Movie Diary 10/15/2014

Monster on the Campus (Jack Arnold, 1958). Bringing a coelacanth into the lab is a recipe for disaster, especially if blood from the fish drips into your pipe right before you smoke it. Three or four genuine shock moments made this movie a treasured title back in the “Nightmare Theatre” days. The science scenes have the expected Arnold smarts.

Movie Diary 10/14/2014

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). Sunday afternoon I’m giving a talk at the Frye on the subject of Hitchcock’s masterpiece and the imitations and echoes that have followed in its steps. More info here on the event, and more on the movie here.

Movie Diary 10/13/2014

Fury (David Ayer, 2014). A World War II picture, in which the conflict adds up to a slaughterhouse. I still think Ayer is talented, but this is one gruesome movie. (full review 10/17)

The Best of Me (Michael Hoffman, 2014). Another Nicholas Sparks novel comes to the screen, with Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden as reunited high-school lovebirds. The movie’s incredible in the true sense of the word. (full review 10/24)

Rudderless (William H. Macy, 2013). Billy Crudup as a grieving father, finding something in the songs left behind by his dead son. A strong air of Sundance hangs about the project. (full review 10/17)

Judge Dracula, Zero January (This Week’s Movies)

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst among the ruins: The Two Faces of January

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst among the ruins: The Two Faces of January

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

The Judge. “Very much a Downey performance, full of quicksilver responses and sneaky humor.” (In case of Herald paywall, here’s the Seattle Weekly version.)

Dracula Untold. “Now it’s been told. And it’s pretty boring.”

The Zero Theorem. “Signature Gilliam: Visually exuberant and robustly cynical.” (Weekly version.)

The Two Faces of January. “Languorous portrait of people at loose ends in Europe.” (Weekly version.)

Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. “Dad catches on fire at a Japanese restaurant.”

New Overlook Podcast due today; meantime, listen to last week’s show, which looks at books adapted into movies (including Gone Girl) and includes librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl in the conversation.

I popped up again on KIRO radio’s “Mark Rahner Show,” thinking about Gone Girl. That session is archived here; stay tuned for a lightning round of the thrilling segment known as “Focus Group.”

Early-ish warning: Sunday October 19 I’ll present a free talk in the Magic Lantern series at the Frye Art Museum. It’s called “Hitchcock Re-mastered: The Many Lives of Psycho,” a look at how the 1960 masterpiece has reverberated through culture, including Gus Van Sant’s remake, a batch of sequels, the TV series Bates Motel, and installation works such as Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho and James Franco’s Psycho Nacirema. The talk begins at 2; more info here.

Saturday October 25, I’ll be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company in support of Frankenstein. The free event begins at 7 p.m.


Movie Diary 10/7/2014

Dracula Untold (Gary Shore, 2014). This one means to be the Original Vampire saga, with Luke Evans as Vlad the Impaler himself. But did you know the first Dracula was also a family man? In this one, Vlad tries to save wife and child from the invading Ottoman Empire, portrayed here as ISIS-like baddies in search of new turf for the caliphate. Bonus: An epilogue hints at the “shared universe” of Universal monster movies to come. Time to get Glenn Strange out of retirement. (full review 10/10)

Movie Diary 10/6/2014

The Judge (David Dobkin, 2014). Robert Downey, Jr., is a hotshot lawyer come home to defend dad Robert Duvall in a small-town murder case. The early reaction to this prestige offering was dismissive, but there’s a little more spikiness than you might expect, and Downey is peppy. (full review 10/10)

Psycho II (Richard Franklin, 1983); Psycho III (Anthony Perkins, 1986). First time re-visiting these sequels since their debuts. Perkins is an amazing presence. I’m prepping a talk in the Frye Art Museum’s Magic Lantern series, a look at the long shadow of Psycho and how it has been replicated.

Homicidal (William Castle, 1961). Distinct Psycho echoes notwithstanding, this is one weird movie. It is also a film in which the characters say each others’ names incessantly.

The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam, 2014). Lots of signature Gilliam material, and a definite bonus in the figure of Christoph Waltz. (full review 10/10)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Miguel Arteta, 2014). Kid-book adaptation, with the right take on things but maybe not enough Arteta personality in it. (full review 10/10)

Gone Tracks (This Week’s Movies)

Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck: Gone Girl

Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck: Gone Girl

Links to reviews I had published in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Gone Girl. “Truly odd movie.”

Tracks. “True in spirit to the kind of soul that would really take this journey.” (In case of Herald paywall, here’s the Seattle Weekly version.)

Kelly & Cal. “Doesn’t have the nerve to go all the way.” (Weekly version.)

The Liberator. “The Great Man school of biography is alive – if not particularly well.” (Weekly version.)

Tonight, October 3, join me in Edmonds, WA, for “The Movie Mashup: Wild Literary Adaptations on Film,” a talk in the Humanities Washington Speakers series. This one’s a look at some of the kookier ways movies have treated original texts: how The Odyssey became O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Tempest turned into Forbidden Planet – that kind of thing. In the meantime, we’ll think about how movies differ from literature, always a rich subject. This is at 7 p.m., Edmonds Public Library,  and it’s free.



The Overlook Podcast has a crossover episode: In this one Steve Scher and I are joined by Book Lust author and librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl, as we sort through thoughts of movie adaptations from books, with Gone Girl the particular focus. Give a listen here.


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