Landmark has announced it will close the Clay theater, which was built in 1910 as a movie house---no backstage! Reportedly they have lost money for years on this single-screen neighborhood theater, showing new art-house films and cult classics.
Elsewhere in the city, Landmark is doing well. Its Embarcadero Cinema emerged from a re-do with luxurious seats and upgraded food and beverage service. Landmark has announced it will refurbish the Opera Plaza Cinema, which needs it. Both are multi-screen houses.
There is hope the Clay will be saved by the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, which has saved the Vogue (1912) and the Balboa (1926). The Castro (1922) survives in all its glory thanks to community support. A few others survive around the city, mostly divided into multi-screen theaters.
Peter Abrahams excels at exploring altered states of mind. Most famously, in The Fan (1996), a baseball fanatic pursues his hero to the point of madness. Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes starred in the film version directed by Tony Scott.
In Oblivion (2005), Abrahams explores the altered state of mind that follows removal of a brain tumor. The chief symptom is loss of memory for the three days leading up to the surgery.
The loss is critical because the hero is a private investigator tracking a missing-person, and he spent those three days getting close to cracking the case. Following his surgery, he must re-investigate the case, but all the people he talks to now know more about what he's up to than he does. This puts him in increasingly dangerous situations.
To complicate matters, years earlier, one of his cases was the subject of a based-on-a-true-story Hollywood film, and it's not always clear whether people are remembering him or the character based on him in the movie.
Alteration of the hero's state of mind makes this one of the more ambitious P. I. novels I've read.
The land under the bridge is part of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed. The water flows from a freshwater spring down the side of a mountain and trickles through this grassy area.
When the US Army drained this "swamp" to create dry land for a shooting range and other uses, the water was channeled into culverts and carried underground to its ultimate destination, San Francisco Bay.
When the Presidio Trust daylighted the water, the native plants returned, creating habitat for native frogs, insects and birds. It's a lively place.
It got its name from the 1st Tennessee Regiment, volunteer soldiers who camped here before shipping out to the Philippines for the Spanish-American War.
It sounded like my favorite kind of movie. The promotional descriptions says, "A charismatic jeweler makes a high-stakes bet that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. In a precarious high-wire act, he must balance business, family and adversaries on all sides in pursuit of the ultimate win."
To me, it sounded like the perfect-crime scenario, beloved of noir writers and filmmakers. A guy or gal down in a tight spot comes up with a plan to make a big score, get out of trouble, and be set for life. I've written about several in this blog, including The Concrete Flamingo by Charles Williams, Out of the Black, by John Rector, and The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips.
But Uncut Gems didn't play out that way. We watch the jeweler pile risk upon risk to make a huge bet on basketball game. When it doesn't work out, he does it again, and again, and . . . It turns out he has no plan for what to do with the windfall. He just likes gambling.
Watching the jeweler rob Peter to pay Paul for the umpteenth time so he could place a bet reminded me of watching All in the Family and waiting for Archie Bunker to make a bigoted remark. Sure enough, there he goes again. About halfway through the film, the audience of about 300 with whom I saw the film started laughing whenever the jeweler went for it one more time.
I'm offering the ebook version of Dark Mural free from January 1st through 5th. If you have wanted to try my murder-mystery series featuring Nicole Tang Noonan, art historian, this is an excellent chance to get the first book of the series.
Agatha Christie---the greatest mystery and suspense writer of the 20th Century
Agatha Christie's "Other" Novels
Agatha Christie: Beyond the Puzzle
Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library, I
Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library, II
Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library, III
Children of Miss Marple, Amateur Sleuths
Bill Crider---author and scholar of the mystery genre.
Bill Crider's College-Professor Sleuth
Mississippi Vivian by Bill Crider.
Booked for a Hanging by Bill Crider
Patricia Highsmith---startlingly original suspense novels
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson.
Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction by Patricia Highsmith.
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Stephen King---America's master storyteller
Did Stephen King take a lesson from Bram Stoker?
On Writing by Stephen King.
The Outsider by Stephen King
Joyland by Stephen King. Lessons from a master.
Elevation by Stephen King
Joe R. Lansdale---Texas noir
The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale
Sunset and Sawdust by Joe R. Lansdale
Jim Thompson---the greatest of the paperback original authors
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson.
The Kill-Off by Jim Thompson.
After Dark My Sweet by Jim Thompson
Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
How Jim Thompson Learned Crime-Writing
How Writers Used to Get Started.
Jim Thompson's Biography
Texas by the Tail by Jim Thompson
Charles Williams---most under-appreciated paperback original author.
Nothing in Her Way by Charles Williams
NIHW & River Girl by Charles Williams
A Touch of Death by Charles Williams
Dead Calm by Charles Williams
The Hot Spot by Charles Williams
The Concrete Flamingo by Charles Williams
Aground by Charles Williams
Cornell Woolrich---the founder of noir.
Short Stories by Cornell Woolrich
Penguin's Cornell Woolrich omnibus
Waltz into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich
No Man of Her Own (1950)
Mississippi Mermaid by Francois Truffaut
Miscellaneous Authors (most recent blog post first)
Oblivion by Peter Abrahams
Out of the Black by John Rector
Twisted City by Jason Starr
The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips
A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
The Snatch by Bill Pronzini
Dangerous Habits by Susan Hunter
I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks
Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley
Inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper
The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
The Reaper by Peter Lovesey
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Burglar by Thomas Perry
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami
Samuel Fuller, writer, soldier, filmmaker
Books to Die For
Dangerous Lies, 2020
Dead to Me, Seasons 1&2, 2019, 2020. Very dark, very funny. 20 episodes.
Ozark, Season 3 (2020) Rural noir, Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner.
Alibi (2020) 3 episodes. Superb acting and script. No one is as they seem.
Blow the Man Down (2020) Noir with a dash of the absurd in a fishing village.
Uncut Gems (2019) Adam Sandler in a noirish tale that doesn't clinch the ending.
Parasite (2019) Bong Joon-ho's masterpiece. Big Oscar winner.
Mickey and the Bear (2019) Debut film, small and simple, superb throughout.
Little Woods (2019) Debut thriller, with the feel of realism.
The Highwaymen (2019) A new and sobering look at Bonnie and Clyde.
Serenity (2019) Stock noir with a challenging twist.
Shoplifters (2019) Japanese noir, without the usual trappings.
A Simple Favor (2018) Anna Kendrick brings the light; Blake Lively brings the darkness.
Bad Times at the El Royale(2018) Noir on a grand scale. Layers upon layers revealed.
Destroyer (2018) Nicole Kidman creates an anti-hero as grim as can be.
Ben is Back (2018). Suspense that recalls naturalistic novels and tragedy.
Three Peaks (2017) It takes a while to get there, but by the end brings the chills.
Emelie (2015) Smart writing and acting in a bad-babysitter thriller.
Cold in July (2014) High testosterone revenge thriller. Book by Joe R. Lansdale.
Thief (2006) Six episodes. Andre Braugher as a master thief. Muscle cars.
Quicksand (2003) Michael Keaton against type. Michael Caine brilliant as usual.
Out of Time (2003) Steamy ticking-clock thriller with Denzel Washington and Eva Mendes.
To Die For (1995) Nicole Kidman goes the distance from cartoon to monster.
Guilty as Sin (1993). Rebecca DeMornay and Don Johnson in psych thriller.
Pacific Heights (1990) True-to-life, chess-game thriller. Melanie Griffiths and Michael Keaton.
Still of the Night (1982) Succeeds with style and Hitchcockian touches.
The Driver (1978) Vintage Bruce Dern as a corrupt cop. Ryan O'Neal surprises as a gangster.
Mississippi Mermaid (1969) Truffaut, Belmondo, Denueve . . . a story from Cornell Woolrich.
Bullitt (1968) at the Balboa The ultimate chase film . . . not just the car chase.
Underworld U. S. A. (1961) by Samuel Fuller A movie about realistic gangsters.
Pickup on South Street (1953) by Samuel Fuller. Streets of NYC, with a lift at the end.
Gun Crazy (1950) Naturalistic take on Bonnie and Clyde.
No Man of Her Own (1950) Barbara Stanwyck plays it to the hilt in a story from Cornell Woolrich.
Detour (1945) Low-budget, expressionistic classic. Post WWII fatalism.