S.G. Browne

Movie Review Monday: Oscar Wrap-Up

Prior to Sunday night’s Academy Awards show, I didn’t think I had much of an emotional investment in the outcome of any of the races.  But as I was sitting with my buddy Brad drinking a Corona and filling out my Oscar Pool Picks, I realized I cared more than I thought.

I also realized I would have preferred to have been drinking my Corona on a tropical beach beneath an umbrella with nothing in front of me but a turquoise ocean beneath an azure sky.  Maybe a bikini or two.

But I digress…

Of the 10 films up for Best Picture, I’d seen nine of them (127 Hours the only holdout) so as opposed to the past couple of years, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on what I thought deserved to win.  Yes, I thought The King’s Speech was worthy of the little gold man but I was hoping the Academy would avoid taking the safe pick and go instead with the edgier and more timely The Social Network as the best film of 2010.  And I probably could have lived with their choice had they awarded David Fincher with the Best Director Oscar, which I felt he deserved for the excellent job he did.  But then, he’s one of my favorite directors and I am a little biased.

As for the rest of the major awards, I thought Colin Firth was worthy of being named Best Actor and, as a Natalie Portman and a Black Swan fan, was happy to see her walk away with the Best Actress Oscar.  But secretly, I was cheering for Michelle Williams. Personally, I think she would have looked much more dazzling accepting the award.

By the way, what was the over/under on how many outfits Anne Hathaway would wear?

The last two major awards, and the two that are most relevant to me, were the Oscars for Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.  While I thought The Social Network was the clear choice for the latter of the two and happy it took home the gold, I wasn’t as excited about the Original Screenplay as I’ve been in years past, when I rooted for scripts like The Fisher King, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, Fargo, Good Will Hunting, Being John Malkovich, Almost Famous, Memento, Little Miss Sunshine, and Juno.  (Of the ten listed, seven won the Oscar, with The Fisher King, Being John Malkovich, and Memento losing out.)

And after rambling on, I’ve lost my place.  Ah yes.  Original Screenplay.  While I was hoping Inception might manage to pull it out this year, I couldn’t fault the choice of The King’s Speech as the winner.  It was well-crafted and a lot less confusing.  But like I said, I didn’t really care.

That’s it for the post-Oscar wrap-up.  Oh, and for the record, I only picked 13 out of the 24 awards correctly.  How did you do?  And what did you think of the winners?

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Filed under: Movie Review Mondays — S.G. Browne @ 4:31 pm

Attention Deficit Disorder Friday

I have too many things to run through on this last Friday of February to talk about just one thing, so I’m canceling Fiction Friday and installing the inaugural entry of Attention Deficit Disorder Friday so I can get to everything on my list.  Now where did I put that list?  Ah, there it is…

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As I mentioned on Wednesday’s blog post, “Softland,” my short story about a family of luck poachers, appears in the eBook collection The Mother Load, which you can get for free by pre-ordering a copy of James Melzer’s Escape: A Zombies Chronicle Novel.  The collection also includes stories from Jeremy C. Shipp, David Moody, and the other bloody names on the pregnant lady to the left.

Here’s a teaser from the opening of “Softland:”

Grandpa only had one finger left and it was pointing at the door.

He was leaning forward in his chair, his gaze turned away from the marathon of Gilligan’s Island reruns, that single, remaining digit on his left hand pointing across the room.

“Someone’s comin’,” he said.

Before I could reach my Smith and Wesson sitting on top of the television, the front door crashed open.

Let me back up.

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Back up to last Thursday, when I received my author copies of the United Kingdom version of Breathers, which is scheduled for release next Thursday, March 3rd. Conveniently, that just so happens to be the two year anniversary of the launch of Breathers here in the states.

So to celebrate, I’ll be throwing a party. Okay, not really a party. But I’ll be giving away free stuff.  To be specific, signed copies of Breathers, Fated, and the UK version of Breathers. So stay tuned for a blog post next week with the details on how you can get your hands on some signed books.

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I’ll be signing books tomorrow (that’s Saturday, February 26th for those not keeping track) from 1:00PM to 3:00PM at the Barnes & Noble in Dublin at the Hacienda Crossings shopping center, off of Interstate 580 at the (surprise!) Hacienda Drive exit.  So if you’re in the area, come on out and say “hey!”  And bring mimosas.

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Filed under: Fiction Fridays,Just Blogging — S.G. Browne @ 7:41 am

Wildcard Wednesday: The Mother Load

Last April, I was approached by my buddy, James Melzer, to submit a short story to an eBook collection he was putting together as part of a promotional launch package for his upcoming novel, Escape: A Zombies Chronicle Novel. The idea was to offer up a collection of short stories for free to anyone who pre-ordered a copy of his novel. I liked the idea, so I said “count me in.”

The Mother Load is an eBook collection of never-before published stories from Mur Lafferty (“Style Won’t Save You”), David Moody (“The Deal”), Jeremy C. Shipp (“Spider Clowns From Planet X”), Wayne Simmons (“Mary’s Boy Child”), Matt Wallace (“Knowing”), and yours truly (“Softland”).

I won’t give away what any of the other stories are about, but “Softland” is about a family of two brothers and their grandfather who live in central California and who have the ability to steal luck. It’s also the story upon which my next novel, Lucky Bastard, is loosely based. Though with a different storyline and different main characters.

So how can you get a copy of The Mother Load? That’s easy. Just pre-order Escape: A Zombie Chronicles Novel by James Melzer at any of the following online retailers:

Once you’ve pre-ordered Escape, YOU MUST FORWARD YOUR PURCHASE RECEIPT TO EscapeNovel@Gmail.com.  Once you do this, you will receive a .zip file that contains The Mother Load in .mobi, .epub and PDF formats for your eReaders within 24 hours.

The collection also contains an excerpt of Escape so you know what you have to look forward to.  You can also check out a synopsis and learn more about Escape: A Zombies Chronicle Novel by visiting the Official Website of James Melzer.

That’s it.  Any questions, let me know.  Happy reading!

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Movie Review Monday: Scotland, PA

Set in 1975 in Scotland, PA, with a soundtrack almost exclusively comprised of Bad Company songs and with everyone driving around in muscle cars and sporting bad fashion and long hair, Scotland, PA is a darkly comedic take on Shakespeare’s tragedy MacBeth.

James LeGros (Chad Palomino from Living in Oblivion) plays the title character, only instead of MacBeth, he’s Joe McBeth, an underachieving employee at a fast-food restaurant named Duncan’s, owned by Norm Duncan, who has made his fortune by selling a chain of donut stores. Duncan has repeatedly passed over McBeth for promotion while ignoring McBeth’s ideas for improving the store, including a french fry truck and chicken nuggets with dipping sauces.

At the urging of his wife “Lady” Pat McBeth (Maura Tierny of ER fame), McBeth kills Duncan so that they can take over the restaurant, which, of course, they call McBeth’s. (The similarities to another famous fast food chain are impossible to miss.) But when Lieutenant McDuff (Christopher Walken) shows up to investigate Duncan’s murder and suspicion gradually shifts to them, the McBeths begin to unravel.

Also starring Kevin Corrigan as fry cook Anthony “Banko” Banconi and Amy Smart, Timothy Levitch, and Andy Dick as a trio of gypsy hippie “witches,” Scotland, PA is a smart and amusing social satire on fast-food and the 1970’s. Don’t expect to hear any of Shakespeare’s dialogue (except occasionally playing on the radio in the background). But if you don’t take your Shakespeare seriously and enjoy good dark comedies, then go out and rent this one.

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Filed under: Movie Review Mondays,Movies and Books — S.G. Browne @ 8:13 am

Movie Review Monday: I Heart Huckabees

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d review a movie about the personal connections that arise from the senseless and painful reality of human existence. And a movie that has the word “heart” in its title.

I Heart Huckabees (2004) is a film that’s difficult to describe. I’m not sure I can do it justice. Even director David O. Russell, in an interview, said he described the film to the people who financed the movie as:

“Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin are existential detectives who you could hire to investigate the meaning of your life. Their clients include Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Jason Schwartzman and Mark Wahlberg. Their nemesis is Isabelle Huppert. Hilarity ensues.”

Jason Schwartzman is a neurotic (surprise!)  environmental advocate fighting against the development of a big-chain department store (Huckabees), for which Jude Law plays a scheming, corporate-ladder-climbing executive, with Naomi Watts, the iconic face and voice of Huckabees, as his live-in girlfriend who has superficial tendencies. As mentioned, Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman are the existential sleuths who attempt to help Schwartzmann solve a coincidence by teaching him about the universal interconnectivity of everything.

Mark Wahlberg (in a great role) is an anti-petroleum, bicycle-riding fireman who believes Tomlin’s and Hoffman’s optimistic approach isn’t working for him. So he teams up with Schwartzmann and the two of them go off on their own to work with Isabelle Huppert, who teaches them that life is meaningless and that they must disconnect from their problems in order to avoid the misery of human existence.

And you thought this was going to be a love story.

This is definitely one of those films that you either love or you hate. Obviously, I fall into the former camp and consider this one of my favorite films. It’s a quirky, playful, intelligent comedy about the meaning of existence with terrific acting, great dialogue, and an original story.

Just don’t expect a whole lot of hearts or romance.

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Filed under: Movie Review Mondays,Movies and Books — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 4:00 pm