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Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth (Erik Nelson)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jun 25, 2009 02:55PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Interesting documentary about one of my favorite writers that doesn't wallow in fanboy cultish glee...for the most part. I must recommend his book of film essays ELLISON'S WATCHING which I just reread in the past month; it lead me towards some forgotten gems of the 70s & 80s and includes some hilarious insider stories! Also, the cover art on the DVD is by a very cool artist named Jacek Yerka and is a painting called FEVER. Ellison wrote a short story to accompany the painting in a collection entitled MIND FIELDS (Morpheus Internation, 1993). Track down a copy of the oversized book...it's worth every penny.

I apologize for not posting as often in this my own discussion group! Thanks to the other moderators who have taken up my slack:) It's not that I've been neglecting the group because I read it nearly every day, I just haven't been watching science fiction lately. I have Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH on blu-ray sitting next to my PS3 waiting to be reviewed, but other stuff just creeps up. Anyway, enjoy the review:

HARLAN ELLISON: DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH (Erik Nelson, 2007, USA) Ellison’s prose incisors are weapons that shred his adversaries, giving voice to his vociferous condemnation of stupidity and vapid fandom: a shrill cry from a man with a mouth who must scream. Erik Nelson’s documentary gives us a rare insight into Harlan Ellison’s wonderland though he doesn’t pretend to understand what makes the Ticktockman tick: Nelson remains virtually invisible and lets Ellison run the show. This is not fanboy adoration where Nelson bends over at the altar of Ellison, offering his orifice for deific recognition. There are a few eloquent friends and peers such as Neil Gaiman, Robin Williams and Dan Simmons who share their stories and dangerous visions, but basically Ellison talks about himself and his life. We see brief clips of past interviews from the Today Show and Tom Snyder, and see the angry young man has not disappeared from the visage of the elderly grandmaster: he is still fueled by pugnacity, a wraith of wrathfulness. But there are tender moments when Ellison’s shtick dissolves and the real man emerges unguarded, an intelligent and remarkable man who is as human as you and me…only more so. But it’s his words that count, literally, millions of them through the years and awards that are to become his legacy. This documentary should convince you to pick up copies of not only his fiction but also his non-fiction and essay collections, which are too numerous to name here. After the feature is over, let Harlan read a few stories to you in his own idiom, then watch the dialogue between him and Neil Gaiman while they eat pizza, making you a silent partner in their friendly interaction. Buy the books, read the books, Harlan is not a number, his life is his own: you might learn something from him. If you can’t figure it out, I’ll give you the answer: Naomi Campbell. (B+)


message 2: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Damn, Alex. Great review! There's a lot of information floating around in there.


message 3: by Erik (new)

Erik (erikb2000) I want to see this bad. Seems popular because it's a long long wait on Netflix.


message 4: by Erik (new)

Erik (erikb2000) I was prepared for Ellison's toxic personality from reviews. The problem with this doc is it's not really about writing but about the writer himself, to which I would say in ellisonese: who gives a rat's ass?


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I'd kind of like to see it. I've always thought Ellison was an ass - a very talented one, but a jerk of the first water. Pugnacious is putting it mildly. He'll sue at the drop of a hat & has, which is something I detest, especially for stretching his creativity across very broad lines.

There is no doubt he's one of the most creative writers to ever live, though. The stories that he has pumped out, in a book store window, given a first line & very limited time, are just incredible. His addendum to all contracts for the right to assign rights to Cordwainer Bird is also brilliant.


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