Saturday, February 7, 2009

Burke Among The French

Here's some great news for James Lee Burke fans. According to Reuters,
Tommy Lee Jones stars as detective Dave Robicheaux hunting a serial killer in Louisiana in a new movie based on James Lee Burke's 1993 novel "In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead".

French director Bertrand Tavernier transports the action to more recent times, incorporating Hurricane Katrina into the narrative and including images of areas of New Orleans still devastated by the effects of the 2005 disaster.

"In the Electric Mist" has its world premiere at the Berlin film festival on Saturday, where it is in the main competition.

"It seemed to me that it was completely dumb to come to Louisiana and to shoot the novel written at the beginning of the 1990s and not put in Katrina," Tavernier told reporters after a press screening.

"Right from the beginning I knew that I was going to update the story," the 67-year-old added.

John Goodman, who plays mobster Julie "Baby Feet" Balboni, said Katrina was something impossible to avoid.

"Katrina's been a fact of life since August 29th three-and-a-half years and ago and it's just something we live with now," he said.

"It's like a mountain that forced its way up out of the swamp. It's just something that's there and it will always be there for years and years. It's just a way of life now."

Katrina hit the southern coast of the United States in 2005, and when the levees broke, 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded and almost 1,500 people killed.

The hurricane does in fact feature in one of Burke's later novels, "The Tin Roof Blowdown" in 2007, which also revolves around the Robicheaux character for which he is most famous.

Lee Jones's character is haunted by his failings but has a moral sense that means he stops at nothing to catch the culprit.

In "The Electric Mist," he senses that a series of brutal murders of young women may be linked to a crime he witnessed 40 years earlier, underlining a central theme -- that you cannot escape from your past.

Goodman is Balboni, a towering mobster who invests in a major movie production that shoots in and around New Iberia, Louisiana. Hollywood heartthrob Elrod Sykes comes to town, but tragedy strikes as Robicheaux seeks the truth.

"In The Electric Mist" isn't coming to a theater near you, but a DVD/Blue Ray version is promised by Netflix on March 3.

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