Thursday, June 12, 2014
By Lars Trodson
Two details tell you that this is going to be a most dangerous game: She’s wearing zebra stripes — a jungle animal, not to be tamed, a bundle of native intelligence and cunning. She’s both sexual predator and prey. Carnal and without a moral or political compass.
As for him, he has no face when he’s introduced. A beauracrat. He also doesn’t have a first name — why would he need one? He’s a blunt-edged tool. His last name, though, is very close, too close, to something that sounds like the devil. He’s Devlin. Or Dev. And he represents the United States. They both represent the United States.
What, exactly, is going on with Hitchcock’s “Notorious?”
Thursday, May 15, 2014
|Actors Michael Reed, left, and Elyssa Baldassarri with Richard Griffin on the set of "Normal."|
By Lars Trodson
Back in 2005, Quentin Tarantino decided he'd make a B-movie with a big budget. He called it "Grindhouse," and it was supposedly an homage to all those drive-in flicks of the 60s and 70s that were made by slightly unhinged characters who had a camera, a little cash and a lot of chutzpah. "Grindhouse" didn't do so well, in part, I suspect, because it didn't feel authentic. It had movie stars (Bruce Willis and Kurt Russell, among others) and, despite the fact that there was considerable effort to make the celluloid look distressed, it never even remotely felt as though the film had been made by outsiders. It was Hollywood all the way.
Even the films that seemingly fit the bill of an old grindhouse picture — such as the first "Hostel" movie by Eli Roth, or some of the other torture porn pictures — all had the patina of having been made by college- or film-school educated pranksters who were looking to get their break into the big show. This was a departure from real grindhouse roots. The old school pioneers of the grindhouse — whether it was Russ Meyer or Herschel Gordon Lewis — never had any real desire to move into the mainstream. They wanted to make movies their own way, which, in the end, is the purest form of integrity there is.
Welcome, then, to the world of Richard Griffin, co-founder of Scorpio Films Releasing, and a man who is proudly on the outside, doing it his way, and with no real desire to get asked to the Hollywood dance.
Monday, April 28, 2014
How "Mad Men" avoids the dark side
By Lars Trodson
As I finished watching the most recent full season of Mad Men, something was nagging at me (outside the feeling of déjà vu I was beginning to have about some of the plotlines).
I was beginning to realize just how little most of the wreckage caused by the characters’ deliberate actions actually seems to hurt. I remembered, late in the fifth season, Don goes to a seedy bar and has a brief conversation with a burnt-out preacher who reminds him of his own terrible past. The next thing we know, Don is in jail, and then right after that we see him pouring his booze out in the kitchen sink.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Quick! Name the five most beloved short films in history.
Tasking myself with my own question, I came up with two: “The Red Balloon” and “Winnie The Pooh and the Blustery Day.” (If that’s even the right title.) I’m sure there are some revered avant garde films that I’m forgetting (the Bunuel/Dali film, Un Chien Andalou,” I suppose), but they are probably more respected than loved.
So. What is the state of the short film today? One could argue that it is thriving. In 2013, a record 8,102 short films were submitted to the Sundance Film Festival. The Cannes Film Festival has hosted, since 1998, its Cinéfondation, which is dedicated to short and medium length films and is designed to support the next generation of filmmakers.
Every film festival on the planet has a short film program, and of course there is a plethora of events dedicated exclusively to the art of short filmmaking. In the last decade or so, short film anthologies (Oscar winners, for example) have been issued on DVD, and there are uncountable numbers of obscure and well-known shorts available on YouTube and other online formats.
So why does it feel like short films don’t matter? Rarely does a short film enter the public discussion.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Everyone remembers the tagteam of Bing Crosby and David Bowie, but even stranger is the mashup of John Wayne, Andy Williams and Paul McCartney. We unearthed this gem while doing some research. Two things of note: John Wayne's "joke" about his Japanese gardener, which is about as racist as you can get, and the fact Paul McCartney and his wife Linda were sitting in the nosebleed seats. Take a look:
— Lars Trodson
— Lars Trodson
Sunday, March 2, 2014
By Lars Trodson
For me, it’s not the fact that Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was not nominated for Best Picture because, for one, it was never going to win. Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” deservedly took home the statuette that year, so it’s only mildly irritating that the grandaddy of all slasher films didn’t get the nod. I can live with that.
But there are two greater “Psycho” injustices, and they are the two worst Oscar decisions in its 85 years. When you realize that “Psycho” was dissed in both the editing and music categories, you begin to realize what a significant oversight this was.
Monday, February 17, 2014
“Tide Turning,” the second novel featuring detective Langley Calhoun, has just been published by Mainly Murder Press. The advance word is already out:
“Mention New Hampshire and its small towns, and the image quickly comes to mind of peace, quiet, and years of undisturbed history, surrounded by a town common and white-peaked churches. But author Lars Trodson knows better, and in “Tide Turning,” he rips off the façade and reveals the murky truth of what can happen in a small town, with years of betrayal, hidden and deadly secrets, and one man who’s determined to do what’s right, no matter the odds, no matter the chances. Very well done!” — Brendan DuBois, author of "Fatal Harbor," two-time Shamus Award winner and three-time Edgar Award finalist.
“Welcome to Lars Trodson's ‘Tide Turning’ — a world in which environmental activism, covered bridges, stewardship, and living with illness and loss come together in a way that feels immediately familiar. In the novel, Trodson's second, it is the characters that first and lastingly pull us in — even those making brief appearances — the wanna-be rock star, the live-hard, play-hard boss, a father's late-in-life girl friend. And they pull us in because of Trodson's unique ability to make them seem not only credible, but kindred. This is intelligent fiction that addresses the major ‘stuff’ of our public and private lives. In ‘Tide Turning,’ Trodson has beautifully choreographed this waltz of life — and the work it takes to meet our civic and social responsibilities, even as we cope with the deep losses and ongoing challenges of our own lives. — Lisa Starr, former Poet Laureate of Rhode Island, author “Mad With Yellow” (2009), “This Place Here” (2001), and “Days of Dogs and Driftwood” (1993).
Look for details on readings throughout New England in March. If you’d like me to attend your book club, please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all!