Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Latest Posts

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007




It’s amazing the things one runs into in the neighborhood.


Wherever you are. Just open the door and step outside. Take a stroll, give it a little walkabout. You’re bound to run into something extraordinary.




And informative. If not life-changing.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 19, 2007

For the week of Thanksgiving (at least for those of us here, in America), SE&L will look back at some of the stories from earlier in the year which suddenly have renewed relevance.

With Frank Darabont’s adaptation of The Mist hitting theaters tomorrow, it’s time to reflect on the other Stephen King works in desperate need of a big screen translation.


Back in the ‘80s, it was a running joke. It seemed like, every time you turned around, another Stephen King work - no matter how minor – was being prepped for a cinematic styling or on its way to your local Bijou. To call it overkill would be too simplistic. It was, as if, the man’s massive imagination was being purposefully corralled by an industry that believed his muse was all too fleeting. The “hurry up and hit it” mentality (otherwise known as strike while the iron’s assets are liquid) meant that, in some cases, the film version of a famed tome was in preproduction before the book even made the bestsellers. It was a buyers market and the author had literary real estate to spare. Among his many novels, numerous short stories, and projects purposefully created for the movies, he was a one man idea factory. A funny thing happened on the way to maximum production capacity, however. Audiences began to balk.


At first, all was business as usual. The studios kept churning out the chum, delivering subpar motion pictures and endless, unnecessary sequels. And while they weren’t overwhelmed, the crowds kept coming. But diluting your inventory never results in quality, and before long, King’s name was as marginalized as his turnstile reputation, a lamentable presence in a genre that had long since surpassed his undeniable storytelling expertise. Additionally, the remaining items in his oeuvre were becoming more and more complicated to realize – massive magnum opuses sprawling out over hundreds of pages and dozens of subplots. With visionary elements far exceeding Hollywood’s ability to realize them, and narratives that touched on subjects both controversial and complex, the days of simple story arcs (killer dog, killer car, killer kid) were long over. So while the viewers were turning to other macabre makers, Tinsel Town turned its back on the once heralded cash cow.


But that doesn’t mean King is tapped out. Far from it. As a matter of fact, there are a half dozen or so interesting production possibilities just lying around, waiting to be discovered. At SE&L’s suggestion (and we will gladly accept any and all finder’s fees, thank you), here are six wonderful works that would make riveting entertainment options. We’ve purposely avoided anything already planned (The Talisman, Cell, From a Buick 8) as well as remakes, reimaginings and outright rip-offs. As far as we known, this sextet of stellar novels are languishing in limbo, caught somewhere between 1408’s recent success and past calamities still stinking up the artform. Each one argues for two incontrovertible truths. First, there has never been a man as prolific as Stephen King. And second? That for every mediocre motion picture pried from his prose, there’s a possible gem waiting in the wings, beginning with:


The Long Walk


As part of his Richard Bachman persona, King tackled the dystopian future as only his insular mind could imagine it. The results are this spellbinding thriller about a group of 100 randomly picked boys sent on a mandatory trek across a totalitarian American landscape. With a storyline similar to Speed (the lads must maintain a certain pace to avoid being ‘warned’ and then ‘ticketed’ by the accompanying soldiers) and a breathtaking narrative drive, it has the makings of a fine action adventure. Even better, the Lord of the Flies like characters, each one bringing their own precarious personal situation to the contest, allows for endless subplotting and openness. Rumor has it that Frank Darabont owns the rights. If anyone can realize this intricate tale, he can.


The Regulators


Granted, the plot feels like a revamp of the classic Twilight Zone episode where little Anthony is the “monster” who can create unimaginable evils with his mind, but in a CGI reliant industry desperate for more bitmap magic, this could be the next horror hybrid hit. Maybe studio heads are waiting to see if the similarly styled The Mist makes a mountain of money come theatrical release time. Remember, King is still considered a tenuous source of material at best. And because this book is another example of his Bachman alter ego, there’s the possibility of a less than bestseller backlash. In the hands of the right visionary director, however, this reality in flux narrative could be a sensational slice of eerie eye candy.


Eye of the Dragon


Why this excellent sword and sorcery epic hasn’t been made into a movie is baffling? After all, if subpar crap like Eragon can stumble along and stink up a Cineplex with its dumbness and dragons, why not the work of an actual adult writer? Part of the problem, at least at the time of publication, was realizing the more “magical” elements of the story. It was reported that animation was initially suggested, the cinematic category’s open palette more readily capable of bringing the fanciful to life. But just like The Regulators, the supercomputer has changed the face of filmmaking, and with the proper director – someone in tune with the genre’s inherent pitfalls and possibilities – this excellent example of good old fashioned yarn spinning would make a wonderful bit of wistfulness.

 


Gerald’s Game


Actresses are always complaining that there are no good roles for them. King, fortunately, loves to feature women in complex, life changing situations. In this very dark single character piece, our heroine Jessie Burlingame finds herself alone, tied up, and very afraid after her husband dies during some rather rough sex. As she lies in bed, hunger and dehydration taking its toll, she recalls horrors from her past, while envisioning even more dreadful terrors in the shadows of her isolated cabin. While it’s true that any star who wanted the part would have to agree to some demanding physical trials (nudity, suggested violence), the rewards would be well worth it. Within the usual setting, the author creates some undeniably powerful prose.


Insomnia


It stands as one of his oddest ideas – an old man, unable to sleep, who can literally see the “strands” or mortality that rise from our body…and the creepy creature killers carrying the scissors to ‘cut’ them. And then there’s the whole abortion subtext filled with dogma and social terrorism. But Insomnia is still one of the author’s best books, a character driven exploration of mortality and aging drenched in a weird wickedness that is hard to shake. Even better, the book finally explains King’s favorite setting – the paranormal plagued town of Derry. With all this amazing material at their disposal, the right creative team could make something truly special. And with a lot of great actors approaching their twilight years, the casting possibilities are also tempting.


Blaze


Another Bachman book, another potential for some major acting tour de forces. The story revolves around a mentally deficient con man who decides to kidnap a wealthy couple’s baby for the ransom money. The crime begins to go awry, and Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. (or “Blaze” for short) starts flashing back to his own childhood, and the reasons for his own damaged brain. Imagine this unusual tale told by one of our modern movie icons, or better yet, driven by a fascinating newcomer (like Casey Affleck, perhaps) and you could have a character based dynamo. Though it was written way back in the early ‘70s (in between bouts with Carrie), there is a modern mentality to the piece that plays perfectly in these desperate post-millennial days.

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 19, 2007

Punk 365 by Holly George-Warren [$29.95]

Silent Pictures by Pat Graham [$22.95]

Coffee table books are always a good bet for that person who has everything. At least you can bet they already have a coffee table to put the books on. This season brings three excellent volumes spanning rock history from the 1960s up to the indie present. Lynn Goldsmith is a brand name in rock photography and this simply titled tome, Rock and Roll, begins simply with a 1964 snap of the Fab Four’s Cuban boot- heeled feet and ends with the 1980 John Lennon vigil following the Beatle’s assassination. In between, Goldsmith photographed every legend in the biz and branched out into blues, soul, and reggae, as well.  Mostly bypassing punk for rock and pop and then new wave, Goldsmith nevertheless documented decades worth of great musicians. For that punk dose, head on over to Punk 365, which features the shutter work of seminal talents like Bob Gruen, Roberta Bayley, and a dozen or more leading lights, as well as the fine writing of Holly George-Warren. Equally strong on documenting both UK and US punk, Punk 365 is chock full of classic and illuminating images. Meanwhile, for the indie obsessive hipster of today, Pat Graham brings us Silent Pictures, a collection documenting nearly 20 years of American indie musical history. From Fugazi to Ted Leo and Bikini Kill to Modest Mouse, the major touchstones are all mostly here and accounted for. [Amazon: Rock and Roll | Punk 365 | Silent Pictures]


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 19, 2007

With his passing this year, it seems appropriate that digital’s preeminent preserver of cinematic art would release this mandatory box set. Featuring Smiles from a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring and Wild Strawberries, it’s the perfect primer for the Bergman novice, as well as a stunning reminder of the man’s artistry and import. The random dismissals at his death were unfortunate at best. Perhaps this DVD release will change the minds of those unfamiliar with this Swedish master’s cinematic stature. He’s considered timeless for a reason—as these four fabulous films suggest. [Amazon]


The Seventh Seal (1957) - Trailer



Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 19, 2007

Do you miss the classics? Let me guess, you don’t have the time or the energy to drive 45 minutes to the local hole-in-the-wall arcade just so you can play a game of Pac-Man. Namco feels your pain. Namco knows that it’s been so long since you managed to pass enough levels to get the big shield in Galaga that—shock, horror—you’ve forgotten what it looks like. That’s why they’ve provided us with Namco Museum DS, a slick little package that gives you the classics and little else. Given the limited resolution of the DS, it was nice of Namco to include as many display options as it does. You can play the classics while holding the DS the classic way, you can play on its side, you can crunch the aspect ratio to make it fit, or you can play in the full arcade resolution, which produces a panning effect as you move from side to side. Interestingly, the panning even adds a new element of challenge to the games herein. There are some fantastic long-lost inclusions here like the forgotten Mappy, and if you have a buddy with a DS, you can partake in some fantastic Pac-Man Vs. action. If you’re anything like me, though, Namco Museum DS will turn the DS into your Galaga machine, and there’s not a single thing wrong with that. [Amazon]



Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
PopMatters' LUCY Giveaway! in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.