- and unforgettable terror.

The Year in 1896, the city is New York; the hunt is on for a baffling new kind of criminal… a serial killer.

Title: The Alienist
Author: Caleb Carr
Series: Kreisler & Moore, Book 1
Start & Finished: 8/19/08- 8/20/08
Published: 1994
Publisher: Bantam Books
Pages: 597
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller

The late 1800s was still a dark time in America, especially in New York City. Immigrants, prostitutes (children included), and the poor could kill one another or be killed and more likely than not, the cops would look the other way. Caleb Carr’s historical thriller The Alienist (which is what psychiatrists were known as back then) takes place in 1896 during the beginning of the reformation and cleaning up of New York. It’s a bestselling, well- researched, sophisticated mystery/ thriller about catching a serial killer using new forensic methods; mainly fingerprinting and a very new concept back then that is known today as profiling.

I honestly doubt that I would have read this book on my own had it not been a reading group read. The only time I’ve read fiction that accurately portrays New York in this time period was thanks to Brenda Joyce’s Deadly series and although that had a mystery in it (and some of the later books even talk about the types of prostitution and gambling places back then), Joyce is at heart a romance writer so it doesn’t have the darker, thriller aspect that Mr. Carr accomplishes with his book. I think another thing that contributed to my enjoying the book so much was that I love the TV show Criminal Minds and this was about the beginning of profiling to catch serial killers.

To enhance the story and make it even more interesting, there are many real life people incorporated into The Alienist too. People good like the major character Theodore Roosevelt (before he became the president), powerful like the gangster Paul Kelly and J. P. Morgan who dominated the corporate world then, and the truly horrible like H.H. Holmes and Jesse Pomeroy to name a few. There are actually tons of other real life people (very few fictional) and places in this story and it’s sometimes a little hard to keep them all straight, but this book was amazing and I can’t wait to read the sequel The Angel of Darkness.

In addition to being a novelist of many other stories- all of them just as well researched as this one, Caleb Carr is also a military historian, which he became interested in when he was younger as a way to put his misanthropic anger to use. Apparently it works well in his novels too because besides being a bestseller, The Alienist was the 1995 winner of the Anthony Award and was also nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award-Novel.

Kreisler & Moore Series: The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness

Links: Author Wikipedia, Book Wikipedia, Alienist Fan Site
Interview: Carr "Talking About a Dark Obsession" (BookPage), Alienated (Salon Books)

Caleb Carr on Charlie Rose (starts at 40 min):

Picture Explanations
Delmonicos: Is a resturaunt established in 1837. The group eats here a lot in the book.
Headquarters: The place where the profilers work
Theodore Roosevelt: an essential character in the story.

An Adventure Beyond the Ordinar-E

The highly acclaimed director of Finding Nemo and the creative storytellers behind Cars and Ratatouille transport you to a galaxy not so far away for a new cosmic comedy adventure about a determined robot named WALL-E.

After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, the curious and lovable WALL-E discovers a new purpose in life when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. Join them and a hilarious cast of characters on a fantastic journey across the universe.

Title: Wall-E
Release: June 27, 2008
Genre: Computer Animation
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, & Pete Docter
Director: Andrew Stanton
Music By: Thomas Newman & Peter Gabriel
Produced By: Jim Morris, Lindsey Collins, & John Lasseter
Distributed By: Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios
Run Time: 98 minutes
Official Site (USA)
Official Site (UK)

Pixar films tend to capture a lot of charm with their humanized cars, monsters, rats, ants, and toys but they may have outdone themselves with their newest film about a robot in love: Wall-E. Directed by the Oscar winning Andrew Stanton, this film is on many lists for Academy Award predictions this year after winning the Golden Globe for Best Animated Film. It was also one of the top ten films of 2008.

What I loved about the film was Wall-E. He's just so darn cute, kind of like a robot ET. I was amazed to discover that the creators of the film worked with NASA scientists to create all of these life-like robots too. The people who haven't seen Wall-E yet are definitely missing out on a good film. There are some environmental theme undertones but it doesn't preach at you. Actually, the main plot is just about two robots that fall in love- the fact that it's set more than 700 years in the future and humankind abandoned the planet that they destroyed with trash is just the back-story.

If I had to pick one part of the film that I just adore it would be Wall-E demonstrating a scene from Hello, Dolly, which is a musical from 1969 starring Barbara Streisand and directed by Gene Kelly. It's one of my favorite musicals and I can't help but be pleased that because of this film more people have become aware of it again. It parallels the film perfectly in a way and the retro music in the futuristic setting was an ideal match too.

Links:, Wikipedia, Reelzchannel, The Art of Wall-E, A Look Inside the Making Of, Making Burn-E (Animated Views), Guide to the Characters


A Space Journey in Sound:

Complete Vignettes:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fear Strikes Back

24 Hours begins with the perfect family. On the perfect night. About to become trapped in the perfect crime. Will Jennings is a successful young doctor in Jackson, Mississippi, with a thriving practice, a beautiful wife, and a five-year-old daughter he loves beyond measure. But Will and his family are being watched by a con man and psychopath who may be a genius. A man who has crafted the unbeatable crime. A man who has never been caught and whose victims have never talked to the police. A man whose life's work strikes at the heart of every family's unspoken fear: the unstoppable kidnapping.

But this man has never met the likes of Will and Karen Jennings.
Title: 24 Hours
Author: Greg Iles
Start & Finished: 8/6/08- 8/8/08
Published: 2000
Publisher: Signet
Pages: 415
Genre: Thriller

Native Mississippi author Greg Iles has set many of his novels here in the hospitality state including Mortal Fear, 24 Hours, Dead Sleep, and Sleep No More. His 2000 release 24 Hours, also known as Trapped was his first and so far only book to be adapted into a film. When Mr. Iles isn’t writing he can usually be found playing music with a group of authors (including Stephen King) in the band The Rock Bottom Remainders, he plays the guitar.

Mississippi has been my home for the past four years now but this was the first time I've ever read a story set here. It's also one of the first times I've ever been to a place in a book so I thought it was neat that Biloxi was such a central part of the story. I only live 30 minutes away so I go there often and the Beau Rivage is one of the best casinos down here (hate the airport though).

This wasn't my first Greg Iles novel, I read his book The Quiet Game in 2007 about a month before I started blogging and I remember really liking his main characters but that wasn't really the case with 24 Hours. The mom Karen seemed a bit self-centered and comes off as resentful plus her personality was somewhat flat at first, and I didn't really adore the dad Will either (and the “big twist“ at the end was very easy to guess). However, the daughter Abby was just cute as a button and she, and her parents’ willing to fight for her was what made this into a great story for me.

Links: Author Wikipedia, The Life of Walter Inglies Anderson (local artist that the family collects)

Picture Explanations
Beau Rivage: the place Will Jennings is staying during his doctor's convention where he is met by one of the kidnappers.
Doll: When they kidnapped Abby they took her doll Belle for her to have with her. It's her "favorite Disney princess because she reads books. She wants to be something someday."
From the producer of Thelma & Louise comes a white knuckle, edge of your seat thriller starring Charlize Theron (Mighty Joe Young, Sweet November), Courtney Love (The People vs. Larry Flint), Stuart Townshend (Queen of the Damned) and Kevin Bacon (Hollow Man, Wild Things).

When their daughter is abducted and taken for ransom by a gang of serial kidnappers, a young doctor and his wife find themselves held hostage while a 24 hour plan to extort their money is set into motion. Now, with time running out and the health of their asthmatic daughter at serious risk, they find themselves in a life and death race against the clock as the "perfect crime" begins spiraling towards an unthinkable, terrifying and deadly conclusion.

Title: Trapped
Release: September 20, 2002
Genre: Thriller
MPAA Rating: R
Based On: 24 Hours by Greg Iles
Writer: Greg Iles (screenplay) & Don Roos
Director: Luis Mandoki
Music By: John Ottman
Produced By: Mimi Polk Gitlin & Luis Mandoki
Distributed By: Sony/ Columbia Pictures
Run Time: 106 minutes

Two years after Greg Iles published his bestselling novel 24 Hours, he was called in to help fix the screenplay Trapped, which is a version of the book. It was his first and only book to be made into a film and despite his doctoring, it was quietly swept under the rug of Hollywood. It won no awards and according to it was:

“Released under a marketing and publicity blackout singlemindedly dedicated to hiding the subject matter of the film, "Trapped" is a pretty skillfully handled domestic thriller about a criminal activity that, while always upsetting, is especially noxious now due to the too many recent tragic and highly publicized instances of it. It would seem that no one, not even Sony, would wish this film to actually become popular in theatrical release, so the distrib will probably soon slide the film out of circulation just as quietly as it launched it, with no advances screenings, no star interviews and a generalized revenge-themed campaign.”

First off, let me say how terribly disappointed I was with this film. It wasn't even filmed or set in Mississippi where the book is set for one, and that is one of the things the author is known for. Secondly, someone got the idea to try to make the bad guy Hickey somewhat sympathetic by completely changing the ending, at what seems like the very last second. Lastly, the studio changed the fact that Abby (played by Dakota Fanning) was diabetic into being asthmatic simply because the child in the award winning film Panic Room (2002) was diabetic. However, what makes this movie worthwhile was the actors.

Kevin Bacon (Hickey), Charlize Thereon (Karen), Courtney Love (Cheryl), and Dakota Fanning (Abby) all were great in their roles. Love isn't exactly who I would have picked as Cheryl though, because she's 12 years older than her character but she sure does play her part very well and is totally believable- so is Dakota as Abby. I thought it was interesting that Theron met Stuart Townsend (who plays her husband in the film Will Jennings) and they have been dating ever since. It is a pity that none of these actors was recognized for the great job that they did though.

In my opinion, they changed too much from the book unnecessarily and I would have enjoyed it a lot more if they hadn't but I agree with the casting decision and the acting was good as well. Moreover, a few of the best action scenes from 24 Hours did make it into Trapped so I’m not going to complain too much.

Links:, Wikipedia, Author Website


Dakota Fanning Interview:

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