Adapting Evil

download.jpgOne of the most common and clichéd questions in reading groups is, Which was better: the book or the movie? In order to retain your elitist card you must unhesitatingly announce, The Book, of course! But it’s not always true.

Many times the authors, even though their books are quite good, tend to spread the narrative loosely over several characters and numerous scenes; they might even throw in a secondary plot or two or a particularly juicy love interest. Then when they go to make the movie they discover that all the by-the-page profits from the original publisher are never going to cover the extra cost for film and self-absorbed actors, so the writer of the movie script might combine a few characters or scenes, eliminate extraneous material which is not needed to advance the narrative, and hopefully create a tighter, more marketable product for the Silver Screen.

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Cut You Up In Little Pieces

images.jpgYou are probably aware that the murder capitol of the world is Cabot Cove. Ever since The Manchurian Candidate I have cast a jaundiced eye at Angela Landsbury and the pokey gendarmes of Maine. But that was just fun entertainment (meaning there wasn’t a lot of blood and gore) and Cabot Cove has easily been replaced by the unnamed town in Japan frequented by Goth chicks and body parts stapled to a tree.

While seeking to throw some variety into my reading, I came across a recent volume titled Goth: A Novel of Horror by Otsuichi. I’ve got a soft spot in my scary parts for Japanese horror and this one seemed ideal for a midnight snack. It all takes place in a small corner of Japan where severed hands are buried in the backyard like kimchi and an occasional ear or nipple stapled to the side of a telephone pole is not an unusual sight. But after a half-dozen of these bloody dismemberments and three or four instances of being buried alive on the side of the potting shed, one does wonder why there are no traditional murders in this town: shootings, knifings, nunchuckings, poisonings.

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Noir Novels

imgres.jpgThere’s one thing (amongst many) that truly shivers my timbers and that is when I am forced to admit that I never heard of an author … at least a serious author that doesn’t have Fabio on the cover of his book. But the Library of America series knew enough to publish a collection of five of the works of David Goodis: David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s.

Now I am not an inveterate reader of mystery novels (like my mother was: she would read three a day) but I have read authors such as Georges Simenon, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, even John D. MacDonald, still, I never heard of David Goodis. I was even familiar with the Bogart movie based on Goodis’s novel and I’m certain that my daughter, who teaches Cinema Noir at the university, is well aware of Goodis, but not me.

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Iron Sky

imgres.jpgI enjoy watching subtle movies that make me smile (or cringe) just a little bit but when they sign-off I’m feeling satisfied but still thinking about them. Then what is it that made my watching of Iron Sky one of the cinematic highlights of 2015?

Forget the reboot of Star Wars and get a copy of Iron Sky.

The story behind the movie is a common space opera with real heroes, corrupt politicians, greedy corporations, race relations, and a secret colony on the dark side of the moon that is preparing to conquer the Earth … for the Fourth Reich! Yes, although never explained, a group of Nazis escaped in 1945 and built a new civilization on the dark side of the moon. Here they have constructed a swastika-shaped fortress and have been building the engines of war needed to return to earth and destroy all opposition.

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