Archive for December, 2021


Review by C.J. Bunce

The late great economics teacher Gordon Blenderman used a similar approach to Yanis Varoufakis’s back in the 1980s, along with the requisite readings from Samuelson: Prove that you understand theories of economics by writing a book review of classic novels, explaining the plots in purely economic terms.  Varoufakis, the former finance minister of Greece, a current member of the Greek parliament, and economics professor, uses an age-old tack in his new political science fiction novel, Another Now Varoufakis sees the banking/market crisis of 2008 as one of those key, fixed points in history that is the subject of many a parallel universe, alternate history, or multiverse tale.  As if digging into the circumstances behind the split into two worlds that occurred in the science fiction TV series Counterpart, the author leans hard into economics theory to hypothesize his idea of a better political structure than capitalism by building a parallel world that responded differently to its crises up to and including the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The new Saurian travel simulator tie-in companion book Saurian: A Field Guide to Hell Creek is a combination of several great things.  It’s a non-fiction trip to a sort-of Jurassic Park.  It’s time travel–the kind Ray Bradbury wrote about in The Sound of Thunder, where you are transported back to the last years of Earth’s dinosaurs, specifically those found at the Hell Creek formation in South Dakota.  And it’s a true naturalist’s field guide, imagining that you are onsite, observing an ancient ecosystem firsthand.  Since we can’t actually do that, it relies on the next best thing: the results of research from published science from the current leading paleontologists.  If you have ever loved exploring the possibilities of the past posed by dinosaurs, this book is for you.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

I reviewed the movie on its opening weekend in October here at borg.  The movie is a true triumph for fans of director John Carpenter.  Of the ten (yep, ten) prior sequels to the 1978 original that set off an entire genre of movies, Halloween Kills is the most faithful to the original story.  On the screen it was great fun seeing Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her starring role as 1970s survivor Laurie Strode, along with  actors like Charles Cyphers back as the sheriff, Nancy Stevens as the doctor’s assistant, and Kyle Richards as the grown-up little girl.  In Halloween Kills: The Official Movie Novelization, author Tim Waggoner digs into this great story, amplifying the characterization, and making everything that flashed quickly past the movie audience have deeper implications.  He digs into the timeline of events in 1978 as the modern-day return is revealed moment by moment on that single day in 2018 that is spread over this final trilogy of movies.  You’ll be hard pressed to read a better horror tale or movie novelization this year.

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Escape from New York book Walsh

Review by C.J. Bunce

Forty years after the release of the sci-fi classic Escape from New York, we finally have a thorough, modern account of the making of the movie.  In celebration of the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter’s one-of-a-kind story of Kurt Russell’s future criminal Snake Plissken and his attempt to rescue the President from a downed plane over a locked-down New York City, Escape from New York: The Official Story of the Film pulls from the studio archives a trove of behind the scenes photographs to showcase the creation of the movie.  First previewed here at borg back in June, this must-have hardcover book for John Carpenter fans is at last available now here at Amazon.  

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It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2022.  We’re changing up this year’s preview by adding several trailers.  Unlike in previous years, we have trailers for most of these movies.  These are the genre films we think borg readers will want to know about to make their own checklists for the coming year.  In all we pulled 60 movies from the hundreds of films that have been finalized or are in varying stages of final production and slated for next year’s movie calendar.  Many of these will be more than familiar to you, as we’ve previewed some going back to 2019.

The biggest surprise is there aren’t a lot of surprises on the horizon, at least for big movies, like Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Black Adam, Lightyear, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, Halloween Ends, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, a new Predator movie called Prey, and The Batman.  Compare the below list to our 2021 list, 2020 list, 2019 list and even the 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list, and you’ll see the studios continue moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services.  Hollywood hasn’t made its way back to full production mode yet since the pandemic risks aren’t over yet, and it’s beginning to look like TV will be the location most people watch their movies for the foreseeable future, if not permanently.  What do the big movies have in common?  They’re all sequels–and more remakes of movies, books, and TV shows are on the way.

First up, the top 15 movies expected in 2022 that don’t have an announced release date yet, followed by our annual month-by-month rundown of trailers.  Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2022 (and some you might not!):

  • Havoc –Tom Hardy stars as a detective in a crime drama directed by Gareth Evans (Netflix)
  • Enola Holmes 2 – sequel, starring Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill (Netflix)
  • Prey – the fifth movie in the Predator franchise will be a prequel, starring Amber Midthunder as a Comanche who must protect her tribe from the alien threat (Hulu)
  • Pinocchio – live-action version of the fairy tale stars Tom Hanks as Geppetto and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket (Disney+)
  • The Amazing Maurice – animated young adult fantasy about a sentient cat, based on the 2001 book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett, starring Emilia Clarke, Hugh Laurie, David Thewlis (theatrical release)
  • Blonde a biopic about Marilyn Monroe starring Ana de Armas, with Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale (Netflix)
  • Wendell and Wild – comedy duo Key and Peele create a stop-motion dark horror comedy (Netflix)
  • The Gray Man –the Russo brothers direct a film about a an ex-CIA agent, starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas (Netflix)
  • The Adam Project – sci-fi movie stars Ryan Reynolds as a man who goes back in time to get his younger self for help (Netflix)
  • Spaceman – sci-fi movie stars Adam Sandler and Carey Mulligan (Netflix)
  • The School for Good and Evil – long-delayed young adult fantasy with Charlize Theron (Netflix)
  • Slumberland – kids fantasy adventure starring Jason Momoa and Kyle Chandler (Netflix)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front remake of novel adaptation, this time starring Daniel Bruhl (Netflix)
  • Blade of the 47 Ronin sequel to 47 Ronin, starring Mark Dacascos (Netflix)
  • Deep Water – another Ben Affleck bad marriage “erotic psychological thriller,” with Ana de Armas (Hulu).

January

The 355  Spy/thriller, starring Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Bingbing Fan, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, Sebastian Stan – January 7.

The Tender Bar – Coming of age story starring Ben Affleck and Christopher Lloyd (Amazon) – January 7.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania – Latest entry in the animated franchise (Amazon) – January 14.

Scream – Horror, the big reboot/sequel stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette – January 17.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first virtual reality movie?  It’s innovative and brilliant, and showed that Robert Montgomery the actor also had the talent to be a director as much a visionary as Alfred Hitchcock.  The film is his 1946 film noir Lady in the Lake, an experimental movie years ahead of its time, and much more than an adaptation of another Raymond Chandler novel featuring detective Philip Marlowe.   It’s a great story, elevated by unusual direction and a cast of actors tasked with doing something no one had quite done this way before–react and act entirely toward the audience in the place of the protagonist and the film’s point of view.

It’s about murder, and it takes place at Christmas, and the entire film from beginning to end is wrapped up in a bow like your very own Christmas present, available now to stream at Vudu, or here at Amazon on Prime Video or DVD.  If you haven’t seen it, give it a viewing this weekend and you might just see it as the next best Christmas movie of its type since Die Hard, although since it predates Die Hard by four decades you’ll want to flip that thought around.  Along with the requisite noir tropes, Lady in the Lake has visual effects and story surprises at every turn.  It’s pure cinema gold.

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As I arrive at my 4,000th posting here at borg, I wanted to share with you my personal thanks and share a Christmas wish that combines the best of all worlds.  It’s a video created by a film production studio in Vienna, Austria, called Dockyard.  They contacted me early this month about a video with an animation component they were working on for their clients–a video Christmas card featuring a snow globe, Santa Claus, and something else.

So why did the studio contact me?  Check out the video first:

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Along with A Visit from St. Nicholas, there is no more famous Christmas story than Charles DickensA Christmas Carol Since it debuted in 1843 it’s been reprinted hundreds of times, made into more than 100 films, and its ghostly lesson trope has been incorporated into dozens of TV series.   For England, A Christmas Carol meant the revival of universal celebration of the holiday of Christmas that would spread across the planet, as well as cementing traditions that continue 178 Christmases later.  I want to share an idea for your own cold winter read in the tradition of a very Victorian Christmas in England:  borg writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s latest novel, Cold-Blooded Myrtle, the third book in her Edgar Award-winning mystery series.  As reviewed in the Wall Street Journal this month, “Younger [Sherlock] Holmes fans (and older ones too) should be charmed by Bunce’s Cold-Blooded Myrtle, the latest entry in her series featuring 12-year-old amateur sleuth Myrtle Hardcastle.  In 1893, Myrtle receives a double Christmastime shock: the death, in The Final Problem, of her fictional idol Holmes, and the apparent murder of the proprietor of her town’s mercantile store.  Tidings of discomfort, indeed.”  It’s chock full of Myrtle’s notations on Christmas traditions, including some little-known oddities from Christmases past.

After a year that saw her helping the constabulary discover the murderer of her neighbor and surviving a botched vacation at seaside where she foiled more than one criminal’s efforts, young Myrtle hopes to have an ordinary Christmas.  Her current pursuit is simply finding an appropriate present for her unflappable governess–and frequent partner in solving crime–Miss Ada Judson.  But when does anything ever go as planned at Christmas?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re not familiar with her novels, you should be.  Connie Willis is probably the best living science fiction author, winner of all the science fiction writing awards, penning classics like To Say Nothing of the Dog, Lincoln’s Dreams, Bellwether, Remake, Doomsday Book, and many others.  But you might not know she’s also a fan of the Christmas story, and has written two collections of stories, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories and A Lot Like ChristmasThis year she was tapped to select the contents for American Christmas Stories, an all-new collection of 132 years in 59 stories from well-known and lesser-known writers and authors, from Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, and Langston Hughes, to Ed McBain, Shirley Jackson, and Ray Bradbury.  Readers will find writers across the ages combining multiple genres with the Christmas tale like science fiction and horror.  All reflect the American experience from 1872 to 2004.  It’s an incredible look at culture in America, both good and bad, and it’s available now here at Amazon.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Four-time Oscar winner Nick Park and his Aardman Productions have netted stop-motion animation’s finest, most clever, laugh-out-loud creations.  His third Oscar-winning animated short film starring Wallace & Gromit, A Close Shave, introduced the Aardman’s international audience to Shaun, a “teenage” sheep whose adventuresome spirit gets him into trouble and who went on to star in several series and films of his own.  The latest comes directly to Netflix in time for Christmas, Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, a story that mixes the best aspects of the finest holiday classics with a reflection of the trappings of our modern world.

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