Good weekend to everyone.A snow day and a couple of sleepless nights after work allowed me to watch more than I usually do.(The latter is the reason I am posting this early.)BELLADONNA OF SADNESS (1973) – A genuinely beguiling animated feature from early 1970s Japan. It is the story of a woman’s embrace of witchcraft and, by connection, her feminine powers through the injustice of Medieval European society. Sound and music are used beautifully to enhance the imagery. Being experimental in nature, this is the kind of film you allow to flow beyond conscious thought.I also watched another Italian sword and sandal feature, HERCULES AGAINST THE BARBARIANS (1964). Hercules is strangely placed in the battle between Poles and Mongols in the 12th century, creating a different vibe than one usually encounters in peplum. The widescreen version I recorded off of TCM looked terrific. I once again dipped into the bizarre well of Something Weird releases with its Teen Turmoil Triple Feature. GOOD TIME WITH A BAD GIRL, with its shots of 1960s era Las Vegas, ends up being an Americana time-capsule in its own seedy way. It is above-average sexploitation. The surprise- and my favorite- of the set is GIRL IN TROUBLE, a serious story of a farm girl who runs away to the big city. It is New Orleans in this case. It is not a good film but much better made than one expects of the genre. The director seemed to forget at times he was making exploitation, instead focusing on creating some beautiful black and white cinematography and using noir narrative techniques like voice-over to create a sense of doom for the heroine’s journey.
Been a documentary week for me. My local theater showed a one-night-only special of Free Solo on their biggest screen. It's not like it's a masterpiece of documentary filmmaking, but the guy it follows is interesting and the mountain climbing footage is pretty spectacular and exciting. Another doc I saw in a theater was the Finnish film Olliver Hawk, a nice little doc about the life of Finnish mentalist and hypnotist of the same name (that was his stage name). A fascinating figure I knew nothing about beforehand.Also saw Behind the Curve, a by-the-numbers doc flat Earth weirdos, and RBG, the Oscar-nominated documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
I watched The Breaker Upperers on Netlfix. I liked it whole lot, though I am scared that I was fooled by everyone's New Zealand accents into thinking things were funnier than they actually were.
Well, Patrick talking about going through Walter Hill’s filmography has inspired me to do the same. I’ve really liked the Hill films i’ve seen (The warriors, Extreme Predujice, Trespass, and Streets of Fire), so I went back to the beginning and watched Hard Times. I thought it was great. Coburn and Bronson were fantastic and the fights were great. I can’t wait to check out the Driver next. Also, the pure cinema episodes on Scorsese are pushing me to check out the movies I haven’t seen of his, so I watched Bringing Out the Dead. I liked it but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, so I was a bit disappointed. I expected it to be a bit crazier and higher energy, but it definitely felt unique and it’s Scorsese, so of course, it’s well made. I have also been trying to watch more Mario Bava movies so I checked out Kill Baby....Kill! and I really loved it. The setting of the creepy little European village was great and the atmosphere in the movie was fantastic! It’s the kind of movie I may have found boring under certain circumstances, but it just hit me in the right away and really worked on me. Finally, I’m hoping to check out Alita and Happy death day 2U this weekend and crossing my fingers they’re good. I’ve been looking forward to both for awhile. I’m really hoping Rodriguez has a hit on his hands since he was always one of my favorite directors and I’m hoping this is bounce back movie for him. Hope everyone has a great weekend!
Have you had a chance to watch Black Sabbath? I regard it as Mario Bava's best work. The segment 'A Drop of Water' may be the creepiest story he ever put on film. The Whip and the Body, which Patrick featured in his Valentine's Day film list, is also a worthwhile gothic feature from Bava.
I have not seen either one yet, but they are high up on my watchlist to check out! I’ve heard about how creepy drop of water is!
I watched Jane Eyre (2011). It's like 100 years old already; I can't believe how fast time passes. Anyway. Part of me wonders why they make movies like this if they can't fit the whole story in and have to leave out important parts of the original story. But then - when you love a story I understand wanting to bring it to life even if it can't be EVERYTHING you want. You think you can still capture the essence and it can still be amazing.I liked it. I was like "oh this is very gothic". Then I wondered: how did I KNOW it was gothic? What does gothic even mean actually? Emily and Charlotte Bronte didn't live through medieval times. Even Little Women is considered "gothic", though Louisa May Alcott came later than the Brontes and Little Women doesn't take place near any castles or in ancient times. That movie Snow White and the Huntsman was decidedly gothic. But I googled it and I'm still not sure what "gothic" means or where it comes from. The only thing that appears to link these together is feminine imagery, a focus on femininity and the independent spirits of women. But it bugs me I cannot figure out what period in history it's connected to. IS IT JUST RANDOM? Blah!
My understanding of the literary meaning of gothic is an atmospheric narrative based around mysteries or terrible deeds that is often set in and around old buildings. It was a genre most popular in the late 18th and early 19th century with writers like the Bronte sisters and Ann Radcliff. Probably the only connection to gothic architecture is the old structures in the stories.
Gothic fiction tends to focus on women and femininity because the supernatural elements allowed women to express their sexuality in ways that Victorian (not complete overlap, but close enough) society forbid. It is 18th and 19th century authors looking back on Medieval times. The name comes from Gothic architecture, because inherent mystery of crumbling old castles and other similar places were kind of the default setting. (and mom said that english degree was worthless)I did like that Jane Eyre adaption, as incomplete as it felt.
That is helpful, Scott and Casual Listener! Thank you! Honestly, that explains a lot, Scott, even though it actually does sound well, non-linear, if not random. I liked it, too. Great acting and very pretty. Speaking of literature, the “plain Jane” description of like every-other female character’s beauty in books, I imagine originated from Jane Eyre. I read a book recently - At The Edge of The Orchard, full of interesting women characters and it did not ONCE describe any of their physical beauty- not as plain or pretty, and it almost drove me crazy not to know others perceived them. It was jarring. There was no way the woman author didn’t purposely do it. But it was satisfying, too, bc at the end you felt like "oh who cares what this horrible woman looks like", and "who cares what this amazing woman looks like".
My son has been reading the Hunger Games books, and so we have watched the first 2. I think I may have liked the 2nd one more, as it was a little less predictable, and certainly had a surprising ending. Also, I had heard the sequels were all bad, so it was a pleasant surprise. He just finished reading MockingJay, so next up is Part 1, starting tonight.Also, we went to a noon showing of The Lego Movie: 2. The kids had a PD day, but since we skipped across to the next province (Ottawa in on the border between 2 provinces) to see it, where they didn't have a PD day, we were the only ones in the theater! First time that's ever happened! We put our feet up on the chairs, talked and laughed the whole way through it, and generally acted like bad moviegoers! We even got up to dance for some of the songs. I really enjoyed it. It didn't have the "this is new and different" factor of the original, but was funny and I loved the message in it, and liked how it was teased and eventually shown. I teared up a little at one point, and pretty sure my oldest son did too, but he denies it.
Ok I have a question about Hunger Games. You know how the premise is about how their society is bad because they are watching kids fight each other for entertainment? So...is it SUPPOSED to be ironic that you yourself are sitting through the Hunger Games movies watching...kids kill each other, essentially? I couldn't figure that out when I saw the first Hunger Games years ago. But I mean it MUST be, right?
Hehe. That's a funny observation!I don't think the movies are self aware enough for that. The themes don't go beyond much more than "teenagers rule, adults drool". There is a bit of self examination in the last one (have we become the thing we sought to destroy?), but the biggest suspense comes from not knowing which boy she will choose (which is resolved very sloppily). There's a lot of problems with these movies. For example after winning the hunger games, they give her the title of the Mockingjay end my understanding was they would use her as a symbol of hope to inspire all the poorest. But after, they are on a military mission fraught with problems, and the leader assures them they will win because you have the Mockingjay! Wait, when did she become a super soldier, rather than a symbol of hope?Overall, they were all quite enjoyable. My kids loved them.
Choosing boys is very hard (actually it is). Glad they liked them.
From a mention on the Pure Cinema Podcast, I checked out They’re Playing With Fire (1984). It features Sybil Danning at the height of her powers playing off a leading man who is best described as Beaver Cleaver-ish. The mood would best be described as sleazy neo-noir with a side of bat-shit. There’s even a dollar store Belushi supporting character thrown in for comic relief in a movie that is pretty unintentionally funny on its own. It’s a whodunnit with a hall of fame level preposterous twist that is well worth the time for Danning disciples or fans of WTF thrillers. Also, there is a murder that occurs in the middle of this that actually made me question whether I was still watching the same movie or had somehow switched over to a different equally crazy movie.
Last night had a bottle of wine and watched Amadeus for the first time. I knew of it my whole life, of course, but always assumed I would hate it. strangely, i loved the hell out of it for a long time, then hated it. I thought they were going to make Mozart seem like a genius-savant madcap, instead they just made him seem like a buffoon. Maybe I need to rewatch it. I saw no depth to his character, he was the same as his character in parenthood. A fraud. What am I missing?
Hmm. interesting. I'm not sure you're missing anything. Amadeus was one of my favorites when I frequently watched it as a kid but I haven't seen it in years. If I remember correctly, the point is that he was kind of a carefree clown (or at least he wanted to be, if not for his father and Salieri tormenting him to death). And Salieri was jealous and angry that someone with such enviable gifts could also be effortless and carefree, the opposite of himself in every way? To Salieri it just wasn't fair that talent should be given to a clown. Does that help?
The movie isn't really about Mozart except in that it broadly covers some of his more notable work. The story is about Salieri being unable to reconcile his notion that his talent was a gift from God as reward for his devotion, with a godless sinner like Mozart having been blessed with absolute genius.It's a character study of a man who feels betrayed by the God he devoted his life to. There's also a bit of an examination of the nature of genius going on there in that it shows how some people have to work hard for what meager talent they have while to the rare few it comes effortlessly. I don't know that the movie has anything too deep to say about that but it does illustrate it wonderfully in the scenes where Mozart reworks the welcome march, and at the end when he's dictating the Requiem.
Beautifully put, Ross.