Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Film Studies Resources: August 31, 2022

Acolytes of Horror. "Saint Maud: God As A Self-Portrait." (Posted on Youtube: May 12, 2021) ["Having recently found God, self-effacing young nurse Maud arrives at a plush home to care for Amanda, a hedonistic dancer left frail from a chronic illness. When a chance encounter with a former colleague throws up hints of a dark past, it becomes clear there is more to sweet Maud than meets the eye."]

Bordwell, David.  "Movies By the Numbers." Observations on Film Art (July 14, 2022)  ["James Cutting’s Movies on Our Minds: The Evolution of Cinematic Engagement, itself the fruit of many years of intensive studies, builds on these achievements while taking wholly original perspectives as well. Comprehensive and detailed, it is simply the most complete and challenging psychological account of film art yet offered. I can’t do justice to its range and nuance here. Consider what follows as an invitation to you to read this bold book."]

Elbri, Bilge. "Event Horizon Gets Better With Age." Vulture (August 18, 2022) ["Twenty-five years ago, Paul W. S. Anderson released one of the gnarliest, most unforgettable science-fiction horror films ever made, but it took most people a few years to realize it. Starring Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne, and a spaceship that had just returned from a journey through Hell, Event Horizon came out in August 1997 and bombed with critics and audiences alike. (Those of us who were fans of the picture back then can tell you how lonely an experience that was.) But over the years, Anderson’s film grew in reputation. This was due partly to the indelible quality of its imagery: its brief but deliriously grotesque glimpses of Hell, the medieval-torture-device-like design of its titular spaceship, not to mention a final act that featured a mad Sam Neill running around naked and on fire after gouging out his own eyes. (“Where we’re going, we won’t need eyes to see.”) Anderson understood how to shock audiences — maybe too well, since members of his studio were notoriously outraged when they first saw the film — but Event Horizon carries a fascinating cautionary tale about our inability to let go of the past, a tale enhanced by a cast that brings real depth to what might, on paper, have looked like fairly disposable genre work."]

Gardner, Caden Mark. "Polyester." Reverse Shot (August 3, 2022) ["Polyester (1981) was the first John Waters film of the eighties, and it has an unmistakably different vibe from his earlier films. Waters and his muse, Divine, had not worked together since her tour de force performance as Dawn Davenport in 1974’s Female Trouble, and with Polyester, the Waters-Divine collaboration feels less content to ride on pure shock value. Instead, they are stretching their artistry and deepening their approach to performance with a devilish wink. Polyester is on its surface a cocktail of pop culture artifacts where the cross-gender drag casting of Divine as Francine Fishpaw becomes less of a punkish transgression than an homage to the tradition of the “women’s picture” melodramas of the 1950s—with the added stunt of Odorama scent, achieved with scratch-and-sniff cards. While Polyester is an undeniable transition film for Waters, which feels informed by the changing standards of Hollywood and the world around him, it’s also very much the work of a prankster."]

Gould, Steve. "The Elgin and El Topo plunge NYC into Midnite Madness."  MUBI Podcast (July 7, 2022) ["In 1970, a scruffy repertory theater — led by the visionary Ben Barenholtz — quietly placed a print ad in the Village Voice, advertising midnight screenings of a Spanish-language western they claimed was "too heavy to be shown any other way." The movie was Alejandro Jodorowsky's EL TOPO, and it'd kick off the "Midnite Movie" craze that changed moviegoing. Hear the history of the Elgin Theater and its legendary, weed-soaked screenings of EL TOPO, featuring commentary from ex-Voice critic J Hoberman, Amy Nicholson of the podcast "Unspooled," ex-Elgin programmers Chuck Zlatkin and Steve Gould...and Jodorowsky himself."]

Levenson, Joey. "Graphic Design on Screen: Inside Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Tina Charad." It's Nice That (August 13, 2022) ["The 2019 film is littered with parodic references and allusions to a very real and very specific time and place, of which Tina was responsible for. She approached the film as it is: a period piece. “On historical projects, I like to work with the researcher, especially on big budget features like this one,” she explains. After breaking down the sets needed, plus the props and all the small details in the script from Tarantino, Tina would get to work coming up with endless design concepts to fill the visuals of the film. Tarantino’s star-studded release was a more meticulous project than most, as Tarantino is a director known for his incredible attention to detail in the mise en scene. “We started with props and then went store-by-store in Hollywood looking to see what was there for inspiration for the film’s location shoots,” Tina says. “It was quite hard to recreate storefronts for old Hollywood, as a lot of photographs of them weren’t even in colour. So we took some artistic liberty with Quinten [Tarantino].” Additionally, the film is known for its abundance of fake – and incredibly convincing – movie posters featuring the cast playing actors in old Hollywood, as well as entirely made-up products, stores and studios they all engage with. “We tried to mimic that time and place of the 60s. But if I couldn’t find a reference, I’d go into the advertising of that time, mainly by browsing historical newspapers from California,” Tina explains on the process of world-building. “I treated every prop and storefront as if it was real, taking it back into a 60s style or maybe even 50s.”"]

Mulvehill, Charles. "Harold and Maude find new life at The Westgate." MUBI Podcast (July 14, 2022) ["Hal Ashby's HAROLD AND MAUDE debuted to generally poor reviews, and worse box office. But in suburban Minneapolis, a humble second-run neighborhood theater called The Westgate found the film an audience...and helped turn it into one of the biggest cult hits of all time. Host Rico Gagliano gets the story from HAROLD AND MAUDE producer Charles Mulvehill — one of the few living members of the film's creative team — and an endearing cast of local characters who, back in 1972, found themselves part of a one-in-a-million phenomenon."]

Russell, Nicholas. "An American Werewolf in London." Reverse Shot (July 14, 2022) ["John Landis claims the inspiration for 1981’s An American Werewolf in London came in 1969, when, as a production assistant on Brian G. Hutton’s World War II caper Kelly’s Heroes, he witnessed a Roma ritual. “It was an elaborate gypsy funeral rite which the film’s crew witnessed from the back of a truck as they passed by,” The Telegraph recounted in a retrospective piece on the film in 2016. “The corpse was being buried feet-first, wrapped in garlic, in a deep grave right in the middle of a crossroads.” Later, the piece mentions Landis’s love of the 1941 Universal classic The Wolf Man, which, coincidentally, features a Roma caravan harboring a werewolf that goes on to infect Lon Chaney Jr.'s Larry Talbot. The similarity seems a little too involved to be true. At the very least, even if Landis’s story checks out, it is the necessity of the Roma element that, in some way, concretizes and emboldens the cinematic character of the werewolf: an ethnic outsider, perceived as a monstrous abomination. In his film, Landis trades overt exoticism of the creature’s origins for a narrative about exoticism itself."]

Schnelbach, Leah. "Want a Movie About an Eldritch Glory Hole of Surprising Depth? Try Glorious." Tor (August 24, 2022) ["Mostly I’m glad that Glorious exists. The last few years have seen amazing additions to the horror canon, and the fact that a small movie can be unapologetically gross and splatter-y, but also make a big thematic swing, and mostly work, and find large-scale distribution, makes me very, very happy. Join me in the rest stop bathroom for a non-spoiler review, won’t you?"]

The Worst Person in the World (Norway: Joachim Trier, 2021) [Ongoing Archive for the film: "Chronicles four years in the life of Julie, a young woman who navigates the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she really is."]

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