content by

Theresa DeLucci

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Mandy Is a New Cult Classic for the Ages

There must be something terribly similar happening in the current climate, to see so much ironic 1980s nostalgia in genre movies lately.

Set very pointedly during the Reagan era, Italian-Canadian director Panos Cosmatos’ latest film, Mandy, is a giant, nightmarish middle finger to the misguided hippie years that ushered in the even worse infestation of the yuppie. The antidote to all of this failed ideology? Pure heavy metal. And why the hell not?

But Mandy is more than just a vivid and unrelenting ode to a Boris Vallejo painting. It’s even more than peak Nic Cage in a chainsaw battle. Though that alone is pretty noteworthy.

Mandy is also about a woman. Mostly.

Spoilers and King Crimson after the cut.

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Home is Where the Horror is in Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World

Who doesn’t want to spend a summer vacation in a cabin, far removed from the outside world? Forget a mere vacation; how about every day free from breaking bad news, social media scream-fests, and stressful jobs?

Well, after reading Paul Tremblay’s latest page-turner, The Cabin at the End of the World, you might want to be careful what you wish for. As the besieged family at the center of this page-turner soon learns, isolation can make you more vulnerable than you’ve ever been and even your own loved ones might have no choice but to betray you.

But you should certainly read The Cabin at the End of the World anyway, because, though it may not be the lightest of reads, it’s one of the summer’s best.

[“Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to…”]

Westworld Season 2, Episode 8 “Kiksuya”

I’ve been very hard on Westworld this season and I don’t regret it. The major storyline is needlessly convoluted in service to conspiracy theory-loving fans on social media. But when the show decides to focus more on one character per episode—and when it’s a character I like, obviously—we get something so much more compelling.

I can’t care about the Valley Beyond if I don’t care about the people going there. And now I have more people to care about.

Like the jaunt into Shogun World in “Akane No Mai,” which is a spiritual predecessor to “Kiksuya,” this episode gives us another Dolores-and-Bernard-free zone and dives a bit deeper into Maeve’s cornerstone. And all the while, we learn more about the wider history of the park from an entirely new perspective. It’s Westworld with a dose of Terrence Malik and I am here for it. With all of my heart.

[“Take my heart when you go…”]

How Does the Remake of Picnic at Hanging Rock Hold Up Against the 1975 Cult Classic?

We live in an age of remakes and reboots, which might say lot about Hollywood’s apparent lack of imagination, but I have to admire the uniqueness—and gall—of remaking Peter Weir’s 1975 Aussie thriller classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Weir’s arthouse hit about four missing women has been cited as an influence on some of this generation’s best directors, but it’s not nearly as familiar a property to broad audiences as, say, HBO’s recent adaptation of Fahrenheit 451.

That Amazon’s new miniseries is six hours long is a tell-tale sign that showrunner Larysa Kondracki is going to dive much deeper into the mystery, for good and for ill. Weir’s movie was loaded with female characters, but, similar to noted Picnic fan Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, much of the story was told from a detached male point of view. In the update, women get to tell their own stories and it makes for a very different experience. Not better or worse, just different.

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Westworld Season 2, Episode 7: “Les Écorchés”

On this week’s episode of Westworld, The Man Behind The Curtain returns and explains not very much.

Does that shock you?

For an episode largely about getting all of the characters up to speed, this was a pretty slow hour. Like last week, all of the characters are represented, if only briefly, but not a ton happened. Story-wise, it felt like a lot of moves to place characters on a chessboard that will ultimately have no winning side.

[“Strike the match…”]

Westworld: Season 2, Episode 6 “Phase Space”

After a string of episodes following one main host’s journey, Westworld brought the whole band together again tonight. Kinda. But not really. Everyone is still on their own loops, and that led to a lot of goodbyes, some sadder than others.

As we move into the back half of season two, we’ll hopefully see some more reunions.

But no reappearance can be quite as surprising as the one that ended this episode. Spoilers, obviously.

[“Meet the ghost in the machine…”]

Westworld Season 2, Episode 5: “Akane No Mai”

Welcome to Shogun World.

We met a lot of new faces this week who nevertheless remained rather familiar, to wonderful effect. You can tell the showrunners had a lot of fun taking a break from playing Cowboys vs. Indians this week. Cowboys vs. Ninjas was really fun and poignant.

I also had a lot of fun taking a break from Bernard.

Spoilers ahead, daimyos. 

[“You know the old saying about knives and gunfights…”]

Fahrenheit 451: We Are All Made Bored in the Fire

Director Ramin Bahrani had a difficult choice ahead of him while adapting Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451: make a faithful adaptation of the beloved book or update it for an audience closer to Guy Montag’s dystopia than Bradbury’s original vision.

Watching the new HBO movie, it seems Bahrani tried his best to compromise, and the result is not going to ignite a lot of passion; let’s just say that Michael B. Jordan, fresh off his killer success in Black Panther, is not going to snap any retainers here.

Yet, not every update or revision is a bad choice.

Bradbury’s novel was far from perfect to begin with.

[Let the flamewars begin…]

Westworld Season 2, Episode 4: “The Riddle of the Sphinx”

This Mother’s Day, Westworld spent a particularly enjoyable hour tightly focused on fathers and father figures.

William, The Man in Black (yeah, yeah, it’s just easier this way), and Lawrence all had to confront their legacies, while Bernard faced his guilty conscience as he sought answers from his own creator, Dr. Ford.

So, is it awkward that the first standout episode of the season doesn’t have any Dolores?

Spoilers ahead, death-defying amigos.

[“If you’re looking forward, you’re looking in the wrong direction.”]

Westworld Season 2, Episode 3: “Virtù e Fortuna”

This must surely be a very ambitious season of Westworld, because I feel as though we are still moving a lot of pieces around a big, temporal chessboard in our journey to get to a promised land that may never come.

Dolores is mean! Bernard is torn! Charlotte is ruthless and well-dressed! Teddy is not very bright!

But two women are really compelling this hour. Obviously, one is Maeve. If this ever proves untrue, I might have to quit Westworld in a rage.

The other… well, she says more about the bigger picture outside of Westworld, the park, than Dolores’ platitudes do.

Spoilers ahead, adrenaline junkies.

[“Tyger, tyger burning bright…”]

Westworld Season 2, Episode 2: “Reunion”

HBO’s Westworld returns with a very appropriately titled, and more enjoyable, second episode of the new season.

We catchup with a pair of young businessmen before and after their fateful trip to the park, see many original hosts in very different roles, and even have time to get in a super cool cameo or two. El Lazo! Game of Thrones isn’t the only HBO show that believes one must go back to move ahead. I bet Daenerys Targaryen and Dolores would get on like a house (and everything else) on fire. You can ship characters from different shows, right?

Spoilers ahead, cowpokes.

[“Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?”…]

Westworld Season 2, Episode 1: “Journey into Night”

Attention, ticket-holders.

Due to an earlier incident involving a homicidal robot uprising, Westworld park will remain closed indefinitely. There are no refunds. The waiver you pretended to read before signing absolves Delos Corporation of any liability for your untimely demise and, also, like other evil mega-corporations before it, grants troubling privacy permissions. Very troubling.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Now, saddle up. Spoilers ahead.

[You’re in my dream…]

Everything and Nothing: Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost

You don’t take a trip to David Lynch and Mark Frost’s fictional town of Twin Peaks to look for answers.

Or you shouldn’t. But after watching Showtime’s Twin Peaks: The Return earlier this year, you can’t be blamed for wanting more clarity.  Eighteen hours of inter-dimensional weirdness, wildly varied acting performances, musical guest stars (“The Nine Inch Nails!”), and some of television’s best sound design and most daring cinematography is a lot of pure Lynch. But Twin Peaks is also Mark Frost’s creation and his newest book, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, attempts to give fans a bit of everything, too.

Everything and nothing.

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