Sunday, January 21, 2018

THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) movie review

The Shape of Water (2017) d. del Toro, Guillermo (USA)

This “adult fairy tale” sees Sally Hawkins’ mute cleaning woman falling in love with an unworldly beast after it is captured in the Amazon and spirited away to a generic top-secret research facility, with scientist Michael Stuhlbarg and government thug Michael Shannon vying for proprietary rights. What follows is a Visually Stunning Effort, with all creative collaborators working overtime to deliver a heightened urban landscape of the early 1960s (we hear references to JFK, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement), and the inimitable Doug Jones (Hellboy) donning arguably the most elegant rubber monster suit to grace the silver screen.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Civilian 2017 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!

Greetings, my friends!

This marks the 11th year that I have taken the time to not only reflect upon "the year in movies" gone by, but attempted to give it context and shape by assessing the quality of the films in question, and noting any particular patterns or interests that made the year distinctive. In 2009, I began breaking the Horror Views and Civilian Views into two separate sections, being that the blog I had just started was called, after all, HORROR 101.

Having already given 2017’s fright flicks their deserving measure of thought (click HERE to see)
, it’s time to dive into the less-scary side of things, as well as looking at the Views overall.

This year, it should be mentioned, marks the lowest total of films (251) watched since I started tracking such minutiae back in the early 1990s. (I know, I know, it may still seem like a lot to some. Everything is relative, no?) I attribute this to a variety of elements, not least of which being the amount of time I simply sat staring at the computer screen in disbelief at the madness occurring in the political arena. I was, quite literally, stunned by this world that had been allowed to manifest itself and almost didn’t dare turn my back… for fear things would slide past the point of no return during the period between opening and closing credits. I also found myself looking for ways to combat the various situations rather than escape from them, and often decided against a movie if there was a worthier task at hand, be it the organizing of a self-defense workshop or contributing time or money (or both) to a fundraiser or protest, etc.

This is also probably a good time to point out that there also wasn’t much coming to the cinema that I was interested in seeing. Outside of the two film festivals (BIFFF and Cinepocalypse), there was only one day that I spent at the multiplex seeing more than a single movie. One. (August 8, to be exact.) The rest of the time I was single-viewing it, i.e. going to the theater, seeing ONE MOVIE (“inconceivable!”) and then going home. I mean, seriously, who is this and what have you done with AC?

Add to this the insanity of running on minimal sleep during the 25 weeks that I was rehearsing and/or performing onstage while maintaining my personal training practice of 25-30 sessions a week, and suddenly it becomes clearer why the numbers are the way they are. To be honest, I’m genuinely surprised the tally isn’t lower. Then again, BIFFF, Cinepocalypse, and October’s SCARE-A-THON 2017 represent approx 35% of the total Views, even though they cover only 6 of the 52 weeks. (It seems we can still dive in deep when the occasion calls for it.)

This is why we record these things, to remember each year and what was different and special. So… let’s look around a bit, shall we?

2017 Totals: 251 films, 179 first time views, 111 horror, 52 cinema

(2016 Totals: 272, 183, 131, 31)

(2015 Totals: 352, 190, 224, 41)
(2014 Totals: 399, 203, 251, 48)
(2013 Totals: 306, 240, 185, 69)
(2012 Totals: 607, 520, 362, 166)
(2011 Totals: 640, 419, 355, 59)
(2010 Totals: 364, 253, 242, 45)
(2009 Totals: 472, 276, 289, 38)
(2008 Totals: 384, 278, 226, 39)
(2007 Totals: 409, 284, 260, 40)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Dr. AC's 2017 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

Howdy troops,

I openly confess that this year was not my strongest in terms of focusing on the genre of choice, and if it hadn’t been for the two film festivals I attended, it would have been a rather poor showing indeed. I missed out on many of the biggest horror buzzflicks that achieved theatrical releases (Happy Death Day, IT, Alien Covenant, Jigsaw, mother!, Rings, Killing of a Sacred Deer, Leatherface, Life, The Dark Tower, The Mummy) as well as numerous straight-to-streaming – not a reflection of merit in this changing world – such as Gerald’s Game, The Babysitter, 1922, Tragedy Girls, XX, or Creep 2.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Fool's Views (12/1 – 12/31)

Howdy folks!

I’ll get all reflective and introspective in a bit when I do the year-end recap, so for now we’ll just address the month at hand. Very little horror, even of the seasonal type, which is unfortunate since I would have liked to tackle Shout! Factory’s new BR release of Silent Night, Deadly Night or Red Christmas in a more timely fashion, but it just didn’t work out that way.

Instead, my viewing time was taken up with the remainder of Akira Kurosawa’s filmography that was available to me, a number of revisits to high octane/high profile action flicks of yore, several new releases, and a number of foreign language films and overlooked gems that had been lingering on the to-watch list that ended up falling into my grip during December’s visits to the Chicago Public Library. Bottom line, it was an eclectic mix as per usual, but very few that I imagine are lighting up anyone’s else’s Christmas tree but mine. Sometimes you just gotta dance to your own jingle beat, right?

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.