I've been meaning to do a round-up post, as well as a general response to some recent posts from y'all, for a while now. Since things have been moving a bit lethargically around the blogs (I'm as guilty as anyone), I figured it was an opportune time to get some chatter going again. I'm still hoping to see LOOPER soon so that, perhaps, we can get a more detailed discussion of that underway. THE MASTER was a pleasure to write about, but it seems we all had similar sentiments and opinions towards it, so that sort of ruined any chance of a heated back and forth. Oh well. You can't force discussion or argument. It either happens or it doesn't.
Anyway, onto some film talk.
Well, gang, it's October already (perhaps my favorite month, along with December). That means it's time to dip into some horror movies. There's a bunch on TCM this month that I'm excited for. CURSE OF THE DEMON (1957) is a huge one that I haven't seen yet. That's on tomorrow afternoon and I'm really stoked for it. Other notables I plan on watching on TCM that have so far eluded me:
Oct. 10 - THE UNINVITED (1944)
- DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)
Oct. 17 - THE MUMMY (1959)
Oct. 27 - BEDLAM (1946)
- HOUSE OF WAX (1953)
I already caught MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933) yesterday. It was fantastic to see a technicolor film shot using the old two color (red and green) system. It literally looks unlike anything else. The film itself is fun and creepy.
Apart from those classics from the 30s-50s, this month I'm also trying to watch as many horror films from the 60s-present that I've missed over the years. Perhaps my most anticipated horror film to see is BLACK SUNDAY (1960). It's not on TCM this month or anywhere else online (that I can find). I might have to subscribe to Netflix dvds again soon just to see it. I need more Bava exposure.
I'm trying to see more Argento too. I saw SUSPIRIA (1977) last year, and I have to say, I really love it. I'm hoping to watch it again this month, and to convince Chris to see it too. I think it's a masterpiece. Beautiful, baroque, and deeply unsettling. I actually kicked the first of the month off with Argento's DEEP RED (1975). I was watching the restored version with some of the English dubbing lost, so there were plenty of scenes in Italian that I didn't understand a word of. Thankfully, it's an Argento movie, so none of the dialogue or plotting matters all that much. It's all about the visual scheme, style, and operatic death scenes. It would have been nice to understand all that was being said to pull me into the story more, but I can't say I was disappointed with the kills. Argento's use of violence is so formally stylized that it almost reminds me of Kubrickian tableaux. Neither are meant to represent or capture reality, but to deliberately create an image that is pure cinema. I'm liking what I've seen from Argento so far, but I've also only seen his two most acclaimed films. Make of that what you will.
I had been re-watching the original DAWN OF THE DEAD on my computer for the past couple of days. Unintentionally, but quite hilariously, I decided to finish it while having the presidential debate on mute in the background last night. What a glorious juxtaposition that was. But really, it was great to see DAWN OF THE DEAD again. It's just a really entertaining and visceral movie, as well as being wickedly, wickedly funny.
I might do a top 30 horror movie list by the end of the month. At the very least, I promise to create a top 10 or 15. I know we talked about doing horror lists last year and nothing materialized, but this year I think I'm ready to do one.
Moving on from horror to other recent fare, it's Spencer Tracy month on TCM, so I was really glad to catch Walsh's ME AND MY GAL (1932) the other night. It's a delightful film. I love Joan Bennett, so it's a treat to see her so young (and blonde!). There's also a really playful parody in the film of STRANGE INTERLUDE (the play and film) that is equally a treat to see.
Borzage's MAN'S CASTLE (1933) was on the other night as well. I watched it this morning. I thank Brandon for putting it on his '33 list because it had otherwise completely flown under my radar. What a great film too; Brandon's completely right about it. Like most Borzage films, it's very sensitive and reflective, and like most Borzage films, you ultimately can't help but feel moved. The last shot is obviously a beaut, but there's a terrific moment earlier on where Spencer Tracy's character asks Loretta Young's what she would do if he left her (he's seriously contemplating abandoning her), and she says "I guess I would go back to being lonesome." That sounds slight in print, but it hits hard when you hear her say it.
I would love to do a longer post on Kiarostami's CLOSE-UP (1990) and Tati's PLAYTIME (1967), but I don't know if I'll ever get to it. CLOSE-UP is a film that I would highly recommend to everyone in the club because I think it's something that would interest film lovers very much. It re-enacts a true story about a guy who impersonated a renowned Iranian director (Mohsen Makhmalbaf) for a family, using all the real people who were involved in it. It's a faux-documentary that always makes its artifice apparent, but it ends up being an incredibly real and kind-hearted look at the man who pretended to be Makhmalbaf. It's such an incredibly humane film that speaks to a desire in us all to play-act and rise above our troubles and loneliness, if only for a few hours a day. It's a fascinating and stirring piece of work.
PLAYTIME is a brilliant comedy. There's almost no dialogue and no plot, but every gag is hilarious, intelligent, and inventive. It's a comedy of pure mise-en-scene, which makes it very subtle, but incredibly sharp. The longest gag in the film takes place in a restaurant that is slowly disintegrating (it's very funny), but my favorite gag takes place outside a collection of translucent cubicle apartments that Hulot visits. This may be one of the few times in film history where the comedy comes not so much from what we're seeing but from where the camera is placed. To fully understand what I'm saying, you'd have to see the film, but trust me, it's genius.
Onto a few brief responses:
Gentile - I'm ashamed to say that I'm haven't seen much John Waters. I've been meaning to, especially because he makes such a great appearance in Season 8 of The Simpsons (Homer's Phobia - awesome episode). I saw CRY-BABY way back when one felt the need to see everything with Johnny Depp in it (don't remember it too well). But, other than that, I've seen nothing. I will do something to change this at some point.
Ben - Not a STAR TREK fan, but I'm glad we are now basically neighbors. If we both weren't hermits with social anxiety, we might be able to hang sometime. :)
Chris - I can just tell you this in person, but great MASTER post. I definitely agree that the "Freddie as child" theme is one of the many character dynamics that exist between he and Dodd. I've said this to you before, but not on the blogs, so I'll just say how much I love the shot of Freddie returning to Dodd after he gets out of jail. You have a low angle shot of Dodd standing on Helen's porch with his little daughter riding her trike below him. Then Freddie emerges into the frame alongside Dodd's daughter as she proceeds to run away. For a brief moment we get Dodd looking down on these two children, and it's a great shot.
Brandon - You posted on it a while ago, but I'm really glad you saw and loved De Palma's BLOW-OUT. It's an amazing film. Definitely the best I've seen from him. When he's on, he's definitely on. I too love the dig at slasher films in the opening POV shot (seems more flippant than smug, which is good). The rest of the film is just so carefully constructed, and very beautifully orchastrated. And, to me, that ending is simply brilliant. It's kind of like a really grim punch-line. I love it.
Jason - You got a lot of movies in that flixster dump, so I'll just try to comment on a few for now. More to come later.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL doesn't add anything new to the horror genre, but it's refreshing to see someone so committed to building tension. That's why I love West. Apart from his subtle but interesting work with character development, he's just one of the most patient guys in the game right now. I'm a big fan of his and this film. Ditto on THE INKEEPERS.
Well said on SHOTGUN STORIES. A brutal film that doesn't glorify vengeance in the least bit. I love all the quieter moments of the brothers spending time together. They make the horror real.
Glad you liked DUCK SOUP. Everyone I've show it to has found it hilarious. It was a big deal for me when I saw it as a teen, and remains one of my favorites.
Also glad you liked and watched all those Boetticher westerns. They are awesome and a pleasure to watch.
I had a similar reaction to CHILDREN OF THE CORN. The name and VHS box for it at the video store always scared me as a kid, but then I saw it when I was older and it's pretty lame. Still, it is fun to watch for the 80s nostalgia and because SOUTH PARK did a good parody of it. OUTLANDER!!