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|Harlan Ellison Dreams with Sharp Teeth|
Actors: Harlan Ellison, Robin Williams, Neil Gaiman, Erik Nelson
Director: Erik Nelson
Crackling with infectious energy, Dreams with Sharp Teeth pays homage to the dark prince of American letters, Harlan Ellison. Master of his craft, Ellison has heroically produced over 75 books and 1,700 articles on his Oly... more »
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One of a Kind
Reviewing Person | Long Island, NY | 04/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Harlan Ellison is a much-awarded, almost legendary writer whose prose can take you to places your feeble imagination could never dream of. Finally, there is a documentary about his life.
I saw "Dreams With Sharp Teeth" last year at a science fiction convention with Harlan Ellison present. It is an excellent movie, to be sure, but it is the uniqueness of the subject that makes it so compelling. Spectacular writing notwithstanding, there is no one (I repeat, NO ONE) who talks like Harlan Ellison. HE is THE most literate, knowledgeable, acerbic, opinionated and just plain entertaining speaker I have every heard. (Having recently seen Gore Vidal on Bill Maher's television program, I absolutely stand by that statement. If you want to be effective rather than just self-righteous, Mr. Vidal, take a lesson from Harlan Ellison.)His memory is darn near perfect (at 75, we should all be so fortunate)and his principles are unshakable. Tom Snyder called him "the last angry man" and his refusal to accept the unjust does make him an indomitable force. Do NOT under any circumstances, cross Harlan Ellison.
All these things make this movie pretty darn good and eminently watchable. It is the chronicle of a totally unique individual. If you have heard Harlan Ellison speak, you have already ordered the movie. Otherwise, this is a very reasonable alternative."
The Mouth Who Could
D. Kavin | Los Angeles,CA USA | 04/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film last night in a full theater and really liked it. I think my sister caught Harlans' eye and he would have spoken to us if not for my being in possesion of a book published without his consent that he told me to lose.
If you know anything about Harlan you know he can raise the decibel level, but what I appreciated here were the moments of Harlan speaking fondly, longingly and especially quietly of his long gone father.
HE is a man who lives by the phrase "Put up or shut up", if you can't hold your own in print or person he'll let you know because he understands what hard work and developed talent can accomplish.
He is a solid storyteller (clearly) and knows it and wants you to know it as well whether you care or not (and you should).
See this film simply for the joy of watching the dying tradition of the animated storyteller work his craft. At 75 Harlan has all the p-ss and vinegar he ever had and that is a gift for us all."
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 06/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dreams with Sharp Teeth (Erik Nelson, 2007)
One of the cardinal rules to making a successful documentary is to get yourself an interesting subject, and, at least to me, one of the most interesting subjects on the planet is the caustic, seemingly misanthropic, politically incorrect, and deeply, deeply funny writer Harlan Ellison, some of whose stories have become iconic in American letters ("I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream", "Shatterday", and "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktock Man", one of the most anthologized stories in American history, are all Ellison works). As well as one of America's foremost writers of science fiction, Ellison has written some classic television episodes, hundreds of political essays, and, well, lord knows what else. The man's pretty much done everything.
This documentary ranges from footage of television interviews from the sixties, seventies, and eighties, footage of talks and book signings, a clip of Ellison accepting the Grandmaster title from the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers' Association, interviews with friends and colleagues of Ellison's (including Neil Gaiman, Robin Williams, and many others), and interview footage with Ellison. All of it is fascinating, and a great deal of the reason is that Ellison is fascinating. It's not just that he's more than willing to air his cantankerousness to as wide an audience as possible, but also that Ellison is a born storyteller (since 1955, the man has published thousands of pieces). He knows how to make even the mundane interesting. Not that anything related to Harlan Ellison is mundane.
While the documentary is of obvious interest to Ellison fans (and, really, we should all be Ellison fans), I think that even those people who have never read a word that man has written would get a great deal of enjoyment out of this just because of how much fun Harlan Ellison is. (And after you're done, go find a copy of "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream", and read it. Immediately.) ****
He has a mouth and boy does he scream...
S. M. Robare | Duluth, GA USA | 06/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't discover Ellison's work until after high school. I was working a dead-end job on the night shift at a grocery store and one of the other stockers, a slightly odd and intriguing woman, shoved a copy of Shatterday into my hands and told me to read it. It was the start of two wonderful friendships, one which has lasted through the rest of my life to this point. Even after tracking down and reading the bulk of Ellison's work, he still manages to amaze me with his wit, charm, cantankerousness, and his wildly amazing perspective on short form storytelling. Ellison is a master at plucking those moments, those essential truths and shared yearnings that we all face, and putting them into a world of nightmares and dreamscapes that's both fantastic and brutally real. I've been lucky enough to meet the man once and managed to mostly escape his razor sharp tongue, and even for all of his autobio writings, I still feel like I have a lot to learn about the man.
Erik Nelson's portrait documentary, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, goes a long way to filling in some of the gaps. Nelson does a pretty darn good job of weaving together Ellison's story through anecdotal interviews with his contemporaries and friends, archival interviews and other video footage (including some rare home movies from Ellison's personal collection), as well as some deftly chosen passages from various short stories performed by the man himself.
My one complaint is that the documentary shies away from really covering Ellison's life as a whole, and instead focuses on his influence within his peer group and his overall "angry old Jew" personality. It ends up feeling like a special feature of a great Ellison documentary, which has yet to be made, which is kind of a shame. That isn't to say that it isn't worth the time, it very much is, it's just whetted my appetite for more. Think I'm going to go back and crack open my copy of Shatterday.
Also, a quick note on the Pizza with Harlan and Neil Gaiman featurette. the sound quality on this segment is pretty awful, with Gaiman's half of the conversation at a mouse's whisper and Ellison's chomping on his slice like crackling thunder."