So here we are, Readers. I was doing some organizing the other day & my husband was teasing me once again about how incomprehensible he finds my DVD collection. Which never fails to rile me up. I demand to him that it makes sense & that it has its own internal logic. He just says that I did so he would never be able to find anything without my help. As a result, I sat down & wrote it out on a piece of paper for his reference & I figured I would finally get around to posting it here. Not sure it will have any interest to strangers whatsoever, but I can’t order my Letterboxd account the same way.
Maybe I finally started watching anime because there’s a healthy sample of patrons at my library who regularly check out the DVDs we offer. Or maybe I got frustrated enough with the various Abridged Series on YouTube that I actually wanted to start looking for something that would appeal to me past the pop culture jokes. (Don’t get me wrong–I love the stuff put out by people like Team Four Star & they’re talented people, but I think I’ve had my fill of supernatural fighting tournaments.) Whatever the the spark was that caused my curiosity to catch, I’ve spent the last few months exploring the vast world of anime & have been enjoying myself immensely.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A series of essays edited together from co-writer’s Chris Rodley’s conversations with director Cronenberg from his first short films up through his (at-the-time) latest movie Crash. I picked this book up after having a small re-exploration of Cronenberg’s films last winter & since his movies are still pretty niche, these interviews themselves will probably only be of interest to Cronenberg’s fans or aspiring movie-makers.
Cronenberg is not someone whose kept quiet about his interests or why he focuses on certain topics–just look at the opening lines of his Goodreads bio, “one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror or venereal horror genre”. What these essays do, though, is to get deeper into why that fascinates him, why he chose art over science, & why he’s struck by certain medieval sensibilities & using them as a sort of catalyst for his transgressions. I was also interested in his thoughts on the horror genre itself & how to keep it at its best–as a confrontation of the status quo & not just a titillating indulgence. If I thought more horror filmmakers were thinking that way about their genre, I might actually be more interested in seeing them.
Even though the book ends with Crash, what topics are discussed throughout give interesting glimpses into his future projects. (Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method, Consumed–I’m looking at you.) I’ll probably end up getting a copy for myself just so I can refer back to certain sections because if this book did anything it cemented my ongoing curiosity in Cronenberg’s work. (And also gave his cameo in Barney’s Version an extra layer of irony.)
When I wrote the draft of this post, I wanted nothing more than to put my pen down & go back to bed. I’m starting a new writing routine where I get up early to write–inspired in part after reading Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit. I know that all successful writers have a specific routine set aside to get things done but I’ve always had a haphazard approach–a sort of write-when-you-can attitude. The problem is that I usually find something else to do & rarely give myself the time to sit & focus on the page in front of me. I’m trying to change that with this new routine, but seriously guys, I miss my warm comfy bed at 7am. Sacrifices, right?
After reading Nathan Rabin’s recent review of Curse of Chucky, I was delighted when a friend recently brought the movie over to watch. Not only was the viewing a perfect mood-setter for the changing season, but it fanned the flames of my ridiculous crush on Brad Dourif. Since Mr. Dourif shows up in so many horror films, ’tis the spooky season to make up my list of favorite performances by the man himself.
5. Saavedro from Myst III: Exile
Since 2013 is the 20th anniversary of the original Myst, you could say that nostalgia is influencing my choice. But Saavedro is one of Mr. Dourif’s classic character types̶ the compelling obsessive. Saavedro is wounded, hell-bent on revenge & properly demanding his due. He rages, he cries, he demands reparation. Paired with Saavdro’s messages & murals scattered throughout the game, the character is unforgettable & his performance is amazing to watch.
4. The Alien from Werner Herzog’s The Wild Blue Yonder
Herzog’s The Wild Blue Yonder is an odd film, a work of fiction created out of found footage. The fascinating images of space travel and underwater icecap exploration are accompanied by the Alien’s narration about his world beyond “the outer reaches of Andromeda,” and the fallibility of his species. Dourif tweaks his accent & uses his distinctive eyes to portray a lonely Alien who fantastical failings mirror our own humanity. The resulting movie is a stunning, ambitious, and vulnerable work.
3. Billy Bibbit from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Poor, poor Billy, the naive sensitive soul who cannot handle his brushes with the world. How could you not watch this movie, want to give Billy a huge hug & make sure all the sharps are taken away? Billy is a particularly difficult character to watch because you know fully ahead of time that his friendship with R. P. McMurphy isn’t going to end well. The tragedy is telegraphed fully in advance when the inmates laugh at Billy for proposing to a girl he likes & the look on his face shows he doesn’t totally understand the joke.
2. The Gemini Killer from The Exorcist III
“Psycho Killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?” Mr. Dourif has played a lot of serial killers in his career, but I think James Venamun, the Gemini Killer is the pinnacle. He laughs, cries & hardly blinks while raging uncontrollably about death, damnation & torture. You have to see it to believe it. To quote one commenter (Vanstania) on YouTube, “The only reason we let Brad Dourif act is because we’re afraid of what he’ll do if we don’t.”
1. Hazel Motes from Wise Blood
Let me say up front that the film adaptation is very flawed. Part of this comes from the fact that John Huston and the Fitzgerald family, who held Flannery O’Connor’s estate in trust, were in conflict about how the adaptation should be done. John Huston wanted to make one of his trademark films about the folly of man; the Fitzgeralds were determined not to have O’Connor’s work altered. But Hazel Motes as a character is the perfect mix of naivete and violence that Mr. Dourif has portrayed so well in other characters. His physicality, his accent & his emotional intensity all come together, even if the rest of the movie doesn’t. (Jump to 5:52 in the clip.) In a time when the internet can give us anything, I would love a clip of Mr. Dourif reading from Wise Blood.