Sunday, 23 February 2014

"DIAMOND HEAD" OR THE MANY COLORS OF CHARLTON HESTON (1962)



 

Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised by this Charlton Heston flick. Especially since the actor is far from being my favorite among Hollywood’s top leading men. Yes, I admit, his well-publicized right wing antics mostly have something to do with it. BUT because the man has now passed on, and I know how to spot a good/bad film when I see one, I’m more than willing to overlook anything regarding Heston’s dubious politics. So, as I was saying, DIAMOND HEAD is an enjoyable romp. It’s one of those huge films based on a big best-seller of the time, in this case by one Peter Gilman. Set on a pineapple plantation in Hawaii, the film begins with widower/landowner Heston having the hardest time accepting his kid sister Yvette Mimieux’s involvement with a native Hawaiian, played by cutie James Darren. So much so that when wedding bells are to chime for the couple he "accidentally" knifes her fiancé to death. Well, that’s what the script wants us to believe, since the poor sod gets caught in the middle of a switchblade fight during an engagement luau. But since this isn’t a prison flick, though the pervert in me sort of wishes that it was just to see the lead suffer greatly at the hands of a big guy named Buba, Heston gets off scot-free.
 
 
 

Even for a bigot like Heston (I’m talking about the character here) the need to control everything and everyone comes with a high price: hatred. Hatred from sis who just can’t stand the sight of him after losing her beau, hatred from the natives when Heston tries to dwell into politics (again, the character not the actor) after the "accidental" killing of one of their own, but most importantly hatred from half-brother of the deceased, WEST SIDE STORY’s George Chakiris, a half-breed doctor who drools over Mimieux but can’t accept that fact because of their skin colors and backgrounds. Speaking of drooling, the film surprises even more by dabbing into possible incest when Mimieux superimposes Chakiris/Darren for Heston in a frolicking in the nude dream sequence. A sort of ménage à four for the filthy mind. But If you blink once, you’ll miss it.

 

Of course, like any Hollywood bad guy, Heston has manly needs. And I’m not talking about his possible dibs on Mimieux or a down-low action sequence with Chakiris, though that would have been quite a sight. No, what I’m referring to is a secret fling with island beauty France Nuyen who later on announces that she bares his child. Refusing to acknowledge his fatherhood, Heston leaves Nuyen for good, only to return later when she dies during labor. Mimieux, alone now that her ménage à four is over and done with, brings the love child to the mansion. But when Big Bro still wants nothing to do with it she, with baby in tow, runs off with Chakiris. Yes, Chakiris who has a sudden change of heart for the sake of the film, but not before going at it with Heston—in a fistfight sequence, I mean. It all comes down to Heston, feeling total abandonment, deciding to go after his lovechild—which is what any well-respected parent should do. On second thought, maybe not. He is after all Charlton Heston.


 
 



 
Until next post—Martin
 
 


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

MIXED BAG: VINCENZI, COLLINS, BRADFORD, LOKKO, MENSCH, HARPER




Rejoice, kiddies, the hardcover for the new Penny Vincenzi is hitting the shelves mid-June 2014 from Headline (UK and Canada), and it has a new title: A PERFECT HERITAGE. Pick it up. I know I will. Here’s the premise:


 

The House of Farrell - home of The Cream, an iconic face product that has seen women flocking to its bijoux flagship store in the Berkeley Arcade since 1953. At Farrell, you can rely on the personal touch. The legendary Athina Farrell remains the company's figurehead and in her kingdom at the Berkeley Arcade, Florence Hamilton plies their cosmetics with the utmost discretion. She is sales advisor - and holder of secrets - extraordinaire. But of course the world of cosmetics is changing and the once glorious House of Farrell is now in decline, its customers tempted away by more fashionable brands. Enter Bianca Bailey, formidable business woman, mother of three, and someone who always gets her way. Athina and Bianca lock horns over the future of the House of Farrell but it is the past that tells its devastating tale of ambition and ego, passion and wonder. Here is a tale of survival ...and a kind of promise
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Jackie Collins is all set to promote her new novel, CONFESSION OF A WILD CHILD, out now digitally and in hardcover from St. Martin’s Press (and in the UK, from Simon and Schuster). Yes, it’s all about Lucky Santangelo as a teen, and it’s written in the first person, à la Carrie Bragshaw. But with Collins at the reign, it’ll be another super read:

 
Lucky Santangelo is a powerful and charismatic woman. But how did she become the woman she is today? Many people have asked, and in Confessions of a Wild Child we discover the teenage Lucky, and follow her on her trip to discover boys, love and how she fought her father, the infamous Gino Santangelo, to forge her own individual and strong road to success. Confessions of a Wild Child takes you on trip and navigates the teenage years of a wild child who will eventually rule an empire. Even at 15 Lucky follows her own path, and it's a crazy ride taking the reader from a strict girls school in Switzerland to an idyllic Greek island, a Bel Air estate, a New York penthouse, and a shuttered villa in the South of France. Nobody can control Lucky. She knows what she wants and she goes for it with no holds barred. Lucky at 15 - a true revelation.

 
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Mark your calendar, America. April 1st 2014 is when CAVENDON HALL, the new novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford (St. Martin’s Press), sees the light out day. Already released in the UK from HarperCollins Publishers, it centers around an aristocratic family and their servants during the early 20th century; sort of like a homage to TV's "Downton Abbey", if you will. Here’s what you can expect:


BTB at her superb best. A sweeping saga set around the aristocratic Ingham family of Cavendon Hall and the Swanns who serve them, set on the eve of World War 1. Two entwined families: the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. One stately home: Cavendon Hall, a grand imposing house nestled in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales A society beauty: Lady Daphne Ingham is the most beautiful of the Earl's daugthers. Being presented at Court and then a glittering marriage is her destiny. But in the summer of 1913, a devastating event changes her future forever, and puts the House of Ingham at risk. Life as the families of Cavendon Hall know it - Royal Ascot, supper dances, grouse season feasts - is about to alter beyond recognition as the storm clouds of war gather

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Orion will once again publish the new hardback by Lesley Lokko due out early summer 2014. Tentatively entitled IN LOVE AND WAR, it is set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and it’s the first time the author has "written about a place – and events – that are still in the process of evolving", according to Lokko. No cover yet to disclose but the premise sounds intriguing:
 
Lexi Sturgis is a woman in a man's world, a war correspondent whose life has taken her to some of the world's most troubled regions. Lexi is never happier than when she's dodging bullets, chasing down the leads that other reporters only dream of getting, or swapping stories with her rivals at the bar. She thrives on risk, danger and the thrill of the chase, while keeping everyone else at arm's length - colleagues, friends and lovers. TV executive Jane Marshall needs a Big Idea. With her career nose-diving and her colleagues circling for her job, she needs to pull something major out of the hat. And Lexi might just be what she needs. When a young British woman is kidnapped in Egypt, both Lexi and Jane are thrown together on a journey which will change their lives entirely. It will take them into a world where no one is quite what they seem and menace lurks in every corner. Sometimes, when your back's against the wall, the only thing to do is trust in the person closest to you...



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If you’re still wondering what the heck happened to Louise Bagshawe’s new novel BEAUTY, fret no more. It has been released by Headline since January of this year, using the nom de plume of Louise Mensch (her married name). The premise:
 
Blend it. Sculpt it. Shape it. Use it...There isn't a woman on earth who doesn't have her beauty secrets. But for Dina Kane, beauty is more than just business. It's power. And it is the secret. She's dragged herself up from poverty to Park Avenue. She's rolled with the punches. And she's learned how to win. Now someone is out to destroy her, and all she's built. They've underestimated Dina Kane. She's staying at the top - and she's happy to wait for the perfect moment to exact her revenge...

 
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Last but not least, Avon UK (a division of HarperCollins) will publish two novels by best-selling author Sasha Wagstaff (RECIPE FOR LOVE) using the pseudonym Ella Harper. The first one, entitled PIECES OF YOU, "calls into question the perfect relationship and how hidden truths can get in the way of the perfect picture". Expect it in September 2014.
 

#1 CONTEMPORARY FICTION BESTSELLER As compelling and powerful as Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriarty, PIECES OF YOU is a heart-rending, but ultimately life-affirming novel about a love tested to its limits. The perfect marriage. A devastating secret. An impossible choice. Lucy was always sure of one thing - her future with husband and soulmate Luke. But after eight long, heartbreaking years trying to have a baby, that future is crumbling before her eyes. When a terrible accident puts Luke into a coma, Lucy is forced to reassess everything she thought she wanted. Then Stella arrives. A woman Lucy's never met, but with a secret that will change her world forever ...show more




 
Until next post—Martin