Sunday, September 6, 2009

Telluride Film Festival and the Red Riding Novels/Films

In the summer of 1990, I had a job in downtown LA. I was living in Arcadia, not far from Santa Anita Racetrack. I read the LA Times that summer and saw this article on novelist James Ellroy. The article mentioned that Ellroy's mother was killed in El Monte, not far from Arcadia and on by birthday (not the same year) nonetheless. I guess in some subconscious and morbid way, it piqued my interest in his works. I'm glad I read that article nearly 20 years ago.

I think the article was promotional piece for Ellroy's upcoming novel LA Confidential. I ended up buying a paperback of the novel before that in the LA Quartet - The Big Nowhere. I stayed up until 3 AM (on a work night) reading the book. After that, I read The Black Dahlia and the Lloyd Hopkins Trilogy. Subsequently, I read every book and short story Ellroy published. I didn't quite enjoy his Underworld Trilogy (or the first 2/3 of it). By the way, the final installment, Blood's a Rover is set to be published September 22.

in 2007, I read a book jacket blurb stating David Peace's latest work as a terrific by Ellroy. Later I would read that Peace said the same of Ellroy's works but at the time, I took Ellroy's endorsement as reason enough to read Tokyo Year Zero. I will admit that it was an interesting crime thriller set in September 1945 Tokyo. By the way, Occupied City, the second book in the Tokyo Trilogy was released last month.

Peace is better known for his Red Riding Quartet. What is it with mystery writers and trilogies/quartets? I have yet to read the Red Riding Quartet about some Yorkshire murders in the 1970's/80's. It's unclear if the novels are historical fiction about the actual Yorkshire Ripper or a fictional character inspired by the Yorkshire Ripper.

Anyway, I was perusing the Telluride Film Festival Program Guide for this weekend's line-up. There is a write-up for three films called Red Riding: 1974, Red Riding: 1980 and Red Riding: 1983. Apparently, the Red Riding Quartet of books has been made into a trio of films (all released this year). That's kind of unusual to release all three at once. Perhaps the films weren't released at once though. The films were British TV movies so they may have been broadcast on successive weeks. I'm not sure if the films will get a formal release in the US with all three being released at once.

The Red Riding films are directed by three different directors and have different casts but were adapted for the screen by the same writer and production team. There was a 1977 installment of the Red Riding novels that got folded into the 1974 and/or 1980 films.

I noted the introduction to the Red Riding films in the program guide - “Noir” these days runs the risk of becoming a cozy cult that justifies (or not) the unearthing of every B picture from a certain period in Hollywood. I couldn't agree more.

This statement made me skeptical though - anyone caught in the creeping infection of these films will recognize a tragic achievement that surpasses that of The Godfather. High praise indeed; even blasphemous in certain quarters. I'm certain the trilogy will be making the rounds in the Bay Area at some point so I hope to render my own judgment.

Gary Meyer, the owner of the Balboa, is the co-director of the Telluride Film Festival. I'd like to go out to Telluride some Labor Day weekend but festival passes are so expensive and the film schedule is not fully announced until the morning the festival begins.

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