Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lights Out

My son and I are really enjoying this new series on FX.  The characters are well developed and the conflict is physical as well as emotional.  Some viewers will probably find their patience tested by the slower than normal plot advancement, but that's what needed to invest in and enrich the characters.

There have been some fights so far in these first four episodes, but the big ones are coming up.  I suspect that one of them will be next week, and Chandler and I are looking for it to it.

We really feel for the main character, Patrick Leary.  This guy is up against the wall on so many fronts that you can't help but feel for him.  Financially, he's ruined.  He can't trust his younger brother, who has been managing his money, and, I suspect, mismanaging it as well.  His relationship with his family is on the line, and tonight's episode pushed it one step over.

There was also a surprise twist at the very end that I had suspected but didn't really see coming.  Patrick has gotten totally boxed by everyone he's involved with.  His wife was kicked him out.  His brother has betrayed him.  The boxing promoter that he hates owns a piece of his next three fights.  The semi-relationship Patrick has been forced into with a local gangster is turning decidedly ugly.  And he's still broke.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed the Rocky movies a lot.  Sylvester Stallone was an awesome and tragic figure at times on the big screen.  However, those stories could no be no longer than 2 hours.  Lights Out is going to be 13 episodes this season, and it reads like one big story.  Every episode sets up the next, and just coming to this series in the middle isn't going to work very well.  This is one of those television series that you need to see from the very beginning.  Thankfully, you can get the episodes on Hulu and other web sites.

If you're a boxing fan, I think there's a lot about this series that you'll enjoy.  A lot of the behind-the-scenes boxing politics is explored, and there's a lot of drama within the family.  We still don't have all of Patrick's wife's story, but some of it is there and I think we're going to understand her a lot better in a few more episodes.

There are two relationships that I enjoy most in this series.  The first is the relationship between Patrick and his father, played by Stacy Keach in a role that he was born to play.  The second is between Patrick and his second daughter, who knows more about her father's medical condition in anyone else in the family.

I can't wait to see how everything resolves this season, though I'm pretty sure I can figure most of it out.  The final episode of this season is going to be a gut-wrencher.  I just hope that the show gets a green light for a second season.

Saturday, February 5, 2011




The remarkable story of Welsh boxing legend, Howard Winston is served up in this award winning movie from Burn Hand Films. The story follows Howard from the time he lost three fingers in an industrial accident to him being crowned Featherweight champion of the world after beating Mitsunori Seki in the 1968 fight at the Royal Albert Hall. It truly is a life affirming story of grit and determination as the man who couldn't even make a fist with his right hand went onto rule the boxing world.

The part of Howard Winstone is taken by Stuart Brannan who also co-wrote the screenplay with director, Neil Jones and between them they have produced a grim, gritty but ultimately joyous film that fails to fall into the sentimental trap which is always a danger with sporting based movies. The film pulls no punches in telling it as it was and the grim surroundings of 1960's industrial Wales are brought to vivid life. There are some great character sketches and being a Welshman myself and a Valley boy too, it was pleasing to see characters that rang true on the screen. Boyd Clack, as Howard Winstone Snr gave a great turn as a man suffering from black lung disease, the curse of the coal miner, whose only desire is to help his son overcome all odds in his quest for greatness.

"A Valley's boy. The champion of the world. It's tremendous."

Howard Winstone is portrayed honestly, warts and all, and we see that his highly focused determination is both the making of him as well as the ruin of his marriage. Grainne Joughin plays Mrs Winstone and the actress has some powerful material to get her teeth into. She starts out positively joyous, almost girlish but hardens as her marriage becomes a soulless shell.

"What about what I want?", she pleads to her mother-in-law only to receive a stony look and words spat back with venom.

Though the bottom line is that this is a boxing movie and it is in the fight scenes that it will ultimately be judged - Neil Jones obviously recognised the fact and he presents Winstone's various fights in several styles -from painfully slow to blurringly fast. The second fight against Vicente Saldivar is particularly effective - played out in grinding slow motion and set to Moonlight Sonata, it becomes a hypnotic ballet as the camera pulls back time after time to the rhythm of the boxer's feet. This is then contrasted by the third and final fight against the Mexican champion flashing across the screen with the speed of strobe lighting.

More Raging Bull than Rocky Balboa, Risen is a gritty story, the mood often as black as the coal fields but it is also a testament to the determination and sheer guts of one man who rises about adversity and handicap to punch his way to the top.

Following a triumphant journey around the festival circuit, Risen will begin a cinema release this April. It will be available on Region 2 DVD this May with other regions to follow shortly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bob Randisi here. (I use RJR on most of my web posts)

I've known Paul Bishop for many years, and Mel Odom's work for a long time. When I got Paul's invitation to join he and Mel as "Jack Tunney," I found the project an exciting idea. I have been a fight fan for many years, and my P.I., "Miles Jacoby" is an ex-boxer. He first appeared in my 1982 novel Eye in the Ring. I will be writing the third Tunney book, Knockout, and am looking forward to a successful run with this project.

More later. For now, check out Paul, Mel and myself and some of our other books. These guys are real pros . . .


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Robert J. Randisi Writing Fight Card #3 Knockout

Robert J. Randisi has been called by Booklist “. . . the last of the pulp writers.” He has published in the western, mystery, horror, science fiction and men’s adventure genres. All told, he is the author of over 540 books, 50+ short stories, 1 screenplay and the editor of 30 anthologies. He has also edited a Writer’s Digest book,

 and for 7 years was the mystery reviewer for the Orlando Sentinel. In 1982 he founded the Private Eye Writers of America, and created the Shamus Award. In 1985 he co-founded Mystery Scene Magazine and the short-lived American Mystery Award; a couple of years later he was co-founder of the American Crime Writer’s League. In 1993 he was awarded a Life Achievement Award at the Southwest Mystery Convention. In 2009 he received the Life Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America.

His Rat Pack novel

featuring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and other members of the infamous Pack, was published in October 2006 and received a starred review from Booklist. It has also been optioned for an independent film, for which he has written the screenplay. His most recent novel in the Rat Pack series was

The next will be

A 6th, Fly Me To The Morgue (Severn House), will be released later in 2011.

Randisi was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., and from 1973 through 1981 he was a civilian employee of the New York City Police Department, working out of the 67th Precinct in Brooklyn. After 41 years in N.Y, he now resides in Clarksville, Mo., an Artisan community of 500 people located right on the Mississippi. He lives and works with writer Marthayn Pelegrimas in a small house on three acres, with a deck that overlooks the Mississippi.