Saturday, June 28, 2014

The return of Caitlin Star

The action intensifies, the characters deepen, and the fate of the world is at stake as Caitlin Star returns in the wildly anticipated stand-alone sequel "Caitlin Star and the Guardian of Forever".

Available at bookstores everywhere on July 8th 2014.

From the back cover:

If action has a name, it is Caitlin Star

Caitlin Star’s first solo outing shocked readers with its relentless, nihilistic, and graphic take on the YA dystopian genre. Now, this riveting stand-alone sequel launches the unforgettable action figure femme into the realm of mythic superhero. Caitlin Star and the Guardian of Forever is a colorful, exotic, brutal, exhilarating, action-packed adventure novel with shades of Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and Tarzan of the Apes.

Caitlin is a warrior trained by Gunner Star in the ways of the Bull Mongoni, a mythic species of hominids that lived long ago. The Bull Mongoni philosophy is to strengthen the mind and the flesh, to protect the earth and its creatures, and to fight for those who have no voice.

When Yellowstone Park was under siege by the Big Oil Mafia and North America held hostage by right-wing extremist President Tony Perkins and his Moral Authority militias, Caitlin Star led a revolution. She and her warriors protected the National Parks, defeated Perkins and his self-righteous goons, and restored free-thinking to America.

It was but a temporary victory. Backed by the billionaire Cantor brothers and under the guise of a new charismatic leader, Senator Ben Cross of Texas, the Moral Authority has spent the last two years growing stronger. Now they have teamed up with a para-military gang known as the White Hand, have taken control of Central Africa, and are intent on destroying the only remaining patch of pristine rainforest on Earth—a place known as The Last Eden.

When a cross river gorilla is sadistically murdered, Caitlin is called into action by Azrael—a.k.a. the Black Knight—a fellow Bull Mongoni warrior with roots in the Congo. Now she must defeat the White Hand, battle the militia of a ruthless Uganda dictator, and face down a mysterious figure who is manipulating everything behind the scenes for a devious purpose that will threaten every living thing on earth.

It is up to Caitlin Star to save a paradise, free a continent, and rescue the entire planet itself. Caitlin Star is our last hope.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lana Del Rey’s artistry lives in ‘Shades of Cool'

Lana Del Rey’s music video for “Shades of Cool”, from her newly released—and wildly anticipated—third studio album “Ultraviolence”, made its online debut on June 17, 2014. Once gain the enigmatic singer/songwriter has created a mini-masterwork of nostalgia drenched imagery paired with somber lyrics, set to a hypnotic pop fusion ballad of melancholy angst.
To embark on a proper analysis of any creation by Lana Del Rey, one must first understand the eclectic sources she draws upon. Be it through influence, homage, or organic inspiration—the singer and video artist utilizes a tapestry of deep-seeded cultural iconography to deliver her insightful, poetic, brooding, often somber, and yet somehow wildly exhilarating, trademark lyricism.

Take a look at the latest issue of “Maxim” or “FHM” and you will not find anyone else who looks even remotely like Lana. She literally looks—and feels—like she stepped out of 1972. Anyone who is fan of ‘60s and 70’s cinema, especially exploitation cinema, knows that her statuesque beauty, real curves, and haunting gaze of woman who has lived life beyond her years would make her the perfect lead for an Italian Giallo or European art film from that golden era. It is not “Maxim” in 2014 where you will find anyone with Lana’s smoldering “Mad Men” era sexuality, it would be on the cover of “Stag”, “Men’s Epic”, or even “Esquire”—in 1970.

Right alongside ‘60s and early ‘70s cinema, there is heavy dose of classic noir pulp fiction in Lana’s Del Rey’s content, especially the bleak prose of Southern noir. Take a look at the cover artwork of master painter James Avati and you will see imagery the feels like it sprung from the lyrics of a Lana Del Rey song. What makes Lana so special—and a true authentic artist in the auteur sense of the word—is the raw and real emotion she puts into these lyrics and musical performances and videos. We believe she does not just merely know about the people and stories in her songs, but she actually lived them. We believe she had an “old man” (a phrase that had not been used to describe a male significant other—probably since 1972) like those she sings about, or had a love affair with the retro cool guy the camera lingers on in close-up after close-up in the video “Shades of Cool”, (played by celebrity tattoo artist Mark Mahoney).
Which brings us to a third critical component of the Lana Del Rey aesthetic, the way she utilizes the music video. If you are old enough to remember the early days of music video, there was so much excitement about this new form of artistic expression among filmmakers. Yet after that early promise, the format has been squandered as a mere vapid tool to propel record sales with little attempt to create stand-alone work of art worthy of analysis. Yeah, there have been a few exceptions such as “Push It” by Garbage (1998), but there have not been many music videos produced over the years brought up in a film study of short formats.
An analysis of Lana Del Rey’s videos could fill a whole semester’s worth of discussions. Lana established her filmmaking sensibilities from the start, showcasing her now trademark home movie look with the reverential, self-directed masterwork, “Video Games”. Even though the singer/songwriter has since turned over the directing chores to others (Jake Nava directed “Shades of Cool”), Lana is clearly the guiding auteur and creative force behind every frame of nostalgia saturated Kodachrome.
Her use of—and reverence of—old film stocks and movie cameras, only adds to the Lana Del Rey mystique that she is someone who stepped out of the past. The past is always the key, whether a source of pain, empowerment, or escape. In “Shades of Cool” we walk into the past and move throughout the LA streets longing to see that “blue Chevy Malibu” as we gaze into a character and a time the singer aches for—the old man from her past—who despite all of his drinking and drugs and flaws—loved her in a way that shook her soul, inspiring her to write songs and make short films about him.
Amid the chiming guitars, haunting mournful melodies, and soulful soprano gymnastics, Lana Del Rey is a storyteller—a master story teller who creates worlds from he past.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The rise of Eva Green

Earlier this year, she single-handedly turned what could have been a forgettable, cynical cash grab sequel into a must see, exhilarating delight. Right now she is headlining the most talked about new television series of the season.
Eva Green, the statuesque star of “300: Rise of an Empire” (2014) and “Penny Dreadful” (Showtime, currently running) is an extraordinary actress possessing rare gifts and an unlimited reservoir of talent. She has that elusive factor—that it factor—all great actors possess. She inhabits each and every role with a physical transformation and emotional commitment that is staggering—especially when one considers the variety of characters she has taken on.

The French beauty was destined for greatness from the start, making her film debut by landing a starring role in the erotic drama “The Dreamers”, a controversial, (and brilliant!) film by the acclaimed Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci. This is the equivalent of starring in a Stanley Kubrick film in your first movie role. Bertolucci is the Oscar winning director of “The Last Emperor” (1987) and famous for another controversial erotic film, “The Last Tango in Paris” (1972) starring Marlon Brando. For a young actress to take on the leading role in a movie made by such a strong director with a reputation for a heavy-handed (and manipulative) style of working with actors, was a huge risk.

But the courageous move paid off for Eva Green. The film was well-received and the controversy was miniscule compared to the uproar caused by “Tango” back in 1972. “The Dreamers” is a thoughtful, intelligent exploration of sexuality, culture, politics, and eroticism told through the eyes of three college students against the backdrop of the 1968 Paris student riots.
Eva’s next major role was for yet another powerhouse director in 2005 when she starred as Sibylla in Ridley Scott’s epic “Kingdom of Heaven”. Even among a cast that included Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, and Edward Norton, Eva stood out and her performance garnered rave reviews. Next, she would go on to star in arguably the best James Bond movie ever, “Casino Royale” (2006). Her performance as Vesper Lynd is flat out the best performance by a Bond girl ever.

Eva followed up “Casino Royale” with another popular big budget blockbuster hit by once again teaming up her Bond co-star in Daniel Craig in “The Golden Compass”. After this, the rising star mixed up the pace, flexed her acting muscles, and demonstrated her astonishing depth of range in a trilogy of independent, character heavy films. “Franklyn” (2008), “Cracks” (2009), and “Womb” (2010). After two more under the radar productions, “Perfect Sense” (2011) and “Camelot” (2011), the prolific actress made a return to blockbuster filmmaking, giving a delightful scene-stealing turn in Tim Burton’s sloppy but entertaining “Dark Shadows” reboot (2012).
Eva Green is incredible. Her physical presence and sexual charisma are astonishing. She can do comedy, horror, epic fantasy, adventure, eroticism, intimate character, studies and be true in all of them—and own each and every role. She is every bit as convincing with a sword in her hand among barbarians as she is in a cocktail dress among the elite.
Check out Eva Green this summer on Showtime’s creepy “Penny Dreadful”, in “300: Rise of an Empire” (DVD/Blue Ray release next week June 24th), and later this summer as the title character in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”.

Suggested by the author