Preston & Child flashback: ‘Still Life with Crows’ (2003) (Book review)

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till Life with Crows” (2003) is “merely” a standalone Agent Pendergast novel, but it features the introduction of Corrie Swanson, the evocative cornfields and caves (!) of western Kansas, a looming storm and a monster even creepier than the “Relic” beast. It became my favorite Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child novel on my first read, and it still holds that status. In their eighth novel (and fourth starring the FBI agent), the masters click on all cylinders like Pendergast’s Rolls-Royce.

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Preston and Child take the right steps as they plant their feet in Florida for ‘Crooked River’ (Book review)

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ouglas Preston and Lincoln Child write what they know, which is no doubt why “Crooked River” (February, hardcover) is their second-straight book set in Florida, where Child now resides. However, Florida – or New York, or New Mexico, or Massachusetts, or Maine – probably wouldn’t hire the authors in public relations. “Crooked River” starts with the mystery of more than 100 severed feet washed ashore on the otherwise beautiful shell-laden beaches of Sanibel Island, off the coast of Fort Myers. It’s such an off-the-wall happening that it remains compelling for hundreds of pages even as answers are slow to come.

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Frightening Friday: ‘Friday the 13th’ (2009) is a fine but forgettable remake (Movie review)

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riday the 13th (2009) is a slick and competent remake directed by Marcus Nispel, who also did the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003) and “Conan the Barbarian” (2011) remakes. But it leaves a viewer questioning if it was artistically necessary. Of course, the reason for its existence is to cash in on the title some more. But while this is the saga’s second-highest-grossing film — behind 2003’s “Freddy vs. Jason,” the last of the 11-film original series – it ultimately marks the end of the series (for now). The 2010s came and went without a 13th “Friday” film.

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Preston & Child flashback: ‘The Cabinet of Curiosities’ (2002) (Book review)

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ouglas Preston and Lincoln Child hit a turning point with their third Pendergast novel, “The Cabinet of Curiosities” (2002), their only book other than “Relic” to crack NPR’s list of the 100 best thrillers. This is where they embrace the FBI special agent – and other characters for that matter – as a character, not merely an entertaining personality who can make items appear from his coat like magic. They also effectively push the science fiction another notch, giving us a lot of scientific details but never losing sight of the incredibleness of a formula to extend the human lifespan.

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Frightening Friday: Venice, low-key chills are the stars of daylight horror classic ‘Don’t Look Now’ (1973) (Movie review)

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fter watching “Don’t Look Now” (1973), I’m looking forward to reading reviews and analyses of the work. It’s one of those movies where I didn’t entirely understand the meaning, and sometimes not even the narrative – but in a good way. I understood enough to be wrapped up in the story of a British couple – Donald Sutherland’s and Julie Christie’s John and Laura Baxter – who are on a long-term stay in Venice for John’s job in church mosaic restoration.

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Exorcising the past: Schrader’s ‘Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist’ (2005) is so tame that Pazuzu comes off as a good guy (Movie review)

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t’s an excellent month for an exorcism. From Oct. 21-31, I’m looking back at the five films of “The Exorcist” series as we celebrate Spooky Month here at Cold Bananas. Wrapping it up is the last film, “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist” (2005):

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Exorcising the past: Merrin’s first encounter with Pazuzu gets a robust telling in Harlin’s ‘Exorcist: The Beginning’ (2004) (Movie review)

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t’s an excellent month for an exorcism. From Oct. 21-31, I’m looking back at the five films of “The Exorcist” series as we celebrate Spooky Month here at Cold Bananas. Next up is the fourth film, “Exorcist: The Beginning” (2004):

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Exorcising the past: Blatty returns for meditative, moody ‘The Exorcist III’ (1990), based on his novel ‘Legion’ (Movie review)

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t’s an excellent month for an exorcism. From Oct. 21-31, I’m looking back at the five films of “The Exorcist” series as we celebrate Spooky Month here at Cold Bananas. Next up is the third film, “The Exorcist III” (1990):

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Preston & Child flashback: ‘Thunderhead’ (1999) (Book review)

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rchaeologist Nora Kelly enters the pantheon of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s heroes in “Thunderhead” (1999), an early and still great example of their Southwestern mystery adventures. In 2019, she’d still be going strong in “Old Bones,” the first of a series marketed with Nora as the lead character. I picture her in my head like “Lost World: Jurassic Park”-era Julianne Moore.

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‘The Turning’ is a flatter – yet somehow more confusing – Henry James adaptation than ‘Bly Manor’ (Movie review)

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or a novella published in 1898, Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw” is having a boffo 2020. The Netflix miniseries “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is rightfully getting all the hype, but “The Turning” also came out this year, in January before the mass theater shutdown. I watched this lesser-known adaptation out of curiosity after finishing “Bly Manor.” It gets some appeal from the intrigue of how a different creative team (screenwriters Chad and Carey W. Hayes of “The Conjuring” and director Floria Sigismondi) adapts the novella, but also loses suspense because I knew the story’s broad strokes.

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