Movie review: The Vast of Night

Cayuga, NM

Vast of NightThe Vast of Night made it onto Ty Burr’s 10 movies to watch. He writes: “Andrew Patterson’s first film is a crowd-sourced labor of love about two high school kids discovering strange doings in the skies over 1950s New Mexico.

“It’s an example of the most movie that can be squeezed from the least amount of resources, with beguiling performances from Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick in the leads.”

It “premiered at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival in January 2019. Amazon Studios acquired distribution rights to the film and released it on May 29, 2020, including drive-in theaters in the United States and via video-on-demand on Prime Video,” which is how I saw it.

This movie is clearly influenced by the TV series The Twilight Zone. The setting is Cayuga, NM. Cayuga Productions was the name of Rod Serling’s production company…

“The name was taken from Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s ‘Finger Lakes.’ The lake is about an hour drive northwest of Binghamton, and was where Rod and his family had a summer home.”

The Vast of Night is very much dialogue-driven. Initially, I found the radio DJ (Horowitz) a bit obnoxious, but I really liked the teen switchboard operator (McCormick) from the start.

As the mystery unfolded, I found myself rooting for them both. And the witnesses they spoke with were convincing. The film had the right atmospherics to keep me watching these two, who wanted to get out of town and follow their dreams.

And then…

I’m afraid the great failing for me is the conclusion. It lacked a satisfying resolution, that part in TZ where you hear Serling wrap up the story. Nevertheless, it may well be the opening salvo of Patterson’s directorial career.

The Vast of Night is on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of best films of 2020 at #97, with 92% positive reviews from the critics. The audience reviews were less favorable, at 65%.

The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of TV

time well spent

Twilight ManI made my semiannual trek to my local comic book emporium, Earthworld Comics, this fall. On the shelf was a graphic novel The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by someone named Koren Shadmi. I perused it for about ten seconds and decided to buy.

The book, of course, is about the creator of the legendary television program the Twilight Zone. In my book collection is The Twilight Zone Companion, an episode guide. I only have two DVD sets of complete television series; one is The Twilight Zone.

And there is that time I met the Man. (I’ve mentioned that, right?)

I found The Twilight Man to be thoroughly reached. The book had about three dozen items in the bibliography. The art was quite decent. I read the 170-odd pages in a couple of hours, and it was time well spent. There were bits of Serling’s biography I did not know or had forgotten about.

Speaking ill of the dead?

From a three-star review in Amazon: “A lot of the information presented seemed very personal and came across as a bit off-putting knowing that this was written by someone after the person in question was already dead. I would hope much of this type of information came from interviews or people who knew Rod..”

Yes, there is nothing in The Twilight Man that was out of character or inconsistent with the books and articles that I had previously read. If you can find it, check out Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone – a biography by Joel Engel.

About THAT book, I wrote: “The subject of the book was unable to be content with his life, believe his success, [or] be happy with his first writing critic, his wife Carol.” The Shadmi book shows Serling with those same insecurities.

I was motivated to buy The Twilight Man because 2019 is the 60th anniversary of the first broadcast of Twilight Zone. Christmas Day would also have been Rod’s 95th birthday, though he didn’t get anywhere near reaching it.

Videos

Tell It To Groucho with Rod Serling (April 2, 1962). Rod plugs an Italian singer, leaves, but then returns

I’ve Got A Secret – 1972

Jack Benny Program – TWILIGHT ZONE LOST EPISODE –

Serling Fest 2019: Twilight Zone at 60

appearing live via satellite, BILL MUMY

Serling festTo commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Twilight Zone’s 1959 debut, the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation presents: SERLING FEST 2019: The TZ @ 60, a three-day celebration in Rod Serling’s adopted hometown of Binghamton, New York on the weekend of October 4-6, 2019.

I don’t usually do advertisements for ventures with which I’m not involved in this blog. It must be a function of hometown pride – New “BING” Getting Cooler By the Day, which is true. It’s also my close, personal relationship with the late writer/host; yup.

GUESTS

“Confirmed guests include Rod’s daughter, Anne Serling (author of AS I KNEW HIM: MY DAD, ROD SERLING); Mark Olshaker (co-author of MINDHUNTER, inspiration for the acclaimed Netflix series); Mark Dawidziak (author of EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE); Nicholas Parisi (author of ROD SERLING: HIS LIFE, WORK, AND IMAGINATION); and Martin Grams, Jr. (author of TWILIGHT ZONE: UNLOCKING THE DOOR TO A TELEVISION CLASSIC).

Also attending Serling Fest, “Arlen Schumer (author of VISIONS FROM THE TWILIGHT ZONE); Reba Wissner (author of A DIMENSION OF SOUND: MUSIC IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE); Amy Boyle Johnston (author of UNKNOWN SERLING); and Tony Albarella (editor of AS TIMELESS AS INFINITY: THE TWILIGHT ZONE SCRIPTS OF ROD SERLING).

“And appearing live via satellite (Saturday, October 5th), BILL MUMY (star of ‘It’s a Good Life,’ ‘In Praise of Pip,’ ‘Long Distance Call’ and LOST IN SPACE).” I saw It’s a Good Life in the past six months; it’s still startling.

VENUES

“On Friday, October 4th, the event will be held at various locations in Binghamton – to be announced. On Saturday, October 5th, the event will be at the Broome County Forum Theatre, and on Sunday, October 6th, go to the Helen Foley Theatre at Binghamton High School.

Ah, Binghamton High School, which was Binghamton Central back in my day. And Helen Foley, who was Serling’s drama teacher, was my public speaking teacher. I’m giving serious thought to attending at least part of this.

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2016: The Movie

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FLATUS Dossier Spotlights Russian History of ‘Kompromat’ – Diplomats, politicians and bureaucrats have been embarrassed by leaks of compromising material

The body language of FLATUS, and the 20 best nicknames; are you sorry yet?

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Transcript of Face the Nation book panel with Isabel Wilkerson (“The Warmth of Other Suns”; JD Vance (“Hillbilly Elegy”); actor Diane Guerrero (“In the Country We Love”); Amani Al- Khatahthbeh (“Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age”

Full Text Of Obama’s Farewell Address, or you can watch it

President Obama Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Biden

ObamaWhiteHouse.gov is the future home of President Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov. This site will be maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration and will serve as an historical archive of Obama Administration content.

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We don’t need Uber

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The Mysterious Virus That Could Cause Obesity


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The Waxhaws, on the border between the Carolinas

Arthur answers my questions about pop culture and Arthur, plus writes about his mom, who would have been 100

How Not To Write Like An Archdruid

Disney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has taken its final plunge before it gets a Marvel Studio makeover

They surveyed Americans to see how familiar they were with the ten shows that were nominated for Best Comedy and Drama for the Golden Globes

Richard Thompson and the comic strip CUL DE SAC

Jim Cummings provides the voices for many cartoon characters

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Obit: Mr. Oliver Larry Rickard, better known as “Paw Paw” the Clown, age 81, of Rome “Survivors include… a brother-in-law, the late Roger Green.”

Music

2016 Coverville Countdown of the best cover versions, Part I and Part II

Kubo and the Two Strings – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Highlights from “Bring It On: The Musical”

To Russia with Love – Matt Monro

If Moby Accepted Trump Inauguration Invitation, This Would Be His Playlist, plus Trump Is on Your Side – Moby and the Homeland Choir

Station to Station – David Bowie

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Patti Smith Never Wanted to Be Famous (interview)

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50 Years Ago, the Wah-Wah Pedal Was Born in a Hollywood Hills Garage

Vinyl sales in UK reach highest level in last 25 years – with more than 3.2 MILLION LPs sold last year

A Fancy Guitar to Sell, but Hard to Play in Handcuffs

Why did CNN air a documentary about the band Chicago produced by band members?

November rambling #1: Theodosia Burr

I have a lot of Leonard Cohen songs, Hallelujah, Suzanne, and Bird on a Wire, among them, that others have covered.

Analytical Grammar: Homophone graffitil
Analytical Grammar: Homophone graffiti

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So You Want to Wear a Safety Pin

1st woman elected to Congress, in 1916

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Prince Ea: I JUST SUED THE SCHOOL SYSTEM and Dear Future Generations: Sorry

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A 1922 New York Times article about Adolf Hitler catastrophically misjudged the authenticity of his anti-semitism

Writer too strong to live, about sports, sexism and alcohol (HT to Jaquandor)

Deepika Padukone on depression

The men feminists left behind

A Teaching Moment on Sexual Assault and It’s hard to talk about, but it happens to so many women and Reasons So Many Guys Don’t Understand Sexual Consent

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Four-color Christ Jesus

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Amy Biancolli interview in Widows and Widowers Magazine

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snow-duck

Trevor Noah wasn’t expecting liberal hatred

You’ve Just Crossed Over Into … the Rod Serling Gazebo

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Norman Rockwell Museum Presents Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning, through May 29, 2017

My Poetic Side: favorite war poets, each related to a different war and ordered chronologically, from The American Civil War to the Iraq War.

Presidential candidates in comic books

Robert Vaughn, Man from UNCLE actor, dies aged 83. I used to play the spy show with sister Marcia. I played Napoleon Solo, the Vaughn role.

Now I Know: Fool Me Twice, Plane on You and Going to Venus in Peace and May The Force Be Costumed and Smell Ya Later?

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Music

Jean Sibelius and the virtual national classical music work of Finland; here’s Finlandia

Mozart Requiem

K-Chuck Radio: Draw that bow, my son…

Jazz ‘Hot’: The Rare 1938 Short Film With Jazz Legend Django Reinhardt

Bohemian Rhapsody performed by excerpts from 260 different movies

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16 Albums That Changed The Music Business

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Copland’s Fanfare: The making of a musical monument

Leonard Cohen died at the age of 82 and hugely influential singer and songwriter’s work spanned nearly 50 years; his 2008 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; two of of my favorites are this and this

Leon Russell died – His 2011 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The Greatest Invention of One Thousand Years Ago

The 10 Greatest Double Albums In Rock History – you WILL guess most of these

The “432 Hz vs. 440 Hz” conspiracy theory

The Upper Crust of Music