Sunday, October 21, 2018

Finishing October

For the last several years, really since I’ve managed to finish the 1001 Movies list the first time, I’ve ended October with horror movies. If you’ve been a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been slowly upping the horror content of this blog, especially this year as the Oscar project winds down to a spot where it’s yearly maintenance and the continued Oscar Got It Wrong posts.

Last year, I posted about three dozen horror movie reviews over the last ten days of October. Part of the reason for that is that I had a huge backstock of horror reviews written and unposted. I’d love to tell you that I caught up on that, but the opposite is true. My unpublished backlog is far larger now than it was last year. I have more than 100 unposted reviews of horror and horror-related movies sitting in a folder.

So, I’ll be doing something similar this year. New reviews will go up daily (starting tomorrow) at 1:00 and 7:00, both AM and PM, Central time. On Mondays and Friday, the 1:00 review will instead be the traditional Oscar post.

I'll be creating the list of upcoming reviews and posting them here--if there's one you'd really like to read, this will allow you to find it more easily.

Brace yourself. Horror is coming.

Monday, October 22
1:00 AM--The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
7:00 AM--Oculus (2013)
1:00 PM--Oscar Got It Wrong!
7:00 PM--Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

Tuesday, October 23
1:00 AM--Phantasm II (1988)
7:00 AM--House on Haunted Hill (1999)
1:00 PM--Spider Baby (1967)
7:00 PM--The Cell (2000)

Wednesday, October 24
1:00 AM--The War of the Worlds (1953)
7:00 AM--Devil (2010)
1:00 PM--Images (1972)
7:00 PM--The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Thursday, October 25
1:00 AM--Mimic (1997)
7:00 AM--Splice (2009)
1:00 PM--Bad Taste (1987)
7:00 PM--I Bury the Living (1958)

Friday, October 26
1:00 AM--Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
7:00 AM--The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)
1:00 PM--Oscar Got It Wrong!
7:00 PM--The Woman in Black (2012)

Saturday, October 27
1:00 AM--House of Usher (1960)
7:00 AM--The Witches (1990)
1:00 PM--Quarantine (2008)
7:00 PM--My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Sunday, October 28
1:00 AM--The Mummy (1959)
7:00 AM--Venus in Furs (1970)
1:00 PM--White Zombie (1932)
7:00 PM--Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

Monday, October 29
1:00 AM--eXistenZ (1999)
7:00 AM--Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
1:00 PM--Oscar Got It Wrong!
7:00 PM--Altered States (1980)

Tuesday, October 30
1:00 AM--The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959)
7:00 AM--Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
1:00 PM--The Craft (1996)
7:00 PM--28 Weeks Later (2007)

Wednesday, October 31
1:00 AM--13 Ghosts (1960)
7:00 AM--Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
1:00 PM--World War Z (2013)
7:00 PM--The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

High-Functioning

Films: Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on The New Portable.

I’ve said a number of times on this blog how much I enjoy it when an established actor plays significantly against type. That’s at least a big part of the appeal of Roman J. Israel, Esq. for me, even if this isn’t that big of a difference for many of the acclaimed roles of Denzel Washington of the past few years. He’s a straight bastard in Fences and a drunk and an addict in Flight, so in that respect, where this character goes runs at least in part in the same circles in this film. It is different in a lot of ways, though, and it’s different in that way that Oscar tends to like a great deal.

Denzel Washington plays our title character here, an aging lawyer who works for a firm that consists of himself, another lawyer, and a receptionist. Roman, who makes about $500 per week, spends his days essentially writing briefs and doing a great deal of the legwork for cases, frequently dealing with their defendants’ civil rights. The other lawyer is William Jackson, and it is he who takes the cases to trial. In moments of his spare time, Roman works on a massive brief that has occupied him for years. This brief is in regard to a class action suit about the complete overhaul of the plea bargaining system.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Horror: The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Films: The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on The New Portable.

Possession movies are nothing new. The Exorcist is the granddaddy of the subgenre and most of the other movies that have followed it have been a reaction to it in one way or another. Some (Beyond the Door comes to mind) are a direct knock-off while others (Possession) are reactions to the original film in that they attempt to be something completely different. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a little of both. The story and the scenes of the actual exorcism are reminiscent of William Peter Blatty’s story, but the film itself is a courtroom drama more than it is anything else.

This is also the second day in a row where I am completely gobsmacked by at least a part of our cast list. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is clearly a horror film. Two of the starring roles are handled by renowned actors. Laura Linney plays our defense attorney; when this film was released, she had collected an Oscar nomination, netted a second one from this same year and has pulled a third since. The priest she is defending is played by Tom Wilkinson in the year in the middle of his two Oscar nominations. The film also features Shohreh Aghdashloo, who also has an Oscar nomination. For an exorcism film, that’s pretty exceptional.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Off Script: Deep Rising

Films: Deep Rising
Format: DVD from NetFlix on The New Portable.

Every now and then, you come across a movie that you simply can’t explain in any logical way. The year before he made The Mummy, director Stephen Sommers made a movie that for the life of me I cannot fully fathom. I have no idea how he collected this group of actors nor how he made this film a reality. This is one of those films where the main cast is well-known and even most of the bit players are completely recognizable. Even more than wondering how he got this movie made, I wonder how the hell I didn’t know about it.

I don’t even really know how to begin with this. John Finnegan (Treat Williams, the poor man’s Tom Berenger) and his crew Joey (Kevin J. O’Connor) and Leila (Una Damon) have a boat that they hire out to anyone willing to pay. In this case, they are being paid by a group of mercenaries for an unknown project. Joey, who is Finnegan’s mechanic, goes snooping through the mercs’ items and discovers almost a dozen torpedoes. This snooping gets him beaten and creates some tension between the boat crew and the mercenaries.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

...If You Want It

Films: La Guerre est Finie (The War is Over)
Format: DVD from Elmhurst Public Library through OCLC WorldCat on The New Portable.

The experiment with OCLC WorldCat continues to turn up movies that I haven’t otherwise been able to get. At this point, my list of unwatched Oscar films falls into three categories: films from last year, films I haven’t wanted to watch yet, and films I can’t find. Until about a week ago, La Guerre est Finie fit into that third category. Now that I have it, it might be more at home in the second box. This isn’t an easy film for a number of reasons. It’s very slow. It’s also directed by Alain Resnais. Resnais made Night and Fog, one of the most brutal and ugly films about the Holocaust in existence. It’s a one-and-done film, the sort of thing that everyone should see once. He also made Last Year at Marienbad, a film so loathsomely moronic that it turned this blog from being rated PG-13 to being rated R.

Diego Mora (Yves Montand) has dedicated much of his life to fighting against Francoist Spain. Now, years after the original revolution, he is still acting as a communist revolutionary despite the implicit death sentence these activities carry with them. Diego actually lives in Paris, but makes his way back into Spain regularly using the passport of another man. After this many years, though, he is no longer as convinced of his position as he was. He is tired of always fighting and tired of always being on the run. More seriously, he is concerned that the new underground is more extremist and is using unfavorable tactics.