A sharply written, thorough, and loving tribute to a modern-day cinema classic.

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YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU

HOW SHAUN OF THE DEAD WAS BROUGHT TO LIFE

Entertainment Weekly senior writer Collis’ debut nonfiction work tells the story of how a much-beloved zombie movie made its way to the big screen.

Filmmaker Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead has achieved revered cult status in the years since its 2004 release. This book follows its creative journey, starting with Wright’s love of movies during his childhood in England. This section gives readers an early taste of the films that would influence his work, such as John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II (1987). Wright eventually directed the two-season U.K. comedy series Spaced, which starred its co-creator, Simon Pegg. Inspired by one of the show’s episodes, in which Pegg’s character plays a zombie-themed video game, Wright and the actor wrote an unusual screenplay: a rom-com with zombies. Fascinating, comprehensive interviews with Wright, Pegg, producer Nira Park, Nick Frost (Pegg’s best friend and co-star), and many others provide insight into the film’s production. Wright was pitching a film in a genre whose popularity was waning in Britain, and several box-office bombs forced Shaun’s original production company to shut down. Things hardly improved on set; Wright describes frequent clashes with a more experienced director of photography. Overall, Collis’ book is as entertaining as the movie it spotlights. It’s chock-full of curious tidbits; for example, users of Spaced Out (a Spaced fan site) were recruited as zombie extras, and Wright’s 48-hour binge of the video game “Resident Evil 3” inspired memorable scenes in his movie. There’s also welcome appreciation of Wright and Pegg’s immensely clever script, in which an early, humorous monologue foreshadows the movie’s entire plot. Collis’ tightly organized book includes meticulous details of day-to-day filming, which complement pages of set photos, promotional materials, and, best of all, storyboards sketched by Wright and his older brother Oscar. At the end, the author effectively brings readers up to date on the post-Shaun lives of the cast and crew; Wright, for example, went on to helm the well-regarded action film Baby Driver (2017).

A sharply written, thorough, and loving tribute to a modern-day cinema classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948221-15-3

Page Count: 424

Publisher: 1984 Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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