I’m pleased to be making my debut as the non-fiction columnist for Mystery Scene magazine in the upcoming Fall issue – this after the retirement of much-respected longtime columnist Jon L. Breen. In my first column I cover a trio of new titles about genre royalty Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, and examine a true crime entry about the classic Leopold & Loeb case.
I’ve been busy on the fiction front, too. My short story “The Fast and the Furriest,” about a Hollywood fixer, was reprinted in June’s Black Cat Weekly # 41 – which I think is apt, as I’m an unapologetic Cat Lady. The piece first appeared in the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. You can order a copy here: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/l/frank-belknap-long/black-cat-weekly-41.htm
Finally caught up with Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” … and it was definitely worth the price of admission! This is a very, very authorized take on the King – there is absolutely nothing to upset the powers-that-be within the “Graceland industry.” But although it’s a sanitized account of Presley’s life and career – and that’s the only way this movie was going to get access to all that famous music, etc. – it’s also fabulously produced, and earnestly performed, with Austin Butler giving his all in the title role.
Luhrmann takes oodles of creative license, with the action happening in his trademark flamboyant, sometimes mind-boggling fashion. Along the way the film dodges minefields: several women with whom Elvis was seriously involved, who aren’t popular with the Presley clan, don’t warrant so much as a howdy-do; the Memphis Mafia is downplayed; Elvis’s military time (when he seriously started popping pills) gets short shrift; ditto weight-related issues.
But if this isn’t a warts and all biopic, it does hit the high notes of E’s career, and also serves as an introduction for the younger crowd. And it’s certainly a showcase for Luhrmann’s hyperventilating screen style. This film will be in contention for numerous Oscar technical categories – and possibly, for Tom Hanks’s performance as Colonel Parker. Meantime, with everyone all shook up again, Elvis will continue to entice.
(You’ll find additional thoughts in a longer version of this review on my Facebook page.)
It may be an election year, but all the slings and arrows from warring candidates and their respective parties can’t compare to the ominous weaponry and sinister plots perpetrated in politics of the literary kind. In the latest issue (Spring 2022) of Mystery Scene magazine, I take a look at political thrillers: The best-sellers. The writers (some of them actual politicos). The history. And more. The magazine is now on newsstands.
Have been busy reviewing new books for Mystery Scene (will single out some titles soon) and readying to discuss the spooktacular side of crime fiction (hey, Halloween’s coming!) as well as film noir, for several chapters of Sisters in Crime.
I’ve written lots (and lots) about the horror-fantasy film genres, for publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly, so I’m looking forward to discussing “Conjuring Up a Mystery: Paranormal Elements in Fiction” at this Sunday’s (October 24) online meeting of Orange County Sisters in Crime. My talk will begin at 3 p.m.
At 4 p.m. we’ll hear from distinguished authors Chris Offatt and Willy Vlautin (look ‘em up; they have serious credentials!). Interested in attending? Check the chapter website at www.sistersincrimeoc.com for a meeting link.
And it you’re interested in film noir, join me at the Saturday, November 13 online meeting of Partners in Crime, the San Diego chapter of Sisters in Crime. I’ll give a virtual presentation on “Out of the Shadows: A Spotlight on Film Noir.” The talk begins at 2 p.m. (I’m an adjunct professor for the Emeritus Institute of Saddleback College, where I teach film and writing. In my film classes I show lotsa noir.) For more about the chapter and the meeting go to https://sistersincrimesd.org/ .
A longtime aficionado of film noir, I’ve written numerous articles about the genre and its stars, and I frequently include noir titles in my Film as Lit classes for the Emeritus program of Saddleback College. So I’m more than looking forward to speaking on “Out of the Shadows: A Spotlight on Film Noir” at the July 25 meeting of Orange County Sisters in Crime. Along with discussing the genre’s history and tropes, I’ll share some of my favorite titles – classics as well as lesser-known entries.
My talk, which will begin at about 3 p.m., is the lead-in to our featured panel of authors whose works appear in the just-out anthology, Palm Springs Noir (Akashic). That panel will be led by the book’s editor, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett – who happens to be our chapter prez. They’ll get going at 4 p.m.
I look forward to setting the shadowy stage … and introducing attendees to some memorable shady dames, hard-boiled p.i.s and their pals/antagonists.
Check the chapter website at www.ocsistersincrime.org for further information.