FACEBOOK: PROS & CONS

Facebook has been around now for well over a decade and with it has come both good and bad on a large scale and small. We all know the story of its conception via Aaron Sorkin’s excellent Oscar-winning screenplay for The Social Network (2010). It’s a complicated tale involving lawsuits, betrayals, manipulations, and other controversies that just comes down to the simple truth that Mark Zuckerberg simply wanted to get laid. Crude but true. 
 That said, not much has changed since then. In other words, Facebook is rife with both pros and cons and this writer has been on the receiving end of both. I joined Facebook initially at the request of some old friends as a way to reacquaint ourselves and to that end, Facebook is a wonderful tool. On the negative side are the well-known political rants, nasty comments and downright stalkers who inhabit the platforms of social media. They can be blocked, of course, but the damage is often done before that can take place. I once encountered some nut job who went around telling the world that he and I were working on a project together and was asking my friends for seed money. Bizarre. 
 On the plus side (and it is a a very big plus!) Facebook has proven to be an amazing platform to promote my work as sales of Lee Marvin Point Bank has proven. Most times that promotion is self-generated which I really don’t have a problem with. 
  However, on rare occasion, I’ll come across a Facebook post by a complete stranger that has me smiling like a butcher’s dog. Seriously. As I constantly grapple with ideas for content for this blog, I’ll come across something on Facebook that takes me by complete surprise and makes for an easy blog entry. Case in point, this recent post I stumbled upon from Facebook’s Crime Film Club….

Screenshot from Facebook’s Crime Film Club.

Pretty cool, huh? What I like about it, besides the obvious, is the fact that my book came out in 2013, and to this day it is still being discovered by new readers. Does  my heart good. Facebook has its problems but this member of its numbers proudly admires its usefulness. Thank you. You may now return to your regularly scheduled memes and rants.
– Dwayne Epstein

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CARGO (2018) & THE RESURRECTION OF RON THOMPSON

Cargo (2018) is an intense horror thriller that helped resurrect the career of veteran stage, film and TV actor Ron Thompson. The premise of the film is unique and underlines what can be done with limited means. Reminds me of what Roger Corman referred to as, “Brilliance on a budget.” From the first few seconds of the film to the very end, Thompson inside a cargo container is all you ever see as he desperately tries to raise the ransom of his kidnappers demand.

Poster art from CARGO in which the entire premise is explained in the tagline.

The other actors noted in the poster are simply well-cast audio voices and never seen. Doesn’t matter. The premise and Thompson’s enacting of it holds the viewer spellbound for an hour and a half. It shows what the medium is capable of when disbelief is suspended and imagination runs amok. Be prepared, however. Despite his sole presence, the film gets kind of gruesome ins some parts.
I mention all this simply because Ron is a friend of mine and I warily watched Cargo at his urging. I say warily because once he told me the premise I knew it would be a tough go as it’s not my preferred genre. I finally relented and I was NOT disappointed. It’s a paranoid-claustrophobic thriller of the first order and Ron is excellent in it!
By the way, you may know Ron best — as I do — from his dual performances in Ralph Bakshi’s underrated classic, American Pop (1981).

Poster art from AMERICAN POP with an inset of Ron Thompson today.

It’s an interesting thing in that he has had one of, if not THE most unorthodox career of any person that I’ve ever heard of. In fact, I had told him that because of his roller coaster career, I’d ask the publisher of Filmfax if they’d be interested in an interview with Ron but sadly, they passed on the idea. Damn shame as it’s a fascinating yarn and he’s a fascinating man.
I met Ron via Facebook, since he proved to be quite a Lee Marvin fan and graciously wrote a review of my book. The social media platform also helped resurrect his career. The contacts he’s made actually lead to his role in Cargo, and several other worthwhile projects. A few kudos then to Mark Zuckerberg, at least for that, and allowing Ron and I to hook up. It was a similar casual hook up with director James Dylan that got Ron the role. Once we kept in contact thru Facebook, Ron surprised me by showing up at my book signing for Lee Marvin Point Blank at Jeff Mantor’s bookstore, Larry Edmunds. I was not only pleasantly surprised to meet Ron in person, Ron was equally surprised to meet up with Mitch Ryan’s accomplice, Claudette Sutherland, whom Ron hadn’t seen since his school days!

(L-R) Yours truly, Ron Thompson, and Ron’s long lost school friend, Claudette Sutherland at Larry Edmunds Bookstore.

All told, such coincidences are pretty impressive some times so never underestimate them. As my father used to say, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Take a shot. Brace yourself and watch Ron in Cargo for FREE at the link he sent me… If you dare!
– Dwayne Epstein.

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