Book Review: Pulp Fiction – The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece

pulpfiction

It will soon be twenty years since Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was released and the film has reached almost mythical status. Like Lou Reed’s The Velvet Underground did for young musicians, Tarantino inspired an entirely new generation of potential filmmakers to take the risk and try to break into the industry. There’s no doubt, Tarantino’s influence on the industry has been more than apparent over the past two decades.

Writer Jason Bailey (film editor at Flavorwire) has put together a massive 200-page examination of the film, how it was made, and its influence since its release.

Frankly, this book is a must have for any self-proclaimed Tarantino junkie. This is a Tarantino Bible. The book is insane in the amount of detail it goes into from its examination of Tarantino’s early years and many pages dedicated to his own favorite films, to the writing process behind the script, to the making of the film, to the aftermath. Peppered throughout are independent essays, original art, and plenty of behind-the-scenes goodies that were new to me.

Bailey’s book is sleek and stylish and would fit well on any film lover’s coffee table. It will be released on November 11, 2014. You can pre-order it over at Amazon.

Book Review: The Man Who Seduced Hollywood

Title: The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life and Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown’s Most Powerful Lawyer
Written by: B. James Gladstone
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2013)
Page Count: 352 (hardcover)



Google his name and there are nearly 200,000 results. That’s a significant amount of modern interest for a Hollywood lawyer who died before the internet, as we now know it, spread across America.

Then again, when a lawyer had connections to Hollywood elite such as Howard Hughes, Ingrid Bergman, Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, Kirk Kerkorian, and Bugsy Siegel, as well being as a Hollywood ladies man confirmed or rumored to be involved with beautiful actresses as diverse as Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, and Peggy Lee, maybe it’s not much of a surprise.

So goes to story of Hollywood lawyer Greg Bautzer. The biography is written by B. James Gladstone, who is the executive vice president of business and legal affairs for Lionsgate Entertainment. He is a talented and technical writer who likely used his connections to research and weave together the extraordinary tale of this extraordinary attorney.

Like much of the Hollywood lifestyle, the story of Bautzer appears glamorous on the surface and is portrayed as such in the biography. There is the Brown Derby and Hollywood stars. Sex and alcohol. Gangsters and courtrooms. Yet, whether intentional or not, there is a sadness to the story of Bautzer, whose relationships, both romantic and platonic, are more often than not centered around money, greed, ego, and self-interest.

In many ways, this books seems a perfect fit for a film adaptation. One can imagine Martin Scorsese behind the camera capturing the romanticized life of Bautzer while not shying away from his complexity while recreating all the glamorous highs and tragic lows of his life. I think DiCaprio resembles him enough that it could work. Clear your schedule, Leo. And hey, if this happens, Mr. Scorsese, all I ask for is a Special Thanks in the credits.

If you’re interested at all in old-school Hollywood, this book was written with you in mind.

You can purchase the hardback or e-book on Amazon or, as always, check your local library.

Book Review: “The Hammer Vault”

Let’s state this right up front: Marcus Hearn’s book The Hammer Vault is a gem. Whether you’re a novice to the horror and thriller film output of Hammer studios from the late 50s through the early 70s or you’ve seen every last one of them countless times, this film by film survey of archival items (lobby cards, posters, on set photos etc.) and production notes is a fun and consistently fascinating stroll through the British company’s history. The fantastic duo of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are both all over the book since they were the key figures of a huge chunk of the studio’s output, but there’s a wide range of coverage on a variety of personages (actors, directors, producers, etc.) as well as scripts, makeup/effects, marketing techniques, etc. If you have any interest at all in “genre” films, this book is well worth your attention.

I’m a big fan of these old Hammer films, but by no means a scholar on the subject. There’s still a huge amount of their catalog I haven’t seen yet (emphasis on “yet”) and I’ve only scratched the surface of the history of the studio and its set of famed actors. So when I heard about this book (full title: The Hammer Vault – Treasures from the Archives of Hammer Studios), one of my first thoughts was that it may be a bit difficult to fully engage with the sets of artifacts, rare photos and marketing materials that form a large part of the book. It didn’t take long, however, after the initial crack of the book’s spine for all those concerns to bleed away – it just made me want to see all those movies I haven’t yet seen all the sooner (not to mention revisit all the ones I have seen). Designed to be randomly browsed or read cover to cover, the book provides tons of facts, interesting snippets, great photos and loads of old promotional gimmicks which is perfect for fan and newcomer alike.

Would you like to know more…?

MorePop: A Canticle for Leibowitz

I picked up this book after chatting with Kurt about sci-fi/cyberpunk novels and mentioning how much I’d enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s Anathem – a novel essentially about a world where monastic orders are built around science rather than religion, but with much of the trappings of medieval Christian monasticism. He told me I had to read A Canticle for Leibowitz as soon as possible, a recommendation I took on faith, since I’d honestly only vaguely heard of the book before and didn’t know anything about it at all. Turns out he was totally right, both on its similarities to Anathem and how much I’d like it.

The only novel published by Walter M. Miller Jr. during his lifetime (a sequel would be published posthumously), A Canticle for Leibowitz (1958) posits a postapocalyptic world in which a straggling group of monks in the Utah desert are the only preservers of the scientific knowledge left behind by one Isaac Edward Leibowitz. After a global nuclear war sometime in the 20th century leaves most of humanity either dead or deformed, a Simplification movement arises to destroy the learning that led to the creation of such devastating technology, with only a few, like the monastic order Leibowitz created, left to preserve books and knowledge. The first third of the book takes place 600 years after the Simplification, the middle third 600 years later as a new Renaissance begins to dawn and people begin to understand how to use the materials collected by the Leibowitzians, and the final third another 600 years after that, as nuclear war is again on the horizon. Thus the book is post-apocalyptic but also parallels history from about 400AD to the present day.

Would you like to know more…?

Book Review: Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead

Are you one of those folks who complains that zombies do not speak when the increasing legions of zombie fanatics yell ‘Braaaaaiiiins!’ during festival screenings? Or perhaps you are one of those higher-on-the-geek-scale types that cites Return of the Living Dead as the origin of that particular trend? (Editors Note: Guilty!) Do you debate with your friends about the nature of running zombies vs. shambling zombies, or whether or not Danny Boyle’s 28 Weeks Later even qualifies as a zombie film? Jovanka Vuckovic, former editor of Rue Morgue Magazine, and a leading lady of the macabre, is here to make sure that we can all just get along by educating expert and novice alike in Z-lore, according to history, legend and the ever increasing swell of popular culture. The zombie movie has had a long and elastic history in literature and folklore, from The Bible (*snicker*) to Haitian Voodoo, and in past couple of years has it a kind of cultural zenith, particularly in the movies and its first blush into upscale cable TV. Thus, Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead arrives with some pretty impressive release timing to bring everyone up-to-speed (so to speak.)
Would you like to know more…?

Cover Stories: Available Now

If you don’t listen to the RowThree Cinecast, you might not know that our good buddy (sometimes nemesis) and Cinecast co-host, Matt Gamble, is actually now a published writer. Banding together with nine other souls of the written word, Gamble and crew have put together 100 short stories that “cut deep into the tracks of their favorite albums to produce ‘euphiction,’ the duet of euphonious and fiction.”

I’m not entirely sure what to expect from these stories, which span all the major genres (from romance to horror), but I do look forward to giving it a spin. In fact, right after this post, I’ll be checking out the ten story sampler that’s available as a FREE DOWNLOAD.

You can head over to Matt’s site, Wherethelongtailends.com for more information on the book; or just skip his spiel and head straight to THE STORE to pick up a copy.

hint: if you listened to the latest Cinecast (episode 171), you can find out how to get the book for cheaper and even FREE!

Kurosawa Centenary: Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema by Peter Cowie

In the spirit of the ongoing celebration of Akira Kurosawa’s 100th birthday here at Row Three, I thought I would pass along a relevant book review previously posted at the Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow. It is for renowned scholar Peter Cowie’s brand-new book Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema, which takes a look at the filmmaker’s illustrious career through an insightful text and gorgeous photographs. Read my review below, plus check out my interview with Peter Cowie regarding the book and its legendary subject over at the Pow-Wow.

When I am in an Akira Kurosawa kind of mood, usually after having re-watched one or two of his films, my thoughts sometimes return to a dream project of mine: a book that would span the entirety of his career. In this ideal tome, I would touch upon the things that draw me to his exhilarating, stimulating brand of cinema (which, lest we forget, has delivered such keystones as Stray Dog, Rashômon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, The Bad Sleep Well, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, High and Low, Red Beard, Dodes’ka-den, Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha and Ran); his recognizable themes and motifs; the fascinating variety and consistency of his films and career; the popular byproducts of his influence (A Fistful of Dollars, The Magnificent Seven, Star Wars, etc.) and his command over the visual and aural elements of cinema. As much as I would have liked to produce something like that, it seems only fitting that in the year – and the month – of the great director’s centennial, there arrives a book that fulfills all of my expectations for such a project, and then some. As a huge fan and admirer of Kurosawa’s work, I don’t think I could have hoped for – let alone hoped to make – a better tribute to him than Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema by renowned film scholar Peter Cowie.

Would you like to know more…?

Book Review – Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen

151 Best Movies You've Never SeenWhen I started to think about writing my review for Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen the first thing that came to my mind was whether to actually discuss Maltin’s choices of movies. After a long deliberation I’ve decided that I don’t want to say which movies he picked. Maltin in the Preface states:

“… I love movies and I’ve seen a great many years watching, writing and thinking about them. Like any critic, I see more bad films than good, but the best part of my job is leading people to worthwhile movies that they might otherwise overlook.”

151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen is not meant to list the entire collection of unheard of movies but instead a smaller eclectic listing of titles which are mostly from the past few decades and are easily available to those who look. Each film receives a medium length (1-2 page) treatment where Maltin covers why the film is worth checking out. Some of his choices for films are based off of the importance the film in the history of film while in others he talks about the performances of the actors or the excellent story being told.

I am not going to say that I agree with all of Maltin’s movies as being “best that you’ve never heard of” but can see why he selected the majority that he did. Many of his picks are wonderful movies that really should have received more attention than they have so far gotten. A few of them made me wonder what he was thinking originally but once I read their write up I could see why he picked them. I might not agree with him but I am sure there are people who will be quite happy that Maltin is highlighting a movie they love.

So, is Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen worth the read? I definitely think so. This book fits nicely between my Scarecrow Movie Guide and 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. 1001 is a pretty daunting book to pick up but it covers so many movies in detail that I love it. Scarecrow is fun to browse through as it has such short write-ups but there really are so many titles in it that I get lost and never remember the ones that are really worth seeing. Maltin’s book really does hit a nice middle ground. It provides enough information on each of the 151 movies that I can’t help but be intrigued and curious to check them out while still being perfect for picking up and skimming through just for an idea of what to seek out when I have a few bucks to spend on a DVD from Amazon.

I’d like to leave this review in your hands with two things. First off, I have seen only 17 of the movies listed. While I am sure there are many of you who have seen more, I can guarantee that this book will point you towards at least a few movies you have only slightly heard of that will definitely be worth checking out. Secondly, Maltin in his preface also talks about his goal in writing this book and I can’t help but feel a kinship in that for Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen really does mirror one of our goals of the writers for Row Three.

“My goal is simple: to introduce you to unfamiliar films and whet your appetite to see them. I define “unfamiliar” as any movie that failed to find a large audience. While that includes some major studio releases, most of the selections in this volume are independent or foreign films, including documentaries.”

I can’t think of a better goal for a book about movies. Maltin has pointed to many gaps in my film watching and I tend to take him up on the chance to fill those gaps in.