A review of the new HBO series, premiering Sunday, August 16. It's wicked good.
A review of the new HBO series, premiering Sunday, August 16. It's wicked good.
The latest on Blu-ray and DVD, including Skyscraper, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Sorry to Bother You, and more.
The latest on Blu-ray and DVD includes Personal Shopper, War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-man: Homecoming, and Annabelle: Creation.
A piece on the lasting power of John Carpenter's The Thing, paid tribute with a fantastic new board game from Mondo and an upcoming Blu-ray from Arrow.
A history of the "Resident Evil" films and video games, how they've influenced each other, and how the two latest entries split.
A report from Venice on the festival's Venice Classics program, including restored films by Robert Bresson, John Ford, Andrei Tarkovsky, George Romero and Woody Allen.
Sheila writes: As the daughter of a librarian, I grew up surrounded by books. It was a treat to go visit my father at the university library where he worked, since he had such a passion for books (a passion he passed on to his children). For some reason or another, I've seen a couple of photos over the past week of the Book Mobiles of yore on various vintage photo sites, and while they all pre-date me by a good decade or so, there is something beautiful about the idea of a traveling library bringing books to people who want them. I've had Book Mobiles on the brain. So I was pleasantly surprised to come across an entire post devoted to photos of them. Heaven! Included are photos of the now-defunct Book Mobiles, rusting away in people's yards, lovely and bittersweet reminders of a bygone era.
Welcome to a special Halloween edition of the Newsletter! Marie writes: the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, in addition to being the final resting place of many a famous name. From Édith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt and Chopin to Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Georges Méliès, the well-known sleep on the tree-lined avenues of the dead and which you can now explore in a virtual 360 degree tour...
Zombies and vampires, zombies and vampires -- sure, we're entering Dias de los Muertos, but the undead are crawling all over popular culture these nights. "Twilight" to "Tru-Blood," "Zombieland" to "Fox News," the undead are back with a vengeance. But, of course, they've been around for a long, long time. Matt Zoller Seitz takes a bite out of the cinematic zombie corpus with his latest video essay, "Zombies 101." He begins, (un-)naturally, with George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), flashes back to Jacques Tourneur's voodoo-themed "I Walked With a Zombie," and moves forward through the Romero "Living Dead" pictures to 21st century remakes and variations -- "Shaun of the Dead" (2004), "28 Days Later..." (2002), "28 Weeks Later..." (2007)...
My review of "George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead" (that's the title) is at RogerEbert.com. Here's an excerpt:
When young filmmakers gather to shoot cinema-verite video documentaries, watch out: Something really bad is going to happen. In “The Blair Witch Project,” it was ... well, we don’t really know what it was, but it sure freaked out Heather.
In “Cloverfield,” it was something large with an antipathy toward Manhattan landmarks. And in George A. Romero’s “Diary of the Dead,” as you have probably gathered by now, it is the meat-eating undead. These movies give the shaky-cam a reason to get shaky — but the kids try not to miss a shot.
Don't look now, little girl, but the children of rage (mummy's rage) are about to get you.
Los Dias de los Muertos begin today, October 31 (aka "Halloween day") through November 2 (aka All Souls Day -- and Tara Mulan Sweeney's birthday). Time to recycle my appreciation of four critically undervalued horror movies from a few years back: David Cronenberg's "The Brood," Roman Polanski's "The Tenant," Neil Jordan's "In Dreams," and John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" ("The critics were horrified!!!!"): Critics can be particularly rough on horror pictures. It's so easy -- too easy, sometimes -- to make these spook-shows sound risible and preposterous in synopsis, especially once you remove them from the darkness of the theater and examine them them in the harsh light of black and white newsprint (or monitor pixels). But the horror films I like best are not the abundantly bloody shockers critics love to loathe (though George Romero's extravagantly gory Grand Guignol "Dawn of the Dead" is a treasured favorite), but the ones that are the most atmospheric and creepy -- that suggest far more than they depict. Continue reading here...
View image Me with post-festival headcold, after just getting back home and sinking into the comfort of my den-like Man Chair. (all photos by Jim Emerson, except as noted)
My taxi driver to the airport yesterday (he was Ethiopian, but had lived in Toronto for 18 years) asked me if I'd seen any "movie stars" at the film festival. I had to admit I hadn't -- although I've encountered people I consider to be movie stars on the street in past years: Luis Guzman, Liev Schreiber, Brian De Palma, Sara Polley, Stephen Rea, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne...
View image The ubiquitous (and deservedly so) Girish. A man with cinecurean tastes. (That's a neologism of my own invention that is related to "epicure" and has nothing to do with "sinecure," I don't think.)
Toronto, at least at festival time, is a celebrity-mad city like no place I've ever seen. Celebrities make the front pages of the newspapers just because they're celebrities and they're in Toronto. Rogers cable used to have a non-stop TIFF schedule of celebrity gossip, celebrity interviews, off-the-cuff "reviews," and celebrity press conferences. I don't know if they did that this year, because I never turned on the television in my hotel room. (Meanwhile, TiVo was covering other necessities for me at home.)
View image Andy Horbal plays Mephisto at the foot of the Stairway to Heaven (the escalator to the Varsity Cinemas).
View image The House Next Door's Keith Uhlich took this shot of himself with his MacBook, outside the press office at the Delta Chelsea.
Some journalists and critics were doing celebrity interviews in addition to going to movies, with stars like George A. Romero (whose girlfriend was the bartender at my hotel!) or Jodie Foster or Brian De Palma or Bela Tarr -- in gang-bang roundtables or 15-30-minute individual sessions. The people I was most excited about getting to meet were my fellow movie bloggers. I had lunch with Girish Shambu between screenings in Toronto last year, and it was a pleasure to see him again, particularly since he enjoyed the oblique, androgynous eroticism of the luminous Eric Rohmer movie as much as I did. His highest recommendation was for Barcelona-born director Jose Luis Guerin's "Dans la ville de Sylvia" -- which, unfortunately, I missed. We also thought Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine" was among the very best things we'd seen.
View image Frames within frames within frames -- and film-festival bedhead. Me at work in my Toronto hotel room.
Keith Uhlich, editor of "The House Next Door," organized a mid-fest critics' roundtable podcast, 'round a tiny round table in Nathan Lee's hotel room with Nathan (whose byline should be familiar from the Village Voice, Film Comment, The New York Times), Torontonian eyeWeekly critic Adam Nayman, Keith, and me. It was too much fun -- we ran out of time long before we ran out of stuff we wanted to talk about. Of course, that was the morning I forgot to bring my camera. Too bad, because if you saw Nathan's new-mown haircut, you'd want to rub his head. It's that cool. (I'll post a link to the podcast when it's available, if you want to hear us go on about the trials of film critics filing reports and interviews from festivals, our indelible images from TIFF, Brian De Palma, Bob Dylan, Todd Haynes, semiotics [not much!], and I forget what else.)
View image Christopher Long, in Philly Eagles t-shirt, who has a woman on his right shoulder saying: "Come, have another cup of coffee!" and a man on his other shoulder saying: "No, there's a huge schedule of films to see -- what's next?"
I also got to meet up with Christopher Long, a frequent and valued contributor to Scanners comments, and reviewer for DVDTown and other sites. Chris claims to loathe Paul Haggis's "Crash" (and Sam Mendes's "American Beauty" -- two peas in a pod) even more than me. I don't know if that's possible, but I found him convincing. They both do the same morally corrupt thing, anyway: taking grotesque clichés and then flipping them around so that that they are... even more insulting clichés. All in the name of "enlightenment." We had a nice talk about our mutual admiration for Divine, too. Don't recall how that one came up.
I'm delighted to have more faces to put with the words I've appreciated from these folks for so long.