Fierce Anticipation: February 20-22


a blogumn by Ryan Dixon



The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

thelostcityofzDavid Grann‘s book about the mysterious disappearance of British explorer Percy Fawcett, a contemporary of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and a sort-of real life Indiana Jones, has all the hallmarks of becoming a non-fiction classic on the same level as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Devil in the White City and Into Thin Air. For those of you who can’t wait till the book is released on Tuesday, I’d recommend digging into some of Grann’s other writings for The New Yorker, all of which have that jaw-dropping “I can’t believe this is true!” and “How come everyone doesn’t already know about this?” quality that makes The New Yorker stand like a Sequoia over forest of shrubs in the magazine jungle. Two of his best pieces are on the mysterious death of the world’s foremost Sherlock Holmes expert and the strange tale of Polish novelist who may have planted clues to a potential real-life murder in one of his novels.

In Bookstores on Tuesday


The Midnight Meat Train

midnight-meat-train-20080122102204142After months of hype this film fell through the cracks when, in an oft-repeated ritual, a studio (in this case Lions Gate) went through a major executive turnover and, in an act of reverse alchemy, one administration’s gold was magically transformed into celluloid junk. Thus, instead of a planned wide release last August where I could have see the film at my local theater, I ended up having to drive 45 minutes south of Los Angeles on the 5 with a friend to see the film on the one screen it was playing in Southern California; a decrepit¬† “second run” theater that had three security guards on duty in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. Suffice it to say, the movie was the least scary part of the day.

Now it’s available on DVD and for those of you interested in watching an original horror film and not a reboot, remake, sequel (judging from the gigantic opening weekend box office tally for Friday the 13th, that won’t be many of you), this film based on a Clive Barker story about a photographer who uncovers a phantasmagorical city-wide secret while trying to track down a subway serial killer is a highly imaginative, delightfully bloody, fun, and scary horror film.

Now Available on DVD and Blue-Ray


Body of Lies

body-of-lies-posterMaybe it was because this film looked like a “Greatest Hits” clip show of all the other movies Leonardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe had starred in over the past decade rather than a new work or maybe it was just another example of the general public using their instincts to infer a high film fecal count despite the best efforts of the studio marketing machine.

Either way audiences ignored this film en masse when it was released last October, so much so that, in a giant upset, it lost what was expected to be a pre-ordained first place finish its opening weekend to the ultra-low budget Quarantine (which is also out on DVD this week). I can only hope that this film finally certifies Ridley Scott as the Dallas Cowboys of film directors.

Yes, his projects always look good on paper and yes, in terms of talent his films are always top of the line, but when, aside from the long ago Alien, Blade Runner and Thelma and Louise, have any of his other films lived up to their potential?

Now Available on DVD and Blue-Ray