Beyond “Die Hard”: Some Christmas Flicks for the Cold and Creepy Child Within

A few years back I started noticing how many bleak, cheerless, or just unexpected films are set during tinsel season. That penitential stretch from just-before-Thanksgiving to just-after-New-Year's can be really hard for people. Meta-emotions are at an all-time high (It's the most! wonderful!! time of the year!) and you're intensely reminded of all your financial and familial stresses. A couple of the daytime workers at the pregnancy center agreed with me that we've been getting an unusual … [Read more...]

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In the Basement of the Doll Hospital: Short movie reviews, mostly women in horror

I continue to believe that since November is the month when Catholics especially remember our dead, I get to watch lots of horror flicks. DON'T JUDGE MY SPIRITUALITY.Also, I couldn't help but notice that the first four of these movies include a scene with a woman peeing. They're all doing slightly different things with it, but is Ladies Pee Too the signature of '10s indie horror? If so, can we get a different signature?Contracted: A new-fledged lesbian with a history of drug addiction … [Read more...]

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“Snow White, Blood Red”: I review “Crimson Peak”

for AmCon: Twenty minutes into “Crimson Peak” I was thinking, “Okay, I’ll just turn my brain off and look at the pretty dresses, this’ll be fun if I let it.” That was right before it turned from a kind of dumb, semi-political ghost tale into a terrifically compelling horror-romance swoonfest. Once the movie makes its swerve into full Gothic it is phenomenal, the kind of thing you’ll rewatch if you like your comfort food red and dripping.Director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”, “The De … [Read more...]

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What Was Going On Inside: I Watch “Goodnight Mommy”

for AmCon: An Austrian television personality comes home to her remote, eerie house to recuperate from extensive plastic surgery. Swathed in bandages, she confronts her twin sons—and they don’t recognize her. She can’t persuade the boys that she’s their real mother, and her inability to remember basic information about her own life doesn’t help. She seems to scapegoat one of the boys as the troublemaker; she sometimes refuses to talk to him or even set a place for him at the table. The boys deci … [Read more...]

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It Always Rains on Ben Affleck: Short Movie Reviews

The Leopard: Burt Lancaster is the patriarch of an aristocratic Sicilian family whose role in society is inevitably being usurped by the rising middle class during the period of Italian unification. Directed in sun-soaked autumnal shade and color by Caravaggio--I mean, Visconti.Lancaster is so good at these autumnal roles (The Swimmer) and everything here is gorgeous to look at. My favorite social or psychological note was the complex role played by the Church/the family priest. The … [Read more...]

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“Summer of ’90: ‘The Witches'”: Slant Magazine

on the last great children's nightmare factory of the 1980s: Children's movies are traditionally designed to comfort. There's an unspoken contract between parent and filmmaker: "For the next 90 minutes, your child will be entertained, but not threatened. No need to worry about your little darlings waking up at three in the morning, bawling in terror. This movie is guaranteed not to trouble anyone's mind. Most people are inherently good. The bad guys don't win."Children's movies, for the … [Read more...]

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Girls Like Violence: Short Movie Reviews

First up, a couple horror flicks; then a WWII documentary covertly filmed behind Fascist lines in Italy; then a satire/adventure tale from the first Gulf War. Don't say I don't have range.Stonehearst Asylum: A new asylum movie from the guy who brought us Session 9? Sure, I'll eat it! And Stonehearst is a really solid horror flick, twisty and heartfelt and saddening.It's a period piece, set between Christmas 1899 and New Year's 1900, at a remote asylum in... England? Scotland? Hogwarts? … [Read more...]

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