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THE FIELD among Year’s Best Horror

The Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 2 is out now! The anthology, edited by Randy Chandler and Cheryl Mullenax from Comet Press, includes my short story “The Field.” Get your copy NOW!

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Tapestry of Women

From the teachers in my youngest days to my wife who loves me despite my manly ways, and the village of grandmas, moms, daughters, aunts, cousins, niece, friends, coworkers, authors, veterans, athletes, doctors and ministers—a tapestry of powerful women have helped shape what I hope are the best parts of me. Thank you.

#InternationalWomensDay

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Web We Weave

It’s not a mirage if you saw something on this website yesterday and then came back today and it’s gone—or in a different location, or is different color. Maybe a photo’s gone, or it’s gotten bigger. Change is good, right? And I’m on the world wide learning curve.

In maintaining marvincbrown.com, we tweak as we go. And we’re taking suggestions from visitors, which also accounts for some changes.

If the Internet’s a web, it’s a sticky one. The task is to get things user-friendly, interesting and add in enough redundancies to keep you from getting lost.

Purchase books at the Store. Read samples in the Works section. Learn more than you ever needed to know about me in About Marvin. You can slide your white-gloved hand right on past the Media Kit (unless you’re with the press), but Events will keep you up to date on where I’ll be, and News will let you know what I’m up to. My writings not defined as fiction, nonfiction and short stories (essays, features and reviews) can be found in Features. Comments are (almost) always welcome and feel free to email me at Contact.

Here In The Bloghouse I’ll serve up general observations and opinions, while also offering specific blogging like book reviews (Open Book), movie reviews (Quik Flix Hit), current events (On Point) and, with restraint, politics (Swing State).

Thanks for your input so far.

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The Killing Season Interview

‘KILLING’ DOC’S DUO PLUNGES INTO ABYSS SEEKING JUSTICE, HUMANITY

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Nietzsche warned that when fighting monsters, beware not to become one. Josh Zeman and Rachel Mills warn that when hunting killers, take care to not to forget their victims.

The New York-based producers undertake the daunting task of hunting serial killers and puzzling through the horrors and sorrows left in the aftermath in A&E network’s The Killing Season. The eight-part docu-series bows Nov. 12 and is as relentless in giving voice to forgotten victims and knitting together coalitions to study killers as it is in actually hunting for them.

READ MY REVIEW OF THE SERIES.

The Killing Season begins simply enough, though, as a look into the unsolved murders of four prostitutes on Long Island. Zeman and Mills throw themselves into this case in their back yard, detailing the crimes, interviewing law enforcement officials, dropping in on family and friends of the victims, and following leads.

The trail of clues to the initial crimes, which originated in 2010, has long since gone cold, complicated by law enforcement bureaucracy and a lack of cohesive shared evidence and information.

“We are drawn to the idea of helping when police get stuck,” Zeman says. He has experience with the subject matter, having produced and codirected another serial-killer-themed work, Cropsey, in 2009. He and Mills turn to cyber-sleuthing, websites and blogs dedicated with varying degrees to hashing out facts, creating serial-killer profiles and propagating theories. Websleuths.com stands out as a one of the more-credible resources.

As we watch, the team’s scope steadily widens.

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A&E

“Alex Gibney (the documentary’s executive producer) encouraged us to look at bigger issues,” Zeman says. So Zeman and Mills began drilling down deeper into their investigation of victims—they are nearly all prostitutes and/or drug-addled low-income women on the fringes—as well as the fractured methods to share data among law enforcement and a disturbing patterns of long-haul truckers. In theory, some of these long-haulers target prostitutes while crisscrossing the nation. It’s a job, we are told, “perfectly suited for picking up a woman in one state and dumping her body in another.” We also learn how the Internet becomes a deadly tool used by killers to target female escorts.

Zeman notes that in this era of social media, smart-device technology and web-savvy citizen across the nation, it was startling to learn that despite the wealth of information at our fingertips, there remains hurdles to unifying these resource into a comprehensive database that can be shared by law enforcement agencies.

“It’s called linkage blindness,” Zeman says. There’s the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) that makes data available to law enforcement agencies, but information is entered into ViCAP voluntarily, Zeman says. The input of data is not mandatory or consistent. While many law enforcement agencies collect data in their regions, the information is not typically connected with systems from other regions.

A powerful element of The Killing Season involves watching Zeman and Mills knit together information from this agency and that agency and match it with information gleaned from fastidious websleuths and geologists who can pinpoint possible burial sites and professors programing algorithms that deduce the hunting grounds of serial killer and amateur profilers who give their FBI counterparts a run for their money.

“Citizens have the most extensive databases we can access,” Zeman says.

Meeting with victims’ family and friends was about more than gleaning information about the cases, Mills says. It offered insight into the lives of often-invisible victims of these crimes. It was a difficult, but rewarding experience, she says. The love ones often emerged as keepers of the flame for the victims.

“Sisters in particular, they continue to tell these stories, keep the memories (of the victims) alive,” says Mills, executive producer at Jigsaw Productions, whose work includes the documentary Killer Legends (2014).

The duo often appears fearless in documentary, whether calling up possible serial killers, or confronting a suspect directly at his home, or taking rides with supposed informants, or meeting clandestinely with mysterious characters.

“Josh was gung-ho,” Mills says. “I had to work up bravery.” But there she is right beside Zeman, journeying into potential danger. At times, the two had to haul around bulletproof vests, Zeman says.

“Of course we got nervous,” Mills says, “but to make our point we had to be bold, to try to give theses women justice.”

“These families were braver than us,” she adds.

All told, the duo spent 175 days on the road in an emotionally draining experience.

“We’ll see how people respond,” Zeman says. “Our goal is not to solve one crime, but to solve a whole lot of crimes.”

Take a look into the abyss on Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on A&E.

 

| Marvin Brown’s Movie Review Archive

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On a New Quest

I met Phife Dawg in the ancient fandom of my twenties as he helped lay down the Scenario in ’92; I met him in person at Sundance 2011, where the legendary rapper from legendary A Tribe Called Quest promoted a documentary film about the group.

toonMarvinBlogMalik Isaac Taylor, what his momma named him, seemed to enjoy the crowd and was hopeful the documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, would lend clarity to his plight and legacy. I enjoyed the doc (see my review here) but the ensuing years didn’t really bring the Tribe back together.

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Malik Isaac Taylor, aka Phife Dawg

Nevertheless, it’s a film worth seeing, made all-the-more relatable by Phife’s participation. His presence (in the film and at Sundance) underscored the human element in the often ethereal, mythologized landscape populated by our idols. Candid about ongoing health issues, Phife couldn’t defuse obvious regrets about and hope for the Tribe, and seemed moved by the outpouring of love from the crowd.

Phife died March 23 at age 45.

I shared a walk with The Five Foot Assassin and the doc’s director Michael Rapaport after the screening and found Phife easy to talk with and pretty humble for a fellow who helped reshape late ’80s/early ’90s hip hop.

His passing on Wednesday burnished that memory, and is another after-the-fact reminder of how greatness is somehow fleeting and everlasting.

He kicks it still.

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New book from Marvin Brown

THTLB-coverPhotoMy first nonfiction work, The House the Lord Built is now available! The book details the 40-year history of The House of the Lord, one of Akron, Ohio’s largest churches under the leadership of Bishop F. Josephus Johnson II. In prose, photographs and members’ own words, the past, present and future of the House is revealed and celebrated!
Purchase the book at Amazon.com. Learn more at my website: www.marvincbrown.com.

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Quik Flix Hit – Summer Movie Roundup

In the Bloghouse

 

Time for a look back at the summer’s best and worst in the 2014 Summer Movie Roundup.

 

 

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy

Lucy

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

RELATED: See all of Marvin Brown’s reviews from his film archive.

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Sundance 2011—The Return (1)

Sundance Film Festival 2011*

Park City, Utah

 

The Main Event

Among Day Three’s assortment of films and stars was a nice diversion to the heart of Park City and the Sundance Film Festival: Main Street. Nestled between the Wasatch Mountains and adorned with quaint and sleek storefronts, the main strip is alive with celebrities, tourists and industry hopefuls.

The Wasatch Mountains surround Park City. (Credit: Marvin Brown)

The Wasatch Mountains surround Park City. (Credit: Marvin Brown)

With mountains peeking over every roof and around every bend, Main Street seems at once an upscale getaway and an inviting hometown. Great shops and eats on every block. Friendly crowds, which is status quo for Park City, never took away from attractive smallness of the Main.

Lunch was had at The Eating Establishment—yes it was—a great restaurant near the top of the ascending Main Street. The breakfast portions are huge and the burgers have to be held with two hands. Interestingly, some store facades are manipulated to hype up the Sundance angle, so you might wonder why your favorite shop suddenly has a new name.

Main Street was great. If you’re going to take a break from screening films, yeah, this will do the trick!

Eccles Theater is one of several theaters around Park City that screen Sundance films. (Credit: John Brown)

Eccles Theater is one of several theaters around Park City that screen Sundance films. (Credit: John Brown)

My brother seems surprised to find a Playboy store on the main strip. It’s either new, or one of those Sundance Surprises.

Snow alert: Up until today it’s been clear skies. But today on Main Street, Sundance got its snow. And snow. And more snow. By the time lunch was done, the sidewalk and streets were covered.

OK, on to the shows.

| Movie reviews from Sundance screenings:

Beats, Rhymes &  Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

Red State

Meek’s Cutoff

Hobo with a Shotgun

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Win Win

John Brown at Eccles Theater in Park City

John Brown at Eccles Theater in Park City (Credit: Marvin Brown)

Lights come up. Saying goodbye to Park City.

 

*Note: Since marvincbrown.com had not been created at the time of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, I decided to go back and repost these reviews and festival  items, which were catalogued elsewhere—mainly because I needed to get these reviews into my archives, but also because it was an enjoyable experience I’d like to share.

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2014

Happy New Year!

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Madiba at rest

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

Nelson Mandela

1918-2013

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