Pulp Fiction (1994)

 

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Pulp Fiction is the 1994 classic about bandits, hit-men, love and redemption from Quentin Tarantino. It has a cracking cast: Uma Thurman, John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson to name a few.

It’s probably my second favourite Tarantino film (Death Proof being the first) and God, I wish he’d go back to making films like this. Pulp Fiction has so much style and charisma, without glorifying the violence and drug use. That’s a pretty hard balance to achieve!

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You won’t know the facts until you’ve seen the fiction.

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Stand By Me (1986)

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8/10 IMDb

Writer:  Stephen King (novel), Raynold Gideon (screenplay), Bruce A. Evans (screenplay)

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Last night I watch the nostalgic classic Stand By Me for the first time! It’s apt, as the film is two days older than I am and turns the big 3-0 next month. Although the actors playing the lead roles were only aged 11-13 when the film was made, Stand By Me has an age certification of 15. This seems mostly due to strong language and a dead body.

It was directed by Rob Reiner, written by Stephen King, narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, and stars Will Wheaton, the late River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell. You may argue that Stand By Me is not strange enough for this blog and you’d be right, but it’s still Stephen King and I like it.

The film also stars the excellent Kiefer Sutherland, playing almost the same character as he does in Lost Boys. I think I’d say I like Lost Boys more than Stand By Me, but they’re extremely different films (sincerely). The latter contains no form of the supernatural, but it makes a good effort into delving in to the special friendships that most people only seem to experience at the age of ten to fifteen. I don’t know if it’s the same for kids now, not being one or having one, but I hope it’s still the case.

My DVD has a pretty good “behind the scenes” documentary in the extras, featuring interviews with Reiner, King and the three living boys (in their late twenties or so). It was filmed after the death of River Phoenix. It’s worth a watch, which makes a change from most DVD extras.

Countless King adaptations have left audiences affronted – The Graveyard Shift languishes on IMDb with a score of just 4.7 and The Mangler has accrued just 3.9 – while other adaptations like Christine and Cujo have merely disappointed. But when King’s work is adapted with faithfulness, skilfully compressing all of its complexity into the limited run time offered by film, it can result in some of the world’s most adored and acclaimed cinema; look no further than Carrie(1976), The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999). Writer Loves Movies

The universality of childhood adventures (or misadventures), the struggles of growing up and a cast that Hollywood execs must have congratulated themselves on for decades. ‘Stand by Me’ launched the careers of so many of its actors: Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, John Cusack, River Phoenix and Kiefer Sutherland all appeared in the film. SF Gate

The Stunningly Surreal World of Jan Svankmajer

Prolific across the arts, he is best known for the dark, surreal visions and macabre comedy of his films. Combining live action, puppetry and a rich range of animation techniques, he is widely recognised as one of the most original and influential film-makers in world cinema. Cine City

Svankmajer is a Czech visual artist as well as a director, although he’s most well known for his films. These include Lunacy, Surviving Life and Alice, amongst others, with sex and death nearly always present. Lunacy, starring Anna Geislerova, is a poetic and disturbing piece which draws upon the work of Sade and Poe, using Svankmajer’s trademark of live action mixed with stop-animation.

Lunacy

Loosely based on two short stories by Edgar Allen Poe, with a leading character inspired by the Marquis de Sade, Lunacy is an allegory for the crazy world we live in. Young Jean, plagued by maddening nightmares after his mother’s funeral, is invited by a Marquis to spend the night in his castle. MIFF

Jan Svankmajer’s LUNACY – trailer. Warning: it’s always safe to assume that anything to do with Svankmajer is not safe for work. Although, I always think this depends on where you work.

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“Animation is, so far, the only way of breathing life into inanimate things” – Jan Svankmajer

10 Books Released in 2016 that I’m Looking Forward to Reading!

Here are some books already released this year which I’m looking forward to reading, along with links to reviews.

  1. When The Floods Came – by Clare Morrall

A dystopian coming-of-age tale that doubles as a paean to the author’s home town. Review by Catherine Taylor Financial Times

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2. Radiance – by Catherynne M Valente

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe. Macmillan Publishers

3. At the Edge of the Orchard – by Tracy Chevalier

The Black Swamp is as inhospitable as it sounds, which carry off several of the children and leave the parents too weak to workIndependent

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4. How to Measure a Cow – by Margaret Forster

Margaret Forster’s tale of a woman on the run is quietly compelling The Sunday Times

5. Small Town Talk – by Barney Hoskyns

How a reclusive Bob Dylan led a rock’n’roll takeover of rural Woodstock in the 1960sThe Sunday Times

6. States of Mind – edited by Anna Faherty

“Why do most of us feel that we are something more than molecules?”, asks Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, in his engaging introduction to this compelling collection drawn from literature, science, philosophy and art ranging back 500 years and tackling the thorny question of what consciousness actually is. “We are made of the same raw materials as bacteria, as earth, as rock, as the great dark nebulae of dust that swim between the stars, as the stars themselves”, writes Haddon, introducing extracts that explore how the sense of being made of something immaterial, too, has long haunted humans. The Guardian

7. The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict – by Austin Reed

What happens when a middle-class black in the 19th century goes to jailThe Washington Post

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8. Adventures in the Strand – by Mike Ashley

I speak from experience when I say that embarking on a biographical work about Arthur Conan Doyle is a challenge. The principal challenge is how to make your book original. Every biographical work on Doyle will contain material that has appeared elsewhere. What makes new books stand out is how they present what we already know, what new items are presented and how the author interprets what they present. Doyleockian

9. The Man I Became – by Peter Verhelst

The premise of the book is as bold as it is intriguing: The Man I Became is narrated in the first-person by a gorilla. The inevitably confusion and flood of questions that arise with this statement are mostly all addressed through the 120 pages of the novella, but Verhelst also uses this quasi-absurdist plot to grapple with contemporary social issues. Written in a sparse, succinct literary style that fits snugly in the Peirene canon of stylish but provocative translated fiction, The Man I Became is a book that jolts its reader and forces you to think. Bookish Ramblings

10. In Flagrante Two – by Chris Killip

Made in the northeast of England between 1973 and 1985, the book showed marginalized communities on the edge of change; seacoal gatherers, fishermen and other working class communities are shown struggling in environments that are expressively harsh. There is the wildness of the Northumberland coastline, driving blizzards brought from Siberia across the ferocious waves of the North Sea, the chimneys and cranes of the region’s industrial landmarks, and the rubble of neighborhoods destroyed in the name of urban development. It’s an unrelentingly gritty backdrop. Photo-Eye