Aug 29, 2006

The West Wing

I never watched West Wing on regular network TV till season 6. I just fugured it would be boring long winded overly liberal hot air. I ended up watching a couple episodes back to back on Braov in re-runs. Before the first of the episodes was over I found my self absorbed by the story and the characters. I wanted to know more. The show also made me think about things I normally avoid. Political things. War things, health things crime things and rights things. Sometime I agree with the prevailing winds of opinion on the show, sometimes I don't. It turns out I'm not strictly a liberal or conservative. I have conflicting views.

I like all the people on the show, though like people I interact with in real life I don't like them all the time. Toby is quite often in real need of having his head rammed into a wall. CJ tends to get emotional and over things she can't change. Josh needs a blowjob and a week at the beach, and Leo could often use a full eight hours of sleep. I like Margaret, she doesn't bull shit because she doesn't have to. Hell, I actually enjoyed ALan ALda for the first time in twenty some years.

But with all my ups and downs witht the people of West Wing, I love them all. They make me think. And this is something that is missing on television in our prime time world of "reality TV" filled with non-actors who know they are being filmed at every moment, acting like jackasses for an extra minute of this short attention spanned nations affection. What's wrong with thinking? ER used to involve soem thinking when I watched, before it became a show about who's sleeping with who.

I understand why there are shows that don't involve thinking, and there are times when I turn on the idiot box to just stare and drool just like the majority of this country. I need my brain to shut down, and the big magic box helps with that. But I prefer to do it with Hollywood big screen productions, you know, things like that Val Kilmer movie on the island with FBI profiler recruits where everone gets killed Ten Little Indians style. Hollywood is great for brain candy, so I try not to watch it on telvision as not to encourage them.

I want more shows like West Wing. Shows that make me emotional, angry or sad or happy. Shows that make me think about things that are sometimes uncomfortable to think about.

And more shows that don't wrap up in an hour. Things like the Shield, Rescue Me, Battlestar Galactica.

But let me tell you. no show leaves me satisfied like West Wing. After an episode or two ( or eight) I feel relaxed and calm. I feel like the world might actually have a chance at being a better place.

I feel hope.

DVD Review: The Sentinel.

Fox Home Entertainment

Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland in a shoot-em-up political thriller! Pass the popcorn and get out of my La-Z-Boy.

The Sentinel explores the unthinkable, a traitor in the Secret Service, and one out to kill the President. When Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) flunks the polygraph test, I can't tell you why, it points all the fingers at him.

Keifer Sutherlands' David Breckinridge character heads the investigation with Eva Longoria along to hold down the testosterone. He and Pete were best friends until Pete slept with his wife, which can put a strain on a relationship. They come to get Pete, who doesn't go quietly and is on the run to nail the real bad guy of course. This is my favorite part and for the most part is smartly written with elements I haven't seen before. High marks.

For killing a Sunday evening; you could do worse.

In the Special Features,Director Clark Johnson, allows that character actor Raynor Schiene (pronounced rain or shine) aside form being a really good performer, has one of the great names of all time. Damn straight. We only see the snitch Walter three times in the film (and one of those he's dead) but he's such a greasy little snotball and played absolutely to the hilt, puts me in mind of Harry Dean Stanton in his prime. Good stuff.

Also, it gets pretty funny as the director points out all his relatives in the movie. There's a herd of them from his mother (the convenience store clerk ) on down to second cousins. I love a running gag.

Lee Crawford

DVD Review: Romancing The Stone special edition.

Fox Home Entertainment

KathleenTurner plays Joan Wilder, a romance novelist with no love life of her own. Her mundane life is disrupted when she is called upon to deliver a package to Columbia. Her sister is being held hostage and her life depends on the package. But, it turns out that others are also after the package. After he foils an attempt on her life, Joan looks to Jack(Douglas) to assist her. He agrees, for a sum of money, to deliver her safely to….the nearest telephone. While this is no easy feet, as they are in the jungle, clearly Jack is not the hero of her dreams, or her novels for that matter.

This movie holds up wel lafter 20 years. Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas had chemistry, which is agood thing because it prevents Danny De Vito from completely stealing the movie. If there is one problem with this picture, it is the soundtrack. Filled with keyboards, it places the film firmly in the 80s, the bad part of the 80s. The closing music might very well be Kenny G. I think it was, the pain in my head was just like when I have heard him in the past. Having said that, if you are looking for a fun, well made action/romance/comedy, you would be hard pressed to find one better.

The special features are enjoyable. The deleted scenes are all variations of ones in the movie. Looking at them gives you an idea of how the movie might have been. We are also treated to the recollections of the cast. Some have aged well, some not so much.

Jeremy Lynch

Aug 27, 2006

A Quick Five with Mr. Ken Bruen

A new feature here on the Central Crime Zone - A Quick Five
We'll be asking people five quick questions and then putting the answers here for the whole world to see.

First Up Mr. Ken Bruen!

What's the latest book you've read?


What's you're latest book and why should people read it?

What are you looking forward to most about this year's Bouchercon?


What's made you smile lately?


What's next for Ken Bruen?


Aug 26, 2006


We have the first of our new tshirt designs in stock and ready to wear.
Pictured over to the right of this very page!
Large and Extra Large Tshirts available for $15 plus $5 shipping and handling.

We also have Polo shirts in Large and Extra Large for $25 plus $5 shipping and handling.

These will be availble at Bouchercon and that means no shipping charges.

And don't forget, we also have baseball caps.

Any questions just shoot me an email
Jon at

Tess Gerritsen - THE MEPHISTO CLUB


Tess Gerritsen has written 10 thrillers, 4 of them are medical thrillers, and then she has also written 6 in a series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. The latest in the series is called THE MEPHISTO CLUB.

The book opens with a brutal murder which is quickly linked to a club in Boston called The Mephisto Club, a group of people studying evil. The club believes that Satan may truly walk the earth.

This is a great read filled with superb pacing and a truly gripping story. The
Rizzoli/Isles books are all wonderful, but this one could be my favorite (so far). Gerritsen draws the reader into the story from the first page and keeps the suspnse building right to the very end. If you haven't read her yet, now is the time to go and start. She gets better with every one.
Tess Gerritsen’s homepage

Aug 25, 2006

DVD Releases for Aug 29th.

Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures (2004 -- TV) BBC docudrama starring Olivia Williams. (Acorn Media).
The BBC takes a look at the person behind the legend in this docudrama that covers everything including her mysterious disappearance in 1926.

Agatha Christie Classic Mystery Collection Eight-disc set with eight Agatha Christie telefilms: "A Caribbean Mystery," "Murder Is Easy," "Murder With Mirrors," "Dead Man's Folly," "Murder in Three Acts," "Thirteen at Dinner," "The Man in the Brown Suit" and "Sparkling Cyanide"; $99.92. Two "subset" three-disc sets are also available at $39.92 each: Agatha Christie Collection Featuring Helen Hayes ("A Caribbean Mystery," "Murder Is Easy" and "Murder With Mirrors") and Agatha Christie Collection Featuring Peter Ustinov ("Dead Man's Folly," "Murder in Three Acts" and "Thirteen at Dinner." (Warner).
Eight Christie mysteries featuring Helen Hayes as Miss Marple and Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poroit. An enjoyable set, but many of them suffer from sub par supporting casts.

Agatha Christie's Marple Series 2 Four-disc set with four Miss Marple mysteries: "Sleeping Murder," "By the Pricking of My Thumb," "The Moving Finger" and "Sittaford Mystery." (Acorn Media).
Geraldine McEwan stars as the original sleuthing little old lady. These four mysteries are from the excellent PBS series Mystery. If you are looking for quality, this series beats out all others. I am especially fond of Sleeping Murder.

Double Indemnity Legacy Edition (1944) Dir.: Billy Wilder; Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather, Tom Powers, Byron Barr. Two-disc set. Extras: Introduction by Robert Osborne, "Shadows of Suspense" featurette, commentary by film historian Richard Schickel, commentary by film historian/screenwriter Lem Dobbs and film historian Nick Redman. (Universal).
Arguably the greatest Noir film ever made, Double Indemnity is finally getting the treatment
it deserves. Anyone that enjoys crime must own this.

The Jewel of the Nile Special Edition (1985) Dir.: Lewis Teague; Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito. Extras: "Romancing the Nile: A Winning Sequel" featurette, "Adventures of a Romance Novelist" featurette, deleted scenes. (Fox).
This sequel to Romancing the Stone is entertaining, but nowhere near as good as the original. Again, a full review is forthcoming.

Romancing the Stone Special Edition (1984) Dir.: Robert Zemeckis; Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Zack Norman, Alfonso Arau, Manuel Ojeda, Holland Taylor. Extras: "Rekindling the Romance: A Look Back," "A Hidden Treasure: The Screenwriter" featurette, "Michael Douglas Remembers," "Douglas, Turner and DeVito: Favorite Scenes," deleted scenes. (Fox).
This action/comedy/romance follows in the footsteps of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The chemistry between Douglas and Turner is quite enjoyable and Danny DeVito is fantastic.

The Sentinel (2005) Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Kim Basinger, Blair Brown, David Rasche. Extras: Commentary by director Clark Johnson and writer George Nolfi, alternate ending, deleted scenes, "The Secret Service: Building on a Tradition of Excellence" featurette, "In the President's Shadow: Protecting the President" featurette. (Fox).
Keifer cashes in on his 24 success with this thriller about a secret service agent (Douglas) that is accused of being a traitort. Keifer and Eva Longoria play the agents on his tail. Kim Basinge also stars. Review forthcoming.

Vicki (1953) Jean Peters, Elliott Reed, Jeanne Crain, Richard Boone. Extras: Commentary by film historian Foster Hirsch, poster art gallery, behind-the-scenes gallery, pressbook gallery. (Fox Film Noir).
Review forthcoming.

Jeremy Lynch

DVD Review: Apocalypse Now – The Complete Dossier

The plan for Apocalypse Now Special Collectors Edition was pretty straight forward. Check out the add ons and review them. The best laid mice of plans and men.

I decided to watch some of it to refresh Imagine my surprise when I was three or four minutes in and it dawned on me I had seen clips, reviews, reports, critiques', reports of reports, parodies, endless hype and hoopla, but I had never seen the movie. I would have sworn in a court of law I had. If asked I said I had. My subconcious had stitched together a film of its own and labeled it so-so. I was in for a treat. I may gush. Leave now if that makes you pukey.

I watched the 1979 version and spotted the 2001. This is the Sistine Chapel of war films. Coppola skated so close to the edge, so close to losing it (and me) and pulled it off every damn time. Absolutely stunning. Masterpiece keeps cropping up when I think back, in the literal sense of the piece that makes you a master. It's that good.If there's a false note in it I missed it. The cast, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duval are backed by a 14 year old Lawrence Fishburne and a first rate team of players all very much in the zone.

This movie could have so easily been awful--it's not. It could have been laughable--it's not.
It is disturbing and hugely so. The acid test (no pun intended) of a film for me is 'would I watch it again.'

Hell, I can't wait to watch it again!

Post Script: The special features (remember them?) are many and average or better. I'm no real fan of these as the best make me say 'that's interesting'- which is like saying 'that's funny' instead of laughing. FFC talks on the films and it is interesting, but the work speaks for its self and more eloquently. The music and editing get sections, most of which I skipped. The cut scenes leave little wonder why. Again, time better spent watching the movie. In case I haven't been clear, watch this film if you haven't seen it in a while (or ever) you will be richly rewarded.

Lee Crawford

Editor's Note: The bonus features on this set are really for film buffs. If you watch all of them, you will have completed your first year of film school. They take a look at the music, sound editing, video editing and much more. Again, it is more for film buffs than casual viewers. This package certianly gives you major bang for your buck.
Jeremy Lynch

DVD Review: Threshold: The complete Series.

Threshold (CBS/Paramount DVD) is the entire 2005 series up 'til the plug was pulled. It's nine hours and fifteen minutes long and left me wanting more. There are four discs and twelve stories including the two hour pilot, plus deleted scenes and specials. A first rate cast and decent writing make this worth the time.

Carla Gugino takes the lead as Dr. Anne Caffrey, a Contingency Analyst and author of the plan being implemented by J.T. Baylock (Charles S. Dutton) Deputy National Security Advisor, against an alien invasion with a couple of novel twists. A large crystal probe appears to a ship at sea and plays sounds that transform the crews double helix DNA into their triple helix DNA, this with the uncontrollable urge to 'improve' all the rest of us.Some of us have a rather nasty reaction to this change. We implode.

The "Red Team" is charged to prevent this propagation at all costs, and therein lies the tale as the hand picked specialists try to stay even half a step behind.Brent Spiner (Data, Star Trek Next Generation) is very good as the bristly medical chief cook and bottle washer Dr. Nigel Fenway, with Lucas Pegg (Rob Benedict) as the young and naive physicist, Aurther Ramsey (Peter Dinklage, The Station Master) linguist and mathematician and Cavennaugh, hired gun.

Again it is the acting and the writing that lift this above the ordinary. Peter Dinklage must have paid them for this choice role as a brilliant but self destructive gambler, womanizer and cowardly substance abuser. He's terrific.

The bonus features are standard fare. We get a look behind the scenes of the show and how it came together.

An enjoyable program that any Sci-fi fan should enjoy.

Lee Crawford

Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins signing

All Collins and his lovely wife Barbara were in Milwaukee last night singing thier latest collaboration, ANTIQUES ROADKILL. Al also signed his latest from Hardcase Crime, along with aything else people brought in. For me this meant getting some older Ms. Tree Comics signed and some older issues of Batman signed.

It was a fun signing, as Al always has things in the works. He's wroking on a set of books that are set in the comics world and will feature some art by Terry Beatty who collaborated with Al on Ms.Tree. He's also turned in the second book with Barabara in their Antiques series. Al will also have som estand alone historical mysteries with Harpe Collins starting next year, written under a pen name. I forgot what the name is, but it's not supposed to be a secret so it will be easy enough to find them. Often when this happnes it's done to fool the computers at the chain stores and has some thing to do with them increaseing their orders..... Ahhhh the publishing business is fun!

I also heard that Hard Case Crime has bought Mickey Spillane's last two books. VERY COOL!

Aug 22, 2006

DVD releases for Aug 22nd

Aug 22nd
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) Dir.: Irwin Allen; Michael Caine, Sally Field, Telly Savalas, Peter Boyle, Jack Warden, Shirley Knight, Shirley Jones, Karl Malden, Slim Pickens, Veronica Hamel, Angela Cartwright, Mark Harmon. Sequel to 1972's "The Poseidon Adventure." Extras: Vintage featurette "Behind The Scenes: Beyond The Poseidon Adventure," disaster movies trailer gallery. (Warner).
While this is a guilty pleasure for some, it certainly belongs in the Turkey category. At least it provided paychecks for some decent actors.

Blue Thunder: The Complete Series Three-disc set with 11 episodes, $39.95. (Sony).
Not sure how this got a dvd release, but here it is. The movie was fairly entertaining, but I can't remember much of the TV series. It stars Dana Carvey and Dennis Farentino, along with Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith for humor.

Conviction: The Complete Series Three-disc set with 13 episodes $39.98. (Universal).
Complete run of the cancelled spin-off from "Law & Order."

Poseidon (2006) Dir.: Wolfgang Petersen; Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Jacinda Barrett, Emmy Rossum, Andre Braugher. In single disc and two-disc Special Edition. Extras: Special Edition: "Poseidon: A Ship on a Soundstage" behind-the-scenes featurette, "A Shipmate's Diary" film school intern diary, "Poseidon: Upside Down" set design featurette, History Channel documentary"Rogue Waves." (Warner).
This is not a remake, it is a new film based on the concept of the original film. While visually impressive, the story is weak. Fortunately the effects easily distract from the film’s weaknesses. If you are looking for eye candy and an excuse to shut off your brain, this would do nicely.

Threshold: The Complete Series Four-disc set, $56.99. Extras: "The Threshold Brain Trust" featurette, "Threshold" visual effects, "Behind the Fractal" with writer-producer Andre Bormanis, deleted scenes from the original pilot. (Paramount).
CBS launched this sci-fi drama to much praise, but the show never managed to draw more than genre viewers and lasted only one season. The show itself is quite good and worth a look.

The Transporter: The collection $34.98 Extras: The Transporter: Special Delivery Edition: All New Behind-the-Scenes Documentary, Full-Length Audio Commentary by Actor Jason Statham and Producer Steven Chasman, Extended Fight Sequences, with optional commentary by Jason Statham, Steve Chasman, and Cory Yuen, Storyboard/Film Comparison, Transporter 2:Deleted and extended scenes, Blooper reel, Featurette: "Making-of Transporter 2", Feaurette: "Making of the Music", An advance peek at "X-Men 3." (Fox)
A fun couple of flicks full of violence and mayhem. Not too much plot, but Jason Statham does a good job.

Veronica Mars: The Complete Second Season Six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98. Extras: "A Day in the Life of Kristen Bell" behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes. (Warner).
When this show started, very few people, if any, expected it to succeed. It shocked everyone, but if you look at the quality of the writing, it really should not be so surprising. The second season finds Veronica tackling her senior year. A bus crash is the focal point of the second season, along with other chaos tossed in for good measure. Both season one and two are quite good and worthy of your attention.

Sorry to be getting this out so late, I was distracted by a shiny object. The Aug 29th list will be up on Friday morning.
Jeremy Lynch

Aug 21, 2006

Bouchercon approaches

We've got about 5 weeks till it's that time again. Mystery fans and writers and booksellers all gathered in one place to ... well, to drink alot and hang out, but also to share our love of mysteries.

The panel assignments have gone out and the ladies in charge are going through the emails involved with notifiying everyone and rearranging the schedul to make everyone happy, so it shouldn't be too long before the panels are listed on the website.

I'm moderating a panel called "Hey Kids! Comics!" with a number of authors who also write comics ( or graphic novels), including David Morrell, Max Allan Collins, Denise Mina and Gary Phillips. 1:00 on Friday.
Ruth is doing a panel on Thursday with Stephen Booth, Danuta Reah, Declan Hughes and Arnaldur

Friday will see Jennifer make her Bouchercon Panel Debut on Sarah Weinmann's reviewing panel at 2:30.

The Crimespree Party will be Thursday night at 8:00 till 12:00 and we'll have free beer ( while it lasts) We are hosting the party with Bleak House Books.

Friday night will see Crimespree co-sponsewring a movie by an independant film maker. The film is called "ten till noon".

We're stil planning a prty in Milwauke Tuesday night, however we wo't be doing the paintball because we didn't have enough people to make it affordable.

Wednesday we head to Madison around 1:00pm. If you are planning on being in Milwaukee before Bouchercon drop me a line.

Aug 11, 2006

DVD releases for Aug 15th.

Apocalypse Now – The Complete Dossier $19.99 Extras: Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola, Watch Apocalypse Now with Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando's complete reading of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men", Lost "Monkey Sampan" Scene, Additional Scenes: Saigon Streetlife, Military Intelligence Escorts, Intelligence Briefing (two extensions), Willard Meets the PBR Crew, Letter From Mrs. Kurtz, Booby Trap, Do-Lung Bridge “…That Road Is Open”, The Photojournalist, Colby, The Tiger Cages, “Special Forces Knife” , The A/V Club, The Post Production of Apocalypse Now: A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now, The Music of Apocalypse Now, The Sound of Apocalypse Now, The final Mix, A/V Club: The Birth of 5.1 Sound, Ghost Helicopter Flyover, “The Synthesizer Soundtrack” by Bob Moog, Technical FAQ, "PBR Streetgang" Cast Members' Reunion, "Apocalypse Then and Now" Retrospective, The Added Scenes and Expanded Scenes of Apocalypse Now Redux, The Color Pallet of Apocalypse Now (Paramount)
Everything you could ever want to know about Apocalypse Now, and then some. I think if you watch all of the extras, you will be half way through film school. AN- the complete Dossier provides some serious bang for your buck. I would add that much of this is strictly for major fans of the film and of film-making in general.

Remington Steele: Seasons Four and Five Five-disc set with 27 episodes, $49.98. Extras: Commentary on select episodes, featurettes. (Fox).
For five years, Pierce Brosnan was Remington Steele. This package provides the last two seasons of the show. Not as good as the early stuff, but still very entertaining.

Surface: The Complete Series all 15 episodes, $37.98. Extras: Deleted scenes, special effects featurette (Universal)
The short-lived NBC sci-fi drama about aliens rising up from the oceans. Reviews were mixed, but it has the lovely Lake Bell, so can it be all bad?

Next week will bring us CBS's sci-fi drama Threshold which, while garnering better reviews, faired about as well as Surface. Also next week is Poseidon and season two of Veronica Mars.

Jeremy Lynch

Aug 10, 2006

Help an author keep his car

  • EJ Knapp
  • is in danger of losing his car. Having fallen on bad times this writer needs some help. Read his story, click on the link toward the bottom and spend a couple bucks on a short story for a good cause.

    DVD Review - The Mr. Moto Collection Vol. 1

    Classic Peter Lorre playing a wonderful detective based on the books of JP Marquand. This was a real joy to watch. I have vague recollections of these movies from the days before cable television when the local independant station would run them on Saturday afternoons. I enjoyed them then, I love them now. Lorre is a joy to watch. It was the popularuty of these films that got him his role in The Maltese Falcon.

    The Movies in this set, Think Fast Mr. Moto, Thank You Mr. Moto, Mr. Moto Takes A Chance and Mysterious Mr. Moto are all wonderful. While the character of Moto is a bit different than in the novels, namely he is a bit less vilainous, they are true to the feel of the books. Part espionage, part slueth, these films should be a must have for any mystery fan. Filmed in the late 1930's they have the wonderful feel of the time.

    The special features are also quite nice, in particular I liked The Mysterious Mr. Lorre, and there are three other featurettes as well. Set two will feature the other four films in which Lorre played Moto.


    I never watched this show when it was on network primetime. I didn't see any reruns. I never really had any interest in it. Lawyers in a Tom Clancy setting, that's what I thought. Jeremy asked if I would review the DVD set of season 1, I said sure, why not. I figured I could watch 2 or 3 episodes and bang something up.

    Well, In two nights I watched all 21 episodes. I really got caught up in it. David James Elliot is very charismatic as "Harm" Rabb. Son of a Navy pilot now serving in the Judge Advocate offices of the Navy, he is a former pilot himself. He is teamed up with a woman JAG officer and they go from episode to episode solving mysteries.

    Some of the plots are a little predictable, others are edgy and try something a bit fresh. While the stories them selves are good, they aren't great. What really makes this show work is the way it's filmed. It's like watching a movie. I found my self unable to stop, watching episode after episode.

    After the pilot they brought in a different actress to partner up with Elliot, one a little younger, a little hotter looking. But other than that change the show held the promises made with the pilot episode.

    This is similar to reviewing a book that I might not have picked up on my own. I ended up enjoying it. It's not Homicide or The Shield, but it good entertaining television. I may actually seek out more.

    Aug 8, 2006

    DVD Review: Brick

    Universal Studios

    Fans of hard-boiled literature and cinema MUST see Brick. This is a fantastic small film (made for $500K) that is refreshing in this day and age of exotic locals and huge explosions.

    Brendan, our hero, is a loner that sits on the edge of society. He coolly watches the world around, often with disdain. This changes when he gets a call from Emily, his ex-girlfriend. She is in trouble and does not know what to do. By the time he tracks her down, she tells him to forget her and walks away. The next day, she is found dead.
    Brick Emilie de Ravin Joseph Gordon Levitt Rian Johnson
    (Emilie de Ravin, Jospeh Gordon-Levitt)

    Brendan, driven by his still-deep feelings, climbs out of his self imposed exile to find out what happened. He digs into the criminal underworld to seek justice. He begins looking for the shadowy criminal ringleader known as The Pin. Brendan is determined to make sure the parties behind her death are brought to justice.

    Oh yeah, it is set in high school. Now before you smirk or say “how cute,” this is unlike any high school film you have ever seen. This is a hard-boiled film through and through. First time director Rian Johnson credits the Coen Brothers for the creation of Brick: once he found out that their film Miller’s Crossing was inspired by the work of Dashell Hammett, he poured through the author’s works and that prompted him to write Brick.

    Some nice acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brendan) and Lukas Haas (The Pin) but Nora Zehetner is awesome as Laura the dame that may or may not be helping our hero. She has the charisma to lead men to their doom, and have them not even mind it.

    Brick Joseph Gordon Levitt Nora Zehetner Rian Johnson

    ( Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner)
    As I said, the budget for Brick was only $500K, but the sparse feel really works for the film. It helps create the stark world that Brendan and Co. inhabit.In this day and age when the studios seem to place more importance on star power and big budget effects, it is nice to see a film that is powered by a good script and fine acting. Brick is a must see if only to send a message to Hollywood that well crafted films still have a place in society.

    The bonus features here are few, but considering how lean this film is, that is not surprising. There are some outtakes(with intros by writer/director Rian Johnson) that are not so much deleted scenes as they are extended shots. Rian does a good job explaining why each scene was changed.

    There is also an interesting, entertaining commentary by Johnson as well as members of the cast and crew. Well worth listening to.

    Most of this is what I wrote about the film upon its cinematic release. Having had time to think about it and now watch it again, I will say this is a must own for any fan of Noir/Hard-boiled literature or cinema. A fantiastic film that easily ranks as my number one film for the first half of 2006; it will take a Hell of a great movie to keep this from being my film of the year.
    Open your wallet and buy this, you won’t regret it.

    Jeremy Lynch

    Aug 6, 2006

    My Friends Made Me an Addict

    Everybody was doing it. They all did it and then they talked about doing it. They really liked it. They tried to convince me to do it too. More and more I would hear about how great it was. I avoided it, I stayed away from the people talking about it. I knew I would get hooked, I have that kind of personality.

    My buddy Ben Leroy is the one who finally convinced me it was a good idea. He does it all the time. He loves it. And he still manages to function and be successful, Hell, he runs Bleak House Books just fine even though he's hooked. I finally broke down. I found a place on the internet and spent the money. It arrived in a plain brown package. But I wasn't going to do it alone.

    SO I did it with my wife Ruth and our friend Libby, it was thier first time too. We did together and we loved it. And now, now we are all hooked. Thanks Ben, you bastard.

    The Shield is already one of my all time favorite shows, and I've only seen eight episodes.
    I knew I would love, but never watched on cable because I didn't want that weekly fix hanging over me. Good choice . Because only being able to see one at a time would be murder.

    More later, disc three is loading in the player and the sun's not up yet....

    Aug 4, 2006

    DVD releases for August 8th.

    Brick (2006) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas, Noah Fleiss, Emilie de Ravin, Brian White. Meagan Good, Noah Segan, Matt O'Leary, Richard Roundtree. Noir mystery set in a Southern California high school. Extras: Commentary by cast and filmmakers, deleted and extended scenes, "The Inside Track: Casting the Roles" featurette. (Universal)
    Brick is a brilliant small budget hard-boiled film that, in my opinion, belongs in the library of every fan of the detective genre. Set in high school, a loner is determined to find the identity of his ex-girlfreind’s killer, and bring him to justice. Now before you say “How precious”, this is hard-boiled through and through. An excellent script and strong performances by the entire cast make this one of my top films of 2006.

    Inside Man (2006) Dir.: Spike Lee; Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe. Bank heist thriller with twists and turns. Extras: Commentary by Lee, deleted scenes, making-of featurette, "Number 4" featurette on the fourth collaboration between Lee and Washington. (Universal).
    This film is noteworthy for a few reasons: It is only the second film that Spike Lee directed that he did not write. It also reunites Lee with Denzel Washington after 9 years. Washington has starred in three Lee films.
    Inside Man is a game of Cat & Mouse between Police Detective Fraizer(Washington) and Dalton (Clive Owen). Dalton is the brains behind the perfect caper. How do we know it is the perfect caper? Simple: He tells us.
    Inside Man is a smart film that plays with the audience. It never tells us everything, but gives us enough hints that an astute viewer will figure out what is happening right before we are shown.

    Prison Break: Season One Six-disc set with 22 episodes, $59.98. Extras: Commentary on select episodes, alternate scenes, "If These Walls Could Talk: Profile of the Joliet Correctional Center" featurette, "Behind the Ink" featurette, "Inside Look: Prison Break -- Manhunt" featurette. (Fox).
    Season one of what turned out to be a major hit for this year for Fox. Review forthcoming.

    The Wire: The Complete Third Season Five-disc set with 12 episodes, $99.98. Extras: Five commentaries, "Unraveling the Wire" featurette. (HBO Video).
    Third season of the brilliant HBO series. This show has never gotten the recognition it deserves and that is a damn shame. The writing staff has featured some of the true greats of the crime fiction genre, including George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane. Full review coming soon.

    This is a week that should drain your wallet. But you really can't go wrong with any of these titles.

    Wanna know about season 4 of The Wire?

    The following is from an HBO press release:


    The Peabody Award-winning drama series THE WIRE kicks off its 13-episode fourth season SUNDAY, SEPT. 10 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

    Season four of THE WIRE centers on the lives of four young boys as they traverse adolescence in the drug-saturated streets of West Baltimore. The new episodes of the series examine their world through the theme of education, asking viewers to consider the world that awaits these boys, and to consider further the American commitment to equal opportunity.

    "The American obsession with police procedural and crime drama usually only allows for villains - in large part, black and brown - who exist as foils, to be pursued and destroyed by cop heroes," says series creator and executive producer David Simon. "We're addressing ourselves to where the 'villains' actually come from, and whether we have any right to regard them as somehow less human than the rest of us."

    This season of THE WIRE is based in large part on the experiences of writer and producer Edward Burns, who taught social studies for seven years in the Baltimore school system after serving 20 years as a city police detective.

    "If anything," says Burns, "our depiction of an inner-city school system, its problems and its unwillingness to fully address those problems, is a very generous one."

    The stories of Michael, Namond, DuQuan and Randy take place against the rise of a new narcotics empire in West Baltimore - replacing the fallen Barksdale organization - and the resulting struggle by Baltimore detectives to mount an investigation against this new power.

    Returning cast regulars from the first three seasons of THE WIRE include Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, Lance Reddick, Wendell Pierce, Robert Wisdom, Deirdre Lovejoy, Clarke Peters, Domenick Lombardozzi, Seth Gilliam, Jim True-Frost, Aidan Gillen, Jamie Hector, Chad L. Coleman, Michael K. Williams, John Doman, Frankie R. Faison, Andre Royo, Isiah Witlock, JD Williams, Glynn Turman and Corey Parker-Robinson.

    New cast regulars this season include Reg E. Cathey (HBO's "Everyday People") as Norman Wilson, Councilman Carcetti's advisor; Gbenga Akinnagbe as Chris Partlow, a ruthless assassin for drug lord Marlo Stanfield; and, playing the four friends who are classmates at Edward J. Tilghman Middle School, Jermaine Crawford ("A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C.) as Duquan "Dukie" Weems, Maestro Harrell ("Ali") as Randy Wagstaff, Julito McCullum ("Akeelah and the Bee") as Namond Brice and Tristan Wilds (Spike Lee's "Miracle Boys") as Michael Lee.

    Among the directors this season are series veterans Dan Attias, Brad Anderson, Joe Chappelle, Ernest Dickerson, Agnieszka Holland, Christine Moore and Alex Zakrzewski. New directors this season include Jim McKay (HBO's "Everyday People"), Seith Mann ("Grey's Anatomy"), David Platt ("Law & Order") and Anthony Hemingway ("CSI: New York").

    The writing staff of THE WIRE includes David Simon, who penned two books of narrative nonfiction, "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," which inspired the hit series "Homicide: Life on the Street," and "The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood," which inspired the Emmy(r)-winning HBO miniseries "The Corner"; Ed Burns, a former Baltimore police detective and Baltimore city public school teacher who coauthored "The Corner" with Simon; Eric Overmeyer, a noted playwright ("On the Verge") and veteran TV writer for such dramas as "St. Elsewhere" and "Homicide: Life on the Street"; Bill Zorzi, a former political writer and editor for the Baltimore Sun; and David Mills, who was one of the writers on "The Corner," as well as a writer for "NYPD Blue" and "Homicide: Life on the Street." Also writing for the series this season are novelists Dennis Lehane ("Shutter Island," "Mystic River"), George Pelecanos ("Hard Revolution," "Right as Rain") and Richard Price ("Clockers," "Samaritan"), and playwright Kia Corthron ("Breath, Boom").

    Beginning Sept. 4 with the season premiere, each weekly episode of THE WIRE will be available on HBO On Demand the Monday prior to its Sunday debut on the main HBO channel. The HBO On Demand debuts will continue for the entire 13-episode season.

    September's episodes:
    Episode #38: "Boys of Summer"
    Debut date: SUNDAY, SEPT. 10 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)
    Other HBO playdates: Sept. 12 (11:30 p.m.), 13 (midnight), 15 (10:00 p.m.), 16 (11:00 p.m.) and 29 (8:00 p.m.)
    HBO2 playdates: Sept. 10 (11:00 p.m.) and 11 (9:00 p.m.)
    Four boys from West Baltimore - Michael (Tristan Wilds), Namond (Julito McCullum), Randy (Maestro Harrell) and Dukie (Jermaine Crawford) - play out their summer vacation in the streets as the fall school semester approaches. Having failed to capture a potentially valuable homing pigeon, the boys are stirred to action when Dukie is beaten up, and Randy concocts a retaliation plan against the rival gang. The action is slower at Bodie's (JD Williams) corner, giving young Namond an excuse to take off early from his "summer job" as a runner. Meanwhile, Marlo (Jamie Hector) has solved the problem that baffled Stringer Bell: how to maintain discipline (i.e., murders) without bringing police attention. At the detail office, Freamon (Clarke Peters) and Sydnor (Corey Parker Robinson) press Pearlman (Deirdre Lovejoy) to issue City Hall subpoenas, while Daniels' (Lance Reddick) replacement, James Asher (Gene Terinoni), surveys the blueprints to his dream house. With the mayoral race heading into its final weeks, Mayor Royce (Glynn Turman) and his primary challenger, Tommy Carcetti (Aidan Gillen), hit decidedly different campaign trails. Carcetti's deputy campaign manager, Norman Wilson (Reg. E. Cathey), and his campaign guru, Theresa D'Agostino (Brandy Burre), try to keep their candidate focused, despite the odds. Prez (Jim True-Frost) preps for a new career in higher education, while McNulty (Dominic West) turns down a promotion.
    Teleplay by David Simon; story by David Simon & Ed Burns; directed by Joe Chappelle.

    Episode #39: "Soft Eyes"
    Debut date: SUNDAY, SEPT. 17 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)
    Other HBO playdates: Sept. 19 (11:30 p.m.), 20 (midnight), 22 (10:00 p.m.), 23 (1:00 a.m.) and 29 (9:00 p.m.)
    HBO2 playdates: Sept. 18 (9:00 p.m.) and 21 (8:00 p.m.)
    Herc's (Domenick Lombardozzi) soft-duty job with the mayor takes an unexpectedly hard turn. Despite the potential damage to her career, Pearlman provides Freamon (Clarke Peters) and Sydnor with subpoena ammunition for their "grizzly-bear" hunt in City Hall. Carcetti concentrates on games he can win; Namond gets some grooming advice from his father, Wee-Bey (Hassan Johnson); Marlo plays Robin Hood with the neighborhood kids, though Michael isn't taking; Bubbles (Andre Royo) brings an apprentice into his mobile-emporium business; Cutty (Chad L. Coleman) juggles his landscaping job with a volunteer gig as a boxing mentor, eyeing Michael as a pupil; Prez braces for his first day as a schoolteacher. At the televised mayoral debate, Carcetti drops a bombshell on the mayor.
    Teleplay by David Mills; story by Ed Burns & David Mills; directed by Christine Moore.

    Episode #40: "Home Room"
    Debut date: SUNDAY, SEPT. 24 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)
    Other HBO playdates: Sept. 26 (11:30 p.m.), 27 (midnight), 29 (10:00 p.m.) and 30 (11:15 p.m.)
    HBO2 playdate: Sept. 25 (9:00 p.m.)
    With his lead dwindling in the polls, Royce resorts to extreme measures to stall Carcetti's momentum. At Bodie's corner, Michael proves adept as a runner, with both Bodie and Marlo taking notice. A re-up bodega is put under surveillance by Omar (Michael K. Williams) and Greggs (Sonja Sohn), for different reasons. Rawls (John Doman) replaces Asher with a "company man," Charles Marimow (Boris McGiver), who pushes a new agenda on the detail, to Freamon and Greggs' dismay. A domesticated McNulty invites Bunk (Wendell Pierce) over for dinner, which ends with the two remembering the good old days at a familiar spot. Randy enjoys a productive first day of school, though Prez, the new teacher, isn't so fortunate. Herc reaps an unexpected benefit, courtesy of the mayor. Colvin (Robert Wisdom) contemplates trading his new job in the private sector for one that gets him back on the streets.
    Teleplay by Richard Price; story by Ed Burns & Richard Price; directed by Seith Mann.

    Yeah, I am now hooked.

    Aug 3, 2006

    Panels and Conventions

    almost every convention or conference has panels. That means that a small group of people sit down and map out a chart of times and panelists to plug into them. Add variables such as Author A won't be in till Saturday, Author B won't sit in the same room as author C and author D is unkown. Then add in all the requests to do specific panels. A new member of the mystery community has a book coming out and thinks it would be great to be on a panel of lawyers who write! So how do you keep it fresh? How do you make everyone happy?

    It seems easy when you start.

    Big name funny author on a panel with really witty great midlist author.....

    But before long, you start to notice a lot of people you are not familar with? What now?
    Research on the authors, and other assorted homework.

    Eventually a whole grid i done, all time slots filled. It actually looks like they might all be interesting too!

    It's a print, it goes up on the website.

    And then the emails start.

    People have a change of plans, I'd rather be on that other panel, I changed my flight, I need saturday.

    A hypothetical over view.

    500+ people who want to be on panels.

    400 panel positions, and that's with 6 to a panel.
    Not every one can get a panel. So the only thing you can really do is try to make it as entertaining for the people who are coming as you can.

    Mayhem in The Midlands will not be allowing self published authors on panels any more. Not a bad idea. It dillutes the field. And truthfully, if you are relying on that one hour spot to make a big boost in your sales, then something is wrong anyway.

    A panel is to create name recognition. It's not about selling your latest book.
    I hate when I see people answer a question by raising a paperback and saying "In my latest book..." It feels like a commercial, and the truth is I figure they must not have anything interesting to say about the subject the panel is about.

    People in the audience only need to remeber the name of the panelist. Iy they do a good job, if they are funny, or smart, or witty or just polite or charming, people will remember the name and they will find the books.

    So to the folks who bust thier back sides putting panels together, Thank you.
    To authors who do a wonderful job, thank you.
    To people rehearsing a commercial, No Thanks.

    Fifteenth Anniversary edition of Reservoir Dogs coming in October.

    This is not to be confused with the tenth anniversary edition that came out four years ago.

    On October 24th, Lionsgate will be releasing a special fifteenth anniversary edition of the Quentin Tarantine cult classic Reservoir Dogs.
    Features are as follows:
    Limited Collectible gasoline can packaging.
    Select Scene Audio Commentary
    Pulp Factoids Viewer: Insider information about RESERVOIR DOGS and its sources of inspiration
    Playing It Fast and Loose- Documentary
    From the moment of its release in 1992, RESERVOIR DOGS has helped redefine modern cinema. An insightful study about the impact and ripple effect of this remarkable film.
    Profiling the RESERVOIR DOGS- Featurette: A unique perspective into the criminal minds of the film's colorful characters.
    Tipping Guide: Proper tipping etiquette RESERVOIR DOGS style.
    Deleted Scenes
    Interviews with Quentin Tarantino and others.
    Classic K-Billy Sounds of '70s.
    And much, much more.

    When I do review this, I assure you I will be looking at it with a critical eye, this is the third time they have released this thing on DVD.

    Aug 2, 2006

    DVD Review: The Matador

    The matador
    Weinstein company/Genius Products.

    Two men meet in Mexico City: Danny is a businessman looking to change his fortunes; Julian Noble is a hit man in town to…reduce our population by one. A chance encounter in the hotel bar leads to an unlikely friendship.

    6 months later, Julian turns up on Danny’s doorstep. Life has turned around for the two men. While Danny’s life is on the rebound, Julian has undergone a sort of mid-life meltdown. On the run, with his life in danger, Julian finds himself turning to the only person he really considers his friend: Danny.

    The cast makes this movie. While both Hope Davis (Danny’s wife) and Kinnear are good, it is Brosnan that truly shines. He displays charm and charisma not seen since Remington Steele. After watching The Matador, I found myself wondering how the producers of James Bond could have squandered the talents of Mr. Brosnan?

    The Matador is a fantastic film that is not merely to be watched, but to be savored. This is a film I can see myself watching again and again.

    Jeremy Lynch

    Aug 1, 2006

    DVD Review: Perry Mason: The First season vol. 1

    What do you know about Perry Mason? Me, I knew he was a lawyer. That he had a TV series WAY back. I knew he had a revival in the 80's or was it 90's. I knew Raymond Burr played him (At least that is what the trivia games led me to believe). I knew there was a character named Hamilton Berger (that's right Ham Berger!), I knew that because my head is filled with useless trivia that will some day, with $10., get me a cup of coffee at Caribou. Those are the things I knew before I watched the First Season vol. 1 of Perry Mason on DVD.

    What I know now is:

    In the 50's EVERYBODY smoked cigarettes. EVERYBODY! Everyone had an ornate wooden box filled with cigarettes on their desk or coffee table, and next to the wooden box was at LEAST three lighters. And another thing I found disturbing is: only the BAD guys smoked cigars! What in the name of Gina Gershon was that all about!?! (Gina Gershon has nothing to do with Perry Mason, I just think she is HOT! You know that thing that Homer Simpson does when he see something he lusts after, with his tongue hanging out, his eyes half closed and he makes that gurgling sound? I call it "Homering." That's what I am doing now).

    But I digress...

    Actually I REALLY enjoyed watching the whole season, of Perry Mason: The Complete First Season, although after three or four episodes you can pick out the pattern and can pick out the murderer on most of the remaining episodes. But it was still interesting how Perry out smarts them.

    It was also interesting to see old TV like that. It was a whole different time back then. But the writing was dramatic and not overly so. The acting was good...not overly so... The "sum ups" at the end of each episode where Perry tells everyone how he figured it out, alternated between interesting, obsurd, and painful to watch (sometimes the "witty banter" made me want to, as Joey said on Friends, "chew off my own arm and beat myself to death with it."

    What would have made this even better was if they would have left the original commercials in. During the credits they have little pictures of their sponsers.

    Randy Otteson