Archive for October 31st, 2017

The Hitcher

The Hitcher4

By J.D. Lafrance

It was the film no one wanted to make. It became the film no one wanted to see. When The Hitcher came out in 1986, it barely made a dent in the box office and what few critics did see the film, hated it for the unrelenting sadism and brutality that occurred with seemingly no rhyme or reason. The film was quickly relegated to home video hell and doomed to obscurity. And then a curious thing happened. The Hitcher gradually began to take on a second life through word of mouth, spawned by the riveting performance of Rutger Hauer, the actor who played the frightening yet charismatic antagonist. The film, much like its villain, is a nasty piece of work that doesn’t care if you like it or not – it just wants to scare the living hell out of you and I would argue that it does so with a refreshing simplicity. The Hitcher doesn’t beg to be psychoanalyzed – it is something to experience in all of its white-knuckled intensity. The film has gone to inspire films like Jeepers Creepers (2001) and The Forsaken (2001) and spawn a vastly inferior sequel and remake.

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by Sam Juliano

Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

The juxtaposition of barnyard indifference and an insatiable officiousness fuels the irresistible Pony in the City, a handsomely mounted, digitally negotiated picture book by Wendy Wahman.  Otis, a permanent resident of “The Pony Paddock,” an equestrian stable serving youthful riders in a rural retreat, evokes the inquisitive demeanor of Wilbur the Pig, but who takes a markedly more hands on approach to the quest for knowledge.  Otis is the restless spirit of a quartet of fillies that includes Mosey, Whinny and Derby.  He yearns to know where his riders live, if they do the same things he does, eat the same kind of food, and maintain themselves similarly.  The intrepid Otis, understanding that there is no match for on location scrutiny a la Climb every mountain/Search high and low/Follow every byway/Every path you know mode escapes his domain, moving from rural to urban, miniature to gargantuan, uncomplicated to labyrinthine.  For the youngest readers Pony in the City bridges the gap what exists and what may be by exploring the inherent possibilities in the relationship between children and the favorite animal of John Steinbeck’s Jody Tiflin.

Wahman is a major player in the regional Pacific Northwest picture book renaissance taking place over the past decade, one that includes fellow talents such as Jessixa Bagley, Elizabeth Stanton and Toni Yuly.  Wahman and her Evergreen State colleagues have produced a run of extraordinary works, while conducting regular readings and presentations in book stores and classrooms in the region.  Wahman has specialized in books about animals, with Don’t Lick the Dog, A Cat Like That and Rabbit Stew winning many admirers in the classrooms and among the educators and librarians presenting them.  Few author-illustrators are as adept as Wahman in imbuing her animal and human characters with such a carefree similitude and the sense that there is a natural kinship between living creatures that ultimately trumps the intellectual schism.   (more…)

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