Thought I’d pair this with the Coen version, not realizing the latter wouldn’t come out till early next year. A terrific looking movie, reportedly in part due to newly-designed anamorphic lenses – almost technically impeccable, a few dubbing issues. I like the idea of turning parts of the monologues into voiceover, although it means the actors have to silently react to their overheard thoughts, which is harder to pull off than speaking the lines. It gets gruesome between Macduff’s slaughtered kids, the king’s guards being dismembered, and a man taking a crossbow bolt to the forehead – also some clumsy clanking armor battles (these are all compliments). The only time I felt the 1970’s was in the “dagger I see before me” scene.
Polanski’s first film after his wife was murdered – he’d been prepping What? but thought it’d appear crass(er), and Hugh Hefner(!) was looking to add respectability by getting into the Shakespeare business and losing a bunch of money. Opens with the witches on a beach… the second prophecy scene is zany, and culminates in a good mirror scene.
In the chronology of filmed Macbeths, Werner Schroeter’s obscure hourlong TV version came out the same year, a TV miniseries the year before, but there hadn’t been a major film since Throne of Blood. The next would probably be in ’79, the TV movie with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Never heard of a single person in the cast, besides MacB (Frenzy star Jon Finch). Lady M Francesca Annis would star in back-to-back sci-fi epics Krull and Dune. Macduff would become a Gilliam regular, and Banquo was in Dennis Potter’s Cream in My Coffee.
Macduff would like some revenge please:
The horror flop-cult-hit of the year lives up to its growing reputation. I’m not convinced all the story threads came together, but loved the plot shifts, false leads, repetitions, and the overall look and movement of the thing.
Paul (Aaron Poole of The Void) falls down a hole in Bhutan and has an encounter with a zen skeleton, then becomes mute until a couple days later when he psychically murders his friends. 20+ years later, James Badge Dale is a Lonely Guy, an ex cop with a dead family. The neighbor’s daughter Amanda tries to cheer him up by saying nothing is real, then she summons urban legend The Empty Man and all her friends are found hanging under a bridge, so dumbass James emptymans himself to solve the mystery.
Amanda, emptymanning her friends:
This seems a straightforward murder-ghost scenario, but James’s investigation uncovers a dangerous doomsday cult that formed around Bhutan Paul, seeking to transfer his consciousness into a new empty vessel. A Cassady/Pattinson type (Robert Aramayo from Nocturnal Animals) helps feed him clues. Great abduction scene, all potential witnesses looking at their phones.
“We can’t indict the cosmos”
“Staged by Prior with an unnerving sense of convergence that recalls the thrillers of his sometime collaborator David Fincher, right down to the participation of a guru-like figure who goes by John Doe.” Adam Nayman conducted an essential interview for Mubi, the most unexpected shoutout being The Hamster Factor.
Baron Boris Karloff is an 1830’s tyrant, and right before the villagers can violently depose him, he suggests (to the surprisingly patient angry mob) trading places with his lovable, crippled twin brother Anton. Everyone (except maybe the brother) is pleased. Before going into exile the outgoing baron shows his brother around the place, takes him into the cursed Black Room, and shoves him down a hole to his death – then pretends to have a crippled arm and a soft, friendly manner in order to retain power and marry the pretty harpist Marian Marsh (the poor girl who turns Peter Lorre’s criminal life around in Sternberg’s Crime & Punishment).
Now all Fake Anton has to do is avoid using his right arm, and never return to the black room, where the ancient prophecy said he’ll die. But signing a marriage document, his would-be father-in-law (Thurston Hall of The Great McGinty and Renoir’s This Land is Mine) spies him in a mirror (in a lovely zoom shot) and has to get murdered, the crime pinned on the harpist’s other suitor Robert Allen (a Westerns regular also in The Awful Truth). Then on the wedding day a suspicious dog chases Karloff straight into the Black Room where he falls on his late brother’s sword.
Probably better than the other Karloff movie I watched this month. Playing identical twins is always a good actor showcase, and I thought the movie would avoid throwing both Karloffs together, but right after they meet they’re in an action scene together, neat. Neill was a directing machine, cranking out 100+ movies until he worked himself to death.
Harpist and dad:
The little one starts a war, and the big one across the ocean extinguishes it … Then a strict master comes who takes people’s shirts and their skin with them. After the war, you think there’ll be peace, but there won’t be.
A Bavarian mountain town of somnambulist glassmakers is torn apart after the man with the secret of their famed ruby glass dies unexpectedly. The first couple of scenes establish that this movie will be more concerned with natural beauty, poetry, prophesy, and irrational human behavior than with story, and that’s just fine with me.
Prophet Hias is Josef Bierbichler (the man Woyzeck‘s wife is cheating with, later of Code Unknown). The rest are mostly non-actors who agreed to be hypnotized by the director, asked to behave strangely for the movie, and behaving strangely in different, unexpected ways due to the hypnosis. It’s a slow-moving, heavily stylized movie with bizarre music
Two neighbors have a slow-motion bar fight and later one dies. The Master of the glassworks has his people tear apart the head glassmaker’s house to search for the secret, later kills a girl to get blood for the ruby glass. The factory is burned down and the people throw Hias in jail with the Master. Either he escapes and fights an invisible bear or the ending is one of his visions, during which he tells of a boatload of men heading out from a remote island to find the end of the world.
“Everyone is walking into a foreseen disaster.” The commentary with Herzog is good. It was shot in Bavaria, reminiscent of the small village where he grew up, and the hypnosis was used to show the town’s “collective trance.”