Archive for the ‘Film’ Category
Quoting the Indiana University Cinema blurb for February 24: Set in a dystopian Texas of the future, THE BAD BATCH is a “post-apocalyptic cannibal love story,” as writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour describes it, “ROAD WARRIOR meets PRETTY IN PINK with a dope soundtrack.” This genre-breaking thrill ride won the Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice Film Festival and features a dream-ensemble cast of Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Jim Carrey, and Diego Luna. The film opens later in 2017. Director Ana Lily Amirpour is scheduled to be present. Asked herself afterward about PRETTY IN PINK, Ms. Amirpour allowed that was something she’d said in one interview and she’d never do it again, but she smiled when she said that. As for ROAD WARRIOR, there is a Mad Maxish ambience to THE BAD BATCH with scavenger societies, makeshift cities (one making use of an aircraft graveyard), and never-mind-where-the-gasoline-comes-from automobiles, though in this case more the speed of Vespas and golf carts.
Then another question: What was the significance of the bunny? Let us go back in time for a moment to Amirpour’s earlier movie A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT* and Masuka the cat (cf. January 19, 11 2015). Masuka acts there as a sort of marking figure, passed in ownership between people who become important; in this a bunny (unnamed in the credits unless I missed it) becomes the pet of a little
girl who in turn becomes the bond between principle characters Arlen and Miami Man. But beyond that, well, animals in some way may represent innocence and purity, Amirpour allowed, but (harking to another question too) this might not be a film to put too much stock in one-on-one symbolism.
What it is, though, she said is a “personal story of a girl who feels cut down, ripped apart by life,” as well as, as she was writing it originally, her “love letter to America.” She hastened to add, this was before current times with a President Trump. Yet a pervading image is that of a Texas desert divided by a wall, behind which are thrust the “bad batch,” the non-productive, the terminally ill, illegal immigrants (Miami Man was, originally, “a Cubano”), the homeless. . . . They then are further divided into two “cities,” The Bridge (so named from homeless who, in US cities, often take shelter under expressway bridges and the like), a machismo culture and also . . . cannibalistic, and Find Comfort, a more benign hippie-like civilization whose diet tends more toward pasta.** Needless to say, they hate each other.
So what is a girl to do — who’s already lost an arm and a leg (literally) to the dinner table? Or a doting father who’s lost his daughter, but wouldn’t turn his nose up at a human filet.
Might there be a third way?
But also beware, there’s a quality of dream, of fairytale about the thing too, of don’t always take too literally what you see. Be content instead to see beautiful images, though often enough combined with the grotesque — this is not a film for the faint of stomach! Enjoy the soundtrack, and worry not too much about details like where gas or electricity come from in the desert (or pasta, for that matter, or how many humanburgers it takes to sustain a weight-lifter physique). Or if the ending is, as we say in the romance biz, “happily ever after” or even, realistically, “happily for now.” Sneak previews aside (Friday’s screening was presumably the first outside the film festival circuit), THE BAD BATCH is set for a June 23 release by NEON according to IMDb and, when the time comes, just sit back and enjoy it!
*The night before, in fact, we got to see seven short films by Amirpour including the original A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, on which the feature-length version was based (although, in the short, without any cats).
**And, surely this is just my personal eccentricity, I couldn’t help seeing a parallel to this, and especially the ending, in the 1974 Sean Connery film ZARDOZ (see October 15, 2016). Or maybe I am nuts.
As we may know, the goth cat Triana, a.k.a. The Cat Formerly Known As Lucy Lu, takes her name from Triana Orpheus, the daughter of Dr. Byron Orpheus, necromancer and neighbor of Dr. “Rusty” Venture in THE VENTURE BROS. cartoon series (see February 2). But what more do we know of Triana’s namesake? Fortunately we can find Ms Orpheus listed in “Goth Girls of Cartoons” by Miss Haps, on POPGOTHICA.BLOGSPOT.COM, among other goth ladies of ink and pigment translated to film and TV. Many more, in fact — one must scroll down and down to the section “Extra Shadows” to find Triana herself. And, yes, some of us may seem to have too much time on our hands on occasion.
But you know you’re curious yourself, so press here.
Growing up in the USA anyway, though I imagine in much of the world nowadays as well, some of our first introductions to fantasy on a large scale, for better or worse, may be Walt Disney Movies. Yes, I still remember SNOW WHITE (and parody her too from time to time), not to mention the artistry of a FANTASIA. The list could go on — and in fact it does in an a next-to-obsessive (yet fascinating) way in today’s TOR.COM via Mari Ness in “Wrapping Up the Disney Read-Watch.” And, yes, fantasy writers and readers, as much as we may look down now on some of the poorer examples, I for one can recall the awe that the best of the Disney films inspired in me as a child. And may yet still now.
So, today marks the first snowfall of 2017 in Bloomington Indiana, and here at least a gentle one making a crisp day lovely — as well as quiet the week before the spring term begins in a university city. A day for reflection and memories, perhaps, for peaceful thoughts and recalling joy. But for plans as well for a horror-filled year (writing-wise, that is, for those of us of darker inclinations), perhaps in some cases taking inspiration from the memories presented therein.
For more, press here.
. . . the idea of faith is more general in the sense that it covers any devotion to a higher being or spiritual power. It could be anything, from a religion-based god to alien overlords to the Force. The point is that you believe in something outside yourself that, in some way, shapes, influences, or even controls the nature of our world. Yet somehow, regardless of the faith, the path to getting there is always the same: you have to hear the call, and then you have to take conscious steps to overcome that adversity within and without to reach its source, taking you from a non-believer to a believer.
Well, no, I haven’t seen ARRIVAL yet, I tend to wait sometimes for what I think may be important films to be out long enough on DVD to bring the price down to buy for myself, but that’s my problem. The above, from “Communication and Faith in ARRIVAL” by Michael Moreci, on TOR.COM a day or two back, piqued my interest however (cf. below, for instance, November 3, August 26 ; September 17 2015): the question of faith, belief, in science fiction as well as, perhaps to be more expected, in fantasy and horror. The need for an author — or reader — to know a people’s traditions in order to build their world.
Or that’s how I see it. Moreci also brings up Joseph Campbell (the hero’s journey), and the movies STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE and CONTACT; while in my own writings I might note the upcoming TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH as well as, at least in part, THE TEARS OF ISIS. And in any event I may look into ARRIVAL myself sooner than I had expected. Moreci’s critique, on the other hand, may be read right now here.
But let us start Thursday with something I was not in, but attended. Thursday night offered an, as it were, otherworldly start to the Halloween weekend with a 100-year commemoration of Cabaret Voltaire. Say what? In the sponsors’ words: On 5 February 1916, in the back room of a small bar in Zurich, a group of artists launched a nightclub which changed the course of modern art. Cabaret Voltaire was the home of Dada, a movement that revolutionized European culture and led to seismic global shifts in art, literature, music, film. Like Punk, Dada survives as an attitude, a rejection of aesthetic convention and authority. A hundred years later, The Burroughs Century Ltd. and the Wounded Galaxies Festival are creating a one-night-only homage: a feast of the senseless. This was at a local Bloomington nightclub and included, yes, movies as a sort of background/ accompaniment, some old, some just filmed, but all experimental. Added were musical and spoken word performances, as well as costumes — some quite creative — worn by onlookers (mine, less creative, was of a Zurich bourgeois who has come for an evening of entertainment). Odd and fun, the event was also a fundraiser for Wounded Galaxies Festival to help with more presentations in the future.
Then Friday came the reading performance of Act I of D. L. Mabbott’s play THE UNFINISHED (cf. October 19), with two readers who also performed the night before, Joan Hawkins and Anthony Brewer, and two who didn’t, Shayne Laughter and me. Or, quoting Shayne, [f]ree, tonight, at The Back Door! I’m reading with Joan Hawkins — we are two lovely ladies in the organ harvesting biz, Tony Brewer is the burglar who sees too much, and James Dorr is the Inspector who . . . well. We could call this a 21st-century “Arsenic and Old Lace,” with more sex and stabbing. This also was at a local nightclub, sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild, and while underattended (in this case perhaps because it was early, before many patrons had arrived, but more to the point before we’d be displaced by the night’s headlined band*), quite a bit of fun.
Then, Saturday having been a day off of sorts, Sunday night brought back the Ryder Film Festival (see October 27, 24, 17), this time with two films at local tavern Bear’s Place, 1958’s Hammer production HORROR OF DRACULA and new Korean ghost movie THE WAILING (the latter also screened last Sunday at the Buskirk-Chumley theatre), including my rescheduled reading of “Raising the Dead.” As originally planned for last week, it preceded THE WAILING, scheduled at 7:30 but, because that’s the way things seem to work, actually starting about ten minutes late. Like Friday’s play-reading the “crowd” was sparse (maybe the big kids were out trick-or-treating too) although at all times it outnumbered the players (me), even picking up a bit about half-way through. Such is the way of the oral presenter. “Raising the Dead,” billed by the Ryder as a tale of necromancy, dark fantasy, airships, and doomed love, is a story/chapter to be included in my forthcoming novel TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, due out from Elder Signs Press in spring-summer next year, and concerns an attempt to reunite a deceased man’s soul to his body by raising the latter up into the air, where souls congregate, during an impending storm.
But of course, if things all worked as planned, it wouldn’t very well be horror, would it?
* The walk over, in fact, included fording a river of Halloween-costumed children and parents.
In between movies, from 7:30-8:00, James Dorr will read from his new book, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (for more on James Dorr see below). Well, not below, but press here to read the whole preview for this Sunday’s Ryder Film Festival night-before-Halloween horror series with my reading added, postponed from last weekend (see October 24, 17). Or, as the Ryder people put it: HORROR OF DRACULA, THE WAILING & James Dorr. So, yes, it’s now official with my story “Raising the Dead” scheduled for 7:30 Sunday, October 30, sandwiched between a 1958 Hammer Films DRACULA (full, uncensored version, with gore restored) at 5:45 and the Korean mystery/horror (also premiered last Sunday) at 8 p.m. This Sunday’s showings will be at Bear’s Place, a local Bloomington tavern, so to enjoy them, remember you must be at least 21.
And, fun for all ages, today I read and sent back corrections on the proof copy of “The Stalker,” set to appear in Bards and Sages Publishing’s THE GREAT TOME OF CRYPTIDS AND LEGENDARY CREATURES (cf. August 3, et al.), volume 4 in their GREAT TOMES series. “The Stalker” is the tale of a young geology student named Iris and her encounter with a windigo who may or may not be named Goliath.
On a far-future, exhausted Earth a ghoul — an eater of corpses — explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering the one thing that made its inhabitants truly human. This is the premise, the quest. . . . And so starts the first answer to British blogger Sonnet O’Dell’s questions on DUSTY PAGES (see also just below, et al.) for October 24, exactly one week prior to Halloween. Other topics include if the glass is half full or empty, motivations, appearing in public, and my first crush — at least that I’ll admit to. And at the end, we’re back to my upcoming TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH with a quote from the book for the start of a final blurb: “The city had once lived, blazing with light. The books all described this. The Ghoul-Poet sat in the midst of a heap of them, pages torn, rotting, spread out all about him. This was a library, the pride of New City, or rather a square that had faced the library, that had received this avalanche of thought — words embossed on parchment — that cascaded down when the library burst, its walls weakened with age. . . .” For more, one may press here.
Then Sunday evening, at downtown Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley theatre, I was to read the same quote and a little bit more as an introduction to the flavor of TOMBS, followed by one of the book’s story-chapters, “Raising the Dead.” This was an entr’acte of sorts between screenings of THE EXORCIST and a new Korean film, THE WAILING, as part of a three-film Halloween festival sponsored by local magazine THE RYDER (cf. October 17 — the other film, screened first, was ARSENIC AND OLD LACE followed by a live mini-dramatization of Angela Carter’s short story “The Company of Wolves” by Cricket’s Bone Caravan), billed in THE RYDER’s calendar as “a tale of necromancy, dark fantasy, airships, and doomed love.” But a funny thing happened on the way from the 1 p.m. sound check to the actual screenings having to do with, live stage sound okayed, a glitch in the sound for the films themselves. This took about 40 minutes to work out, which was okay for the first two films and the “Wolves” presentation, but by the time THE EXORCIST ended, it was already a bit past 8 p.m. As a result, including a significant audience drop-off (it being Sunday night, meaning many had to be up early for Monday), we decided to postpone my reading to get THE WAILING back on only-slightly-delayed schedule.
So, tentatively, but more if/when it actually comes to pass, “Raising the Dead” will be read by me at the Ryder Film Festival’s continuation next Sunday, October 30 (yes, All Hallows Eve Eve) at local Bloomington drinkery Bear’s Place at probably a bit after 7 p.m., sandwiched between HORROR OF DRACULA at 5:30 p.m. and an 8 p.m. reprise of THE WAILING. And, oh yes, for this one you must be over 21.
We are screening 3 films at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater: Arsenic and Old Lace, The Exorcist and The Wailing. Frank Capra’s Halloween comedy Arsenic and Old Lace stars Cary Grant as a man learns that his eccentric but sweet aunts have been seeking out lonely, elderly men, poisoning them, and burying them in the basement. Controversial from the day it opened in 1973, The Exorcist is now recognized as a defining classic of the genre. Our third film, The Wailing, is a 2016 release. A foreigner’s mysterious appearance in a quiet, rural village causes suspicion among the locals in The Wailing. Released in June of this year, The Wailing has garnered enthusiastic reviews on the film festival circuit and is currently the highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes. You can read more detailed descriptions of these below.
The Halloween Fest will also include spine-tingling live performances in between films by James Dorr and by Cricket’s Bone Caravan, so come early and stay late.
So begins Bloomington’s local Ryder Film Series announcement of the coming weekend’s special showing, from 2:15 p.m. to 10:45 p.m., “Halloween Fest: Sunday, Oct 23 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.” That’s right here, downtown on Kirkwood Avenue for those unfamiliar with the venue, with my part scheduled for the intermission between THE EXORCIST and THE WAILING. And for what I’ll read (hint: it’s the same tale I read for the 4th Street Arts Festival in September, cf. September 4), let us let the Ryder explain: [Dorr] will be reading a selection from his newest book, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, a novel-in-stories scheduled for release by Elder Signs Press in spring-summer 2017. Set on a far-future dying Earth in and around a vast necropolis known as the “Tombs,” “Raising the Dead” is about a young woman who seeks to restore the soul of her newly deceased husband to his body; a tale of necromancy, dark fantasy, airships, and doomed love. “Raising the Dead,” I should add, has also been published in White Cat Publications’s 2015 steampunk anthology AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS (cf. May 27, April 7 2015, et al.).
Schedules, ticket prices.and more can be found on the Ryder’s own site by pressing here. And, if all the above weren’t enough, they also add: Wait, there’s a fourth film. On Sunday, October 30th we will screen the 1958 classic, Horror of Dracula, at Bear’s Place. If you purchase a movie pass for the films at the BCT on Oct 23rd, you can use it for Horror of Dracula as well.
John Boorman’s ZARDOZ is a psychedelic, science-fiction allegory 0f 1970s America on a path to possible destruction. Zed (Sean Connery) is an ‘Enforcer,’ part of a warrior/exterminating clan controlled by the God-like Zardoz, who appears as a giant floating head in the sky. Zed discovers the secret of Zardoz and infiltrates a secret, utopian land of eternal life (and apathy), whose residents are fascinated by their newest specimen from the outland. Zed’s presence, however, may upset their society’s balance in profound ways.
So says the the Indiana University Cinema program book of Friday night’s midnight showing, to which Wikipedia adds: The film received mixed-to-negative reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it a “genuinely quirky movie, a trip into a future that seems ruled by perpetually stoned set decorators. . . The movie is an exercise in self-indulgence (if often an interesting one) by Boorman, who more or less had carte blanche to do a personal project after his immensely successful Deliverance.” Jay Cocks of Time called the film “visually bounteous”, with “bright intervals of self-deprecatory humor that lighten the occasional pomposity of the material.” Nora Sayre, in a 7 February 1974 review for The New York Times, called Zardoz a melodrama that is a “good deal less effective than its special visual effects”. . . a film “more confusing than exciting even with a frenetic, shoot-em-up climax.” Decades later, Channel 4 called it “Boorman’s finest film” and a “wonderfully eccentric and visually exciting sci-fi quest” that “deserves reappraisal”.
Other reviewers have said things ranging from pointing out, as is explained in the film, that the name of the God himself comes from THE WIZARD OF OZ (wiZARD of OZ — get it?), the carnival fake discovered by Dorothy behind the screen, to the fact that Sean Connery spends most of the film wearing an orange diaper. And all this is true: the film is fascinating, yet draggy in places; overly violent in other places yet circling around a sort of philosophical center; visually lovely in places yet, as it ends, at least somewhat disappointing.
So see it. It’s worth at least one look. And as to what it’s about, well, while some point to an H.G. Wells-ish Eloi/Morlock element,* perhaps half way through I began channeling a different book, by Robert Graves, that I’d read many decades ago called SEVEN DAYS IN NEW CRETE.(a.k.a. WATCH THE NORTH WIND RISE depending on whether one has the US or British edition). Graves, noted for novelizations based on Ancient Greece and Rome (e.g. HERCULES, MY SHIPMATE [“retelling” the ARGONAUTICA, the voyage to win the Golden Fleece]; I, CLAUDIUS), wrote this one as his take on a re-created matriocentric utopia as might have existed in Minoan culture before men took over and messed everything up (one may note that, while a point isn’t made of it, the ZARDOZ utopia also appears very woman-based). But Graves’s point is that every so often the “North Wind” must rise, there represented by a contemporary English poet brought purposefully to New Crete and unwittingly bringing about its destruction, because perfection is ultimately, of necessity, a static condition, leaving a choice of knocking it down and starting over or seeing it atrophy.
Or at least that’s the way I remember it.
*One might also see in Zed an echo of the “savage” John in Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD.