Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Quote of the Day

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"I actually feel like we could do that maybe... But I don’t know. There was a lot of pain with the ending. It’s like going into an old relationship where you’re like… let’s do something new. I may do something and work with HBO again, but I don’t know about another season of Enlightened.”

Mike White is competing on this season of Survivor -- which I want to say "weirdly enough" about but since he already starred on The Amazing Race several years ago I cannot -- and so EW was chatting with him about that and hey while they were there they got him to say the above about bringing back one of the greatest shows ever produced, Enlightened, for a third season. I was wondering why I saw a bunch of people talking about Enlightened on Twitter earlier today! Not that any day and every day isn't a good time to talk about Enlightened. (thx Mac)
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Hugged By Hunnam

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I've been so busy these past couple of weeks with NYFF bleeding into the Brooklyn Horror Fest that I've barely had time to breathe, and so I was just sitting here now thinking how my head hurts, I could use a breather, and suddenly...

... like a warm hug appeared these pictures of Charlie Hunnam vacationing at the beach in Mexico and wham whaddya know I can breathe again. Charlie, what a gentlemen, saving lives everywhere he goes. Hit the jump for the rest...

Joe Alwyn Five Times

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Fresh out of seeing Boy Erased today (more on that to come eventually, aka when it's released in two weeks) here are a couple of pictures of Joe Alwyn (a couple of them outtakes to this shoot we already posted, a couple of them not that) who has a brief but, uh, memorable role in that film. It's an awfully big autumn for him with this and The Favourite, that's for sure. (Shit that reminds me I still have to review The Favourite!) Hit the jump for the rest... 

BHFF: The Clovehitch Killer

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Reporting from the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this week!

Shakespeare's quote "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy," has been stuck in my head this week since it's repeated several times in the just-released (and very fine) Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix. It's a great quote for a Ghost Show to swipe - gives a sheen of serious historical and literate heft to the funny business of spooks and specters popping out of a series of ever smaller boxes. 

And there are moments in that show (or in something like Hereditary earlier this year) where the film-making's good enough that they manage to twist up this atheist's doubts (of which, yes, I have many) in sturdy emotional allegories - that is to say I stop caring that I don't believe in the afterlife and its movie monsters because what they're signifying with their horror story gets to the root of something true and scary about people, human people, you and me, and what's been done or what is in the process of being done to us every practical day to day.

So yes ghosts can be scary, as can satanic chants, to somebody that doesn't believe in a soul. That being said I tend to reserve my biggest and most lingering frights for the practical matters. The men in masks, those made of plastic or skin or what's under skin. The stuff that stuck in Hereditary, after all the crab-walking across the ceiling, was the sense of familial betrayal - of the should-be-unbreakable bonds being used to strangle instead. And that's where The Clovehitch Killer gets it right. And The Clovehitch Killer gets it very right.

Tyler (Charlie Plummer) is a boy scout. Literally. He's got the badges and the neckerchief to prove it. His Dad (Dylan McDermott, middle-aged out) is the Scout Leader, and together they make a do-gooder tag-team of serious un-hipness. Tyler goes to church, and he smiles sweetly, chastely, at the girl he likes across the aisle. Decency radiates off of him with a sheen some might mistake for acne cream - he is a good boy. So one night when he tempts fate and invites that nice girl to go driving with him, well, you'd be forgiven for being as surprised as she is when she digs a photo of a topless girl bound up with ropes out from under the front seat.

Tyler, you dirty dirty boy. The girl runs. The rumors spread. Only thing is, well, that's not Tyler's picture. That's not Tyler's car. Tyler borrowed Dad's car. Cue the unravelling. Before you know it he's hooked up with the bad girl (an atheist, gasp) from the bad side of town and, shades of Blue Velvet, they're investigating the small-town serial killer that gives the film its knotty title and before you know it Tyler ends up, as inevitably he must, back on his own front stoop, staring in.

If you think you can guess where the film's going from there you might not be wrong, per se - the horror lies not so much in the destination, but the journey, and I was shocked by how wrong The Clovehitch Killer was willing to make that journey seem and feel. Not "wrong" as in poorly made" by any stretch of the imagination - 'wrong" as in "fucked the fuck up." I sat in mid-day sunlight watching this movie growing steadily more unnerved - director Duncan Skiles and screenwriter Christopher Ford aren't afraid to really test the ropes, as it were; see how far they can stretch without breaking.

It doesn't break. The ropes hold. Dylan McDermott is committed like mad here - put this on his clip-reel for eternity; I'll never look at that big handsome lug the same way again. And Charlie Plummer, one of our finest young actors, strikes the mark yet again, making the sink of moral quicksand beneath Tyler's feet an unsteady and palpable dread - never has watching a boy become a man felt so diseased and sickly. The world is a corruption - we are the children of nightmares, made flesh from nowhere and nothing.


Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


Laura: One of your children has posed a curious question:
if the world is round, why is a frozen lake flat?
John: That's a good question.
Laura: Here it says that Lake Ontario curves more than
three degrees from its Eastern end to its Western end.
So frozen water really isn't flat.
John: Nothing is what it seems.

Nicolas Roeg's one-of-a-kind film Don't Look Now 
was released 45 years ago on this day. Is good, no? 


Not So Fast, Flash

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All the gays are losing their jobs! First Henry Cavill's super-suit is set to incinerate, and now comes word that Ezra Miller's feature-length The Flash movie is at best delayed until the end of next year for even filming, much less getting to our eyeballs. And that's if it happens at all - the longer these things lose momentum, the less likely they seem - it'll have been three years since the character was introduced in that abysmal Justice League thing by the time this thing's anywhere near getting released at this point. And Ezra was far and away (like, far far and away) the best thing in it! (Well besides this, obviously.) Justice for Ezra! I guess we'll just have to give Jason Momoa's big tits a shot and hope for the best, guys...


Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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Heads-up: Late start today! Be back this afternoon.
Just take a long, long breakfast with Cary.
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Monday, October 15, 2018

BHFF Review: Boo!

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Reporting from the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this week!

Setting your horror film in Detroit these days is a smart move, as that location location location will do half your heavy lifting. Just ask David Robert Mitchell's It Follows or Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive for proof of that. It's thick with the rot of urban decay, weeds ripping through concrete, that'll set your very soul on edge - the edges of Halloween's suburbia gone to seed. 

First-time director Luke Jaden was clearly influenced by all of those films with Boo!, his feature debut, which tosses a partially religious family into the middle of that cement squalor on the night of All Hallows and forces them to fend for themselves as the curses descend - I thought especially of It Follows with its languid art-house pace and unseen menace; a pervasive strangeness that keeps you off balance. 

These visions of Detroit seem stepped out of time - the neighbors are just as likely to be the rats of a vacant lot as they are actual human faces. The walls of these homes loom large, boxing them off like frontier-people among mountain wolves. Boo!, its exclamatory goof of a title aside, takes itself pretty serious, and I dug its four-tiered approach to dividing and conquering this fractured family on the verge - we get to know everybody individually, but most especially their weaknesses, before going in for the kill. 

But the last act does feel a mite rushed - after all that slow build the center doesn't hold; it more explodes, and the threads don't quite pull together and wrap around our throat like they ought to; they more fray further apart. But Jaden's onto something here, visually, tonally - a good intent with the genre and a fine grasp on atmosphere - that shows real promise.


The Night She Came Home, Again

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If you think I've been strangely - you might even say eerily - quiet on the new Halloween movie out this weekend you'd be darn tootin'. I've been avoiding everything like the plague, and writing about it invites looking things up and looking things up invites spoilers. I cover my eyes and ears when the trailer's come on at the theater these past several week - I ain't kidding around with this one. I have my tickets for this weekend, and that's that. We will see. But first! Today's "Beauty vs Beast" is tangentially related, because I used Jamie Lee Curtis as our jumping off point, click on over to The Film Experience to get your freak on...


Pics of the Day

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Lee Pace and Chris Evans shared the stage for a panel at Chicago's Comic Con this weekend, as they're each Marvel superstars and all, although they have yet to share the screen - Lee's reprising his Guardians role in Captain Marvel though I believe, so who knows? 

These are comic books after all. Maybe the next Avengers movie will end with Cap sailing off into the stars in the big beefy purple-black arms of Ronan the Accuser. Anyway you can read more at this link, if these pictures aren't enough. (The pictures are enough.)


Michiel Huisman Five Times

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My great big work-load got chopped in half this weekend due to this cold that won't quit, and so I ended up marooned on my couch for more than I'd been anticipating -- not too shabby a fate when all ten episodes of Mike Flanagan's The Haunting of Hill House just dropped, it turned out. Did anybody else plow through it like me? 

As was clear from my breathless posts leading up to it I was looking forward to the series - Flanagan's time and again proven himself better than expectations - but I was still surprised by how scary and, surprisingly, moving, I ended up finding the show. I don't want to say too much since the series is only four days old at this point and I'm sure many of you need to catch up, but I will share this tweet...
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... which uh yes got that response from Michiel Huisman himself. (Not to mention liked by both Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Carla Gugino, too.) Much humor was had in my household this weekend about me eloping with Michiel, believe you me. Anyway I posted some of this photo-shoot before but I think the rest of the shots got lost when our old Tumblr got deleted, so hit the jump for them, and if you have thoughts on the show hit the comments...

Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...

... back-paddling with Billy Magnussen.
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BHFF Review: Empathy Inc.

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Reporting from the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this week! 

"I've seen the future, baby, it is murder," cooed Leonard Cohen one time, and sci-fi filmmakers (not to mention climate change scientists) have been taking up the slack ever since. The dream of decent technology is dead; we're all sticking wires straight in our veins now in the place of heroin needles. Make me somebody else, our mantra - we're wandering a hall of black mirrors, No Exit signs blinking. Yedidya Gorsetman's dark and twisted Empathy Inc. takes that idea and perverts it in thrilling and elliptically sinister ways.

Joel (Zack Robidas) has just had his professional world crash down around him. His tech bubble's burst, sending him and his wife Jessica (Kathy Searle), an unemployed actress, home to crash with her folks for a minute; long enough for him to re-group. While down on his luck and weak at the edges in swings an old friend (Eric Berryman) with a new technology for sale - he calls it XVR (in the parlance of a Mountain Dew commercial, that is Extreme Virtual Reality), which allows the user to John-Malkovich-like enter into the head-space of a less fortunate individual (a poor, as the saying goes) in order to make the user realize that hey, it could be worse.

It's not exactly a shock that this turns out badly for everybody involved - the stark black-and-white cinematography a la early Aronofsky makes that clear from the get-go. You don't get any start middle or end of the rainbows in this place. What does come as a surprise though is how methodically Gorsetman unravels his realities - as identities begin shifting the flick becomes an unnerving treatise on not just the expected ethics-in-technology topics but in selfhood in the digital age, too. When you can put on anybody's face it's probable you might misplace your own at some point.


Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Fearless (1993)

...Max: People don't believe in god so much as
they choose not to believe in nothing.

Peter Weir's Fearless, one of my favorite movies that I nonetheless haven't re-watched in at least a decade, was released 25 years ago on this day. I was just talking about the movie a couple of weeks ago when I wished Rosie Perez a happy birthday at the start of September - clearly it's on my mind and is well over-due for a re-watch. Fans? Anybody? Really I should just re-watch the entirety of Peter Weir's filmography because he's worth it.
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Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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I knew the minute I saw this photo-shoot of himself that new It-Boy Noah Centineo posted over the weekend that this'd be this morning's "Good Morning" post. Can ya blame me? No I still haven't watched the Netflix rom-com To All the Boys I've Loved Before that made him a star but there was a soccer player who lived in the dorm...

... next to mine in college who looked just like Noah and his window was across from mine and he used to do shirtless push-ups there for me to see every afternoon and it's a wonder I got any work done in college and so my point is I don't need to see that movie. I lived it. Hit the jump for the remaining eleven pictures of this shoot...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

BHFF Review: Tower. A Bright Day.

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Reporting from the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this week!

Like Krisha meets The Invitation, Jagoda Szelc's feature debut Tower. A Bright Day. (punctuation included) exudes a tense strangeness from its very skin. As in both of those films here an estranged family member has been invited back into the fold, at least briefly, for a celebration - Mula (Anna Krotoska) invites her mentally-troubled sister Kaja (Malgorzata Szczerbowska) home to witness her daughter's first Holy Communion. 

I left the "her daughter" vague there on purpose - Mula has taken custody of Kaja's daughter and raised her as her own - one of the stipulations of Kaja's visit is she not tell her daughter she's her birth mother. She's just there to bear witness. And that she does - her presence sets the entire small town on edge. The priest overseeing the communion goes wacky, strange men wander through the woods, the animals start howling, the sky itself seems to thrum...

Tower relies heavily on mood via sound-scape - I don't mention Krisha lightly; the films would make for a fine, if emotionally exhausting, double feature - to up its ante; it's a slow-burn, immersing us in the minute-to-minute interplay between these family members and slowly ever so slowly twisting the tension and downright weirdness up a degree at a time. Thankfully it works, and before you know it your feet are burning, and the sky is full of sparkling gas. The last act tosses out more questions than answers but I personally didn't leave the film frustrated - mystified, maybe, but in a good way. And its secrets have stuck, wormed their way inward. I keep wondering.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

BHFF Review: Welcome to Mercy

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Reporting from the Brooklyn Horror Film Fest for the next week!

Like a gender-flipped spin on The Shining, Tommy Bertelsen's Welcome to Mercy spins its horror off of a parent harming their child while under the influence. Here, instead of the metaphorical demons of Jack Torrance's alcoholism (which eventually find physical form thanks to The Overlook) we've got single-mother Madaline (Kristen Ruhlin) starting out possessed and working backwards from there. Is it the devil, or something deeper than that, that's putting not only her daughter but entire generations of women onto the path of unrighteousness?

Madaline goes home to her native Latvia after the death of her father to see a mother who didn't want her, and she finds herself in a foreign land among unfriendly faces. Especially her own mother's, the unfriendliest of all. And that's when the stigmata come. The twitching on the floor. And suddenly Madaline's flinging her little girl across the kitchen. Before you know it somebody's suggesting that isolated convent in the mountains (isn't there always an isolated convent in the mountains?), that they might be able to help...

What exorcism movies have to work against, the insurmountable climb of The Exorcist, I wouldn't wish on any horror sub-genre. Every movie to come out in that film's forty-year wake has been judged against it - so soundly did it stamp its name across every staple, from priests standing over bed-sides to holy water to unfathomable sounds coming out of innocent throats, that anybody who even takes a stab at them feels like a footnote. 

Welcome to Mercy doesn't scale the insurmountable, but it gets a pretty good view from where it stands. Its story, a series of unfolding boxes inside of boxes, revealing old secrets to inform the present tense, smartly avoids the well-trod "work up to a showdown with a demon" path. Where it works best is visually - Bertelsen has a slew of great camera tricks up his sleeve that surprise and disorient. Disorientation is key to this genre - there must be an aura of strangeness around the possession tale; the feeling that something awful has twisted its way into our dimension, something unnatural. Mercy, in its finest moments, gets that.


Friday, October 12, 2018

From Here Til Eternity's

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As previously mentioned today's a half-day here on the site - I'm off to the Closing Night Film of the New York Film Festival, Julian Schnabel's At Eternity's Gate, starring Willem Dafoe and Rupert Friend and that dude up above. But hey I might even post some pictures of them on my Instagram if you're lucky! Anyway I'm off to that now but that doesn't mean you'll miss me for long - unlike our usual routine I'll actually be posting this weekend (or that's the plan anyway, if the cold I'm working through doesn't kill me) as I continue to cover the 2018 Brooklyn Horror Film Fest, which opened last night (here's my review of the opening night's film) and runs through next Thursday. No rest for the movie-lovers...
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