Amazon Studios’s release of Lucy and Desi fills the gaps that their previous work, Being the Ricardos, doesn’t explore. While it doesn’t offer anything new television historians don’t know, this excellent documentary does the job to revisit the pressures they faced from a different perspective. Both fled from one world to go live in another, either New York or Florida, in their pursuit of the American dream.
Both found success before meeting. Their love and failed relationship–as recounted in the prior drama–isn’t the focus. This take by filmmaker/documentarian Amy Poehler looks more at how they became a career focussed couple. Their bond only got stronger after the divorce. It’s well known that Desi didn’t enjoy living under Lucille’s shadow, so that’s why he needed his excursions elsewhere to be happy. Sadly, that included certain vices no doubt inherited from his family’s opulent life. Also, Desi stepped away from the limelight. It helped preserve the relationship instead of letting it fall apart.
I Want to Believe, An Investigator’s Archive delves into the backend that television shows rarely feature–getting to know the people. In this book by Jason Hewlett and Pete Renn, we get a down to earth interviews with various paranormal investigators from across the world (North America mostly) who are truly dedicated to this craft, and why they’ve made it their life’s passion.
To cap things off, we hear a story or two of their most memorable finds about the hereafter. They won’t send shivers down your spine, but here, you’ll get a better sense of what these people do than seeing a dramatized take on television. This book is a loose extension these author’s own YouTube series, We Want to Believe, where they investigate the occult.
Ask anyone who their favourite cinematic version of Dracula is, and it’ll either be Bela Lugosi or Gary Oldman. The former lived under the shadow of the vampire Bram Stoker brought to life, and the latter is a man who simply upped the ante. From playing Norman Stansfield inLéon: The Professional (1994) to Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight (2008), these two performers have one thing in common, they played many types of characters throughout their life. They both suffered from alcoholism and married many times.
Goldman is lucky to not get typecast but Lugosi did. Bela’s life and times are excellently handled in the graphic novel, The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula. We see something of his young life, how his father hated his decision to become an actor, his work before and after Dracula, and how he never got the recognition he truly deserved. His private life became a thing for tabloids to play up.
We get a fairly good nostalgia trip about this sports entertainment business, even before it became a crazy arena spectacle. It doesn’t always reveal how much of an influence they are in other media, but as for learning about the history of this sub-genre, it’s fairly comprehensive.
By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Please check local listings for a repeat schedule.
A&E Network and WWE Studios are partners in Biography: WWE Legends (formerly known as World Wrestling Federation), a new run of biographies about the legends of wrestling. The decision on who to first focus on must’ve been tough. To see true alumni, namely Hulk Hogan, interviewed about their time with the talents from the past two decades, made for a great retrospective.
There are eight specials and the last documentary about Bret Hart aired last weekend. To binge watch these two hour specials isn’t possible, but to watch them over successive days than wait reveals a lot more about the sport turned entertainment spectacle. Although each piece doesn’t get into the most guarded secrets or details that can be read from a Wikipedia styled biography, I found the series to be a terrific primer to get newcomers and the curious up to date on the talents who became Stone Cold Steve Austin, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mick Foley and Ultimate Warrior.
Not all of these people stood out, but I did find Booker T’s charm a total gem in the spotlight about him. From those who are still living and are looking back, they’re not talking about all the demons they faced or go into huge lengths about their youth which led to them wanting to partake in wrestling as a proper sport (the part of their life I’m really curious about). Randy perhaps had the most problems to deal with. Not even The Undertaker can exorcise them.
We get a fairly good nostalgia trip and history about what this sports entertainment business is about, even before it became a crazy arena spectacle. One nice mention is in how the South East of America operated as fiefdoms, before it eventually became one huge brand. These documentaries doesn’t always reveal how much of an influence WWE is in other media (missing the boat on crossover into comic books and cartoons) and this segment can use an expansion.
Jason Hewlett and Peter Renn share a passion. Each of them had a paranormal experience which defined why they are heavily invested in figuring out what the afterlife is about. This intro is necessary because when we don’t know the personalities–personal problems et al–then why follow their cases?
By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Beyond the Fray Publishing
I Want To Believe: One Man’s Journey Into The Paranormal is more like two. The title may well have some people curious, because the meme is straight from X-Files. We can blame the UFO poster Mulder had in his office in the tv show, The X-Files.
In Jason Hewlett‘s case, I imagine the poster in his office is either The Others or Changeling. He’s a Kamloops-based film critic, reporter and radio producer whose lifelong passion for the paranormal has taken him down many roads. In this book’s case, perhaps it’s to give a realistic view of what goes on in paranormal investigations. This primary author’s journalism skill serves him well, as the details are told matter of fact. He’s interviewed his friend, Peter Renn, who’s now the leader of Canadian Paranormal Foundation. He was formerly with the Vancouver Paranormal Society, but has recently passed the reins since he’s relocated to the interior of British Columbia.