The Frame by Jamin Winans (Spoiler Free Review)

the-frame-2014-movie-posterThe best filmmakers have the ability to draw you into a world visually, intellectually, and emotionally. They know how to surprise the viewer. Christopher Nolan. Stanley Kubrick. Alfred Hitchcock. Paul Thomas Anderson. The Coen Brothers.

There’s another director who is tipping dangerously close to that pantheon of movie creators. That fellow is Jamin Winans.

Winans, an independent filmmaker who works outside the Hollywood machine, jumped on the scene with the surreal fantasy INK (which happens to be one of my favorite movies). He showed a remarkable ability to do so much with so little. There are few villains that are as memorable as the glasses wearing Incubus monsters. There are few heroes as memorable as John (played brilliantly by Christopher Soren Kelly). The film includes some of the best fight choreography I’ve seen. Not bad for a director’s second film!

INK came out in 2009, so it has been a looooooong wait for Winan’s follow up, THE FRAME. A lot of secrecy was involved with the production of the movie with good reason. While there’s no big plot twist or reveal, going into THE FRAME without any spoilers will make the experience infinitely better. Because of these lack of details and an artistically shot trailer that gives away few details, the lengthy time between films was frustrating for this fan!

What about the movie? It’s the story of Alex (David Carranza), a cargo thief, and Sam (Tiffany Mualem), a paramedic. They do not know each other, but their lives intertwine in a magical and tragic way. Christopher Soren Kelly returns and plays three key roles in the film (the guy is a chameleon it seems) that helps tie it all together. The final 20 minutes of the film are heartbreaking and will have you wondering how the heck Jamin Winans (and his wife Kiowa Winans who produced the movie) made THE FRAME for a meager $350,000.

Like INK, THE FRAME is bound firmly in surreal fantasy elements. The imagery is striking, the acting from Carranza and Mualem is top notch. Winans has a lot to say about the concept of free will, how our past affects our future, and the nature of reality. It’s a philosophical film that rewards multiple viewings.

As you probably gathered, I am big on this film. I encourage you to find it. If you’re a fan of INK, you will love THE FRAME. If you’re lukewarm on INK, you will likely find THE FRAME more accessible.

And, finally, like INK, Jamin Winans composed the soundtrack. And it is fantastic.


BUY THE BLU-RAY/DVD HERE (Let’s help fund that next movie!)

Enjoy the trailers:

Books on the cheap

Two of my books and the magazine I edit are enjoying major Cyber Monday discounts.

Seventh Star Press has made the eBook edition available for 99 cents today only at Amazon. Get it here:

Apex Publications is selling the tpb and the eBook editions for my anthology at a 50% discount. Use code CYBER50 on checkout. Get it here:

The three-time Hugo Award-nominated zine I edit is selling subscriptions for $15.00 Use code SUB2014 on checkout. Get it here:

My book company in general is having a giant Cyber Monday sale. Select titles up to 75% off! Details here:

Darkside — A radio play by Tom Stoppard

Let me through, I’m a moral philosopher! — Ethics Man

I stumbled upon this bizarre radio play named “Darkside” on Spotify searching for the new Pink Floyd single (worth searching out, btw). It played on BBC2 Radio in the fall of 2013. It’s a play intertwined in the album Dark Side of the Moon. Here’s the official description from the BBC website:

A new drama from legendary playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. The album topped the charts on its release in 1973, and it remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold it is the band’s most commercially successful work and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Sir Tom Stoppard was first approached with the suggestion of writing a play based on the album by a friend in 1973. Now, 40 years later, he’s created a fantastical story about fear, philosophy and madness, which is woven together with the original music.

Surreal. Weird. Entertaining. Fun.

Oh, right, the music is pretty good, too.

Review of The Battery

You hear a lot of complaining about the glut of zombie-themed television, movies, and books. Perhaps zombies are worn out as a plot contrivance. But there is a reason we can’t get away from the undead: quality zombie entertainment keeps being created.

A prime example is The Battery, a film directed by and starring Jeremy Gardner. It’s the story of two ex-baseball players, a pitcher and a catcher (commonly called in baseball circles as a ‘battery’), traveling zombie infested New England together. Gardner is Ben, a free spirit who seems to thrive in the apocalypse. Adam Cronheim is Mickey, who wants to shrink away from world inside his headphones and desperately seeks the comforts of safety and food.

The movie’s last act occurs almost entirely inside the station wagon with the boys trapped by a horde of zombies. The resolution is sad and satisfying. And like the rest of the film, a bit odd.

There is a lot more dark humor in The Battery than horror. A scene involving Mickey as he’s trapped in their station wagon by a rather ‘attractive’ zombie lady is memorable, funny, and desperately sad. Ben is sharp-witted and a fun character. In perhaps one of the best drunk dancing scenes I’ve watched, Jeremy Gardner does some fine work. See below.

I’m no film theory guy, but a few things strike a chord with me regarding this scene. First, the song choice is perfection. The lyrics reflect Ben’s refusal to give up and his lighter personality. The opening close up of Ben’s face (that beard!) puts you intimately into his space during the scene. The framing, with the mural of a Garden of Eden type setting juxtaposes well with the drunken freedom Ben is feeling. The shadowing around the dance scene embodies the imaginary wall the character has placed himself inside. Then the long shots from the hallway reminding us of the real world that Ben, for all his dancing, still exists and can’t escape from.

Or perhaps it is a scene of a drunk bearded guy dancing. I don’t know.

Amazingly, the film was made for $6000. It’s beautifully shot. Jeremy Gardner does a great job as Ben. Adam Cronheim is serviceable as Mickey (in his first role).

I say check it out.

Happy birthday, Bjork!

Today is Bjork’s 49th birthday. I’ve followed her amazing musical career since I was but a wee lad. She’s weird, beautiful, and talented. A perfect trio. Happy birthday!

I dedicate this song to Bjork:

So now let’s travel Bjork’s career trajectory.

It started with this bit of weirdness. Best (read: worst) white man rapping in history. “I really don’t like lobster!”:

Then The Sugarcubes hit mainstream with this rocking single.

Bjork decided she’d had enough of Icelandic white man rapping and ventured into a solo career that was launched with a giant angry teddy bear.

She then became a movie star in one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen, Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (Bjork is amazing in it, of course).

And finally, she ventured into more refined experimental work. A lot of it seems to share similarity to Radiohead’s sound of the past decade.

Thank you for all the wonderful music, Björk Guðmundsdóttir!

Review of The Dark Defiles by Richard K. Morgan

thedarkdefilesThe Dark Defiles is the third and final book of Richard K. Morgan’s Land Fit for Heroes series. It’s a rather epic, challenging, and satisfying conclusion to a strong grimdark fantasy tale.

The Land Fit for Heroes saga is a strange bird. It’s a broad stroke of science and sorcery. We have the Kiriath, an ‘immortal’ race of advanced beings that have departed the earth, leaving behind advanced machinery and weaponry. There’s the Dwenda, a beautiful race of powerful yet flawed human-like creatures. We have the Dark Court, a group of old and mysterious gods that like to meddle in the affairs of the world. Finally, we have humans. As usual, we’re the pawns of greater design.

We follow the paths of three heroes: Ringil Eskiath (a gay war hero), Egar the Dragonbane (a berserker warrior), and Archeth “Archidi” Indamaninarmal (the sole Kiriath left on the planet, lesbian).

I mention the sexuality of Ringil and Archidi because both characters are shaped somewhat by society’s reaction to their sexual choices.

Oh, and spoilers below the cut (but not a great many)!


Too Many Cooks

The great thing about something as meta and post-modern as Too Many Cooks is its unbridled originality…er, wait a minute…

This was a student film by Erica Rupp in 2010. Lots of similar oddities and themes in Door’s Always Open as there are in Too Many Cooks.

I suspect this is nothing more than a coincidence. As Erica Rupp said about Too Many Cooks: “Eh idea’s[sic] are in the air man. I’m happy they’re doing awesome stuff. Their video was bomb.”

I like that phrase: Ideas are in the air, man!

Erica totally needs to do a director’s cut of her film to add Smarf.


2014 Kentucky Book Fair

Kentucky, land of hillbillies and rednecks, has one of the premiere book fairs in the country. Every year, the Kentucky Book Fair is held in late autumn at the convention center in Frankfort, KY. This year is extra special, because I will be in attendance signing my books!

Come see me and roughly 200 other Kentucky authors. We got books we want to sell you!

WHAT: 33rd Annual Kentucky Book Fair

WHEN: November 15th, 2014, 9am-4:30pm

WHERE: Frankfort Convention Center, Frankfort, KY

WHY: Author/Editor/Publisher Jason Sizemore will be in attendance signing copies of his collection IRREDEEMABLE, his anthology APPALACHIAN UNDEAD, and a new anthology that contains his short story “God Needs Not the Future” (STREETS OF SHADOWS).


While you’re in Frankfort, visit the State Capitol Building. And don’t forget, kids,  you’re allowed to bring your guns into the capitol!

World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III by Ben H. Winters

WorldOfTrouble_FinalWorld of Trouble is the last book of Ben H. Winters’ The Last Policeman trilogy. These three books should go into the canon of recommended apocalyptic novels due to their emotional depth and way Winters shows the rapid decline of society and his protagonist, Detective Hank Palace.

I’ve written about the first two books in the series here. World of Trouble isn’t a standalone, so being familiar with the first two entries are a must.

The events in World of Trouble begin one week before Maia is due to hit (and destroy) Earth. Hank has found safety and friends in a mountain hideaway with some fellow law enforcement officers. But Hank is unable to shake two intertwined mysteries from his mind: what has happened to his sister Nico and the possibility of a clandestine government plan to redirect Maia with a nuclear explosion.

He leaves the hideaway with the mysterious but useful Cortez (a thief with many survivalist skills) and embarks to Rotary, Ohio, the supposed meeting place of Nico’s group.

Naturally, something has happened at Rotary, and Hank is racing against time to figure out the mystery. He grows angry at the minutes wasted away while others make decisions. While the resolution of the mystery was no great surprise, I was surprised by the complete despair and darkness that Winters dives into as he concludes his trilogy. It felt appropriate and the right way to go.

Winters does a fantastic job using Hank’s desperation as a parallel to the crumbling of society. As the asteroid approaches, he comes to believe that perhaps Nico and her group were on to something. But as he digs deeper and discovers the truth, he finds that it was all false hope and that it was always out of his hands, and perhaps life would have meant more at the end had he continued to live in ignorant bliss.

The AVClub states it best: But the mysteries are just a spine for a larger agenda: exploring Henry’s psychology, and the ways he represents human endeavor, which can all look empty in the face of death. 

Winters throws some interesting philosophical questions against the wall in his trilogy. He also provides a chilling assessment regarding how society would react to an impending cataclysmic event.

The Last Policeman trilogy is a great series. I encourage everyone to check it out.