“I am fearless, and therefore powerful”: the Monster and the Siren

We sometimes forget, because familiarity negates it, that Frankenstein’s monster is supposed to be scary. I’m talking specifically about the Boris Karloff monster from the first three Universal films, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and (my favorite) Son of Frankenstein. I suppose the later films with other performers as the monster (Lon Chaney, Glenn Strange, Bela Lugosi, etc.) could also be … Read More

Out of the Theater Defeated, Into a Defeated World

SPOILER ALERT for Avengers: Infinity War (and The Empire Strikes Back, if anyone truly needs that now). Although I’m far too late for this to qualify as any sort of “hot take”–is “tepid take” a thing?– I’ve put a lot of thought into what bugs me (to put it mildly) about Avengers: Infinity War. And just to be clear, I’ve … Read More

Serendipity, Saragossa, and Moonshine

When first pondering the story that would become The Fairies of Sadieville, my initial idea was one of form. I’d just read Jan Patocki’s The Manuscript Found in Saragossa and seen the Polish film adaptation, The Saragossa Manuscript. Both novel and film are “nesting” or “frame” stories, in which a tale is told within another tale, which is told within another … Read More

Death Wish, Old and New

After seeing commercials for the upcoming Eli Roth remake, I rewatched the original Death Wish from 1974. I was really surprised by how different Death Wish was from what I remembered, and how Roth’s remake, to judge from the trailers, totally misses the point. Yes, Charles Bronson becomes a vigilante after his family is brutally attacked, but that’s just the skeleton … Read More

Tobe Hooper: the Kids and the Chainsaw

The recent death of director Tobe Hooper has me, and millions of others, thinking about his landmark third film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In 1974, Massacre presented three major innovations. One, it was both set and made in Texas, and wore its non-Hollywood pedigree on its bloody, tattered sleeve. Two, it was (or seemed to be, which I’ll get to) gratuitously … Read More

Why I Want WONDER WOMAN to be Awesome

So the advance word on the Wonder Woman film is good, and that’s a relief. I’ve found every other DC movie to be heartless and cruel, so I was seriously concerned that they’d screw this one up as well. But, as I said, the advance word is good. And that same advance word comes with a now-typical response from crying … Read More

The Same River Twice: Tender Mercies and Crazy Heart

Recently I finally caught Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance in Crazy Heart. And while he was certainly very good, I couldn’t shake the sense that I’d seen this movie before, when it starred Robert Duvall and was called Tender Mercies. Naturally, I’m not the first viewer to notice that. The similarities are striking. Even the protagonists’ names are similarly short, sharp, … Read More

The Idiocies of Genius

Recently I watched Genius, the 2016 film about the relationship between Southern novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) and his editor, Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth). There are also cameos by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West). The moral of the story: genius comes in different packages, and sometimes it isn’t recognized until it’s too late. Or something. I … Read More

Some Halloween thoughts on NotLD

We had a breakthrough this past weekend: I finally convinced someone in my family to watch a zombie movie with me. My elder son, age twelve, joined me for the original Night of the Living Dead. It’s hard to imagine, in 2016, seeing it with no preconceptions, and since I’m his father, the boy certainly didn’t. I’ve sung its praises … Read More

Some Thoughts from Down at the Crossroads

WARNING: Contains spoilers for the 1986 movie Crossroads (not the 2002 Britney Spears film). If you haven’t seen it, I wholeheartedly recommend it. I recently rewatched Walter Hill’s movie Crossroads, and was surprised by how much I had internalized its depiction of the relationship between music and magic, and how that had influenced my own Tufa novels. I first saw it … Read More