Dr. Robert Powell (Ken Russell’s Mahler) arrives at the titular asylum to work for Dr. Starr, but is met by his assistant Patrick Magee instead. Magee says Starr is now a patient, locked safely upstairs with a trusty electrical system controlled by this button (I’ve heard that one before), and challenges Mahler to correctly identify the doctor. Mahler heroically pads the film on the way upstairs, and the orderly (who I correctly/immediately guessed as the doctor) lets him into each room, one at a time… yes, it’s a corny anthology horror, the same year Magee and Cushing and Dr. Orderly appeared in Tales from the Crypt. 1972 would seem to be too late for this kinda thing, but British people such as Edgar Wright think all this is great.
Bonnie (Barbara Parkins of The Mephisto Waltz and A Taste of Evil) isn’t even the murderer in her story – her boyfriend Richard Todd (the least famous person in House of the Long Shadows) chops up his harpy wife (Sylvia Syms, appropriately of Victim) and puts her in the basement freezer, but her butcher-paper-wrapped body parts reanimate, strangling him and attacking the unwitting Bonnie with the hatchet until the police arrive to blame the whole mess on her.
Tailor Bruno (Barry Morse of The Changeling) was brought the Man in the White Suit material by mysterious customer Peter Cushing, who planned on using dark magick to resurrect his dead son with the suit, but the tailor’s wife puts the suit on a mannequin which comes to life instead.
Barbara (young Charlotte Rampling, whoa) seems the most culpable so far. She starts by blaming Lucy (Britt Ekland of Wicker Man) for murdering her brother (James Villiers of Mountains of the Moon) and the nurse (Megs Jenkins of The Innocents), but Lucy might be an invented personality of Barbara’s.
Dr. Byron (Herbert Lom of The Sect) is at least a doctor of something – I don’t know how we’re supposed to imagine that the previous three were actually psychologists based on their stories. But Lom’s specialty is transmitting his consciousness into sub-Puppet Master wind-up dolls. The new visitor must’ve inspired a rampage, since he and Dr. Orderly go on the attack.
Beginning of a long line of ill-reputed Hellraiser sequels and remakes, but I have a soft spot for this one, having watched it so many times on video as a teen. And compared to the stuff I’ve seen lately – The Mist, Books of Blood, Langoliers, this is shockingly well made (by the Waxwork guy). So, do I like this because I’ve seen it so much, or did I watch it so much because it’s actually good? Nostalgia, objectivity, always you wrestle inside me.
Fancy leather art collector buys the rotating pillar, which comes with an embedded hellbox and the hell priest himself. Failing young reporter Joey is ambulance-chasing with cameraman Doc when she witnesses a stray hellbox victim, picks up club girl Terri and starts investigating. Some promises and betrayals later, everyone’s a cenobite but Joey, who harnesses her dreams about her war-killed father to contact the pre-ceno Doug Bradley and summon him against his pinheaded self.
Tiny cameo by Ashley Laurence, who didn’t have a huge post-Hellraiser film career, appearing in a Warlock sequel that doesn’t even have Julian Sands in it. Lead girl is from Deep Space Nine, leather guy cowrote 3000 Miles to Graceland, Doc was involved in Phantom of the Paradise, and club girl Terri returned a year later in the director’s Warlock: The Armageddon, missing Ashley by one Warlock sequel. Sometimes I look up Barker online; he’s the Ween of authors, every year announcing new works that don’t materialize. I read his 2015 The Scarlet Gospels during a movie-sequel dry spell, now just killing time until the new HuluRaiser comes out.
Me trying to decide what the hell to listen to:
“Dad, I’m worried about you. You need to get back into biotech research.” Gotta give it up to Shinya for making the same exact cyberpunk movie for the fifth time. Diminishing returns, but once again a guy finds himself hulking out, turning into a machine.
Desaturated greys and browns except for a few popping colors. It’s in English; the dialogue and the plot being spelled out more explicitly are both weaknesses. When the action comes it’s prolonged and incoherent. The soundtrack is more pounding than ever. The clean HD photography clashes with the jittery underground lo-fi intentions. I did not hate it.
Hulking-guy’s son is run over by Shinya. He learns he was born from an android replica of his dead mom… he gets blasted by a hitman, also shoots himself in the head and lives… tetsuos a few city blocks. I wrote “I think Shinya wanted to be a suicide cult leader,” but I don’t know if I meant the director himself or the character he’s playing.
Alec Baldwin has atrocious hair, starts out the movie stealing someone’s identity and accidentally(?) killing a hare krishna, and just gets crazier from there. He slows down to hook up with call girl J.J. Leigh and build a convincing domestic life with her, but he’s still pulling insane stunts whenever he goes out (robbing drug dealers with an uzi squirtgun, stealing cop Fred Ward’s gun and badge and teeth), just running the most improvised scams. Alec pulls off a triumphant Nic Cageian performance in a perfectly balanced comedy – it’s like if Raising Arizona didn’t signal that it’s a comedy from the beginning, acting like a crime movie until the comic tone finally overwhelmed the others (so, it’s like Vampire’s Kiss).
Welcome to Locorazo, the successor of LNKarno, during which we watch films that played the Locarno Festival a few years back.
After La France, I’m sorry this isn’t a musical, but the kids do get a rap performance about the uselessness of school. It’s an attractive looking movie, well-lit with a bright palette, bold camera moves. The story keeps pausing to demonstrate math lessons. Bozon is a better director here than writer, but it’s eccentric and unusual, and that’s what we like about Locarno.
Isabelle Huppert is a teacher who can’t handle her class, being investigated by higher-ups due to complaints that the students don’t learn anything. Malik is the most abusive of the lot, making Hitler jokes and humiliating the teacher for social points, though he remains an outcast. After Huppert is struck by lightning, she becomes a better teacher, finding new ways to engage the students and drawing out the crippled Malik through one-on-one lab lessons, but she’s also becoming a fire creature who torches a kid and two dogs to death. She’s assigned a trainee who takes crying breaks in the bathroom, and she’s given a promotion at work, but is eventually taken away by the police (“I was expecting you. Goodbye, students.”)
Wacky principal Romain Duris starred in The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Mood Indigo. Her soulful house-husband José Garcia was a doctor in Trouble Every Day. Trainee Guillaume Verdier is a Bonello regular.
Blake Williams in Cinema Scope:
In order … to elevate it to something that manifests beauty through experience as opposed to only being about it, Bozon – working with his cinematographer (and sister) Céline Bozon and editor François Quiqueré – amplifies the tactility of the images and the impact of the montage … Factor in the sustained emphasis on all the senses – bodies radiating, skin burning, hands wafting, noses sniffing – and you have an impression of a world that is real and embodied. The movie becomes a living object that breathes, and it excites its moments of beauty into something close to both lunacy and the ecstatic.
On Letterboxd: “Nothing to Hide” by Yo La Tengo
A description of the opening scenes would sound like a scare headline about the callous drug-afflicted youth: Morvern’s boyfriend is dead in a doorway, she grabs cash from his pocket and goes out to meet a friend Lanna for a bar date. Morvern books a resort trip to Spain with the funeral money her man left on a bank card, puts her own name on the man’s finished novel and gets a publishing deal, ditches Lanna who admits having an affair with the man. Good character and movie, full of unexpected developments and images.
Samantha Morton is my age – I’ve seen her in Synecdoche and Cosmopolis, Mister Lonely and Minority Report, and it’s been a long while since Sweet and Lowdown and Jesus’ Son. So all of Ramsay’s movies are about death trauma? I first heard of her when Criterion released Ratcatcher twenty years ago, deciding I must watch it, but now I’ve seen all of her features except Ratcatcher – typical of my roundabout way of doing things.
Parallel Mothers (2021)
Ho-hum, another year, another exceptionally wonderful Almodóvar movie. Two hours with zero seconds of wasted time – this guy can just make a movie that’s about relationships, but actually about mistaken identity and mourning, but actually about mass murders in wartime. Shot digitally I’m guessing, has a sponsored-by-Apple feel.
Photographer Penelope Cruz and archaeologist Israel Elejalde:
Parallel mother Milena Smit:
The Human Voice (2020)
The least-talky version of this play ever produced, and maybe the shortest movie to ever play Phipps on its own. Absolute luxury mixed with staginess/artificiality.
The Apple sponsorship continues:
A corny white insurance agent, family man, workout nut, kinda racist, happily obnoxious to women and everyone else, wakes up Black one day. He freaks out, and his wife calls him a white supremacist while he focuses the blame on his sun lamp and tries to figure out how to whiten his skin again. I watched this on MLK Day, which I suppose might make me a bad person, but it’s good – a goofy but not stupid comedy (usually you get neither or both).
Lead actor Godfrey Cambridge had an excellent year, also starring in Cotton Comes to Harlem. When he goes out in public he’s hassled by cops (“He stole something – we don’t know what it is yet”). Finally his wife and boss and neighbors reject him, but he comes to terms with himself, starting his own business and plotting to lead the next Black revolution.
Post-La Flor digressive cinema! Young lovers are kept apart by a curse, trying to find their ways back to each other and to themselves… but then, why not instead follow some dogs who want to watch the World Cup, and isn’t all this just a distraction from larger global issues? Anyway, the main plot ends up with a documentary film screening allowing the romantic leads to see their true selves again. The movie’s somewhat slow and wandering, but the music (in all different styles, by the director’s brother) is fabulous and everything is sufficiently magical (I did close my eyes when the narrator said to).
From the Cinema Scope cover story, Koberidze’s filmmaking origin story is hilarious:
I came home one day and my mom told me she had seen a film by Guy Ritchie called Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. She told me she liked it and her opinions have always been really important to me, so I watched it and it was the first time in my life when I realized that if this is good, than I can make something good too. It was like a switch went off in my mind. I wasn’t very impressed with the film, so I figured it couldn’t be too hard to make something like this.
Michael Sicinski on Patreon:
[The director/narrator’s] tendency to over-direct the viewer, combined with a relative indifference to the ramifications of the basic premise, suggest that Koberidze’s true concerns lay somewhere else … Koberidze makes use of the the flowing Rioni River and other physical features of his location, the Georgian town of Kutaisi. Still lives, portraits, and landscapes are the real stuff of What Do We See, and it is here that Koberidze excels.