California Literary Review

Best Books

Civil War 150 – A Readers’ Guide (Part 2)

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May 15th, 2013

On a sultry summer afternoon, 150 years ago, a young man named Strong Vincent changed the course of American history. The date was July 2, 1863, around 4 P.M. The place was the left wing of the fish hook-shaped Union defensive position at Gettysburg.

Civil War 150 – A Readers’ Guide (Part 1)

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May 8th, 2013

A sampling of new or recent books on the Civil War suggests that this bygone conflict is still relevant to the lives, hopes and fears of the American people in the twenty-first century. If anything, some of the new research and analysis of the Civil War shows that the terrible ordeal of 1861 to 1865 is more meaningful than it has ever been.

Trailer Watch: Les Misérables

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May 30th, 2012

This is, in showbiz terms, the textbook definition of “a big deal.” After all this anticipation, it will almost certainly become the definitive film version of the show, for good or ill. And so it must be done right the first time. We are a long way from Spider-Man now.

Blu-Ray Review – Battle Royale: The Complete Collection

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March 26th, 2012

Quentin Tarantino proclaims ”My favorite movie of the last 20 years! I wish I had made this movie.” That is as perfect an endorsement as a film distributor could hope to have, especially when selling a film like Battle Royale to a hungry cult audience.

Critics’ Picks: Best Books of 2011

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December 11th, 2011

Our book reviewers select the best books of 2011.

The Weekly Listicle Is Rated NC-17

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December 2nd, 2011

Censors save the NC-17 rating for extra special cases, and in practice it feels like much less artificial than, say, PG-13. Something about these films transcended the extremely liberal boundaries of the R rating, and in most cases the reasons are still apparent.

Bloody Sexy Things: Adapting Clive Barker

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June 28th, 2011

Clive Barker has lent his eyes and hands to virtually every medium, from page to the screen to the stage to the canvas to the console. However, film fans know him particularly as a horror master. There is so much undermined material for gifted fantasy filmmakers that perhaps we could dispense with further Candyman sequels and retire the Hellraiser juggernaut with contented hearts, and enjoy a Clive Barker renaissance clad in all new colors.

Day Late, Dollar Short, Solid Gold: “Dear Twilight…”

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June 8th, 2011

Somewhere in the Twilight cutting room, did the thought never stir that they could drag untold ranks of non-Twilight initiates into the theaters merely by cutting fan reactions into the regular trailers? I was working as a movie usher when New Moon came out, and I had grown people stepping out of ticket lines with money outstretched, offering outrageous sums of cash to buy my promotional New Moon t-shirt off my back. And believe me, it was not an excuse to peek at my trout belly. This is for real, people! Star Wars and Harry Potter premieres have nothing on this.

What Is Best In Life? Not Conan 3D, Barring A Miracle

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May 3rd, 2011

Borne on the crest of the wind, I hear already the lamentation of women. Women whose dates have dragged them, possibly by the hair, to the late summer picture show. By now many of you know that Lionsgate will soon release a new film entitled Conan The Barbarian. Most of you will recall a cult classic by the same name from 1982, which was the breakout role of a certain Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Weekly Listicle: Three Rings Of Circus Movie Mayhem!

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April 22nd, 2011

The circus is a complicated enterprise, and its symbolic value in storytelling has many faces. It may tell of freedom and the charm of living as a nomad and artist. It may speak to the weariness of the road, and the ability of a lifestyle to trap those who do not know how to break free. It may celebrate the solidarity of those cast out from society. Or in the end, it may simply deal with the hideous antics of clowns. In any form, the circus plays upon the most fundamental feelings of wonder and fear, and makes children of us all once again.

The Weekly Listicle: On Adapting The Classics

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March 11th, 2011

With the arrival of Jane Eyre from Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga, we see another standard of the English-class bookshelf put to the screen. Mia Wasikowska, lately of Alice In Wonderland, headlines as the eponymous Jane, in a very Gothic-looking version of Charlotte Brontë’s best known novel. As I recall, it is quite a dark […]

Brighton Rock Rises Again. Graham Greene Abides.

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December 20th, 2010

Acclaimed screenwriter Rowan Joffé will try his hand at the directing game next year. For his debut, he has selected an auspiciously high-profile story. Brighton Rock, adapted from Graham Greene’s 1938 novel, is a captivating crime thriller and a chilling exploration of the human capacity for love, betrayal and violence. If all goes right, this will be one beautiful and scary film.

Critics’ Picks: Best Books of 2010

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December 18th, 2010

Our annual selection of noteworthy books.

A Watchful Eye On… Sherlock Holmes

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December 15th, 2010

Sherlock Holmes as a strict Victorian period piece is over and done with, but the character still has potential in a new context. The only rule is not to stray from the unique faculties that make Sherlock such a distinctive and popular hero. If the story’s focus ceases to be the detective’s brilliant deductive logic, then the magic is lost and the character wasted. If, however, due attention and respect are paid to this detail, the rest is free and open to broader interpretation.

Critics’ Picks: Best Books of 2009

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December 14th, 2009

Our annual selection of noteworthy books.

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