Time has got away from me, which means I’m pleased to announce not one but two new commentaries for the fine folks at Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
THE WAR (1994), directed by Jon Avnet and starring Kevin Costner and Elijah Wood, is a Southern-drenched allegory of war waged on two fronts: the internal conflict of a man returned from the Vietnam War and the one faced by his kids against the town bullies. I’m honoured to have danced this commentary with Paul Anthony Nelson who makes his debut behind the DVD commentary mic (and what a premiere!)
ISN’T SHE GREAT (2000), directed by Andrew Bergman and starring Bette Midler and Nathan Lane, is a candy-coloured biopic about the larger-than-life author of Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann. I get to unpick the threads of this lost curio with my commentary sister, Sally Christie, and continue our proclivity for all things Bacharach.
Both films are available for pre-order before their respective releases in February and March 2021. Visit the Kino Lorber website for more.
I’ve just taken possession of this jaunty new release from Arrow Films. It’s a highly inventive, low budget monster film called LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews and Mike Cheslik that kicks up a notch in the third act (a rarity these days). I’ve seen lots of monsters in my time, and this one is really something else.
I provide one of the commentary tracks with my other Lady of the Lake, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (the lake theme will become more evident with an upcoming announcement from Alex and myself). In the meantime, there are a heap of extras on this one to keep you busy, as the following image demonstrates…
Do yourself a solid and get behind these filmmakers. They’re ones to watch.
Lee Gambin has outdone himself with this spectacular book on the phenomenon that was the ‘Very Special Episode’, where American television sitcoms would explore more serious subject matter. It’s a niche topic but maybe not as niche as you would expect, given Lee’s book tops 525 pages… and there’s another volume to come!
In this first volume, a huge array of Very Special Writers (as Lee calls them), analyse Very Special Episodes from the years between 1956 and 1985. The arsenal of writers Lee has assembled is formidable, many of whom I’m proud to call my friends, and who all come together to create a Very Special Book unlike anything published to date.
I’m also proud to be of one of the many contributors, with three essays on what I think is a particularly special television sitcom, Good Times. It might feel uncomfortable for some to see a white Australian girl writing about a very culturally black American series but, that’s the thing about art and artists, they build bridges between culturally disperse groups and enable us to walk in the shoes of others. That’s what Good Times did for me, and I am grateful for the tolerance and understanding it taught me as a little girl.
Tonight on a Very Special Episode: When TV Sitcoms Sometimes Got Serious is available at all the usual outlets and I really do urge you to buy it.
My dear friend, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, had recently interviewed the highly prolific horror filmmaker and actor Brea Grant for Fangoria. Her radar pinged when the subject turned to one of Brea’s upcoming projects: a graphic novel on the hypothetical adventures of Mary Shelley’s great-great-great-great-great granddaughter and the heavy literary burden such a teenager was likely to have carried on her shoulders.
Something of interest to Emma? Natch.
Given I am currently ensconced in my next book project on THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Alex saw the opportunity for a professional hook-up. She introduced me to Brea, I interviewed Brea, Diabolique published the resulting article and the rest is history.
You can read the article here but you can also scroll down further to see some stunning artwork from the book that didn’t make it into the Diabolique article.
I’ve just ticked another item off my career bucket list: appear on an episode of The Projection Booth
Not only do I get my mind blown by my co-hosts David Kittredge and the mighty Mike White (who is the driving force behind the podcast) in the discussion but I also speak about one of the greatest films of all-time (it’s a big statement but I stand by it), Bob Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ (1979).
As Mike describes it, “It’s definitely not an autobiographical picture about a choreographer-slash-director (Roy Scheider) who’s working on his previous film about a groundbreaking stand-up comedian (Cliff Gorman) while rehearsing his next Broadway sensation. It’s definitely not about Fosse facing down the specter of mortality and expressing it the best way he knows how.”
The podcast also includes interviews with editor Alan Heim, actress Deborah Geffner and Keith Gordon.
It’s showtime, folks! *jazz hands*
It’s always a privilege to talk about cinema, and never more of a privilege than to speak about it with my incredible friend, Lee Gambin, who knows more about cinema than ANYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (it’s a bold statement but one that I feel is fairly close to being accurate).
Lee asked me to join him for an episode of his new podcast series for Diabolique Magazine – The Locust Files – where he has already interviewed Craig Martin, Jarret Gahan, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, Sally Christie, Bryan Norton, Jenni Olson and John Harrison. I step up to talk about THE FLY (of course), as well as my newer projects (SECONDS and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN), and a whole lot of other nonsense.
As it tends to happen with Lee, the conversation went off in a number of weird and wonderful directions. You can listen to it right here…
Despite a minor COVID-19 setback (i.e. postponement of my trip to LA), the BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN book is making excellent progress. It’s mutated into something, I would argue, is even better and more beautiful than my initial ambition: a compendium of essays from a murder of curated writers, with myself acting as the editor.
I’m pleased to make a first announcement of contributors who have agreed to etch their words in blood and dance naked under the full moon – Sally Christie, Lee Gambin, Dan Golding, Jon Towlson and Stephen A. Russell. Each writer has nominated a specific topic/theme of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN on which they wish to focus.
Stay tuned for more news, as I’ll be revealing topics and further contributors as the project evolves. In the meantime…
I’d like to pay my respects to the fine Australian publication, Screen Education – which recently closed its doors after 25 years – with an article I wrote for the Screen team, ‘The Act of Seeing: Cinema, Ethics and Responsibility’.
Editor David Heslin and I worked very hard to craft this piece and ensure it was pitched appropriately so I think it’s worth immortalising here on my website. Not to mention, the article contains input from ethicist Matthew Beard and film academics Steve Thomas, Stuart Richards and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. You can find the full text posted below.
Note: ‘The Act of Seeing’ also functions as a partner piece to my previous article, ‘To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question’, examining similar ethical considerations on watching cinema but from a different angle, which you can read online at Diabolique.
Hope you enjoy the read or, at the very least, it gets the cogs of your mind freewheeling…