Under Pressure

Alright, alright. I’ll post a year end list. Jeez. Peer pressure in the blogsphere is incessant. First though, a bit of business. We have a new resident in The Village, John August. He’s the screenwriter of two of my favorite films GO and Big Fish, plus the Charlie’s Angels films and the new Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I found John’s blog through Lee Goldberg and was amazed that someone of his caliber and success would take the time to answer so many questions about screenwriting…and he gets some real stupid questions. Screenwriting has always been a sideline joy of mine.

While prose is my first love and will always get the most attention, I love movies and it only seems natural that one day I’d translate that to my writing world. I’ve noticed most prose writers of my generation do a fair amount of work as screenwriters in addition to their novels and short stories. In fact, more than one agent has told me to write my first novel Lunchbox Hero as a screenplay as well, to see if I can generate more interest. I plan on doing that after I’m done with the first draft of Book Two. So enjoy John’s blog and now, onto the lists.

Well I just mentioned I see a lot of movies so let’s start there. I see a ton of movies and rarely do I go see something that I know I’m not going to like so there are few real stinkers and it’s hard to narrow the several I really liked to a manageble list so here are the three films I really liked, the ones I saw several times in the theaters and will probably see again in DVD.

1. My best movie of the year, hands down is Garden State. I love Zach Braff in Scrubs and loved him in this movie. It’s a very writing and character driven movie and I fell in love with Natalie Portman every time I saw it. There are great visuals like a knight walking through a home kitchen and a houseboat at the bottom of a canyon in New Jersey. Just all around great stuff. The soundtrack is very cool too.

2. Right up there with Garden State is The Incredibles. Everybody I know liked it and every top ten list includes it so I don’t need to get real in depth, just loved it, but again, I’m a sucker for anythign superhero.

3. Now, nobody else liked it, but I loved Jersey Girl. I love Kevin Smith, I love Ben Affleck and I really love Liv Tyler, and there were no animal cracker love scenes. Ben Afflect is in a role that suits him well while Liv Tyler stretched herself a bit. They have a discussion about sex, porn and masturbation that made me spit my popcorn out. And the little girl is adorable and George Carlin plays one of the best roles of his life. I loved all of Kevin Smith’s dirty, vulger and pop culture laced previous films and I also loved his first grown up effort. I’m very excited to see what he does next.

Runners up include Blade:Trinity, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Punisher and Team America:World Police


I don’t read as many books as I see movies, but there is even less of a chance of me reading a bad book than seeing a bad movie.

1. The Narrows by Michael Connelly- I think Connelly is one of the best we have writing out there now. He’s as literary as Lehane and as popular as writers with half his talent. This ranks as the second best Bosch book ever with only A Darkness More than Night being my favorite. I love inside jokes and crisscrossing universes and Connelly deftly handles both in Bosch’s last case as a PI. I’m going to miss the first person Bosch voice but I’m very much looking forward to him back on the force with The Closers because it’s the only good procedural series I really like.

2. The Guards by Ken Bruen- Again, this has appeared on several lists, I can’t do it any justice so just “wow.”

3. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Letham- This is the guy I would love to be. His use of pop culture doesn’t just spew forth to set the tone of time, it’s an intregal part if the story. This book follows two boys growing up in Brooklyn in the 70s. From there it encompasses the 80s and 90s as well with the trained eye of a guy who was on the outside looking in. I’ll say it again, I wish I could be Jonathan Letham

Runners up: Absent Friends by S.J. Rozan, Rain Storm by Barry Eisler, Double Play by Robert B. Parker, Bad Move by Linwood Barclay and Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan…and Thief’s Dozen by Donald Westlake.

And for CDs…American Idiot, best album of the year. Big and Rich’s Horse of a Different Color comes in at a close second.