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

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

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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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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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