Your Wife Has a Lovely Neck? Back up, Buddy.

Nosferatu is on Netflix. The original one, not the most recent update (though I liked that one a lot). This one has been spit-shined and fixed up as best as they can for a movie that’s almost 100 years old, complete with a re-recording of the symphonic soundtrack. It’s pretty legit.

The movie is based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, and Nosferatu is a simplified version of the book (with names changed, to make it more German). A man named Hutter is sent to the wilds of eastern Europe to negotiate the sale of a house back in his hometown of Wisborg to the spooky Count Orlok. When he arrives, he realizes that Orlok is a vampire, and he must escape before he is destroyed by Orlok’s evil. Though Hutter gets away, Orlok begins his journey to Wisborg, bringing death and disease with him. Finally, Hutter’s young wife Ellen sacrifices herself, distracting the vampire with her own blood until the sun rises and Orlok dies.

Though I actually preferred the ending of the updated Nosferatu, there’s some real creepiness to this one. It’s German expressionism at its finest, maybe only second to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (though infinitely easier to understand). Even the intensely obvious stop-motion is spooky as hell. It doesn’t quite have the subtlety of the novel, mostly because of the necessary overacting in silent movies, but it’s still chilling and fun.

(No appearance of the hash-slinging slasher…but it’s fun that Spongebob references Nosferatu anyway, as in the gif above).

 

Advertisements

Movies I Still Haven’t Seen

If you read any of my About Me kind of stuff, you know that I wrote the film column for my college for all four years I attended. And in that time, I watched a lot of movies. But that doesn’t mean I’ve seen everything out there–far from it. So here’s my List of Shame, aka the movies I still need to watch (I’ll get to them, I swear!).

  • Kill Bill 1 & 2: I knocked a lot of Tarantino off my list in 2013–Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs. This year, I added Inglorious Basterds, which might be my favorite of all. But somehow, both Kill Bills have evaded me. I think it’s because I get bored with long movies unless I’m really into them, and the idea of watching TWO long movies keeps making me go ‘eh’. I know they’ll be good once I start watching them, it just hasn’t happened yet.
  • Castaway: I like Tom Hanks, but I don’t go gaga over him the way a lot of people do. He’s a great actor, but not so great that I’ve felt the need to drop what I’m doing and see Castaway. That being said: I should probably fix that.
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: I am ashamed of myself. (Any day now, Netflix…)
  • Grave of the Fireflies: I really don’t like sad movies, but come on. I really need to see this one, even if I know it’ll destroy me emotionally.
  • The Notebook: I hesitated to include this one, because I’ve seen it in pieces and parts, and I’ve seen all the famous scenes and know what it’s about and what happens in it, but I’ve never sat down and watched it beginning-to-end. To some, this is punishable by death, but Nicholas Sparks movies do absolutely nothing for me. I watched Safe Haven and it was exactly as overdramatic as I imagined it would be, complete with crazy exes and ghosts. No thanks.
  • The original Godzilla: While I can claim to have seen the original King Kong, Phantom of the Opera, and am about to watch the original Nosferatu, (as well as the remakes) Godzilla has gotten away from me. Maybe someday!
  • Frozen: I was done with this movie by the time it hit theaters. Blame Tumblr.

What are your movies that everyone says you need to see, but you still haven’t? Let me know in the comments!

A Drink and a Smoke with Jim Jarmusch

One of my favorite things about Jim Jarmusch’s movies is that pretty much nothing happens, and yet it’s always incredibly enjoyable. My first foray into Jarmuschland was Broken Flowers, where Bill Murray goes on a journey and doesn’t find what he’s looking for and is pretty much left with more questions than answers by the end. Then I watched Dead Man, where Johnny Depp is on the run from the law for killing a man in self-defense, transforms into a complete badass and is guided by a Native American who is actually played by a Native American. There’s a little more resolution here, but it’s still more about the conversations and the thought processes rather than completing a task. Coffee and Cigarettes is the epitome of this style, where the movie isn’t about anything specific, but instead is a series of 5-10 minute vignettes where people talk over coffee and cigarettes.

There are particular themes that appear over and over, like Tesla (the White Stripes discuss Tesla, and the two men in the last vignette repeat a line about the Earth being a conductor of acoustical resonance), twins (the Lee siblings in the vignette “Twins”, and though the White Stripes are not related in reality, they have often presented themselves as siblings close in age, and it is easy to imagine them as twins in this film), cousins (Cate Blanchett playing herself and her fictional cousin, Alfred Molina telling Steve Coogan they are cousins, the appearance of the Wu-Tang members GZA and RZA, who are cousins) and the dangers of smoking (GZA and RZA tell Bill Murray his cough is from his smoking, a vignette is called “Those Things’ll Kill Ya).

There’s also the common thread of a hidden knowledge, skill or connection that one speaker has, but the other person in the conversation doesn’t realize, making them look foolish. Meg White seems uninterested in Jack’s Tesla coil at first, but turns out to know a lot about electrical wiring when it breaks. Steve Coogan doesn’t want to hang out with Alfred Molina or give him his phone number until it turns out that Molina has connections to Spike Jonze. Once Coogan finds out, he tries to make amends, but Molina is offended by Coogan’s obvious change of heart and refuses. Steve Buscemi, as the waiter who brings coffee to the Lees, speaks highly of Elvis, but is cut down when the Lees dismiss Elvis and tell him about the music he stole from black musicians (leading Buscemi to insist it was Elvis’s evil twin).

My personal favorite vignettes are “Twins”, “Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil” and “Delirium”, but they’re all interesting in their own way. So what if the movie isn’t ABOUT anything? It’s still funny, dark and well-made. You go, Jim Jarmusch.

Aliens??

Do aliens exist? According to all the people who claim their eggs and sperm have been harvested by star beings, yes. I don’t normally consider people who claim to be the parent of hybrid space children to be the pinnacle of trustworthiness, but there are some interesting, even compelling moments in The Hidden Hand: Alien Contact & the Government Cover-Up, my most recent watch in my 100 movies challenge.

There are former military employees who claim that they’ve had to hide evidence of UFOs, or have been forbidden to talk about certain projects by their superiors. The fact that sightings of UFOs and alien beings have been around for thousands of years is hard to ignore. Are there really people who have been abducted and harvested? I feel like that’s less likely. But I’ve never been abducted by aliens and had implants forced up my nose, or if I have, I have thankfully managed to forget about it.

What gets me is the sureness of some of these people about what aliens are like. It’s one thing when the experts say something like “In the last ten years, there have been over 10,000 reports of UFOs” (a statistic I completely made up, which might qualify me to speak on the Alien Panel). It’s another thing to say “There are psychic friendly ones and unfriendly psychic ones” or “They have no genitals” or “Their ships are designed specifically for capturing humans”. You might need to check your facts there, buddy. I’m pretty sure your acid trip doesn’t count as research.

It’s an interesting watch, at any rate, and it does make you think about some aspects of aliens/UFOs. If you want to get tricked into believing aliens are coming for our organs, maybe just watch The Fourth Kind.

The Good, The Bad and The Molly

Spoilers ahead, btw.

Things I enjoyed about Lovely Molly:

  • Much of it was shot in my hometown, and the mall where Molly works in the film is the mall I spent much of my young adulthood in. You can even see the sign for the Motel 6 by the highway outside of the mall, a motel that is worthy of a horror film of its own on looks alone.
  • The actress who plays Molly, Gretchen Lodge, can change emotional states at the drop of a hat, and it’s really uncanny. Full-on, hysterical crying screeches to a halt and becomes evil laughter or complete blankness instantly.
  • It’s an interesting concept for a horror movie, and avoids the overly-explainedness that a lot of possession/demon movies like to use (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity franchise). No elaborate coven backstory, no deal with the devil, just Molly flipping out.

Things I did not enjoy about Lovely Molly:

  • On the flip side, there’s hardly ANY explanation of ANYthing. Why did Hannah kill their dad? What was the backstory on Molly’s drug problem? What happened to their mom? I don’t need an entire tome written on Molly’s background, but a LITTLE reveal would have been nice.
  • The switching between found-footage and traditional camera work was irritating. Pick one or the other.

Things I found entirely confusing about Lovely Molly:

  • I had no idea if Hannah was trying to protect Molly, or if she was trying to deliver her into the hands of the evil forces in the house. Are they both pawns of the devil? If so, why did she kill their (apparently demonic?) father? Who’s evil in this movie, and who’s just being used?
  • Why was Molly stashing a decomposing deer corpse in the house? Would it be so hard to explain what the deer corpse was doing in the house?
  • Is the monster thing at the end their dad? Was their dad also the one that was sexually assaulting her? Did he get reborn as a monster after Hannah killed him?
  • I understand, to some extent once I reached the end, why Molly kept filming the neighbor. If she suspected (correctly) that Tim was cheating on her with the neighbor, she wanted to get video evidence of it happening. I don’t understand why she kept filming the daughter and then killed her. Was it revenge on the neighbor for seducing her husband away? If so, doesn’t that seem like a personal issue for the devil to handle (if Molly is being possessed by the devil at that point, which I don’t even know)? “Hey, while I’m using your body for my own evil purposes, I can stick it to the lady who stole your husband. We both win!”

I’m sure I’m overthinking this movie to some extent, and it was enjoyable enough to watch (and neat to see some familiar locations). But really, guys, I need answers.

The Balanced Bizarre

If you’re not keeping up with my 100 movies per year challenge, just know that I’m trying to watch a little of everything, and in the course of the last year and a half, I’ve wondered if anything will surprise me after this or that film. I watched Dogtooth in 2012 and figured that had set the bar for surprises. Then I watched V/H/S and Audition last year and changed my mind. This year, I watched Antichrist and figured that, okay, for real this time, I had seen it all. It’s not the violence that surprises me, even though these sometimes wander into a snufflike territory where you’re not sure what’s real (Dogtooth, in particular, did not feel like acting to me so much as an artfully filmed documentary about exquisite pain).

My newest surprise was Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. I’d seen Oldboy last year, so I wasn’t surprised by the violence (this one might even be a little less violent overall than Oldboy). What I wasn’t expecting was how delicately the movie was filmed, even as horrific violence was being committed–the murder of children, the protagonist being beaten brutally in an alley, the final reckoning with the declawed villain. This whole movie is pretty. 

The shot that sealed my delight with the film is about midway through. The heroine, Geum-ja, goes to Australia to find her daughter, who was given up for adoption as an infant. Jenny, the daughter, wants to come back to visit Korea with her birth mother. When Geum-ja refuses, the movie cuts to a shot of Jenny standing stock-still, pointing a knife to her own throat, as her terrified parents and a weeping Geum-ja look on. It’s morbid as all hell, but also kind of funny, just because it’s so ridiculous. The whole movie’s like this. It’s as if Quentin Tarantino had asked Wes Anderson to edit together something he’d made–Anderson’s signature preciseness and subdued absurdity shaping an insanely violent story about a kickass woman seeking revenge. Park Chan-Wook keeps the bizarre in balance, and I love him for it.

I bought Stoker on DVD a while back, and still haven’t watched it, but now it seems pretty clear that I need to. Let’s see how it holds up to his revenge triology, huh?