Alive (Piers Paul Reid)

On Friday, October 13, 1972 a Fairchild F-227, chartered from the Uruguayan Air Force, carrying a young amateur rugby team and their families and friends from Uruguay, slammed into the middle of the remote Andes Mountains in Argentina…This is a legendary book that shook the conscience of the world in the 1970s. And now, 45 years on from the tragedy, this non-fiction work still makes for compelling reading. Forty five passengers and the crew were on the plane before it crashed. Only sixteen of the passengers left the mountain alive. [Read more…]

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Carnage (2011 France/Germany/Poland/Spain)

Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award winning play “God of Carnage” was adapted by the playwright herself for Roman Polanski’s 2011 film version, renamed “Carnage.” Reza’s word feast is a juicy smörgåsbord for actors and a showcase for the film’s four stars. Despite the glow of bagging 6 Oscars and 17 nominations, the four actors were evidently chosen for talent and range, not luster; all are better known for their on-screen and on-stage work, than their tabloid antics. Carnage is a short 80 minutes. Its fast paced, often funny, well written, superbly acted – and that rarity in cinema – it leaves the bastards hungry for more. [Read more…]

Twisted Nerve (1968 United Kingdom)

I’ve reviewed quite a few movies from that year of our Lord, 1968. A disquieting year for a number of reasons…Twisted Nerve, something of a link between Michael Powell’s “Peeping Tom” and Hitchcock’s “Frenzy”, has floated about like an apparition for so long it’s somehow managed to permeate the most seemingly unconnected crannies of pop culture. Its main theme, a haunting melody penned by legendary Hitchcock scorer Bernard Herrmann, was stolen by Hollywood’s pet magpie, Q Tarantino, for “Kill Bill, Vol 1”. Penned by celebrated “Peeping Tom” scribe Leo Marks, this is a fairly typical late-1960s psycho-thriller. [Read more…]

The Dark Room (Minette Walters)

This book gave my brain cells a real work out. The first page is an attention grabber – two children having underage sex, the girl sullenly pulling up her knickers while taunting the boy’s inability to last more than three minutes. But this fun opening is not the real plot dynamic: a woman wakes up in a hospital with amnesia and is told she tried to kill herself. Also, her friend and her fiance are dead. Did she kill them, or is she being framed? You have to be very alert reading this book, as events are presented out of sequence, and times and dates of actions are important. Who is lying and who is telling the truth? It kept me guessing right up until the end. This is a psychological thriller, where you are invited to be a] the protagonist b] the police inspector and c] the protagonist’s psychiatrist. Got it? [Read more…]

Revenge Of The Manitou (Graham Masterton)

The 71 year old Edinburgh-born author has an unusual pedigree. He used to write sex books like How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed – 3 million copies of that one sold. He was also heavily involved as an editor for porn mags like Mayfair and Penthouse too. Then he became a prolifically successful horror novel writer. Interesting…anyway, this follow up to his earlier The Manitou is much more entertaining. At first I was leery as the book opened with the focus on an eight-year old protagonist, but I quickly warmed-up to Toby and the Fenner clan.  [Read more…]

The Veldt (read by Leonard Nimoy)

Broadchurch Season One (2013 UK)

broadchurch_ep01_4British crime dramas generally enjoy pacing and depth of characterization more engaging than the American ones, and there is often more emphasis on “mystery”. Whereas the Americans have more innovative plots that seldom have the holes that sometimes mar British crime stories. Unlike most murder dramas, this story isn’t about autopsies and gunfights. It’s about human nature…and what really goes on in those child dungeons under Pizza Hut. Its about Spirit Cooking and what flavour of chianti Hillary Clinton will have with her dead child meal. It’s about a very miserable but addictive British TV show. (Phew! Back on track after a brain malfunction there…I’ll blame it on the fake news raping my hotmail inbox) [Read more…]

The Voice Of The Night (Dean Koontz)

voice-of-the-nightYou cannot rush Dean Koontz. He will take his time. He refuses to be intimidated by the competition. He hasn’t built such a long and successful career by turning out tripe. I know now that he wrote quite a few under different names (take a bow Owen West). As a best selling author would get a bad rep from the critics if he/she published more than one book a year in the 1970s – and an author couldn’t survive on one book a year. Strange but true. [Read more…]

Firestarter (Stephen King)

firestarterOne of King’s most emotionally compelling books. Back in the day (1980) when he had the golden touch, writing immensely visual novels. I rarely experience particularly strong emotional reactions to even very good books. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story with topics such as hallucinogenic drugs, a family on the run or secret government experiments that engaged my feelings deeply. They are such cliches that are over used. But this one did. [Read more…]

The Sopranos (1999 – 2007 USA)

aida t (2)   (“Um ole school Janice…when I tink ah that jaackat de bawss spit awn..”)

You wouldn’t know it from watching this infamous HBO show but Italy brought the fruits of civilization to a vast multi-ethnic empire stretching from Scotland to the Sudan. The heirs to Julius Caesar; they gave the world many treasures from the Pax Romana to the Renaissance so I can understand some Italian people feeling outraged by this TV series. One FBI report in 2002 stated that Italian Americans make up only .00782 per cent of convicted criminals in the US. Considering Italian-Americans are about 5.4 % of the US population (2013) they are remarkably well behaved citizens…but trashy Hollywood never let facts get in the way!
[Read more…]

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