Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bullet Points: Monstrous Beasts

Since we're getting close to Halloween, I'm in the mood for some creature features.  Literal monsters can been pretty scary, but sometimes the psychological ones can be downright terrifying. So to try and make a theme, here's some of the monstrous things I've recently watched:

  • Black Moon:  Lately I've really enjoyed collecting films from the Criterion Collection.  If you subscribe to their Facebook page, you can really benefit from some deals such as 50% off sales.  At times, these films can be a little too artsy for me, but I definitely appreciate Criterion for making some of the best film transfers, commentaries, and supplements to ever be seen.  For this particular case, Louis Malle's Black Moon didn't make a lot of sense (then again, I don't think it's supposed to), but this film has some beautiful and unforgettable moments.  To sum up my stream of conscience (and I'm sure it won't make much sense to you either), this is what what I experienced from the movie:  A military war between men and women, talking plants and animals, an ugly unicorn, naked children beating up a pig, incestuous sibling care-takers, and breast-feeding absurdness... What's not to enjoy!?!?

  • Jaws:  I really don't think I need to go into depth, but this is one of the most influential horror masterpieces in cinematic history.  To continue celebrating Universal's 100th Anniversary, Jaws was remastered frame by frame.  I always thought the film looked awesome from the transfers I've seen, but if you compare screenshots of this blu-ray to others, it's superior.  I would also like to point out Jaws recently made Tarantino's Top 10 List for the 2012 Sight and Sound Poll.  Although other film makers exploited Steven Spielberg's vision of unknown natural terrors (such as Grizzly), Tarantino would make an exhilarating monster flick.  

  • Godzilla:  Before there was even Jaws, the Japanese made the original giant monster - Godzilla!  I truly enjoyed watching this film and appreciated how the film makers used a guy in a rubber lizard suit to cause so much destruction.  Although the suit itself is terrifying (I think the original design is my favorite), there are some dark and horrific moments where Godzilla isn't even seen... And too think, is it pure coincidence these moments take place near the ocean?  I rewatched this classic from the Criterion blu-ray.  Included with this print are some documentaries of how Godzilla actually came to fruition.  I always just thought Godzilla was created for sheer entertainment.  However, the monster was supposed to be a social commentary for the disaster created by atomic weapons.  Besides the atomic bombs drops during WWII, there was also some nuclear testing that caused death to a crew of fisherman coined the Lucky Dragon Incident.  It's amazing how these messages can be hidden in film.

  • The Brood:  I've been searching for this film for a long time.  I finally saw it at my local Movie Stop and I immediately picked it up.  Being one of David Cronenberg's earlier films, The Brood is pretty terrifying.  In hindsight, I actually laugh at myself, but there's a certain part in the film where I had to actually pause the movie and get a drink of water so I wouldn't be so freaked out.  The story is about a father who is trying to keep his daughter away from her mother who is locked up in a mental institute.  However, there are some supernatural forces causing horrific murders near the little girl - all believed to be linked to the isolated mother.  With images of body horror associated with the Cronenberg name (including some frightening "little people"), The Brood is a hidden horror gem more people should recognize.

  • Dexter: The only reason I subscribe to Showtime is so that I can watch Dexter (and now Homeland, but we'll discuss that at some later time).  If you watch the show, you know why this season is so intriguing (the Deb and Dex debacle).  However, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, do yourself a service:  Watch the finale of Season 6.  I'm extremely excited to see how the sibling's relationship progresses.  Plus, this season guest stars Yvonne Strahovski (the hot spy from Chuck), my favorite blonde on Television (sadly an actress unknown to a lot of people I know). 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Silver Screen Awesomeness: Spielberg / Hitchcock Double Feature

Ever since I've watched Pulp Fiction at the cinema, I've kept my eyes open for other classics to appear on the big screen.  Recently, I've been fortunate enough to see two awesome films at Regal Cinemas:

Raiders of the Lost Ark:
  To celebrate the release of Indiana Jones on Blu-Ray, Raiders was recently projected on the big screen.  Having only seen the "Cold War Era" of Indy at the movies, it was truly a privilege to see the original film the way it was meant to be seen.

The Birds:  As much as I love Indiana Jones, I've seen the film hundreds of times and know the story by heart.  However, for Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, I've never even seen the film on my TV.  With a brief discussion with Robert Osborne prior to the film, The Birds was presented by TCM and Fathom Events to Celebrate a 100 years of film making by Universal Pictures.  To continue this year-long celebration, other classics such as Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein will be shown later this year.

Although these two films are completely different from each other, they were both crafted by masters of the art form.  They are often discussed by fans and scholars alike.  Since so much analysis has already been performed on these films, I want to note some similarities that make these movies so fantastic:
  • The Sound:  Maybe my audio system at home sucks, but I definitely noticed the sound effects at the movie theatre.  In Raiders, the gunshots cracked and whizzed across the entire theatre while the thud of a punch cracked pain into my lower jaw.  As for The Birds, the piercing screams of the feathery animals truly hurt my ears, making it hard to watch the chaos spawned across the town.  Especially in the final scene where Tippi Hedren is attacked in the attic, I literally had to cover my eyes and ears from a sensory overload of terror.
  •  Fierce Women:  Harrison Ford and Rod Taylor play the stereotypical heroes of their films, however they are not accompanied by the typical damsel in distress.  Both Karen Allen and Tippi Hedren are strong willed  women who can carry their own (and who doesn't like a strong female character).  Just for fun, if I had my choice of either woman at their prime, I'd have to go with Karen Allen.  It's a hard decision, but Karen has the edge because I love seeing her in that white dress (and she's a brunette).
  • Supernatural Sensibilities:  Raiders is definitely an adventure flick while The Birds is definitely a thriller.  However, they both deviate from their typical genre with some sci-fi twists.  Raiders contains Nazi's searching for supernatural power to speak to God.  While in the Birds, well... there's man-eating killer birds.