New Edge Sword & Sorcery Launches Kickstarter for Issues 1&2

New Edge Sword & Sorcery, a short fiction and non-fiction magazine begun in Fall 2022 with issue #0, today launched a thirty-day crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to produce issues #1&2. These will be released sometime in the Fall of 2023.

Michael Moorcock will have a brand new, original story featured in issue #1. He joins twenty other fiction & non-fiction authors, such as Canadian horror master Gemma Files, Margaret Killjoy, David C. Smith, Hugo Award-winner Cora Buhlert, Milton Davis, and more. There will also be a tale by Jesús Montalvo, an author from the burgeoning S&S scene south of the US border, translated from its original Spanish.

Nineteen artists are spread across the two issues, including Morgan King, who directed Lucy Lawless in his 2021 rotoscope-animated Sword & Sorcery film The Spine of Night. Samples of the various artists’ work are available on the Kickstarter campaign page, while also being shared across the magazine’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.         

Each issue will feature seven original stories and four works of non-fiction: one book review, one essay, one in-depth interview, and one historical literary profile of figures like Charles Saunders or Cele Goldsmith. All stories, essays, and the profiles will be paired with at least one original B&W illustration.

“At least” one, because the Kickstarter’s stretch goals are focused on three things – enhancing the book, beginning by doubling the number of illustrations, making the book more affordable outside North America by discounting international shipping, and paying contributors as much as possible. Starting at semi-pro rates, the majority of the stretch goals are alternating pay raises for authors and artists.

Editor, Oliver Brackenbury promises the magazine is “Made with love for the classics and an inclusive, boundary-pushing approach to storytelling”, delivering high quality writing and art in a wide variety of styles. Sword & Sorcery can be many things and still be Sword & Sorcery.

New Edge Sword & Sorcery will be available in digital, perfect bound softcover, and sewn-stitched hardcover formats. Interiors are printed on firm, 100gsm cream paper at a spacious 8½x11 inches. Stretch goals also include bookmark ribbons and foil embossing for the hardcover editions.

Readers can try issue #0 for free in digital, or priced at cost on Amazon PoD, through the website.

If the Kickstarter succeeds, Brackenbury has plans for publishing further issues, themed special issues, and eventually expanding into books, with a line of anthologies & novellas.

First day backers will receive an exclusive bookmark featuring original art which will never be shared or used anywhere else. All the more reason to back the campaign.

[Based on a press release.]

Thomas Monteleone Ousted By Horror Writers Association

The Horror Writers Association Board of Trustees today expelled author Thomas Monteleone from membership, condemning his “recent words and actions” which violate their anti-harassment policies. Monteleone, an HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner (2017) is also barred from attendance and participation in StokerCon 2023, banned from future HWA events, and his benefits as an LAA winner have been revoked.

Within the past week Monteleone, alleging that “gatekeepers” at the Horror Writers Association websites were keeping his post from appearing, had taken to Facebook ostensibly to nominate Stuart David Schiff for an HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. However, before sharing the reasons Schiff should receive the recognition, Monteleone made known his real agenda: “…That said, and despite the last few LAA years looking very much like a very obvious DEI project, I am compelled to nominate a smart, old white guy: Stu Schiff…” Before it was taken down the Facebook post drew over 800 comments, some approving what he said and adding their own feelings about “virtue signaling” and “wokeness”, while others called for him to apologize. The worthiness of two of the 2020 LAA winners was also belittled.

Then, two days ago, YouTube’s Hatchet Mouth posted a “Tom Monteleone Interview” where Monteleone delivered more remarks in the vein of his Facebook post. Telling an anecdote about a World Fantasy Award winner who expressed ambivalence about receiving the Lovecraft bust, he slurred them in derogatory racial terms (while making every effort to assign the wrong ethnicity to the person being insulted), and gave the same treatment to the woman who called for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer to be renamed (as it was). The video is no longer online.

A number of HWA members posted calls in social media for the organization to remove him from membership.

The Horror Writers Association explained its decision in the “Thomas F. Monteleone Statement” posted on the HWA Blog.


The Board of Trustees for the Horror Writers Association does not condone hate speech in any way, shape, or form. We stand in support of our members’ right to feel safe, welcome, and above all else, respected. The Horror Writers Association condemns the recent words and actions of Thomas Monteleone and in accordance with our anti-harassment policies, The Board of Trustees has voted to ban Mr. Monteleone from attendance and participation in StokerCon 2023.

Furthermore, in respect to those same policies, the Board of Trustees has voted to ban Mr. Monteleone from attending our future events.

Lastly, the Board of Trustees has voted to expel Mr. Monteleone from membership in the Horror Writers Association, thus revoking the benefits of his Lifetime Achievement Award, per Horror Writers Association Bylaws Article III, section 24:

“The Board may, by a vote of 80% of the officers and trustees then in office, expel any member for good and sufficient cause. For avoidance of confusion, 80% of the officers and trustees then in office must vote to expel the member in order for such expulsion to be effective. In the event of expulsion, the expelled member’s dues, if paid, shall be refunded on a pro-rata basis. An expelled member shall be reinstated if the Board shall receive a petition for reinstatement signed by a number of Active members equal to no less than two-thirds of the Active membership as of the date of receipt.”

Members of the Board of Trustees were unanimous in this decision-making process and are also pursuing other options available under the bylaws of the organization.

We are dedicated to making our StokerCons, other HWA-sponsored events, and official HWA online spaces safe and comfortable for all participants, as per our anti-harassment policy available at horror.org/hwa-anti-harassment-policy/.


Michaele Jordan Review: Missing

Michaele Jordan is still watching Korean TV. Here’s a show she thinks you should try.

Are you missing MISSING?

Review by Michaele Jordan: It would be easy to do. Just now, when I went on-line to collect production credits which are included in any responsible review, I hit a wall of Missing entries, which all proved to be about the new movie, starring Nia Long and Storm Reid.

Extracting myself from the morass, I corrected my search to “Missing tv show”. I still got a lot of answers. There’s a Canadian series from 2003, a British crime drama series from 2006, an American thriller series form 2012, and another British series (this one an anthology) from 2014. And that’s just the shows that remain popular enough to be on the top of the hit list. I scrolled through several pages, and thought I’d found it when I reached: WATCH THE MISSING: NETFLIX. Nope. (I’m beginning to wonder how I ever found this show in the first place.)

The full title (often not included anywhere in the copy) is: Missing: The Other Side. It’s from Studio Dragon, Written by Ban Gi-ri and Jeong So-young, and directed by Min Yeon-hong. Yes, it is on Netflix, even if it was not the subject of the above-mentioned ad. (I should know by now, the Korean stuff is not generally at the top of anyone’s list but mine.) And it is a superb K-drama. As has become popular in Korea, Missing is what we in fandom would call cross-genre, a mix of mystery, drama, police procedural and fantasy.

Strangely, it does not include romance, as the beautiful girl Choi Yeo-na (played by Seo Eun-soo) is murdered early in the first episode. This does not mean that the part is a walk-on. Just the opposite. We see as much – if not more – of her than we do of her grieving fiancé, the handsome detective Shin Joon-ho (played by Ha Jun).

Her abduction, if not the actual murder, is witnessed by our primary protagonist, Kim Wook (played by Go Soo). There’s no denying he’s a scam artist – he had a troubled childhood – but he’s not a bad guy. Certainly not bad enough to ignore thugs carrying off a screaming, struggling girl, and shoving her into a car. He’s quick witted enough to rip out his phone and capture the event, including both faces and the license number. But the bad guys spot him. There’s a fight, and a long chase into the middle of nowhere, which culminates in his tumbling off a cliff and being left for dead. Pretty action-packed for a first episode.

He’s the protagonist, so he’s not dead, of course – or is he? He is found, rescued, and nursed back to health by the residents of a nearby village. It’s a tiny, primitive place. There’s no TV, and nobody has a cell phone. Nobody but Thomas, the innkeeper, (played by Song Geon-hee), seems to have a job, although they all help out around the town. There are no families; they all just wandered in and never left.

They can’t leave, they explain. Because they are dead. He is dead, too, they assure him. The proof is that he can see them, and the living can’t see the dead. (Spoiler alert: before episode two, we discover that’s not quite true. Most living can’t see the dead. But Wook can.)

But these people are not just any dead. They are dead whose bodies were never located. They never received funeral rites. Their families never found closure. They are forever missing. Every now and then, either by random chance or after years of a survivor’s desperate searching, a resident’s remains are recovered. And that resident stops suddenly, looks up and smiles, and dissolves into a shimmer of colored light. Most of them want this. Just because they are dead doesn’t stop them from worrying about everyone and everything they left behind.

A friend of mine rolled his eyes when I told him about the separate pre-afterlife village for the unburied.  “Oh, please,” he groaned. “Dead is dead. Whatever does or doesn’t happen to you next, you’re past caring what happened to your body.” Here in the west, a lot of people would agree with that. But not everybody.

Back in the Middle Ages people believed that the last rites were essential to the well-being of the soul, cleansing it of its mortal contaminations. They even thought the unburied would rise up and turn into monsters. Not just vampires. They had a wide selection of nasty undead, all of whom arose from the failure to lay the living properly to rest. These days we are less rigid about the need for any specific ritual but many still feel a strong need for the dead to be remembered, acknowledged. There is a very special, piercing kind of pain that comes from not knowing what happened to a vanished loved one.

This is the central theme of the show: the sadness of the missing. We see it from every angle, parents still searching year after year for children so long gone that, if they live, they must surely be grown, and children waiting and waiting for parents that never return. Detective Shin Joon-ho grows frenzied in his search for Choi Yeo-na. He’d quarreled with her, and is desperate to find her in time to set that right before their wedding. And she flatly refuses to believe that she can’t get back to him, devising strategy after strategy to communicate.

I say that’s the theme, but please don’t worry that the theme is substituted for a story. What would be the point of having a detective in the cast, if there were no mystery? In fact, there are two main mysteries, and several sub plots.  The village gatekeeper, Jang Pan-seok (played by Huh Joon-ho) is another living that can see the dead, and he’s made it his life’s work to find the residents’ missing remains so that they and their families can find rest. What motivates him to take on such an impossible quest? Most of the residents don’t even know who killed them. Well, that’s another mystery.

“Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits” Rights Auctioned

Publishers Weekly announced on January 18 that Union Square & Co, a division of Barnes and Noble won the rights to Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits at auction. Publication date will be Spring 2024 edited by J. Michael Straczynski with a foreword by Neil Gaiman and an introduction by Michael Chabon.

The book contains 32 of Harlan’s best known and most iconic award-winning stories, including “Repent Harlequin, Said the TickTockMan”, “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, “Mefisto in Onyx”, “Deathbird”, “Jeffty is Five” and many others.

Straczynski told Facebook readers, “They will be releasing the book in their Classics category, which is designated for works of significant literary merit, as Harlan’s work deserves. Since taking over the Harlan and Susan Ellison Estate (and now the nonprofit Foundation) my task has been to get Harlan’s work back into bookstores, libraries, universities and other sites where new readers can discover his books. This is a huge step in bringing his stories to a new generation of fans.”

Galaxy’s Edge Will Drop Magazine Format, Change To Bi-Annual Anthology Book Series

Galaxy’s Edge editor Lezli Robyn announced today that after a decade of keeping a bi-monthly schedule as a magazine, by the end of 2023 the publication will become a bi-annual anthology book series.  

Issue 60 came out in November, and there will be two more issues in the current format. The first volume of the anthology book series will appear at the end of 2023.

Editor Robyn’s press release adds these details:

…Not only will we continue to bring you the fiction our readers have grown to love so much, but this new format will make it easier to get into brick-and-mortar bookstores through a full-service distributor. It will also allow us to raise the rates we pay our authors as well as give us greater flexibility to buy more novelettes and novellas, which has been restricted by the current format.

We’ll have a submission system that will open twice a year for the anthologies, and stories currently in the magazine system will also be considered for future anthologies. I have made some rewrite requests and selected to buy numerous stories in the past few months, and I will be contacting authors by February 1st with information about which issue of the magazine or anthology their story will appear in and will follow up with the edits or contracts applicable. We appreciate a little grace period as we transition to the exciting new format!

Uncanny Magazine Issue 50 Launches 1/3

The 50th issue of Uncanny Magazine, winner of six Hugos and a British Fantasy Award, will be available on January 3 at uncannymagazine.com

Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 50th issue of their six-time Hugo Award-winning online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Uncanny Magazine. Stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. As always, Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture, along with a Parsec Award-winning monthly podcast featuring a story, poem, and interview from that issue. 

All of Uncanny Magazine’s content will be available in eBook versions on the day of release from Weightless Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. Subscriptions are always available through Weightless Books. The free online content will be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and half on February 7. 

Follow Uncanny on their website, or on Twitter and Facebook.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 50 Table of Contents:

Cover

  • Sharps and Soft by Galen Dara

Editorials

  • “The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • “The Tired Body Problem” by Meg Elison

Fiction

  • “Collaboration?” by Ken Liu and Caroline M. Yoachim (1/3)
  • “Cold Relations” by Mary Robinette Kowal (1/3)
  • “How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub” by P. Djèlí Clark (1/3)
  • “Waystation City” by A. T. Greenblatt (1/3)
  • “Horsewoman” by A.M. Dellamonica (1/3)
  • “Flower, Daughter, Soil, Seed” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (1/3)
  • “One Man’s Treasure” by Sarah Pinsker (2/7)
  • “The Father Provincial of Mare Imbrium” by E. Lily Yu (2/7)
  • “Silver Necklace, Golden Ring” by Marie Brennan (2/7)
  • “Miz Boudreaux’s Last Ride” by Christopher Caldwell (2/7)
  • “Bad Doors” by John Wiswell (2/7)
  • “Prospect Heights” by Maureen McHugh (2/7)

Nonfiction

  • “The Haunting of Her Body” by Elsa Sjunneson (1/3)
  • “Something in the Way: AI-Generated Images and the Real Killer” by John Picacio (1/3)
  • “What a Fourteenth Century Legal Case Can Teach Us about Storytelling” by Annalee Newitz (1/3)
  • “The Magic of the Right Story” by A. T. Greenblatt (2/7)
  • “The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm: Audio Writing” by Diana M. Pho (2/7)
  • “Building Better Worlds” by Javier Grillo-Marxuach (2/7)

Poetry

  • “The Hole Thing” by Neil Gaiman (1/3)
  • “Love Poem: Phoenix” by Terese Mason Pierre (1/3)
  • “The Credo of Loplop” by Sonya Taaffe (1/3)
  • “Kannazuki, or the Godless Month” by Betsy Aoki (1/3)
  • “The Witch Makes Her To-Do List” by Theodora Goss (2/7)
  • “Temperance and The Devil, Reversed” by Ali Trotta (2/7)
  • “Driving Downtown” by Abu Bakr Sadiq (2/7)
  • “Hel on a Headland” by Elizabeth Bear (2/7)
  • “To Whomsoever Remains” by Brandon O’Brien (2/7)

Interviews

  • Ken Liu and Caroline M. Yoachim interviewed by Tina Connolly (1/3)
  • Eugenia Triantafyllou interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (1/3)
  • E. Lily Yu interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (2/7)
  • Christopher Caldwell interviewed by Caroline M. Yoachim (2/7)

Podcasts

  • Episode 50A (January 3): Editors’ Introduction, “Cold Relations” by Mary Robinette Kowal, as read by Erika Ensign, “Love Poem: Phoenix” by Terese Mason Pierre, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Mary Robinette Kowal.
  • Episode 50B (January 17): Editors’ Introduction, “How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub” by P. Djèlí Clark, as read by Matt Peters, “Kannazuki, or the Godless Month” by Betsy Aoki, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing P. Djèlí Clark.
  • Episode 50C (February 7): Editors’ Introduction, “One Man’s Treasure” by Sarah Pinsker, as read by Matt Peters, “The Witch Makes Her To-Do List” by Theodora Goss, as read by Erika Ensign, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing Sarah Pinsker.
  • Episode 50D (February 21): Editors’ Introduction, “Bad Doors” by John Wiswell, as read by Erika Ensign, “Driving Downtown” by Abu Bakr Sadiq, as read by Matt Peters, and Lynne M. Thomas interviewing John Wiswell.

2022 Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival Award Winners

The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival has announced the award winners for its tenth anniversary season. The event was held from December 15-18 at venues in Manhattan and Queens. 

BEST PHILIP K. DICK FEATURE

Capsules (2022)

  • Director: Luke Momo
  • Run Time/Country: 70 min, USA
  • Synopsis: After experimenting with mysterious substances, four chem students find themselves addicted in the worst way possible: they’ll die unless they take more.

BEST SUPERNATURAL FEATURE

Impuratus (2022)

  • Director: Michael Yurinko
  • Run Time/Country: 134 min, USA
  • Synopsis: Circa 1930: A police detective is summoned to a remote mental hospital to witness a death-bed confession from a mysterious Civil War soldier that will have him question the validity of the supernatural.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

A Tear in the Sky (2021)

  • Director: Caroline Cory
  • Run Time/Country: 90 min, USA
  • Synopsis: An unprecedented journey into the UFO / UAP phenomenon. A team of military personnel, scientists and special guest William Shatner will attempt to re-capture, in real time, the US Navy “TicTac” UFOs, using state-of-the-art, military-grade equipment and technology. What they find instead are thought-provoking clues into the true nature of the UFO phenomenon and the very fabric of our spacetime reality.

BEST SCI-FI HORROR

Site 13 (2021)

  • Director: Nathan Faudree
  • Run Time/Country: 87 min, USA
  • Synopsis: When Dr. Nathan Marsh awakens from a catatonic state in a mental institution, he must relive his last expedition by watching tapes from the site visit, only to discover he’s unleashed an unstoppable horror.

BEST SCI-FI SHORT

Faith (2022)

  • Director: Carol Butron
  • Run Time/Country: 19 min, Spain
  • Synopsis: When just a small child, Teresa has to face the disappearance of her best friend, Lucas. After many years and without having forgotten him, Teresa begins to have a hunch that Lucas is alive, but in another dimension.

BEST PHILIP K. DICK SHORT

Red Gaia (2022)

  • Director: Udesh Chetty
  • Run Time/Country: 13 min, South Africa
  • Synopsis: Alone on the dying red planet, among the ruins of human civilization, one last android desperately guards the last essences of life. In her pursuit for meaning, she finds her own soul hanging in the balance. Red Gaia is a tone-poem meditation on life, death and rebirth, destruction and creation and the cycles of existence, drawing inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita, Dante’s Purgatorio, the Kabballah, the Tibetan Bardol Thodol.

BEST SINGULARITY SCI-FI SHORT

Motherload (2022)

  • Director: Sebastien Landry
  • Run Time/Country: 9 min, Canada
  • Synopsis: An alien, borrowing the body of a human mother-to-be, is confronted by fear and uncertainty as its offspring grows inside her.

BEST SUPERNATURAL SHORT

Blue Fire (2021)

  • Director: Nick Ronan
  • Run Time/Country: 20 min, USA
  • Synopsis: Deep in the snowy Blue Mountains, two damaged lives come crashing back together when they discover something in the forest not of this world.

BEST ISOLATION IN SCI-FI SHORT

Night (2022)

  • Director: Frank Sun
  • Run Time/Country: 20 min, USA
  • Synopsis: A man arrives to a friend’s apartment and hears sounds from outside his window…but is it real? 

BEST CULTURE IN SCI-FI SHORT

Mirror Man (2021)

  • Director: Ginew Benton
  • Run Time/Country: 5 min, USA
  • Synopsis: A Native police officer, who is doubting her traditional faith, is called to a possible burglary but is met by a supernatural entity that leads her to a buried secret.

BEST ANIMATION

Afro-Algorithms (2022)

  • Director: Anatola Araba
  • Run Time/Country: 15 min, USA
  • Synopsis: In a distant future, an artificial intelligence named Aero is inaugurated as the world’s first AI leader. However, she soon finds that important world views are missing from her databank, including the stories of the historically marginalized and oppressed.

BEST WEB SERIES

Neoshin Episode 01: Cold Blood (2022)

  • Director: Sebastian Selg, Ramon Schauer
  • Run Time/Country: 5 min, Germany
  • Synopsis: After the invention of CRYONIC REALITY (CR) by EDEN Association, world leaders chose to discontinue the counting of time in 2073 and proclaimed the final year 2073X. CR is a virtual world of utopia that people can access to escape the bleak reality. When influencer AYUKO heads to a concert of her favourite band NEOSHIN in CR, she has no idea that a virtual virus will change her life forever.

BEST TRAILER

Chaska (2022 Trailer)

  • Director: Liz Guarracino
  • Run Time/Country: 2 min, USA01
  • Synopsis: How would you feel if you found out the U.S. Government created ancestry .com to catch a single being?

BEST VIRTUAL REALITY

Fortune Teller (2022)

  • Director: Brian Abraham
  • Run Time/Country: 5 min, USA
  • Synopsis: A fortune teller who’s down on her luck mistakenly summons the ghost of her ex-husband, revealing secrets that spell her doom. VR180 narrative horror/thriller short film. 

BEST SCI-FI SCREENPLAY

Black Cross

Writer: Korea Black, Gianna Rose

BEST SCI-FI PROTOTYPING SCREENPLAY

Emergent

Writer: Alan Mah Baxter

BEST SCI-FI GRAPHIC NOVEL

Moriarty

Writer/Artist: Daniel Corey

BEST SCI-FI SUPERNATURAL SCREENPLAY

Sacred Sun

Writer: Michael Louis Gould

BEST SCI-FI SHORT FORMAT SCREENPLAY

Sven

Writer: Jesse Dorian

HONORABLE MENTION:

Bunker: The Last Fleet

Writer: Rowan Pullen, Stephen Potter

About The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival:

“The core of my writing is not art but truth.” – Philip K. Dick

The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival, which launched in 2012 as New York City’s first and only festival of its kind, celebrates its 10th anniversary season. The festival honors the enduring legacy of novelist Philip K. Dick, whose enormously effective works composed of fictional universes, virtual realities, technological uprising, dystopian worlds and human mutation served as a significant observation of the current state of society. Organized by individuals and filmmakers who understand the difficulties and challenges of presenting unique narratives in a corporate environment, the festival embraces original concepts and alternative approaches to storytelling in the form of independent science fiction, horror, supernatural, fantasy and metaphysical films. Since 2013, the festival has held additional gatherings in France, Germany, Poland, Rotterdam, and Los Angeles. The event was included as one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World by MovieMaker Magazine in 2022.

[Based on a press release.]

Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

By Craig Miller. [Reprinted by permission from Facebook.] It was back to the Directors Guild last night for a screening of Avatar: The Way of Water. Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Like the first Avatar movie, the story itself isn’t remarkable. It isn’t concepts you haven’t seen before. But that’s true for a lot of movies. And plays. And novels. West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet. It’s all in how you tell it.

And James Cameron tells it quite well. As with Avatar, Avatar: The Way of Water is a visual feast. Unlike the first film, there aren’t long sweeping pans lingering over beautiful, otherworldly vistas. The “beautiful” and the “otherworldly” are still there, but we’re seeing them incorporated into the action and storytelling.

At nearly three-and-a-quarter hours, the film is long though it doesn’t feel quite that long. And unlike a lot of sequels, it isn’t just a retelling of the first film but with bigger, meaner, or more bad guys. It’s new story. A continuation of what came before but taking us in new directions and to new locations. There’s a lot of storytelling going on, with longish sequences that don’t seem to be following the main story, but they pay off in the end. Though the film could certainly do with trimming.

There are a number of questionable things in the film but mostly they pass over you while you’re watching. (These are relatively minor. Like, in the first Avatar, was this the only spot on Pandora the upsidasium – oops, I mean unobtainium – was located? Weren’t there places where they wouldn’t have to go to war to get it? And what were even they going to use it for? They clearly had cheap and easy air and space travel.)

We saw the film in 3D and I’m not sure that added much to the enjoyment. Maybe it made the environment a little more vivid. The 3D wasn’t used for storytelling purposes. They didn’t talk about the format or projection at the screening but it seemed that some scenes were in standard 24 fps speed and others were 48 fps. Peter Jackson used 48 fps on The Hobbit and it gave the whole film an ultra-real “locker room interview” feel. Here, too, I found the faster filming speed sequences looked weird. And switching between the two filming speeds was jarring. I was thrown out of the movie because I was noticing a change to the images. I do not recommend seeing the film in that format.

But I do recommend seeing this film. Genny and I both liked it. (If you didn’t like Avatar, you probably won’t like this either. I think it’s actually somewhat better than its predecessor.)

There are three more Avatar films planned. Presumably the next one will be out sooner after this one than the gap between the first two films.

National Film Registry Adds Carrie, Iron Man, The Little Mermaid

Sf and fantasy films Iron Man and The Little Mermaid, and horror film Carrie are on the list of 25 movies inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress this year. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the selections today.

Films Selected for the 2022 National Film Registry

(chronological order)

  • Mardi Gras Carnival (1898)
  • Cab Calloway Home Movies (1948-1951)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
  • Charade (1963)       
  • Scorpio Rising (1963)
  • Behind Every Good Man (1967)
  • Titicut Follies (1967)
  • Mingus (1968) 
  • Manzanar (1971)
  • Betty Tells Her Story (1972)
  • Super Fly (1972)
  • Attica (1974)
  • Carrie (1976)
  • Union Maids (1976)
  • Word is Out: Stories of Our Lives (1977)
  • Bush Mama (1979)
  • The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)
  • Itam Hakim, Hopiit (1984)
  • Hairspray (1988)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Tongues Untied (1989)
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  • House Party (1990)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Pariah (2011)    

Selected for their cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to preserve the nation’s film heritage, the newest selections bring the number of films in the registry to 850, many of which are among the 1.7 million films in the Library’s collections.

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will host a television special Tuesday, December 27, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern to screen a selection of motion pictures named to the registry this year. Hayden will join TCM host, film historian and Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Director and President Jacqueline Stewart, who is chair of the National Film Preservation Board, to discuss the films.

“I am especially proud of the way the Registry has amplified its recognition of diverse filmmakers, experiences, and a wide range of filmmaking traditions in recent years,” Stewart said. “I am grateful to the entire National Film Preservation Board, the members of the public who nominated films, and of course to Dr. Hayden for advocating so strongly for the preservation of our many film histories.”

The public submitted 6,865 titles for consideration this year. Several selected titles drew significant public support through online nominations. They include Betty Tells Her Story, Carrie, Iron Man, The Little Mermaid and When Harry Met Sally.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names to the National Film Registry 25 motion pictures that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The films must be at least 10 years old. More information about the National Film Registry can be found at loc.gov/film.

The press release’s commentary on the films named in the lede follows:

Carrie (1976)

Brian De Palma stands as an icon of the new wave of filmmakers who remade Hollywood and its filmmaking conventions beginning in the 1960s and 70s. After some intriguing independent efforts, De Palma burst onto the national spotlight with “Carrie.” Never one to feature subtlety in his films, De Palma mixes up a stylish cauldron of horrific scenes in “Carrie,” adapted from the Stephen King novel. Combine a teen outcast with telekinetic powers facing abuse from cruel classmates and a domineering religious mother, and you have a breeding ground for revenge, with the comeuppance delivered in a no-holds barred prom massacre. The flamboyant visual flair and use of countless cinema techniques may occasionally seem overdone, but the film’s influence remains undeniable to this day, often cited by other critics and filmmakers for its impact on the horror genre.

Iron Man (2008)

Marvel Studios enthralled audiences with 2008’s “Iron Man,” a superhero film that transcends and elevates the genre. Key factors in the film’s success include the eclectic direction of Jon Favreau, superb special effects and production design, and excellent performances from Gwyneth Paltrow as the sidekick and Robert Downey Jr., as the brooding, conflicted hero out to make amends for his career as an armaments mogul. Critics sometimes love to take shots at superhero movies but many recognized “Iron Man” for its unexpected excellence. Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal wrote: “The gadgetry is absolutely dazzling, the action is mostly exhilarating, the comedy is scintillating and the whole enormous enterprise, spawned by Marvel comics, throbs with dramatic energy because the man inside the shiny red robotic rig is a daring choice for an action hero, and an inspired one.” Richard Corliss in Time noted the film’s place in a uniquely American tradition: “Some of us know that there’s an American style — best displayed in the big, smart, kid-friendly epic — that few other cinemas even aspire to, and none can touch. When it works, as it does here, it rekindles even a cynic’s movie love.”

The Little Mermaid (1989)

When you combine a beloved Hans Christian Andersen tale with the beauty and heart of truly remarkable Disney magic, you end up with an animated film for the ages. Ariel, the titular mermaid, lives under the sea but longs to be human. She is able to live her dream with a little help from some adorable underwater friends and despite the devious efforts of a sea witch named Ursula (a recent addition to Disney’s peerless rogue’s gallery of cartoon villains). Alan Menken composed the memorable score and collaborated with Howard Ashman on songs that have become modern standards such as “Under the Sea;” “Part of Your World” and “Kiss the Girl.” Adding to the film’s irresistible charm is a fantastic array of voice artists including Jodi Benson, Buddy Hackett, Pat Carroll and Kenneth Mars. An extraordinary success — artistically and commercially — at the time of its release, “Mermaid” proved a touchstone film during the “The Disney Renaissance” of the 1980s and 90s.

[Based on a press release. Thanks to N. for the story.]

“The Fabelmans” — A Review Of The Film

By Steve Vertlieb: Went to see The Fabelmans over the weekend with a sense of wonder, longing, and cherished anticipation, nurtured tenderly, yet ever vibrantly alive, throughout a seeming eternity of life experiences. Steven Spielberg’s reverent semi-autobiographical story of youthful dreams and aspirations is, for me, the finest, most emotionally enriching film of the year, filled with photographic memories, and indelible recollections shared both by myself and by the film maker.

This unforgettable coming of age tale of youthful innocence and self-discovery is a deeply personal cinematic voyage for the director in which he joyously weaves a meticulous tapestry of social and artistic awakening during the post war years in this country when re-birth and re-building ushered in an irreplaceable sense of wonder, imagination, and discovery.

Growing up and maturing in a time when television offered a special landscape, designed just for children and for the very young at heart, there was magic just beyond every turn of the dial. We were all young once more, while the crude, imperfect imagery of live, original programming within the near mystical confines of that square box, seated comfortably in our living rooms, created especially for kids, appeared particularly life affirming and memorable. With the magical emergence of Walt Disney, The Mickey Mouse Club, Zorro, Hopalong Cassidy, Pinky Lee, and the Christmas magic of Milton Berle as our beloved “Uncle Milty,” television opened up vistas and journeys of imagination that enchanted and mesmerized the wide-eyed devotion of toddlers such as myself.

But the scars of bigotry, racial derision and exclusion were there as well, along with the challenges of reaching maturity unscathed. As a Jew, I was subject to the cries of “Christ Killer” and dirty “kike,” as I retreated to the sanctity, safety, reassurance and security of television and film. It was a special world in which I could hide, and rise above the pain of day to day living and ever-growing isolation. Like the director, I too was taken by my dad in 1952, at the impressionable age of six years, to see Cecil B DeMille’s grand and glorious motion picture filmed beneath “The Big Top.” Paramount’s Oscar winning production of The Greatest Show On Earth filled my childhood dreams with fabulous sights, sounds, and memories, while the memorable train crash near the film’s illustrious finale clouded my eyes with transformational spectacle and joyous, inescapable wonder.

While these unforgettable dreams, and memorably flickering images, led both Steven Spielberg and I down a tantalizing path and journey of self-awareness, and discovery, I chose to transform my inspiration into words and sentences, while the acclaimed director chose the celluloid image in which to express and nurture his own voyage to manhood.

The Fabelmans is a rapturous cinematic recollection of a period in time when the world … and We … were new. Gabriel LaBelle is wonderful in the lead role as teenaged “Sammy Fabelman” (Steven Spielberg), while his younger counterpart, essayed by Mateo Zoryan, brings a perfect sense of fragility and innocence to his role. Seth Rogan, in a rare dramatic performance as “Bennie Loewy,” is excellent, as is the understated performance of Paul Dano as Sammy’s Father, Burt (or Arnold Spielberg), as well as a memorable turn by Judd Hirsch as “Uncle Boris.”

However, it is the stand-out performance of Michelle Williams as Sammy’s beloved mother, Mitzi, that lies at the heart of this sentimental “Fable.” Williams is utterly adorable as the free spirited, artistic soul whose own dreams of relevance and longing are lovingly channeled through the growth of her son, Sammy. Williams, in her short-cropped hair and joyful demeanor, becomes a devotional remembrance of Spielberg’s own mother, Leah Frances Spielberg Adler, to whom (along with his father, Arnold) this loving cinematic tribute is dedicated.

Sadly, this marks the final collaboration between Steven Spielberg and his compositional right arm, John Williams. Having worked together in one of cinema’s most successful collaborations of film and music, Maestro Williams has decided to conclude his film career, while concentrating for the remainder of his years on music for the concert hall and stage. His last film music will accompany James Mangold’s new Raiders of the Lost Ark conclusion, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, opening on June 20, 2023. His score for The Fabelmans, though sparse, is a gently affectionate musical soliloquy.

Perhaps the title of this enchanting film reveals the hidden truth of its origins in that it is a fable, if you will, for those of us dwelling forever in James M. Barrie’s cherished “Never Never Land.” It is, after all, a place where dreams are eloquently born and never die, and where childhood enchantment reigns forever vital, alive, and eternally triumphant. Look for it only in books, and in the world of pure cinema where dreams never die, and are never forgotten … a special world in which the magic and wonder of childhood flourish throughout time, and are never truly “Gone With The Wind.”