Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review: 'The Everly Brothers-The Cadence Recordings'

The two albums The Everly Brothers made for their first label, Cadence, aren’t necessarily their two most essential (that honor goes to their first two Warner Bros. LPs), but The Everly Brothers and Songs Our Daddy Taught Us do contain a few unquestionably essential numbers. These include “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie” on the former and “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine” on the latter. Mostly, the first two Everly Brothers albums spotlight the duo’s two sides in an extreme fashion that would be more organically blended on their next albums.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Review: 'Conversations with Mark Frost: Twin Peaks, Hill Street Blues, and the Education of a Writer'

David Lynch is responsible for the immediately recognizable visual language of Twin Peaks, but as far as its story goes, Mark Frost had the most control over its direction on an episode-to-episode basis. Yet Frost is serially left out of the conversation because he does not have Lynch’s flair for self-promotion and because he did not have as audacious a resume as Lynch did before the show began.

David Bushman’s new book Conversations with Mark Frost: Twin Peaks, Hill Street Blues, and the Education of a Writer sets the record straight in a few ways. Between February 2018 and October 2019, Bushman conducted a series of 22, one-hour phone interviews with Mark Frost after clearly doing a lot of homework. Bushman asks the right questions to fill in each significant phase of Frost’s family, personal, and creative history. And that history is startling and peppered with odd anecdotes. His grandfather was one of the first doctors to work with Margaret Sanger on Planned Parenthood. His dad Warren (Twin Peaks’ Doc Hayward) once had dinner with FDR. Mark investigated UFOs with a guy from MUFON in the late seventies. He worked alongside Michael Keaton in the lighting department of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and dubbed either Bennie or Bjorn’s voice (he can’t remember which) in a documentary about ABBA.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Review: 'Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies'

Many cinephiles consider 1939 to be the best year for movies, though that largely depends on your tolerance for Gone with the Wind (I have none). Last year, Brian Rafferty made a pretty good case for 1999 despite that being the year of American Pie and The Phantom Menace. Now Stephen Farber and Michael McCellan are tossing another year’s hat into the ring with their new book Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Review: 'The Paul McCartney Catalog: A Complete Annotated Discography of Solo Works, 1967-2019'

Paul McCartney was the most creatively driven Beatle, and he kept up an unstoppable pace of writing and recording after the band broke up that is still ongoing. Not only did McCartney release a slew of albums and singles in his signature pop mold as a solo artist and member of Wings, but he also experimented with orchestral and electronic music and participated in a number of collaborations with artists such as Elvis Costello, Carl Perkins, and Brian Wilson.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Review: 'The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films'

Horror lurks on a hostile terrain, and that landscape is unquestionably most hostile toward women. Throughout most of the genre’s history, women have usually been present to shriek, get slaughtered, show their bodies, and huddle in a corner while some dude tussles with the monster. This is a particularly sorry situation since it was a woman—Mary Shelley—who invented the horror genre as we now know it two centuries ago.

Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence are two horror fans well aware of this problem. Their new book The Science of Women in Horror: The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films mainly functions as an entertaining movie and TV guide for feminist horror fans frustrated by the lack of non-insulting viewing options. The writers basically whittle their list of feminist-friendly horrors down to a skimpy 29 films, which probably would not fill the first ten pages of the usual horror guide. So, as their book’s unwieldy title suggests, they pack their pages with much more than the standard starred recommendations. The Science of Women in Horror offers some interesting tangents related to the real life science, history, and psychology behind the films; analyses (a reading of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night as a sort of horror/western is particularly compelling); making-of details; and interviews with actresses, filmmakers, and fellow horror fans.

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