Monday, December 7, 2015

The Trouble with LIFE: My Review of the Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson Film on the Relationship Between Actor James Dean and Photographer Dennis Stock




I just finished watching LIFE (2015), starring Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson. The film focuses on the relationship between photographer Dennis Stock (Pattinson) and actor James Dean (DeHaan) during their collaboration on photographs for LIFE magazine in 1955, including the iconic photo of Jimmy walking in Times Square, wearing his famous black coat, with a cigarette dangling from his downcast lips.


James Dean by Dennis Stock, Times Square, NYC, February 1955

As a big James Dean fan, and a Toronto resident who actually saw some of the scenes filmed downtown, I have been looking forward to this movie since I first found out about it. Biopics in general are difficult to rate. No matter how talented the actor, it is hard to bring to life - in this case - a cultural icon successfully.  

First of all, it is impossible to look exactly like the real person, so most actors try to simply emulate the person's style and mannerisms and hope the audience finds his/her performance convincing enough. Secondly, with someone like James Dean, who died before the Internet/mass media age, there are no talk shows or paparazzi videos to really show what he was like when he wasn't acting, so filmmakers tend to tackle the rebellious/temperamental side of Jimmy and encourage their lead actor to play up this image only, usually to a fault. 


Actors Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson in LIFE (2015)

This brings me to the first issue I had with LIFE. Actor Dane DeHaan, who plays James Dean, sticks to a monotonous mumble throughout the film - one of the most hyped up Jimmy traits - whereas from audio recordings such as the interview Jimmy did on the set of Rebel Without A Cause, we know that in real life, he had an intellectual, clear-spoken, and articulate side to him, especially when he was discussing something he was passionate about. Unfortunately, in LIFE, even when Dean is speaking intelligently, he sounds monotone and incoherent, which makes it hard to take him seriously.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

JAMES DEAN REMEMBERED: 60 Years Later




On this day, September 30th, in the year 1955, actor James Dean was killed in a car accident. Sixty years later, he is still relevant. He's a cultural icon - the eternal rebel - with a captivating onscreen presence, stealing every scene he's in, even if he's not supposed to be the focus.



When I saw East of Eden for the first time, I was blown away by Jimmy's portrayal of Cal Trask. To this day, it is still one of my favorite films. Jimmy's rare television appearances also give great insight into the potential of his artistry, which sadly would never be cultivated past his countless TV gigs and the three motion pictures he filmed before his death.

I wonder what this man with so much talent, so much passion for his craft could have done if not for that fateful evening six decades ago near Cholame, California. It's one of history's greatest 'What ifs' in the context of the entertainment world, and maybe even beyond that. Had James Dean lived past the age of twenty-four, would he have achieved greatness through his professional work and unique style? Or perhaps true greatness - the ability to transcend generations, to forever stay rebellious and cool, to inspire - can only be earned through immortality. And inspire he has - across the world and across generations - and he continues to do so presently. In fact, James Dean was the inspiration behind Aidan Evans, the main male character in my novels, The Starlight Trilogy, a story of love and redemption set against the backdrop of 1950s Hollywood.


At the time of his death, Jimmy still had a lot to learn about acting, directing, photography . . . life . . . but during his few short years in the spotlight, it's easy to recognize and appreciate his fresh approach to acting, which at the time, revitalized the profession and gave young people someone to look up to after years of being ignored by the film industry. Finally, thanks to Jimmy, young moviegoers had an actor to call their own; someone like them with faults, and angst, and the desire to love and be loved.

We will never know if Jimmy could've lived up to the hype that's surrounded him for the last sixty years . . . whether he could've generated and maintained his cultural icon status had he not died so young and tragically and continued to nurture his talent and churn out brilliant performances in front of or even behind the camera. Perhaps he would've simply faded into obscurity, given his penchant for nonconformity and his dislike of the Hollywood machine.



Knowing how destructive the entertainment industry can be, especially for men like Jimmy whose tough exterior concealed deep vulnerability and uncertainty, it's difficult to imagine that anyone could live up to such high expectations. Though the writer, romantic, and classic Hollywood fan in me likes to believe he could've done some pretty amazing things if given the chance.
You know what? It's okay that we will never have answers to these questions. Because James Dean left behind a solid body of work, which we can all enjoy today, and that's all that matters. After all, it's important to appreciate what you have, not lament over what could have been. And if this means all I'm left with are fabulous movies and teleplays like East of Eden, The Unlighted Road, and A Long Time Till Dawn, then, well, that's all right with me.




STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT(The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 


The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon



Monday, September 28, 2015

Hollywood, California, 1953 . . .


Come along on Marie Bates' journey as she films a screen test at Starlight Studios, signs a seven-year contract, changes her name to Elizabeth Sutton . . . and meets a mysterious and gorgeous Method actor on the set of her first motion picture.


***Disclaimer: A legally purchased stock image was used to create this teaser photo. The estate of  Natalie Wood is in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 

STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT(The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 


The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon

Monday, September 21, 2015

Electrifying The Silver Screen . . .


Aidan Evans in Spike Rollins, his debut film at Starlight Studios:


***Disclaimer: Legally purchased stock images were used to create this teaser photo. The estates of James Dean and Natalie Wood are in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 

STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT(The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Starlight Trilogy is Available Now!

***Disclaimer: A legally purchased stock image was used to create this teaser photos. The estate of Natalie Wood is in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 
STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stardust: Will Aidan Evans Finally Find Redemption?

***Disclaimer: A legally purchased stock image was used to create this teaser photos. The estate of James Dean is in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 

STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon

Monday, August 31, 2015

Travel Back In Time To . . .

Hollywood, California, 1953 

An innocent, up-and-coming actress meets a rebellious Method actor with a troubled past . . .  

***Disclaimer: A legally purchased stock image was used to create this teaser photos. The estates of James Dean and Natalie Wood are in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 



STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook BUNDLE on Amazon

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Starlight Trilogy Is Out Now!!

STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon


***Disclaimer: A legally purchased stock image was used to create this teaser photos. The James Dean estate is in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 

Monday, August 17, 2015

On Set With Beth and Aidan

***Disclaimer: A legally purchased stock image was used to create this teaser photo. The estates of James Dean and Natalie Wood are in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 

STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT(The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Actors Studio, 1953 . . .



STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon

Monday, August 3, 2015

New York, 1953: Attend An Actors Studio Workshop With Beth and Aidan . . .





STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT(The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 


The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon


Five Reasons To Read The Starlight Trilogy

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Sexy And Classy Love Story With A 1950s Hollywood Twist . . .



***Disclaimer: Legally purchased stock images were used to create these teaser photos. The estates of James Dean and Natalie Wood are in no way affiliated with The Starlight Trilogy.*** 


STARLIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #1) on Amazon

STARBRIGHT (The Starlight Trilogy #2) on Amazon

STARDUST (The Starlight Trilogy #3)  on Amazon 

The Starlight Trilogy Ebook Bundle on Amazon


Five Reasons To Read The Starlight Trilogy

  1. A sweeping technicolor tale of forbidden romance.
  2. A detailed homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.
  3. Cameos from many of your favorite classic film stars.
  4. Transformation of a small town girl to silver screen starlet through Hollywood’s unforgiving lens.
  5. Close-up of a 1950s bad boy channeling a tragic past and the stress of sudden super stardom through the art of Method acting.

Starlight (The Starlight Trilogy #1)