Sunday, May 08, 2005

Parties; Usual Suspects; August Derleth

We had a birthday party last night (I'll be 33 next Tuesday) and ended up having some 15 guests at our place. We had a wonderful time and had lots of booze and food (I made excellent warm noodle salad with plenty of hot curry sauce and sweet chili in it) and I even ended up dancing wildly to the sounds of raw nothern soul at the local club with Niko-Matti. There were some British DJ's visiting and they made the place rock. Or rather, funk.

Of course the morning wasn't so deligthful. Elina now has spent her first Mother's Day in a hangover!


I wrote earlier about Christopher McQuarrie's disappointing "Way of the Gun". I watched "Usual Suspects", Bryan Singer's tour de force film, last Friday night. I couldn't help thinking that it must be Singer who made the picture click. (With of course the actors. Excellent team work from everyone. And there's no sign of Tarantino-like showing off with one's actors: the men in Singer's film are almost nameless and faceless, yet very efficient and very much there, with a commanding presence.) McQuarrie wasn't able to deliver the goods alone, as "Way of the Gun" demonstrates.

I just wonder what went wrong with Singer. The Stephen King film "Apt Pupil" is confused at best and I just can't get myself interested in his X-Men films (that's partly due to the fact that I'm not very much into super heroes). I was wondering if it has something to do with the realization that you can't make a successful career in the New Hollywood with small-scale crime pictures, such as "Usual Suspects". I think the same happened with Tarantino. I wish he'd continued in the line of "Reservoir Dogs" and "Jackie Brown", but instead he made a pastiche party of cliches with "Kill Bill" (whose first part I just detested) and is going to redo a seventies Italian war film. And same has happened with other directors: John Dahl, whose attempts at SF were a disaster, Gary Fleder, who jumped to big serial killer movies...

There are some directors who don't seem to want to leave the genre, such as James Gray, whose "Little Odessa" was one of the best Hollywood films of the nineties. But he has almost faded to oblivion and obscurity after that. I have yet to see his "The Yards" (hey, Tapani, where's the tape?), but I don't think he'll rise again. I'll keep my fingers crossed, though.

There's also George Hickenlooper, whose films I've heard being praised, but whose "Persons Unknown" I saw with Joe Mantegna and Naomi Watts was rather messy, with the actors not really looking what they were supposed to look like (i.e. a drunk policeman or drug fiends). I don't really know what John McNaughton is doing at the moment, but his "Wild Things" is underrated, very fifties, very paperback original like film. And his "Normal Life" from 1996 went unnoticed by almost everyone even though it was an excellent little crime flick.


I was writing an entry for August Derleth, the horror and regional writer and the founder of Arkham House. When he was 30, he had already published sixteen books and tons of short stories in the pulps. Here I'm at almost 33 and have published eight books and three short stories.

Which, by the way, reminds me of the new issue of Isku that came out of the presses couple days back. I'll have to write about that later on.

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