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text 2018-10-05 18:31
Friday Plans

#fridayreads These are my weekend plans. Buy pumpkins, finish up @mbcollings PREDATORS, start the audio of @SarahPinborough's CROSS HER HEART & finally watch THE RITUAL on #netflix. Yeah, I know one is a film but that's what I'm doing & I'm sticking to it! What're you up to? pic.twitter.com/A9kljEiywN

— Bark At The Ghouls
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review 2018-09-20 16:59
Peter O'Toole: the Definitive Biography (Sellers)
Peter O'Toole : the definitive biography - Robert Sellers

Is this really "the definitive biography"? It's certainly the best in a very disappointing field since O'Toole's death. Notably absent amongst the people interviewed as original sources: any of O'Toole's surviving family, including ex-wife Sian Phillilps (mother of his two daughters) or ex-partner Karen Brown (mother of his late-life son). So this is definitely not the "authorized" biography, which can be a good or a bad thing. In this case, I think it has been detrimental to any real understanding of O'Toole's family life (Sian Phillips' autobiography is a useful corrective for the years when they were married).

 

I was dubious when I saw Robert Sellers to be the author, because he has also written books with such unpromising titles as "Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed" and "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down: How One Generation of British Actors Changed the World". In other words, he gives every appearance of being one of those bloke-ish biographers who delight in chronicling promiscuity and drunkenness, as if they were something necessarily associated with great talent and in some way admirable. Mind you, to be fair, if you're going to write about Peter O'Toole, you're going to have to address both of those major factors in his life and career. But I was pleasantly surprised at the relative absence of celebratory adjectives about the alcoholism that most certainly contributed to O'Toole's dreadful health in the second part of the career (not to mention his very poor reputation amongst landlords and other property owners).

 

The sources for this book are chiefly gossipy minor players in the entertainment world, most of whom doubtless have dined out on their O'Toole stories for some time, so we must take into account the natural human tendencies to embellish and generalize. The other people involved in the best anecdotes are by and large gone from us, and can't issue any refutations (if indeed they would wish to). But in addition to O'Toole's mischief, drinking, and occasional completely thoughtless cruelty, I found that there was also a ring of truth - through repetition from different sources - in the accounts of his deep thoughtfulness about his craft, his extensive and intelligent reading, and a generosity that could be as extravagant as his narcissism. As I think I remarked in my review of "Hellraisers", O'Toole still comes off, like Burton, as someone you could see wanting to associate with, as opposed to some of the nastier drunks in his circle of contemporaries. (And lest anyone wonder, it does seem that he dabbled in drugs as well.)

 

Sellers puts to rest the old controversy of where O'Toole was born, Ireland or England, by digging up the actual birth certificate from Leeds. But he does also acknowledge throughout that O'Toole became Irish, almost by dint of wishing so very much to be Irish (he always claimed himself that he did not actually know one way or the other).

The book has a decent apparatus (index, bibliography, list of film and theatre credits), and there are citations at the end for most paragraphs, though since most of said citations are to "author's interview with X", there's really not much verification that can be done. Sellers also took the time to view the historical record in the form of TV talk show utterances (now much more available to us through youtube), and he relies relatively little on previous biographical work as far as I can see, although Sian Phillips is of course fairly heavily cited.

 

"Better than expected" doesn't seem like particularly high praise, but in fact I'm quite pleased to give this book a place on my shelves. Since O'Toole will unfortunately never continue his slim, whimsical, fascinating autobiographical efforts into the most riveting years of his career, we must rely on the more prosaic expressions (and perhaps more reliable memories?) of the people around him who may not have been his nearest and dearest, but for that very reason may have been reliable observers.

 

Recommended to fans of O'Toole and people who enjoy anecdotal biography about London and Hollywood in the mid to late 20th century.

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photo 2018-08-28 17:01
Hue: Sultry Cerise - Reviews by Cat Ellington: The Complete Anthology, Vol. 1 Promotional Banner | Copyright © 2018 Reviews by Cat Ellington and Quill Pen Ink Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Hue: Sultry Cerise - Audiobook Promotional Banner: Reviews by Cat Ellington: The Complete Anthology, Vol. 1 | Copyright © 2018 Reviews by Cat Ellington and Quill Pen Ink Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
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The Making of Dual Mania: Filmmaking Chicago Style Promotional Banner | Copyright © 2018 Dual Mania, Vital Vision Productions and Vital Vision Publications. All Rights Reserved.
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review 2018-07-30 06:08
The Sound of Music Story by Tom Santopietro
The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing Von Trapp Children Inspired the Beloved Film of All Time - Tom Santopietro

TITLE:  The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time
 

AUTHOR:  Tom Santopietro

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  2015    

 

FORMAT: Hardcover

 

ISBN-13: 9781250064462

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Description:

"On March 2, 1965, "The Sound of Music" was released in the United States and the love affair between moviegoers and the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was on. Rarely has a film captured the love and imagination of the moviegoing public in the way that "The Sound of Music" did as it blended history, music, Austrian location filming, heartfelt emotion and the yodeling of Julie Andrews into a monster hit. Now, Tom Santopietro has written the ultimate "Sound of Music" fan book with all the inside dope from behind the scenes stories of the filming in Austria and Hollywood to new interviews with Johannes von Trapp and others. Santopietro looks back at the real life story of Maria von Trapp, goes on to chronicle the sensational success of the Broadway musical, and recounts the story of the near cancellation of the film when  the "Cleopatra" bankrupted 20th Century Fox. We all know that Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer played Maria and Captain Von Trapp, but who else had been considered? Tom Santopietro knows and will tell all while providing a historian’s critical analysis of the careers of director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a look at the critical controversy which greeted the movie, the film’s relationship to the turbulent 1960s and the super stardom which engulfed Julie Andrews. Tom Santopietro's "The Story of 'The Sound of Music'" is book for everyone who cherishes this American classic."

_______________________________

The Sound of Music Story provides a broad overview of the subject, from the real-life von Trapp family to the Broadway Play to the Film, and its legacy.  The book is detailed, well-written and informative, with interviews of the relevant people where possible.  If you are a Sound of Music fan, you will love this book, if you just like the movie, there might be too much detail here. 

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review 2018-07-25 02:00
Night Film
Night Film - Marisha Pessl

Sovereign. Deadly. Almost perfect.

 

This book was the creepy puzzle-box of a novel that I have been hunting for over the years. This is what I wanted out of books like House of Leaves (and ultimately didn't get). This book hits that wonderful sweet spot where you're never quite certain whether or not what is happening is rooted in the supernatural or if its just plain weirdness. The suspense kept me glued to the page - it's long, but the pacing is such that I never felt my attention waning nor the pages dragging. I remained intrigued and on-board all the way up until the ending. There were also scenes that were so bizarre and creepy that they will stick with me for years.

 

The one thing about this book I didn't love was how problematic pieces of it were in regards to race, sexuality, and gender identity. I couldn't tell if the issue was the authorial voice or the main character, who is kind of a jackass. I can let it go if the language used is a reflection on this character, because honestly I believe that he's a transphobic latent racist. However, if it's the author's viewpoint that's not something I can stomach, and I genuinely can't tell which is going on.

 

Here's the thing, with the exception of this one issue I loved the book. It's a stain on an otherwise deliciously unnerving novel that brings the elements of a ghost story, and a haunted house yarn, into a more literary realm. If you can look past the warts this book is a mesmerizing, compelling, creep-fest that will keep you reading past your bedtime and jumping at shadows.

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