REVIEW: “The Vast of Night”

Better late than never, eh? There’s something about alien stories set during the 1940s-1960s that appeals to me. Maybe it’s that whole “things were simpler back then” trope or the fun that comes with watching or reading an alien story set during the height of the nation’s obsession with UFOs. Whatever it is, I often enjoy stories set during this period. And I also enjoy stories that focus on old-timey radio/TV production. In this context, it should be no surprise that The Vast of Night immediately appealed to me. I hadn’t heard much about it, but the moment Amazon Prime suggested it to me, I was eager to watch it. In theory, it touched on a lot of things I love and it looked pretty darn good. Having seen it, it is pretty darn good. The Vast of Night is easily one of my favorite films of the year. It’s both modern and retro and is filled with charm, great performances, great direction, and a solid story. (4.5 out of 5 wands.)

(NOTE: Mild spoilers for The Vast of Night may follow.)

The Vast of Night (written by Andrew Patterson and Craig W. Sanger, directed by Andrew Patterson)
In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, a young, winsome switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and charismatic radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever. Dropped phone calls, AM radio signals, secret reels of tape forgotten in a library, switchboards, crossed patchlines, and an anonymous phone call lead Fay and Everett on a scavenger hunt toward the unknown.

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REVIEW: “When Mars Attacked” by David Accord

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When Mars Attacked: Orson Welles, The War of the Worlds & the Radio Broadcast That Changed America Forever is a book written by David Accord that examines the making of, and the fallout from, Orson Welles’ legendary War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938. When Mars Attacked is a gripping account of the events that led to the broadcast of the adaptation. The first few chapters briefly outline the history of Orson Welles, how he became involved in radio, and the circumstances that led to the program having the kind of impact it ultimately had.

The first thing to note about this book is its writing style: it’s written in the same style as most fictional books are. By that, I mean, it reads like a novel, with details and nuances littered throughout, instead of a dry biographical work. Accord utilizes this technique with stunning skill. From page one, he makes you feel like you’re watching a movie based on his book. The way he can build up an entire world around a small scene, getting you to feel what the characters are feeling, is an accomplishment that any nonfiction writer should strive to achieve.

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