This week: A computer is found that dates back all the way to dinosaur times. All it takes is an enterprising friend and some weird science for this week’s episode to become truly bizarre.
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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.
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
Eye of the Dragon
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]
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
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