Showing posts from January, 2022

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Director: John Huston Writers: John Huston, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Barton MacLane Private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), a hard, cold misanthrope who nevertheless follows his own code of honor, gets involved in the intrigue surrounding a valuable statuette while investigating the death of his partner. The plot is secondary to style and attitude in this depiction of hard men with hard ways who are not afraid to kill while grasping for money in the interlude between a brutal depression and a world war.  The ambitions and greed of the eccentric characters are focused like a laser beam on the title object and it's up to Sam Spade to sort out both the players and their Machiavellian plots and to dispense justice.   Bogart's Spade stands on the outside, observing and evaluating, probably nursing his own crushed hopes and broken dreams, uniquely suited to negotiate this terrain of tre

Mystery Walk (1983)

by Robert R. McCammon Billy Creekmore inherits his Choctaw mother's supernatural  powers, and they exist as pariahs in their community—until someone has need of their power to lay ghosts to rest, that is.   Meanwhile, Little Wayne Falconer, raised by an influential fire-and-brimstone tent revivalist, discovers his own powers.   Robert McCammon’s fine novel is a supernatural Bildungsroman that shows how the lives of these young men intertwine until they come together fatefully in a Mexican desert in a confrontation with the mysterious shape-changer that stalks them both.   Robert R. McCammon McCammon is always reliable and he doesn’t disappoint here.   The action stretches from the late 60s into the 70s, which is a fun period to read about.   The episodic narrative features many well-drawn characters: Dr. Mirakle, who runs a carnival ghost show; the demon-possessed Octopus ride and the man it has enslaved; and Krepsin, a reclusive and debauched gangster germaphobe whom I wish had go

Eighty-Sixed (1988)

by David B. Feinberg This novel contrasts the life of BJ Rosenthal, a gay  man living in New York City, before and after the advent of the AIDS epidemic.   In 1980, his greatest concern is finding a boyfriend and he feels free to indulge his libido in a quest for the perfect man.   In 1986, every potential liaison is conducted in the shadow of death as BJ attends the deaths of friends, participates in AIDS marches, and struggles to retain hope in the future.  As grim as the subject matter becomes, author David Feinberg never loses his sense of humor.   David B. Feinberg There are brief interludes between each chapter that would make for a fiercely hilarious and moving stage monologue.   David Feinberg, who was HIV positive when he wrote this book, died at the age of 37 in 1994.   The world is poorer for the loss of his voice.

Lunch (2012)

Writer/Director: Donna Kanter Stars: Carl Reiner, Sid Caesar, Monte Hall, Arthur Hiller, Gary Owens, Rocky Kalish, Hal Kanter This documentary allows us to pull up a seat at an exclusive table at Factor's  Famous Deli in LA, where some legendary Hollywood mainstays gather for lunch on alternate Wednesdays.  Participants include such luminaries as Carl Reiner, Sid Caesar, Monte Hall, director Arthur Hiller, and classic announcer Gary Owens.  This is clearly a labor of love from filmmaker Donna Kantor, who gained access through her father Hal Kantor, executive producer of All in the Family and a regular member of the gathering.  Much of the runtime is taken up by members enthusing about how privileged they feel to be included and how wonderful their fellow members are.  However, when we get a chance to be a fly on the wall and listen in on their conversation, it is fairly dull and mundane, not like the comedians swapping stories in Broadway Danny Rose.  I’m not sure if this is becaus

What Dreams May Come (1998)

Director: Vincent Ward Writers: Ronald Bass, based on a novel by Richard Matheson Stars: Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Max von Sydow, Jessica Brooks Grant Years after the death of his two children, a man (Robin Williams)  dies and goes to Heaven.  Bereft in her solitude, his wife (Annabella Sciorra) commits suicide and goes to Hell.  The loving husband risks all to rescue his soulmate from eternal damnation.   Director Vincent Ward's film marries visual spectacle to intense personal drama in a manner rarely equaled in film.   The afterlife in this film is mutable and responsive to the thoughts and dreams of its inhabitants, providing many opportunities for magnificent images, and the crew is up to the challenge.  Williams, Sciorra, and the rest of the talented cast provide the emotional core.