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013109 Added a review of the book 'Another Day in Paradise' by Eddie Little.
. . . . . . Eddie Little was quite a writer. He was a great storyteller either because of or maybe in spite of his troubled life. Little was someone who could be called a career criminal. His books have been said to be autobiographical but I do not know to what extent that is true. What I do know is while reading 'Another Day in Paradise' I felt like I was reading events that really occurred. The tale is not a happy one but it is an excellent bit of crime fiction following a young boy in the 1970s. Before he would become a man he would have an education in crime and a nasty heroine habit. 'Another Day in Paradise' is a great read and sadly one of only two books written by Little. It was made into an ejoyable film that has some similarities to the book but really is its own animal and events past the halfway point in the movie are quite different than the novel. To see my full review go HERE. -Nate

 

012909 Short but great Sterling Hayden interview on Youtube.
. . . . . . . For some time now I have been searching for a 1983 film called 'Lighthouse of Chaos' (also known as 'Pharos of Chaos' and 'Leuchtturm des Chaos'. 'Lighthouse of Chaos' is a documentary/ interview with actor Sterling Hayden. From what I have read, the film had a limited release and since then 'Lighthouse of Chaos' has rarely been shown. I have never been able to find any indication that it was released on any home video format. I believe the film was a German production and it contains the last on screen appearance of Hayden before his death. Periodically, I check around on the Internet to see if I can ever find any new information on the film.
. . . . . . . In doing so recently, I stumbled upon a short, but great, rare interview with Hayden from 1983. Part one is to the left and two is down below. I have no idea if this interview is an excerpt from 'Lighthouse of Chaos' as finding even just
images from the film has proven difficult. Hayden had quite the ups and down over his career and some of the films that he was in are favorites of mine (such as 'The Asphalt Jungle', 'Crime Wave', and 'The Long Goodbye', to name just a few.)
point he was going to play Quint in 'Jaws: and I sometimes wonder what the film would have been like with him in the role. . . . . . . . Anyway, someone going by the name VintageEuroTV made my day and posted the two part interview with Hayden on Youtube. Totaling under 12 minutes in length, the interview is way too short but quite entertaining. Hayden seems to have been a real character and his behavior in this interview seems to fit in with what I have read about 'Lighthouse of Chaos'. I still have to track down 'Lighthouse of Chaos' but in the meantime, this will help hold me over. (My thanks to VintageEuroTV for posting this!!!) If you're interested in Sterling Haydenl, wikipedia has a good biography/ filmography HERE and if you like Noir cinema, check out 'The Killing', 'The Asphalt Jungle', 'Crime Wave', and even Robert Altman's underrated 70's Noir: 'The Long Goodbye'.
. . . . . . . -Nate

 

012709 Apparently I’m not alone in thinking the Oscars might have made a mistake......
. . . . . . . I keep seeing articles about some of the films and filmmakers that were left out of the Oscar nominations. I can’t say I totally agree with some of the articles reasoning such as this one by Steve Mason HERE. Mason's driving point is that the ‘The Dark Knight’ should have been nominated because it was popular and it would draw viewers to the Oscar's failing ratings (although the writer does mention that he thinks the film is a masterpiece.) Yes, ‘The Dark Knight’ was a popular film but there are plenty of popular films that are not enjoyable. ‘The Dark Knight’ deserves acknowledgement because it is a great film. I’ve babbled enough about it already but I am still surprised that it was passed over, especially considering some of the mixed reviews that a few of the nominated films garnered. I am behind in the game because fans already started a site sometime back that was an online effort to get the film nominated. The site is called 'Dark Campaing' and can be seen HERE. 'The Dark Knight' is one of several films that were left off of the Oscar's nominations and you can see a list of some HERE. Anyway, like I said before, no disrespect intended, ‘The Dark Knight’ should’ve been nominated. -Nate

 

012309 No best director/ film Oscar nomination for 'The Dark Knight'?
. . . . . . . I know the Oscars are overblown and do not measure the quality of a film but I find it odd that there was no best picture nomination for 'The Dark Knight' or best director nomination for the film's director: Christopher Nolan. As a kid I used to love reading comics but more often than not they were anything but superhero comics. There were exceptions, most notably a few 'Batman' comics that I read so much, they all but disintegrated. I bring this up because the superhero genre is not particularly a favorite of mine. I have enjoyed many of the films that have been spun off from superhero comics (and I am dying to see 'Watchmen'.) I have trouble picking a single favorite anything but of the superhero features that I have watched, 'The Dark Knight' is easily one of the most enjoyable if not the most enjoyable of all the superhero films. (See my full review HERE.)
. . . . . . . The Dark Knight' has a story with a wide scope and long run time that somehow manages to be entertaining and engrossing without losing the excitement and intensity of the onscreen action. Nolan and the cast and crew constructed a film about utterly absurd characters and larger than life events that almost always makes them seem real and dramatic. There are not just memorable bits of action but memorable passages of dialogue and dramatic tension. The movie is not just a superhero film, it is a good film by almost any measure and it was made all the more impressive because it is a a sequel and a part of a massive money-making empire. On top of that the film was an enormous financial success, sporting several fine performances capped with a great villainous role by Heath Ledger.
. . . . . . . Ledger's sudden passing before 'The Dark Knight's release catapulted the film into the spotlight faster than it was already moving. With the impossible amount of build up made by the film being a sequel, a return of arguably Batman's most famous villain, and then Ledger's passing, 'The Dark Night' could have been a huge disappointment and financial black hole for Warner Brothers. It was neither and I'll be curious to see how the movie holds up in the future. I suspect, in years to come, it may be thought of as a mistake that the film and Nolan were not nominated.
. . . . . . . To be fair, I have not seen many of the films that have been nominated so I certainly could be wrong. Ledger himself was nominated and 'The Dark Knight' grabbed some technical nominations. The Oscars have no bearing on the quality of a film but I still can't help but feel 'The Dark Knight' and Nolan deserved to be nominated. This is a film that so easily could have been an embarrassing mess and instead it is a memorable feature. Whatever shortcomings there may or may not be with 'The Dark Knight', they are overshadowed by its virtues and I'm surprised more of the Oscar voters didn't agree enough to vote it in.
. . . . . . . At this point I should say I don't want to take anything away from any of the other films and filmmakers that were nominated. I haven't gotten to see 'The Wrestler' yet but I was happy to see actor Mickey Rourke get nominated. Just last month I mentioned that I thought Rourke is an underrated talent and I can't wait to see 'The Wrestler'. Sure, not all his films are enjoyable but many are and Rourke is outstanding in a lot of them. I have to at least mention cinematographer Roger Deakins nomination. He is often nominated but has never one an Oscar. You can see the full Oscar nomination list at IMDb HERE. -Nate

 

012109 So begins our first full day with our new commander and chief.
. . . . . . . I will leave the posts to much better writers and just say that after the election I was riding high. Several years ago I kept hearing about (now) President Obama and heard a broadcast of one of his speeches. I was impressed with the man and I seem to remember someone on a radio show (it may have been on NPR or Air America) say that someday he could be president. Once the campaign started I was for him all the way and when it looked like the Clintons were going to win at any cost, I must admit that a part of me was truly disheartened. I have no idea if President Obama can accomplish everything that has to be done and I hope he does not dishonor himself in any of the ways that our past two presidents have. You will have to forgive me, as I don't usually wax political but I feel Obama was the best person for the job and had my vote. Now he carries my and many others hopes with him. After the swearing in yesterday, I feel as though (and as silly as it sounds) our country got a little bit more positive. Be safe and strong and may the Saints protect you sir.
. . . . . . . -Nate
. . . . . . . PS.My friend John did some live blogging at his great little blog that can be seen HERE and a lighter and more superficial note, it is really nice to have a well spoken, charismatic figure as our commander and chief.

 

011609 Possibly one of the strangest remakes I have read about in a good long while...
. . . . . . . The Japanese Animated series 'Cowboy Bebop' is being made into a film starring Keanu Reeves.... Now, I can't really tell if it is just me or if this really is one of the oddest ideas for a film... 'Cowboy Bebop' is a great, great, animated sci-fi series that is a broad mishmash of westerns, crime-dramas, and action films. The show is really enjoyable and has some jazzy, snappy soundtracks by Yôko Kanno that are a big part of the show's appeal. 'Cowboy Bebop' already has spun off a film ('Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heavens Door'') that was made by the same people that worked on the show. For whatever reason, I didn't enjoy the film as much as the show. Reeves will be playing the part of Spike (pictured left,) an intergalactic bounty hunter, who travels the cosmos trying to collect bounties to keep his ship, crew, and himself fed. I'm not doing a good job of summing up 'Cowboy Bebop' but believe me, it is an enjoyable jumpo mash-up and I
have difficulty picturing a satifying live-action film starring Reeves. Series creator and director Shinichirô Watanabe joins a couple of other original crew members as associate producers of the film. The article does not indicate what level of involvement they will have but I suspect it is pretty low. Currently, there is no director attached to the 'Cowboy Bebop'. I certainly want to see an entertaining film and I hope it works out. For now, the notion of an American film starring Keanu Reeves doesn't sound promising but I hope I'm wrong. You can see a brief article about the planned film HERE. -Nate

 

011509 Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan have passed.
. . . . . . . I'm not trying to start out the new year on a depressing beat but I had to mention the passing of actors Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan. I think McGoohan (pictured to the far left,) who was best known for the 60's TV show 'The Prisoner', was a better actor than he got credit for. I recently saw 'The Moonshine War' and while the movie wasn't exactly satisfying, McGoohan is good in it in a sort of villainous tough guy role. If I had to pick one role that always sticks with me it would be King Edward I from 'Braveheart'. McGoohan is great as the vile King and I was always hoping he would return to the big screen. His last film credit was an animated film, 'Treasure Planet', and before that he returned to his role from 'The Prisoner' for a cameo on 'The Simpsons'.
. . . . . . . Montalban was an intrinsic part of my childhood, thanks to his performance in 'Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan'. Some may say that alone is enough reason to seek psychiatric help. None the less, I can't tell you how many
times I watched 'Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan' as a kid. Montalban had been acting for many years and while he is probably best remembered for 'Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan' or 'Fantasy Island', his carreer was quite varied. In more recent years, I had seen some of Montalban's earlier work, such as his role in the very enjoyable 1949 Anthony Mann film 'Border Incident'. While I liked work by both actors, there is no denying Montalban's contribution to my childhood, thanks to 'Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan'. To see a better wrtten article about McGoohan go HERE and for Monatalban go HERE. Everyone, give a shout of “KAAAAAHHHHHNNNN!!!”, tip your glasses and R.I.P. Gentlemen. -Nate

 

011309 Alright, this is the last time I will do this.... for awhile....
. . . . . . . Ok, I couldn't help myself. This is another Yahoo News story, this time from today. “Woman worries Facebook is turning her into a bad mother” Riiiiiiiiiiggggggggggght. I would say if you are having that conundrum, you are already a bad mother. A good parent probably would not have that mental debate. If you are interested, you can see the actual "news" story, you can watch it HERE. (Warning: it is as annoying as it sounds.) -Nate

 

011209 Sometimes the real news is as funny as the 'Onion' news.
. . . . . . . Ok, so this doesn't have anything to do with anything and some would say referring to 'Yahoo New' as “the real news” is a joke in and of itself but I couldn't help it. The capture to the left is from late last week. “Craze over touch-screen gadgets not shared by the blind” caught my attention and made me laugh. It reads like something you might expect to see on TheOnion.com. Oh really? The blind aren't big on touch screens? I guess your going to tell me quadriplegics weren't ecstatic about the sneaker sale. Ok, so it is a bad joke but I mean couldn't the headline have been written in a way that didn't make it a punchline? The actual story is indeed a serious one as a whole bunch of emerging technologies are proving to be not very
adaptable for people with major visual impairments. You can see a story about the problem HERE (I lost the link that Yahoo was pointing the above title to) and for some real funny headlines check out the Onion HERE. -Nate

 

010209 Author Donald Westlake passed.
. . . . . . . According to the New York Times, author Donald Westlake passed away on New Year's eve. He was a talented writer that amassed a huge body of crime fiction over the years. He wrote under pseudonyms, probably most notably as Richard Stark. Under the pen name Stark, he wrote a great series of novels following a criminal tough guy called Parker. On the most recent DVD/ Blu-ray release of the film 'Payback' (which is based on the Stark novel 'The Hunter') Westlake gave a short but great interview; about his career, the character Parker, and the films based on his work. I've read a few of his books and they were all great reads with a dark string of humor running through them. I had been hoping someone would put together a full length documentary about the man before he passed. If you are interested, it is worth checking out the above mentioned interview with him on the 'Payback: Straight Up - The Director's Cut' DVD or Blu-ray. He was a true talent (and a good interview) and I was hoping he would be writing well into his 90s. Somewhere, Stark, Parker, and Westlake are burning the midnight hours forever prowling seedy streets looking for trouble. RIP. To see the NYTimes article go HERE. -Nate

 

010109 Happy New Year!!!!!
. . . . . . .Goodbye buggy, slow, and outdated 2008. Hello, sleek, improved and stable 2009! Wooooooooooo! May your 2009s have everything you could hope for and more! Make sure your prostitute is the correct gender for your taste, get plastered, and ring in the New Year!!! From me and mine to you and yours, happy New Year!!! -Nate

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