I put off watching this for so long, and now I’ll bet we’re on the verge of an unbearably gorgeous 8k remaster, but all I’ve got is the decades-old DVD. In fact I’ve watched this DVD before, and it’s one of the reasons I started the blog. I rented it, put it on, and proceeded to half-ignore it while doing something or other on the computer… marked it as “seen” on some list even though a week later I remembered nothing of it… decided that pretending to watch films to check them off a list is a waste of time. Paying close attention then writing notes afterwards is arguably a much bigger waste of time, but a true passion/hobby should waste as much time as possible.

Set in the present day of the 1905 novel. Gillian Anderson and Eric Stoltz flirt at his flat, possibly setting the record for most charismatic Davies characters. Gil’s aunt Eleanor Bron is rich, but hanger-on Jodhi May (Nightwatching) is better at forming the kinds of relationships that will land a lucrative inheritance. Laura Linney is married (to Terry Kinney of the Ferrara Body Snatchers), is also into Stoltz, so there’s some intrigue about some love letters she’d written. Dan Aykroyd practically kidnaps Gil, who emphatically rejects him. Elizabeth McGovern’s character name is Carrie Fisher, and she has a daughter named Edith, and both these things are distracting. Anthony LaPaglia wanted to marry Gil, not anymore given her situation, but he’d still be willing to see her in private (wink wink). Gil refuses to follow the social conventions, messes up every relationship at every point in the movie, gets fired from the hat factory, and finally drinks all the opium just as Stoltz was coming to rescue her.

House of Mirth crossfades:

Sexually explicit horror movie filmed in Galicia. The Bride imagines being raped by a closet dweller at her honeymoon hotel, so instead they go to his weirdo family’s place, where instead she fantasizes of joining with Creepy Carmilla and murdering the husband with a dagger that looks like a bathtub faucet handle. She keeps having visions, so I assumed the time he finds Carmilla naked, buried in the sand and breathing through a scuba mask would be one of those, but nope.

Carmilla appears to be the ageless vampire of a family ancestor. By the end, she’s killed a couple locals, and turned the bride and young Carol, who sounds dubbed by someone older. The husband figures it out and does some vampire slaying, but this looks bad to the local authorities.

Who could kill a child?

This guy could:

Main dude was in The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (whoa) and Beyond Re-Animator. The Bride was a lead in The House That Screamed by Serrador, whose other movie I just watched, and Carmilla costarred with John Hurt and Peter Cushing in The Ghoul.

First I’ve seen by Aranda – his 1960’s proto-giallo Fata Morgana sounds good, and his murder mystery Exquisite Cadaver. The DP worked on Cannibal Apocalypse and Comin’ at Ya and the editor works with Carlos Saura. One of many adaptations of the Irish novel Carmilla – others include the previous year’s Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Alucarda, the British Vampire Lovers, a Christopher Lee called Crypt of the Vampire, Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses, and a three season youtube series.

Unexpectedly this starts the same way as The Terror, with a ship becoming icebound and seeing mysterious things on the ice, but this takes five minutes to get where Terror got in a couple hours. Dr. Kenneth Branagh Frankenstein is traveling to the ends of the earth to escape his creation, or something. Clearly this movie was an answer to Coppola’s Dracula, but Branagh turns in a faithful literary adaptation, one of those prestige pics where none of the actors are strictly bad in it, but the overall effect is weak. It’s nice when the camera whirls slowly through the middle of rooms during long conversations, anyway.

Also the monster can fly in this version

More than anything else, I liked this staircase:

After the framing story with Captain Aidan Quinn (In Dreams, the bad Handmaid’s Tale), Young Dr. Frank meets Helena Bonham Carter via family friend Ian Holm, then Frank’s mom passes away. “No one need ever die. I will stop this.” At school, Frank pals around with foolish Tom Hulce (Amadeus himself), challenges intolerant professor Robert Hardy (he starred in Demons of the Mind), and learns creepy secrets from John Cleese as Professor Snape, before the professor is murdered by anti-vaxxer Robert De Niro (no shit).

The classroom pet: a cursed monkey’s paw

The part where Frank floods the creature with amniotic fluid then releases electric eels into the chamber is the first thing worthy of Unbound, but Ken quickly goes too far into kookiness when the floor becomes slippy with fluid and nobody can stand up for a long minute, then Frank accidentally kills the monster through clumsiness and bad placement of ropes. But of course the monster survives, wanders off and bonds with a blind grandpa (Shakespeare specialist Richard Briers, also in Spice World). No orderly trial for Justine like in the previous movie, just mob violence. Helena B.C. is angry when Frank gets to work making a lady monster instead of planning their wedding, and even angrier when she’s murdered then wakes up as the lady monster.

Maybe unwise to watch two Stephen King movies in a week, but what’s wise about SHOCKtober? This movie is famous for its incredibly bleak ending (survivors are mercy-killed before discovering army is defeating monsters), the main change from the book, which is incredibly bleak in a different way (humanity loses).

Man vs. Tentacle:

Thomas Jane (lately of Shane Black’s Predator) is a poster artist working on a Dark Tower cover, going into town with his son and prickly neighbor Andre Braugher (of a Salem’s Lot remake), becoming trapped in a grocery store by the mist and its monsters. But the thing with The Mist isn’t the monsters, it’s everyone in town who hates each other suddenly getting trapped in a confined space and unloading their baggage. Got a real TV movie feeling despite all the pedigrees. Darabont’s still in gee-whiz period-piece mode in a modern setting, and all the theatrical on-the-nose dialogue doesn’t help. Performances are still a leg up on Langoliers (as are the digital effects, but that’s a very low bar).

Woman vs. Insect:

Little Billy followed this up with The Dark Knight, then a starring role in Joe Dante’s The Hole, not bad. Laurie Holden (Pyewacket) is the teacher who takes care of the kid while TJ works on becoming the hero of the story. Store Manager Robert Treveiler (the Richard Chamberlain Night of the Hunter remake) tries pulling rank, townie William Sadler (running the trifecta after Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption) tries to out-tough-guy TJ. Hard to keep track of every character as they quickly fall to bugs or suicide or murder, but the beardy hick dude who aggressively follows whatever’s the worst idea going around is veteran of terrible sci-fi/westerns Buck Taylor (Cowboys & Aliens, Wild Wild West, Timestalkers). There’s only one gun and Toby Jones claims to be a crack shot, so in a rare display of good sense, the group hands it over. He’ll eventually use it to kill Marcia Gay Harden, who starts raving about the apocalypse and demanding sacrifices. It’s cool that TJ recognizes early on that loud Christians are dangerous, though the movie’s overall theme seems to be having no faith in humanity.

Wasn’t kidding about the Dark Tower cover:

Ingrid is cheating with Kurt Kreuger (The Dark Corner, Unfaithfully Yours) then returning to her ideal life doing science with her husband Mathias Wieman (Leni Riefenstahl’s Blue Light co-star) and living in their big country house with two kids and two disgruntled servants. Then Kurt’s jealous ex Renate Mannhardt (Peter Lorre’s The Lost One) arrives and blackmails Ingrid in exchange for her silence about the affair. Turns out the husband is behind the blackmail, telling the girl how much to demand each time, and after Ingrid finds out, the movie slows down and focuses hard on her reaction. She wanders into the lab and plays around with the poison until hubby intervenes.

Blackmailer:

Based on a Stefan Zweig book, and filmed at least a couple times before and after this (no relation to Kargl’s Angst). Just two movies after Rossellini had learned through test screenings that Americans respond badly to indifferently dubbed films, the men especially still feel off-kilter, but mostly the sound mixing is weird. Whole movie is clunksville, feels awkward and contrived at every step, though Ingrid’s big psychological crisis at the end is well played.

Happy family?

Per the Tag Gallagher book this was a busy time for Rossellini – Voyage in Italy was getting released to awful reviews, RR and Bergman were touring a play (and completing a film version) of Joan of Arc, and he was palling around with Truffaut and his boys. Just a few days after I was unimpressed by this, Pedro Costa named it one of his favorite movies.

A total acting study, enamored with its actors, and about acting. These are really fun to watch – I preferred Drive over Wheel, even though the former is too long.

My book report to Richard on the Murakami story: Published in 2014, I still don’t know if the lead character’s name Kafuku is a reference to Kafka (or Murakami’s 2002 novel Kafka on the Shore). The Chekhov play is in the original (but much LESS Chekhov). Driver Misaki’s mom died while driving drunk, not in a landslide, and Misaki’s character/personality isn’t really explored beyond her driving ability. Kafuku is telling the driver stories about the young actor Takatsuki who slept with his wife – this happened years earlier, so the driver never sees the actor in person – but some of the dialogue is the same. The biggest change: the Saab 900 is yellow in the book.

Our man Kafuku is Hidetoshi Nishijima, lead cop in Creepy… driver Toko Miura a minor player in Lesson of Evil… deadwife Oto is Reika Kirishima of Godzilla Final Wars, and both she and her husband have been in Murakami adaptations before. Actor Takatsuki is Masaki Okada – looked familiar but nope, in a recent Miike sequel and a Japanese remake of Cube. One guy in the play’s cast must be Filipino – a Lav Diaz regular, I’ve seen him in Norte.

My third in a trilogy of White Nights adaptations. I belatedly discovered that James Gray’s Two Lovers is also a loose/partial adaptation, too late, will save it for my next Dostoevsky binge. All three are set in their own present-day, displaying current technology – Bresson’s tape recorder, Visconti’s jukebox, now Vecchiali’s cellphone.

He’s nasty in this one, but after a prologue where he insults an older man, he meets the girl and the dialogue veers close to the original. Video-looking long takes here, the actors standing still, one of them usually hidden in shadow. Besides the phone, her backstory monologue is interrupted by a couple things. Her voice fades out into the waves, then back in, repeating from earlier than where we left off but with the camera on him instead, reminding me of the Francisca repetitions. Also, he starts correctly guessing details of her story, as if he’s read this book before.

The long dance scene seems to reference the Visconti more than the novel. A b/w sidetrack conversation between him and his stepmom feels like filler, even if it does reference the cobwebs from the story and prove he wasn’t lying about being named Fyodor.

This played Locarno with La Sapienza and Horse Money. Vecchiali is a lesser-known Cahiers critic-turned-director, and I’ve heard his 1970’s work is good. Our lead actress is a Vecchiali regular, and our guy played the two Remis in Two Remis.

After watching the Bresson with no context, I read the Dostoevsky story it adapted, then sought out more films of the same story. Marcello is introduced socializing in this one – that doesn’t seem right. Of course, being Marcello, he can’t help but be more suave than the repressed protagonist of the story, but he’s been thoroughly movie-starred here, dancing and fighting. At least the sudden mood swings from laughter to tears are accurate to the novel. It’d make an interesting screenwriting workshop – sometimes it uses the same language as the novel to describe the same events and sometimes it does the opposite.

Great atmosphere, unbelievable set of a wintry outdoor canal city. The central bridge is only 15′ long, far from the Pont-Neuf, but the Criterion essay points out how it functions symbolically. I understand lighting is important, but shouldn’t the Italians have invented location shooting instead of making hugely complex soundstage sets if they weren’t even gonna record sound? The city of Venice didn’t hold it against him – the movie won a silver lion, second place to Aparajito (no love for Throne of Blood). Marcello is second billed, the year before Big Deal on Madonna Street, to Maria Schell, who’d just won best actress at Venice for a René Clément picture. Judging from Senso and The Leopard, I prefer modern Visconti over his period pieces.

Flashback of Schell with lodger/lover Jean Marais:

The Bresson movie with the most fashion and music and humor, even an action scene. Bresson cuts absolutely loose – it’s practically a musical by his standards. I loved it very much.

On night one, dreamer Jacques convinces Marthe not to jump off a bridge. Day 2, Jacques paints, records a primitive podcast on a tape deck, then entertains an unexpected visitor who spouts art philosophy. Marthe Backstory: she fell for her mom’s boarder shortly before he went to America, promising to meet up in a year – a year and three days ago. No major progress day three (he records some pigeons in the park). Night four she gives into Jacques love for her, says they will live together, then drops him in an instant when the old boarder walks by.

Shot by Pierre “The Man” Lhomme (Army of Shadows), played Berlin along with The Decameron. Isabelle Weingarten was in The Mother and the Whore after this, and The State of Things/The Territory, and married two major filmmakers. Why does everyone on my letterboxd hate this? At least I got Rizov and Rosenbaum on my side (J.Ro was an extra!). Adaptation of Dostoevsky’s White Nights, and now I’m contemplating watching the Visconti and the Vecchiali for a White Nights Trilogy.