Archive of ‘film’ category

Dr. Klemperer’s Cheese Sandwich

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Last week I resigned myself to paying $5.99 for the privilege of watching 2018’s Suspiria film on Amazon. When I first heard about the remake, what feels like ages ago now, I struggled with the idea of it. The original holds a special, lurid, hyper-saturated place in my heart, and though I’d only seen it once and didn’t recall many of the details, I held its memory close, a hazy, disturbing delight.

The more I began to hear about this new version, though–the swoony addition of Tilda Swinton to the cast, the eerie soundtrack by Thom Yorke, the sharp focus on the art and ritual of the dancing, itself–the more intrigued I grew. I’ve a funny relationship with reboots of beloved stories, anyway; part of me always wants more of a thing I adore, but the other part of me is skeptical that you can really bring anything new or more perfect to the table, where these beloved celluloid favorites are concerned. I was conflicted, as I am sure many folks, were, but I’d heard enough hints and whispers and seen enough teasers to allow myself to become convinced.

Well. I won’t spoil anything for you, but I did not love this new Suspiria. It’s as if they took the parts and pieces from the old Suspiria that the film didn’t really focus on or spend much time examining or exploring: the dancing, for instance; the era, the current events at the time, a good look at the witches and their intentions, maybe even the city of West Berlin itself. And they somehow took all of these elements, which could rightfully be very fascinating – – I understand why someone would want to take them and play them up or play them against each other – – but they somehow made them all very seem very dull.

So much was I not enjoying all of these, in fact, that it took me about three hours to slog through the first bland fifty minutes, and three days later when I tried to pick up where I left off, I became aware of Amazon’s rental policy wherein once a movie is rented, it is only available for three days. So I was cut off before I even had a chance to finish it! But…that’s OK. I had seen enough.

I will say, though, the one character I was rooting for was Dr. Klemperer’s omnipresent cheese sandwich, which stole the scene in at least two instances, and for all I know, could have saved the entire film (had I been able to finish watching it.) Thanks for that, Amazon. Anyway, little cheese sammie–as far as I am concerned, you were the star of the show!

For as perfect as the original film was, it surely did not boast a cheese sandwich!

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Shudder Picks For This Friday Night

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There is nothing as irritating and frustrating as scrolling through your video service of choice for twenty minutes or more and not seeing anything that looks even halfway decent or that grabs your attention. This makes me very angry! I’ve been known to toss the remote across the room in a snit over this very vexation–I mean why are we even paying for these services? I know, this is a really dumb thing to complain about, but it is one of those things that gets my dander up.

A couple years ago, on a whim, I started up a free trial for Shudder (“Curated Thrills, Horror, and Suspense That Will Make Your Spine Tingle”, whee!) through Amazon, and promptly forgot about it. But when I was compiling films to watch this past October for my 31 Days Of Horror project, I realized that Shudder really has some amazing selections. If you’re into super current releases, you might be a bit disappointed, but if your thing is slightly obscure cinema, or previously difficult to find movies, or films with a cult following–there is really a treasure trove of riches to dig through here. Don’t go by current line up of titles they show on the welcome screen at any given time–there is so much more available than that. Which isn’t to say that there’s a magnificently huge selection, but I have found that the really interesting titles are is not the ones featured on the front page.

But let’s say you’re on the sofa, you’ve got your popcorn ready, and you want something NOW. You don’t want to dig around and scroll endlessly for hours and then it’s midnight before you settle on something. I hear you, and I am here to help.

(By the way, how do you eat your popcorn? I like mine with butter, flaky salt, aonori, and nutritional yeast! I could eat it morning, noon and night. Popcorn for life.)

Below are twenty(ish) films that I found in their 50 or so pages of selections, that have my stamp of approval. I mean, don’t tell anyone that. My stamp of approval is sort of worthless, so no doubt they’ll just laugh at you. But between you and me, you cannot go wrong with the following choices, some of which I have mentioned or reviewed previously, and some of which appeared on Unquiet Things as part of a guest blog post, just last week!

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Jordskott (series)
Prevenge
Demons
Audition
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Beyond
Repulsion
Battle Royale
The Whip and the Body
Trollhunter
The Host
Kill, Baby Kill
High Tension
The Devil’s Backbone
Frankenhooker
Antiviral
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
The Stendhal Syndrome
Berberian Sound Studio
Fascination

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And here are some films that I have read about over the years, or which have been on my list of things to watch, and I was very excited to find them on *Shudder as well! Have you found any gems or must-see movies on Shudder (or amazon prime, or netflix, for that matter–we have all of them!)

Short Night of Glass Dolls 
Black Belly of the Tarantula
The Church
The Velvet Vampire
Baba Yaga
Dead Ringers
Nightmares Come At Night
The Last Circus {h/t to Kate for making me aware of this one!}

*These are all my opinions, and Shudder did not pay me for my enthusiasm.

{Guest Post} Ten Gems Of Decadent Cinema

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I have a difficult time watching movies. I mean, I love movies, and I love watching them but I tend to become fixated on minute details. And if it is a particularly gorgeous film, brimming with opulence and utterly dripping with lavish details, well, then we have a problem, because I am painstakingly pausing the film every few seconds, scene by scene, to capture a certain detail–the shadowy fold of a velvet skirt, the glinting facets of a crystal goblet, the glow of candlelight on skin. More often than not it takes me five hours to watch a standard length film.

Sometime starting in 2016, I think, I began marveling at the sumptuous, sensuous cinematic screen shots posted over at @la.belle.otero‘s instagram. This person, I thought, has without a doubt elevated the dreamy, decadent screen shot to an art form! I became obsessed with the images they would share– poetic, hypnotic glimpses of films I’d never even seen or heard of! In addition to mesmerizing scenes graced by magnificently beautiful women, the account is also awash in an abundance of wickedly exquisite art and fashion.

On a whim, I inquired of the owner of this instagram account if she might like to put together a guest post detailing some of her favorite or most beloved gems of decadent cinema to share with the readers of Unquiet Things, and I was delighted when she agreed!

Jessica enthuses about all things strange and unusual in art, books, film, and fashion on her Instagram, @la.belle.otero , and contributes regularly to @dreamersofdecadence and @lesfemmespsychotiques. Her formal background is in Comparative Literature and Fashion Design.

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The Seventh Victim: Produced by B-movie master Val Lewton, this cult/noir classic from 1943 oozes with glamour and gloom. Set in Greenwich Village with a plot revolving around a mysterious missing sister and a Satanic cult, it features one of the most visually striking characters in noir cinema. It’s impossible to take your eyes off of Jean Brooks as Jacqueline, with her long black bob and dark fur coat, sunk deep into an armchair. The Seventh Victim is a concise and enigmatic thriller steeped in a highly stylized, sinister atmosphere, but it’s truly Brooks as the troubled and traumatized femme fatale who makes it essential viewing.


LizardBlack Lizard
: I rarely recommend films to people if they’re hard to find or not commercially available. There’s one I always make an exception for, and that’s this one. This 1968 gonzo Japanese campadelic crime caper stars renowned drag queen Akihiro Miwa as a glamorous jewel thief, and features Aubrey Beardsley-inspired sets, a collection of human statues, and a cameo by literary icon Yukio Mishima (who wrote the play on which the film was based). Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who would much later become famous for Battle Royale, this gem is ripe for rediscovery.

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Morgiana: When it comes to aesthetics, nothing makes me giddier than the Belle Epoque through the lens of the 1970s, and this Czech gothic horror film revels in it. It’s a study in elegance and creepiness with an interplay of light versus darkness, embodied in the two sisters (both played by the same actress, Iva Janzurova) at the center of the of a surreal fairytale struggle between good and evil. The costumes and art direction are ominously executed with meticulous detail (every delicate object, every fold of cloth catches the eye), and emphasized by the hallucinatory camerawork.

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Don’t Deliver Us from Evil: Two teenage girls in rural France, fed up with the humdrum of their lives, give into the temptations of the dark side by way of the writings of Charles Baudelaire and the Comte de Lautrémont, and are ultimately and irrevocably plunged head first into a life of crime and an unwavering devotion to evil. With such a plot, it would be easy for this film to be little more than typical exploitation fare, however director Joel Séria gives the viewer something much more poetically sinister, propelled by strong performances from the lead actresses and capped off by an unforgettably shocking final scene.

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Five Dolls for an August Moon: I’m a devotee of the giallo genre, and although a well-developed plot is often what makes the best of these films great, sometimes storyline simply takes a backseat to pure eye candy. Mario Bava’s take on Ten Little Indians utterly abandons logic in favor of a pop art extravaganza dripping with candy-hued tones (even the blood is peppermint red). Featuring giallo queen Edwige Fenech at her most beautiful, the “dolls” are resplendent in retro-fabulous costumes that parade on the screen like a late ‘60s fashion show. If you’re feeling puzzled by the ponderous and often incomprehensible dialogue, most DVD releases treat you to a soundtrack-only option, which is one of composer Piero Umiliani’s grooviest.

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Daughters of Darkness: Who wouldn’t give into the ravishes of vampires who looked like Marlene Dietrich and Louise Brooks? Renowned actress Delphine Seyrig, with the help of her young companion, seduce a newlywed couple in an abandoned grand seaside hotel in Belgium. Seyrig’s elaborate and breathtaking costumes took up a large chunk of the film’s budget, and it shows. Her hypnotic beauty and lines delivered in a voice that manages to be both breathy and husky at the same time are reason enough to see this 1971 treasure, but there’s even more to be enjoyed, such as the desolate beach locations, and the deserted opulence of the hotel itself.

Nightmares
Nightmares Come at Night: Les Cauchemars naissent la nuit, one of dizzyingly prolific director Jess Franco’s most personal and obscure projects, has a title that is not as elegantly rendered in English, but in any language, the title reveals little of the film’s secrets. Thought to be lost for many years until it was released on DVD around a decade ago, Nightmares contains many elements and themes central to Franco’s filmography: mind control, madness, bizarre night club acts, remote locales, and perhaps most importantly, borderlines between dreams and reality. A difficult film to describe, but truly worthy of watching in an attempt to unravel its mysteries.

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Fascination: French director Jean Rollin is often mentioned in the same breath as Spaniard Jess Franco, but the two directors’ works are as different from each other as they are intimately aligned with each director’s singular vision. Rollin, famed for his repeated use of vampires, took an unusual diversion on the theme in 1979. Rather than the traditional fanged undead, Fascination centers around two women (another construct frequently employed by the director) holed up in a chateau who are initiates of an all-female blood-drinking cult, where they are about to turn the tables on a violent gang of criminals who invade their terrain. The Belle Epoque via the ‘70s aesthetic is another huge plus.

Possession Possession: Made infamous by appearing on the banned British “video nasty” list in the 1980s, this film by late Polish art house director Andzrej Zulawski transcends the oversimplification of mere “horror movie” into something sublime and inexplicable. The plot centers around the violent dissolution of a marriage, and the crystallization of the resulting outpour of emotion into a truly horrific physical entity. Possession is simply unlike anything else, and defies description (and often, comprehension). Isabelle Adjani was awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981 for her gut-wrenchingly unhinged performance.

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Camille 2000: Radley Metzger specialized in making the sublime ridiculously sublime through his softcore (and later, hardcore) adaptations of literary classics. This film takes the 19th century novel La Dame aux Camélias (which has been adapted numerous times into theatrical, opera, and prior film versions) and transplants it into swinging ‘60s Rome. Metzger excelled in creating lavish masterpieces out of what could easily have been done on the cheap, and true to form, every shot is lovingly framed with exquisite cinematography. Even the sex scenes are filmed with a sophistication rarely seen in “euro-cult” movies of this era. A rich orchestral score, an outrageous dungeon party scene, ultra-mod furnishings (oh, to have a clear inflatable couch!), and a dizzying array of costumes, all add to the icing on this decadent confection.

Thank you, Jessica! Do you have a weird or strange interest or passion or obsession that you would like to share with the readers of Unquiet Things? Are you interested in writing up a guest post about it? Please let me know! I will pay you with a knitted good for your time!

All Of The Cinema And Television That I Watched In 2017

Films 2017

This is really just an excuse to share with you the Google docs list that I have been updating for myself of all of the film and teevee that I’ve been feeding into my eyeballs over the past year. I tried, when I remembered to do so, to add the dates in for when I watched the individual things. Also, I am a terrible movie reviewer, so there isn’t much in the way of additional thoughts here, though I have put a * next to the ones I really enjoyed, and would recommend. (Though if you want to read mini reviews on anything I watched in October–and there was a lot!– go over to Haute Macabre and you’ll find it all there: Part 1 //  Part 2.)

P.S. If you read all the way to the end, you’ll see I have listed some upcoming movies that I am very excited for. What about you? Any favorites from this year? Anything you are looking forward to in 2018?

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January

1/2 Gone Girl
1/3 The Girl On the Train
1/5 The Good Neighbor*
1/6 I Am Not A Serial Killer*
1/7 The Fearless Vampire Killers
1/9 Rusalochka*
1/10 Train to Busan*
1/12 The Skeleton Twins*
1/14 The Happening
1/15 Zootopia
1/15 Tangled
1/16 Goosebumps
1/26 Absentia

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February

2/1 Trouble Every Day
2/2 Blair Witch
2/3 The Love Witch
2/4 Dracula (re-watch)
2/6 The Editor*
2/7 The Village
2/10 VHS
2/26 Get Out*

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March

3/5 Ouija: Origin of Evil
3/9 Don’t Breathe
3/20 Salome’s Last Dance
3/23 Song of the Sea*
3/28 Prevenge*

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April

4/1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
4/1 Rogue One
4/2 Ghost In The Shell
4/3 Moana
4/8-4/11 Taboo*
4/15-4/16 Steven Universe*
4/16 The Void
4/26 Fortitude*

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May

5/19 Kimmy Schmidt
5/21 The Black Coat’s Daughter
5/22 The Girl With All The Gifts
5/23 American Gods
5/? Samurai Gourmet*
5/? Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories*
5/? Jordskott*

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June

6/3 Wonder Woman*
6/8 Phantasm III
6/17 Star Trek
6/22 Raw
6/24 Frankenhooker*
6/? Riverdale*
6/29 A Dark Song
6/30 The Belko Experiment

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July

7/1 From A House On Willow St
7/3 What We Do In The Shadows (rewatch)
7/4 Kong Skull Island
7/5 Attack On Titan Season 2
7/6 Lake Bodom
7/17 Split
7/20 Logan
7/22 Martin*
7/23 Creepshow
7/26 Dawn of the Dead*
7/29 Zeder*

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August

8/3 The Lure*
8/6 The Killing
8/13 The Fall
8/24 Broadchurch*

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September

9/9 10 Cloverfield Lane
9/10 Lavender
9/16 Lord of the Rings trilogy (again)
9/23 mother!
9/25 Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (rewatch)
9/30 Body

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October

10/1 Shelley
10/2 The Transfiguration
10/3 The Haunting of Julia*
10/4 High Tension
10/5 Dark Signal
10/6 Jacob’s Ladder
10/7 Pet Sematary
10/8 The Asphyx & Last Shift
10/9 The Whip and the Body
10/10 I Am A Ghost
10/11 White Zombie
10/12 Under The Shadow
10/13 Dragula Ep 1&2
10/14 P
10/15 Devil’s Backbone*
10/16 Devil’s Backbone (it took me two days to watch this)
10/17 Shiki, Corpse Party, When They Cry
10/18 The Vampire Lovers
10/19 Blood And Roses
10/20 Slumber Party Massacre
10/21 Kill Baby Kill
10/22 Maximum Overdrive
10/23 John Dies At The End
10/24 Le Manoir du Diable
10/25 The Devil’s Candy
10/26 Audrey Rose
10/27 American Horror Story: Cult
10/28 Shivers
10/29 Repulsion
10/30 Channel Zero: Candle Cove
10/31 Stranger Things

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November

11/12 Scream Queens
11/20 Exorcist

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December

12/2 Broadchurch
12/5 Exorcist*
12/7 Vikings
12/14 Thor: Ragnarok*
12/16 Howl’s Moving Castle (rewatch)
12/17 Dark*
12/24 Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Looking forward to:

The Lodgers
A Wrinkle In Time
Annihilation
Winchester
It: Chapter Two (still haven’t seen Chapter One, oops.)
The House with a Clock in its Walls

TiCK Kickstarter

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Photographer and filmmaker Ashlea Wessel (Ink) has teamed up with award-winning director Kevin Burke (24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters) for a new project they describe as a “live-action horror/sci-fi short exploring North American colonial relations in a post-pandemic age. With Vampires.”

Currently on Kickstarter with a goal of only $15K, TiCK is the “heartbreaking, blood-soaked, pulse pounding story of a young girl finding her strength in the face of shame, fear and adversity”, that takes you through a fractured, post-pandemic society, after vampirism begins to appear in a small subset of the population. We follow one such girl, Nishiime, who lives in hiding from the organization who kidnapped and enslaved her family.

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I got a bit of the scoop from Ashlea Wessel with regard to the film’s origins, and story concept…

“I’ve revisited the history of North American Colonization quite a bit of late, and I realized that there was so much that we weren’t taught in school or that was fully whitewashed. I think that because of that (among other things), people don’t understand what a huge problem there is in North America for the indigenous population and how colonialism is till alive and well. I thought of a future North America when many people believe that they are in a post-colonial, egalitarian society, but when a pandemic hits, they realize how wrong they had been. This is the basis for the world in which the story unfolds. I also love the idea that disease is what brings the power shift, much in the opposite way that it did in the early days of North America.”

Ashlea also shares with us some personal revelations with regard to Nishiimee, the main character…

“..her journey is almost a coming-of-age story, albeit a brutal one. Though she looks like a child throughout the film, for much of it, she’s actually an adult. She lives in a suspended state of childhood, afraid and ashamed and not realizing her own power until the end. I have this very weird connection to my childhood full of guilt for things that are absolutely ridiculous, that I had no power over, and I feel like Nishiime is a manifestation of that.”

And finally, she enthusiastically spoke to some of TiCk’s inspirations…

“Blood! When I got the idea for this film, and I realized I wanted it to be a vampire film, I was immediately filled with glee because I had an excuse to do scenes that are just DRENCHED in blood. Beautiful, full-tilt slow-motion, glorious blood. I’m giddy just thinking about it.”

There are some really neat backer rewards offered right now (that pink balacava!) so drop by the TiCK kickstarter site and give generously in exchange for some fantastic perks, and to ensure this sci-fi/horror gem gets made!

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31 Days Of Horror

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Every year, right around Halloween, I have grand plans to fill the whole month–every single day in October, in fact–with horror viewing. The sad news is, I usually crap out about a week in, having only seen two or three movies. This year it’ll be different, I swear!

Shelley
I was so excited to begin, I couldn’t even wait until October 1st! The movie I began with was Shelley (2016); a story which revolves around a childless couple, and the young woman they’ve hired to help around the house, who then later agrees to carry their baby. Though the pregnancy is weird(er) and gross(er) than normal, the film was quite beautiful, with that somber, isolated property and the eerie woods surrounding it, and that gorgeous darkened lake. I have a tough time with pregnancy horror, though (no offense to my mommy friends and their little ones, but) I don’t believe pregnancy is the most natural thing in the world. To me, it seems anything but. So this movie really was not one of my favorites.
Shelley is on Netflix now.

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Day One. Body (2015) is described thusly: “A night out turns deadly when three girls break into a seemingly empty mansion.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Also, there’s Larry Fessenden in another scene-stealing role. Don’t you love it when he shows up? Also: when doesn’t he show up? He’s in everything! I quite enjoying the beginning scenes where we got a sense of the friendship between the young women, and see how dumb and ridiculous people act when they are hanging out with friends and family. It reminded me of my sisters and I when we get together for Thanksgiving.
I watched Body on Shudder.

22157900_292820391201541_7833063223032020992_nDay Two: Transfiguration (2016). Milo is a weird kid utterly obsessed with vampires, and driven to violence by his obsessive urges. I would have had a huge and unfortunate crush on him when I was the same age. We even have the same book! I’d have preferred a different ending, but that, as Milo is wont to say, wouldn’t have been very “realistic”.
Transfiguration is on Netflix now.

High TensionDay Three: High Tension (2003). So, I guess this film is about two friends, one of whom is bringing the other to visit her family on a break from school? And then a psychotic trucker breaks into their secluded house and starts brutally murdering everyone and then kidnaps one of the friends and the other friend tries to save her? I guess? That’s all I will say. Except this: considering the how the film plays out–how does this opening sequence make any bit of sense? I am still mad about this.
High Tension is on Hulu right now.

JuliaDay Four: I paid $3.99 (!!) to watch The Haunting of Julia (1977) on Amazon, and in addition to being lovely (as much as a film about a woman grieving the death, of her daughter, and the ghosts allowed entry by grief can be considered lovely, one supposes), the bleak autumn scenery managed to profoundly scratch all of my current, moody seasonal itches.  Extra credit: The film is based on Julia by Peter Straub

Dark SignalDay Five: Dark Signal (2016). The voice of a murdered woman cuts through the static of a radio interview and tries to implicate her murderer. There’s some other stuff going on too, but it’s all really dumb and not even worth going into. The highlight of this film was when, I realized halfway through who this woman was, and felt a profound peal of delight, clanging like a demented bell, trembling through my very soul. I’ve only seen her in one other film (though she’s been in a few) and it was one of the most memorable performances I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, Dark Signal, despite her casting, remains really stupid and pointless. Do you recognize her, too? Let’s squee together. (I’ve given you a huge hint with the side-by-side imagery!)
Dark Signal is on Netflix right now.

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Day Six: Jacob’s Ladder (1990). It’s difficult to talk about films like this because reasons I can’t even share without ruining the story for someone. What can you say? This guy came back from the war all fucked up? I’ll sum up with a question. What’s the word for both heartbreaking terror and brb I’ll be in my bunk thinking about chubby-cheeked Tim Robbins? Sorry, I’m gross.
I watched Jacob’s Ladder on dvd at a friend’s house, but you can get it on Amazon, too.

Pet SemataryDay Seven: Pet Sematary (1989). Though Pet Sematary is one of my favorite Stephen King novels (a huge thank you to Mrs. Haney for letting me borrow this book my second week into your sixth grade class!) I’d never before seen the film. And… I could have waited a longer never. I was warned, but okay, you were all right, it was pretty hokey. And the actor playing Louis Creed was so bland and awful and just….blah. It was nice to see Tasha Yar and Herman Munster, though. I started this on day 7 and finished this the next day, but I think it still counts.
Pet Sematary is on Amazon Prime right now.

AsphyxDay 8: The Asphyx (1972) Sir Hugo Cunningham is an arrogant idiot and keeps killing the ones he loves with his incredibly scientific experiments in his quest for immortality. Forgive the sarcasm. But. It was actually kind of fun! And you can watch the whole thing on youtube.

last shiftDay 8, no. 2: Last Shift (2014).This was was a genuinely creepy film about a rookie cop whose first day on the job is the last shift at the Sanford police station before it closes. And, of course, the supernatural shenanigans that ensue. Parts of this were actually filmed in Sanford FL *and* I’m pretty sure there’s a real-life Sanford police uniform and cruiser in the movie. Apparently there was a big kerfuffle on this point; the Sanford police chief launched an investigation to figure out how the department’s police uniforms and a cruiser ended up as props in this film (Although the department did sign off on it! Le whoopsie.) Another interesting surprise is that my horror-averse partner actually sat through this one with me!
Last Shift is available on Netflix right now.

Currently {7.30.17}

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I find that I increasingly dread and actively avoid putting these “currently” posts together lately. I’m not sure why that is, exactly. To be quite honest, I love talking about myself and all the stuff I’m into, so it’s not like I’ve all of a sudden gotten weird and self-conscious about it. I operate under the assumption that my friends and acquaintances are a lot like me, in that they are curious about the lives of the people who they care about in some form or another (either on the internet or in real life), so if I want to know all about you, is it so hard for me to believe that you might want to know about me? Nope! For whatever reason, as anxious and uneasy as I feel about other things, sharing without feeling uncomfortable or awkward, or precious about it, has always been a thought process that’s come naturally to me (even when someone might actively try to squash it).

So what’s the problem, then? I suspect my low level dysthymia (undiagnosed, but that’s what my counseling-for-a-career sister tells me, and I guess I can’t really sue her if she’s wrong) really amps up in the summer time; I lose all motivation and energy, I stop taking care of myself and participating in the activities and passions I love, and it’s just a vicious cycle–I haven’t got the energy and life to do the things that give me energy and life.

So, yeah, here I am. My heart isn’t in it, but I’d be cross with myself if I skipped my monthly installment of talking about myself. Also, I will take this opportunity to show you my bangs-growing-out-progress, as well as the sparking new addition to my earthly meat suit: my new nose piercing, which I have fondly dubbed “lil crusty”.

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My youngest sister has been checking in with me via email every day. I think she’s realized that for mental health checks, phone calls actually stress me out even more (although Melissa, I hope you know you should always feel free to call, I don’t mean to sound so singularly shitty about it) and so email is the way to go. This daily correspondence has been very helpful; it’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there who realizes I am going through …whatever…and who takes time to say hello every day, and shares with me little links she finds that will interest me, or maybe gives me a piece of advice that she finds helpful in her own life.  Early in the week, when I told her that it was a struggle to even get out of bed,  she urged me,  “…just do SOMETHING to break the cycle. Some activity, to get the momentum going.”

So, I took her advice. I made a list. I did not get to the big stuff. But I ate a goddamn apple, and it was a start.  I shared the imagery on instagram, and it was heartening and encouraging, all of the positive feedback I received, all the kind words and helpful sentiments. I won’t say I was surprised, because I am surrounded by thoughtful, generous, compassionate people. I always appreciate these wonderful souls, but to say I’m surprised by their reaching out to me in kindness? No way. Never surprised. That’s the kind of people they are. You all make me better for knowing you. Thank you. /end cheesiness.

quilt

So, that’s a lie. I have some more cheesiness for you. I received some wondrous gifts in the mail this week, from two incredibly special people. I was utterly moved to tears (and finally in a good way this summer!) at their generosity and the sheer amount of talent and astoundingly hard work that went into these treasures.

My sweet friend Lisa, who I began chatting with online during (I think) the final few years of my time up North, is thoughtful and clever, and very, very funny. I remember us poking fun dumb inspirational memes, and coming up with ridiculous ones of our own, and thinking “yep, Lisa is my people for sure.” Lisa is a quilter who creates the coziest, loveliest patchwork pieces and had apparently been working on this quilt for me since 2015! Accompanying this masterpiece was a beautiful note detailing her inspirations for the project, information on the fabrics used (one was from a collection called “spellbound”!), and the pattern, which is called Storm at Sea and interestingly involves sewing the pieces of the fabric directly onto paper templates and then tearing the paper away when it’s all put together. Lisa also included a marvelous poem which she noted had provided the “narrative underpinning” for the piece, The Plantation, by Seamus Haney. I finally read it in its entirety this morning, curled under the quilt in the dim glooms of my parlour, as the rain outside pounded against the windows–while I was warm and dry and feeling very, very loved.

At any point in that wood
Was a centre, birch trunks
Ghosting your bearings,
Improvising charmed rings

Where ever you stopped.
Though you walked a straight line,
It might be circles you traveled
With toadstools and stumps

Always repeating themselves.

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Friendgift #2 came from the the inimitable jewel priestess/sorceress-solderer, sisterkin and glittering heart, Flannery Grace Good. I had placed an order for a few treasures from her shop, and she included this extraordinary moonstone spirit moth, in addition to some sage for smudging, a floral hydrosol, various stone talismans, and other things for general good juju.

This package had a bit of an adventure finding its way to me! I’m still not sure what happened, but somehow it got lost in transit, somewhere in the murky postal ether, and floated frustratingly out of reach for a week or so. When it finally arrived, I took a moment to breathe a sigh of relief and then commenced parading around in my shimmering new jewels. Flannery Grace Good, in addition to being a wonderful friend, is truly a master of her craft, and coupled with her imagination, creativity, and intense drive, she creates some of the most beautiful jewelry I have ever seen. If you’ve not peeked in her shop yet, you should certainly take a moment to do so, and say hello. 

books

Summer reading! If you recall, my mini quest in my overall yearly reading challenge was to read twenty five books in the months of June, July, and August. Last month I managed six, and this month at eleven books read (one of them is not pictured, above) I’ve nearly doubled that, so I think we’re moving along at a good pace.  Six + eleven = seventeen, so by the end of August, I’ll need to have read eight more books to hit my goal of twenty five, and…uh…win? I guess? I never actually got that far in my planning, I guess.

With Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, fans are were probably like, “what’s this heartwarming crap about pet cats? I want grotesquerie and repulsion!”…but if that’s your initial reaction, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this fantastic read, and trust me, you’ll get your Juni Ito grossness, but just…in a different sort of way. I was finished with the book before I realized it, and was sad to see it end! He writes about having to adapt to living with his fiance’s cats over time, and it’s both adorable and creepy, and overall a fantastic addition to his body of work. Thanks for this little surprise, J-Kun!

Actually, everything I read this month was pretty good, with Gilded Needles and Monstress at the top of my list, followed by The Beguiled, The Graveyard Apartment, and Bleed (all three would make excellent beach reads, with Bleed probably being my least favorite of the three)

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
Bleed
Monstress Vol. 2
The Graveyard Apartment
Southern Cross
The Lottery (graphic novel adaptation)
Rachel Rising Vols. five*, six, and seven
The Beguiled
Gilded Needles

 

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And now I’ve got just enough energy left for some one-word movie & teevee reviews…!

6/29 A Dark Song : yes
6/30 The Belko Experiment: yes (except for last 5 minutes)
7/1 From A House On Willow St: ugh
7/3 What We Do In The Shadows (rewatch): ALWAYS
7/4 Kong Skull Island: meh
7/5 Attack On Titan Season 2: fun!
7/6 Lake Bodom: skip
7/17 Split: sure
7/20 Logan: yeah (but for beardy, bespectacled Wolverine reasons)
7/22 The Killing, Episodes 1-6: yes
7/22 Martin: YES
7/23 Creepshow: eh
7/26 Dawn of the Dead (original): fantastic!
7/29 Zeder (thanks Maddie!): yesyesyes

What was your July about? Wondrous things? Terrible things? Middling-meh things? What have you read or watched or seen or done that thrilled you? Or repulsed you? Let’s dish.

Currently, Part Two (February 2017)

spirit
Currently I am having a rough go of it. I find myself shuffling from one end of the house to the other, without thought or purpose or even memory of doing so. I cannot focus or concentrate, so work is all but impossible, and yet I haven’t taken any time off, either. I find it difficult to justify time off when I already work from home, you know? So I’ve just been sitting at my desk, dazed, thoughts both a million miles away and no where, and desperately hoping that the phone does not ring.  Inevitably it does.  And so, a week has passed since we lost our Mawga.

“A readjustment of reality, ” is how a friend summed up some of what I am feeling.  I spent so many years worrying and fretting over my grandmother, paying her bills, keeping up with her house, handling all the what-ifs and emergencies as they arose, paying her a visit after work every day…now that I no longer have these things to do (these things that sometimes I was honestly quite bitter and resentful of) I am feeling unmoored, adrift, purposeless. Instead of having to sneak my knitting or reading into spare pockets of time, stolen and emptied from other portions of my life, I now am at leisure to do these things as I please. But for the moment (and I do know it is a momentary, passing thing) …I just …can’t.

But I do feel the compelling, compulsive need, as I do every month, do vaguely document the things I have been doing–and so to keep to a routine and regain a sense of normalcy, here is some photographic evidence that there was life and liveliness over the past month. And I suppose, even though it doesn’t feel like it now, there will be again.

vegantreats

A fantastic box of Vegan Treats morbid chocolates from my beau. This has become our Valentine’s Day tradition. Somehow we manage to make these delectable morsels last a month or more; I think three years in, we have managed to become pros at it.

tp

Also honor of Valentines madness and treating myself, I took a break from the No-Buy to grab the Fire Walk With Me soundtrack from Mondo and this gorgeous antique print of The Young Widow by Henry Hutt.

seeds

A few weekends ago we sat in the afternoon sun and planted all kinds of seeds–marigolds, morning glories, carrots, radishes, squash. It will be a miracle if any of them make it. I also planted a few little succulents in the hollowed dome of this cranial planter, an osteological-inspired marvel sculpted by the phenomenal Kermit Tesoro.

bangs

Last Saturday I got my got my bangs cut. My hair has been all one-length for the past twenty years, so this is a weird adjustment. And I probably won’t keep it this way forever (sweaty humid bangs on my forehead in July? Ugh) but for now, I think I really dig it. It’s got a sort of Stevie Nicks or Ann & Nancy Wilson vibe. And it’s certainly an improvement on this, a photo which was taken a day or so before the big chop.

books

Currently reading Something In The Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker. I was so excited to read about the author of my very favorite novel, but I am finding that while it is not dry reading, exactly, it is certainly dense and packed with information and taking me a rather long time to muddle through. Much more than just a biography, it immerses the reader in the culture and the history of the Victorian era, encountering various celebrities and characters along the way. It’s enjoyable, it really is…but there’s just so much of it. I broke up the monotony of it with Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, which is something I’d been meaning to read for awhile as I loved all of her other books, but for whatever reason, I’d never gotten to it. After reading a few chapters I was sorely lamenting watching Chan Wook Parks film adaptation of it, The Handmaiden, just last year. It was exactly the same story (but you know, London, instead of Korea) and I knew what to expect! I was disappointed that I already knew the twists and turns before they could surprise me. Ahhh, but not so. I read on and after a while I was glad of having seen the film first. And I ended up adoring the book as much as the film. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Make them both priorities on your to-watch/to-read lists.

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One word movie reviews!

Absentia–maybe (on amazon prime)
Trouble Every Day–perhaps (on amazon prime)
Blair Witch–skip
The Love Witch–Yes
The Editor–YES
The Village–ugh
VHS–probably (on netflix)
The OA–absolutely (on netflix)

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