Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

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Connie will review the thriller/mystery/horror books of others and will keep you posted on her own writing.

“Coming Home in the Dark” at Sundance on HBO Max: Engrossing!

Daniel Gillies as Mandrake in “Coming Home After Dark.” (Courtesy of Sundance Institute.)

The New Zealand offering “Coming Home in the Dark,” from Director James Ashcroft unleashes a fast, high-energy road trip with a family that is set upon by two psychopaths with a grudge. The short story of the same name, written by Owen Marshall, was altered by Ashcroft and screenwriter Eli Kent, who had already adapted another of Marshall’s short stories prior to this feature film premiere outing.

The 93-minute film never loses its edge and, despite the warnings about graphic violence, it was far from “Saw”- like. But, yes, there is violence.

As the director explained in a brief message to the press at Sundance, the two screenwriters, working together, tried to incorporate historic New Zealand issues as background for the main character, the father of twin boys, who has been a teacher in a variety of schools. These were touches that the original short story character lacked. Alan/Hoaggie, is well-played by Erik Thomson, but Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) is evil incarnate.

The film opens with a beautiful sunset in the New Zealand countryside. It is worth mentioning that the feature film comes full circle at film’s end with that same beautiful panorama, only at sunrise. The circularity of structure is something I’ve enjoyed in films by Spike Lee and Brian DePalma over the years, and use in my own writing on occasion. There are many deft cinematic touches like this, including the failure of wife Jill to take her husband’s hand in the car, after she has just learned some disquieting information about his past. She remarks, “There is a difference between doing something and letting it happen, but they live on the same street.” The shots through grasses by cinematographer Matt Henley were outstanding.

PLOT

James Ashcroft, director of Coming Home in the Dark, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Stan Alley.

The family of four—Alan, Jill and their twin teenaged boys, Jordan and Maika—are off on holiday when they stop alongside a gorgeous but remote New Zealand hillside in the Greater Wellington Region for a hike and a picnic. Ominously, two drifters appear on a cliff overhead and wave at the family below. It is not long after that a confrontation occurs.

Alan—known as Hoaggie—the father, and Jill, the mother, reassure their twin teenaged sons that it will be all right if they just give the men what they want. They promptly do so, divesting of their cash and valuables and every phone but one that Jill took from Alan and put in the glove box of their car when he began playing an annoying game on it while she was driving. But will it? Will giving the tall Maori-tattooed silent man known as Tubs and the shorter thug, who calls himself Mandrake, what they want save all their lives? At one point, a panel truck drives into the area where the confrontation is happening, and Mandrake instructs the family to wave in a friendly fashion, which they do. The paneled truck departs, honking back, and Mandrake remarks, “Later, this may be the point where you’ll wish you’d done something different.”

The film quickly spirals into a road trip to hell.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

The shots through grasses by cinematographer Matt Henley were gorgeous, as were the sunrise/sunset scenes over a glorious New Zealand landscape. I’ve been to New Zealand, and, yes, it really looks that beautiful (Great Wellington Region).

ACTING

The acting by Erik Thomson, as the father, and Miriame McDowell as the grief-stricken mother is matched in acting chops by the intensity of evil radiating from the two criminals, Tubs and Mandrake (Matthias Luafut and Daniel Gillies.) Ashcroft uses the taller of the two assailants, played by Matthias Luafut, to good effect and Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) is the worst thing you can encounter at a picnic in the wild: a polite psychopath.

Ashcroft, from Aotearoa, New Zealand, was the artistic director of the indigenous Maori Theatre Taki Rua from 2007-2013 and his native name is Nga Puhi/Ngati Kahu.  This is his first feature film, but he has plans to move in the direction of Blumhouse horror films. This is a great start.

The film is slated to stream on HBO Max. Check it out. It was the best of 5 feature films I’ve seen at Sundance in the past 2 days.

Podcast of December 17th: Christmas Book(s) for Sale!

“The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats,” Book #1. (www.TheXmasCats.com for all 5 in the series, currently).

I posted the scheduled appearances for the rest of 2020 previously. This Thursday (Dec. 17) will, in fact, involve telling the audience about  books for sale, but whether it will be Sean Leary’s book or not remains to be seen. The evening will focus on the six-book series “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” if previously scheduled guest Sean Leary cannot make it, [due to a soccer game this time]. Always have a “Plan B,” when preparing a program, whether it is a radio show, a podcast, a television show, or something else. I’ve done very little talking about my own books on the 38 programs so far. Maybe this is the week—a week before Christmas—to talk about a 6-book Christmas series? I guess we’ll know by Thursday. One way or the other, you’ll get to hear about an appropriate literary purchase for the holiday ahead.

On December 24th there will be a replay of a previous program, and on December 31st (New Year’s Eve) that will happen again.

There are six books in “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” series, all of which can be seen by going to www.TheXmasCats.com. I would urge potential listeners to go out to the website while they are listening to me talk about how the books came to be.

Again, this is not a “for sure” program listing, as perhaps Sean will be able to join us to talk about his new book “Subliminal Cartography.” Maybe. Maybe not.

If not, you’ll hear the story of the newest book (“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee”) first, as it is the newest release. I’m on schedule with completing the series for my granddaughters, as I always vowed to discontinue the series when the girls had outgrown Santa Claus. Their twelfth birthday is January 11th; the final book is out, and all six of the books are available on Amazon in time for Christmas gift giving, if you hurry.

So, what are the books and what were the ideas behind them?

Book #1: The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats

This book came out of the non-stop fighting between our two cats, the older cat and a new arrival, who joined us from the ravine as winter came on. They had to learn how to get along, and that is the “moral” of Book #1.

Book #2: The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats

The girls were three when I began the series and they were selecting the next animal that the Christmas Cats, a gang of do-gooders, would aid. Rats came up next. Among other morals of this book it includes an admonition against prejudice and a plea to be helpful and kind to others.

Book #3:  The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats

Living here in Austin, as I am currently, this one should be a big seller at Book People, but, alas, it has no “spine” and I learned the valuable lesson that books in Book People (the largest independent bookstore in Austin) must have a spine, so that readers can read the title as they browse in the store (not that there is much “browsing” during the pandemic.  The moral: do not fear or destroy animals simply because you are unfamiliar with them. There is a “master plan” for every creature and that bat or insect or snake also has a reason for living.

Book #4:  The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer

Inspired by the deer kill staged at Scott County Park in Scott County, Iowa, the Christmas Cats rescue the hapless deer in the park and hustle them to the North Pole, where they learn to help Santa in his annual delivery of gifts. The illustrations by Gary McCluskey for this one are outstanding, and it is one of my two favorite books in the series. For the first time, a hard cover edition was available, although it is not listed on Amazon, which doesn’t help.

Book #5:  The Christmas Cats Care for the Bear

This one should be one of the most popular, as it is an anti-bullying tome. The little bear is being bullied because he has funny fur and is chubby. The good lesson to be learned:  bullying is wrong.

Book #6:  The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee

Donnie Drone wants to take over the hive because he doesn’t like the Queen Bee. He colludes with a less-successful hive to wrest control of the hive. All the worker bees in the hive begin to realize that they could all die if Donnie Drone remains in power, and they unite to drive him off. A timely political parable for our current time(s).

Jon Land, Author, to Guest on Weekly Wilson Podcast on August 20th (7 p.m., CDT)

“Strong from the Heart” by Jon Land.

New York Times Best-selling author Jon Land will be my guest on Weekly Wilson podcast this coming Thursday, Aug. 20th, at 7 p.m.CDT on the Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In Radio.

New York Times Best-selling author Jon Land has a new offering in his Caitlin Strong series. The new book, eleventh in the series involving a courageous female Texas Ranger, is entitled “Strong from the Heart.”

Here is what Amazon says about the book, available as an e-book for $14.99 and as a hardcover for $21.80:

Caitlin Strong wages her own personal war on drugs against the true power behind the illicit opioid trade in Strong from the Heart, the blistering and relentless 11th installment in Jon Land’s award-winning series.

The drug crisis hits home for fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies from an opioid overdose.

On top of that, she’s dealing with the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night.

When Caitlin realizes that these two pursuits are intrinsically connected, she finds herself following a trail that will take her to the truth behind the crisis that claimed 75,000 lives last year. Just in time, since the same force that has taken over the opiate trade has even more deadly intentions in mind, specifically the murder of tens of millions in pursuit of their even more nefarious goals.

The power base she’s up against—comprised of politicians and Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors—has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they’ve never had to deal with the likes of Caitlin Strong before and have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling.

At the root of the conspiracy lies a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed. Caitlin and Cort Wesley may have finally met their match, finding themselves isolated and ostracized with nowhere to turn, even as they strive to remain strong from the heart.

I’ve read and reviewed two previous Caitlin Strong books: “Strong Vengeance” and “Strong to the Bone.” This is the best of the lot.

His books include the Caitlin Strong novels about a fifth-generation Texas ranger,[1] and the Ben Kamal and Danielle Barnea books, about a Palestinian detective and chief inspector of the Israeli police.[2]

He is an emeritus board member and currently sits on the marketing committee for the International Thriller Writers.[3]  Jon was also the screenwriter for 2005’s “Dirty Deeds” film, which starred Milo Ventimiglio, with Zoe Saldana and Charles Durning in the cast.

Tori Eldridge to Speak on Thursday, July 16 “Weekly Wilson” Podcast

Tori Eldridge is the Anthony and Lefty Awards-nominated author of The Ninja Daughter, which was named one of the Best Mystery Books of the Year by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and awarded 2019 Thriller Book of the Year by Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Her short stories appear in several anthologies and her screenplay “The Gift” earned a semi-finalist spot in the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

Before writing, Tori performed as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television and film.  She is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent and was born and raised in Honolulu, where she graduated from Punahou School with classmate Barack Obama.

Tori holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin-Do ninjustsu and has traveled the U.S. teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-preservation.

Her second book in the Lily Wong series, “The Ninja’s Blade,” will be released September 1, 2020.

Join Tori and I as we discuss her books, her life, her trips to Shanghai, and her goals for the future on Thursday, July 16, from 7 to 8 (CDT), 5 p.m. from California for Tori.

New York Times Best-Selling Author Heather Graham Pozzessere on Weekly Wilson 6/18

Heather Graham Pozzessere will join me in roughly 4 hours on the podcast “Weekly Wilson” and we will all find out how a woman with 5 children can possibly write hundreds of novels in her spare time.

Heather has been turning out a prodigious amount of work since the 1980s, having retired from her previous jobs as a bartender and working as a back-up singer and in theater. (Heather has a degree in theater from the University of South Florida). We will possibly talk about the uptick in cases of the coronavirus in her fair state (over 3,000 new cases) and the news that the upcoming Republican National Convention is supposedly moving to Jacksonville from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Heather has won several prestigious awards. In 2003, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Romance Writers of America. She has also been awarded the Thriller Writer’s Silver Bullet for charitable enterprises. Heather also belongs to a number of Writers’ associations, notably among them the Horrors Writers Association and the Mystery Writers of America.

Krewe of Hunters: This series is a beautiful blend of romance and mystery. Key characters in the series are Jackson Crow and Angela Hawkins. Jackson is dogged by the death of two of his teammates. Angela on the other hand is an investigations officer who is endowed with paranormal abilities. She already has her hands full of mysteries to solve when another extremely intriguing death occurs, and she cannot resist the temptation to try and solve it. A senator’s wife is found dead, with all the evidence pointing to the fact that she jumped over a balcony. However, developments in the story make it probable that she was pushed over the balcony. Or is it the ghosts that inhibit this house that was once a torture house that lure the lady to jumping over the balcony? Angela and Jackson try to solve this mystery and in the midst of it all, they find themselves falling deeply in love. They are constantly risking not just their lives, but their immortal souls as well.

I’ve just finished reading “Seeing Darkness” so that novel, more than others, will be up for discussion, but we’ll also talk about when she writes, how she writes, how her writing or promoting might change in this time of the coronavirus and many other topics, including the aforementioned family members.

Should be fun! Tune in on the Bold Brave Media Global Network or Tune-In Radio at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Channel 100. I’ve had family members tell me that the channel kept waivering between 100 and 200. No idea about that. If you have a question, the call in number is 866-451-1451 and be prepared to hold for a rather long time to get in. (We love questions, but the commercial breaks’ ll kill you.) If you miss the program totally, you can go out to WeeklyWilson.com and find a button to replay the program, minus commercials, but it usually takes about 3 days for it to go up, so look for it by the first of the week at the earliest.

See you tonight!

Podcast Shows of June, July, and Mid-August

I am currently booking guests for my Thursday night podcast into August.

While my last post addressed the months of May (one week remaining) and June, here are those tentatively scheduled for June, July and August. This week’s author is Anita Oswald, author of “West Side Girl,” a nice companion to last week’s book “Redlined” by Linda Gartz, also about the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago. (Linda’s book was the 2018 Chicago Writers’ Association Nonfiction Book of the Year.)

June 4, 2020: Guest will be Barbara Barnett, Chicago author of “The Apothecary’s Curse” who is promoting the sequel to that book, “Alchemy of Glass.” Barbara is a member of both HWA (Horror Writers’ Association) and SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).

June 11, 2020:  Spike (“at the mike”) O’Dell, former WGN on-air radio personality.

June 18, 2020: Heather Graham, New York Times best-selling author of the Krewe of Hunters romantic/paranormal series, speaking about her newest book, “Seeing Darkness,” the Krewe of Hunters Book #30.

June 25, 2020: Suzie Quatro, prior to the release of the documentary on her life. Suzi was Joan Jett before there was a Joan Jett.

July 2, 2020:  Anthony Whyte, owner/editor of www.TheMovieBlog.com, the 3rd most heavily consulted movie blog on the Internet.

July 9, 2020:  Lance Taubold and Rich Devin of Las Vegas, Nevada, book publishers and authors at Invoke Books.

July 16, 2020:  Tori Eldridge, author of “The Ninja Daughter” from Polis Books.

July 23, 2020:  Quad City author Sean Leary, author of “The Arimathean” series and other books.

July 30, 2020: Dan Burns, Chicago Writers’ Association treasurer and Chicago film critic and screenwriter.

August 6, 2020:  Iris Waichler, author of “Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents”

August 13, 2020:  Jon Land, novelist (“The Caitlin Strong” series) and screenwriter.

Some of the above are subject to change and tentative, but this gives you somewhat of an idea who is scheduled in the future. I was working on an interview with Cathy Moriarty, but her agent has said the pandemic has caused her to “go to ground” and cancel all such appearances. I’m still waiting to hear back from Gary Cole’s representatives.

Weekly Wilson Programs of May 21 and May 28th

Home podcast office in Texas.

May 21st – My guest on Weekly Wilson, the podcast, at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday was Linda Gratz, talking about her book “Redlined.” It was a fascinating hour.

May 28th – My guest this coming Thursday will be Anita Solick Oswald, author of “West Side Girl” ad a founding member of the Boulder Writing Studio. Anita and I will talk again about the same neighborhood that Linda Gratz grew up in during the fifties and the sixties, West Garfield Park. Linda’s memoir is a more lighthearted look at what she remembers fondly as a great childhood growing up the changing Chicago neighborhood.

June 4 – My guest on Thursday will be Barbara Barnett, author of “The Apothecary’s Curse” and “Alchemy of Glass.”

June 11 – My guest will be former WGN on-air radio personality Spike (“at the Mike”) O’Dell.

June 18 – My guest is scheduled to be New York Times Best-Selling author Heather Graham, author of the Krewe of Hunters romance/paranormal novels.

June 25 – Rock star Suzi Quatro is scheduled to be with me in advance of the documentary about her life. Suzi was Joan Jett before there was a Joan Jett.

 

Weekly Wilson Podcasts of May 7th and May 14th

The Weekly Wilson podcast of May 7th featured Dan Decker, filmmaker, author, lecturer, founder of the Chicago Screenwriting School and the Las Vegas Shakespeare Troupe.

Whoever called in from Chicago (Dan’s home town), we apologize for not getting to your question. The period of time on hold tends to be quite long, with up to 6 commercial breaks, and this is not the first time that a caller has simply given up on holding. (The last one was from Maryland).

Dan and I covered a lot of ground, talking about his stints in both Italy and China and our thoughts on the future of the movies. Dan was quite optimistic, compared to me,  about the survival of theaters, as he pointed out the historic developments that were predicted to be the death knell for movie theaters, like radio, television and streaming services.

Dan lived in Las Vegas for many years, spent several months in Italy, and now lives  Raleigh, North Carolina, near his married daughter and her family.

In addition to talking about the future of film in America, we touched upon how one secures dual citizenship from a foreign country, which Dan did as a result of his Italian mother.

Next week, author Michael Serrapica (Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals) will join me for a discussion that will, no doubt, touch on politics and on the four free books I am giving away on May 15, 16 and 17th. (The Color of Evil; Red Is for Rage; Hellfire & Damnation I & II).

“Keep Austin Weird”

Tune In to Weekly Wilson, the Podcast on Thursday Nights (7 p.m., CDT)

Home podcast office in Texas.

The upcoming guest list for the Weekly Wilson podcast on the Bold Brave Media Global Network, while subject to changes in these uncertain times, looks like this through mid-May:

April 2, Thursday, 7 p.m. CDT – Texas author Charlotte Canion will speak with Connie about her book, “You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying,” which is about coping with elderly parents when you may have health issues of your own.

April 9, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Film star Eric Roberts and his wife Eliza (also an actress) are re-scheduled after the shutdown of the network caused the cancellation. We’ll talk about Eric’s storied career, his role in “Lone Star Deception” and other topics of interest.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

April 16, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Ed Dezevallos, Executive Producer of “Lone Star Deception” and the force behind a series of instructional videos for young people called www.soyouwanttobe.org will drop by.

April 23, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Dr Bill Kohl, an epidemiologist in charge of the University of Texas in Austin’s response to the Corona virus, will share insights and information.

April 30, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Jennifer Berliner, heart transplant and cancer survivor and blogger (www.anewheartrocks.com) will share various tips regarding “sheltering in place” and remaining positive in the face of adversity. (Read up on Jennifer’s background at her blog)

May 7, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – TBA

May 15, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Author Michael Serrapica returns to talk politics with Connie.

As always, listeners can find the podcast (Thursdays, 7 p.m. CDT on the Bold Brave Media Global Network) and phone in “live” at 866-451-1451.

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