Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

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!

Category: Paranormal stories

“Glass” Review: Does Splicing “Unbreakable” and “Split” Work?

Glass: Please be warned that I may talk about the end of this movie, so don’t read on if you’re saving up to watch it and be surprised. I saw “Glass” the day it opened and it’s still keeping a slim hold on the #1 box office spot for the third week. Estimates are that it has earned an additional $9.5 million in ticket sales, which would bring its total earnings to $88.7 million. 

I’ve been trying to decide what to say about “Glass,” M. Night Shymalan’s return to the big screen after “Split” 3 years ago (2016). I loved “Split.”

I was very happy that the director who gave us “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Unbreakable” (2000); “Signs” (2002); “The Village” (2004), and “Lady in the Water” (2006) was back with a winner in 2016 and, hopefully, “Glass” would be the winner in 2019. I may not be quite as fanatical about Shymalan’s success as the two screenwriters who wrote “A Quiet Place,” Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. They showed pictures on Twitter of every ticket stub for all of M. Night Shymalan’s pictures since the very beginning. [“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” and “Signs” have sold over $1.3 billion in ticket sales, and Shymalan also was the creative mind behind television’s “Wayward Pines.”]

I’m a Shymalan fan, but I have to confess that my loyalty waivered a bit after “Lady in the Water” with Paul Giametti and Bryce Dallas Howard.  I was only too happy to get back on the bandwagon after “Split” hit theaters 3 years ago.  I was truly rooting for “Glass” to be just as good as “Split.”

The performance by James McAvoy in “Split” was nothing short of fantastic.  “Glass” would revive the character with 24 multiple personalities that McAvoy brought to life so vividly in “Split.”

Fortunately for me here in Austin (Texas), a history” of the inter-relatedness of the characters was shown at the Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane just before the main feature. “Glass” was a merger of Shymalan’s biggest hits: “Unbreakable” with Samuel L. Jackson and his case of osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disorder) and Bruce Willis as a hooded superhero survivor of a train wreck with McAvoy in “Split.” We also got a now-grown-up Spencer Treat Clark as Willis’ son. [Clark expressed gratitude that Shymalan was so loyal to his actors and had re-cast him as an adult after his first appearance as a child in “Unbreakable.” (He laughingly said he expected to hear that one of the Australian Hemsworth brothers got the role in 2019).]

So, it is with a great deal of reluctance that I have to say that I was disappointed in “Glass.” There is one scene where Anya Taylor-Joy goes to the sanitarium where James McAvoy is confined and asks to talk with him. It is strange that she would WANT to talk to him, since he held her prisoner in “Split” and terrorized her, but she survived.

JUMP-THE-SHARK MOMENTS

The head psychiatrist, played by Sarah Paulsen, is heard telling the young girl from the film “Split” that she cannot possibly talk to her former captor—and then, in a complete reversal, there Anya is, talking to him. Why? How? What?

Then there is the scene in “Glass” when all three of the bad guys are brought into the room to talk with Paulson (see a slight amount on the trailer above).

Only one of the three is chained, and that is Bruce Willis. Why wouldn’t James Mcavoy be chained, as he is clearly the most dangerous of the three? (Jackson is in a wheelchair and appears to be catatonic)  Also weird: the drum music used in the background; the pacing of the entire scene gave us a very draggy scene.

For the keen of eye, the usual cameo—a la Alfred Hitchcock—is Shymalan at a stand that sells cameras. He says he “used to hang out with some shady types at the football stadium in his youth.” Thanks to the Alamo’s history lesson, I remembered that, in the movie “Unbreakable,” his cameo appearance cast him as a drug dealer at the stadium where Bruce Willis’ character David Dunne is a guard.

So, the scenes in Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Hospital were generally difficult to explain or understand and some key scenes really dragged. David (Bruce Willis) is being treated for delusions of grandeur. He remains locked up until a scene where he inexplicably takes 3 runs at the metal door and manages to break free. (Say what?)

Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass has everyone convinced he is practically a vegetable when, in reality, he seems to be able to get out of his cell at will (something that is also never really explained.) And the operation Glass is to undergo on his brain, we are led to believe, is ineffectual because he switches out some glass lenses in the equipment the night before. Highly unlikely. He’s brilliant, yes, but he’s not a physician (although all 9 of Shymalan’s family, including his wife are either MDs or PhDs.)

The fight outside the sanitarium between Willis and McAvoy seems extremely unrealistic and hokey, especially when Willis’ son shows up and is about as ineffectual at helping his father as humanly possible and with McAvoy loping along like he is in a “Planet of the Apes” sequel. Who really thinks that the much younger McAvoy (i.e., “the Beast”) is going to be truly challenged by Willis? The “precipitating event” that we see (i.e., a scare in the water when he was a young boy) is anti-climactic.

COMIC BOOKS

Shymalan likes comic books. This script says, “Superheroes are based on people like him” and, “Everything can be explained away, yet it exists. Some of us can bend steel and don’t die from bullets.” But, later, this line is inserted, “There just can’t be gods among us.” Paulsen’s specialty is treating patients who think they are super-heroes. (I wondered if there was a lot of work for a psychiatrist who only treated Superhero wannabes.)

CAMERAWORK

The camera work at the end, when three characters are shown sitting in the Philadelphia train station, was off-putting and jerky. One wonders how anyone is going to know to come flocking to the train station in the first place. Way off the chart of believability.

TWIST ENDINGS

Shymalan is well-known for surprise or “twist” endings and tries for a double twist here, which I won’t reveal, although he has said, “The negative thing about the twist (ending) is that it’s all people are occupied with; all the gentleness in the movie is being overshadowed by the flashy cousin in the sequined vest taking center stage.” In this film he tries for a double surprise ending as we come to learn that Mr. Glass was much smarter than his keepers. It may be for the best that both Samuel L. Jackson’s character and Bruce Willis’ character are dispatched by film’s end, but it seemed pretty arbitrary. Still, I’m glad that he bit the bullet and did not leave us thinking they’d show up again in a film this implausibly plotted.

IMPORTANCE OF MOVIE THEATERS

One thing that I do agree with Shymalan about is the importance of the movie-going experience. I recently answered a question on Quora (about whether I’d take a million dollars if it meant I could never watch a film at a theater again) in direct opposition to 5 other responders. I don’t ever want to see movies go away, and I said so. Shymalan agrees, saying:

“I’m going to stop making movies if they end the cinema experience. If there’s a last film that’s released only theatrically, it’ll have my name on it. This is life or death to me. If you tell audiences there’s no difference between a theatrical experience and a DVD, then that’s it, game’s over, and that whole art form is going to go away slowly. Movies will end up being this esoteric art form, where only singular people will put films out in a small group of theaters.”

Shymalan also went on to share this anecdote:

[on the power of cinema] “I once wrote an article about the Nuremburg trial and on the evil of the Nazis. These people were animals. And their faces throughout the trial were like ice, except for the moment when they showed a movie in the courtroom. When the lights went down and they showed the footage of the bodies being pushed into the pits, their expressions changed and they became emotional. They were watching the events on the screen through the eyes of everyone in the theater. They were having a joint experience. They were all connected, and they saw the horror, saw that their victims were human beings, and they changed.”

I recently spoke to a roomful of 3rd and 4th graders at a Young Authors’ Day on January 24th. The students were polite and generally attentive. When I switched to the trailer, projected on a large screen, for my book series (“Ghostly Tales of Route 66”) and showed a short film clip of the route, I was in the back of the room, scanning the crowd. They were mesmerized, enraptured, totally “with it,” whereas I had to contend with Susie sharing her lunch crackers with Janie and whispering to her when it was just me trying to share stories of my experiences driving from Chicago to Santa Monica gathering ghost stories. (www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com).

ON CRITICS

As for his reaction to the luke-warm critical reception of “Glass,” Shymalan said:

“It really doesn’t bother me because my aspiration, as I said, isn’t necessarily acceptance. But I always want to understand what’s going on. What are the principles behind the tension or the miscommunication? I want to totally get that. Then I can choose not to react to it, or react to it. My constant, in self-analysis, is to try to figure out: Am I complicit in this situation? How did I create this situation? What is my role in it? Do I want to continue that role? Do I want to change the course of that role? As long as I understand it, I’m much more comfortable with it. And I feel I’m in a strangely decent place of wanting that amount of passion [and debate] people have when they speak about the movies, and the expectations. My obligation is to figure out the bridge so that I don’t just let go of me and please them. That would be the disaster.”

He added, ruefully, referencing critics in general:

“It’s human nature. Twenty-six people love the movie, and the 27th person hates it, and the only thing you can think about is the 27th person.”

Two Screenplay Wins for THE COLOR OF EVIL

Just received word that my screenplay based on Book #1 of THE COLOR OF EVIL trilogy (series) has won another Los Angeles Screenplay competition, this time the L.A. Edge Film Awards. Having also just gone out to see “Hereditary” with Toni Collette, which I will review momentarily, I want to quote the June 18th issue of “Time” magazine which heralded “Hereditary” as “among the films forming the swell of a new wave in horror, pictures that are smart, subtle and artfully made.”

The article goes on to say that this is not to put down the “Saw” or “Halloween” more overtly horrific films of yesteryear, but that those who say they don’t “like” horror movies means “you have haven’t met the right one yet.”

W

SXSW proved this to be true with the smash opening of “A Quiet Place,” which, in Mexico, they described as “alien on a farm.” My interview with the two young writers of that film (Scott Beck and Bryan Woods) convinced me that I should go home and write a screenplay based on THE COLOR OF EVIL, which I did in 3 weeks, while reviewing SXSW.

My script (whose ending I reworked 3 separate times) was checked over by producer John Crye for content and looked over for formatting errors (up to page 57, anyway) by founder of the Chicago Screenwriting School and AFI Film School graduate Dan Decker and then off it went to many festivals, which are now weighing in on (yet another) horror film that taps into the zeitgest of the nation right now. It has won two, is a Finalist in several, and is running above a 75% acceptance rate. (Woot!)

CONGRATULATIONS!

We would like to thank you for participating in The LA Edge Film Awards. There were a.lot of great submissions. It was very difficult to choose this month, but we are now excited & proud to announce the winners for MAY 2018!

Best Narrative Feature

It’s Just a Game
by Wilder Troxell
in Narrative Feature
Runner Up
Aakashee Pullover
by 24 OURS
in Narrative FeatureBest Documentary Feature
Crownsville Hospital: From Lunacy to Legacy
by Richard Stevens
in Documentary Feature, Additi

Runner Up
The Bateman Lectures on Depression
by Scott Bateman
in Documentary Feature2nd Runner Up
A Piece of Germany
by Ela Beken
in Documentary Feature

Best Narrative Short
Help Wanted 
by Michael Madden
in Narrative Short 

Runner Up
A View from The Mountain
by Anthony Stoppiello
in Narrative Short2nd Runner Up
No Wonder!
by Anjani Pandey
in Narrative Short

3rd Runner Up
The Projection
by Oleksandr Herasymenko
in Narrative Short

Best Documentary Short
Namibia
by Matthieu VINEL
in Documentary Short

Best Director
The Bateman Lectures on Depression
by Scott Bateman
in Documentary Feature

Best Screenplay
THE COLOR OF EVIL
by Connie Wilson

Runner Up
The Serum
by Tom Thorpe

2nd Runner Up
Joseph (4th)
by Ian Davies

3rd Runner Up
Diu
by Haritrushi Purohit

Best Actor –
Mac Estelle“Mac”- ‘Help Wanted’

Best Actress –
Aloknanda Roy“Subha” – ‘Aakashee Pullover’

Best Supporting Actor –
Virgil Apostol “Kade” – ‘A View From The Mountain’

Best Supporting Actress –
Rene Michelle Aranda “Lucy” – ‘A View From The Mountain’

Best Cinematography –
Namibia
by Matthieu VINEL
in Documentary Short

Best Score –
Crownsville Hospital: From Lunacy to Legacy
by Richard Steven

Best Visual FX –
The Bateman Lectures on Depression
by Scott Bateman
in Documentary Feature

Best Editing-
The Bateman Lectures on Depression
by Scott Bateman
in Documentary Feature

 

Time” said of “Hereditary”, “It’s a movie about feeling small and inconsequential in the larger pattern of danger churning all around us.” Those who have been horror afficionados for years will remember that “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was often said to be a film about Communism and the cold war threat, although that was denied by the writer and director. Nevertheless, it was films like that one (which was remade several times to varying degrees of success) that captured the mood of the moment.

Whatever your opinion of it, horror is hot, right now.

If anyone out there is reading this: I’ve got literally hundreds of short stories that can be made into great onscreen movies, part of my 50+ year love affair with film and residing in such collections as “Hellfire & Damnation” (Books 1, 2 and 3) and “Ghostly Tales of Route 66.”.

I also wrote THE COLOR OF EVIL, 3 novels that follow a young boy with the paranormal power of Tetrachromatic Super Vision (a real thing, by the way) and put him in peril because others don’t understand that it isn’t necessarily a predictive power. By book three, when we’ve followed Tad (McGreevy) and Stevie (Scranton) and Jenny (SanGiovanni) and Janice (Kramer) through their junior and senior years of high school and on into adulthood, you’ll feel that you know them well.

Set in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 2003-2005, the books are right in touch with today’s mania of the moment, and I hope those of you in a position to see for yourself check out the e-book boxed set (THE COLOR OF EVIL series by Connie Corcoran Wilson) and find out for yourselves.

Director William Friedkin Screens “The Devil & Father Amorth” in Austin, Texas

William Friedkin came to town (Austin, TX) to show his 70 minute documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth.” (Photo by Connie Wilson)

Acclaimed Director William Friedkin came to the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, May 12th, at 7 p.m. with his 70 minute documentary “The Devil & Father Amorth.” It screened to a packed house that came as much for the Q&A that followed as for the dry examination of the Vatican’s exorcist, whom Friedkin described as “the most spiritual man I ever met.”

The film, shot in 2016, was the first time an actual exorcism was allowed to be filmed, but the permission came with restrictions: only Friedkin could be present. No cameramen. No lights. And little action, as it turned out, except for the exorcism of a 31-year-old Italian architect named Gabriela Amorth, who had been unsuccessfully treated 8 times previously.  The actual exorcism, on May 1, 2016, was filmed by Friedkin using a small handheld camera and what he termed a GoPro, which, he said, is often used with drones. He certainly has experience in actually shooting scenes himself, as he proved during the shooting of “The French Connection” when he wrapped himself in a mattress in the back seat of a car driven at 90 mph and shot on the fly through the streets of New York City, (with no formal permissions to do so).

 Amorth was 91 at the time of the filming and Friedkin said he did not set out to film an exorcism. “I had no intention of making this film. I was in Lucca, the birthplace and home of Puccini, getting the Puccini prize for filming his operas. I was just there for 8 days in Lucca and I learned that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was only 30 miles away. From there, you could get a direct flight to the Rome airport, a one-hour flight.” Friedkin said he sent an e-mail asking if it would be possible to meet with Father Amorth, the world’s most famous exorcist, and he received the tentative yes, with conditions. Graydon Carter of “Vanity Fair” magazine (the recently retired publisher) urged Friedkin to go to Rome and interview Amorth and write an article for the magazine.

Friedkin at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse on Saturday, May 12th, with “The Devil and Father Amorth.” (Photo by Connie Wilson)

Friedkin did, in fact, write a 6,500 word article for “Vanity Fair” and shot the film we saw this night, which was far from the fiction of “The Exorcist.” He stressed that the Vatican has a very “hush hush” policy about exorcisms, so there really is no way to find out the truth of whether they work or not. But, after observing the 9th such attempt to rid the pretty architect of her demon, this film, dedicated to William Peter Blatty, who died in 2017, was the result. Asked if he thought Blatty would like the film, Friedkin said, “I think he would love it, which is why I dedicated it to him,” but he also noted that Blatty thought Amorth was a charlatan.

With 62 million people in Italy, 500,000 of whom ask for an exorcism to be performed annually, Blatty is not as quick to throw out the idea of an exorcism being ineffectual. Far from being an agnostic, as Wikipedia says he once was, Friedkin professed to believe in Jesus and said, “Who is anybody to say there’s no God?  We don’t know.  There are so many myths in the Bible, but there are billions of people who believed Jesus Christ was the son of God, because emotion trumps logic every time.” Friedkin went on to cite non-believers like Christopher Hitchins, who spoke out against the canonization of Mother Theresa, but, asked if he would banish religion and replace it with rational thinking if he could, he repeated,“Emotion trumps reason every time.  It’s why you have religion.  You cannot banish religion.”

During the Q&A, in addition to sharing that Father Amorth was an avid critic of the Vatican, but never experienced blowback from the Holy See because he was so popular, he was asked about the state of filmmaking today.

Said Friedkin, “They’re not for me,” of today’s movies, calling them spandex movies.  “There’s never any real danger or real suspense. It’s opium for the eyes.  There’s very little being done that I like.” He did, however, cite “A Quiet Place” as one of the few movies he’s seen that he liked very much.

William Friedkin at the Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, Texas,on May 12, 2018. (Photo by Connie Wilson)

When asked if anything weird or supernatural occurred during the filming of the 1972 classic “The Exorcist” Friedkin recalled how he received a phone call at about 4 a.m. from his D.P. (production manager) saying, “Don’t come to work tomorrow. The set burned to the ground about 2 hours ago.” Friedkin said that insurance did pay for the catastrophe and that some theorized that a pigeon (there were birds flying about in the area and on the set) may have flown into a light box, but, he noted, “there was a watchman sitting outside” and he thought the entire set burning down was unusual.  “I did not make the film as a doubting Thomas,” he said.  “I made the film as a believer.”

The chatty Friedkin (whom the interviewer/moderator referred to as “Billy,” which struck me as odd, since the man is 82) probably would have stayed and talked to us for hours, or so it seemed, but the staff needed to clear the hall for the influx of theater-goers coming to see the original “The Exorcist” on the big screen.

Meeting William Friedkin in person (and giving him a copy of “It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now was a real thrill for me. The man has made 15 films in 53 years and given us such classics as “The French Connection” (he was the youngest director to win Best Director at age 32 and the film also won as Best Picture), “The Exorcist,” “Sorcerer” and many, many more. I hope he continues to thrive in life.

The film ended with film of the funeral of the subject of the film, 92-year-old Father Amorth, who caught pneumonia and died very shortly after this documentary was made. The testimony of various psychiatrists and psychologists and the news that the very condition of being possessed is now termed ‘disassociative personality disorder- demonic possession’ was mentioned several times. Said Friedkin, “After I filmed it, it occurred to me that I should take it to 2 or 3 of the best brain surgeons in the world and let them debunk it.  The psychiatrists now recognize demonic possession, although they’ve removed a few disorders from the books, like homosexuality and narcissism.” He noted, with a nod to the current political climate, “I guess they feel that everybody from the top on down in this country has that.”

One thing that came out of the evening was that Blatty’s book was sheer fiction, because Blatty couldn’t find any way to break the church’s policy on letting anyone witness an exorcism and the only two reported ones in this country occurred in the 1922 in Early, Iowa, and in 1949 in College City, Maryland, which is the one that “The Exorcist” was based on. Said Friedkin, “The church does not really want people to know that there are people out there who have gone through it (an exorcism) and it has not been successful.” He described his own emotional experience while witnessing Gabriela’s exorcism as “terrifying” saying, “The fits come and go, like epileptic fits.” He also shared the fact that John Paul II was an exorcist in Poland before he became Pope and passed on 2 cases to Father Anorth when he ascended to the top position in the church hierarchy. And, said Friedkin, his life was threatened for the only time in his 82 years when Gabriela’s boyfriend demanded all the film he had shot of the exorcism back and Friedkin refused, causing her boyfriend, a member of the sinister Pyramid Cult, to threaten to kill him and all of his family. (Friedkin did not return the film.)

As a parting thought, Friedkin said, ‘There is a far deeper dimension to the Universe.  If there are demons there must be angels.”

ssuu.com/shelfunbound/docs/shelf_unbound_april-may_2018

“Shelf Unbound” magazine has named THE COLOR OF EVIL boxed set to its list of the BEST INDIE E-BOOKS of 2017. (p. 44).

All 3 books are currently touring as a boxed set in e-book formatbut the  also are available in paperback and audio book.

 

Type in The Color of Evil by Connie Corcoran Wilson to go to the Amazon ordering site for the 753 pages that comprise “The Color of Evil” (Book 1), “Red Is for Rage” (Book 2) and “Khaki = Killer” (Book 3).

In the Notes from the Author section on page 44 of “Shelf Unbound,” Connie mentions that the inspiration for the series came from a short story that appeared, originally in Volume I of her short story series “Hellfire & Damnation” (Books 1, 2 & 3).

For trailers and reviews of each of these series go to www.TheColorOfEvil.com and www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com. Enjoy!

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THE COLOR OF EVIL Series on Tour Through November

New Amazon Review of THE COLOR OF EVIL Series (Boxed Set)

on November 15, 2017
Do I like scary clowns? No! Did the cover of the new box set “The Color of Evil,” by Connie Corcoran Wilson, scare me? Yes! Did I want to read this book anyway? Of course I did! And boy am I glad I did. From the fantastically creepy cover, on the box set as well as each individual book contained within, this is one shivery read. At first, I felt that the action was a bit slow to get started; however, I’m glad I stuck with it, because for a book that is supposed to be geared towards a younger audience, this definitely had some scary and troubling moments.

There are three books in this set and each one delivers the same amount of thrills and chills, however, each are also distinctly different in various ways, even though a common theme and storyline run throughout. The main idea, that Tad McGreevy can see colors around people, auras if you will, that allow him to determine what type of person they are, I found to be very unique. I was almost just as horrified as he was each time he saw someone with the dreaded gray-green color surrounding them.

Yes, there are unexpected twists and turns you won’t see coming. And yes, I definitely recommend this set to anyone who enjoys good, old-fashioned horror. And by that I mean, back in the golden age of horror, when Dean Koontz was writing as Leigh Nichols, and Stephen King was just getting started, along with the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Doug Clegg and Clive Barker. If you are nostalgic for some no-holds-barred, white-knuckle ride, keep-the-lights-on horror novels, then rejoice with this set, because you have three that you’ll want to read one right after the other. And keep an eye on this author, because I can tell she’ll have many more thrills to bring us in the future.

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