Movie Night: Dead Alive

We’ve had a few speed bumps in October, but tonight’s screening of Dead Alive was a big hit. I’d forgotten to describe it in advance as Evil Dead 2 on steroids… and the brown acid.

The only downside is that next week I have to choose between something genuinely scary and something over-the-top gory. The perfect choice would be John Carpenter’s The Thing, but too many of the gang have seen it.

If we go for gore, we might do Tokyo Gore Police or Machine Girl, but neither of them strikes me as a true horror film. And most of the truly scary movies aren’t new to the gang. Should I pick up The Conjuring?

What would you show to end a month of horror films?

Movie Night: Bleu

My wife and I invite friends over each week to screen a movie. On any given week, we might have plans for a spaghetti western, a Korean fantasy, a twisted Japanese superhero movie, or a classic screwball comedy.

For Jen, who’s been craving something a little more arty, last week’s entry was Bleu, the first of Krzysztof Kieślowski “three colors” trilogy released in 1993 and 1994. Kieślowski’s life as a filmmaker and the historical and political background on the films is fascinating stuff, and you should look it up. I’m not going to write about that.

Bleu sticks with me more for the understated performance of Juliette Binoche in the story of a woman trying to isolate herself from her former life after a devastating loss. It’s not exactly a tearjerker or a melodrama, but it’s sticks with you.

What really gets to me are the details, like a beggar playing the recorder reminding Julie of her husband’s unfinished score, or the discovery of a mouse and its litter in her new apartment. The latter moment is wonderful because while Julie can’t kill the pests herself, maybe because they’re a mother and children, but she borrows the landlord’s cat.

Of the three films, Bleu is perhaps the most popular. I recall preferring the concluding film, Rouge, and it’s tempting to screen Blanc and Rouge in the next two weeks, but we tend to jump around because everyone in the group has eclectic tastes and likes to discover new things. Sometimes I’ll have one film prepared, and then someone will casually mention that she’s never seen Casablanca and we have an emergency screening so we don’t have to shun her.

What good movies have you seen lately? Or what classic movies would you recommend?


31 Days of Horror

londonaftermidnightIf all goes well enough, I’ll have enough time to devote every evening in October to a horror film. On some of those night’s I’ll invite the usual suspects to join me, but on others I’ll simply fire up a disc, nuke some popcorn, and hope the dog will watch with me, because Lindy won’t watch horror films, even though she ends up loving some of them (notably Aliens).

Now I have a fine collection of horror films, but it’s far from complete, and I’m sure there are some terrific films I’ve never seen. Care to recommend some? Please post your favorites in comments.


Movie Night: The Bride with White Hair

master of devils

You don’t need to be a fan of kung fu to enjoy the book, but maybe it’ll make you one.

Because I often wrote about kung fu movies around the release of Master of Devils, some folks assume I’m an expert or that those are the only movies I enjoy. Neither is true, but now and then I feel an irresistible desire for some high-flying action and dark magic.

It happened again this past week, when I discovered the usual suspects at our semi-weekly Movie Night gathering had never seen The Bride With White Hair. I mentioned the film in an essay for Flames Rising a couple of years ago, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

Like a number of other Hong Kong fantasies of the period, Bride is filmed almost entirely inside a studio under night-time lighting, it alters (one might say “abandons”) its source material to emphasize a romance between its beautiful leads, and it has a not-quite-as-good sequel. Repeated viewing emphasizes the limitations of its action scenes and sets, but it never fails to enchant. Its wolf-girl and rebellious student protagonists are iconic (the latter a much better Anakin than Anakin), and you won’t soon forget its grotesque villain, whose nature I won’t spoil for first-time viewers. Bride  is the sort of wild, magic-laden movie that puts the Hollywood fantasies of the 80s to shame. If you love the films of John Carpenter and Guillermo del Toro, then this is for you.

The Bride With White Hair makes a tremendous double-feature with A Chinese Ghost Story.