Friday, August 12, 2005

Book: Act of Fear, by Michael Collins (1966)

May was Dennis Lynds month on the hardboiled fiction list Rara Avis. The author, who also writes under the Collins name, graciously agreed to field questions about his work. I went right to my local mystery bookshop and picked up the first of his novels about one-armed P.I. Dan Fortune.

You’d think tracking the book down would be the hard part. For me it’s reading it in time to participate in the discussion. Three months too late, I finally got around to it. The important thing is that I read it.

FEAR is sharply plotted, with a wonderful feel for New York’s Chelsea in the 1960s. Lynds describes himself as coming “from an older school of writing,” exemplified by Chandler, Hammett, and Lynds’ friend Kenneth Millar (Ross MacDonald), where the focus isn’t on the protagonist but on the case and the characters involved with it. He views Dan Fortune as “a voice, a way of looking at the world.” For a voice, Fortune is remarkably fleshed out, and he imbues the story with a rough-hewn wisdom.

Magazine: Premiere, September 2005 issue

When I was in high school I would hike up to the record store on the day the latest Premiere hit the stands, then devour it in one sitting. This is back when the magazine styled itself after French film journals and came complete with movie poster cards. Now it’s simply another celebrity rag with a severe case of listmania.

Take the current issue’s article on ‘The 20 Most Overrated Films of All Time?’ (The link won’t help much. Only the intro is online. The actual list of titles is here.) That question mark is a dead giveaway; the piece features pro and con arguments on each movie, so it can be read as a list of justly-rated films. “GONE WITH THE WIND is bloated and racist!” “No, it isn’t!” “2001 is boring!” “Nuh-uh!”

On top of that, almost half of the films are less than 15 years old. 4 of them – A BEAUTIFUL MIND, MONSTERS’ BALL, CHICAGO and MYSTIC RIVER – were made after 2000. Academy Award wins aside, how can we have any perspective on these movies yet?

On the plus side, the magazine does include this quote from cover boy Matt Damon:

“(The) standard rule of thumb is, if you’re headlining and you make three bombs in a row, the amigos are out of the mansion.”

I thought I was the sole person who made ¡THREE AMIGOS! references in conversation. I knew I liked that kid.

Miscellaneous: Links

Rosemarie smells something fishy back home. From Hollywood Elsewhere, a tribute site to the titles of Saul Bass. The article with the worst headline I’ve seen in a while has a terrible lead-off sentence to boot. And in the 2008 election, my mind is already made up.