Monday, June 25, 2012
Ah, true believers, we meet again.
If you’re a frequent frequenter of these vaunted volumes, then you know the name Jon Kitley and his stellar virtual haunt, KITLEY'S KRYPT. Not only is he a valued friend and fellow fiend, he’s also responsible for many a Foolish View (and trust me, some are more Foolish than others). About 2 1/2 years ago, Jon started up the Kryptic Army, its purpose being “to help point out some sub-genres or films that you might have missed out so far. And to have fun.”
Each month, Fearless Leader provides a certain theme and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find two horror flicks not previously viewed that fall under that month’s heading, watch them, then file a “debriefing” on the films in question. Some assignments have been more rewarding than others, but more often than not, it provides the push needed to finally get around to a myriad of selections that have been sitting on the proverbial “to watch” shelf. If you’ve not already enlisted, I encourage you to join up – the Kryptic Army Needs YOU. Visit http://www.kitleyskrypt.com/army.htm for more information.
This month's topic, in honor of the season of the summer blockbuster, is “Sequels, Prequels and Remakes.” As it so happens, I had a swath of franchise offerings that had been holding up in my Netflix queue for over a year now. And so, with a Fool’s courage and accompanying wisdom, into the pool of giant cockroaches and cornstalk n’ slash we dive…
As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.
KRYPTIC ARMY ASSIGMENT: PREQUELS, SEQUELS AND REMAKES
Mimic (1997) (2nd viewing) d. del Toro, Guillermo
Combating a plague-like virus being spread by the common cockroach throughout NYC, genetics engineer Mira Sorvino whips up a new strain of insect, the Judas Breed, which disguises itself as its prey before devouring it. This new species has been engineered to die out after one generation, but (surprise!) things do not go as planned – three years later, a mysterious rash of murders is taking place in the Manhattan subway system, the perpetrators being the mutated offspring of the Judas buggies who have now developed the ability to camouflage themselves as humans. Much has been made of the Weinstein brothers’ studio interference with del Toro’s original vision (a “director’s cut” has been recently released to Blu-Ray), and while I have not yet seen this version, my biggest issues with this often engaging creature feature has nothing to do with deleted scenes or plotlines, but rather with the ridiculously banal dialogue spoken by the capable cast (Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Charles S. Dutton, Norman Reedus and F. Murray Abraham) and the ill-advised attempts at quirkiness, Alexander Goodwin’s spoon-slapping autistic being the most blatant offender. The Rob Bottin-designed “Long John” bugs – one played by del Toro regular Doug Jones – are memorable, although the darkly-lit scenes rarely show them off to their fullest effect. Overall, not a bad movie, but also not one I have a lot of nostalgia for. Drive Angry’s Patrick Lussier served as co-editor, with the director and Matthew Robbins adapting Donald A. Wollheim’s short story.
Mimic 2 (2001) (1st viewing) d. de Segonzac, Jean
The lone carry-over from the original cast, Alix Koromzay stars as an obnoxiously unlucky-in-love entomologist moonlighting as a public high school teacher who discovers her place of employ is ground zero for the latest infestation of the Judas Breed. For a straight-ahead “B” monster movie with limited funds and ideas, I actually enjoyed this more than I expected to. Not to say that it’s “good,” but still reasonably enjoyable cheese with far fewer pretensions and Oscar winners than its predecessor. Special effects makeup wiz “Gruesome Gary” Tunnicliffe whips up some wicked splattering, scattering and skittering sequences.
Mimic 3: Sentinel (2003) (1st viewing) d. Petty, J.T.
The most remarkable thing about this second sequel is how well it conceals its presumably meager budget constraints with a story that focuses more on suspense and what we don’t see than on big bug beasties romping through every scene. Writer/director Petty, who knows a little something about stretching a dollar via solid characterization and atmosphere (Soft for Digging, S&Man, The Burrowers), offers up a variation on Hitchcock’s Rear Window as much of the action is perceived from the window and camera lens of Karl Geary’s shut-in, a victim of his own weakened immunological system. The less-is-more approach may not appeal to those looking for a quick beer n’ pizza creature feature, but it’s hard not to admire Petty’s spin on the material and the big-bam-bloody-boom finale (ignoring, of course, the WTF happy ending coda).
NOT PAID FOR BY THE NEBRASKA TOURISM COUNCIL:
Children of the Corn (1984) (2nd viewing) d. Kiersch, Fritz
This big screen-adaptation of Stephen King’s slim but effective short story starts off with promise of cheap thrills but fails to deliver anything but boredom. Following a graphic onscreen massacre of the entire adult population of Gatlin, Nebraska, at the hands of the under-18 set, the film’s high point is its opening credits during which Gatlin’s history is adroitly conveyed through a series of crude and haunting children’s drawings. Years later, bickering couple Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton take a couple of wrong turns, ending up in the deserted town and at odds with the prepubescent locals. With homicidal brats on one side, thinly drawn adults on the other, and George Goldsmith’s ineptly padded adaptation in the middle, the farmer’s almanac states the outlook is not good. Woefully short on logic and pacing, director Kiersch’s clumsy idea of wit is a paperback copy of King’s Night Shift on the dashboard, with assorted light-catching close-ups of sharp blades as the height of suspense. A pre-Terminator Hamilton is reduced to standard victim status and Horton’s “hero” is so off-putting, you may start looking around for something to poke him with yourself. John Franklin is effectively creepy as pint-sized leader Isaac, and while Courtney Gaines’ bullying Malachi doesn’t handle dialogue all that well, he capably fulfills his role as the film’s heavy. (His “Outlander!” cries are great fun to emulate afterwards).
Okay, I knew I was tempting fate by sitting down to watch these, but MAN this was a chore. While parts 2 and 3 (watched last October at the coaxing of John Pata) yielded some surprisingly redeeming entertainment value, things go sharply downhill with the fourth installment (whose title drops its numbered position, sneaky sneaky).
Children of the Corn: The Gathering (1996) (1st viewing) d. Spence, Greg
Despite an initially intriguing plot about a mysterious fever afflicting the youth of a small Nebraska town and the teaming of future Oscar nominee Naomi Watts and batshit bonkers agoraphobe Karen Black, there’s a whole lotta head-shaking going on amidst the sickle-edged bloodshed. I sense that there may have been a wealth of script revisions and reshoots, because some of the wackiness just comes outa nowhere.
Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998) (1st viewing) d. Wiley, Ethan
Co-ed road trip + wrong turn = kernel-popping eye-rolling yawn-inducing bloodbath. The fifth go-round continues the rather bizarre pattern among the CotC franchise, in that one younger star will go on to become a major Hollywood player … and one silver screen veteran will be convinced to swallow his/her pride in the name of a paycheck. The former category is filled out by Eva Mendes, shockingly bad here, while David Carradine sits in a chair spouting mysticisms before being turned inside out. (Alexis Arquette also appears, though I’d be hard pressed to call him a player.)
Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return (1999) (1st viewing) d. Skogland, Kari
John Franklin, the diminutive antagonist from the original, is back courtesy of a screenplay self-penned with Tim Sulka, but I’ll be jiggered as to what the hell was going on at any point in this looneyfest. I know sweet young thang Natalie Ramsey was supposed to have some kind of familial connection to the original Gatlin gang and there was a prophecy about her mating with He Who Walks Behind the Rows and Stacy Keach and Nancy Allen got paid to show up (and not much else). In a weird twist of Viewing fate, Alix Koromzay, star of Mimics 1 and 2, has a prominent supporting role as a duplicitous law officer. Probably the worst of the Corn-y bunch (though I still have two more to go).
Headhunters (2011) (1st viewing) d. Tyldum, Morten
I don’t know what’s in the water up Scandinavia way, but when Nordic filmmakers keep churning out great flicks like Let the Right One In, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and now this astonishingly satisfying thriller from Norway about a professional corporate headhunter (Aksel Hennie) who moonlights as an amateur fine art thief in order to buy expensive gifts for statuesque blonde wife Synnøve Macody Lund, I hope they keep drinking it. In this world of assembly line CGI-laden action flicks, it’s hard to unveil a screen image that has not been seen before, but director Tyldum, alongside screenwriters Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg, manages to do it several times over, with plot twists that play fair and characters that you believe and care about. One of the best flicks of the year, hands down.
Single Man, A (2009) (1st viewing) d. Ford, Tom
A superbly crafted human drama from designer Ford (who also adapted Christopher Isherwood’s novel with David Scearce) about a closeted gay high school teacher (Colin Firth, incredible) coping with the death of his lover in 1960s Los Angeles. Straight A’s across the board, with extra credit for avoiding unnecessary sentimentality.
2012 Totals to date: 260 films, 221 1st time views, 146 horror, 72 cinema
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Saddled as we were here at the Doc’s office with getting a certain show (Inherit the Wind) up on its feet these past couple weeks, there wasn’t much time for viddying (in fact, half of the flicks below were screened via laptop during the hefty hour-plus commute traveling to and from rehearsals). However, in addition to catching up on some recent fare – a mixed bag indeed – we also revisited two underviewed (some might say justifiably so) drive-in horror efforts as well as taking in another virgin viewing from the great Akira Kurosawa, who might end up becoming my director project for the year. Lots of his stuff I still need to see and even more I need to revisit.
As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.
My Soul To Take (2010) (1st viewing) d. Craven, Wes
I first heard about this feature via the pages of HorrorHound, where Craven described it as being a project where he was given complete creative freedom to do whatever he wanted. If that truly ended up being the case, the man should never be left unsupervised again because not since the doldrum days of Deadly Friend or Shocker has the writer/director so profoundly bungled the task at hand. The scattered yarn features a revived serial killer stalking a group of youths who were all born the night that he was shot dead by police 17 years prior. Lazy, sloppy, often incoherent plotting takes turns with snoozy kills, with Max Theirot’s social reject acquiring the consciousness of his expired peers for no apparent reason or payoff. A real strikeout.
Skin I Live in, The (2011) (1st viewing) d. Almodovar, Pedro
Stylistic and visually dynamic dark fantasy about an eminent plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas, in fine form) who loses his wife in a car crash, shortly after which his emotionally precarious daughter is sexually assaulted at a party. These two tragic events spark the remainder of the eye-popping narrative, which deserves to unfold organically without any further extrapolation on my part. However, I will say that one should probably check one’s logic circuits at the door, because several plot machinations don’t hold up well to close scrutiny, as dramatically delicious as they might be. The extraordinarily fetching Elena Anaya (Room in Rome), when not sporting her birthday suit, spends a welcome amount of time in a skintight body stocking – a seemingly exploitative move that achieves deeper resonance with repeat viewings.
Take Shelter (2011) (1st viewing) d. Nichols, Jeff
Oil rig worker Michael Shannon starts experiencing horrific visions of an apocalyptic storm to come – is he a prophet or merely going off the deep end? Nichols, who directed his own script, keeps us guessing at all times, injecting Shannon’s schizophrenic mother (Kathy Baker) and a healthy dose of self-doubt into the mix, further complicated by his protagonist’s refusal to confide in an understandably frustrated wife Jessica Chastain. Things come to a head when Shannon begins expanding the backyard tornado shelter, an endeavor that strains not only the family finances, but the understanding of his community. A slow burn to be sure, but Nichols and his star hold our sympathies and attention throughout.
True Nature (2010) (1st viewing) d. Steele, Patrick
Having heard about this supernatural thriller for several years on the interwebs, I finally reached out to writer/director Steele who revealed that they are still struggling to secure distribution but was gracious enough to pass along a review copy. Having finally viewed it firsthand, the DVD companies’ reticence is perfectly understandable, as this is a difficult film to categorize and harder still to sell. Within its intriguing premise (young woman Marianne Porter mysteriously returns home after a year-long disappearance, crippled with disturbing visions…or are they memories?), there is much to equally recommend and repel. Nature has a glossy, polished look, as well as a notably different spin on the vengeful ghost story. However, there are more than a few issues to be had with Steele’s plot and character motivations, and the slow burn may in fact be too slow for where it ultimately leads us. For every great atmospheric moment of horror (of which there are several), there’s another that comes off as contrived, especially with regard to Porter’s parents. These are not game-enders, but they do provide drag on an already deliberately paced feature. Nevertheless, I hope some enterprising distributor picks it up soon so that fans can weigh in for themselves.
Twice-Told Tales (1963) (2nd viewing) d. Salkow, Sidney
Mildly engaging trio of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s supernatural stories that acquires the star (Vincent Price) of American International’s Poe series, but director Salkow displays little of Roger Corman’s enthusiastic storytelling zeal. (The opening image of a rather limp skeleton hand opening a rather limp volume doesn’t inspire much confidence.) In the first story, “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” old coots Price and Sebastian Cabot (via some dodgy old-age makeup) discover a youth-restoring elixir. When it also revives their long-dead sweetheart Mari Blanchard, romantic rivalries are sparked anew. “Rappuccini’s Daughter,” the best of the bunch, offers the dark fable of an embittered scientist (Price) who infuses daughter Joyce Taylor with the essence of a toxic plant, making her touch lethal to human contact. All this plays havoc with suitor Brett Halsey’s social life, as he learns that his first kiss with the lovely lass could be his last. The final tale, an incredibly truncated version of “The House of the Seven Gables,” follows the scheming Pynchon family searching the ancestral mansion for a hidden inheritance, amidst family curses, ghostly music, and otherworldly lovers. This dramatically uneven segment features spectral effects both impressive (model houses imploding in slow motion) and ridiculous (Price lamely throttled by a disembodied skeleton hand). As anthology films go, this is by no means a disaster, just not terribly inspired.
Undead, The (1957) (2nd viewing) d. Corman, Roger
I’ve been meaning to revisit this largely ignored Corman feature (surprising, considering how well the majority of the B-king’s AIP horror features have been kept alive via MGM’s Midnight Movies collection) for a while now, first brought to my attention by Bruce Lanier Wright’s excellent tome Nightwalkers: Gothic Horror Movies and procured via the internet gray market a few years back. Inspired by the Bridey Murphy phenomena of the ’50s, screenwriters Charles Griffith and Mark Hanna introduce to us streetwalker Pamela Duncan, hired by a spiritualist to explore her past lives through hypnosis. We follow her back through the ages to a non-specified time – let’s call it fairy tale land – where Duncan is accused of witchery, a charge furthered by romantic rival Allison Hayes (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman), who actually is a witch. Along the way, we also encounter thickheaded minstrel/gravedigger Mel Welles (Little Shop of Horrors), Billy Barty as Hayes’ grating silent-laughing imp, and inimitable character actress Dorothy Neumann as helpful hag Meg Maud. It’s a whole lot of nonsense, but like the majority of Corman’s efforts, it’s well paced and entertaining nonsense, directed with energy and vision.
ELVIRA’S HORROR HUNT:
Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to discuss the three features below, as they were submitted in competition for the Elvira’s Horror Hunt film festival, the opening round of which will take place during HorrorHound Weekend Indianapolis 2012. (I’m on the selection committee.) But I can say that I watched them, along with the 30 short films also in competition. Stay tuned to www.elvirashorrorhunt.com for more information…
Awakened, The (2012) (1st viewing) d. Simon, Lou / Villalba, Douglas
Day Job (2012) (1st viewing) d. O'Shea, Dave
Severed Footage (2012) (1st viewing) d. Arnott, Don
Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (2011) (1st viewing) d. Rapaport, Michael
Not being a hip-hop fan, I didn’t know much about the influential musical group prior to watching this fascinating and vibrant documentary, but I’m almost inclined to seek out some of their material based on the high marks their peers and fans give them herein. A terrific passion piece by actor Rapaport, who serves as moderator for many of the interview sessions.
Green Lantern (2011) (1st viewing) d. Campbell, Martin
Recalling my comments on The Avengers from a few weeks back, there’s little wonder or magic to today’s greenscreen and CGI-filled superhero films, and while Ryan Reynolds provides a winking charm to hotshot pilot/reluctant superhero Hal Jordan, there’s more fizzle than sizzle going on here. Watching Peter Sarsgaard wrestling under massive facial prosthetics is more diverting than any energy-formed green roller coasters the keyboard clickers can conjure up.
High and Low (1963) (1st viewing) d. Kurosawa, Akira
Loosely based on Ed McBain’s novel King’s Ransom, this electrifying crime thriller features Toshiro Mifune as a wealthy businessman who finds himself morally conflicted when kidnappers abduct his chauffeur’s son mistaking the child for Mifune’s, but demand the same ransom regardless. At once a terrific, meticulous detective story, examination of how social perception can be manipulated, and study of one man’s financial implosion resulting in his emotional salvation, this is a must-see.
2012 Totals to date: 251 films, 214 1st time views, 139 horror, 71 cinema
The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein
Friday, June 8, 2012
Back again, eh? You kids just never learn, do you?
Thanks to a trip to the multiplex and the generosities of the Chicago Public Library, we enjoyed that rarest of weeks, one populated with all first time views. The big screen fare was an interesting blend, with expectations likely weighting my enjoyment level of the quartet of features under surveillance – high for Avengers, low for Dark Shadows, for instance. On the home viewing front, it was a big week for both Japan and South Korea, with a civilian and horror offering from one and a superb thriller from the other, all three delivering the entertainment goods while making me long for a bottomless trough of dumplings and/or noodles. C’mon, you know you get the ramen munchies as well, don’t deny it…
As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.
Chernobyl Diaries (2012) (1st viewing) d. Parker, Bradley
First off, it’s worth noting that despite titular indication and Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli on board as a co-writer/producer, this is not another entry in the “found footage” sweepstakes. Granted, there are some instances of cell phone recordings illustrating previous offscreen scenes’ mayhem, but for the most part this is a straightforward narrative about a group of college grads concluding their whirlwind European tour with a trip to Kiev; within said stop, they swap out their Moscow plans for an “extreme tourism” excursion into Pripyat, the neighboring town of ill-fated Chernobyl, the real-life epicenter of a nuclear reactor meltdown in 1986. Parker develops an impressive atmosphere of gloom and desolation amidst the deserted – and still radioactive – town, as well as some engaging sequences of attack and retreat by unidentified, and perhaps supernatural, antagonists. Instead, it’s the three-headed screenplay (Peli, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke) that proves the weak link, failing to deliver a satisfying “why” to the strange occurrences. The result is a series of creepy boo scares that lack resonance, dissipating within the cold light of cinema lobby hindsight and reflection.
Cold Fish (2010) (1st viewing) d. Sono, Shion
From the writer/director of Suicide Club, Hair Extensions and Himizu comes this wicked black comedy about milquetoast husband Mitsuru Fukikoshi drawn in by charismatic rival fish shop owner Denden, only to have him and wife Asuka Kurosawa instantly exert authority over the milder man’s personal life. And when we say personal, we mean it: child appropriation, spouse molesting, and that’s all before the multitude of murder to which Fukikoshi finds himself an unwitting accomplice. Sono miraculously balances the increasingly desperate scenarios with an exuberance that buoys the disturbing subject matter, Denden and Kurosawa’s joyous high-wire psychotic enthusiasm driving the breakneck narrative so fast that we, like our hapless protagonist, can barely make sense of it all. Brought to you by the good folks at Sushi Typhoon, this is closer in tone to Takashi Miike’s Visitor Q than, say, the splatterfests of Battlefield Baseball or Machine Girl.
Dark Shadows (2012) (1st viewing) d. Burton, Tim
Hands down the most mismarketed movie of 2012. I freely admit that, based on the “Man, weren’t the 70s kerrrr-aaaaazy?” trailer that Warner Bros. was using the push Burton’s latest Johnny Depp lovefest, I was already dialed in to hate this sucker right down to the ground, and I’m not even on intimate terms with the source material. (Even though Dan Curtis cult television incarnation had monsters in it, my six-year-old spidey senses still knew it was a soap opera.) The truth is that while there are a fair share of groaners (hidden passages revealing rooms filled with macramé, endless 70s musical references incorrectly assessed as inherently funny), the tale of Depp’s revived Barnabas Collins and his reintegration into society after 200 years of vampiric slumber is an energetic, elevated comedy that, for the most part, works. Sure, Burton allows his star to occasionally overindulge in supercilious line readings and it’s hard to believe the classy Collins clan would indulge in the decade’s tackier décor – in short, when Burton goes for the cheap laugh, the movie falls flat. But when he and his A-list ensemble (which includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green and Chloe Marie Grace) stay within the exaggerated fantastic lines drawn, the results are surprisingly satisfying.
Megan is Missing (2011) (1st viewing) d. Goi, Michael
Setting a found footage film within the particular circle of hell that is “party-hearty 14-year-old girls” is a daring enough premise as it is, since it is bound to test the patience and empathies of anyone who is not a party-hearty 14-year-old girl. We are introduced to shy, decent Amber Perkins and tramptastic mean girl Rachel Quinn – somehow inexplicably BFFs – through cell phone chats and self-recorded video footage, but when Quinn is presumably kidnapped by a social network stalker, it sends shock waves through the community, particularly for odd duck Perkins. Writer/director Goi’s feature alternates between grating and exploitative, purely-for-thrills illogic paired with on-camera confessionals, and could be easily written off as a complete waste of time…if not for the presence of three specific moments (and they are just moments) of sheer, unadulterated, and earned terror. Whether they resonate so clearly because of the tedium that surrounds them is debatable (do we really need that real-time 10 minute coda?) – as is whether they make the movie worth seeking out – but they are undeniably effective in and of themselves. (No spoilers, but for the informed: Photo #2, Hand in Frame, and Barrel.)
CIVILIAN MINI VIEWS:
Avengers, The (2012) (1st viewing) d. Whedon, Joss
Hard to believe THE BIGGEST MOVIE IN THE WORLD left me kinda meh, but the days of being wowed by greenscreen and CGI trickery I fear are behind me. (I did enjoy the Whedon-penned Tony Stark one-liners well enough, though it was the Hulk vs. Loki sequence that was my favorite takeaway.) However, I can’t recommend Christianne Benedict’s editorial on the film enough – she’s always been a reliably brilliant and insightful critic, but this time she may have outdone herself. http://krelllabs.blogspot.com/2012/05/if-this-be-avengers.html
Battleship (2012) (1st viewing) d. Berg, Peter
We all knew this was a horrible idea, didn’t we – you’re making a movie based on a nautical battle board game but somehow introducing nigh-invincible robot aliens into the mix? The most amusing thing about this by-the-numbers dead-in-the-water cybernetic clunker is how hard it actually works to incorporate elements of its “source material” (can’t believe I just wrote that) into its playbook: the missiles the alien ships fire upon the heroic but doomed naval destroyers are shaped like the little pegs used to mark a “hit,” sonar grids are utilized with coordinates laid out such that the military must called out commands such as “Q-56,” etc. Dumb dumb dumb…and if it had been called Transformers: Battleship – which it clearly wants to be – it would have made a zillion dollars.
Hard Scrambled (2006) (1st viewing) d. Hay, David Scott
Based upon his original stage play, first time director Hay serves up a cracking little piece about an array of colorful characters jockeying for authority and ownership of a greasy spoon café. In a rare lead role, criminally underused supporting player Kurtwood Smith (RoboCop, That 70s Show) shines as an ex-con desperately trying to maintain dominance over his staff, his friends and his overleveraged line of credit with the local loan shark. While Hay’s rat-a-tat dialogue occasionally apes Mamet-speak, there’s much to enjoy in both the linguistic and cinematic arenas, with able support from Beth Grant, Richard Edson and Eyall Podell.
Mother (2009) (1st viewing) d. Bong, Joon-ho
Winner of numerous critics awards for Foreign Film and Best Actress (Hye-ja Kim), Bong (who dazzled international audiences in 2006 with The Host) delivers a magnificent drama/thriller about a mother living quietly with her addled adult son (Bin Won) until a neighborhood girl is brutally murdered and her offspring is charged with the killing. Racing the ticking hand of justice, she frantically searches for the killer down a multitude of blind alleys and red herrings until Bong quietly, inexorably lowers the boom in the final climactic reel. A superb film, not to be missed.
Osaka Elegy (1936) (1st viewing) d. Mizoguchi, Kenji
Effective melodrama about a pharmaceutical firm’s employees’ intertwining lives, with switchboard operators succumbing to bosses’ seductions in order to pay for father’s embezzlements and so on. One of the masters of Japanese cinema (Ugetsu, 47 Ronin), this was one of Mizoguchi’s first major international successes, and well worth seeking out.
2012 Totals to date: 239 films, 204 1st time views, 130 horror, 71 cinema
Blood and Gifts by J.T. Rogers
Race by David Mamet