April 01, 2006

Notes from a DVD Geek

by Jeremy Lassen

Heads up, animation fans.  Last year's kick-ass fantasy extravaganza, Howl's Moving Castle, (directed by Hayao Miyazaki and based on the Diana Wynne Jones novel of the same name) is now out on DVD.  I highly recommend this one.  Also available on DVD in the States for the first time is My Neighbor Totoro.  Totoro is widely regarded as Miyazaki's best film. and if you've enjoyed any of his other films, you should check this one out.

If you have already gotten a look at MirrorMask (which I mentioned last month), and want to sample some other movies that Neil Gaiman wrote or adapted for the screen, be sure to check out Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, which was adapted to English by Neil.  The Miramax DVD features English language subtitles, and a passable English language dub, both based on Gaiman's script.  Also available on DVD is one of the first items that Gaiman wrote for the screen, Neverwhere, which actually started out as a screenplay for the BBC miniseries, and was later adapted into the novel of the same name.

Once you've put yourself in the mood for some BBC miniseries action, you should definitely check out their adaptation of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, which, given the dense and un-cinematic nature of the original prose, is better then anybody could have hoped for; in fact, it's quite good.

Just as last month brought you the interesting failure that was Dune, the extended edition, this month brings us Dominion: The Prequel to the Exorcist.  Some of you may have seen, or heard about The Exorcist: The Beginning, which was also a prequel to the Exorcist.  This movie wasn't very good.  It wasn't mind-numbingly awful, like the first sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic.  It just wasn't very GOOD. Well, actually, yeah, it WAS pretty bad.

Of course, like many Hollywood franchises, behind the Exorcist prequel was a long-running fight between the studio and the movie's original director, Paul "Taxi Driver" Shrader.  This fight got so bad that when Schrader turned in his version of the movie, the studio rejected it outright, and hired a new director (Renny "Deep Blue Sea" Harlin) to come in and shoot an almost entirely different movie, with only about 20% of the Renny movie coming from Shrader's shooting.

People have been talking about the "Paul Shrader Cut" of this movie for some time. . . Long before the actually-released movie hit the theaters, the internet was filled with rumors of how much better The Shrader cut was.  Internet fanboys around the world hoped that the DVD would have both versions of the movie, but last year they were disappointed.  Now, however, the studio has relented and quietly released Paul Shrader's Exorcist prequel as a separate DVD, with the title "Dominion:  The Prequel to the Exorcist".  The DVD features commentary by Shrader, which is a little dry at points, but also filled with some juicy details.  And while Dominion is no Taxi Driver, or Raging Bull, it is a pretty damn good movie -- much better then, say,  the actual Exorcist prequel.

If my descriptions of the different versions of The Exorcist Prequels seem a bit convoluted (or at least a bit intriguing) I recommend you take a look at an interview that The Guardian UK did with Shrader at ( http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,6737,1175811,00.html)

Until next month. . . .

March Bestsellers

    1) THE BONEHUNTERS by Steven Erikson (UK Import)
    2) THE VOYAGE OF THE SABLE KEECH by Neal Asher (UK Import)
    3) A DIRTY JOB by Christopher Moore
    4) GHOST BRIGADES by John Scalzi
    5) ACCELERANDO by Charles Stross
    6) MAGIC LESSONS by Justine Larbalestier
    7) PRETENDER by C.J. Cherryh
    8) COMPANY by Max Barry
    9) MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS by Kelly Link
    10) VENGEANCE OF ROME by Michael Moorcock (UK Import)

    1) GARDENS OF THE MOON by Steven Erikson
    2) SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson
    3) ALTERED CARBON by Richard Morgan
    4) NIGHTLIFE by Rob Thurman
    6) SHADOW OF THE GIANT by Orson Scott Card
    7) CUSP by Robert A. Metzger
    8) ALECTOR'S CHOICE by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
    9) DATES FROM HELL by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, and Lori Handeland
    10) MYSTIC AND RIDER by Sharon Shinn

Trade Paperbacks
    1) BONEHUNTERS by Steven Erikson  (UK Import)
    2) V FOR VENDETTA by Alan Moore
    3) VISIONARY IN RESIDENCE by Bruce Sterling
    4) SO YESTERDAY by Scott Westerfeld

Good-Bye ABE, Hello Biblio

by Alan Beatts

The ability to sell books on-line is pretty important for book stores, especially specialty stores like Borderlands.  Not only does it bring in extra money but it also lets people know that we exist and it allows us to buy more obscure books because we have access to a worldwide market, not just our (very well loved, believe me) local customers.  For a small business there are really only two options for selling on-line: we can either spend a great deal of time and money to set up a full e-commerce section at our web site or we can use one of the on-line book listing services.  Almost since the day we opened, we've been going with the second of these choices.  In that time we've only used one company, not only because I feel a great deal of loyalty to companies that give us good service but also for years there has been a hands-down winner in terms of selection, service, and reliability.

For years we've been listing our books on-line at a site called abe.com.  In fact, we've been listing there so long we still call it by the original name - The Advanced Book Exchange - in unguarded moments.  For a very long time, ABE gave us wonderful service at a fair price.  Their sellers were probably the finest in the used book field and we used to recommend the site to all our customers.

However, in 2002 or thereabouts, things started changing.  The company was sold, or went public, or some damn thing, and all of a sudden ABE started trying to make more money.  In itself, I think that's a great goal.  It's what we do here at the store.  The problem is that the way they went at it was to start soaking their sellers (us) and their buyers (you) for more money instead of trying to grow their business.  Granted, there were a few attempts to start an advertising campaign in the beginning, but it was a pretty weak attempt (how many of you have ever seen an ad for ABE?).

Psychic Readers' Corner, and An Invitation

by Jude Feldman

Book buyers frequently come in, embarrassed because they cannot remember the author or the title of the book they are seeking.  Speaking only for myself, I love these situations -- it is like an updated version of the old game show "What's My Line?"  And when you can guess correctly. . .oh, the job satisfaction!  The following are just a few actual examples of the hundreds of successful Psychic Bookseller Moments that have occurred at Borderlands Books, where our book sellers correctly guessed the title in one try, using only the vaguest of clues:

Q: "I'm looking for this book that is about a river."
A: To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer.

Q: "This author sort of writes about religion."
A: James Morrow