Day: September 10, 2008

Take One: The “King” of Horror

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One of my favorite writers is Stephen King. Yes, he writes lots of scary stuff, but 1. what’s wrong with writing in a certain genre and 2. he doesn’t just write horror. Or, if you think about it, everyone writes horror to some extent. But my point is that King is a good writer period, no matter what genre. He mystifies the reader in The Eyes of the Dragon, he brings sympathy to laborers with lousy jobs in the short story Luckey Quarter (published in Everything’s Eventual), and gives us a woman with a rapid mouth to root for in Dolores Claiborne. He creeps us out when we’re lost in the woods (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), tells us if we ever become famous, stay clear of stalkers, or in Annie Wilkes’ words “number one fans” (Misery), and to be aware of everything you’re told and to not listen blindly to people ( the novella Apt Pupil). He brings us stories of our youth (The Body) and our lack of sleep cycles (Insomnia). Any good writer can transform a touchy subject, like domestic violence, which King touches upon a lot, into a mind blowing story for the ages. I personally enjoy scary stories, and I don’t really see King’s stories as “scary” per se. More suspenseful or terrifying I would say. I recently finished The Girl Who loved Tom Gordon  about a young girl who gets lost in the woods, and for comfort, imagines her favorite Red Sox baseball player with her. That is a story that many people can identify with. My favorite book of his is Dolores Claiborne, the story of a woman who is accused of killing the owner of the house she cleaned for twenty-two years. This woman is not fancy, but merely a woman who does her  job well, even though she hates it. My mother is very similar to the character. Both care for people as a job, both have foul mouths, and both are strong women with kids. Please comment on your reasons for enjoying Stephen King or disliking him.

War Games: Review for “Tropic Thunder”

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Tropic Thunder is the story of stereotypes in the movie nusiness. Robert Downey Jr. does a terrific job as method actor Kirk Lazurus, this time playing a black guy. Before production, he went under skin pigmentation. Kirk is like Daniel Day-Lewis on crack. Kirk has five Oscars and is from Australia. Jack Black plays an actor who has gained his fart-une from the comedy franchise The Fatties. Due to his films lacking in any real significance, he often gets high off heroine. Ben Stiller plays the action hero actor Tugg Speedman, whose Scorcher franchise (six films in all) is burning out. All these character represent wonderful stereotypes in Hollywood. As I have just written, you have the Method Actor, the Comic, and the Action Hero. Their next film is Tropic Thunder, the story of a brief battle in Vietnam written by a mysterious and handless guy named Four Leaf, who is played by a hilarious Nick Nolte. During the first couple weeks of production, news is making that the director (Steve Coogan, Hamlet 2) can’t handle the responsibilities of a big budget film. Access Hollywood has a brilliant mock news story that appears. So to make things easier, he just sends out his main actors in the woods on location, where they stumble upon drug “factory” somewhere in Asia. What they believe is a set filled with actors and extras turns out to be their worst nightmare. The film is a homage to those Vietnam war films of the 1980s, like Apocalypse Now and Platoon. It’s also a loving message to the film industry, complete with whiny actors, impatient directors, and evil studio executives (a spectacular Tom Cruise). It even has fake movie trailer for the lead actors! It’s a really great film with funny dialogue (“I’m a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude!”) and top notch acting. Robert Downey Jr. is awesome as the method actor so closely resembling Day-Lewis, who is a very serious method man (Fun fact: Day-Lewis mastered knife throwing for his role in Gangs of New York). A very funny film with a great cast!

Grade: A-