Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jim Jarmuch’s Vampire Flick


I am afraid I am pretty closed-minded when it comes to movie vampires.  For me, film vampires are almost entirely Dracula and his wives and victims and Dracula is, primarily, Bella Lugosi and, secondarily, Christopher Lee.  (The exception that proves the rule is the fine 2008 Swedish film “Let the Right One In.”)  Still, I liked Jim Jarmusch’s early film “Stranger than Paradise” so, when I heard he had broken into the vampire genre with” Only Lovers Left Alive,” I thought I would take it in. The lovers are actually a married vampire couple.  Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a composer of haunting, minimalist …continue reading

A Superb Thriller: “Prisoners of War”


The Israeli television series “Prisoners of War” (the original Hebrew title, Hatufim, means abducted) is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen.  It is intense, with a rich, compelling  plot that has many surprising twists and turns and a broad array of characters.  (The U.S. series Homeland is based upon it.)  Three Israeli soldiers are captured in Lebanon and held as prisoners for seventeen years, when two of the three are returned from Syria in a prisoner exchange. The series has many facets as it deals with the lives of each of the soldiers and their families.  Nimrode Klein’s wife, Talya, waged …continue reading

Colbert to Replace Letterman


Stephen Colbert has been announced as the new host for CBS’s The Late Show when current host David Letterman retires next year, with a five-year contract. This is about the biggest non-surprise of the century so far. The bottom line is fairly clear: Colbert will be significantly more enaging and funny than Letterman has been in recent years (which means being more likable and amusing than Joseph Stalin, Harry Reid, and Darth Vader), and he will be at least as reliably left-wing as the unbearable Letterman. Expect Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show to continue to beat Late Night in the ratings after the initial …continue reading

PBS ‘Great Peformances’ Profiles The Dave Clark Five


The PBS series Great Performances has produced a two-hour special about The Dave Clark Five, one of the great British Invasion groups, which premieres tonight. The DC5 were the first “British Invasion” band to tour the United States in the 1960s, and they are one of my two favorite bands of the time (the other being the Kinks). The Dave Clark Five sold more than 100 million records.Their music is characterized by high energy and good times, interspersed with heartfelt ballads of stunning directness. Lead singer Mike Smith was one of the greatest rock and roll vocalists of all time. You haven’t …continue reading

Remembering Mickey Rooney’s Hardy Films, Other Achievements


To an aficionado of classic black-and-white movies, the death of Mickey Rooney has special significance. Over the past two decades we have seen the departure, from this vale of tears, of so many, many stars and supporting performers from the true Golden Age of Hollywood, which means the 1930s in particular. With the recent death of Shirley Temple and now the passing of fellow ’30s child star Mickey Rooney, only two major leading performers remain with us: Olivia de Havilland (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, Raffles, Four’s a Crowd, The Heiress, The Snake Pit, and so many others) and Luise Rainer …continue reading

Classic Ellery Queen ‘Greek Coffin Mystery’ at a Bargain Price


One of the finest early-period mysteries by one of the greatest mystery writers (actually a two-man writing team) is now available in etext form for just $1.99, for a limited time. The Greek Coffin Mystery, by Ellery Queen, has one of the most complex and satisfying mystery puzzles of all time, including four separate solutions, only the last of which is correct. Written in 1932 but set in New York City during the 1920s, The Greek Coffin Mystery finds a young and cocky Ellery Queen injecting himself into a complex mystery set in a wealthy area of Manhattan beset by …continue reading

It Happened Here, Too


For anyone unfortunate enough to have wasted four years of their life receiving a political science degree at university, at least they understand the wild world of political ideology. Part of that world of ideology is the study of fascism. The student is shocked to discover that there isn’t much to be learned or even known about fascism. For example, they learn that it kind of is a political philosophy, then again it kind of isn’t. Generally, however, the consensus from textbooks and lectures from around the country is that fascism is a child of conservatism. That much they are …continue reading

American Exceptionalism Revisited

We the people

For a number of years now I’ve been getting a tremendous periodical from Houston Baptist University called The City. The president of the university, Dr. Robert Sloan, describes the publication this way: Named as a reference to HBU’s spiritual location within Augustine of Hippo’s De civitate Dei and for our physical presence in a great American metropolis, The City features the writings of leading Christian voices in the academy and out of it, including thoughtful pieces by several members of the HBU family. A few years ago in the Spring 2011 edition, Ted Bromund, Senior Research Fellow in Anglo-American Relations …continue reading