Pimpin’ for the Man

I’d just like to take a minute to remind everyone that Steve Niles’s first 30 Days of Night novel (co-written with Jeff Mariotte) is now available. If you know me, you know that I loves me some Steve Niles stories.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Amazon.

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Enough With the Elves

As much as I like the Fantasy genre, I — like most people — tend to immediately think “Tolkien rip-off” whenever it’s brought up. There are some talented writers who do a pretty good rip-off, but that perception that it’s all more or less the same stuff makes me timid of searching out new fantasy.

Enter fantasy-author Marie Brennan with a great list-in-progress of what she calls “multicultural fantasy,” i.e. fantasy novels that draw on other sources of inspiration than Tolkien’s Celtic-Norse-medieval stuff. It’s full of great stuff to try.

Top of my list are:

Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Bucknell
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
The Silken Magic series by ElizaBeth Gilligan

(Thanks to Symphony for a Devil for the link.)

Review: FREEDOMLAND

The critics almost universally hate Freedomland. It only got a 25% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo’s critics and users alike could only muster enough love to give it a “C” grade. I don’t get it. I absolutely love this film.

Some of my fondness for it might be exceeded expectations. The trailer made it out to be an interesting, but more or less generic serial killer film. Julianne Moore shows up at an emergency room with bloody hands and tells them that she was just car-jacked. Police detective Samuel L. Jackson shows up to investigate and all hell breaks loose when Moore, still in shock, reveals that her four-year-old son was still in the car. The trailer goes on to show Jackson searching the ruins of an abandoned children’s asylum called Freedomland, discovering something shocking, and there are hints that this kind of thing has happened before. And, oh, by the way, all this is complicated by some kind of civil unrest going on in the community. That’s the trailer.

I’d accuse the marketers of being liars if a) that wasn’t a repetitive statement and b) I could think of a better way to get audiences into the theater. Instead, I’ll just say that Freedomland is not the movie the trailer advertises.

Yes, there’s a mystery. It’s central to the plot and the movie never becomes not-a-mystery, but it’s also not just a mystery. The civil unrest that seems incidental in the trailer is caused by Julianne Moore’s description of the car-jacker: a black man. She comes from the rich, white side of town, but she volunteers in a children’s program in the predominantly black projects and that’s where she was when she was attacked. It isn’t long before white cops from her side of town descend on the projects to lock it down until the car-jacker, now a kidnapper, can be found.

The movie’s not just about racial issues either. It handles them effectively and helps you empathize with the helplessness and anger of the people who are being held hostage in their own neighborhood, but there’s more. Themes that really connect with me as a parent. The movie talks a lot about what it means to be a parent, the person who’s responsible for protecting a child. Julianne Moore is absolutely destroyed because she wasn’t able to protect her son. Samuel L. Jackson begins to rethink his relationship with his own son who’s locked up in prison for commiting armed robbery with Sam’s gun. And Sam also has to deal with the fact that the people in the project look to him as their friend and protector, yet he has no control over the other police who are enforcing the lockdown of the neighborhood.

There’s so much going on in the movie on so many different levels. Maybe that’s why the critics don’t like it. They’re using words like “overblown,” “mess,” “sloppy,” and “bungled.” Maybe it’s a more complicated movie than they expected. Roger Ebert, my favorite movie critic, asks questions in his review that make me wonder which movie he was watching. The answers are in the film. I can’t reveal them here without spoiling the film, but they’re there. I just think critics were too busy or too lazy to see them.

Freedomland is a thoughtful, provocative, touching, well-acted film that avoids genre conventions. If it’s rotten, I don’t want fresh.

Masters of SciFi

FilmFodder is reporting a Variety story about a new project from the guys who produced Showtime’s Masters of Horror. They’re calling it Masters of Science Fiction and plan to adapt the works of folks like Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

What’s nice about this one is that you won’t have to subscribe to Showtime or anyone else to get it. ABC has already ordered four episodes and the producers, IDT Entertainment and Industry Entertainment, are going ahead and making at least two — and possibly as many as nine — more. They’re hoping to have it ready for a summer release.

Slither

Last week I quoted Joss Whedon who mentioned that Serenity star Nathan Fillion is “busy making movies.” One of those movies is rumored to be White Noise 2, co-starring Starbuck from SCIFI’s Battlestar Galactica. Another is definitely Universal’s Slither, a tongue-in-cheek film written and directed by James Gunn (who also wrote the Scooby Doo live-actions and the Dawn of the Dead remake).

It’s supposed to be a humorous homage to those alien-invasion flicks from the ’80s that were in turn remakes of alien-invasion flicks from the ’50s. Fillion should be perfect for it.

So should Rob Zombie, who plays someone named “Dr. Carl.”

Review: GRAPHIC CLASSICS — ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

I used to post a lot of links on this blog to other writing I was doing around the ‘net. I haven’t done that in a while, but I think I’ll get back to it when it’s appropriate stuff. Like this review of Graphic Classics: Arthur Conan Doyle.

Mystery fans will be interested in the two adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories, but did you know that Doyle also wrote pirate stories, thrillers, and science fiction? It’s all in there.

Jurassic Park 4

A quick note about the script for Jurassic Park IV. In a brief interview with London Free Press, frequent Spielberg producer Frank Marshall said that the dinosaur sequel “has a good script now, so we should have that one up and running next year for release in 2008.”

No word on whether Keira Knightley, who was rumored to be a Spielberg favorite for the role of Richard Attenborough’s granddaughter (played by Ariana Richards in the first two films), is still being considered.