31 October 2016

Notes On October Viewing 2016

It’s like Ben Wheatley directed a season of Mad Men.
The Last Man On Earth
Vincent Price as a feared killer of men who in turn ends at the same fate. I think what I loved most was the understated presentation of this biological apocalypse. The empty streets, the clear and warm sunshine full of nothing, and the weary narration of a man unaware of just how doomed he is.
Panic In The Year Zero
Ray Milland throwing punches and grabbing guns like a drunk Trump supporter. All the paranoia on display - a film made in 1962 by the way - was all the more eerily disquieting as it looked like the same could happen today.
Penda’s Fen
What struck me was the intellectual and dramatic subtlety presented in how a young adult molded their identity. I loved how they addressed the mythic element in national identity as well. All in 1973 - almost unthinkable today.

Carnival of Souls
I was not expecting this to be such a knock out. First, Criterion’s presentation is excellent. Definitely one of the best restorations that I’ve seen. Second, the film was an incredibly haunting experience. The setting, the music, the acting - it all meshed so perfectly. This was the perfect Halloween movie.
Spider Baby
Lots of fun - Virginia and Elizabeth were especially amusing. Another perfect Halloween movie. Forever in my mind on a double bill with Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Or with Grey Gardens. 
I was surprised that it wasn’t entirely about kink but also as much about mental health. Self-harm, specifically. I appreciated how the movie handled those subjects sensitively enough. She’s really just trying to find peace.
There’s a social context to which the film alludes - the kids screaming at the cinema (a self-reflexive gesture, obviously) and the ongoing Tour - and then there’s the personal context to which the film is more directly involved. The woman and the killer representing two degrees of alienation - from family and from society - that somehow complement each other in the film’s outlook. A dysfunctional relationship being the best means of representing it, apparently. As a serial killer film, it’s rather pointless but leave it to the French to use any genre at hand to discuss terrible relationships. And poorly use Bauhaus cos why the hell not? Alan Vega’s unsettling piece was used effectively at least.
Tenderness of the Wolves
This movie on the other hand was a more straightforward take on the community delusion that keeps a psychopath in business. 
I had never seen this one before so I was a little concerned at how it would play after twenty years. I’ve seen plenty of Joss Whedon so why not give Kevin Williamson a try? I thought it was pretty good especially since I’d seen so much else in its wake. Plus it was nice to see Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich in something besides The Craft. My favorite scene was the big reveal in the kitchen. Craven really has a flair for shooting maximum drama in small spaces. See also The People Under The Stairs for that.
Scream 2
I didn’t find its self-ironic stance entirely interesting especially as it kept trying to stay a few steps ahead of itself but it was still pretty entertaining. Mostly thanks to the actors who really kept a good handle on it all. I think I liked it even more than Scream cos this one was so over the top. You haven’t lived til you’ve seen Laurie Metcalf menacing people with a handgun.
Having watched Scream really made me appreciate Carpenter’s original much more.
God Told Me To
Deliriously unhinged.
The Amityville Horror
The horror comedy classic. I thought Margot Kidder was great tho.

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
A very slow burn with lots of stillness, natural sound, and restrained aesthetics. This is more a story about the house than the people in it. Which is an interesting idea but it sucks out a lot of the human interest. I think they could have done more with the premise but I do appreciate how they let the audience add it all up.
Dracula’s Daughter
You can’t escape your fate.
Community (Season Six)
My Mad Fat Diary (Season One)
Babylon 5 (Season Two)

11 October 2016

Persons of Orison: Going to Church with Julianna Barwick

I had the recent pleasure of seeing Julianna Barwick last week perform live in a church in Lexington. I had a taste of the experience in September when she opened for Angel Olsen but it was all too brief. This evening, however, everything was perfect. (It was a smaller audience but it was no less thrilling.) The church was the ideal space. Its ambience and acoustics made it feel like sitting within one of her earlier records. The very sparse lighting and the later hour contributed to that effect. The two opening acts Robert Beatty and Mary Lattimore were no slouches, either. The concert itself was soft but loud. Almost like being wrapped within "Offing" from Nepenthe for fifty minutes. I couldn't tell one piece from another through the sonic haze and I didn't care. Crafting the aura from her keyboard fully ablaze, Barwick seemed more concerned with sustaining the mood. I for one was content within that spell as my mind drifted along. It was sustained beautifully. It was the perfect immersion into her world. The audience filed out in what seemed like a very mellow mood. Much mellower than I've seen in audiences in many years. It was truly wonderful and it felt so, so great to finally see her live after so many years loving her music.

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