Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Two New Reviews at Best Horror Movie List

A little behind on updating here, which is, sadly, par for the course. I've had two new reviews posted at http://www.besthorrormovielist.com/reviews/ in the last week - one for As Above, So Below and another for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

 As Above, So Below is an interesting film - with lots to recommend it on the surface - but it fails to hold together as a coherent whole. I briefly touched on this in the review, but I seriously think this could have been a much better film if they had eschewed the entire found-footage idea and shot it as a straightforward horror movie. The limitations of found-footage are such that exposition is super problematic - you can't just have people talking for huge chunks for time as the whole point of a found-footage setup is a sense of immediacy. You're supposed to feel like you're seeing exactly what transpired and people - especially people in a difficult and stressful situation - just don't sit around spouting facts and explanations. A film like this, whose entire last third depends on an understanding of alchemical history and esoterica, is faced with losing its verisimilitude and momentum or becoming incoherent. Unfortunately, As Above opted for the latter, and the film suffers terribly because of it.

"If you mixed Indiana Jones with The Descent and shot it as a found-footage movie it might feel a little like As Above, So Below..." [more]

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is one of those films that invites a lot of analysis. There are deliberate holes in the narrative, spaces in which any reviewer can simply deposit their own biases and interests. The gap between the intent of the creator and the understanding of the viewer is large at the best of times, but with a film like this it becomes an absolute chasm. Is it a feminist take on life in Iran? Is it a commentary on lost youth? What if it's really all about innocence lost, as represented by the 57 Thunderbird. What does the cat mean? Sometimes I watch a film like this, all art-school pretension and film-school virtuosity and have to quote Big Trouble In Little China, "Is it me or are we just stroking ourselves heavily?"

Not to say it's an empty vessel - there's plenty of good stuff going on in the film. I just sometimes feel like it was trying to be 'important' for its own sake, and not as part of any real message.

"In Bad City, where the citizens dump their inconvenient corpses in dry riverbeds and rusty oil pumpjacks creak on the horizon day and night, there is something sinister moving in the dim streets...." [more]

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rewrites begin!

The rewrites begin in earnest! The new book is tentatively called Seeing Byzantium and just for giggles here's the first paragraph of chapter 2:

Grekov's store, Ivan's Trading Post, was closed on Saturdays. He called it 'Ivan's' even though Grekov's first name was actually Trofim. "Nobody knows Trofim," he'd say, "they expect a Russian to be Ivan or Anatoly or Dmitry. Don't confuse customers - give them what they expect and they'll be comfortable. People who are comfortable are more likely to spend money. Besides," he'd tap his chest with both hands, "my middle name is Ivan." Of course, depending on who he was talking to, Grekov's middle name was also Arkady, Vladimir, or Mikhail. He wore middle names like new shirts, trying them on for comfort.