Thursday, November 21, 2019

Off Script: From Hell

Films: From Hell
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on The New Portable.

It seems like when it comes to movie adaptations, Alan Moore just can’t catch a break. Those films that got something like an endorsement from Moore turned out to be pretty uniformly terrible. The ones that he decided not to endorse (like V for Vendetta) generally turned out to be pretty credible versions of his stories. From Hell was the first feature-length adaptation of a Moore graphic novel, and I can imagine that Moore’s expectations were high. A Jack the Ripper movie starring 2001 Johnny Depp? Sign me up.

What makes From Hell different from what might be expected in a Jack the Ripper story is that this one is going to spend a surprising amount of time in the higher ranks of society. From Hell posits that the Ripper, while clearly ghoulish, was committing his crimes for a much higher purpose that involved the Royal Family. It’s a hell of an interesting conspiracy theory, and given the sort of space that it really needs to be explored (like in, say, a graphic novel), it’s one that could easily be made compelling.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday Horror: Crawl

Films: Crawl
Format: Blu-ray from Sycamore Public Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

There will probably always be a place for the basic monster movie. That’s all Crawl really is. It’s just Man vs. Nature (or Woman vs. Nature in this case) laid over the top of a disaster movie. It’s Hard Rain meets The Meg, more or less. We’ve got a couple of people trapped in a crawlspace with alligators during a category-5 hurricane in Florida. That’s it, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

I could honestly stop there with a plot summary, but if I go a little further, it allows me to introduce the cast. Haley (Kaya Scoldelario) is a student at the University of Florida desperate to maintain her position on the university swim team to keep her scholarship. While struggling at the moment, she learns that the area will soon be severely attacked by the latest hurricane that has shifted and is now headed directly for her. Advised to get out of the state, she instead heads south to find her father, Dave (Barry Pepper), who is not answering his phone. When she arrives at his condo, she discovers he’s not their either, but his dog Sugar still is.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Off Script: Rubber

Films: Rubber
Format: DVD from Cortland Community Library on The New Portable.

I have no idea where to begin when discussing Rubber. I’m going to do my best to describe what this is in the next several paragraphs or so, and I’ll have it make as much sense as I possibly can. I have no confidence that I will be able to do this, so bizarre is our narrative.

Rubber is a movie within a movie. Kind of. There is an audience within the diegetic landscape of the movie, but they aren’t watching a traditional movie. Instead, they are out in the middle of nowhere watching a story unfold in the distance, using binoculars to see what is happening. So, while they are referring to what they are watching as a film, it’s more like a series of events happening in the distance, since the people watching aren’t in any sense watching events on a screen.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Right to Life?

Films: Capernaum
Format: DVD from Galena Public Public Library through interlibrary loan on Sue’s Mother’s Day present.

I’m honestly not sure where to start with Capernaum. The List frequently adds a couple of non-English movies every year. Generally speaking, that’s whatever wins Best Foreign Language Feature at the Oscars and another one. Given a guess, I would have suggested Cold War, nominated both for Foreign Language Feature and Best Director. Instead, we’ve got Capernaum, the Lebanese entry for Best Foreign Language film, and one that cannot be summarized easily. A first attempt would be to say this is the story of a young boy who sues his parents for the crime of birthing him. But that doesn’t do the story justice.

Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) is 12-years-old and in prison for stabbing someone. He’s also, as the previous paragraph mentioned, suing his parents Souad and Selim (Kawthar Al Haddad and Fadi Kamel Youssef) for having him. More specifically, the case isn’t just that they had him, but that he has no papers, and thus no identity. His parents have many children, but have failed to take care of any of them, and have essentially abandoned him and his sister Sahar (Cedra Izam). A substantial amount of the story, then is understanding how we got here.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Snap to Attention

Films: Avengers: Infinity War
Format: DVD from Dekalb Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

I have to say that I’m a little surprised at the inclusion of Avengers: Infinity War in the latest edition of the 1001 Movies. Up to this point, the only superhero movies that have made it in are a few Batman films and Black Panther, which I think only got in because they realized just how much the editors missed the MCU bandwagon. Truthfully, not all of the MCU movies deserve to be in the list, but some of them did. I’d cite Iron Man, the film that started the MCU and made it viable is one that belongs. At this point, including Infinity War feels like a bit of a sop, like they’re trying to claim a street cred they don’t have and haven’t earned.

From my standpoint, there’s far too much to go into for what I normally talk about with these posts. If you were to watch the entire MCU not in the order the films were made but in the order they happen, we’re talking about the 21st movie in the series. That means there are 20 movies worth of backstory that need to be understood, from Captain America: The First Avenger to Ant-Man and the Wasp to get through. Admittedly, since Ant-Man doesn’t appear in this film, you could probably skip those two, but otherwise, there’s a lot of history to catch up on to fully understand everything that happens here and all of the characters. There’s a shitload of characters here.