Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lost River, Mystic River, Frozen River, Cold River, Red River, Hidden River, River Horse, River's Edge

Lost River is the directorial debut film of Ryan Gosling. Booed at Cannes and savaged by the critics Lost River's badness does not live up to the hype. Heavily influenced by David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Nicholas Winding Refn (3 really good influences if you ask me) Lost River has some striking images of a ruined Detroit. Not much of a story but its no worse than Malick's last 3 films.
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Mystic River is a book by Dennis Lehane and a film by Clint Eastwood. The book explores the impact of a brutal crime upon a close knit neighbourhood in working class Boston. A contemporary crime classic this is probably the high point - so far - of Denny Lehane's career. The film is good too if you can stand the sight of a lot of grown men blubbing on cue to camera. (I can't.)
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Melissa Leo's extraordinary central performance is the heart of Frozen River about a poverty stricken middle aged woman trying to cope with life on the edge of the Mohawk Indian Reservation in upstate NY. Throw in people smugglers, an actual frozen river (the St Lawrence) and some beautiful cinematography and you have a rare portrait of blue collar American life that - mostly - doesn't condescend. This was one of Roger Ebert's favourite films of 2008 and it won the Jury Prize at Sundance. 
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Cold River: I liked this little indy YA movie. I'm taking this synopsis straight from John N Daly's perfectly concise IMDB entry: Based on the novel Winterkill, by William Judson, Cold River is the story of an Adirondack guide who takes his young daughter and step-son on a long camping trip in the fall of 1932. When winter strikes unexpectedly early (a natural phenomenon known as a 'winterkill' - so named because the animals are totally unprepared for a sudden, early winter, and many freeze or starve to death), he suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving his two children to find their own way home without food, or protection from the elements.
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Red River is a big sprawling 1948 Howard Hawks western starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift who are driving cattle north to the railhead. Wow, is this not my cup of tea. My preferred classic western is - I suppose - The Searchers. My preferred Howard Hawks movie is the wonderful His Girl Friday. 
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Hidden River is my 2005 novel about a disgraced ex cop from the RUC trying to achieve redemption by finding out who murdered an Irish girl in Denver. Struggling with a heroin addiction Alexander Lawson screws everything up on arrival Stateside. This book was a big flop when it came out getting almost no reviews and selling less than a 1000 copies. It more or less killed my career in America after the good reviews but poor sales of my debut Dead I Well May Be. I haven't been reviewed in the New York Times since...Still I have a lot of affection for this story and in 2015 I resurrected Lawson and put him in my book Gun Street Girl (which takes place several years before the events of Hidden River) as a newbie trainee cop. And some day I hope to release the crazy 150,000 word director's cut of this book if I can get the rights back...(the actual released version was 99,000 words long)...
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River Horse is a travel book by William Trogdon whose nom de plume is William Least Heat Moon. Ever wondered if its possible to travel by boat entirely across America with as few portages as possible? William LHM also wondered that and then attempted to do it and wrote a terrific travel book about the whole adventure. 
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River's Edge: a high school slacker kills his girlfriend and shows off her dead body to his cynical jaded druggie friends. Tim Hunter conjures superb performances from Crispin Glover and Keanu Reeves and a whole bunch of other kids who - amazingly - are all in their 50's now.