Sunday, July 19, 2009

Books: Bulletin From Hard Case Crime

An extraordinary piece of news from Hard Case Crime this weekend. In April 2010 they will release Memory, a never-before-published novel by the late, great Donald E. Westlake. Westlake’s friend Lawrence Block provided them with the manuscript. Barring any additional discoveries, it will be the last novel we get from one of the greats. The opening chapter already has me clamoring for more.

DVD: On Guard (1997, U.S. 2001)

This sumptuous swashbuckler was recommended by author and fellow OSS 117 enthusiast Walter Satterthwait. It’s truly the kind of film they don’t make any more. Considering that it took four years to find an American distributor, they seldom release them, either.

An acrobat and child of the road who falls in with a nobleman during Louis XIV’s reign must raise his friend’s young daughter in secret to protect her from a scheming relative. This movie has it all: hissable villains, hidden identities, real estate swindles, and hunchbacks aplenty. Plus too many swordfights to count. Technically, it should be called En Garde.

Or Le Bossu, as it was known in France. (The novel by Paul Féval, a contemporary of Alexandre Dumas, has been filmed six times.) There’s so much story that the third act felt a touch frantic; it’s the rare movie that would be benefit from being a few minutes longer. The conclusion initially gave me pause, but it’s all of a piece with the film’s swooning tone. Grand, old-fashioned entertainment. Thanks for the tip, Walter.

Movie: The Hurt Locker (2009)

I’ve been meaning to say this for a week. You won’t see a better action movie, suspense film, or drama this summer. Get out there and support this one.