Monday, January 23, 2023

#IWSGPit, Bollywood with Damyanti, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio Review, and the Best Shows of 2022

#IWSGPit is this Wednesday, January 25 from 9:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time!

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 25, 2023, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. 

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

Get the full details here.

Bollywood! By Damyanti Biswas

In my literary noir set in Mumbai, THE BLUE BAR, Bollywood plays a significant role.

Bollywood originates from two words, Bombay and Hollywood. As the name of the city has changed from Bombay to Mumbai, so have the movies in a burgeoning Indian economy.

Bollywood influences more than 1.4 billion Indians, and Bollywood songs form a major part of that. Unlike in Hollywood movies, songs play a huge role in the success of a movie in India—in terms of downloads, YouTube hits, as well as selling movie and dance show tickets to the sprawling Indian diaspora.

Songs are not just about glitz, glamor, and humming quotient, they also move the plot along. They can swallow up to half the movie budget. Characters can fall in and out of love, become rich or poor, or travel to several countries all in the space of a five-minute song, in montages that resemble Tiktok sensations.

In THE BLUE BAR, Bollywood songs bring atmosphere and commentary to the story, just as in any Bollywood movie, and in some ways, it is a small homage to a storytelling culture that has been the background to so many of my childhood memories.

Find Damyanti and her books HERE.

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio Review

This won the Golden Globe for best animation, so I had to check it out.
I will preface this by stating I have never cared for the story of Pinocchio. I find it dark and disturbing. This version is also a bit dark and disturbing just in different ways.
The stop-motion animation is just stunning. And at two hours long, a lot of work went into that animation.
The outstanding voice cast includes Ewan McGregor (as Sebastian J. Cricket, the narrator), David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchette (as the spazzy monkey!), Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton.
This is certainly the best version of Pinocchio I have ever seen and there are several big differences between this and the Disney version. For one, the boys don’t turn into donkeys – they are sent to Nazi Youth Camp! (The story is set in Italy during WWII.) It’s also the only animated film I can think of that features Mussolini. There are also these skeletal death rabbits. Definitely unique to this version.
If you like Pinocchio or just want to see an amazing animated film, definitely check it out. However, I would say it’s not for kids – probably twelve and older.

Best 2022 Shows

Two weeks ago, I rounded out the top movies and albums of 2022. Now for the shows. And there were some good ones last year!


My favorite of the year! Most shows have issues with pacing, but this series had perfect pacing. Add to that the perfect young lady playing Wednesday – she had the best lines and I wish I’d said most of them!


Season two was cancelled (hiss!) but that should not stop you from watching this inventive, bizarre, creative show.

House of the Dragon
Second best fantasy soap opera with dragons. I hated almost every character, but it was the most fascinating train wreck to watch.

The Rings of Power

Started out strong, dragged a bit in the middle, but had a solid finish.

The Sandman
I’m partial to the graphic novel, however it seemed to capture the spirit of the book better than most.

What We Do in the Shadows
Season three a bit better than season two and still one of the silliest things on television.

Love Death and Robots
Season three was the strongest season yet, and the Jibaro episode was the most stunning animation I’ve ever seen.

Outer Range
If you like your shows trippy, this is the second trippiest (behind 1899) from last year.

Resident Alien

Continues to be the most consistently hilarious show with characters you wouldn’t mind spending time with. Alan Tudyk and Corey Reynolds (the sheriff) steal the show – they are hilarious!

Raised by Wolves
Sadly there will be no season three. Watch it for the bat-crap craziness but be warned, season two ended on a cliffhanger. (Such a crappy thing to do fans!)

Tokyo Vice
Fascinating show that really delves into the culture of Japan and the influence of the Yakuza.

Mystery Science Theater 3000
With three hosts (and I’m partial to Jonah Ray), it was a little inconsistent but still funny and put a huge smile on my face.

They finally did Jack Reacher right and gave him the show and the actor the character deserved.

Book of Boba Fett
Die-hard fans weren't impressed but I enjoyed it. We got to learn about Tusken Raiders!


Crude, rude, but completely hilarious!

Clarkson’s Farm
I learned so much about farming by watching Clarkson do it oh-so wrong and laughed my ass off.

Are you participating in #IWSGPit? Have you read The Blue Bar? Have you seen Pinocchio? And did you watch any of those shows last year?
I’ll be back on February 1 for Insecure Writer’s Support Group day! But be sure to check out the site today as we are honored to have Janice Hardy visiting.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I was always troubled by Pinocchio (and Dumbo, too). Disney knows how to do "dark!"

Shady Del Knight said...

Hi, Alex!

The Blue Bar, which centers around Bollywood, is of keen interest to me, given my lifelong fascination with all forms and genres of film making. I am already watching Wednesday and WWDIT Shadows. I just watched the Resident Alien trailer on YouTube and looks like a hoot.

Have a great week, good buddy Alex!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Bollywood is a cool word. I remember when the city was called Bombay.

Thanks for your list, Alex. I need to watch The Rings of Power. I'm not sure about Wednesday. I didn't love the first two episodes that much.

Good luck to anyone participating in the pitch contest.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Unfortunately, we gave up on What We Do in the Shadows. It just stopped being funny to us - even to my husband, who was loving it.

Might check out Resident Alien, though. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elizabeth, you're right - Dumbo is also really dark.

Shady, you need to watch that series!

Madeline, do check our Resident Alien. That one gets funnier and funnier as it goes along.

Janie Junebug said...

A version of Pinocchio that's not appropriate for young children--interesting. I haven't watched it yet but probably will. It's gotten a lot of critical acclaim.


PT Dilloway said...

I'm not surprised a Guillermo del Toro version of Pinocchio would be dark and not for kids. That is pretty much his thing. It sounds better than Nightmare Alley, which was frustrating because there wasn't much of that del Toro dark, disturbing stuff in it.

I haven't seen most of those shows though I do have Resident Alien bookmarked on Peacock.

"Die-hard fans we’re impressed"

I think you mean "weren't impressed," which I wasn't. There were good parts but it lost focus on Boba to become The Mandalorian season 2.5 and the kiddie gang with their hover Vespas seemed like something Lucas would have put into Episode I.

Elephant's Child said...

I had no idea that Bollywood was so important. Thanks to you both.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Janie, just too many dark elements - war, death, Nazis, etc.

Pat, I meant weren't - fixed it.

Birgit said...

Hi Alex...I see Pinocchio but, like you, it was never a favourite of mine but I like Del Toro. ( his name always makes me think I'm ready to show red cape in front of a bull). I love Wednesday!! What a great series...she is dead on s that character. The effects were excellent and who wouldn't love her for standing up for her brother a d Taking care of the bullies. I would love to see Shadows but haven't so far. My ex sent me the series of 💒 through One. Bellwood is very unique and wouldn't it be fu to see Shadows do a Bollywood send up. Now, I have to ho as I'm practicing my Wednesday dance you know the actress is 20! said...

My beau and I devoured the Wednesday series. I can't wait for the next. It's the best show I've enjoyed since The Sopranos.

Have a good week, Alex.

J E Oneil said...

Seems like everything that has a good season or two abruptly gets cancelled because they don't have unsustainable growth in their viewers. 🙄

Liz A. said...

Bollywood definitely knows how to do a musical number.

I just watched Wednesday and Reacher recently (as in in January), and liked them both. I saw the pilot for Outer Range but had to nope out after that. Same with Resident Alien. Those shows are definitely not for me.

Mary Kirkland said...

I'm going to have to watch Reacher. Wednesday was great and I liked 1899.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Birgit, yes I did. She just looks very young.

Robyn, it really surprised me how good it was. Time Burton still has it.

Liz, not into science fiction?

Carrie-Anne said...

My little brother and I used to constantly watch a really creepy but
unintentionally hilarious animated Italian film with dubbing, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1972). The story is definitely as dark and twisted as a Grimms' fairytale!

Damyanti Biswas said...

Thanks for including a snippet of Bollywood in today's post, Alex!

Truedessa said...

Good Morning I haven't seen Wednesday but, it seems many have enjoyed it. I will have to watch an episode to see what it is all about. I really enjoyed the Book of Boba Fett. The surprise series that I was really hooked on was Dark Winds, I am anxiously awaiting season two.

Sandra Cox said...

Definitely a different take on Pinocchio.

Nilanjana Bose said...

I have read excerpts of Damyanti's work, she's a brilliant writer. All the best to her for the success of this new book.

Bollywood is the most well known face of the Indian film industry globally. However, India has always had very strong regional language film industries also, especially in South India.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex - I highly recommend Damyanti's book - we learn so much about another culture and city, Bombay/Mumbai ... Bollywood's really taken off - you know me - I'm into other sorts of films ... cheers and everyone enjoy your films and programmes - Hilary

Christine Rains said...

Congrats to Damyanti! More and more of my friends are watching Bollywood films these days. I need to check some out. Pinocchio is on my to watch list. Wednesday, The Sandman, and 1899 were my three favorite new series last year. Love Death and Robots was fantastic too, and I always love What We Do In the Shadows. I want to dress up as Nadja for Halloween one year! :D Hope you're having a great start to 2023, Alex!

Joanne said...

I tried the Pinocchio film and got bored with it. I'm not keen on stop motion films. As for your TV list - I do agree with you on most. Wednesday was really different and entertaining. Quite a hoot! Peacemaker was a good surprise for me. John Cena can be annoying, but he excelled in this one.
We'll see what shows up for 2023 - hopefully more movie choices in the theater. Otherwise, TV/Streaming keeps me entertained. And I am reading more. Cheers to you and all authors for 2023.

Rhonda Albom said...

Thanks for your recommendations. My girls didn't like Wednesday so much, so I never gave it a try - but after your positive review, I will be watching it tonight.

Susan Kane said...

I knew few of the titles except Mystery Science, Reacher, Book of Boba Fett. So relieved that Tom C. was sent to the field. Boba Fett ready caught me. I am surprised I know that!

Damyanti Biswas said...

Thanks, Nilanjana, Christine, and Hilary for the kind words. I hope you enjoy both Bollywood and The Blue Bar!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Damy, you're welcome!

Truedessa, haven't seen that one.

Christine, you dress up, we want pictures.

Joanne, I didn't expect to like Peacemaker as much as I did.

Rhonda, what is wrong with your kids??

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I just finished House of Dragons and said the exact same thing...who is there to love?

Patricia JL said...

The only show I watched was Wednesday. It had its flaws but I enjoyed it enough. I'm just not much of a TV watcher so I don't feel any strong need to keep up.

Fundy Blue said...

Damyanti's "The Blue Bar" is excellent. I'm on my second reading of her book. I loved Wednesday, 1899, Rings of Power, Alien, and Jack Reacher. I could watch Alien over and over. See you on the first!

Kyra Lennon said...

Hey Alex! After saying I doubted I would ever come back to blogging, here I am! :D

Wednesday was incredible - my other half and I binged it very quickly!

Damyanti Biswas said...

@Fundy Blue , Thanks so much! I'm blown away that you're reaidng it a second time.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elizabeth, maybe the son who got flamed?

Kyra! Glad to have you back.

Blue Grumpster said...

Loved 1899. I'm not sure I need a second season, though. As for that wooden kid... "dark and disturbing just in different ways" sums it up for me.

Hope you're doing fine, Alex.


Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating about the influence of songs in movies in India.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

I really liked Jack Reacher, the second movie totally emasculated him--ruined his character. What??? I'm glad to hear that Reacher gave him a chance to outshine their fiasco!

mail4rosey said...

I'll have to check out Wednesday. This is what my 2nd youngest granddaughter dressed up as this past Halloween.