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When I was a kid, I idolized the movies of Boris Karloff and Vincent Price; I told spooky tales with a maniacal gleam, dressed up as both Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride, and mimicked Price’s capeswish. The faker the blood and grimmer the grimace, the better. Under the cheesy backdrops, you can see the twinkle in those old codgers’ eyes, relishing each morsel of playful wickedness. But something that irked me then, and irks me now, is how the women in these films are so boring, being left out of the fun as love interests, sisters, props, etc.
So why aren’t people still talking about “Budapest” as a certified best picture contender? Pundits at the awards prediction site Gold Derby currently have the movie — a nostalgic recounting of a droll concierge’s (Ralph Fiennes) many adventures — tied for 10th place with Clint Eastwood’s unseen “American Sniper” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s shaggy dog detective story, “Inherent Vice.” Movie City News’ Gurus o’ Gold poll puts “Budapest” at No. 9, which would just sneak it in if voters nominate nine movies as they have done annually since the motion picture academy revised its voting process three years ago.
There is an enduring story about the Academy Awards Best Picture race that goes like this: The best picture never wins. Every year, Oscar voters have enough temerity/foresight/integrity/discernment to nominate at least one movie on which the verdict of history would smile favorably if it were to take the prize. And every year, collective shortsightedness, envy, or a failure of appreciation turns that movie into an also-ran. This way of framing the Oscars is still embraced by some critics, whose astonishment that an organization of industry professionals does not share their taste blooms afresh every year. And it’s almost as old as the awards themselves — it dates back at least as far as 1941, when How Green Was My Valley (a great movie) beat Citizen Kane (a greater movie) for top honors.
What defines a horror movie villain? Someone (or something) that is emotionless, relentless, haunting and makes you bleed. By this definition, Whiplash gave audiences one of the most terrifying villains released in the horror month of October, but it may not be the character you expect. There is no question that J.K. Simmons’ Fletcher is relentless as he pushes Andrew (Miles Teller) to excel at his chosen instrument. But it is the instrument itself that is the true villain of this story – the drum set.
While Martin Scorsese has never made a full-blown horror film, there’s certainly traces of the genre in such films as Shutter Island, and today we have a look at the offerings he’s most influenced by. Back in 2009 he spoke with The Daily Beast regarding the scariest films he’s ever seen and considering today’s occasion, we’re highlighting the list. Made up of eleven features, from the rare to massive box-office successes, at the top is Robert Wise‘s The Haunting, a film he finds “absolutely terrifying.”
Chris Rock hosted last night’s “Saturday Night Live,” and he aimed his hilarious monologue at American consumerism and the gun lobby. The Hollywood Reporter points out that much of the routine comes from Rock’s stand-up. Regardless, he brought some edgy material, discussing everything from the Freedom Tower to America’s inane consumerist attitude — especially concerning the holiday season or “Jesus’ birthday season.
“Marriage means different things to different people,” at least so claims Alison—a local waitress from Montauk who recently lost her only child—to Noah—a man on the verge of a midlife crisis—in episode two of Showtime’s The Affair. The two characters’ infidelity is central to the show’s plot, and this quote is what made me, a licensed therapist and a show producer, drawn to working on the series.
“No one knows anything,” goes the famous Hollywood dictum, which has been proven once again with the box-office success of Pawel Pawlikowski’s latest film “Ida.” A quiet Polish-language, black-and-white somber drama about the legacy of the Holocaust, shot in a square aspect ratio format with unknown actors, “Ida” was never conceived as a commercial product. When the film premiered at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival, Variety’s review dubbed it a “joyless art film” and predicted its “ascetic treatment locks it away in the past, a grim challenge even to festival and arthouse crowds.”
Earlier this month, Criterion released a gorgeous new edition of Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, a 1961 adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw that to this day still ranks among the greatest of horror films. Such an accomplishment cannot be overstated: Horror is one of the most subjective of genres, and thus also among the most susceptible to the vagaries of time and passing fashions. Why The Innocents still retains its ability to terrify us, more than 50 years after its release, is worth exploring, particularly within the context of the tremendously underrated Clayton’s broader career. Indeed, what makes The Innocents so powerful is the very thing that made Clayton’s films so distinctive.
Halloween music has gone much the way of the holiday over the decades: accumulating camp and kitsch, confectionary fun, friendly monster-on-monster romping, and a sort of innocence that has made the season more about good times than chilling your soul. Most everybody knows Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” with its Karloffian lead vocal and Dracula impersonation that, to modern ears, is as much Count Chocula as Bela Lugosi. The 1950s from which “Mash” sprung un-crypted loads of similar novelty cuts to soundtrack Halloween parties, middle-school dances, and senior-center mixers.