Archive for Elmore Leonard

Three-Dimensional Chess

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2020 by dcairns

I read Walter Tevis’s The Queen’s Gambit years ago and loved it. His other filmed books, The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth are great too, and made good movies but the books are still worthy of investigation. The Color of Money doesn’t really have anything much in common with Scorsese’s film and you can see why they chose a different story (“but the book had a very good love story,” said Scorsese in Edinburgh, which was nice of him to note). And there’s an unfilmed sci-fi novel, Mockingbird, which is really beautiful.

I’ve also been impressed with Scott Frank’s stuff — he adapted Elmer Leonard for Soderbergh (OUT OF SIGHT — still maybe SS’s best movie) and from the audio commentary on that one you could tell he was going to direct, and probably be really good at it. And THE LOOKOUT, his first film, was terrific. Like all the promising middlebrow genre filmmakers of his generation, he did time in the Marvel salt mines but the one he wrote, LOGAN, is said to be GOOD. I wasn’t paying attention and thought A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES was just some Liam Neeson movie so I skipped that but now I have bought a DVD of it for 50p because WOW Scott Frank’s miniseries of The Queen’s Gambit is a beautiful thing.

From my memory of the book I can affirm that the CGI visualisations of chessboards are pretty much what Tevis wrote. It’s very faithful though some melodrama early on is removed, which I came to accept as a good call. Though maybe Tevis gains something by making his heroine more damaged.

I can’t recall the clothes in the book — I had a vague impression that Anya Taylor-Joy is more glamorous than the Beth Harmon who Tevis gave us, but I’m probably misremembering. But boy, ATJ is a magnificent screen presence. Her glamour is increasingly weird and witchy so she’s a credible outsider. In fact, everyone in this is terrific, down to the smallest roles — each minor player defeated by ATJ, for instance, is a little one-scene cameo and they’re all uniquely human and different.

Photography, design, music, cutting, are all weapons-grade delicious, and as the story moves through the sixties Scott allows himself a subtly evolving stylistic palette that reflects developing film language of the period without ever becoming pastiche. You don’t see more surefooted choices than this. He could maybe have taken some of them even further, but his caution is probably part of the reason why he hits absolutely everything he aims at.

Nothing negative to say about this show at all, it may be the best American film or “film” of the year.

52 F*ck Up

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2013 by dcairns

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Real Corinthian leather.

Fiona was feeling fragile so I made her watch John Frankenheimer’s 80s Elmore Leonard sleaze-fest 52 PICK-UP (a Golan-Globus Production). Hey, it’s kill or cure.

When it was over, she summed it up nicely: “The End. And everyone felt dirty.”

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The movie seems designed either as a future trivia quiz question (“What movie features Ann-Margaret, Vanity, and Ron “Porn Hedgehog” Jeremy?”) or else to put a nasty taste in the mouth which will still be palpable when our cities are dust in the wind. But HEY it does have a hilarious, creepy, and eye-popping perf from John Glover (the Donald Trump parody guy in GREMLINS 2) as the very bad bad guy (you can’t do that kind of thing to Kelly Preston and maintain the audience’s warm sympathy) and it also features a wacky shot-reverse-shot sequence destined to live in infamy.

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Glover’s business partner threatens him —

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— and Frankenheimer obligingly serves up a shot taken from the viewpoint of Glover’s penis. This has fascinating implications. It encourages one to read every low-angle shot (and there are plenty) as being taken from the vantage point of Glover’s penis. Who knows, perhaps the whole film is a dream sequence passing through the slumbering mind of Glover’s penis. It would certainly account for a few of Frankenheimer’s filming choices, which might otherwise be inexplicable from the director of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and SECONDS.

It might not be going too far to speculate that Frankenheimer’s entire 1980s output might have been a dream in the eye of John Glover’s penis. His mutant bear horror movie PROPHECY becomes, for the first time, genuinely frightening when considered in this light.