This has been in my reading list for ages, and now that I finally managed to grab the thing for a reading challenge, it couldn't fly any faster to myThis has been in my reading list for ages, and now that I finally managed to grab the thing for a reading challenge, it couldn't fly any faster to my list of absolute must-sees. With the likes of Jeremy Irons, Lesley Manville, and Hadley Fraser starring, the adaptation at the Bristol Old Vic would be a dream, but the circumstances are what they are, so this will just have to wait.
Reading a play instead of seeing it performed can be complicated and underwhelming. No such problem here. Long Day's Journey Into Night comes from an extremely dark place and lays bare the tragedy of not wanting to live in the world as it is, but it's also an incredibly moving and beautiful piece of drama. The power of the dialogue combined with O'Neill's unusually specific stage directions (including the appearance and facial expressions of the actors) creates a very tangible atmosphere, one that is heightened even further from the knowledge that the family's struggles were once real for O'Neill, and that due to the autobiographical content he didn't want it to be published until 25 years after his death.
In 1912, a day in the Tyrone family consists of them escaping their guilt and frustration. Mary's morphine addiction has created a protective cocoon, where she can remember her happy pre-marriage years, when she still felt like she had a real home. Her absolute denial of the negativity around her, like Edmund's illness, is slowly destroying her personality and strength, making her even more discontent and lonely. Meanwhile, James Tyrone and sons Eugene and Jamie detach themselves from reality with whiskey.
There's palpable tension from the start, when suspicious glances are thrown in all directions. If noticed, they contribute to a mutual feeling of distrust. True meaning of words shows on embittered faces, and the indirectness and failure to address the problems in a constructive way, the men resorting instead to childish name-calling and criticizing, further worsens the atmosphere of the day.
The Tyrones suck you into their vortex. The fleeting moments of sincerity and affectionate tears sink into the darkness of the house, a house that becomes more and more surrounded by the fog and the sounds of the foghorn, closing it into its own world of bitterness. The ending is dream-like and suffocating, leaving the audience uncertain about the family's future yet also feeling like it's the death of everything. The future wasn't all happy (eleven years later, Jamie drank himself to death), but Mary's fight with her addiction led to victory two years later, so at least there's some glimmer of hope.
A deeply personal project for O'Neill, I'm not surprised about his decision about the publication. I'm also not surprised that Sweden, the land of Ingmar Bergman, appreciated his works more than any other country, and was also the first to produce it on stage. The list of actors involved in productions all over the world since the 1950s is impressive: Laurence Olivier, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Jessica Lange, Bibi Andersson, Peter Stormare (the latter two directed by no other than Ingmar Bergman in 1988) etc. Let's just hope the next production will be more accessible to me.
"MARY. None of us can help the things life has done to us. They're done before you realize it, and once they're done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you'd like to be, and you've lost your true self for ever."...more
"Once a psychiatrist wrote me. He had a young patient who had heard of Freddy Krueger and was having nightmares about him. I really wanted to help, so"Once a psychiatrist wrote me. He had a young patient who had heard of Freddy Krueger and was having nightmares about him. I really wanted to help, so I got in touch with Robert and asked if he would say a few words to the kid into a vidcam. Not only did Robert do that, but he did it while he was being put into, and then out of, his Freddy makeup, describing each step of the way how Freddy was nothing more than latex and glue, and nothing to be worried about." - Wes Craven
I think the first time I saw Robert Englund was about ten years ago when the Masters of Horror anthology series aired in Finland (I love anthologies by the way; film or tv show, it's always exciting to see what the next segment looks like), where he played an MC at a night club with dead strippers. At that point I had already heard of his legendary reputation, but it was only a few days later that I watched the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). I wasn't that impressed, but I hadn't yet become an avid horror fan, so I had no real knowledge about the history of horror film and what place Elm Street has in it to appreciate the movie.
I've since watched only two other Englund movies, Urban Legend (1998) and The Phantom of the Opera (1989), both of which were, er, less than stellar, but I was intrigued by Englund's performances and dedication. The latter shows a mile away, and his memoirs proved me right: he accepts scripts he likes the most, and doesn't care about the financial success of his movies, or whether they win awards and critical acclaim. He just seems like a guy who genuinely respects horror and always puts a hundred percent on the table, and also fully embraces his fanbase (I cannot even remember how many times I've heard how nice and warm he is in person). It's sometimes difficult to see behind a celebrity's public persona, but Englund is one of the few I'm sure is just as nice as he seems to be.
The tone of the memoir is very conversational, because co-writer Alan Goldsher wrote the book based on Englund's dictations, but that suits his style. He has a great sense of humour, and reading this felt like I was sitting at a diner with him eating pancakes, drinking coffee, and listening to him talk about his escapades. No dirt here, though, he only discusses his work and leaves most of his personal life out, which I respect. It should also be remembered, that being a memoir of Robert Englund, this really does focus on him and his point of view of his career, so there's no reason to expect a whole book to be just about Freddy (despite the cover).
There's a lot of repetition about the problems Englund had with makeup and naturally the focus is on his, I presume, favorite projects, but I guess at least the latter is expected when space is limited. A thick tome wouldn't have been as alluring, although I still would have liked to get a little deeper look of the movie industry from a horror actor's perspective. So, although I didn't passionately adore the memoir, I think it's still worth the read for every horror fan (doesn't matter if you're an Elm Street fan), even if it's just for 'hearing' the voice of the man himself.
Most of the anecdotes are entertaining, and it's always great to hear a bit about the behind-the-scenes stuff. Saying how enjoyable it was to work with the legendary Roger Corman is fine, but "catering that consisted of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner" or mere plastic chairs in the depressing dressing rooms are more telling things about Corman and his frugal ways.
I also felt a sting of jealousy that Englund's childhood was surrounded by the entertainment industry in the most positive way, like stumbling into Clark Gable in the grocery store, visiting the sets of his uncles' tv shows, or "watching cowboy stuntmen do horse falls on the RKO backlot behind my house". It's interesting how his parents took him to see scary adult movies, and they somehow stayed with him so that despite a stint as a California surfer (!) and a classically trained theater actor, he became a horror icon. It's also due to the brilliance of a modern musical (Stephen Sondheim's Company) that made him realize art could be both popular and meaningful. I wish I'd seen him play Judas in Godspell, that would be one of my time machine destinations.
Surprisingly, there was some Finnish presence as well: I had no idea Renny Harlin had directed a Freddy Krueger movie! I'm not a fan, but Englund had nothing but positive things to say about him and his modesty and perceptiveness. Anyway, Freddy Krueger sneaking around the Desilu Studios (where, strangely, the home of I Love Lucy was) is something I want to see again, so I'm going to be rewatching Elm Street soon. Maybe even tonight, it's already dark. Although I need to stop thinking about the story how the concept of the film was conceived. That was scary as hell. I'm glad I live in an apartment building. ...more
East of Eden is a family saga, a story of fathers and sons, a tale of love manifesting in different ways and sparking different reactions, an examinatEast of Eden is a family saga, a story of fathers and sons, a tale of love manifesting in different ways and sparking different reactions, an examination of how people sometimes speak past each other without truly understanding, and really everything in between you can think of. It's a hefty tome, one that Steinbeck himself liked the most and considered his magnum opus, but also one that suffers from being uneven and not really knowing where it wants to go.
It never quite finishes all the threads satisfactorily, jumps from one thing to another, and has too much exposition (particularly regarding the Cain and Abel allegory: at one point, the characters are discussing how the Biblical story relates to their lives, as if its significance hadn't already been spelled out before) and lectures about Salinas Valley and world events. A little subtlety would have been nice, instead of heavy-handedly stretching a message with capital letters across several generations. Add to that the ridiculous name alliteration, and I'm just about on the verge of exhaustion.
Steinbeck's descriptions of most of the main characters and their struggles are the saving grace. Overall, there are no heroes and villains in the families, only deeply human emotions. Sometimes polar opposite emotions (and characters) are strongly connected and it's difficult to distinguish where each one begins and ends. The very last scene I thought was very moving.
However, the downfalls of the overall narrative exists in the characters, too. Lee, the Chinese servant, is the epitome of a Chinese philosopher with a tragic background. Although he pretends to be a white man's version of a Chinese man by hiding his perfect American English and education behind his pidgin and clothes, he still feels like a stereotype, always there to grant calm wisdoms when someone needs guidance.
Cathy's capable of fear and reflecting her actions, but she's still clearly a sociopath, which is fine. Not settling to that, though, Steinbeck stated she's supposed to represent the Devil (if it's true that she was modelled after Steinbeck's second wife, he really must have hated her). That and her actions that ooze evil through and through are again heavy-handed references to the Bible (and if that's still not enough to make readers understand, she's also described as being snake-like), and they reduce Cathy into an image of something universal instead of a real character. Abra, on the other hand, is devoid of personality and seemingly exists only to enhance Aaron's struggles.
The oversimplifications didn't help make sense of the messy structure, nor lift the characters from the pages to the realm of believability. Instead, the characters mainly carried the heavy burden of being clumsy allegories. Everything was chewed on the reader's behalf, not giving the opportunity to make one's own conclusions and observations, and I found myself gradually losing interest everytime I picked up the book. I've said before how wonderful The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is, but I now dread the day when I decide to reread it. Thing is, I vaguely remember it being just as preachy, but the societal issues might have been a slightly better platform for it. I understand why East of Eden is so well-loved, and in a sense it's not a badly written novel nor is it one of the worst I've ever read, but the more I think about it the more it ticks me off.
- - -
Dean would have turned 85 last month. East of Eden is the only film of his I haven't seen yet, and it's been patiently waiting in my watchlist, because I knew I'd want to read the book first. Not surprisingly, I liked the movie more.
The story has been simplified immensely by removing some of the characters altogether, making the plot more streamlined, and by focusing only on the second half that deals with Cal and Aaron. Usually I expect faithfulness from film adaptations, but sometimes it just isn't always the best option (often the case with big tomes). There's limited space and opportunities in a little less than two hours, but Paul Osborn's screen play is fantastic and Kazan has no trouble guiding the characters and the story forward.
The changes do cause some implausibility, like when Cal borrows money from his mother, and Cathy doesn't seem as powerful and cunning as in the book. These are just minor issues, though, because the overall story works so well on screen. The valley looks beautiful in color, too, even though most of it isn't Salinas but Mendocino.
And what about Dean? If all beginners were as good as him in their first roles, the world would burst from all the energy and talent. Dean puts his soul into his role, and sometimes it only takes a quiet smile or a slight adjustment of posture. If only he had stuck around, he'd have had great chances of polishing his skills even further....more
In films, Los Angeles has many faces (none have shown that better than one of my favorite documentaries Los Angeles Plays Itself ), and Silver aIn films, Los Angeles has many faces (none have shown that better than one of my favorite documentaries Los Angeles Plays Itself ), and Silver and Ursini (film noir experts familiar to many) examine that from noir's point of view. For me, it's sometimes difficult to differentiate filming locations, but here's a fairly decent source if you want to know which noirs have actually been shot in L.A.
One might think noir only focuses on the seedy parts of the city, but the book is organized by area, and there's a lot to be said about the coastal parts where the rich live a seemingly satisfying life. A mixture of corruption and crushed dreams, it's amazing what lies under the surface of sunny California, and how especially Raymond Chandler revealed it for what it truly was (his novels contain my absolute favorite descriptions of L.A. of that era). It's that strange combination mixed with the oddities of the movie industry that differentiates L.A. from all the other cities out there.
Offering tidbits about the history of Los Angeles and the various changes it has gone through, Silver and Ursini tie it all with moviemaking: during the shoot of Double Indemnity (1944), police officers guarded the food because of the World War II rationing, and the creation of the suburban nuclear family and the new suburbs offered a great opportunity to examine the growing dissatisfaction behind closed doors. In the midst of all the cynicism and fatalism, a hope is still lingering that social injustices can be fixed.
A great introduction to the world of L.A. as a shooting location (and maybe to film noir and neo-noir, too), this is still a pretty basic overview of the topic, one that could have been an even greater analysis of how the L.A. pulse is beating in the noir spirit. The film segments lean more towards synopses than anything else, but there are plenty of successful moments as well to make this a worthwhile read. The photographs are amazing, that goes without saying. Not just film stills of gorgeous cinematography, but also rare behind the scenes photos (of the latter, the photo also appearing in the cover is my favorite).
"Dream and reality are the touchstones of film noir. Los Angeles is where the filmmakers of the classic period brought these elements together, created the emotional conundrums which the noir protagonist must confront—the land of opportunity and the struggle to get by, the democratic ideal and the political corruption, the American dream and the disaffection of veterans who gave up the best years of their lives."
"The dream of “Hollywood” is in many ways just another, slightly more profane version of the American dream."...more
The purpose of a short overview of only twelve serial killers escapes me, because I presume there are tomes referencing every single American serial kThe purpose of a short overview of only twelve serial killers escapes me, because I presume there are tomes referencing every single American serial killer (or at least most of them) and acting as introductions. I was testing Kindle in my phone the other day, and this was available for free in Amazon's Kindle books, so I figured I wouldn't be losing anything by at least trying this out.
Well, I did finish this, since I was morbidly curious about how much the level of craziness would grow, but otherwise I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed.
Obviously, there are interesting details here. John Gacy performed as a clown, and was known as an outgoing and succesful businessman. One of Jeffrey Dahmer's drugged victims escaped and the police believed he was his lover, because Dahmer (who worked at a chocolate factory at one point) was so well-spoken and calm, but if they had checked his apartment when they escorted them back there, they would've found the decomposing body of one of his latest victims on the bedroom floor. Well, later this happened: "There's a goddamn head in the refrigerator!". Ted Bundy worked at Seattle's Suicide Hotline crisis center, and earned a commendation from the police for saving a toddler. David Berkowitz had no success with women, so he decided to off them instead.
All these, however, I'd rather read from a proper and coherent reference book, or from an individual biography of one of the killers. Keller's approach is much too simplistic and, as he admits, subjective. A bit more polishing would have been great, too, since there's repetition in the parts where the victims are listed. It's all and well to note every single victim and treat them with respect, but at least a bit of variation sentence-wise would have been nice. I found no reason why one should read this instead of a Wikipedia article....more
Noir. I can always trust it when I feel like reading something where it's guaranteed that things go horribly wrong or someone goes apeshit. Williams hNoir. I can always trust it when I feel like reading something where it's guaranteed that things go horribly wrong or someone goes apeshit. Williams has been an unknown to me until now, but if this really isn't his strongest novels, I'm going to be in paradise later.
A Touch of Death smells like fear, sweat, powder, lipstick, and sex, and it's the colour of sharp scissors in the evening light. Williams's prose is to the point, yet a sizzling atmosphere of passion and suppressed rage are looming somewhere beneath. The plot is unarguably drawn out and as a mere framework not that interesting. However, it sticks with you regardless like a piece of chewing gum. Scarborough seems like a sleepwalker at times, and although he understands the woman in the bikini is trouble, he's unable to turn away. Just like in a nightmare. The final scene in the car is the hottest thing I've read in a while, and the ending is like a slap in the face, although you always knew what would happen. How can anything be ice cold and burning hot at the same time?...more
As a fan of vintage King, I honestly didn't expect much going in. I knew I'd be entertained and sucked in, but the chance of experiencing that particuAs a fan of vintage King, I honestly didn't expect much going in. I knew I'd be entertained and sucked in, but the chance of experiencing that particular atmosphere spiced with crazy supernatural phenomena didn't cross my mind. There was still "that something" missing, but this was a hell of a ride in any case.
We've seen so much of apocalyptic metropolises, but Peyton Place (1956) showed that a small town where people know each other can be a gateway to hell, dome or not. Small-mindedness and gossiping create snakes out of even the most unwilling of residents, but when a town is shut into its own universe, its when people actually start eating each other alive. This is a dynamic that gives a lot of room for exploring several themes and personality types, and King has definitely succeeded. On the surface, Chester's Mill is an unassuming conservative town, but beneath that deceptively moralistic and Christian surface there's poison brewing.
When disaster strikes, often the villains have the most guts to take charge, whereas most are happy to just follow someone and pretend everything's ok and will be in the future. Big Jim is the most vile character I've come across in a long time. When a man of that level of demented starts calling the shots, we all know it can't end well, especially when very few realize he's not actually interested in anyone but his own ass. He's like the shepherd of a flock of blind sheep, the nurse of terminally ill patients, with a severe case of a Christ complex.
In this, though, lies also the weakness of the novel. King resorts to painting his characters with very broad strokes, making villains behave like they're possessed by the devil and heroes are just all-round cool guys destined for greatness. It detracts from the otherwise realistic situation, where the dome ties into more general political issues. Actually, there isn't a lot of cracking under pressure either, meaning that the small town mentality isn't fully utilized, because only existing traits are heightened and secrets not tied to personalities but outward things are slowly revealed.
At the same time, what really pushed this into another level was the black humour, which I appreciate enormously (even when it's distasteful and disgusting á la The Devils ). Murder is compared to potato chips (as an avid fan of almost all kinds of chips, I completely understand the comparison), a priest with mommy issues is flogging himself in orange bike shorts (which themselves are a horror to behold), a "green burrito" carpet, and a self-professed prophet becomes like a Judas of sorts (only high on meth). Oh, and there's a reference to Breaking Bad (and Jack Reacher, but I don't know him as a character so I'm not able to appreciate it). Even Anderson Cooper and Bill O'Reilly make an appearance (albeit through a television screen).
Besides, anyone who seems to have been completely confident about a giant character gallery like this deserves to be applauded. Usually a large amount of characters disturbs me to no end, but in this case there are only a few important key players, while the rest mostly end up as dog food.
So yeah, I had fun peeping through a magnifying class these ants engaging in various activities in a catastrophic situation (and gasping when that disturbing event at the end struck). Easily my favorite of 21st century King....more