Category Archives: Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: “GIRAFFES ON HORSEBACK SALAD” (2019, JOSH FRANK, TIM HEIDECKER, & MANUELA PERTEGA)

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The , even at their most mediocre, can do no wrong; Salvador Dalí, even at his most posthumous, can also do no wrong. The premise of Josh Frank’s adaptation is simple: to bring to life a rejected film treatment by one of Surrealism’s most famous practitioners intended to feature one of cinema’s most famous comedy troupes. The execution is straightforward, but took some years and considerable R&D before coming to life as a movie-length graphic novel. “Giraffes on Horseback Salad” is an impossible movie premise translated into a vibrant and often hilarious comic.

Two obvious difficulties presented themselves to Frank, Heidecker, & Pertega (a team that could have been a Marxist law firm): doing justice to two differently towering cultural icons. In the mid- to late-1930s, young Salvador was a political and artistic refugee. This quirky Spaniard developed a major “bro-crush” on Harpo Marx–going so far as to send him a full-scale harp made of cellophane-wrapped silverware and strung with barbed wire. Dalí regarded Harpo as a living, breathing Surrealist—not a member of the movement, but rather an actual Surrealist objet d’art, someone who would always subvert the norm, and who would always have the best, most illogical solution in his raggedy coat pocket.

How the two met (more than once) is explored in “Giraffes on Horseback Salad.” Suffice it to say, they got along famously, and hashed out a movie premise. That premise? “Giraffes” is actually more plot-heavy than most Marx Brothers movies, involving a wunderkind Spanish businessman (“Jimmy”), recently moved to New York City, who falls in love with the “Surrealist Woman.” In her employ are two chauffeurs/henchmen: Groucho and Chico Marx. As Jimmy pursues the Surrealist Woman’s affections, Groucho and Chico help him out. Silliness, subversion, and Surrealism ensue.

The challenge behind Josh Frank’s foray into theoretical cinema (to woefully misuse that term) is daunting, but he delivers, with screen-writing assistance from “Tim & Eric”‘s , and the wild visual stylings of Manuela Pertega. The “movie” plays like a bit of fan-fiction, admittedly, but it is skillfully wrought. Groucho’s and Chico’s exchanges may not be their best work (that, as far as I’m concerned, will always be found in Animal Crackers), but it isn’t their worst, and they always sound on paper they way they sounded in their movies. That is no small feat: Frank and Heidecker deliver the Marx goods; in parallel, dead Dalí and Pertega deliver the Surrealist goods. With so many goods delivered, it’s no surprise that the final result is… well, good. They even created a swinging period soundtrack to accompany the story.

In the interests of full disclosure, this wild ride of lines and lingo has virtually no Harpo in it—his identity is a “secret” slowly revealed as another character melts from a high-strung, but yearning-to-be-free [redacted]. I personally found this to be no problem: he was always my least favorite brother. However, I am not one to second-guess one of the 20th-century’s greatest artists, so hurrah for Harpo, hurrah for Salvador, and three chairs for the law firm of Frank, Heidecker, & Pertega.

“THE WEIRDEST MOVIE EVER MADE: THE PATTERSON-GIMLIN BIGFOOT FILM” BY PHIL HALL

Aptly, s latest journalistic endeavor, “The Weirdest Movie Ever Made: The Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film,” is this author’s weirdest book to date. I doubt that anyone needs to run to their favorite search engine to inquire about what may be the most famous home movie apart from the Zapruder film. Hall never directly states his “belief,” or lack thereof, in the authenticity of the 1967 film’s claim to have captured footage of an actual Bigfoot; his agnosticism spreads over the book’s 100 plus pages. Smartly, authenticity is not Hall’s point of entry, because belief, in anything, is an abstraction, despite claims made to the contrary by every pedigree of zealotry. Rather, Hall’s approach is a quirky look at a quirky corner of Western mythology. The Patterson-Gimlin film may indeed be the weirdest movie ever made; even weirder in that its weirdness lies in the zealotry of its primary filmmaker and the ballooning mythology of this (roughly) one-minute home movie.

In short: the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film is a religious film in every way, and Hall captures that pulse. His observations in Chapter 2 are shrewdest, beginning with a brief explanation of “cryptozoology” that segues into examples from the Bible. Job is one of several books that mentions creatures like a Leviathan, a Behemoth, and a Ziz. In the longer version of the Book of Daniel (included in Catholic and Orthodox canons, relegated to the Apocrypha in Protestant bibles), the hero of the tale slays a Babylonian dragon by overfeeding it. Of course, St. George also slew a dragon. Hall, who should perhaps consider a theological vocation (we need more pragmatic theologians with a sense of humor), astutely reminds us that St. George is, naturally, more known for his dragon-slaying than for his piety. That makes for far more interesting reading than a saint praying at the altar.

There’s a St. George spirit in Roger Patterson. Already ill1 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Patterson became obsessed; not with an unseen deity above, but with an unseen mythological creature below, on Earth and in hiding. And why not? Who wants to wait for heaven after death when we can find Eden here? And what better way to find  Eden than through the discovery of one of its hidden creatures? Whether Patterson set out to find and film the creature, or create it for a disbelieving world, is irrelevant. It’s his religious zeal, magnified by failing health, that produced a one-of-kind home movie. This is really the Genesis of Hall’s book. He punctuates his narrative with “Bigfoot Interludes,” such as “Why did the Sasquatch cross the road?” complete with whimsical illustrations by Jose Daniel Oviedo Galeano. These interludes, with accompanying text (that includes occasional typos, which I suspect are intentional and add to the weirdness), are akin to the children’s Bibles found in Sunday School rooms across the country; a necessary, lighthearted break from all the surrounding adult devotion. We get both child and adult with Patterson, who really is the most interesting and complex character in the book. Bigfoot herself is what she is in the footage; merely a phantasmagoric flicker, not unlike a briefly seen in Plan 9 From Outer Space. It’s Patterson, especially once you read his biography, that looms largest here. In that, he is a bit like that uncanonized saint of weird movies, With both, appreciation for what they created is far more accessible when you are familiar with their biographical bullet points.

Hall’s book zig-zags; you may find yourself convinced the film’s an elaborate hoax, only to find yourself wondering if there’s actually something to it in the next chapter. However, even Bob Gimlin, who Patterson relegated to the role of sidekick, has wondered aloud recently if Patterson pulled a epic prank which used him as more an audience member than a participant. In the end, there’s considerably more evidence pointing to a fake than something authentic. ( would be proud.) There’s even speculation and rumor (supplied by John Landis, although reliability and Landis are oil and water) that John Chambers, who did the makeup work on Planet of the Apes, created a Bigfoot suit for Patterson (Chambers denied it).

Prank, however, isn’t the right word. A religion needs both a figurehead and a product, be it a church, a book, or a film; and Patterson ambitiously anointed himself as Pope and prophet in providing that product, whether it’s “real” or myth. Debating the matter is ultimately pointless, so Hall take us past all that to the film itself, how it stands as “the weirdest movie ever made,” and its considerable influence on pop culture. Movies (The Legend of Boggy Creek and sequels) were made, and Leonard Nimoy, Peter Graves, the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman all addressed the Bigfoot legend in their respective television shows. How cool is that?

In the book’s standout Chapter 6: Cinematic Appreciation, Hall addresses the Patterson-Gimlin film’s effectiveness as a film,  discussing its “fourth wall” moment; when Bigfoot turns and the watched becomes the watcher. This one-minute film provides a jump scare worthy of or The Exorcist. Indeed, I remember, as a child, seeing the Patterson-Gimlin footage for the first time, and the subtlety of that moment made the hairs on the nape of my neck stand on end in the same way as when I saw the alien wife of Unearthly Stranger removing a roast from the oven without gloves on. There is a similar alien-in-our-midst quality to Patterson’s Bigfoot; made all the more effective and haunting in its brevity, silence, and “what if?” possibility. It is that simple turn of the creature which sealed the film’s legendary status.

Hall provides a summary: “Sure, you can make your own Patterson-Gimlin film with an iPhone and your mom’s faux-fur coat, but there’s still no beating the original for sheer weirdness. We still want to believe. And if that means heading to YouTube to watch a grainy, 50-year-old clip by a couple of Bigfoot believers and allowing our imaginations to run wild? So much the better.”

BOOK REVIEW: “ROOM TO DREAM” (2018, DAVID LYNCH & KRISTINE MCKENNA)

As an avowed skeptic, I readily volunteered to review Lynch’s bio-memoir to make sure the artist in question got a fair shake (from a non-“fanboy”), and also so that I might better understand a director about whom I have such mixed feelings. Right off the bat, let me inform you that this book is a very enjoyable read and that anyone who is remotely interested in the life of David Lynch should give it a go.

The format is slightly unconventional. The heavy lifting is done by long-time Lynch associate and friend Kristine McKenna, who provides the academic half of things. She conducted extensive interviews with Lynch’s family, colleagues, and the like, as well as got all the dates of events lined up with impeccable precision. Her half of each chapter comes first, providing the facts for every chunk of David’s (having gotten to know him so well by now, I’m going to call him by his given name) life, starting with token facts about his parents and early childhood. Having known the guy since the late ’70s, she’s on solid footing here, and though I haven’t run her sections through my fact-checker, I have no reason to doubt them.

David’s portion acts as a rejoinder to each of the “academic” chapters, bringing the memoir genre crashing into the more rigorous biographical genre. Coming across so much as a Midwestern all-around swell guy might have been unbelievable had his sections been presented without McKenna’s. However, judging from the remarks, anecdotes, and testimonials of the dozens (and dozens) of people interviewed for this book (and prior works), David comes across in his sections as honest, interesting, and, again, swell.

Room to Dream moves chronologically in structure, and breaking down the chapters so that each covers a specific big project (such as the hard work of Eraserhead, the serendipity of the Elephant Man, and the trial-by-producer-fiat of Dune) allows the book to be read in bits and bobs over a long course of time without compromising narrative flow. As I said before, it is all eminently readable and fun, and the reason I’ve avoided quoting any specific passages so far is that there are too many to bust out. That said, I will bring to your attention David’s most Lynchian phrase I’ve come across: “There’s a donut, and there’s a hole; and you should keep your eye on the donut.” (This bit of life coaching also appears in interviews he’s provided.)  And in describing David’s voice, (a court adviser in Dune) says it’s “kind of like Peter Lorre from Philadelphia.” 1

Indeed, memorable quotations abound; so much so that my book-mark ran perilously close to running out of room as I jotted down page numbers. David Lynch is a great guy who’s led a highly enjoyable life marred only on occasion by artistic or professional setbacks (the closest he comes to criticizing anyone is describing his distaste for two French corporate “suits” who don’t share their eccentric industrialist boss’ vision). His greatest failing is perhaps is he falls in love with a consistency that precludes long marriages (he’s on his fourth wife).

And my criticisms of the man and his biography that I had hoped to unleash from the back of my mind? I couldn’t muster them. The name-dropping is a little overwhelming at times (less of a problem for readers in “the Biz”), and my only stylistic quibbles have more to do with my archaic language and syntax hang-ups than anything Kristine McKenna gets up to. I personally would never take a compound noun (“Executive-Producer”) and morph it into a verb (“Executive-Produce”) when the sentence structure could be shuffled ever so slightly to keep it a noun (or, as I’d prefer, the verb phrase “produce executively”). But as any sane person can see, this complaint is almost nonsensical.

To sum up: Room to Dream was so good that its section on Mulholland Drive (a movie I have disliked with a passion for over a decade) made me inclined to give it another go. Snap up a copy of this fine tome or borrow it from your local library. It will give you all the Lynch you could hope to digest.

BOOK REVIEW: THE LAST COLORING BOOK ON THE LEFT (2017)

“To avoid fainting keep repeating: it’s only a coloring book, it’s only a coloring book, it’s only a coloring book…”–-Front cover blurb, Last Coloring Book on the Left

WRITTEN & ILLUSTRATED BY: Jimmy Angelina, Wyatt Doyle

FEATURING: Likenesses of Michael Caine, , , and many others

PLOT: A coloring book for adults, and more specifically, cinephiles. Every page features a new rendering of an iconic character from a film, with some of their dialogue underneath.

Last Coloring Book on the Left

BACKGROUND:

  • The second publication from the team behind 2016’s “The Last Coloring Book.”
  • The Author Wyatt Doyle worked at Delco Five Star Video, then Computer and Video Exchange and Pizza and Video To Go. His years at the family shop, Doyle’s Premiere Video, overlapped with his tenure at Movies Unlimited—a job that continued into his time at Video Showcase IV. He has published several books. His favorite theaters are the Lansdowne, the Egyptian, Eric Twin Barclay Square, the New Beverly, and the Old Town Music Hall. But he saw Meatballs at the Waverly.
  • The Illustrator Jimmy Angelina swapped studying filmmaking for drawing pictures. His illustrations have appeared in various publications and on theater posters. He once spent an unforgettable evening watching movies and eating pizza with comics legend Gene Colan. His favorite artist is . Angelina is currently assembling a collection of his early work and ephemera, provisionally titled A Portrait of the Idiot as a Young Moron. He loves dogs.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Every page features an iconic face from a movie.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: as renegade repairman Harry Tuttle in Brazil (1985); during his “Jesus Christ Savior” tour (1971); and son in El Topo (1970)

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: With no context other than the drawing of the character and a line or two of dialogue, you have to know which film the illustration is referencing to make sense of the page. Without this foreknowledge, it presents some striking illustrations of film moments that will be beyond the reader’s comprehension. Readers are also very unlikely to ever actually color in said drawings, effectively rendering the book non functional.

COMMENTS: What a strange, yet delightful, occurrence to be called upon to review a coloring book for 366 Weird Movies. Obviously this isn’t a List contender (it’s not a film!), but it is a refreshing and unexpected change of pace.

This is an odd book: a publication celebrating cinema without any historical context, production notes, or insight into any of the films included; a coloring book never intended for children but which adults are unlikely to ever actually color in; and a tome without any major slabs of text or narrative. Unless you’re familiar with the films themselves you’re unlikely to comprehend the images on each page, and no context is given for the movie the image comes from—most likely for legal reasons.

While definitely an appropriate title for this site, featuring some obscure gems from the Midnight Movie genre, retro horror films, and odd dramas like 1999’s The Straight Story, this purely a curio for the coffee tables of lovers of cinema. A quick read that can be finished in under half an hour, the shelf life of this book rests entirely on how often the owner will bring it out at parties for the curiosity of others. Unless you intend to actually color in the images, you will be unlikely to revisit it often.

Still, the images themselves are striking ink drawings rendered boldly in black and white, and the quality of the paper and jacket is impressive for an independent publication. Celluloid lovers will delight in spotting moments from their favorite films including Chow Yun-Fat cradling a baby in Hard Boiled (1992), as Ben in Blue Velvet (1986), as Wyatt in Easy Rider (1969), as Sir Guy Grand in The Magic Christian (1969), Sterling Hayden as Jack Ripper in Dr. Strangelove (1964) and as Alonzo in The Unknown (1927) among many, many others. This reviewer considers himself a dedicated patron of the cinematic arts and yet was still hard pressed to place all of the images and films contained within.

A novelty piece with perhaps little reuse value, it remains a highly original and polished publication celebrating the best of cult and alternative cinema. A welcome addition for collectors and movie buffs looking to fill their shelves with a unique conversation piece.

OFFICIAL SITE: “The Last Coloring Book” official Facebook page

OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:

The Last Coloring Book on Amazing Colossal Podcast! – The original “The Last Coloring Book” featured on Amazing Colossal Podcast with Gilbert Gottfried and Frank Santopadre

PHIL HALL’S IN SEARCH OF LOST FILMS

Only Phil Hall, of the late and much missed “Film Threat,” would have the gall (or the balls) to (rightly) include ‘s Oscar nominated Mystic River (2003) in a 2013 book entitled “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time,” right alongside Plan 9 from Outer Space and the 1970 “UFOs built the pyramids” documentary Chariots of the Gods. Of course “Film Threat” was so titled because it was a provocative endeavor, frequently taking the likes of Steven Spielberg to task for complacency while promoting the riskier independent film scene—which was slowly and inevitably devolving into a crowd-pleasing landscape itself. Yet, “Film Threat” was also (and primarily) a pedagogical effort, written and edited by a team of writers who knew and loved film and saw it as the youngest of the major art forms, one that had boundless potential for experimentation and growth. Thus, it’s really not surprising to see Hall dipping into the history of film and its missing gems in his 2016 opus “In Search of Lost Films.”

Hall opens with a concise dissertation on the history of lost films, writing that the tragedy of lost films is all the more unfortunate because, unlike a lost painting, film is a collaborative work of art. Correcting the general misconception that lost films are confined to those produced during the silent era, Hall propels the reader through examples that expand into the 1970s.

One of the most compelling sections focuses on the lost films of “vamp” Theda Bara. Bara’s reputation as America’s first cinematic sex symbol was once so pronounced that even Marilyn Monroe paid tribute to her predecessor in a famous photo shoot with Richard Avedon. Yet today, with only four of Bara’s forty four films in existence, it is difficult to fully fathom her impact. Of the four survivors, only one is a starring role in a feature film tailored around her screen persona. Fortunately, it is among her most famous films and the one that established her “vamp” image: A Fool There Was (1915). Less than thirty seconds of her biggest box office hit, 1917’s Cleopatra, survives. That film was so popular it spawned numerous imitators (including one by Cecil B. DeMille) and spoofs (including one by ). For nearly a decade Bara ranked behind only and among major silent film stars, but her oeuvre has suffered the greatest loss, primarily due to a 1937 Fox Studio vault fire. Although Bara had been one of Fox’s biggest stars, the studio was negligent in preserving her films after its contract with the star expired ((Due in part to the actress’ ill-advised effort to escape typecasting—although she had earlier vowed to “vamp” as long as people sinned.)) in 1919. By 1937, a renewed wave of puritan values had created the Production Code and Bara’s screen persona became an erotic relic (A Fool There Was bears this out). Coupled with a general studio attitude that saw no value in preserving films beyond their initial release period, this set the stage for Bara’s main body of work being reduced to nitrate ash.

London After Midnight (1927) publicity still
Lon Chaney in a publicity still from Tod Browning’s lost film “London After Midnight” (1927)

Naturally, Hall discusses what is perhaps the most famous and  sought after lost film: London After Midnight (1927). A still photo reproduction of this / production was released by Turner Classic Movies several years ago, and only inspired further speculation and futile hope of finding it. The late Forrest J. Ackerman, undoubtedly the horror genre’s most famous fan, had already fanned the flames of desire when he claimed to have seen the film and declared it a lamentably lost masterpiece. 1927 audiences apparently shared Ackerman’s enthusiasm. Up until 1931’s Dracula, it Continue reading PHIL HALL’S IN SEARCH OF LOST FILMS

BOOK REVIEW: “MADELEINE E.” (2016, GABRIEL BLACKWELL)

“…the forger… [produces] what the archaeologist or historian is already looking for, artifacts or documents quite familiar and a little strange. The familiarity makes the work meaningful, and the strangeness makes it valuable.”–Hillel Schwartz, The Culture of the Copy, quoted in Gabriel Blackwell, Madeleine E.

“It’s clear that Vertigo isn’t really about what it appears to be about. But, what it really is about isn’t entirely clear.”–G. Smalley

Madeleine E.

This is a book about a writer named Gabriel Blackwell who is writing a book about Vertigo. Just as he begins, he learns that his contract as an associate professor of creative writing will not be not renewed. He finds himself distracted and anxious, suddenly dependent on his wife’s income to survive. After he has already started working on the book, the 2012 Sight and Sound poll unexpectedly naming Vertigo the critics’ favorite film of all time comes out. His agent insists that he needs to take advantage of the fact that he has a head start on the flood of books about to come out on the film, which makes him even more nervous about the project.

But the writer still does not have a handle on what he wants to do with the material. While doing his research he has collected a tremendous amount of quotes about the movie, direct quotes from Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Novak, interpretations from critics, and indirectly related thoughts from writers discussing themes that also appear in Vertigo. He intersperses these quotations with his own reflections about the film, but the result still does not seem right. In a stroke of inspiration, he invents (or does he?) a story about a double; about seeing another Gabriel Blackwell’s name pop up on the Internet, a man who is also a writer but who has written books our Gabriel Blackwell did not write. He travels to San Francisco and is shaken when he sees a man there who looks exactly like him. He talks about the stress his marriage is under, and admits to following his wife and spying on her from a distance when she leaves for work. Sometimes, the autobiographical parts of the book appear to contradict each other. At times he has a wife, at times a girlfriend, and we are not entirely sure if these sets of memories come from two different times in his life, or if they are written by two different Gabriel Blackwells, each of whom is working on a book about Vertigo. He includes several synopses of a book called Madeleine E. (sometimes titled Vertigo Vertigo Vertigo), sketches of novels that were never written, mysterious stories about detectives and screenwriters and mistaken identities and deception, tales that read like magical realist parables. In the end, Blackwell abandons writing and becomes a paralegal.

Or so he tells us. The whole thing could be made up. Or true.

Gabriel Blackwell’s Madeleine E. is a bravely experimental work; a Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: “MADELEINE E.” (2016, GABRIEL BLACKWELL)

BOOK REVIEW: “TWISTERN: 50 TWISTED WESTERN MOVIE REVIEWS”

Written by Kelly Knight; 149pp, ISBN 978-0-615-62472-3; Ronin Productions, Inc.

What, exactly, is a “Twistern”? Well, as the foreword explains, it’s basically one of two things. Either it’s a western which in some way resembles another genre, or vice versa. As the author puts it: “Like peanut butter and chocolate, the mixture of science fiction, horror, comedy and psychedelic genres with classic Western results in a delicious concoction.” Leaving aside the bizarre peanut butter and chocolate analogy, this is potentially the basis for an extremely interesting study of how the most prolific of all classic movie genres has, during its long evolution, spawned many strange mutant offspring.

Sadly, this book isn’t it. It does exactly what it says on the cover: reviews 50 movies which more or less fit this extremely broad category, but are otherwise apparently chosen at random, irrespective of quality, obscurity, or degree of “twistedness.” If you read the title carefully, it doesn’t claim these are the 50 best, worst, or weirdest twisted westerns—they’re just 50 twisted westerns. Which is disarmingly honest, and perfectly true. Of course, you have to accept the author’s personal definition of “twisted.” The foreword explains that spaghetti westerns have been left out because they all have plots very similar to ordinary westerns, or are too “well known and beloved” to merit inclusion, but Django il Bastardo gets in because the hero is a ghost, and that’s “twisted.” The Proposition is ”twisted” because it’s set in Australia. The Apple Dumpling Gang (mass-produced Disney pap from 1975) is “twisted” because it’s a comedy, and the protagonists are children. The North Star is “twisted” because there’s snow on the ground throughout the film, and the author wants an excuse to mock Christopher Lambert’s miscasting as a half-breed Eskimo. And so on.

Since only 50 films are covered, it’s literally a waste of space to discuss huge, mainstream blockbusters like Back to the Future Part III or Cowboys & Aliens, especially when the author justifies leaving out all but one spaghetti western on the grounds that readers will be familiar with them already. They might also have heard of Westworld, Blazing Saddles, Outland, Serenity, Wild Wild West, and many others. In a book this slim, there shouldn’t be anything like this much dead wood. Even the weirder films are in some cases the usual suspects that have been wearily popping up in every book that laughs ironically at bad movies since the Medved brothers originated the fad in 1979. Do we really need to hear yet again about Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, or The Terror of Tiny Town?

This is not a book for those seriously interested in cinema. It’s very lightweight indeed, and written throughout with such breathless enthusiasm that sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not the author actually likes the film. A few interesting and/or unjustly neglected movies are discussed: for example, the rather weird and strangely compelling The Tears of the Black Tiger, or the non-weird but pretty good Australian thriller Red Hill. But most of those you haven’t heard of are obscure for a very good reason—Cowboys & Zombies, for example, about which the book says: “So, here’s another extremely low budget Twistern for all you dudes and dudettes. If you’re in the spirit, you could do a lot worse. Slide on your armoured chaps, strap on two bandoliers, and aim for those zombie heads!”

I haven’t seen this film, and judging by every other review I can find, I don’t want to. Other reviews of films that were new to me suffer from the same problem – the author is so enthusiastic about what sounds like a terrible movie that you have to look it up elsewhere because you don’t believe him. Which completely defeats the object of a book of film reviews. As for the “twistern” concept tying it all together, it’s stretched so thin that it becomes a meaningless and counterproductive gimmick that forces him to include predictable, over-familiar movies. In short, this book is obviously a labor of love, but I can’t imagine anyone but its author loving it.