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Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman engage in a close-quarter battle for her character’s psyche in the taut thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane. A defined film of terror that falls loosely in the J.J. Abrams Cloverfield universe, based on a script “The Cellar” by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken. The screenplay polished up by “Whiplash” screenwriter/director Damien Chazelle and tightly directed by Dan Trachtenberg punches movie goers in the…well, gut. Welcome to Gut Check with the Abysmal Brutes. SPOILERS ahoy!

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The filmmaker sprung forth from a cracked open VHS tape in the 90’s, a fully formed titan of caustic pop cinema. No, he was struck by a ball of lightning as he watched a Sonny Chiba matinee double feature at a scummy LA grind house theater.  Or did he acquire his screenwriting aesthetics fighting neo-noir jocks in an alley behind the local comic book store? Legends are born somewhere in the margins of damn lies and half-truths.  Like baseball, jazz, cowboys, rock and roll and the hamburger, Quentin Tarantino is an American Original. Or is he? Rob and Bill shine a light on the storytelling conceits of Quentin Tarantino in this episode of the Abysmal Brutes. 

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Scenes are the links in the chain of a story. What does he want? What stands in her way? Motivation. Conflict.  Advancing  the plot. These are a few elements of what a compelling scene must reveal.  The Abysmal Brutes inspect an individual link in the story chain on Breaking Down A Scene.  This episode focuses on a scene from The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe. Eddie Lacrosse is a world worn sword jockey on the hunt for a missing princess. Rob and Bill get their hands dirty pulling apart the scene to see the hard work behind the crafting of an Eddie Lacrosse novel.

http://alexbledsoe.com/

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There is so much to discuss about The Force Awakens that it took two shows. After listening to Part 1 faithful listeners you have heard some of the Abysmal Brutes more salient points. Such as; The Abysmal Brutes are passionate Star Wars fans. Bill detests JJ Abrams as a director. Detests! Rocko abhors the shoehorning of the original Star Wars into this soulless Disney money grab especially the depiction of Han Solo. Rob savors his second glass of Bulleit Bourbon while mediating this Star Wars: The Force Awakens slumber party. A cold splash of water awaits Star Wars fandom in this latest episode. 

Rocko Jerome has written about Star Wars. You can find his work at his Amazon page.
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is JJ Abrams Muzak masterpiece, a simple movie that plainly harkens back to George Lucas’ beginning.  Elevator music generally contains highs and lows that do not distract the consumer but encourages them to fall deeper into buying goods. Abram’s Star Wars is all highs that lull the viewer into missing plot holes and contrivances. A watered down George Lucas rehash that is comfort food for the nerd soul. The film doesn’t challenge a viewer so much as it slips them into a nostalgic coma. Rob, Bill and Rocko attempt to rouse the audience from their slavish slumber. Surely the Force can withstand a critical eye. Or can it?

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The philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon said, Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested.And the Abysmal Brutes masticated the hell out of some novels in 2015. Paul Tremblay, Lauren Beukes, Adam Rapp, Paolo Bacigalupi, Victor Gischler, Kim Gordon, Warren Ellis, Donald Westlake, Jean-Patrick Manchette, Malcolm Mackay. Rob couldn’t devour books fast enough. Bill actually read some novels published in 2015. We answer the question: If you could take one book from 2015 on your one way trip to the Mars settlement, what would it be?

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In 2001 Marvel Comics published Alias created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. Alias launched the R-rated MAX imprint for Marvel bringing us one of comics greatest character ever- Jessica Jones.  A damaged private investigator putting her soul back together bit by mother effin’ bit. Her armor though dented and rusty, Jessica Jones wavers but never yields.  The series ended too soon but Jessica Jones is back. Melissa Rosenberg brings Jessica Jones to Netflix with a vengeance starring Krysten Ritter. Krysten’s Jessica Jones is as tough as her combat boots and as harsh as the plastic bottle whiskey she drinks. David Tenant does nasty like no one else. And Sweet Christmas is that Luke Cage? The Abysmal Brutes binged hungrily on the noir world of Jessica Jones and share their humble opinions on this episode.

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You’re a writer!?! Where do you come up with your ideas? This is the eternal question that all writers get asked. Everyone is capable of coming up with a “Big Idea”. EVERYONE. The question asked should be “How to you turn that kernel of imagination into a story worth reading or watching?”  The Abysmal Brutes show one way of wrangling a “Big Idea” into a semi-coherent rip roaring tale. Howling Wookies, French mystery boxes and R. Crumb ahoy! There are countless other ways to shape your “Big Idea” but few as entertaining as listening to the boy’s brains catch fire and melt on this episode.  

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Writer Victor Gischler is an institution or should we say belongs in an institution. We’ll give you some examples. He pitted X-Men versus vampires for Marvel Comics.  Werewolves battled a soldier of Heaven in “Kiss Me, Satan”. A drug dealer stole a poetry grad student’s identity in “The Pistol Poets”. “Suicide Squeeze” showcased Japanese gangsters and repo men killing each other in a quest for a rare Dimaggio baseball card. A lonely guy found solace at Joey Armageddon’s Sassy-A-Go-Go, a post-apocalyptic Amazon replacement in “Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse”. But those are nothing compared to the pulp freakness of Carter Sloan’s escapades in “Gestapo Mars”. Rob and Bill uncage their thoughts on this ripping sci-fi adventure yarn.

http://victorgischler.blogspot.com/

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Adapting a novel into a film is not an easy endeavor. Different formats of storytelling conform to different rules. Movies rely strongly on visual and aural cues while books internalize the storytelling. Reading demands a more solitary and languid event than the communal two hour viewing of a movie. Hardcore loyalty to the page dooms a film, so how do a screenwriter and director capture the spirit of the book while making a successful film?  

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