“The Tragedy of Macbeth”: Dang that was good. Expressionist, tilting the story far into genre horror (you’ll remember the Coens did Barton Fink), weird and weird and sad. The opening will remind you that Macbeth was out there killing people long before anyone called it Thane of Cawdor. In fact, this version minimizes the role of Lady Macbeth; this Macbeth seems a leap jump and a leap from murder from the start. Alex Hassell (Ross) and Corey Hawkins (Macduff) were great. Denzel Washington was, unexpectedly, a little bland for the first half, only waking up on the home stretch.
“Cat People”: The one from 1982. A Paul Schrader Joint, so it’s aggressively directed and sounds haunting, yet so obnoxious in its underlying worldview. If Paul Schrader movies and I were at a party, I’d spend all my time trying to subtly distance myself from them as they told me how redeeming and how evil sex is, and also what’s the point the women. Anyway, aside from the fact that this film features a black sidekick named “Female” (feh-MAH-lee, thanks for capturing this rude and racist urban legend on film), I will say that I loved the dreamlike sequences se unfolding in the Old Country, with the mythical tree against the fiery sky. One point for that, one point for Annette O’Toole, otherwise uhhhh it was nice talking to you but I think my turn is here.
“Fly”: Also the one from the 80s. This movie is so sad! It’s just a sad, brutal story of a man who turns into a housefly man. And you think it’ll be campy, everyone’s dressed so stylish!, there’s Geena Davis!, but this movie didn’t come here for fun. I think the moment I realized how difficult this thing could be was when the fly guy, after giving that speech about bugs having no politics, and you try to follow his point of view, and it’s sad but not as heartbreakingly sad – then he stares at his ex-lover and says point-blank, “I say I’m going to hurt you if you stay.”
And things go downhill from there. This movie is compelling, it’s emotionally raw (and it’s a horror movie about people in a situation, rather than a horror movie where the situation is really a metaphor for grief or whatever), and it’s is so much harder to watch than I thought. A million stars, will not see again.
“England is mine”: A biopic of Morrissey covering only the period between leaving school and deciding to join a band with Johnny Marr. A weird choice! And in theory, maybe a big one: Let’s make a movie about a young man who repeatedly fails to train the Smiths. But in reality, that turns out to mean a movie where not much happens while someone who looks a bit like Morrissey mocks and occasionally throws out half versions of Smiths’ lyrics. I’m against biopics of the living, in general (if you can call what Morrissey does alive, yes, I know), but it could have been delightful if he’d ditched the kitchen sink drama of Youth and decided to be a dark comedy where every missed opportunity is a downfall. (Also if he had decided to be at least 20% more gay, come on.)
“Red Dragon”: The acting is so good in this adaptation of Thomas Harris that we almost want to say to ourselves “Yes, there was a reason to make this film”, before remembering that man hunter exist. It was always going to be pretty bland by comparison, Brett Ratner just lacks that edgy neon touch, but I will say the scene with the sedated tiger is even better here than in Mann’s version.
“Morgan Stewart Comes Home”: My first Alan Smithee movie! It’s not as bad as you might think! Jon Cryer is a horror-loving teenager brought home from boarding school by his Republican parents so they can cast themselves as the perfect family for his father’s upcoming Senate re-election bid. Romcom hijinks ensue. This movie is not good; it relies on clips from “The Brady Bunch” and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to frame the goodwill he cannot earn on his own. But Lynn Redgrave is lovely as the mother of the GOP (her costumes are also fantastic, especially the mermaid rainbow she wears for the finale), and all the other actors work hard to elevate the material, to the Russian immigrant cook of Leeza Vinnichenko. . Semi-painless, but the only real audiences for this thing are Redgrave finalists and people writing their thesis on the Republican Party in 1980s teen movies.
“The Spooky of the 61st”: How to even describe this. The Lady Red Scare that’s on Succession made a movie, and it’s an apartment haunted by literal, real, that name is said in the movie, Jeffrey Epstein and his victims.
Essentially, my reactions took place in three phases. Phase 1, before I knew what the movie was about: it’s aggressively directed, all those low camera angles and statuary close-ups are kinda cheap, but okay, if the actual movie is good, I’ll call it fun, I’m ready to have fun here. I appreciate the humor here. Is Girls it’s like grown women in girlish skirts hunching their shoulders and declaring their impatience with each other’s mental health issues.
Phase 2, Epstein’s trick is introduced: …That sounds like a terrible idea on its own, but what if it’s not? Like yeah when this character says Epstein was “our 9/11” I kind of get it, you could make a movie about the drastic disruption of the world when you realize how much harm is done by people in power, how the literal real world looks like a rigged game show where the prize is always pedophilia. And also how unstable so many people talking about this stuff are! (“Do you know Pizzagate?”, the very clean ending of a scene.) The title of the film is perhaps an allusion to freddie: What if America wasn’t the sleazy suburb of Elm Street, where the child murderer is an intruder, but the Manhattan penthouses where the abusers are the ones at home? Loss of trust in normal authority is a central horror thememaybe even the crucial element that brings a plot in the horror genre, so… maybe you can make a movie about it, that brings in famous themes like satanism like starry eyes but is also a quasi-political intervention? May be???
Phase 3, the whole second half of the movie: Yeah but the people who would want to do an Epstein supernatural horror movie are not the people who are going to do it well. Having had its only idea, this film then gives up saying anything or doing anything other than pornography. I watched until the end to see if there would be some sort of theme, if the characters would take an inner journey or take me on one, but nope, it’s all just pornogore, and I felt disgusted and hated to be there.
It’s a movie where when you hear what it is, your first reaction is going to be, “It shouldn’t have been done”, and although I often defend this kind of movie… this movie shouldn’t have been done. be done.