Thumbs up for this filmmaker’s collection of postcards from the edge.

Showdown at Shinagawa


From Cannes to the Far East, author Zarchy, a professional cinematographer, tells of exotic places and people he has met (and sometimes filmed) in his international career.

Subtitled “Tales of Filming From Bombay to Brazil,” this work is a roving anthology of reminiscences, presented roughly in reverse chronological order by Zarchy, a San Francisco–based professional cinematographer, primarily for corporate PR, advertising and scientific-industrial films. Star-struck movie fans will have to wait until late in the book for the gossip about diva starlets, tyrannical directors or alternate endings even though journeyman Zarchy has worked for Morgan Freeman’s production company. Travel-style vignettes (most previously published in trade journals, newspapers, blogs and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series), with an emphasis on cultures of Asia and the Far East, fill the book. The title essay refers to an impromptu bowling tournament with clients in Tokyo: Normally reserved Japanese business people loosened up and showed their emotions while Team Zarchy was distracted by the surreal fiasco of the 2000 presidential elections back home. On a road trip between Mumbai and Pune, India, the American film crew used dark humor to cope with the poverty and squalor surrounding them. In Shenyang, on assignment for a Dutch company, the San Franciscan discovered a Filipino band doing 1980s pop-song covers in a Bavarian-themed Chinese dive—true globalization. Not all the shoots are in such far-flung venues; Zarchy made promotional videos around the U.S. for Apple and a “prickly” Steve Jobs (including the opening of the very first Apple store, which, Zarchy reminds us, Business Week predicted would be a resounding retail failure), and he bonded with Bill Clinton while doing an Emmy-winning White House special. TMZ followers might be sated by a long, penultimate chapter in which the author recalls his near “big break” in mainstream entertainment as a novice director doing preproduction in the Philippines for a low-budget Japanese sci-fi film, engendering friendship and loyalty from his motley collaborators even as the financing fell through. In contrast to many movie-insider tell-alls, Zarchy’s congenial voice is never mean-spirited or score-settling, and one is glad to be on his crew. He’ll eat lunch in this town/world again. Likely sushi or sashimi.

Thumbs up for this filmmaker’s collection of postcards from the edge.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0984919109

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Roving Camera Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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