Saturday, August 11, 2018

Coming Soon

Every year around this time, there’s hints and rumors and guesses about what might be in the next edition of the 1001 Movies book. A couple of days ago, fellow 1001 blogger Adolysti dropped me an email linking me to a Facebook post that has what looks to be the additions to the upcoming book. While there are some odd additions (and it appears they’re pulling both Hell or High Water and Arrival, two criminal losses), this seems like a legitimate set of films.

So here’s what looks to be on the new list:
The Handmaiden (2016)
Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)
Lady Macbeth (2016)
Lady Bird (2017)
The Shape of Water (2017)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
mother! (2017)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Get Out (2017)
Black Panther (2018)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday Horror: What We Do in the Shadows

Film: What We Do in the Shadows
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on laptop.

(Just a short introductory note. You’ve may have noticed that my output here has been…less than normal for some time. That’s going to continue for probably another month, month and a half. Where I work, faculty is scheduled to have five “work units” per quarter. This is entirely manageable. This quarter—which runs through mid-September—I have had nine work units, or 180% the amount of work I’m supposed to. I’m not ignoring you. I’m just buried, and October can’t come fast enough. So for the next few weeks, most of what I'll be posting is reviews I've pre-written for situations like this one.)

I’m not entirely sure how to approach What We Do in the Shadows in that I’m not sure that there is a great deal to say about it. I realize this sounds initially like a bad thing, like this is a dull exercise in comedy that has misfired but the exact opposite is true. What We Do in the Shadows is just about pitch perfect. It’s funny throughout most of its running time and maintains a separation between the audience knowing it’s funny and the film itself knowing it’s funny.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Off Script: Cube

Films: Cube
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on the new internet machine.

I remember watching Cube for the first time. It’s an odd film in a lot of respects. It doesn’t have a great deal of plot, or really any plot at all. It has a situation rather than a story, and a gang of characters that try to survive through the story that we’re given. It is almost purely allegorical in one way of looking at it. It could have been penned by Samuel Beckett or Jean Paul Sartre, since it is a pure existential drama. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Like any good horror movie, Cube starts with something like a scare. A man named Alderson (Julian Richings) moves through cube-shaped rooms through square doors set in the middle of the walls. The rooms appear to be identical except for the color of the walls. After a few rooms, we hear a click and Alderson stops in his tracks. Moments later, he, well, is diced by some sort of razor wire grid that snaps down from the ceiling.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Off Script: Dracula

Films: Dracula
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on The New Portable.

Back in the day, before people realized that they could dub movies, it wasn’t uncommon for studios to make multiple versions of the same film. Using a different director and a different cast and crew, the same film would be shot on the same location, but in a different language. A lot of these alternate versions are sadly lost. One thought lost for years but discovered in the ‘70s was the 1931 Spanish version of Dracula. Preformed on the same sets as the classic version starring Bela Lugosi, this version is arguably as good as the one everyone knows and is potentially even better.

Of course, it’s chic to talk down a classic and talk up a version that most people haven’t seen. There are a few points that the Spanish version of Dracula has going for it. The first is that this version was filmed at night on roughly the same schedule as the other Dracula. This means that the crew of this version got to see the dailies of the other film, allowing them to set up better lighting and camera angles in many cases. The same is true of our star, Carlos Villarias, who was the only member of the cast to see the dailies, allowing him to mimic Lugosi as much as possible. The other advantage is that this version is longer, giving the story a bit more space to breathe.