California Literary Review

Mystery

True Blood Recap: Season 4 Bites Deep (But Doesn’t Suck)

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September 12th, 2011

For those who have not been scared off by now, I think we could all use a stiff drink before tuning in next summer for Season 5. Which I know I will. Season 4 had a few too many stops, starts, and jerky turns, but True Blood seized its bloodthirsty mojo back at the finish line.

The Weekly Listicle: There Goes The Neighborhood

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August 19th, 2011

Forget good fences, and forget good neighbors. Characters in movies and television are far more compelling when not acting the least bit neighborly.

Book Review: The Craigslist Murders by Brenda Cullerton

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July 26th, 2011

An interior “desecrator” who despises the bored super-rich housewives who can afford her services, she lives amongst people for whom money has dissolved away the real world, and takes her revenge by smashing their heads in with the poker which she carries wrapped in a yoga mat.

In Case You Missed… Christopher Smith’s Black Death

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June 29th, 2011

Most movies like Black Death exploit the historical context to take shots at organized religion with impunity. A select few try to balance the mistakes of the early church with the importance of faith over dogma – an approach that Season Of The Witch admittedly tried, but got lost too far up its own butt to realize. Black Death tends toward the latter type of story, but pushes its acid satire into fairly new territory.

The Weekly Listicle: A Question Of Identity

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February 18th, 2011

Identity is a wonderful device for deception and suspense in storytelling. In some cases a whole plot hinges on whether or not someone is who they claim to be. The quest for identity, whether inwardly or outwardly direction, may lead to all manner of obsession, danger, and mischief.

The Weekly Listicle: Ballad Of The Soldier

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January 21st, 2011

This weekend, Peter Weir graces us with The Way Back, a tale of daring escape by prisoners of war. In due fashion this week’s Listicle salutes the soldier in film. From comedy to adventure to stark, sobering drama, soldiers have faced a great deal on the movie screen.

Book Review: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

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January 6th, 2011

There is a telling scene in the novel, when Conan Doyle visits the theatre managed by Stoker and is snubbed by the celebrated actress Ellen Terry, who is wearing a black armband to mourn the death of Sherlock Holmes. “The world does not need Arthur Conan Doyle,” Stoker declares. “The world needs Sherlock Holmes.”

Book Review: Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell

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December 21st, 2010

Whatever her faults, you can’t criticise Patricia Cornwell for sticking in a rut. Port Mortuary, her latest novel about the forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta, uses a new narrative device to explore fresh plot territory. But the resulting book is exceptionally difficult to like.

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.

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.

Movie Time Nostalgia, Part 2: North By Northwest Revisited

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September 25th, 2010

I got myself a videotape of Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest at a young age, and proceeded to watch the ever-living hell out of it. I can’t recall having seen what you might call a grown-up movie before that, and a lot of dramatic films that I love now might not have held my attention then. But North by Northwest really has got it all.

The Weekly Listicle: Claustro-MANIA!

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September 16th, 2010

Take some deep breaths, movie fans – we’re going in. This weekend’s new shocker, Devil, appears to feature a bunch of hapless folks trapped in a dark elevator with something quite nasty. Later this season, we will also be getting Buried, concerning a man negotiating for his life while buried in a box underground. Claustrophobia […]

Hammer to Fall? Not This Year, Horror Show Fans!

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September 4th, 2010

After years of silence, Hammer Film is returning to active production in a big way this year. To begin with, the studio is producing the upcoming Let Me In, a remake of the superb Swedish vampire story Let The Right One In (2008). With this and a number of other new flicks on the way, there is more exciting news. Christopher Lee, now a late octogenarian but still a commanding tower of a man, is back on board for at least one picture.

Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

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June 17th, 2010

Justin Cronin has written an epic here. Like Stephen King’s The Stand and Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, this book is a character-driven apocalyptic road trip of a novel that takes us on a journey both physical and metaphysical. His writing transcends genre in every way, including a haunting description of death by nuclear fire.

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

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May 25th, 2010

Lisbeth Salander is broken, maybe beyond repair. Wanted for three murders in Stockholm, she shows up in the Emergency Room in Goteborg still breathing but with a bullet in her head. Her other wounds have been patched with duct tape, an improvisation the doctor on call admires as he preps her for life-saving surgery assisted by an American surgeon with a blood alcohol level that’s off the charts.

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