A number of specialist comic book sites have reported on Dynamite’s announcement of a second comic book series of Shaft. David F. Walker will again be writing the series, titled Shaft: Imitation of Life with artwork passing from Bilquis Evely to Dietrich Smith. Smith’s character designs for Shaft are much closer in resemblance to Richard Roundtree.
Dynamite’s blurb for Shaft: Imitation of Life reads as follows: After a high-profile case puts him in the headlines, private detective John Shaft searches for something low-profile to keep him out of the spotlight and out of danger… and takes a missing person case that proves to be more difficult than he thought. At the same time, he is hired to be a consultant on a low budget film that may or may not be based on his life, and proves to be as dangerous as any job he’s ever had. But when there’s danger about, John Shaft won’t cop out – even if it means squaring off against sadistic gangsters that want him dead.
Quotes from Dynamites press release:
David F. Walker – “The idea for the new miniseries, Shaft: Imitation of Life, is one that’s been in my head for a long time, and is something that I’m really excited about. This has been a really fun story to develop.”
Dietrich Smith – “Of all the great action heroes I watched and imitated as a youngster, Shaft was at the top — a private eye with a chip on his shoulder, an attitude that dared anyone to try him. Having the opportunity to draw the smoothest man alive is something I’m very excited about.”
The new series is scheduled to begin in February 2016 to tie in with Black History Month and the release of Walker’s novel Shaft’s Revenge.
Predestination (2014; Australia; Technicolor; 97m) ∗∗∗ d. Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig; w. Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig; ph. Ben Nott; m. Peter Spierig. Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, Elise Jansen, Freya Stafford, Christopher Kirby, Alexis Fernandez, Cate Wolfe, Madeleine West, Jim Knobeloch. The life of a time-travelling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time. Intriguing time-travel tale piles on twist after twist. It’s stylishly filmed and contains excellent performances from Hawke and Snook, but ultimately in trying to be too clever it ends up tying itself in knots. Based on the story “All You Zombies” by Robert A. Heinlein. 
My publisher, McFarland, have added The World of Shaft to their bookshelf. It is now available to buy direct from the publisher or via any number of online stores worldwide – including Amazon.
Dynamite Entertainment have updated their site with a promotion for publication of Shaft’s Revenge on 23 December 2015. Amazon still quote 18 February 18 2016, so we’ll have to wait further announcements as to whether this is an advanced release via Dynamite or a date is standardised.
Murder, My Sweet (1944; USA; B&W; 95m) ∗∗∗∗½ d. Edward Dmytryk; w. John Paxton; ph. Harry J. Wild; m. Roy Webb. Cast: Dick Powell, Anne Shirley, Mike Mazurki, Claire Trevor, Otto Kruger, Miles Mander, Douglas Walton, Donald Douglas, Ralf Harolde, Esther Howard, Jack Carr, Ralph Dunn, George Anderson, Paul Phillips, Larry Wheat. After being hired to find an ex-con’s former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit. Densely plotted and stylishly filmed mystery with Powell making a strong impression as a pre-Bogart Philip Marlowe. Proved to be hugely influential on the film noir genre with its use of voiceover, night-time settings, adventurous framing, seedy characters and hardboiled dialogue. Based on the novel “Farewell, My Lovely” by Raymond Chandler, the title used for its UK release. Filmed previously as THE FALCON TAKES OVER (1942) and remade as FAREWELL, MY LOVELY in 1975. [PG]
THE MAGICIAN’S APPRENTICE / THE WITCH’S FAMILIAR
2 episodes / 95m / 19 & 26 September 2015
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Hettie MacDonald
Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Julian Bleach (Davros), Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Jaye Griffiths (Jac), Harki Bhambra (Mike), Daniel Hoffmann-Gill (Bors), Joey Price (Young Davros),
Benjamin Cawley (Kanzo), Aaron Neil (Mr Dunlop), Clare Higgins (Ohila), Nicholas Briggs (Voice of the Daleks), Kelly Hunter (Shadow Architect), India Ria Amarteifio (Alison), Dasharn Anderson (Ryan), Stefan Adegbola, Shin-Fei Chen, Lucy Newman- Williams (Newreaders), Barnaby Edwards, Nicholas Pegg (Daleks), Jonathon Ojinnaka (Soldier).
Plot: Capaldi returns as the Doctor for another series of time-travelling exploits. However, as this first adventure begins, it seems the Time Lord has gone missing – which is bad news for Earth, as a mysterious alien force has frozen the skies. Clara needs to find her friend – but where is he and what is he hiding from? Things soon become clear with the appearance of a familiar old enemy with a black hat and Scottish accent.
Comment: Confident two-part series opener. The plot takes the concept from the powerful scene from 1975’s GENESIS OF THE DALEKS – in which Tom Baker’s Doctor and Michael Wisher’s Davros debated genocidal ethics – and stretches it over a full story. Capaldi’s scenes with Bleach are enthralling and their interplay is the highlight of what is a stylish production. The story also pairs off Gomez’s Missy and Coleman’s Clara and their exchanges are lively and witty. It is also great to see the Daleks in most of their various liveries from over the years. Great ideas abound – including Hand Mines reaching out from the mud and a sewerage system on Skaro that is literally alive with waste. In recent series Moffat has taken an increasingly scattergun approach to his writing, cramming so many ideas that the stories can sometimes lose focus for the sake of a witty or wacky scene, but here he stretches them over two-episodes allowing the story room to breathe. The result is a visual treat combined with an emotive plot, creating a very satisfying whole.
Black Sea (2014; UK/USA/Russia; Cinelab; 115m) ∗∗∗ d. Kevin Macdonald; w. Dennis Kelly; ph. Christopher Ross; m. Ilan Eshkeri. Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, David Threlfall, Konstantin Khabenskiy, Sergey Puskepalis, Michael Smiley, Grigory Dobrygin, Sergey Veksler, Sergey Kolesnikov. In order to make good with his former employers, a submarine captain takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the depths of the Black Sea for a sub that’s rumoured to be loaded with gold. Law heads a strong cast in this claustrophobic underwater heist thriller. Script throws in heavy-handed socio-political statements alongside clichéd character motivation, but Macdonald’s capable direction keeps it undeniably tense. 
Saddle the Wind (1958; USA; Metrocolor; 84m) ∗∗∗ d. Robert Parrish; w. Rod Serling, Thomas Thompson; ph. George Folsey; m. Elmer Bernstein. Cast: Robert Taylor, Julie London, John Cassavetes, Donald Crisp, Charles McGraw, Royal Dano, Ray Teal, Richard Erdman. A world-weary former gunslinger, now living as a peaceful farmer finds things go wrong when his wild younger brother arrives on the scene with his new bride. Sturdy western explores generational values and sees Taylor and Cassavetes capture the differences in their characters to good effect. Whilst the finale is a little too contrite, this is still a well-written tale. A first score was written and recorded by Jeff Alexander but had to be replaced due to extensive re-cutting. [PG]
I’ve updated the Shaft in Print section of my Guide to Shaft part of this site with details of David F Walker’s comic book and new novel, Shaft’s Revenge.
Reports on Bleeding Cool say David F. Walker’s novel, Shaft’s Revenge, is due for paperback publication this December – although Amazon displays an 18 February 2016 release date.
Walker had written the recent comic book series Shaft, which itself is due for a trade paperback release next month as Shaft: A Complicated Man. Walker says: “Writing the first Shaft book in forty years has been not only an honor and a privilege, it has been a dream come true.” “Ernest Tidyman created one of the most iconic and enduring pop culture characters in John Shaft, a legacy that has reached across multiple mediums, and sparked the imagination of millions of people, myself included.” “My goal in writing Shaft’s Revenge was to craft a hard-boiled work of pulp fiction that would honour the character created by Ernest Tidyman, as well as introduce him to new fans.” “For those that are already familiar with the exploits of John Shaft, I hope this new book is like a reunion with an old friend.”
Shaft’s Revenge is the first prose work to feature Ernest Tidyman’s John Shaft since the author’s The Last Shaft forty years ago. The blurb states: When the Godfather of crime in Harlem reaches out to Shaft for a favour, the hardboiled detective finds himself caught in a web of violence and murder. No one is safe as the bullets start to fly and the bodies start to drop, leaving Shaft with only two options: kill or be killed.
Cover design for the book is by Francesco Francavilla.