Author: Deirdre Crimmins

October 8, 2014 / / Main Slate Archive

 

Fish out of water stories have a way of tapping in to a specific emotion in the audience. Everyone has felt out of place, for even a moment, and knows how lonely that can feel. In today’s digital age it is easier than ever to feel alone while at the same time being surrounded by people. Terry Gilliam’s latest film THE ZERO THEOREM focuses on one character that is out of place, but manages to do so without affection for him or his predicament.

September 15, 2014 / / Main Slate Archive

 

Not all films are easy. Some filmmakers make you work at it to find the best way to appreciate their films.  Others are best when you simply let the film envelope you, as you succumb to its artistry. However, there are particular films that can be appreciated when approached from very particular angles. Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS is not an easy film to watch, but it can be worth watching even if you do not want to do any work.

August 18, 2014 / / Main Slate Archive

 

Given the economic turmoil of the 1980s, PRETTY IN PINK is very much a product of its environment. Girl meets boy who is of a higher class than she is.  Girl is embarrassed at her lack of money, and boy is overly concerned with what his rich friends think of his relationship with her.  They break up, but in the end, girl and boy reunite at the high school prom while Oingo Boingo plays. There is a bit there in the middle where girl almost falls for her loyal friend who is both dedicated to her and in the same socioeconomic class. That ending, however, did not test well with audiences and the ending was reshot to include the poor girl getting the rich boy.

 

Describing your dreams to someone else is always an odd experience for both people.  You try to put into words these concepts and images that you have only had a brief, though vivid experience with.  And your audience can never really follow your description of the dream because the description never congeals into a cohesive vision from the dreamer.  Describing the movie HAUSU to someone who has never seen it is a similar experience.  For those watching the film, it is vivid and striking, but so rambling that recalling the film and trying to explain it to someone else just results in confusion. And though this may seem off-putting, I think it should actually act as an encouragement to see the film.  Everyone needs to see HAUSU for themselves.

 

Parts of DARK CITY make me anxious, but my reaction to the film is much more complex than that. While I typically prefer films that make me laugh or jump out of my seat, DARK CITY gives me two completely opposing reactions. It manages to make me worry, and then it gives me hope. I worry because it hits a little too close to home, but conversely it also allows me to escape this world.

 

In the thirty-six years since Jonestown we have been left with just as many questions as we have answers.  Though the fascination with the mass suicide has persisted over these years, film has not focused its lens on these tragedies.  In Ti West’s THE SACRAMENT he explores Jonestown, through a very close fictional approximation of the People’s Temple settlement, and the events directly preceding the deaths.

 

MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, the third Muppet film, is an anomaly. While it establishes a pattern that continued in Muppet cinema for the following three films, it is quite a departure from the first two Muppet endeavors.

 

THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER was released in the summer of 1981.  This was five years after The Muppet Show started, and just a few months after it ended.  Given that The Muppet Show ended at the height of its popularity (Jim Henson wanted it to end on a high note rather than watch it inevitably fall from grace) the film was a welcome visit with old friends to contemporary audiences.  It also solidified the Muppets’ transition from television to film.  No longer was their popularity due solely to having a weekly variety show; they were movie stars.

 

Many films that we watch for nostalgia are not empirically as great as we remember them to be. When you step away from them for years and come back, you may realize that it was your love of the characters, or the feeling the film gave you as a child, that clouded your ability to see it for what it actually is. It is with this vigilant caution that I rewatch the films I loved as a child. However, the crushing realization that your nostalgia outweighs the quality of the film does have a positive counterpart. There is a satisfying joy in revisiting your childhood films and finding that not only have you remembered them correctly, but they have much more depth to them—depth added specifically for adult viewers—than you knew.

 

Madness is my greatest fear. Logically I know the odds of being attacked by a shark or stalked by serial killer are in fact quite low. When films depict those unlikely threats, I have fun suspending my disbelief and going along with those characters on their ride of fear. But insanity is a different sort of threat all together. Who is to say that I won’t just flip my lid one day and lose control? I don’t even have a way to prove that I’m sane at this very moment, let alone guarantee that I’ll be able to maintain what little composure I have for the rest of my life. Madness feels like a very real threat to my life and livelihood, and films that show a character’s plummet into their own insanity can be the most effective way to bring me close to true horror.