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Lizzie Brocheré (born March 22, 1985) is a French film, television, and theatre actress who began working as a child actress in 1995 and has become a strong television and film presence in French cinema. She moved to strong English-speaking roles in the early 2010s, with appearances in dark comedic and dramatic pieces from Jean Marc Barr (One to Another, with Arthur Dupont and Karl E. Landler), Eric Schaeffer (After Fall, Winter, 2011) and Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story: Asylum, 2012–2013), in which she played Grace Bertrand.


Lizzie Brocheré was born in Paris, France. Beginning her acting career at the age of 10 in the 1995 television film Parents à mi-temps, Brocheré would go on to play a string of small roles in television films and series, including Les Enquêtes d'Éloïse Rome, Sydney Fox l'aventurière, Camping Paradis and Sauveur Giordano. In 2001, the 16-year-old Brocheré made her debut on the big screen as Jeanne in Hugo Santiago's Le Loup de la côte ouest (English: The Wolf of the West Coast), which screened at the Montreal Film Festival to mixed reviews.


Brocheré played the supporting role of Gladys in Bernard Rapp's Un petit jeu sans conséquence (2004). In the same year she landed the recurring role of Eva in the television series Alex Santana, négociateur (2004–2007). In an overlapping commitment, she played the recurring character Cécile Chalonges in the French-Swiss television series R.I.S, police scientifique (2006–2008), a remake of an Italian crime drama.


Brocheré also starred in the Chacun sa nuit (2006, English: One to Another), directed by Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold, as the character Lucie alongside (Arthur Dupont and Karl E. Landler), a part for which she was preselected as Best Newcomer in the French Cesars.


In 2007, she was also awarded Best Newcomer at the Luchon Film Festival for her lead in comedy Bac+70, where she stars alongside Pierre Mondy. Brocheré played the leading role in Karin Albou's film Le Chant des mariées (2008), portraying Myriam, a Jewish Tunisian young woman in Tunisia in World War II, which won the Festival du Film de l’Outaouais 2009 (Quebec).


Individually, she was awarded Best Actress for this role at the St Jean de Luz Film Festival. She then played series regular Elina, a Russian policewoman, in Les Bleus (2009).


In 2010, she played in a second film directed by Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold, which was released in June 2011, the French-English American Translation, a psychological thriller. She shot her first action movie Nuit Blanche (2011), directed by Frederic Jardin, where she played a minor role alongside Tomer Sisley and Joey Starr, as a young inexperienced policewoman. She then went on to play a fully English-speaking role as Sophie in the Eric Schaeffer's dark adult comedic drama After Fall, Winter(2011).


In April 2012 she was cast in a recurring role as Grace Bertrand in the American thriller/horror series American Horror Story: Asylum, the second season of that Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy franchise.


Subsequent and current film and television work include credited roles in The Mark of the Angels: Miserere (2013, feature film, Dounia), Braquo (2014, TV series, recurring as Oriane), Deux petites filles en bleu (2014, TV film, Séverine), as well as short film and single episode American television appearances (e.g., The Strain, 2015). She is reported to be in filming in 2015 with the feature Full Contact.



Les Morsures de l'aube (2001) AKA: Love Bites (Release Date: March 21, 2001) Vampire flicks have come in all shapes and sizes from the advent of film to the present. I know this not only because of Omniscient Narrator-like knowledge of the filmic underbelly, but also because the local Suncoast and the local Sam Goody have both gone out of business, allowing me to procure all shapes and sizes of mediocre to TERRIBLE DVD horror movies for what can only be described as "CHEAP"!


This includes all shapes and sizes of Vampire Flick! The French mystery thriller Les Morsures de l'aube is yet another take on an already rich filmic genre. However, the main reason for purchasing this wasn't to get a new shape and size on Vampire Flicks and broaden my horizons. No, the size I'm concerned with here is Five Feet Six Inches and the shape... vaguely that of an hourglass, but a whole lot softer.


Folks, the fact that Asia Aria Maria Vittoria Rossa Argento appears in vinyl fetish wear on the cover of the DVD box only had EVERYTHING to do with my purchasing this! And you should see her nude, it could change your life, dude! Luckily, there's a lot to be enjoyed in this film besides Asia Sweet Asia. Les Morsures de l'aube (released with the English Title of Love Bites, though the title more closely translates to "The Bites of Dawn") is a pretty fun and challenging thriller, exploring the underworld of the French Nightlife, and what might lie beneath the surface of the that which lies under the surface... of... that which... lies under the surface.


The always excellent Guillaume Canet stars as Antoine, the ultimate slacker mooch. He cons his way into night clubs, commonly using fake associations with the known names around the bar scene. He's got no permanent address (save the health-club locker room he showers and sleeps at, but doesn't pay for), no car and no real relationship with his ex-wife and daughter. Naturally he's managed to make more than his fair share of enemies out of bouncers, bartenders and club owners all over the place.


It's this living that leads him to one of the richest and swankiest soirees in the history of night-partying. Antoine gains access to the party by dropping the name of the local King of the Night Time World, a socialite no one seems to have met named Jordan. While dropping the name gets Antoine in, it also grabs the attention of the party thrower Abraham von Bulow (Jean-Marie Winling), who is eager to find Jordan himself. The problem is that nobody seems to have ever met Jordan... and that includes Antoine himself.


Nevertheless he is soon put on Jordan's trail, with the promise of a One Million Franc payoff when Jordan is delivered. Soon Antoine finds himself in increasingly tense situations... the kind you never see in a Mentos commercial. Keeping the same hours as Jordan is purported to, our boy investigates every night spot, from the average French bar to the richest possible nightclubs to the unknown pop-up Rave parties. And he'll lie and cheat to get where he needs to be (though with von Bulow's bankroll, he doesn't need to "steal"). It's easy to like our leading man here, because, while he's affable enough, he's not your typical film noir detective.


This guy is a clubber, thrown into a film-noir situation. His bluffs are called, he finds himself beaten, kidnapped, attacked by dogs, attacked by men with dog-faces, and put through the proverbial ringer at every turn. By the time he's done he looks a lot more like Principal Rooney from Ferris Bueller's Day Off than Doctor Shepherd from Grey's Anatomy.


Two things keep our "hero" going through all this: 1) the promise of a million francs and 2) his interaction with Jordan's sister Violaine (Asia Argento) whose "Love Bites" could turn Liberace into a heterosexual! From their first meeting he's entranced, and who wouldn't be. There's even a greatly appreciated bottomless scene for sweet Asia, whose rear end looks stronger than the Second Death Star. When it comes to Asia Argento, even a peek is an eye-full, but I felt worse than Antoine's dog-bitten foot when she refused to take off her top. Violaine offers up some bullshit excuse for keeping her bra on for her sex scene.


Basically her reasoning is that her breasts are too large and jiggly. Oh, great, great excuse, THANKS! What's next? Oh, this amusement park ride is just TOO much fun, you can't possibly ride it! Oh, no, this apple pie is far, far too delicious, no slice for you! This Da Vinci is way too much of a masterpiece, therefore it shouldn't be on display. Hey, this book has the greatest writing since cuneiform first hit the papyrus page, therefore it must be locked away! Note to the four producers of this movie... I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth here, but come ON... pay her for the scene! Have you SEEN Scarlet Diva? She's not shy!


The question of who, or what, this Jordan really is never leaves the lips of the audience, or the cast as Antoine and his sub-contracted buddy Étienne (Gérard Lanvin) traces him (and, as she vanishes much more often than her Vintage bra does, Violaine as well) through this crazy world night after night. It's not a spoiler to tell you what he THINKS he is... that being one of two surviving Vampires in all the world. The other, naturally, being his sister Violaine!


But how does this fit with reality, is Violaine really a Vampire, or just a hot goth chick with a penchant for rough oral sex? Does it matter? What is Jordan's agenda, and how close is he to his sister Violaine? What is Jordan and Violaine's connection, if any, to Abraham von Bulow? What is Abraham von Bulow's connection, if any, to Sonny von Bulow? Is Klaus innocent? Klaus?


The flaws in this film, while present, aren't even as thick as Charles Kuralt's hair. I do want to warn you that if you're looking for a Vampire Horror Movie, look elsewhere. This is an erotic thriller that lends itself much more to the "Mystery" than to the "Horror" film. That said, it's a bit of a stretch that someone as loaded as ol' Abe would hire the nobody that Antoine is for such an important assignment, just because he keeps the same hours as Jordan. Haven't French Private Eyes ever heard of "No-Doz"? Much of the mythology seems to be kept intentionally obscured to keep the audience guessing.


However, much of this can be ignored because of the good acting by Canet and Argento. Some of these dots simply aren't connected by screenwriter Laurent Chalumeau and Antoine de Caunes, seemingly less out of a structure of mystery than out of the difficulty one faces in juggling so very many bouncing plot-points. While the film is still overall very good, and glorious in its passion for the gritty decadence of the modern vampire tale, this still makes one want to fill in some of the blanks by reading the original novel by Tonino Benacquista that de Cuanes and Chalumeau based this on.


When I wasn't distracted by some of the strange typographical errors in the subtitles (there's a big difference between "Your" and "You're", folks), I kept wondering if Antoine would get out of one of his many impossible scenarios, then pop a Mentos, turn to the camera, smile and thrust out an upturned thumb!


Cheers to the mysteries that leave themselves intelligently open-ended enough to keep the audience feeling like their a part of the problem-solving. Cheers to the French tradition of genre humping. Cheers to Love Bites, the hot French "Vampire"-oriented mystery-thriller, which fully deserves Four Stars out of Five. It's an interesting and different take on the modern vampire tale, short on blood, long on intrigue. And it proves that there are some situations that even a fresh and full of life pack of Mentos can't solve. Klaus?


The Phantom of the Opera (1998) – The Phantom of the Opera is a story most people are familiar with, probably from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s brilliant musical version, the 2004 film adaptation of which, by Joel Schumacher, I’ve seen more times than I can count. When I discovered Dario Argento had made his own adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s classic, much-adapted novel I jumped at the chance.


I am quite forgiving of the bizarre events that often occur in Argento’s films, whether his early Giallos or his all-out horrors, they have a dreamlike quality that allows the viewer to accept certain twists and turns that in another director’s hands would be too outlandish to follow. However, there are moments in this that are quite difficult to come to terms with.


Not least the opening sequence, a bit too reminiscent of Batman Returns, we see a screaming baby basket being cast into the river Seine and washed up against rocks in an underground waterfall. Since it’s an Italian horror, we have some obligatory shots of rats but this time the rats become far more involved as one swims over to the basket.


What would, given any sense of realism, have been one of the most horrific opening scenes in cinema takes a more bizarre turn when the rats take save the baby from drowning, take it in and raise it. After pausing the DVD and sitting, sobbing uncontrollably for a few hours I decided it was best to simply accept this was okay in whatever universe the film exists in a get on with it.


In fairness, the film does improve once we reach the more familiar plot which has been tweaked somewhat to allow the Phantom to be a bit of a serial killer for reasons not 100% clear, but once again, given the genre in which it lies we shouldn’t have expected anything else. The art direction of the film, for a considerably lower budget, is pretty on par with the Joel Schumacher version that wasn’t made until 6 years later, the lavish opera house and dismal catacombs shot in saturated colours, surely satisfying hopes for Argento’s trademark visuals.


Asia Argento is cast as Christine Daaé, in a decision that cynics wouldn’t be entirely wrong to suggest has a lot to do with her father being the director, but it transpires pretty quickly that she plays the part rather well. Erik/The Phantom however, played by Julian Sands, is the weakest point of the film. Being the title character, it is a somewhat fundamental issue.


It’s difficult to say where the blame for the soulless (and not in a good way), bland, and almost completely un-frightening depiction; the script is quite awkwardly written for his character, with stilted romantic language that sounds like the script was written in Italian then translated on google translator, losing some of the point intended – Erik and Christine’s first exchange includes this passage:


Erik: I said nothing. But I caught myself thinking about you. Thoughts that surprise me. And I’m not easily surprised. Christine: Thinking about me? Why? Erik: I wanted to tell you, your voice fills my heart with divine light. Listening to you is sublime, wonderful. This must be our secret. Tell nobody, then no one will know. We’ll meet again.


The blame can’t entirely go on the script however, because there have been plenty of roles with flowery language and odd metaphors that actors have pulled off convincingly enough. It really feels that Sands either phoned this role in, or simply wasn’t suited to it. We’ve seen Gerard Butler on film and countless others on stage toe the line of mysterious and seductive with a fearful edge of creepiness and danger in portraying Erik, but Sands errs far too far on the side of outright sleazy creepiness.


What romanticism may lie in the awkwardly written script is delivered with a desire and emotion of a Tesco checkout assistant. While the film does well in creating an air of melancholy around the legend of the phantom and any scenes where he’s ominously present yet unseen, as soon as Erik has a major part in a scene, be it with Christine or in one of his kills, there’s nothing.


The horror elements of this film don’t all feel shoved in unnecessarily; while we’re not too sure why Erik kills people beyond protecting his ‘home’, the sequences do fit into the reworked plot and are pulled off with a skill that we’d expect from Argento, offering his trademark beautifully choreographed violence and one or two great chases in the labyrinthine, claustrophobic catacombs.


The famous chandelier scene is recreated excellently here, referencing the 1925 silent movie’s already brilliant sequence whilst taking it many steps further with some gruesome shots that would never have been acceptable in those times. It’s this pairing of sumptuous period romance and gruesome Italian horror that could have gone terribly but works well.


As with this style of film, there are plenty of scenes that don’t make complete sense or are jarringly odd, such as rooftop scenes featuring horrendous computer effects and laugh-out-loud dream sequences, plus another scene with a brief suggestion that Erik may have grown closer to his rodent companions that we’d ever like to imagine, but for any Euro-horror fan it would almost be disappointing for there not to be such oddness.


However, an incredibly derivative subplot that I can only imagine is meant to be comic relief does it’s best to destroy the film, featuring a rat-catcher and his dwarf companion building a steampunk-styled sweeper cart complete with spinning blades upon which they tear down the catacombs sweeping up, blending and slicing rats before a ‘hilarious’ mishap.


If it were one single scene, I’d recommend anyone watching skips it on their DVD but it’s interspersed throughout the film so even that isn’t possible. This subplot has absolutely no bearing to the rest of the film so the decision not to cut it is unforgivable in my opinion. They say seeing is believing, but even that isn’t enough in this case.


It’s fair to say that I have very mixed feeling on this film. It being my first ‘modern’ Argento movie, it wasn’t the train wreck I’d been lead to believe his career had become and (rat-sweeper carts aside) I have come to expect a level of incredulity when watching these films. It didn’t feel like a video nasty with delusions of grandeur as I’d feared it might.


The tone of the film was pretty spot-on for the most part, with the miscasting of Erik being a massive shame. As with a good Phantom this could have been a great, if still flawed, horrific take on the dark tale. All in all it’s an entertaining (if sometimes baffling and frustrating) watch, especially for fans of Argento or other European horror greats who like other versions of Phantom of the Opera.


Terror at the Opera is the international title, although it’s also known as Opera, a title I prefer and will use henceforth. I’ve written of my love for Dario Argento’s films before, and while this isn’t anywhere near as good as Suspiria, Tenebrae or Deep Red, it’s still a bizarre film with great flamboyance, that, in retrospect, probably reveals a lot more about Argento than he ever intended.


The film opens mid-tantrum as diva opera starlet Mara Czekova storms out of a rehearsal for Verdi’s Macbeth, as reimagined by a music-video director. As she storms out of the opera house, she is hit by a car, and young Betty (Christina Marsillach) is called in to replace her.


Betty doesn’t believe she’s ready to take centre stage, but everyone around her encourages her into it. This becomes a problem when a murderer decides to kill those close to Betty, often tying her up first and making her watch.


He even tapes needles under her eyes so she can’t close them, in one of the film’s more iconic images. As the body count increases, the investigations begin, and Betty’s already nerve-wracked behaviour becomes more erratic, the killer gets more and more vicious, closing in on a finale kill with Betty at the centrepiece.


As a film, this is a bizarre, oddly composed piece, but as an Argento film, it’s right at home. The plot doesn’t really add up to much sense-making when all is said and done, and the set-pieces are spectacular and accompanied by an impressive soundtrack (courtesy of Brian Eno),
so everyone used to his flamboyant, over-the-top sensibility will be right at home, but I imagine for the uninitiated viewer this would be a surreal experience. The interesting, subtextual layer of this film though is how much it betrays what Dario Argento really feels about creating horror movies, and some of the more problematic elements of his films on a political-correctness scale.
His views on women are, at best, accidentally misogynistic, having been quoted as saying that if he’s going to watch a woman be murdered, he’d much prefer her to be beautiful than ugly. As such, the women in his films are doubly-perfunctory, both as victims/plot devices, and also eye candy.
While men also suffer in his films, the ratios are skewed pretty heavily towards the female cast, and although it’s never a significant element of the plot or the focus of the movie (unlike Anti-Christ for example, where it’s brought to the forefront) it can make it a little questionable loving a movie that doesn’t exactly aim to bridge the gender gap.

For the most part, I’m an equal-opportunist and appreciate a horror movie for its audacity, not its political correctness, but it’s a bit startling in Opera to see how sadistic is his treatment of the female characters.
Secondly, the film places a major emphasis on the act of watching. Now, this is nothing new in the world of symbolism and film literacy – pretty much any film that places an emphasis on the eyes, or on things like cameras and surveillance is asking the audience to address their own habits.
Here, however, it’s a much more forceful analogy, with Argento using Betty as a surrogate for the audience, being forced to watch acts of murder; while in the story, Betty has emotional issues that cause her to not react as one would expect to such atrocities (she essentially doesn’t care), the reaction also mirrors that of a horror-movie audience,
being subjected to violence and murder without giving it too much of a second thought; and in a way, this is a punishment, as several characters in Opera are killed or maimed through their eyes in moments when they are watching or observing the killer.
Then consider Peter Neal, protagonist of Argento’s earlier Tenebrae, a novelist who writes lurid crime thrillers who’s also been accused of misogyny, and in the final reel is discovered to actually be (one of) the murderers of the tale.
An author, a creator of fiction, who subjects his audience to violence and depravity – a surrogate for Argento. In Opera, this seems to have been reiterated, with Argento essentially defiantly stating that his films are what they are, and that he’s going to keep making the audience watch these things for as long as he wants to.
It’s not a director creating movies to scare audiences, it’s a man creating films that let him play around with some problematic ideas and interests, and to have that rewarded with huge success (Opera was one of his more financially successful films, although it marked the beginning of his downfall).


Now, taking all of that into consideration, I’ll stress that it’s subtextual. It doesn’t hamper the enjoyment of the movie at all, although the ideas themselves might give you pause for thought, but I find it interesting that it’s probably unintended on Argento’s part, but says a lot.


It also, of course, assumes you know more about his personal life and his troubles with his work to read into his films, so if you’re watching this cold, it’s not going to make a difference. Having acknowledged the strange subtext, what about the main text?


Opera is a bold, brash and audacious movie that has a surreal performativity to it. There are allusions to Phantom of the Opera and Macbeth throughout, which the savvy viewer will pick up and recognise in a veryself satisfied way (I know I did), but there’s also a strange sense that what your seeing is not a horror movie, but a horror movie performing a horror movie.


Even in the realm of Argento’s excesses, everything seems a little too-highly tweaked, a little too melodramatic, a little too overdone. This is not a bad thing. It means that the film is this kind of elevated construction of oddities, of outlandish set-pieces and strange characterisation, but it all works.


In the world of opera, the hyper-real is status quo, and therefore a horror movie about an opera should be similarly heightened. For instance, Betty’s agent Mira (Daria Niccolodi) is with Betty in her apartment when the killer sets out on the offensive. He pretends to be a policeman, but in a rare moment of genre-savvy for an Argento film, Betty and Mira realise it’s probably a trick, and it then becomes a question of if the policeman outside their door is real or the maniac…or if it’s the policeman inside Betty’s apartment who’s been there all along.


Mira goes to the door and looks through the peephole to see his Police ID, only for this to be the moment that he reveals himself as a killer, and shoots a bullet through the peephole into her peering eye.


This moment is monumentally overblown, with a slow-motion shot of the bullet coursing through the peephole, and when it connects with Mira, she flies back across the room in a spectacular arc; in any other movie it would be laughably out of touch, but within the surreal, exaggerated set-pieces of Opera it makes perfect sense. (Apparently Nicolodi only signed on because of how spectacular her death was; the acrimonious breakdown of her marriage to Argento had left their professional relationship incredibly strained).

It comes off less like a death scene in a horror movie, and more like a performance of a death scene that’s being showcased for it’s construction rather than its efficacy in scaring or shocking, and it’s all the better for it.


The film is full of moments like this; it’s not enough to have Betty tied to a pole with the needles under her eyes the first time the killer makes her watch him in the act, the movie then one-ups itself by placing her in a glass display-case and trapping her even more so,


and more pointlessly. In that same second scene, when the victim of the piece finds her in the display-case, she doesn’t immediately move to help her, but moves away elsewhere in the room – it makes no sense for her to, and comes off as the character willingly performing her designated part in a murder scene.


The opening scene, with Mara Czekova’s tantrum is similarly bizarre, and a blessing of production troubles. Initially, Vanessa Redgrave was set to play the part, but demanded a higher salary when she arrived in Rome.


Argento simply fired her, and rewrote the role to a diminished off-screen character. As the film opens, we stick with her P.O.V. (or more specifically, that of the back of her head) as she storms out of the opera house – we never actually see her on screen, and only the chaos caused by her departure, which makes it all the more engrossing.


Even the way the killer is identified is imbued with this sense of theatricality – Betty is performing on-stage, only for the director to break a steel cage full of ravens through the back of the scenery, unleashing them so that they swarm on the killer, who earlier killed one of their flock – this is the first time I’ve heard of ravens actively seeking revenge, but it works as part of the show that is this movie.


Opera is not Argento’s best film, but it is massively entertaining and a true spectacle of a horror film. It has all the trademark oddities of giallo films, and specifically Argento’s oeuvre, but in an strange way, those oddities come across as almost essential for making this movie what it is. It’s strange and amazing, and even if it’s not his best, I don’t think you can ask for more than that.


On one final note, I feel the need to actually mention my DVD of this film. It’s part of the Arrow Video collection, and marks the third purchase I’ve made from them – I really wish that every distributor would put as much effort and content into their collections the same way Arrow does. If you’re a horror fan, it’s essential that you check out their collection, because you won’t find a better presentation of the films you love.



Simon Baker as Riley
John Leguizamo as Cholo
Asia Argento as Slack
Robert Joy as Charlie
Dennis Hopper as Kaufman


Eugene Clark as Big Daddy
Written and directed by
George Romero
Rated R for pervasive
strong violence
and gore, language,
brief sexuality and
some drug use
93 minutes


In a world where the dead are returning to life, the word "trouble" has lost its meaning. --Dennis Hopper in "Land of the Dead" Now this is interesting. In the future world of "George A. Romero's Land of the Dead," both zombies and their victims have started to evolve. The zombies don't simply shuffle around mindlessly, eating people. And the healthy humans don't simply shoot them.


The zombies have learned to communicate on a rudimentary level, to make plans, however murky, and to learn from their tormenters. When the zombie named Big Daddy picks up a machine gun in this movie, that is an ominous sign.


The healthy humans, on the other hand, have evolved a class system. Those with money and clout live in "Fiddler's Green," a luxury high-rise where all their needs are catered to under one roof -- and just as well, because they are not eager to go outside. Other survivors cluster in the city at the foot of the tower, in a city barricaded against the zombie hordes outside.


Mercenaries stage raids outside the safe zone in Dead Reckoning, a gigantic armored truck, and bring back canned food, gasoline and booze. The most intriguing single shot in "Land of the Dead" is a commercial for Fiddler's Green, showing tanned and smiling residents, dressed in elegant leisurewear, living the good life. They look like the white-haired eternally youthful golfers in ads for retirement paradises.


The shot is intriguing for two reasons: (1) Why does Fiddler's Green need to advertise, when it is full and people are literally dying to get in? and (2) What is going through the minds of its residents, as they relax in luxury, sip drinks, shop in designer stores and live the good life? Don't they know the world outside is one of unremitting conflict and misery?


Well, yes, they probably do, and one of the reasons George A. Romero's zombie movies have remained fresh is that he suggests such questions. The residents of Fiddler's Green and the zombies have much the same relationship as citizens of rich nations have with starving orphans and refugees. The lesson is clear: It's good to live in Fiddler's Green.


That's why Cholo (John Leguizamo) wants to move in. He's one of the best mercenaries in the hire of Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), who is the Donald Trump of Fiddler's Green. Kaufman sits in his penthouse, smokes good cigars, sips brandy and gets rich, although the movie never explains how money works in this economy, where possessions are acquired by looting and retained by force.


How, for that matter, do the residents of Fiddler's Green earn a living? Do they spend all day in their casual wear, flashing those white teeth as they perch on the arms of each other's lounge chairs? The thing that bothers me about ads for retirement communities is that the residents seem condemned to leisure.


Cholo works under Riley (Simon Baker), the leader of Kaufman's hired force and the movie's hero. Riley is responsible calm, and sane. Cholo is not, and Leguizamo plays another one of his off-the-wall loose cannons. He has added an unreasonable amount of interest to any number of recent movies.


Also important to the plot is Slack (Asia Argento), a sometime hooker who is beautiful and heroic and intended for better things, and is thrown into a pit of zombies to fend for herself. For that matter, zombies themselves are occasionally hung by the heels with bulls-eyes painted on them, for target practice.


And Romero finds still new and entertaining ways for unspeakably disgusting things to happen to the zombies and their victims. The balance of power in this ordered little world is upset when Kaufman refuses Cholo's request to move into Fiddler's Green.


There is a long waiting list, etc. Cholo steals Dead Reckoning, he is pursued, the zombies get (somewhat) organized, and Big Daddy (Eugene Clark) begins to develop a gleam of intelligence in his dead blue eyes.


The puzzle in all the zombie movies is why any zombies are still -- I was about to write "alive," but I guess the word is "moving." Shooting them in the head or decapitating them seems simple enough, and dozens are mowed down with machine guns by the troops in Dead Reckoning.


Guards at the city barriers kill countless more. Since they are obviously zombies and no diagnosis is necessary before execution on sight, why do they seem to be winning? This and other questions may await Romero's next movie. It's good to see him back in the genre he invented with "Night of the Living Dead," and still using zombies not simply for target practice but as a device for social satire.


It's probably not practical from a box office point of view, but I would love to see a movie set entirely inside a thriving Fiddler's Green. There would be zombies outside but we'd never see them or deal with them. We would simply regard the Good Life as it is lived by those who have walled the zombies out.

Do they relax? Have they peace of mind? Do the miseries of others weigh upon them? The parallels with the real world are tantalizing.


Asia Argento
Born Aria Maria Vittoria Rossa Argento
20 September 1975 (age 41)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Italian
Other names Aria Argento
Occupation Actress, director, singer, model, DJ, writer
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Michele Civetta (m. 2008; div. 2013)


Partner(s) Marco Castoldi (2000–2006)
Children 2
Parent(s) Dario Argento
Daria Nicolodi
Relatives Claudio Argento (uncle)
Salvatore Argento (grandfather)
Alfredo Casella (maternal great-grandfather)
Fiore Argento (half-sister)
Anna Ceroli (half-sister)


Asia Argento pronounced "ah-see-ah ar-jen-toe] (born Aria Maria Vittoria Rossa Argento; 20 September 1975) is an Italian actress, singer, model, and director. Argento is best known for the role of Yelena in the action film xXx, the first installment in the xXx franchise.


Family and early life: Her mother is actress Daria Nicolodi and her father is Dario Argento, an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter, well known for his work in the Italian giallo genre and for his influence on modern horror and slasher movies. Her maternal great-grandfather was composer Alfredo Casella. When Asia Argento was born in Rome, the city registry office refused to acknowledge Asia as an appropriate name, and instead officially inscribed her as Aria (a name accepted by the city registry).


She nonetheless always went by the name Asia, which she later used professionally. Argento has said that as a child she was lonely and depressed, owing in part to her parents' work. Her father used to read her his scripts as bedtime stories. At age eight, Argento published a book of poems. At the age of 14, she ran away from home. She was an introvert and read to make up for having no friends.


In an interview with Filmmaker magazine she stated that she was agoraphobic while she was writing Scarlet Diva and that she could not leave her apartment for months. She said: "I was afraid to go out of my apartment for a long time, I could only go out to work." Argento has mentioned in interviews that she does not have a close relationship with her father. She has mentioned that he was absent when she was a child. She has also mentioned that she did not have a happy childhood.


Regarding her relationship with her father and her reason for acting, she has stated that: I never acted out of ambition; I acted to gain my father's attention. It took a long time for him to notice me – I started when I was nine, and he only cast me when I was 16. And he only became my father when he was my director. I always thought it was sick to choose looking at yourself on a big screen as your job. There has to be something crooked in your mind to want to be loved by everybody. It's like being a prostitute, to share that intimacy with all those people.


Asia Argento started acting at the age of nine playing a small role in a film by Sergio Citti. She also had a small part in Demons 2, a 1986 film written and produced by her father, at the age of 10, as well as its unofficial sequel, La Chiesa (The Church), when she was 14, and Trauma (1993), when she was 18. She received the David di Donatello (Italy's version of the Academy Award) for Best Actress in 1994 for her performance in Perdiamoci di vista, and again in 1996 for Compagna di viaggio, which also earned her a Grolla d'oro award.


In 1998, Argento began appearing in English-language movies, such as B. Monkey and New Rose Hotel.Argento has proven her ability to work in multiple languages, adding French, with a role as Charlotte de Sauve in 1994's La Reine Margot. That same year, she made her first foray into directing, calling the shots behind the short films Prospettive and A ritroso. In 1996, she directed a documentary on her father, and in 1998 a second one on Abel Ferrara, which won her the Rome Film Festival Award.


Argento directed and wrote her first movie, Scarlet Diva (2000), which her father co-produced.[6] In 2002, she portrayed Russian undercover spy Yelena in the action film xXx alongside Vin Diesel. In 2004, she directed her second film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, based on a book by JT LeRoy, the pen name of Laura Albert, this time in the United States. According to a Paris Review interview with Laura Albert, Argento and Savannah Knoop (who played the role of JT's public persona) became lovers.


In addition to her cinematic accomplishments, Argento has written a number of stories for magazines such as Dynamo and L'Espresso, while her first novel, titled I Love You Kirk, was published in Italy in 1999. She has modeled for and endorses the brand "Miss Sixty". She became a fan of the band Hondo Maclean when they wrote a track named after her. She liked the track so much she sent them pictures which they used as the cover of their 2003 EP Plans for a better day.


From 17 to 25 October 2006, Argento contributed a video diary to Nick Knight's website, SHOWstudio. The title of the 54 entries-episodes was "Don't Bother To Knock" and detailed Argento's daily life with three entries (noon, 6 pm and midnight) posted every day. The content of the entries were partially controlled by a discussion forum and together formed a cohesive whole, a sort of "mini-movie" anyone could view for free.


In the clips Argento discusses topics such as freaks, her father, Federico Fellini and her sexuality; she also journals a pregnancy, a new love interest and her unraveling psyche. The last visual of the diary is a digitally manipulated portrait of Argento taken by Knight, slowly burning away.


She appeared in Placebo's music video for "This Picture", and appeared on Placebo frontman Brian Molko's cover version of "Je t'aime... moi non plus". Argento has also starred in Catherine Breillat's period drama The Last Mistress. She dubbed the Italian version of the video game Mirror's Edge in the role of the runner Faith Connors.


Argento has been part of the Legendary Tiger Man's project Femina, which was released on 14 September 2009. She is featured on the song "Life Ain't Enough for You", which was released as a single along with the B-side "My stomach is the most violent of all Italy", in which she also contributes vocals.In May 2013, Argento released her debut LP, entitled Total Entropy, under Nuun Music.


She has been[when?] performing works from the album at various venues in Germany, France and England. She is[when?] working on a number of film projects. In November, Argento wrote the storyline for the music video and short film "Phoenix", along with the director Francesco Carrozzini, taken from the ASAP Rocky album Long. Live. ASAP, the short film stars actor Michael K. Williams and model Joan Smalls.


In 2014, Argento played supporting role in the British film Shongram, a fictional romantic drama based around the factual and historical events of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Her 2014 film Misunderstood was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. While doing press for Misunderstood Argento stated that she was through with acting and had made the decision to focus her energies on writing and directing.


Personal life: Besides Italian, she also speaks fluent English and can also speak French, which she learned for her role in Les Morsures de L'Aube. Her first child, Anna Lou, was born on 20 June 2001. Italian rock and roll musician Marco Castoldi (lead singer of Bluvertigo), also known as Morgan, is the father. She named her daughter after her half-sister Anna Ceroli, who died in a motorcycle accident.


Argento married film director Michele Civetta on 27 August 2008 in Arezzo. Her second child, Nicola Giovanni, was born on 15 September 2008 in Rome. The couple divorced in 2013. She and her children live in Vigna Clara, north of Rome. In early 2017, it was reported by several Italian news sources that Argento had begun a relationship with Anthony Bourdain.


Recognition: In 2012, Argento was highlighted in the retrospective Argento: Il Cinema Nel Sangue at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. The retrospective celebrated the influence of the Argento family on filmmaking in Italy and around the world. It highlighted Asia's contribution as well as that of her father, grandfather (Salvatore), uncle (Claudio) and mother (Daria Nicolodi).



Il Sorpasso (Italian for "the overtaking"; English: The Easy Life) is a 1962 Italian cult movie comedy film co-written and directed by Dino Risi and starring Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Catherine Spaak.


It is considered Risi's masterpiece and one of the more famous examples of Commedia all'italiana film genre.


The film starts in a hazy, sun-baked and seemingly empty Rome on an August morning during Ferragosto holiday. A young, timid law student, Roberto (Trintignant), gazing out his window, is asked for trivial favor, a phone call, by a 40-ish man named Bruno (Gassman), who is passing on the street below at the wheel of a convertible Lancia Aurelia.


The young man tells him to come up and make the call himself. After Bruno fails to contact his friends — he is running a full hour late for his meeting with them, something he apparently doesn't find a good motive for them to have "abandoned" him— he insists on repaying Roberto's courtesy with an aperitivo. Tired of studying for the day and falling prey to Bruno's enthusiasm, the young man accepts.


Thus begins a cruise along the Via Aurelia, the Roman road that also gives the name to Bruno's beloved car. Roberto is unwilling or unable to part from this casual acquaintance despite having almost nothing in common with him. Bruno is loud, brash, risk taking, a bit coarse and a braggart, to boot. He drives recklessly, speeding and constantly attempting "il Sorpasso" — the impatient and aggressive practice of serial tailgating and honking to overtake other cars on the road. But he is also charming and likable. And Roberto, being his complete opposite, feels drawn to Bruno's impulsive, devil-may-care attitude.


Over two days of highs and lows across the coasts of Lazio and Tuscany, the two men fall into various adventures while gradually managing to learn something of each other.


When, for example, the duo spontaneously drops in on Roberto's relatives, en route, the young law student suddenly realizes that his childhood wasn't as golden as he'd always imagined. And later he finds out about Bruno's failed marriage and young daughter, revealing a life not nearly as carefree as Bruno pretends to lead.


When this free-wheeling road-trip movie crescendos to its dramatic ending, the bonding and emerging friendship between the two men is cut short. Spurred on by a seemingly transformed Roberto, Bruno speeds while attempting to overtake another car on the blind curve of a cliffside road.


This risky maneuver results in a fatal accident. The younger man goes over a rocky cliff in the car, leaving a bloodied and shocked Bruno on the curve's edge. When a motorway cop arrives and asks Bruno for Roberto's last name, the survivor realizes he does not even know it.


The movie is considered as one of the best examples of Commedia all'Italiana. Film critics frequently acknowledge that the story offers a poignant portrait of Italy in the early 1960s, when the "economic miracle" (dubbed the "boom" — using the actual English word — by the local media) was starting to transform the country from a traditionally agricultural and family-centered society into a shallower, individualistic and consumeristic one.


The Roman customizer crew Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche dedicated a customized bike to the movie. They named a MotoGuzzi V11 cafe racer: "Sorpasso".


DINO RISI, the Italian writer-director known here only for "Poor But Beautiful" ("Poveri Ma Belli"), shown in New York five years ago, has improved immensely to judge by "The Easy Life" ("Il Sorpasso"), which arrived at the Festival Theater yesterday.


For his examination of an aimless wastrel and his destructive effect on an idealistic youngster and others, he merely touches on his flight from responsibility in a seemingly simple and obvious, yet sensitive commentary on what certainly are universal faults.


Call this a comedy-drama in which the comedy is only a surface symptom. Basically, Mr. Risi and his scenarists are telling the story of Bruno, a youthful but middle-aged happy-go-lucky type, who adores his fast white roadster as much as he does the girls and the self-indulgent life it symbolizes.


This is also the story of Roberto, an ill-fated serious, Caspar Milquetoast-type of Roman law student who is drawn, quite casually, into Bruno's swift orbit for two days during which he loses not only his perspectives and ideals but also his life.


It starts, quite innocently, when the older man, Bruno, is invited to use Roberto's phone and he cavalierly invites the young man out for a drink. It is summer and the only care Bruno seems to have is the next turn in the road and the next girl.


The breakneck journey takes the pair from one spa to the next, with each stop proving an intellectual jolt to Roberto, who slowly discovers that his companion is a cadger, a braggart and an iconoclast who is ready to expose even the skeletons in the closets of the relatives Roberto reveres.


And our hurtling hero is exposed also by his own estranged family and his shady deals so that even he intermittently admits his faults and his gnawing loneliness.


In creating this upper middle-class "La Dolce Vita," Mr. Risi has given us a quick jaunt through the Italian Riviera, as well as his perceptive views of life among the vacationing bourgeois. The views and the girls are extremely photogenic and the headlong dash toward fun and games would appear to be obvious and somewhat pointless if they did not add up to a dramatic whole.


But Mr. Risi's fast-paced direction and, more important, the truths he underlines, give his uncluttered film meaning and poignancy as well as mere speed. He is fortunate in his principals, too. Vittorio Gassman makes a superbly brash, coarse, hail-fellow-well-met Bruno who, in one of his rare moments of honest sadness, warns Roberto away from his "easy life" because "I've never had a real friend."


As the diffident, introspective Roberto, Jean-Louis Trintignant, who has been seen here in a variety of French films, is excellent as his opposite number, an impressionable youngster whose shame and fears finally turn to admiration of his strange friend's "easy life."


Catherine Spaak is both cute and wise as Mr. Gassman's teen-age daughter. Luciana Angiolillo, as his estranged wife who long ago discovered his frailties, is both handsome and forceful. And Linda Sini and Corrado Olmi, as Mr. Trintignant's rustic relatives, add touching portraits to an impressive gallery.


The English subtitles miss quite a bit of the earthy humor and patois of the Italian dialogue, but that is a minor defect. This unpretentious focus on "The Easy Life" results in compassionate and memorable drama.



It is a preposterous idea. Untold centuries ago, when all the world was a desert of wind-whipped, blood-orange sand, and leopards lounged lazily in barren trees and arrogantly ruled all they could see, a few members of the puny race of human beings made their own accommodation with the fearsome beasts.


They sacrificed their women to them. And the leopards did not kill the women, but mated with them. From those mists of prehistory, the race they created lives even today: The Cat People.


These people have had a hard time of it. They have the physical appearance of ordinary humans, except for something feline around the eyes and a certain spring in their step. They have all the mortal appetites, too, but there are complications when they make love, because in the heat of orgasm they are transformed into savage black leopards and kill their human lovers.


They should mate only with their own kind. But as our story opens, there are only two Cat People -- and, like their parents before them, they are brother and sister. This is the stuff of audacious myth, combining the perverse, the glorious, and the ridiculous. The movies were invented to tell such stories.


Paul Schrader's "Cat People" moves boldly between a slice-of-life in present-day New Orleans and the windswept deserts where the Cat People were engendered, and his movie creates a mood of doom, predestination, forbidden passion, and, to be sure, a certain silliness. It's fun in the way horror movies should be fun; it's totally unbelievable in between the times it's scaring the popcorn out of you.


Nastassja Kinski stars as the young sister, Irena. She is an orphan, reunited in New Orleans with her long-lost brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell). She also is a virgin, afraid of sex and liquor because they might unleash the animal inside of her. (Little does she suspect that is literally what would happen.) She is tall, with a sensual mouth, wide-set green eyes, and a catlike walk.


She catches the attention of the curator at the New Orleans zoo (John Heard). He senses danger in her. He also senses that this is the creature he has been waiting for all his life -- waiting for her as the leopards in their cells wait, expecting nothing, ready for anything.


We have here, then, a most complex love triangle. Kinski fears her brother because she fears incest. She fears the curator but loves him. To love him is, eventually, to kill him.


The curator is in love with the idea of her threat, but does not realize she really will turn into a leopard and rend his flesh. There are some supporting characters: Annette O'Toole is the sensible friend who senses danger, and Ed Begley, Jr. is the lackadaisical custodian whose arm is ripped from its socket.


You shouldn't mess with leopards. Schrader tells his story in two parallel narratives. One involves the deepening relationships among the sister, the brother, and the curator. The other, stunningly photographed, takes place in an unearthly terrain straight from Frank Herbert's Dune books.


The designer, Ferdinando Scarfiotti, and the veteran special-effects artist, Albert Whitlock, have created a world that looks completely artificial, with its drifting red sands and its ritualistic tableau of humans and leopards -- and yet looks realistic in its fantasy. In other words, you know this world is made up, but you can't see the seams; it's like the snow planet in "The Empire Strikes Back."


"Cat People" moves back and forth between its mythic and realistic levels, held together primarily by the strength of Kinski's performance and John Heard's obsession. Kinski is something. She never overacts in this movie, never steps wrong, never seems ridiculous; she just steps onscreen and convincingly underplays a leopard.


Heard also is good. He never seems in the grip of an ordinary sexual passion, but possesses one of those obsessions men are willing (and often are called upon) to die for.


"Cat People" is a good movie in an old tradition, a fantasy-horror film that takes itself just seriously enough to work, has just enough fun to be entertaining, contains elements of intrinsic fascination in its magnificent black leopards, and ends in one way just when we were afraid it was going to end in another.



Cat Girl (UK-USA, 1957)
Cast and characters:
Barbara Shelley as Leonora Johnson
Robert Ayres as Dr. Brian Marlowe
Kay Callard as Dorothy Marlowe
Ernest Milton as Edmund Brandt
Lilly Kann as Anna


Jack May as Richard Johnson
Patricia Webster as Cathy
John Lee as Allan
Edward Harvey as Doorman
Martin Boddey as Cafferty
John Watson as Roberts
Selma Vaz Dias as Nurse


Cat Girl (1957) 0 Stars
“To caress me is to tempt death!”
Director: Alfred Shaughnessy
Cast: Barbara Shelley, Robert Ayres, Kay Callard
Synopsis: A young woman inherits a family curse that turns her into a murderous feline when she is angered.


The title of this obscure British B-movie from Insignia Films will clue horror aficionados into its influence and aspiration, but Cat Girl bears no comparison with Val Lewton’s atmospheric 1940s psycho-sexual horror flick Cat People. It was written by Lou Rusoff, a hack writer whose previous credits included such low-market titles as The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955) and Girls in Prison (1956).


Apparently the script he delivered was so shoddy that director Alfred Shaughnessy felt compelled to extensively rewrite it. We can only imagine, with a shudder, how bad Cat Girl might have been had he not because, even after the benefit of Shaughnessy’s doctoring, it stinks as bad as, well, cat poo.


Barbara Shelley, who is the only person to emerge from Cat Girl with dignity and reputation intact, plays Leonora (geddit?) Johnson, the feline female of the title. She’s in a bit of a state when we first meet her, and who can blame her? Creepy Uncle Edmund (Ernest Milton), her only surviving relative, has summoned her to his creepy Gothic mansion.


He stipulated that she must visit alone, but Leonora has brought along her wastrel husband, Richard (Jack May) and their friends Allan (John Lee), a vague-minded alcoholic, and his wife Cathy (Patricia Webster), with whom Richard is having an affair.


Stopping off at a pub on the way to Uncle Eddie’s, they run into Dr Brian Marlowe (Robert Ayres), an old flame for whom it’s clear she’s still carrying a torch. Marlowe is still married, though, and makes it clear that he’s not interested. Later that night, having finally turned up at her Uncle’s gloomy mansion, the old boy informs her that she is about to inherit the 700-year-old family curse.


It turns out that the last surviving member of the Brandt family is doomed to have this kind of dual existence as both a human being and an ever so slightly out-of-shape leopard. Later that night, Edmund dies and the curse is passed on to Leonora.


Rusoff and Shaughnessy’s script can best be described as functional. It does little to flesh out its characters other than with the broadest of strokes (philanderer, slut, drunk, etc) and provides lines that drive forward the story without providing much depth.


While there was a good deal of mileage to be extracted from Leonora’s gradual transformation from a frightened and disbelieving victim to a scheming, manipulative she-cat, the film pretty much botches it. The signs it gives us of her slow transformation are provided by the way she holds her hands like claws, starts wearing polka dots, and savages Dr Marlowe’s budgie. Not exactly subtle stuff…


And Marlow has to be one of the most irritatingly stupid characters ever to have leading man status thrust upon them. Supposedly a Harley Street psychiatrist, he makes some incredibly stupid decisions. Believing Leonora to be psychologically ill, he has her committed to an asylum — or sanitarium, as he prefers to call it — only to then have her released for the sketchiest of reasons.


Despite knowing that this woman whom he previously believed to be a little bit bonkers is excessively jealous of his wife, Dorothy (Kay Callard), he somehow decides it would be a good idea if the pair of them spent some time together alone. The guy’s lucky it was only his budgie that he lost.


And as for that ’conquest of mind over matter’ ending, well the comical absurdity of it all almost — but not quite — makes this dull mess worth watching. Cat Girl – promoted as The Cat Girl – is a 1957 British-American horror film co-produced by Anglo-Amalgamated and American International Pictures (AIP). It is an unofficial remake of Cat People (1942).


Thanks to Eady Levy introduced by the Labour government, American International Pictures put up $25,000 of the budget and a script by their regular writer Lou Rusoff in exchange for Western hemisphere rights. The resulting film was directed by Alfred Shaughnessy and stars Barbara Shelley (Blood of the Vampire), Robert Ayres (First Man into Space), Kay Callard and Ernest Milton.


The Cat Girl (1957) is the lesser-known but still notorious remake of Jacques Tourneur's 1942 classic, Cat People. I say "lesser-known" because it has never been on DVD and "notorious" because those who have hunted down a copy seem to all have a negative opinion of it. I beg to differ. I liked The Cat Girl. Sure, it's no Cat People (what is?), but there is still much to enjoy about the remake.


Barbara Shelley, star of Village of the Damned and Hammer classics like The Gorgon, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, and Rasputin: The Mad Monk, plays Lenora, a young woman summoned to her family's creepy estate to learn about her inheritance. Unfortunately, she's not getting any money, just a family curse that turns her into a cat with the urge to kill.


Surrounded by a cheating husband and an old-flame who married someone else, Lenora has a lot of rage she's looking to unleash. Like its predecessor, The Cat Girl leaves much to the imagination and relies on the shadow of implied violence.


And despite its low budget, the film works well within its limitations of small, interior sets. Another thing I like about The Cat Girl is that it combines two of my favorite psychological thriller concepts. First is the, "Look, you're crazy, even though you don't yet realize it" scenario when the family is trying to convince her the curse is real.


Second is the, "Look, I'm crazy, even though you don't believe me" scenario after Lenora is convinced of her duplicity and she can't convince the law or the doctors that she is guilty of murder. There's something utterly terrifying about having your friends and family tell you you're crazy or illogical, when everything appears normal to you.


It makes you feel so vulnerable and alone. And then, to make matters worse, once she accepts the truth about the curse, she can't convince anyone else about it. The rest of the world thinks she's even crazier than ever. The effect of such psychological alienation is a fascinating cinematic subject, and I'm drawn to plots that explore that area.

Barbara Shelley gives a marvelous performance as someone whose mental state is constantly shifting, from skepticism and disbelief to shock, denial, guilt, remorse, and ultimately vengeance, all the while unsecured by a sense of sadness and rage that she was never able to express or even admit to herself.


The public and private perception of her psychosis is something The Cat Girl goes into more depth than the original. When Lenora is locked in a cell for observation by doctors, the film follows in the tradition of Jane Eyre, The Yellow Wallpaper, and other narratives about misunderstood "madwomen" locked away behind closed doors.


Seeing her as neither a simplistic villain or victim, The Cat Girl sympathizes with Lenora's vulnerability against a system and society that represses both her mental and physical desires and changes. I also like the whole "creepy family mansion" and "family curse" pretexts.


What happened to those? Did families downsize to smaller, suburban homes or city condos? And did curses go away with the internet? It seems like butlers (or uncles, as is the case in The Cat Girl) must be depressed, without un-notarized wills to read to younger family members who they haven't seen since they were children.


With its creepy gothic atmosphere, feline violence, unsupportive family and friends, and a mentally unstable protagonist, I got to admit, The Cat Girl is a pretty good remake that brings new things to the table.


Leonora, a young British woman, whose husband is addicted to infidelity, inherits a family curse from her intense aged uncle that seemingly turns her into a murderous feline when she becomes angry. Leonora’s husband seems more intent on “getting high as a kite” with his alcoholic friend but her American psychiatrist friend attempts to assist her…


Cat Girl seems to be a critique of a very English sort of repression and hypocrisy – the early scenes of the four initial protagonists drip with barely concealed contempt and bitterness. The film might be run through with a very 1950s fear of female sexuality – it is, after all, when Leonora becomes emotionally aroused and sexually frustrated that she makes the psychic connection to the leopard – but it’s essentially more about the grimness of British social mores of the time.


Cat Girl is perhaps no classic, but it does represent a side of British horror that has been curiously ignored by many writers. And while a bit slow, it’s never dull. This movie might not have much appeal to a mass audience, but anyone interested in the fringes of British cult cinema will be very glad to see it.


“Cat Girl was never going to win any awards – just like pretty much every other monochrome horror of its time, it was hopelessly eclipsed by Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein the same year. But with a central performance like Shelley’s who needs art?”


“Its main problem (apart from the ill-advised abandonment of Cat People’s psychosexual angle– if you’re going to rip another movie off, at least do it right!) is that it attempts to ape its predecessor’s much-vaunted ambiguity, but without taking that ambiguity at all seriously.”


“Cat Girl equates female passion with feline aggression: the leopard embodies – symbolically even if not literally – Leonora’s formerly repressed emotions, and the British film derives its horror from the typically British fear of these emotions being unleashed. This reactionary stance is the exact opposite of Cat People, in which violence resulted not from the expression of passion but from its repression due to superstitious fear.”



Gal Gadot as Diana / Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
Robin Wright as Antiope
Danny Huston as Ludendorff
David Thewlis as Sir Patrick
Said Taghmaoui as Sameer


Patty Jenkins
Writer (based on the Characters
from DC: Wonder Woman created by)
William Moulton Marston
Writer (story by)
Zack Snyder
Allan Heinberg
Jason Fuchs
Allan Heinberg


Matthew Jensen
Martin Walsh
Rupert Gregson-Williams
Action, Drama
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and
action, and some suggestive content.
141 minutes
June 2, 2017


Ever since William Moulton Marston created her in 1941, Wonder Woman has always been at her best when her stories lean into the feminist ethos at her core. When artists treat her compassion as the key to understanding her—rather than her brutality in battle — the audiences are privy to a superhero who offers what no other can: a power fantasy that privileges the interiority and desires of women.


But film rarely has made room for the fantasies of women on such a grand scale. And in comic adaptations, women can be tough, funny, and self-assured. But rarely are they the architects of their own destiny. As a longtime Wonder Woman fan, I worried her distinctive edges would be sanded off when it came time for her standalone film. It’s arguably easier to sell Wonder Woman as a vengeful heroine in the vein of count less others, but less distinctive.


But early in the film I noticed the terrain that director Patty Jenkins turned to most often in order to create the emotional through-line. It wasn’t the glimmer of a blade or even the picturesque shores of Themyscira, the utopian paradise Wonder Woman calls her home. Through moments of quiet verisimilitude and blistering action scenes, Jenkins’ gaze often wisely returns to the face of her lead heroine, Diana (Gal Gadot). At times, her face is inquisitive, morose, and marked by fury.


But more often than not she wears a bright, open smile that carries the optimism and hope that is true to the character’s long history as well as a much-needed salve from what other blockbusters offer. Thus “Wonder Woman” isn’t just a good superhero film. It is a sincerely good film where no qualifiers are needed. It’s inspiring, evocative, and, unfortunately, a bit infuriating for the chances it doesn’t take.


Written by Allan Heinberg, with a story also by Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs, the story uses a variety of inspiration culled from Wonder Woman’s 76-year history. As a young girl, Diana enjoys the loving protection of the Amazons of Themyscira, a secluded island paradise created by the gods of Olympus. No Amazon is fiercer or more protective than her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen).


But Diana longs to be trained in the art of war by her aunt, Antiope (a stellar Robin Wright). She grows from a young girl into an inquisitive, brave, young woman who never hesitates to helps those in need. Even a man like Captain Steve Trevor (an endlessly charming Chris Pine), who brings news of World War I when he crash-lands on the island disrupting this all-female sanctuary, gets saved by her.


Diana leaves behind the only life she’s ever known, heading to late 1910s London to stop the war she believes is influenced by the god Ares. Cinema tographer Matthew Jensen, production designer Aline Bonetto, costume designer Lindy Hemming form Themyscira into a gorgeous utopia that utilizes a variety of cultural touchstones. It’s free of the Hellenic influence you’d expect from a story that takes such inspiration from Greek myth with the Amazons creating their home in a way that respects the lush nature around them rather than destroying it. It isn’t sterile either.


The scenes set in Themyscira have a dazzling array of colors including the gold of armor, the cerulean blue of the sea that surrounds them, warm creams, and deep browns. Jenkins films many of these scenes in wide shot, reveling in the majestic nature of this culture. Similarly, the history of the Amazons, told in a dense but beautifully rendered backstory by Hippolyta, evokes a painterly quality reminiscent of Caravaggio. Having said that, while “Wonder Woman” has a lot to offer visually, what makes this film so captivating is Gal Gadot and Chris Pine.


Gadot wonderfully inhabits the mix of curiosity, sincerity, badassery,and compassion that has undergirded Wonder Woman since the beginning. Most importantly, she wears her suit, the suit doesn’t wear her. She evokes a classic heroism that is a breath of fresh air and nods to Christopher Reeve’s approach to Superman from the 1970s. Likewise, Pine matches her hopefulness with a world weariness and sharp sense of humor.


He’s more than capable at bringing an emotional complexity to a character most aptly described as a dude-in-distress. There are particularly great scenes at the beginning, as Diana talks about men being unnecessary for female pleasure. Steve seems undone by her presence, which makes the development of their story authentic. Their chemistry is electrifying, making “Wonder Woman” a successful romance and superhero origin story set during one of the most brutal wars.


At their best, blockbusters evoke awe that can be both humbling and thrilling. Think of the first time you saw the T-Rex in “Jurassic Park” or the suspense that suffuses all of "Aliens." “Wonder Woman” excels at this particularly in the earliest chapter set in Themyscira. I felt my heart swell watching Antiope smirk during an intense fight and Hippolyta’s tender scenes with Diana. “Wonder Woman” is like nothing that has come before it in how it joyously displays the camaraderie among women, many of whom are women of color and over 40.


It's electrifying watching the Amazons train and talk with each other. These women are fierce and kind, loyal and brave. If anything, I wished the film dwelt in Themyscira a bit longer, since their culture so poignantrendered. Also, it was just awesome to see Artemis (Ann J. Wolfe) and Antiope in battle. Elsewhere, the supporting cast is uneven. The villains —an obsessive German General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and the Mad scientist Doctor Maru nicknamed Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya)— are painted too broadly and given too few details to have a lasting impact.


Diana’s comrades that Steve rounds up are similarly crafted with little detail. Charlie (Ewen Bremner) is a Scottish sharpshooter, ravaged by what he’s witnessed in the war. Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) is a Native American, capitalizing on the war for profit. Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) is a confidence artist of sorts. But the actors are able to give these characters enough sincerity and wit to make their appearances memorable.


While “Wonder Woman” is an overall light, humorous and hopeful movie, it isn’t afraid of touching on politics. The feminism of the film is sly. It’s seen in moments when characters of color comment on their station in life and Diana faces sexism from powerful men who doubt her intelligence. Of course, the feminism, charming performances, and delightful humor would be nothing without the direction by Patty Jenkins.

Superhero films inherently carry the thrill of seeing these characters come to life and brandish great abilities, but far too often the fight scenes are neither epic nor engaging. So often they’re flatly lit, unimaginatively framed extravaganzas of characters fighting in airplane hangers and other drab surround ings. But what makes “Wonder Woman” blistering is Jenkins’ distinctive gaze particularly in the fight scenes. Yes, the CGI is at times half-baked, which occasionally would snap out the momentum, but, overall, her voice as a director is so distinctive and her handling of the action so deft I was in complete awe.

She shows off the great physicality of the Amazons, Diana's included, giving the action full room to breathe without being burdened by excessive editing or an over-reliance on close-ups. She treats action as a dance of sorts, with important characters having their own distinctive styles so that nothing ever feels repetitive. The sequences depicting Themyscira and Diana’s first entry on the battlefield of World War I are particularly exemplary.


Unfortunately, there are several choices that prevent the film from fully inhabiting the unique, feminist aims presented at the beginning. Ares, when he’s finally introduced near the very end, at first seems to be a somewhat clever take on the God of War. He isn’t so much seeking to end the world as create a new one by influencing the darkest aspects of mankind. But then the story tips into being a far more traditional superhero film than it had been previously.


It’s in the third act that the constraints of being part of an extended cinematic universe become apparent. It’s as if the last 30 minutes were cut from another film altogether that sought to create the bombastic, confusing, fiery sort of finale that far too many superhero works hew toward. The third act's approach to Diana’s true origin creates a distinct schism between its sincere feminist aims and the desires of a company that often doesn’t understand why people are drawn to this character in the first place.


But there are enough moving touches—like Diana’s last scene with Steve —that prevent the finale from weighing down the film entirely. Despite its flaws, “Wonder Woman” is beautiful, kindhearted, and buoyant in ways that make me eager to see it again. Jenkins and her collaborators have done what I thought was previously impossible: created a Wonder Woman film that is inspiring, blistering, and compassionate, in ways that honor what has made this character an icon.



I had never really heard many half-snorts before. Snorts, yes, and silence. But what do you make of an audience that has no idea how to react? "Black Snake Moan" is the oddest, most peculiar movie I've seen about sex and race and redemption in the Deep South. It may be the most peculiar recent movie ever except for "Road House," but then what can you say about "Road House"? Such movies defy all categories.


The movie -- I will try to be concise -- stars Samuel L. Jackson as a broken-down blues musician and vegetable market gardener whose wife has just walked out. On the road leading to his property he finds the battered body of a young white girl, whose injuries hardly seem curable by the cough syrup he barters fresh vegetables for at the drugstore. The girl is Rae (Christina Ricci); it is no coincidence that Jackson's character is named Lazarus, and Lazarus determines to return her from near death or whooping cough, one or the other. No saint himself, he wants to redeem her from a life of sluttery.


His technique, with a refreshing directness, is to chain her to a radiator. Good thing he lives way out in the wilderness. Lazarus and Rae have no sex per se, but they do a powerful lot of slapping, cursing and chain-rattling, and the reaction of the blue-collar town on Market Day is a study. I think the point is that Lazarus and Rae somehow redeem each other through these grotesqueries, a method I always urge be used with extreme caution.


The performances are very good: Hell-bent for leather, and better than the material deserves, there is much hysteria and snot. The writer-director, Craig Brewer, made that other splendid story of prostitution and redemption, "Hustle & Flow," with its Oscar-winning song ("It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp") In fact, I pretty much enjoyed the whole movie, with some incredulity and a few half-snorts.


Both "Black Snake Moan" and "Hustle & Flow" are about neglected characters living on the fringe who find a healing in each other. Both movies use a great deal of music to illustrate the souls of their characters.


We sense that the girl has never been treated other than in a beastly manner, and that the man, having lost his wife, is determined not to allow sex to betray his instincts to do good. Yes, I think it is probably against the law to chain a drifter to a radiator, but in a sense these people exist outside the law, society and common or any kind of sense. Their society consists of the usual locals who seem clueless and remarkably unobservant, leading to remarkable non sequiturs.


There is another woman, the middle-aged pharmacist named Angela, played by the sweet S. Epatha Merkerson, to provide Lazarus an alternative to a life of sluts and tramps. But, as for Rae -- well, I gather that when compulsive nymphomania passes a certain point, you're simply lost.


After Rae says goodbye to her boyfriend Ronnie (played by pop star Justin Timberlake), who has enlisted in the service for cloudy reasons, she immediately falls to the ground and starts writhing as if under attack by fire ants. This is her way of conveying uncontrollable, orgiastic need. A girl that needy, you'd approach like Miss RoboCop.


I love the way that both Samuel Jackson and Christina Ricci take chances like this, and the way that Brewer creates characters of unbelievable forbearance, like Ronnie, who is in a more or less constant state of panic attacks and compulsion. And I like the understated way the rural Tennessee locations are used. You have never seen a movie like this before. Then again, you may not hope to. Some good blues music helps carry the day.


I heard some days after the screening that Jackson considers this his best performance. Well, maybe it is. He disappears into the role, and a good performance requires energy, daring, courage and intensity, which he supplies in abundance. Few actors could accomplish work at this level with this screenplay. As for Christina Ricci, she is the right actor for this role; she embodies this poor, mixed-up creature and lets you experience both her pain and her hope. Her work defines the boundaries of the thankless.


Black Snake Moan's Faux Provocation. It has been a clarifying year for young auteurs. Smokin' Aces showed Joe Carnahan as a flailing vaudevillian, Breach reinforced Billy Ray as a stolid analyst of true-life enigmas, now Black Snake Moan establishes Craig Brewer as a faux-provocateur and resolute wigger cineaste. His follow-up to Hustle & Flow continues the white-guy infatuation with the South as a heated canvas of music and black bravado, consistent not just thematically but stylistically: The low-angled camera which gave an upskirt view of Taryn Manning in Hustle has been expanded into a full tour of Christina Ricci's undies.


Brewer kicks off with Ricci and beau Justin Timberlake in a feverish bout of goodbye-sex as he's about to head over to the Army, he vomits in a toilet before leaving and she drops to her knees as his van pulls away; elsewhere in the same Tennessee burg, Samuel L. Jackson experiences a harsh parting of his own, losing his religion after being dumped by a two-timing wife. The fucking, the puking, the squabbling, everything is slathered with vivid, Elia Kazan-type physicality, one of Brewer's strengths --


Jackson pins his cuckolding brother on a pool table with a cracked beer bottle and wipes the blood from his hand on his white beard, while Ricci marches her itchy cooch into town, gets smashed at a beer keg party, and collapses out of the frame as the whole screen is drenched blue. The meeting of the two wounded creatures is arranged when Ricci is left battered and half-naked in a ditch near Jackson's place; he breaks her fever and, since she's a nympho who can't keep from diddling herself, chains her --


I literally mean chains her-- to his radiator, "I aim to cure you of yo wickedness."
"Ain't no cure for the blues like some good pussy," some barfly intones, and for a patch Black Snake Moan snaps and crackles with comic verve. The serpentine chain wrapped around Ricci's waist is a brazen joke that feeds on intimations of bondage, slavery, and kinky sex, richly flaunted in the confrontational poster; Jackson yanks the scrawny bobcat in heat into the living room, Ricci yanks back after stretching just enough to reveal the skin underneath her Dixie-adorned tanktop.


Had the atmosphere -- fraught with the tension of power plays and the still-taboo possibility of interracial sex -- been pushed further, the picture might have burned like Larry Cohen's Bone or Jane Campion's Holy Smoke, vehement comedies of cultural anxiety brought to the surface. But Brewer's provocation is hollow, so he hides unearthed raw nerves behind humdrum humanism, with any real danger safely circumscribed for viewers: The town slut just needs a bit of exorcism from a churchy father figure, the embittered blues singer just needs to tend to some wounds before being able to pick up his guitar again:


"Git yo shit together," the chaste healing is clinched as Jackson rasps out the title song with Ricci hugging his leg, Miss Daisy lives! (About Brewer's use of the blues -- footage of the legendary Son House opens the picture, but anybody who lets "Stagolee" be ad-libbed with mother fuckers" has about as soulful an understanding of the music's raunchy force as John Landis in The Blues Brothers.) The gal who at the outset flipped off the tractor looming behind her is "cured" into docility, and passed from one man to another, climactically. It's not so hard out here for a pimp, not in Hollywood.


The Black Snake Moan poster might be a tough sell in Hicksville, but the one for 300 should play like gangbusters -- an ecstatically sunburst vision of bodies being pushed off a cliff, "Prepare for glory" as ad copy. It's fascinating to watch the two back to back. An aestheticized massacre will always be less threatening than miscegenation in a society where violence is still more acceptable than sexuality, yet both pictures are equally neck-deep in racial and sexual tensions; the difference is that Snake flashes them like the floozy at the ballroom while 300 keeps them leashed like the athlete prior to the big game, or like the rifleman who inexorably goes postal.


Title: Spell
Director: Dulyasit Niyomgul
Stars: Wanida Termthanaporn
Genres: Horror
Country: Thailand
Language: Thai
Release Date: 11 September 2014 (Thailand)
Also Known As: น้ำมันพราย, Nam Man Prai


Plot: Namman Phrai (น้ำมันพราย, Spell) – Veteran director Dulyasit Niyomkul returns with this supernatural horror about a young woman (Vanida “Gybzy” Termtanaporn), who becomes possessed by the spirit of a pregnant women after her childhood friend Lek (Pramote Tianchaikerdsilp) uses a love potion made from burning a dead pregnant woman’s chin. It’s in 3D in some cinemas.Rated 18+


A monk/sorcerer is caught in customs with a strange vial, a love potion he claims. It gets into the wrong hands and soon poor Prae (played by Wanida Termthanaporn) is infected. She goes from sweet, shy office girl to a sex fiend. Somewhat literally since during sex she transforms into this monster (a "ghost" in the translation) that looks like a cross between a hag and a lamia.


The movie is a bit confusing in places, mostly because it is from Thailand and I think the translation was a bit off. Also I am not 100% that some scenes were cut out. The monster in this was a nice little shock the first time since I was not expecting it. The story is your basic morality play of "don't have sex, sex is bad, mkay?"


Though there is a neat little twist at the end. Nam Man Prai I guess means "love potion" or "love spell" in Thai. For games I guess a cursed love potion could turn whomever drinks it into a homicidal hag. All in all not a bad flick to start out October!


This woman is sexy, young, and playful, but she also happens to be possessed by demonic forces. Temptation turns deadly when an ancient artifact brings out a demonic, seductive force of evil.


Spell focuses on a young woman who is possessed by the spirits of pregnant women, as a result of being given a love potion made out of the dead pregnant woman’s chin.


The Thai title is "Nam Man Phrai,” which roughly translates to corpse oil. Unlike some of the films earlier in this list, there’s no comedy at all in this film. It’s all gore, dark visuals, and scary scenes. If you really want to be afraid, watch this film instead. Technically, we’re supposed to be scared of the ghosts and evil spirits, but in this case, several of the victims are perverted men, so this may be one case where you actually end up rooting for the evil spirit.


Wanida Gybzy Termthanaporn Bio – Smartasses Magazine – Wanida Termthanaporn วนิดา เติมธนาภรณ์ (born September 10, 1983) is a singer and actress from Bangkok, Thailand. She is known by the nickname Gybzy. Termthanaporn has a Bachelor of Arts Political Science and studied English.


She is a graduate of both Ramkhamhaeng University and the University of Bangkok. Termthanaporn speaks English and Thai fluently, and currently resides in Bangkok. She is five feet and two inches tall.Termthanaporn is the lead singer for the four girl group known as Girly Berry.


The other members of the group are Giftza, Nannie and Bell. The group debuted in 2002 with the self titled album, Girly Berry. In 2009, Girly Berry was named the Sexiest Girl Group In Thailand.


In addition to producing several albums and singles, several members of the group have done television advertising for Yamaha, PCT, Fisho, EXIT, Nestle, Glico, Tipco, 1900, Clean & Smooth, Panasonic, Miss Teen, J. Ling, Coke, LEONA, Carr Barley and Hanami among others. Termthanaporn has done ad work for 12 Plus, Green Nut, Milk Plus, Shine, In 2 It, Mistine Sezy Cheek, Benice and Nestea.


As an actress, Termthanaporn’s TV career includes countless appearances in different television shows and soap operas from 2001 and on. In 2003, she made her film debut as Sally in the comedy film, Club Zaa: Pit Tamraa Saep.


In 2009, Termthanaporn took on her most notable role as May in the film Nymph, a fantasy drama where an urban husband and wife travel to the jungle, and learn just how precious their relationship is. That same year she starred in the horror movie My Ex, directed by Piyapan Choopetch.


The film was released on August 27, 2009 in Thailand. Two years later, Termthanaporn appeared in the 2011 musical comedy, Small Ru Gu Naew. In 2013, she made a small appearance as Thip in the comedy Grean Fiction, and the following year, she starred as Mae Nak in the 2014 Poj Arnon directed comedy, Make Me Shudder 2: Shudder Me Mae Nak.


The same year, Termthanaporn appears in the 2014 3D horror film, Spell 3D. Termthanaporn lists her favorite sports as swimming and tennis. Her favorite food is barbecue, and she enjoys scuba diving and playing sports.


Why we think she’s hot: Since we realize that Thai is a little difficult to translate, let us help the rest of you Westerners out– What Destiny’s Child was to the Western world, Girl Berry is to Thailand, and what Beyonce was to Destiny’s Child, Wanida ‘Gybzy’ Termthanaporn is to Girly Berry- and yes, we realize how big of a big deal that is.


So should you. Thankfully, we don’t need a Rosetta Stone or a coterie of monks to translate how insanely gorgeous Wanida is. Gybzy is not just pretty, she can dance, sing, act, and with those deadly eyelashes… she’s a goddess who could probably give Nang Kwak or Pho Sop a run for their money.


Wanida Termthanaporn (born September 10, 1983) is a Thai female singer, actress and model . She is known for roles in the film Rebellion 18 ( grean Fictions ), Goddess , Ma women seeking husbands ( Make me shudder 2: Shudder Me Ma Nak ) and two parts of the film Love has no errors, errors In friends ( The Fault, Dear Friend ). In addition, she is a member, Girly Berry girl group's main vocal (includes 4 members).


She was born in Bangkok, studying Political Science at Ramkhamhaeng University . Her career began when she joined Girly Berry and released several successful albums. About the actor, after some minor roles, the audience gradually became known her name in the movie Rebellion 18 years old is released in 2013, Maid finding her husband in 2014, and recently Love No errors, bugs in the body , the film is in the sixth movie Club Friday series fever on the network community.


Some other movies that bring success for her as Nymph (Goddess), My Ex ( The older my loveShe also acted as the actress representing Thailand at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Wanida Termthanaporn, though with a modest height of 1m58, thanks to her hot face, sharp face so she received Get lots of promotional invitations and regularly appear on the cover of Thai sex magazines such as Maxim, Playboy.


Modification Award She won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in the 18th Rebellion of the Year, an award from the 22nd Thai Film Critics Association.


Nymph (film)
Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Starring Wanida Termthanaporn
Cinematography Charnkit Chamnivikaipong
Edited by Patamanadda Yukol
Release date
1 July 2009
Running time
109 minutes
Country Thailand
Language - Thai


Nymph (Thai: นางไม้, translit. Nang mai) is a 2009 Thai drama film directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. It competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[1] The 'nymph' in the story is based on the Thai legendary Nang Mai tree deity.


May is a city woman who has everything she could ask for. Her long-time husband, Nop, showers love and attention on her. But fate or desire play tricks on the couple who watches their lives drift by without much thought or reflection, and May starts an affair with Korn, himself a married man.


One day Nop, a professional photographer, is assigned to take a trip into the forest to film its wildlife. He decides to bring his wife along. But the journey slowly reveals how the invisible weight of their urban lifestyle haunt them like a spectre. When her husband fails to return to the tent, May sets out to look for him and then Nop returns but the forest has changed him into someone else.


Jayanama Nopachai as Nop
Porntip Papanai as Nymph
Wanida Termthanaporn as May
Chamanun Wanwinwatsara as Korn
Nymph (2009) dir. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Starring: Jayanama Nopachai, Wanida Termthanaporn, Chamanun Wanwinwatsara


If Terrence Malick made a horror film this would probably be it - a moody Thai nature creeper about a metaphysical connection between a haunted forest and our human frailties - a film which teases us with traditional genre scare tactics but ultimately delivers only on it’s artistic and, thus, frustrating oblique tendencies.


Director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang tells us what kind of film we’re in for with his grandiose long take opening shot. He puts us in a Thai forest following a young girl pursued and ultimately raped by two young boys. The camera, which at first appears to be an observer, wanders through the forest with a human point of view, but when it cranes up into the air looking down on the two rapists now dead in a river we know there’s something ghostly at play.


The shot lasts minutes and establishes a slow, languid pace and moody voyeuristic tone which becomes the language of the film. Our hero is young May (Wanida Termthanaporn), a journalist who lives with her husband Nop (Jayanama Nopachai), a still photographer. Their ‘vacation’ happens to be that really creepy spirit-inhabited forest.


Their vacation involves camping and walking around admiring the surreal architecture of the trees. Nop seems especially obsessed with one particular tree, a snaking Dali-like piece of organic art. Before long Nop disappears, leaving May alone in the jungle. Where did he go? Possessed by the forest? Why?


We’re appear to be in the cinema of minimalism here with very little happening in between the two or three distinct story beats, and so the picture pushes our patience to the max. It’s all ambient noises and wandering camera moves until the 30mins mark when Nop is abducted.


Ratanaruang doesn’t tell us much but when he reveals May’s extramarital affair with her boss, the film finally gives us some explanation to the near 45mins of obtuse build up. The pacing is so deliberate creating a strong sense of cerebral dread we desperately want the film to pay off and shock us into submission.


In a film festival like this there’s a point when we have to make a decision to stay or leave a film, especially when there’s 2 or 3 other films you could be seeing. The spirit of the forest, whether that’s Nymph or not, compels you to stay, the same spirit which entrances Nop slowly seeps into the audience. Ratanaruang does it all with sound.


It’s a remarkable and complex design, echoing that Malick’s moodiness and David Lynch/Alan Splet’s horrific noises. The sounds of the jungle merge with the artificial ambient music and other weird ingredients, which blankets the entire film. Visually, it’s mostly observational handheld work with a smattering of formal compositions.


Ratanaruang manages to craft a number of impressive suspenseful moments, the most terrifying being the nighttime forest scenes which bring to mind the terror of darkness and absence of life which made ‘The Blair Witch Project’ so effective. Unfortunately Ratanaruang keeps it all much to obtuse to make it a truly satisfying picture. The mixture of art and horror leaves us worn and torn and wanting more.


The camera drifts fluidly through the canopy of a jungle, down to the ground, casually taking in the passage of a distressed woman in flight and her two shirtless male pursuers. It then reverses its direction and circles round a tree to the sandy bank of a creek, where it rises again into the canopy. Moving through the air over the water to the treetops opposite before twisting back round to an aerial of the stream below - in which the bodies of the two would-be rapists are floating - the camera descends again and heads on to some felled trees along the riverside.


Opening shots rarely come more bravura than this. Lasting several minutes, this single, uncut take seems – well-nigh impossibly – to combine handheld, dollying and crane work, while capturing, askance and as if by accident, an event whose details remain shrouded in mystery (what happened to the girl? how did the men die?).


What is more, despite the camera's weirdly angular shifts in direction and unnatural leaps from forest floor to crowning foliage and back again, the occasional sound of female breathing that intrudes upon all the creaks and birdsong of the jungle leaves it clear that what we are watching, in all its puzzling paradoxicality, represents the point of view of an unseen - and apparently supernatural - figure amid the trees.


Indeed, this uncanny opening might give viewers the impression that Nymph is a horror film – an impression that is only reinforced by the subsequent introduction of male protagonist Nop (Jayanama Nopachai) using an old-fashioned camera to take photos of a rural man talking about ghosts ("there are good spirits and bad spirits").


That Nop is then shown developing his own film in a private dark room would seem to be the genre clincher – this is to be Shutter (2004) all over again, right down to the photographic theme and the Thai setting. Except that it isn't.


For while what follows in this seventh feature from Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (6ixtynin9, Last Life In The Universe, Invisible Waves) is certainly eerie and enigmatic, the real focus here is, as in his previous film Ploy (2007), the rot that has taken root in an urban marriage. The sap has long since stopped flowing in the relationship between Nop and his wife May (Wanida Termtanaporn), and for some time she has been having an affair with her boss Korn (Chamanum Wanwinwatsara).


Yet when the couple goes on a camping trip to the jungle and Nop vanishes shortly after photographing (and embracing) an ancient tree, May finds herself no less lost in her residual feelings for her husband than in the jungle - before at last she confronts the primal force that has seduced him away from her.


In Nymph, as in Vinyan (2008), we are being taken through a heady, atavistic landscape that belongs as much to the mind and the heart as to the conventional spaces of topography – although here, the manic grief and anger that drove Fabrice Du Welz's film have been replaced with the quieter, but equally destructive, powers of time, nature and decay.


Boasting beautiful photography and stunning sound design (where forest ambience blends seamlessly with Koichi Shimizu's electro-percussive score), Nymph is ultimately like the lengthy opening shot – deliberately paced, oblique and somewhat meandering, but artful precisely for showing only what it shows, and leaving the viewer to puzzle out afterwards the significance of what they have seen, and of what might have gone on in the shadowy ellipses that have remained off-screen.



A 1970 release The Cat O'Nine Tails (Il Gatto a Nove Code), the second film in the so-called "animals trilogy." Out of all his films, Argento and most of his fans cite this one as their least favorite work. Ironically, in Italy it remains the most popular video rental of all of his movies. Murder in The Cat O'Nine Tails hinges less on psychosis and rests more on the desperate need to conceal secrets.


Franco Arno (Karl Malden), a former journalist left blinded by an accident, makes his living putting together crossword puzzles for the newspaper. While on a walk with his adopted niece, Lori (Cinzia de Carolis), outside the Terzi Institute for Genetic Research, he overhears a conversation between two people in a car.


One of the people says he has information that he has to turn over, that he’s not out to blackmail the other person. Arno‘s niece looks back to see who’s in the car, but she can only identify one of the passengers. That night a break-in occurs inside the institute. Strangely enough, nothing appears to have been stolen. The next day, Dr. Calabresi (Carlo Alighiero), one of the two men in the car, is pushed in front of a train in a manner that makes it look like an accident.


Lori recognizes his picture in a newspaper story on the incident. Putting two and two together, Arno suspects (and the viewers already recognize) foul play. He contacts a reporter at the newspaper, Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus), to find out if the photo of the accident was cropped. Giordani contacts the photographer who discovers that he had inadvertently edited out a hand, which appears to have just pushed Calabresi into the path of the oncoming train.


Before Arno and Giordani can get a copy of the photo, the killer strikes again - murdering the photographer and stealing the reproduced photo, the contact sheets, and the negatives. As the two men delve deeper into the mystery that lies at the heart of the Terzi Institute, they find possible motives for industrial espionage revolving around two projects:


a new genetic drug developed at the Institute and a controversial research project involving the XYY chromosome, a genetic mutation which predisposes a person towards violent tendencies. Almost everyone involved with these projects become suspects at one point or another in the film. Each person conceals "something fishy" in his or her lives.


Calabresi died while apparently blackmailing someone at the Institute. His fiancée, Bianca Merusi (Rada Rassimov), discovers the identity of the murderer, but can’t go to the police because she’s involved with espionage. Doctor Braun (Horst Frank), her partner in crime and a homosexual (which was generally viewed as a criminal activity in Italy in the 1970s), lives elegantly and suspiciously beyond his means.


Casoni (Aldo Reggiani), a brilliant young doctor, was dismissed from his last job under mysterious circumstances. Terzi (Tino Carraro) and his adopted daughter, Anna (Catherine Spaak), turn out to be involved in a more sordid relationship. By the end of the film, the killer’s motives appear anticlimactic and trivial in light of all the dirty secrets uncovered by the investigation.


Argento implies that we all have secrets we conceal at the heart of our lives, and that subjected to the same type of intense journalistic scrutiny, our motivations would appear dark and sinister. It would not be the first time that Argento holds the mirror up to the audience, drawing us into the crimes onscreen. In The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Argento first utilized the subjective camera technique, whereby the audience sees the murders through the killer’s eyes.


Through the use of this technique, the director draws us in to the act, suggesting that everyone in the audience is capable of violence and, more uncomfortably, that we revel in the violence and are aroused by it. The Cat O'Nine Tails continues the use of the technique, but adds a further level of disorientation with an extreme and eerie close-up of the killer’s eye.


The image of the eye filling the screen, washed of color, again implies an impersonal and universal point of view. More importantly, it acts as a sort of Pavlovian device for the audience, setting us up in anticipation of the coming carnage. When the eye appears, something bloody waits around the next corner. Our level of fear rises, but so does our eagerness to witness the demise Argento has so deviously devised for the next unlucky victim.


The resulting film is not as sordid as the preceding paragraphs would make it seem. The Cat O'Nine Tails is surprisingly fun and entertaining. Argento displays a lighter, almost-comic tone. Several examples demonstrate how unusual the movie is in Argento’s canon.


The touching relationship between Arno and his adopted niece, Lori, provides near-sentimental moments of warmth, a tendency completely lacking in the rest of Argento’s gallery of twisted families. There is a running joke involving a police inspector who recounts the minute details of his wife’s cooking to unsympathetic listeners. When Giordani and Anna Terzi first meet, they exchange playful sexual banter, another unheard of element in Argento’s oeuvre.


Another scene, involving Giordani interviewing Doctor Braun in a gay bar, presents a comic reversal of the initial Anna Terzi meeting. Franciscus hilariously portrays an alpha male’s unease as he realizes he has become the sexual prey for a host of men. As the men in the bar look him up and down, he grows increasingly flustered. When Braun playfully slaps his hand, warning him off the investigation, Giordani’s confusion and rage tangibly seethe beneath his attempt to appear cool.


Without a doubt this comic tone provides one of the major factors for the snubbing of this film by hardcore Argentophiles. Granted, the film seems an anomaly to Dario Argento’s work, with its comic tone, a pushy and antagonistic main character, and even a car chase. Key elements which fans of Argento have come to expect (the paranormal serving as a legitimate template for the film' background, nightmarish dream logic verging on psychosis, and brutal, explicit violence) are notably lacking in the film.


Argento would not begin using these devices until Deep Red (Profundo Rosso) in 1975. However, repeated viewings reveal more of the master’s characteristic touches. Mysteriously open doorways and windows herald the arrival of the murderer. Argento's notorious black gloves remain missing, but the killer often strikes from behind, one of the preferred positions of attack for Argento’s death scenes.


However, the most striking characteristic touch is the use of color throughout the movie -- especially the color red. One scene, involving a chart of the XYY chromosome and the color red, practically screams the identity of the killer. One of the research scientists at the Institute (I won’t say who, in case a reader hasn’t seen the movie yet) explains the theory behind the XYY chromosome.


A careful comparison of the letters on the chart, which are colored with a distinctive red and white-checkered pattern, with the tie the scientist wears shows that the tie has the same pattern as the chart. Furthermore, the scientist’s desk is practically engulfed in a sea of red objects, implying his culpability in the murders and the deep-seated rage burning in his heart.


Perhaps the most significant stylistic break from the mystery/thriller tradition in The Cat O'Nine Tails, and a very crucial element in Argento’s own evolving style, is the refusal to reassure the audience that chaos can be mastered. Normally, the mystery thriller establishes a compact with its audience; Chaos breaks loose, but in the end it will be contained and everything will go back to normal. The mystery acts as a puzzle, and must be solvable in a logical manner.


Reason triumphs. However, in The Cat O'Nine Tails, chaos erupts into the lives of the characters without reason or tidy resolution. The pieces of the mystery seem to lead to a grand conclusion, if only Arno and Giordani can latch on to the right lead, or tail. Each clue leads to a further puzzle, though. The case grows to an almost insoluble level of complexity. By the end of the film, the identity of the murderer is revealed, but the motive for murder, the resolution, remains unsatisfactory.


It makes sense, but the clues for solving the mystery were misleading. The key to the murderer’s true function lies in the last minute taunting of Arno – the murderer is an agent of chaos. After telling the motive and realizing there is nowhere to go, the murderer tells Arno that Lori is dead, "I killed her." Devastated and enraged, Arno shoves the murderer, accidentally pushing him into an elevator shaft, where the murderer plunges to a grisly death.


Offscreen, Lori’s voice, heavily reverbed, cries "Cookie!" The implication is that Lori survives and Arno unwittingly murders an individual in a fit of passion. Argento seems to support this interpretation of the ending (as indicated in the interview included with Anchor Bay Entertainment's DVD presentation of The Cat O'Nine Tails), but he’s been known to supply red herrings in interviews.


However, as Maitland McDonaugh points out in her analysis of Argento’s films, Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds, there is no visual evidence in the film that Lori, or Giordani for that matter, survives. The last time we see the two of them, the murderer hovers menacingly over both of them as the police arrive. The only resolution offered is the reverbed voice, which could be Lori calling from the distance.


The voice could be the last thing the killer remembers as consciousness slips away, or it could be a past memory of Arno’s. The ambiguity of resolution leaves chaos unleashed, defying the expectations of the audience for a conclusive and tidy wrap up. Even if Lori and Giordani survive, their lives, along with Arno’s, have been left in shambles. Order cannot be restored. The puzzle pieces won’t fit neatly back into the box.


Dario Argento would make one more film in the "animals trilogy," Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Quattro Mosche di Velluto Grigio), before moving on to Deep Red, which ushered in his supernatural /ultraviolent period. In light of its recent DVD release on Anchor Bay with restored footage, The Cat O'Nine Tails deserves to be reassessed and re-evaluated within Argento’s canon.


It has long been maligned, or worse, ignored. From any Italian director of the time other than Argento (or Mario Bava or Lucio Fulci, for that matter), the film would have been hailed as a classic example of the "giallo" genre. Even though of a different order than Argento’s masterpieces, The Cat O'Nine Tails should be welcomed back to the fold.



South of Hell is a 2015 American supernatural horror drama television series starring Mena Suvari. The series was ordered by WE tv with a straight eight episode pick up, with seven episodes airing back-to-back on November 27, 2015.


In Charleston, South Carolina, Maria and David Abascal are demon hunters for hire. In Maria's body resides a demon called Abigail, who feeds off the evil that Maria exorcises of others. As Maria does her job of vanquishing evil, she must find a way to exorcise Abigail out of her body. But getting rid of Abigail is not an easy task, as she finds it immensely appealing to reside deep within a conflicted soul such as Maria's.


Ti West, Rachel Talalay, Jennifer Lynch and Jeremiah Chechik have been tapped to direct individual episodes. The show's opening credits theme song is "Wild Side" by the band Cross My Heart Hope To Die.


Mena Suvari in an Eli Roth-produced demonic drama that's being dumped on Black Friday? It's gotta be good! It takes neither a TV critic nor a fortune teller to read the tea leaves on WEtv's South of Hell.


If you're a network with minimal experience in the scripted space and you give a splashy straight-to-series order for a supernatural horror drama from a prolific genre producer (Jason Blum) and an established genre director (Eli Roth) with a recognizable star (Mena Suvari), deciding to release all of the series at once — trimmed to only seven episodes — on the day after Thanksgiving counts as a vote of minimal confidence.


Based on two episodes, it's easy to see why WEtv had no particular clue what to do with South of Hell. Whatever WEtv's brand is, this isn't it, nor is it likely to open the network up to a future niche.


It isn't scary. It looks comically cheap at times. The performances range from inconsistent to fairly awful. And unless the Emmys open up a category for Outstanding Use of Multi-Colored Contact Lenses, it's unlikely to get any real respect.


But as a representative of a subgenre already prone to overflowing hokum draped in Spanish moss, smothered in grits and delivered with Southern accents learned from a "Hooked on Keanu Reeves" tape series, South of Hell at least gets credit for some so-bad-it's-funny silliness to go with a premise which really could have been shaped into something better.


The hook is tasty: Maria (Suvari) makes her money reading tarot cards and selling fake mystical trinkets at a Charleston flea market, but she's really a demon-hunter with a unique qualification: Maria is harboring a green-eyed demon named Abigail who enjoys nothing so much as munching on the souls of other demons.


Maria can barely control Abigail, which is where brother David (Zachary Booth) comes in. David is able to keep Maria's demon under control, but he can't control his own drug addiction. See how this works? It's a metaphor drowned in metaphorical gravy and then deep-fried in metaphorically scalding oil.


Created by Matt Lambert, South of Hell also features Bill Irwin as Maria and David's crazed cult-leader father, Lamman Rucker as a priest with a personal interest in helping Maria and Dexter veteran Lauren Velez as a mystery woman presumably hiding demons, metaphorical or otherwise, of her own.


In addition to Velez, the Dexter connection on South of Hell includes showrunner James Manos, Jr. and a voiceover that you badly want to slap across its disembodied face.


See, the reason the Dexter voiceover worked was that it came from the perspective of a perpetually ironic character who was always questioning his humanity. Dexter could utter cliches and they'd sound wry and reflective coming from Michael C. Hall.


Booth, however, cannot find any way to sell voiceover such as "The world's a hard place to face alone and old habits die hard, like a tune you just can't get out of your head" in any way that doesn't just sound like bad writing.


I get the desire, in a show this extreme, to have the POV be an unremarkable character, but there's a difference between unremarkable and a character who is too bland to respond to anything in an interesting way.


South of Hell's writers and directors — Eli Roth and Rachel Talalay in the episodes I've seen, with Jennifer Lynch, Jeremiah Chechik and Ti West to come — share a general lack of interest in the non-supernatural elements and characters in the series, and Booth and his performance are only the most


Rucker's in-the-know reverend is a wooden bore, Lydia Hearst is amusingly uncomfortable as an alluring belle and Maria's trailer-park neighbor (Drew Moerlein) snoozes through playing a character whose name probably should just be Beefcake instead of Dusty.


While the prospect of playing both Maria and demonic invader Abigail seems like it ought to be enticing for Suvari, her more general interpretation appears to be closer to miserable discomfort, which may be related to either those contact lenses or the strangeness of playing a possessed version of someone bringing a human version of themself to orgasm while sharing a couch. Yes, South of Hell is that kind of show.


It's also the kind of program that has a possessed child, again encumbered by wacky contact lenses, informing an adversary, "Bitch, I eat souls for breakfast!" which surely would be one of the most quoted TV lines of 2015, except nobody is going to watch South of Hell. And while he may or may not be incubating a malingering spirit of his own, Irwin's character gives the Tony-winning actor the chance to be hammy at a level that exceeds his oft-hammy career norms.


South of Hell only comes to life in the exorcism or demon-related scenes, which steal from William Friedkin's genre-defining classic with abandon and seem to rely heavily on people wrestling on walls or ceilings while simultaneously wrestling with their contact lenses. More advanced effects like a soaring horde-of-insects cam and something where demons seem to speak through prisoners as static are more rudimentary, but there's a chance they could be spruced up for air.


Even at moments of peak lunacy, South of Hell falls well short of what Ash vs Evil Dead is doing on a weekly basis on Starz. Presumably WEtv is dumping South of Hell post-Thanksgiving rather than the more justifiable post-Halloween to get distance from that Sam Raimi-produced success, as if this will be the perfect time for fans of Marriage Boot Camp, Braxton Family Values and Tamar & Vince to switch from unscripted to badly scripted horror.


Tenebre-1982 Release Date: 28 October 1982 Sub-Genre: Giallo Country of Origin: Italy Running Time: 110 minutes Director: Dario Argento Producers: Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento Screenplay: Dario Argento Special Effects: Giovanni Corridori








Cinematography: Luciano Tovoli Score: Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli, Massimo Morante Editing: Franco Fraticelli Studio: Sigma Cinematografica Roma Distributors: Titanus, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Arrow Video Stars: Anthony Franciosa, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D’Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, Giuliano Gemma, Mirella Banti Mirella Banti, Marino Masé Suggested Audio Candy: Goblin Tenebre


“The impulse had become irresistible. There was only one answer to the fury that tortured him. And so he committed his first act of murder. He had broken the most deep-rooted taboo, and found not guilt, not anxiety or fear, but freedom. Any humiliation which stood in his way could be swept aside by the simple act of annihilation: Murder.”


I’ve love to spend just a few minutes inside Dario Argento’s gloriously contorted cranium. One imagines it would be painted in garish primary colors, be densely populated with impossibly beautiful women, and be laced with more than a dash of sickness. In over thirty years of divulging horror it has been Argento’s work that has shown most dominantly just how beautiful the macabre really can be when witnessed through the eyes of a visionary genius.


Like any filmmaker, there have been a few troughs amongst the peaks but, when you consider the apex here includes deep red rubies of Suspiria, Inferno and Profondo Rosso caliber, it suggests that a bad day at the office for Argento is still well worth putting in a shift for. While the aforementioned trinity are regularly referred to as the Italian maestro’s finest works; many still regard Tenebrae as his last complete masterpiece and some still cite it as his finest hour.


It’s a common misconception that his work has trailed off since and, to his detractors, I urge you to revisit Opera, Sleepless and the mad as a crate of squirrels Phenomena and try telling me that they are the works of a spent force. The fact us that Argento possesses that certain indefinable something that most filmmakers spend their lives attempting to emulate and it resides deep within his glorious frontal lobe.


Tenebrae ran into considerable strife with the BBFC during their 1983 clampdown and placed on the DPP’s infamous video nasties list, where it remained indefinitely. Laughably it was then released with its cover image of a woman with her throat cut obscured by a red bow. Although eventually re-released in 2003 with all cuts reinstated, it still remains banned in Germany to this day for some reason. How anyone could regard any of his films as reprehensible is beyond preposterous, let alone such a striking display of artistic impression as this, but the film’s voyeuristic stylings certainly haven’t helped its cause.


“Let me ask you something? If someone is killed with a Smith&Wesson revolver… Do you go and interview the president of Smith & Wesson?” Tenebrae actually came about as a result of Argento’s real-life trauma after he was stalked by a fanatical follower during a trip to the United States. It focuses on American mystery-thriller novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa in a role originally intended for Christopher Walken), who arrives in Italy to promote his latest best-seller with his assistant Anne (Daria Nicolodi) and agent Bullmer (John Saxon) in tow.


Before he can so much as unpack his luggage, he is paid a visit from Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma) and informed of a young woman found brutally murdered, with pages from his book stuffed in her mouth. To make his stay even more uncomfortable, it isn’t long before the killer strikes again and appears to be drawing inspiration from his literature.


The title Tenebrae derives from a Latin word meaning darkness which is ironic as much of the film is brightly lit. The striking primary colors of Suspiria and Inferno are nowhere to be seen, although deep red plays a significant part, never more so than during a recurring dream sequence where it provides stunning contrast against pale whites. This disparity is also evident for a number of the kills almost as though he is painting on canvas and, in true Argento style, his victims gaze at the camera for long drawn-out moments, implicating us all personally.


I believe it was this film that taught me just how beautiful an act murder can be, although I’d prefer not to be quoted on that one. Luciano Tovoli’s cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking and there is one magnificent and technically glorious tracking shot that beggars belief to this very day. Argento’s roving lens scales a victim’s home in one single seamless take, navigating walls and rooftops, and peering in through windows, using the Louma crane.


This scene took three days to shoot and, astonishingly, Argento was requested to remove it for the film’s American release. Thankfully he stuck to his guns. It just shows how much this film was misunderstood at the time although, more recently, it has started to gain the adulation it deserves. Another element of note is the fantastic synthesized score by previous Goblin members Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli and Elsa Morante who reunited specifically for Tenebrae.


“We have eliminated the impossible. Whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”Tenebrae is far more of a conventional thriller than out-and-out horror film but has more subtext submerged beneath its surface than possibly any other of Argento’s works. Freudian psychology, suppressed childhood trauma, sexual deviancy, spectatorship and the fetishization of violence are all touched upon here. The sum of its masterful parts don’t always hang together in a cohesive whole but since when has Italian horror cinema concerned itself with cohesion anyhoots?


While undoubtedly giallo in a sense, there is a far more contemporary feel to proceedings than most of its brethren. Indeed, Argento breathes new life into a genre just starting to grow a little obvious at the time and that, my dear Grueheads, is the sign of a true visionary at work. Grazie per tutti i ricordi meravigliosi di Dario Argento.


As for the kills, well there are a number of particularly grisly dispatches including the infamous scene where a hapless belle has her arm extirpated from the elbow down via axe that provides Argento the opportunity to splash his deep red all over a pallid concrete canvas. Needless to say, he does so gleefully. Giovanni Corridori’s practical effects are excellent and there are a number of gory set-pieces spread across its runtime. Indeed, pound for bloody pound, Tenebrae may well be the most violent of all giallo. He also caters well for our craving for sins of the flesh proving, beyond reasonable doubt, that Argento really is the gift that keeps on giving.



Deep Red – Dario Argento Also known as Profondo Rosso, Release Date: 7 March 1975 (Italy) Sub-Genre: Giallo Country of Origin: Italy Box Office: ₤3,709,723,000 (Italy), $629,903 (US) Running Time: 126 minutes Director: Dario Argento Producers: Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento Screenplay: Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi


Special Effects: Germano Natali, Carlo Rambaldi Cinematography: Luigi Kuveiller Score: Goblin, Giorgio Gaslini Editing: Franco Fraticelli Studios: Rizzoli Film, Seda Spettacoli Distributors: Howard Mahler Films, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Blue Underground Stars: Macha Meril, David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Giuliana Calandra, Glauco Mauri, Clara Calamai, Piero Mazzinghi, Aldo Bonamano, Liana Del Balzo, Geraldine Hooper Suggested Audio Candy: Goblin Soundtrack Suite


Selecting your favorite Dario Argento movie is akin to working out which one of The Pointer Sisters to bed first; a laborious affair with no clear-cut answer. So dominant was wizard Argento through the seventies and early eighties that picking an outright winner isn’t easy. Personally I’m all about Suspiria and Inferno, and believe these two entries into his Three Mothers Trilogy came at the height of his creative flourish.


However, if you asked me to name his best film, it would be particularly troublesome discounting Deep Red from the equation. Argento’s work, particularly by the turn of the decade, was often wildly incoherent, whereas this 1975 Giallo gave a masterclass in tight plot and conventional narrative.He had proved already with The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, The Cat’o’Nine Tails, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet that Giallo was his speciality and Deep Red, or Profondo Rosso to use his native tongue, was by far his most accomplished entry into the increasingly popular sub-genre yet.


It also showcased his visual virtuosity and featured long-lasting imagery which endorsed sleepless nights effortlessly. This marked the coming together of elements for Argento and also his willingness to push boundaries with the first true signs of his artistic approach to gruesome splatter. Deep Red was heavily cut upon its US release but not, as believed, by the censors. Instead, Dario himself removed over twenty minutes of footage from the American print and this included many of the film’s infamous gore scenes.


Now fully reinstated, the full 126-minute version is an absolute joy to behold, not only for its grue, but also because of additional interaction between leads David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi. Argento’s work isn’t necessarily known for its on-screen pairings but here the chemistry on exhibit is nigh-on off the chart. Hemmings displays all the naïvety of Thomas from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up, while Nicolodi acts as the perfect foil in a truly wondrous performance.


At one point they take a break from trying to deduce the killer by engaging in an arm wrestle and many of the film’s lighter moments come courtesy of their duck soup synergy. The plot itself is conventional Giallo all the way and focuses on jazz pianist Marcus Daly (Hemmings) as he scrutinizes a spate of vicious killings after witnessing one such murder whilst strolling home. Along with investigative reporter Gianna Brezzi (Nicolodi) he attempts to complete a puzzle the pieces for which Argento leaves tantalizingly scattered across the 126 minute duration with the usual red herrings and blind alleys halting his progression.


All the while, our killer is making themselves known, while he keeps us guessing with a whodunnit theme which is implemented brilliantly. What truly sets this film apart from the numerous pretenders to its Giallo crown is the prodigious atmosphere which he evokes through the usual gloriously Argento staples which later became synonymous with the brand. For a film bearing the title Deep Red, there is indeed a profusion of rouge, not restricted to the splatter either.


Argento utilizes wondrous POV and tracking shots as he ensures we remain up-close-and-personal every single time he turns the screw. Aside from an abundance of his trademark visual style, the soundtrack by Goblin is easily one of their finest compositions and they throw everything inclusive of kitchen sink into the mix supplying everything from growling base guitar riffs, pipe organs, pulsating drum rhythms, and the all important synthesizer of course.


These factors combine to showcase Argento’s command of the macabre and it was during Deep Red that the stars truly aligned for the first time. Despite the fact that this is far more conventionally Giallo than the likes of Suspiria and Inferno, he still manages to apply an additional layer of the surreal to proceedings. Certain scenes are nightmarish, notably one painfully protracted scene where Marcus is stalked and taunted by the killer while sitting down to compose a little gentle jazz on his piano. What begins fairly innocuously ends most sinister and demonstrates Dario’s desire to toy with his addressee brilliantly.


Moments such as these are liberally sprinkled throughout the running time and stick with us long after Deep Red has unspooled. In summarizing, irrespective of whether or not Deep Red represents the director’s finest work, he is undoubtedly at the very top of his game and there can be no denying how influential this film has proved in the forty years since its original release. Discomforting in its suspense and bolstered by enigmatic turns from both Hemmings and Nicolodi, this remains just as starkly brilliant now as it was way back when.


Argento is arguably the closest we have in horror to a true artist and it was Deep Red where he perfected the application of such cruel brushstrokes. Magnifico; lavoro eccellente signore Dario. Given that we were still in 1975, and film-makers were still timidly testing the waters with regards to what one ordinarily assumes plays out after the cameras cease rolling, Argento really pushed the envelope with some particularly vicious dispatches.


There is no simple pillow suffocation here; a cleaver is the preferred weapon of choice and Argento does everything in his power to share with us every single slice. Had this film been made ten years later then he may well have been provided more freedom to operate but, to his eternal credit, he affords us first-hand experience of the bloodletting with some particularly spiteful kills, none less so than the instance where a man’s face is slammed repeatedly into a fireplace mantle until his teeth shatter.



Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi,
Mario Foglietti, Bryan Edgar Wallace
Cast: Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer,
Bud Spencer, Jean-Pierre Marielle


Approximate running time: 104 mins
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Rating: Not Rated
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1/ DTS/ 2.0
DVD Release: blue underground
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC


Roberto, a musician, notices he is being followed and confronts the man after rehearsals one night. In an empty theatre, the two struggle, a knife is pulled and the stalker gets stabbed. All this is witnessed from the gallery by a masked photographer.


When Roberto starts to get threatening notes and night visits he engages the help of his friends, God and the Professor, as well as a largely unsuccessful Private Eye, Arrosio. His maid falls victim to his blackmailer, as does Arrosio when he gets too close and then Maria, his wife’s cousin. Roberto buys a gun and decides to face off the night visitor when they next arrive on a stormy night.


The final film in Argento’s Animal trilogy is a blackmail thriller with whimsical characters and dodgy science thrown in. It is a film that has had few proper releases and that fans have relied on poor quality dupes and cobbled together grey market versions to see. Roberto is a character that Brandon based on Dario and the physical resemblance is quite striking.


After it’s relatively poor reception, Dario sought refuge in a TV series and the altogether different affair of Five Days in Milan. Four Flies shows Argento experimenting more with filmmaking technique and taking risks in his writing of characters. The opening of the film is a montage of Roberto being followed by his stalker intercut with a rehearsal of Roberto’s band where he is pursuing a troublesome fly.


The ironic juxtaposition here kind of makes fun of the very set up of the movie with Roberto killing both irritants after he pursues his stalker. Similarly the masked photographer who photographs the murder is wearing such an inappropriate mask that this again seems a deliberately playful device. This playfulness extends itself to the knowing writing of character.


One character is referred to as God and is constantly used for advice, which is nearly always right, and is introduced by a “hallelujah” in Morricone’s score. Best of all in technique in Four Flies is some wonderful uses of Mixage. When Roberto visits Arrosio, the sound of his car's engine drives him up the steps and into Arrosio’s office.


This then makes the contrast between the surging narrative and the camp chilled Private Eye even more fun. Arrosio is a wonderful character, a detective with 84 failures and not one success who is delighted to solve the case even though in doing so it brings his end.


The thriller conventions are further satirized in the revealing of the killer. The old wives’ tale about eyes retaining the last image they see like a camera is used and this reveal is signaled in the title of the film, not only that but this reveal is backed up by a piece of animation to show the audience how four flies on grey velvet happened!


Similarly the dreams of Brandon about decapitation foreshadow how justice will be delivered – very witty stuff. This playing with the preposterous and deliberate fun with character is one of the strong points of Four Flies and far more enjoyable than the hokey thriller at its core. Brandon is very good as a Dario surrogate, and the fun supporting cast are uniformly excellent.


Morricone delivers his best early Argento score mixing prog rock with the atonal squawks that peppered Bird. Four Flies is a film by a director spreading his wings and outgrowing his genre. This creativity would reach its zenith with Profondo Rosso but Four Flies is an immensely enjoyable giallo.



The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, (Blu-Ray)
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 19th, 1970
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Fredric Brown, Bryan Edgar Wallace
Cast: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi


Blu-Ray released: February 24th, 2009
Approximate running time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen /
1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR


Sound: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English,
DTS HD 7.1 English, DD-EX 5.1 English,
DD-EX 5.1 Italian
Subtitles: English
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free


“The process of writing and directing drives you to such extremes that it’s natural to feel an affinity with insanity. I approach that madness as something dangerous and I’m afraid, but also I want to go to it, to see what’s there, to embrace it. I don’t know why but I’m drawn.” – Dario Argento


Synopsis: Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) an American writer witness the attempted murder of wealthy socialite Monica Ranieri (Eva Renzi). Dalmas and his girlfriend Julia (Suzy Kendall) are all set to return to America. When the police who have run out of leads confiscate Dalmas’s passport and force him to help in their investigation.


Dalmas then decides to help the police in hopes of speeding up his departure from Rome. Can Dalmas uncover the truth before the killer silences him forever? Very few directors have made the impact that Dario Argento and his debut film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage did upon their arrival.


Argento like a previous wunderkind Orson Welles would achieve perfection with his first film that he has yet to match with each subsequent films. The plot and narrative flow of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is flawless in every way as the dialog spoken in the film is not only humorous at times it is deeply rich in context to what is going on with in the film.


A first glance at the cast for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and one would quickly assume that this is some knock off B-film which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even at this early stage in his career Argento exhibits his knack for bring out the best in everyone he works with especially his actresses who he films with the utmost beauty that the charges of his films containing themes of misogamy is not only laughable but ridicules.


Tony Musante who played the films lead Sam Dalmas had only acted in a few films before The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and yet in this film he exudes a confidence that is missing is many of his other films that I have seen him in. Quite possible the biggest surprise of the film is actress Suzy Kendall who general gives wooden performances that never enhances the character she is playing or the films plot.


One only has to watch the scene in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage in Kendall’s character Julia is being terrorized by the killer as she is trapped in her apartment. The emotion she manages to convey and her screams of terror are genuine and in many respects this scene shows just what a director like Argento can accomplish even with a lesser performer.


Vittorio Storaro like Argento was relatively new to his profession and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage clearly benefits from his expert use of the camera. Some of the best examples of his contributions is his use of minimal light in a few of scenes which help obscure details which we are not meant to see.


When discussing this film one must one forget the invaluable contribution of Ennio Morricone’s who’s score The Bird with the Crystal Plumage very much like Bernard Herrmann’s score Psycho is at least 50% or more of the reason why the film is a terrifying as it is.


Since making The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Dario Argento’s films have seemed rushed and in many cases obviously lack the funds he needed to do them properly. Also as a writer he seems to have the more fanatical route and as a fan of his films I long for the day he returns to more simpler time when he made films like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.



Suspiria: Movie Review Release Date: February 1, 1977 Sub-Genre: Supernatural Country of Origin: Italy Budget: $13,000,000


Box Office:$1,800,000 (US/ Canada), ITL 1,430,000,000 (Italy) Running Time: 98 minutes
Director: Dario Argento Producer: Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento


Screenplay: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi Based on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey Special Effects: Germano Natali Cinematography: Luciano Tovoli Score: Goblin, Dario Argento


Editing: Franco Fraticelli Production Design: Giuseppe Bassan Studio: Seda Spettacoli Distributors: EMI (UK), Anchor Bay Entertainment (DVD), Blue Underground (UK), Magnum Entertainment (VHS), Nouveaux Pictures (Blu-Ray)


Stars: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Rudolf Schündler, Udo Kier, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett, Margherita Horowitz, Jacopo Mariani, Fulvio Mingozzi Narrator: Dario Argento (uncredited) Suggested Audio Candy:


“Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds” How does a ten-year-old boy even attempt to process a film such as Suspiria? That was precisely my age when I received my formal introduction to Dario Argento’s surreal nightmare. Did I understand what was playing out before my eyes?


I certainly had a vague idea but, as the end credits rolled and I shuffled off to my bed for further reflection, I don’t think I yet realized the magnitude of my undertaking. It wasn’t the first horror film I had watched but it was perhaps the first to throw up far more questions than it was willing to provide the answers for.


I may have been too wet behind the ears to reach inside and grasp it by its beating heart, but I certainly couldn’t shake its shadow from the darkest recess of my room as I laid my head down. If Argento’s movie taught me one thing then that was the immense power of avant garde cinema.


Thirty years down the line and still I struggle to think of a film quite as effortlessly macabre and cerebral. I’m used to movies getting under my skin and, at thirty-one, have had more than enough experience of the grotesque.


However, few pieces of art are quite as individual as Suspiria, and the only other example I can think of is Inferno, which also happens to be the second in his Mother of Tears trilogy. As fantastic as that film is, and as monumental as its underwater ballroom scene is, it’s not the ballet school.


I never much cared for ballet and would imagine that has something to do with the fact that Argento paid my nightmare tuition fees and I turned up there every night like clockwork until the age of fifteen. To be fair to Dario, Goblin are just as culpable.


Again, how does a ten-year-old boy even attempt to process their nightmarish renditions?
Just the name Dario Argento is enough to strike fear into most mortal hearts. Over the past forty years, this man has been a true innovator in his chosen field; inside of whom is a great artist and tortured soul both frantic to get out.


This is the man who harbors a peculiar obsession with his own daughter, the stunning Asia, to the point that he casts her unclothed in many of his works. Clearly this man has some unresolved childhood traumas wired in there with that embarrassing wealth of twisted raw talent and therein lies the key to his eminence.


You see, few can channel their anguish in quite such an exclusive manner and, while his later work may lack a certain artistic flair evident in his most prolific period, he is still dedicated to expressing himself deep into his seventies.


In many ways, he’s like horror’s own Woody Allen. If that is so, then Suspiria would be his Annie Hall. Dario was not content with helping to pioneer the Italian horror insurgency, not to mention weighing in with some classic giallo heavyweights and spearheading the charge for their very own cinematic progeny.


He wasn’t satisfied with being known for this alone and decided he wanted to probe deeper into the vaults of people’s deepest dread and insecurity. Not only this but it was clear to him that his knack for staging terrifying floor shows and striking broad bloody strokes across his canvas, was wasted unless he explored more unearthly inspirations.


He had to go deep and Profondo Rosso revealed a man already teetering over his own worst imaginings but for Suspiria he finally took that leap and squared up to his demons. For any freshmen, Suspiria is a blood-drenched fairy tale of a coven of witches masquerading as a prestigious German dance academy.


Argento’s stimulation come from fables told by the grandmother of fellow screenwriter Daria Nicolodi, who allegedly fled from a German music academy herself because necromancy was being surreptitiously practiced there.


American student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in the dead of night and torrential rain looking to enroll in one of the most magnificent opening scenes from the entire annals of horror. Shadows whisper, the incessant rain appears to be conferring too


and all the while Goblin are tapping at the doors of our mind, laughing grimly as they do. Their score was played at full volume on-set to needle the cast and extract truly fearful performances from them. It’s a truly hellish piece of music.


One of the factors which Suspiria is celebrated for is its exquisite production design and lurid coloration. Argento uses striking primary tones, red in particular, to filter the fear through and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli works with his vision beautifully to create an insular hell hole unlike any other.


Tovoli was advised to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs beforehand and to then remodel the color scheme. In addition, it was the first Italian film to make use of Steadicam, so it is visible just how invested he was to creating something truly commemorative.


His passion bleeds through the deep reds and his own cold terror dances around the somber blues also providing a banquet for the retinas. Naturally, it also features beautiful women, another ever-present and, to be fair, not totally exclusive with this particular Italian stallion.


A population of highly sexed alpha-males demanded no less than a quota of at least one siren-like beauty to accompany their linguine and Dario gleefully obliges. Harper had impressed him so much with her turn as Phoenix in Brian De Palma’s Phantom of The Paradise that he snapped her up on the quick and those large peepers captivate between every blink.


Every time she sleeps, Argento’s roving lens goes walkabout and we are given advanced warning as to what kind of hideous acts play out each night while her aching body heals. The rest of the time we’re Suzy’s spotters and she conveys her horror magnanimously throughout.


Argento also pushes the envelope here in terms of the beautiful bright red stuff. Profondo Rosso had already ruffled a few feathers and the censors were starting to sit up and take notice. His solid giallo Tenebrae was destined to land him in the dock for its notorious arm dismemberment


but just how any censor could dare touch this man’s scientific art is a concept I will never be comfortable with. Suspiria has a suitably atmospheric and grisly opening. Actually, I feel that this is doing it an injustice. The opening drips ominous darkness like a leaky faucet.


His use of audio, silence as much as score-driven, instantaneously whisks us away into a small corner of his splendidly deranged psyche and pins us down, forcing us all to take in the sublime beauty in his beast.


It doesn’t stop there though…oh no! Dario hasn’t finished with us yet. Suspiria features many distressing instances throughout its duration and, for each, he uses a different shade in his wide palette to apply that distorted genius.


The witches are hinted at rather than shown for the main part and this benefits the experience substantially. Without always looking toward visceral shocks and cheap jump tactics to achieve his desired effect, he is enabled to focus on taking that scene further into his own mind, where the limitations are considerably reduced.


One particular standout scene featuring a vortex of barbed wire, set against a striking blue backdrop, draws out the tension for a number of minutes and you feel your insides tangling up like our onscreen fly in her proverbial web.


A popular saying has always been that “you are your own worst enemy” thus, should you feed your brain ninety minutes of his phantasm, then said mind may well play cruel tricks on you for weeks afterwards. Both haunting and beautiful in equal measures, Suspiria has become known, not for its wayward narrative but for the delightfully composed set-pieces, brimming with vivid coloration


and accompanied by strings of torment. Currently Luca Guadagnino is set to attempt the long-rumored remake intended for release in 2017. Should this actually come to fruition, then he may just be the bravest man on the planet, and I wish him well with such an unenviable task.


After all these years and so many subsequent views, there still isn’t any other film that I’m aware of that is quite like it. For The Grue-Guzzlers: The wonderfully horrific opening features plenty of Argento’s delicious deep red alongside some truly affecting imagery.


However, Dario’s gory set-pieces are drip fed and so stunningly composed that it becomes hard to refer to it as actual grue. My fascination for sanguine fluids actually stemmed from watching Suspiria for the first of many times.


Goddamn, I owe this man a mochaccino. If that’s what it takes to get a shot at Asia.



Inferno : Release Date: February 7, 1980 Sub-Genre: Supernatural Country of Origin: Italy Budget: $3,000,000 Running Time: 107 minutes Director: Dario Argento Assistant Director: Lamberto Bava Producer: Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento, Guglielmo Garroni


Screenplay: Dario Argento Narrator: Dario Argento Special Effects: Germano Natali Visual Effects: Mario Bava (uncredited)Cinematography: Romano Albani Score: Keith Emerson Art Direction: Giuseppe Bassan Editing: Franco Fraticelli Studio: Produzioni Intersound Distributor: 20th Century Fox, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Blue Underground, Arrow Film Distributors Stars: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Sacha Pitoëff, Alida Valli, Veronica Lazar, Gabriele Lavia, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Leopoldo Mastelloni


I figured it is high time I revisit one of the more avant-garde classics of horror modern cinema. It simply had to be Dario Argento as few can boast of blurring the lines between horror and fine art so effortlessly as he. He’s the closest we have to our very own Vincent Van Gogh and, during his most flush period around the turn of the eighties, was creating the kind of brush strokes most filmmakers could only ever dream of. The work I am about to place under the microscope was incredibly divisive back on its release in 1980 but time has been kind to Inferno and it is now given the respect it so richly deserves.


Unquestionably flawed and amounting to little more than a collection of beautifully shot set-pieces to the untrained eye, it is also one of his most ambitious ever films. Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy inaugurated in 1977 with the undebatable masterpiece Suspiria inspired by Thomas de Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis and wouldn’t be concluded until forty years later with the largely misunderstood Mother of Tears but its inter-joining fable opts for an entirely different approach to storytelling by opting for visual mastery over any form of notable linear narrative structure whatsoever.


To aid Argento in creating his sumptuous visuals, he enlisted the talents of Mario Bava, whose keen eye for detail assisted him no end with his transcendent revelation. Sadly, Bava passed away shortly before the film’s release but I’m sure he would have been more than satisfied by the results of their collaboration as Inferno both looks and plays out like a dream. As with Suspiria before it, the palette of colors used is fundamental to the unsettling surreal ambiance which is evident throughout, with Keith Emerson’s haunting score expertly adding an extra layer of consternation to proceedings.


This time the central focus is the second of the Three Mothers, Mater Tenebrarum, and our story begins in New York where poet Rose Elliot (Irene Miracle) has come across ancient scriptures denoting the whereabouts of Tenebrarum’s evil blueprints for demonic devastation. Convinced that the building she occupies is in fact the configuration she reads about, her investigations lead her to a subterranean vault where a sunken cavity awaits. Now, while Argento has given us many fantastical moments of optical


enchantment over his long career, I would be hard pushed to select one more beguiling, enchanting, tantalizing and, in turn, oppressive than the ballroom scene of the opening act here. There simply aren’t sufficient adjectives to sum it up and Argento wholly succeeds in leaving his audience as breathless as his inundated maiden. He draws it out for as long as he possibly can and, like Rose, we are desperate to come up for precious air.


Lighting plays an integral part in its ambiance, as does that delirious score. Ingeniously veiled light sources dance off the water creating different hues of Argento’s vivid insignia. Indeed, the director very near burned himself out creatively making Inferno (a bout of Hepatitis certainly didn’t help either), and it’s no small wonder as instances such as this are beyond breathtaking. I would even go as far as to list the underwater ballroom incident in the ten most magnanimous of horror history which, considering the shortlist, is high praise indeed.

It isn’t this extended moment of exquisite aquatic artistry alone though, far from it. A Roman university lecture amphitheater is also used to incredible cinematic effect and, even in such an imposing architectural structure, he is never once overawed and the precision in his craft shows an intricacy few filmmakers will ever possess and that’s all filmmakers, not just those who dabble in the macabre.


Meanwhile, the art direction and production design are simply off the scale and lend an ethereal mood to Inferno unlike any other movie in existence. It’s fruitless attempting to pick holes in the admittedly flimsy narrative structure when your eyes are being made love to constantly for 107 minutes but ultimately this is the only thing separating this from the likes of Suspiria. Granted, that film was hardly brimming with logic but it felt more measured with regards to storytelling and this is deemed largely redundant in the grand scheme of things here.


However, that’s not to say there isn’t a plot to follow and it primarily centers around Rose’s brother Mark (Leigh McCloskey) who catches the next available flight out of Rome to piece together any clues left upon her sudden disappearance. The role was originally intended for James Woods but previous commitments with David Cronenberg’s Videodrome prevented his involvement and McCloskey does his level best to make sense of something the audience are just as clueless about.


Argento’s muse at the time and frequent collaborator Daria Nicolodi also pops up in a minor role as Countess Elise but, alas, while we’re still marvelling at her perfectly proportioned deep red-painted toes, she is sent packing to the sidelines as is sadly too often the case in Argento’s films.


Other characters are largely superfluous to proceedings and seemingly exist only to deliver to our next moment of dread and horror. Once our beleaguered hero learns of the building’s dark secret, we are supplied the Inferno of the title but, regardless of all its fire and brimstone, it never capitalizes on our fear quite as effectively as its distinguished precursor did previously.


That said, it’s certainly not lacking in the panache stakes and is still a fittingly pressure cooker finale. As for the picture on the whole, Suspiria is still my personal darling and the reason for this is its more intricate framework. However, there can be no doubting the technical prowess on exhibit and, once again, Argento’s vision is one which exists only in the deepest sanctums of our subconscious, which is precisely why he evokes such unanimous reactions from his audience.


It’s a tour de force of devastatingly haunting imagery and, technically, on entirely another level to any other horror movie of its time. Sure it makes less sense than a Pauly Shore monologue but, when the end product is so beautifully crafted, I’m more than happy to take each inevitable rough edge with its smooth compatriot. For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: It is of eternal bewilderment to me why the DPP completely overlooked this film’s magnificent artistic broad strokes to focus on the supposedly ghastly bloodletting.


Inferno featured on the nasties list until 1985 but when it did eventually see the light of day in 1987 it was over four minutes lighter. Long since restored, truth be known it isn’t nearly as grisly as we were led to believe and it’s hard to fathom why the censors took exception to this as opposed to Suspiria but a dash of animal cruelty likely didn’t help it cause. That’s not to say there isn’t plentiful profondo rosso on the table. Throats are stabbed clean through, shards of broken window glass used as makeshift guillotines, eyes gouged, rats fed and bodies burned until extra crispy.


However, for Keeper, a single instance resonates over all others. One unfortunate female victim receives a knife to her lower spine and the acoustic of said blade making contact will haunt my dreams perpetually. As for sins of the flesh, Argento shows an unusual amount of restraint and the closest we come to bare flesh is a sodden blouse. On the plus side, Irene Miracle’s perky pink pellets are every bit as miraculous as her birth name and almost warrant a token credit all by themselves.


Mother of Tears (2007) Release Date: 31 October 2007 (Italy), 6 June 2008 (United States) Sub-Genre: Supernatural Country of Origin: Italy/United States Budget: $3,500,000 Running Time: 102 minutes Director: Dario Argento Producers: Dario Argento, Claudio Argento, Marina Berlusconi, Giulia MarlettaScreenplay: Dario Argento, Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch, Walter Fasano, Simona SimonettiBased on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey Special Effects: Sergio Stivaletti


Visual Effects: Lee Wilson Cinematography: Frederic Fasano Score: Claudio Simonetti Editing: Walter Fasano Studios: Medusa Film, Opera Film Produzione, Myriad Pictures, Sky Cinema, Film Commission Torino-Piemonte Distributor: Medusa Distribuzione Stars: Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Moran Atias, Valeria Cavalli, Phillipe Leroy, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Udo Kier, Clive Riche, Massimo Sarchielli, Silvia Rubino, Jun Ichikawa, Luca Pescatore, Tommaso Banfi, Paolo Stella, Barbara Mautino


It can be troublesome returning to a beloved franchise after a lengthy lay off. Francis Ford Coppola learned the hard way and, while The Godfather: Part III brought no real shame to the game, it simply couldn’t hope to hold a candle up to its celebrated predecessors. There were sixteen years between Coppola’s second and third entry and that is nothing to the twenty-seven canyon between Inferno and Mother of Tears. When Dario Argento announced a return to his Three Mothers Trilogy it caused a great deal of excitement within horror circles although there was also a fair level of trepidation from doubting Thomases.


Both Suspiria and Inferno were showcases for Argento at the very top of his game and it was already clear at this point that he was unlikely to be able to repeat the feat a third time. His output during the interim had been decidedly mixed and, for many, the last truly great Argento picture had come way back in 1987 with Opera. To add even more pressure, Inferno damn near finished him off creatively and was one of the hardest films he ever had to make. Delving once more into Thomas de Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis for inspiration, Mother of Tears concludes the trinity by introducing the most beautiful of the three mothers, Mater Lachrymarum. Argento and Daria Nicolodi actually started working on this as far back as 1984 but, after their turbulent relationship ended a year later, so too did their hopes of it bearing fruit.


It was almost two decades before Argento decided to give fans their conclusion and took another four for it to reach completion. The script underwent a number of rewrites and eventually he recruited Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch to help thrash out a final draft. In some respects, it presented a refreshing challenge for the Italian maestro as it allowed him to use retrospect and approach the story with a fresh pair of eyes. However, his filmmaking style had changed considerably by the turn of the millennium, and folk had begun to grow critical of any fresh venture.


Mother of Tears is truly a bizarre little movie. Confused, convoluted, and often incoherent, it is also one of the most effortlessly enjoyable of his many works. Narrative was never his primary concern and neither Suspiria or Inferno concerned themselves with making a great deal of sense so it should come as no surprise that his third outing is borderline unhinged from its very foundations. However, at no point during its 102 minute running time did I find myself losing faith, despite regularly feeling as though the blind were leading the blind. This is Argento at his most unrestrained and who cares if it makes little to no sense when it moves with the pace of a methed-up ferret. Meanwhile, Claudio Simonetti’s grand score echoes Jerry Goldsmith’s ominous composition from The Omen and that can only ever prove a distinct positive.


We begin with members of the Catholic Church unearthing a casket containing the remains of a 19th-century church official, with a mysterious urn chained around it and artifacts belonging to the last surviving member of the notorious Three Mothers, Mater Lachrymarum. It is promptly shipped off to the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome where American art restoration student Sarah (Asia Argento) unwittingly unleashes the evil pent-up within and things soon turn awry for the wide-eyed girl and her curator boyfriend Michael (Adam James). After one of her colleagues suffers an unimaginable death at the hands of demonic cult members and an unexplained crime spree commences around the streets of Rome, it is left to Sarah to attempt to unravel the mystery before all hell literally breaks loose.


She soon realizes that the part she plays is more significant than initially feared and she receives her very own spirit guide in the ethereal form of her deceased mother Elisa (Nicolodi). She cannot hope to survive the onslaught of Satan’s little helpers without special powers and it doesn’t take Sarah long to realize that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Mommie dearest was a powerful white witch who almost toppled the eldest of the Three Mothers, Suspiriorum before being killed in a road accident along with Sarah’s father. Thanks to her new-found ability to turn invisible, she manages to stay one step ahead of the game whilst locating an alchemist and tooling up for the thankless task ahead.


Clearly Lachrymarum isn’t going to make it easy for her so she sends out a rowdy cluster of cackling punk rock minions and a savage gibbon to put the skids on her opposite number. Think of the demented chimp from Phenomena, then widen its mean streak considerably and you should be in the right ball park. Everyone Sarah comes into contact with seem to meet grisly ends and even Michael is a shadow of his former self as the Third Mother is now pulling his strings. There is no end of incident in a second act as bat-shit crazy as anything Argento has dreamed up over his long and lustrous career. If the cart feels as though it may career from its tracks at any given moment, then rest assured this is par for the course when the master is at the helm, albeit with Anderson and Gierasch attempting to rein him in.


He is assisted, in no small part, by his daughter who gives an energetic turn as our beleaguered lead. It is easy to see why he chooses her supple shoulders to rest the burden and she carries it decidedly well throughout. Her character may be a tad uneven but she more than makes up for any inconsistency with unquestionable enthusiasm and plays damsel in distress with the same conviction as a rabbit caught in the crosshairs of oncoming headlamps. Dab hands Udo Kier, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni and Philippe Leroy appear in cameos and James is perfectly cast as Sarah’s panic-stricken bedfellow.


After a disquieting voyage of discovery most harsh, the desperate Sarah manages to locate Mater Lachrymarum’s lair in the catacombs beneath a decrepit Gothic mansion and commences her search and destroy mission. The final flurry is typically nightmarish and packed tight with all manner of debauchery and sacrificial plundering. As our heroine explores the mansion in a single protracted steadicam shot, we begin to see flashes of Argento past, while Frederic Fasano’s cinematography focuses more on cold, naturalistic tones brimming with light and shade as opposed to the vivid Technicolor hues of both Suspiria and Inferno. It’s entirely off its rocker and precious little will make sense by the time Mother of Tears hurtles towards its conclusion but this is no different from any other work from his expansive oeuvre.


This is where we are required to forgive any discrepancies as a lot has changed in the twenty-seven years between his second and third fables. Its foibles, of which there are admittedly many, are somewhat charming and, three decades back, nobody would have batted an eyelid. However, expectation can be damning to a film such as Mother of Tears as is the reputation which precedes it. I fully expected a mess of gargantuan proportions and got precisely that but that didn’t stop me enjoying the bloody hell out of it. All things considered, it provides a fitting end to the trilogy, and is a lot more comfortable rubbing shoulders with its forerunners than we have been led to believe.


Hindsight is a glorious thing and it is here that Argento’s Three Mothers swan song reveals its tantalizing spread of tail feathers. Just speaking about it now has reminded me just how utterly transfixed I was throughout and it already begs for a repeat view. Logic is superfluous to requirements as you’ll find


scant rationale to anything presented here. However, taken in the correct context, and setting aside any predisposal to pick holes for a moment, it provides suitably non compo mentis closure to a certifiable triage of terror. Of all of his post-Opera output, this is the closest we have come to classic Argento and that is something to damn well celebrate in my book.


For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Attempting to begin here is akin to threading a needle after a litre of Fireball. Sergio Stivaletti’s practical effects are easily amongst the most hideous Argento has ever devised and, a little questionable CGI aside, there is a veritable smorgasbord of gushing grue and some remarkably vicious dispatches, even by his standards. Restraint is little more than ten Scrabble points here and everything is shown up-close-and-personal in lurid detail with impish glee. Suspiria and Inferno were no slouches when it came to the splatter but Mother of Tears trumps them hands down…combined!


The crimson glugs from every orifice, with standouts being the grotesque opening kill and a cringe-inducing vaginal penetration via wooden spear which culminates in an orgasmic spurt of satisfyingly deep red as the sharp end vacates its victim orally.


There is so much more besides but one of the most decadent moments comes when a mother nonchalantly disposes of her swaddled infant from a tall bridge and we watch its descent in humor-laced horror as the child bounces off a girder en route to its watery demise. With regards to carnal delights, Dario once again reminds us how well put together his daughter is and the Mater herself is shown in all her luscious glory as she delights in her second coming.


SCARLET DIVA: SHE'S LOST CONTROL I don't know if I actually like Asia Argento's semi-autobiographical feature film debut but it is intriguing to say the least. I do give her respect for working triple duty as director, writer & actress but this film has quite a few problems. On one hand Scarlet Diva comes off like that wasted guy or girl at a house party that keeps spewing out all their personal problems to people they hardly know just to get attention.


On the other hand it’s entertaining and sometimes clever. Not only is it filled with good ol' fashion sex, drugs & rock n' roll and inside references to the movie industry, but there's also a funny jab at Vincent Gallo (Argento's ex) which you might miss if you blink. I guess part of me likes certain aspects of Scarlet Diva because it comes from the same school as other personal/autobiographical rarely seen underrated films shot in the same digital handheld style like; Ivan's XTC & Kreutzer Sonata (both directed by Bernard Rose of Candyman fame)


as well as Ellie Parker (essentially a comedic Mulholland Drive that coincidentally stars Naomi Watts and a few other actors from the Mulholland Drive cast). All the aforementioned films, along with Scarlet Diva, deal with broken dreams, redemption, the dark side of the entertainment business, talented artists spiraling out of control, etc.


Much like how Ivan's XTC is loosely based on the real life of former movie agent: Jay Moloney, Scarlet Diva takes us inside the life of a semi fictitious actress based on Asia Argento. Scarlet Diva & Ivan's XTC, both released in the same year, also happen to be two of the earliest digitally shot features. Personal films shot in an experimental style can be a gamble because if you aren't careful you end up laying out all your inner chaotic turmoil on the table for people to either quickly dismiss as silly or to laugh at.


There’s nothing worse than sharing an intimate part of yourself only to have people not take it seriously. Scarlet Diva was a bomb upon its release but part of me feels like no one gave it a chance because it came from someone who was not only an international sex symbol (in the art house world at least) but Asia Argento is also the daughter of one of the most famous cult directors of all time (Dario Argento for those that don't know) and the film is nothing like her father's work. 2nd generation filmmakers are often unfairly judged based on the legacy their parents left behind (Nick Cassavetes, Roman Coppola, Asia Argento etc).


There always seems to be this expectation that they’ll make the same kinds of films as their parents and when they don’t deliver on those unfair expectations they get negative press. Today Asia Argento has set her own path in the movie industry working with the likes of Olivier Assayas, Gus Van Sant & Abel Ferrara. But in the late 90's I imagine it was tough to make a name for herself as a director given she wasnt in to making horror/giallo films like her father (which is actually part of what Scarlett Diva is about). Making Scarlet Diva was probably like therapy for Asia.


It almost doesn’t matter whether it’s "good" or "bad" just as long as she works out her demons (it's good). It’s like when a therapist asks a patient to draw a picture or hit a pillow. The act of hitting a pillow or drawing a messy scribbly picture to let out ones frustrations may seem silly to some but for others it’s a way to vent or let off steam. Scarlet Diva is definitely like that messy child's drawing done in a therapy session but there's still a lot of important information & insight in those drawings messy or not.


In the film Asia plays "Anna Batista" - a drug addicted, sex addicted actress who's jaded with the movie biz and sliding down a slippery slope of destruction. She plans to retire from acting soon to become a director yet no one takes her seriously. She tries to pitch her movie ideas to her agent and other film producers but all they see in her is a sex symbol. Throughout the film she has to fight off sexual advances (sometimes attempted rape) from sleazy movie producers, coke dealers and random fans that can’t seem to disassociate her from the sexy persona she displays on the big screen.


In one scene she’s harassed by two male fans that can’t respect her personal space and end up literally chasing after her in the street. In between trying to make her dream of becoming a director a reality, she goes through the motions of promoting the latest film she’s acted in, coke binges, random hook-ups with strangers, nearly overdosing, trying to maintain her sanity and preparing for another film she’s scheduled to act in. Reality finally sets in when Ana discovers she’s a few months pregnant. Now she has to track down the father (she has a pretty good idea of who it is) and get her life in order.


Anna receiving the news of her pregnancy is just like the moment in Ivan’s XTC when Danny Huston finds out he has lung cancer. Both Anna & Ivan get life changing news that does nothing to change their destructive ways of life. Ivan continues to do drugs until he overdoses and Anna continues to do drugs and live fast months in to her pregnancy until she finally slows down.Scarlet Diva has a spiritual connection to Lost In Translation as well.


Both films, directed by 2nd generation female directors, are about depressing & existential periods in Argento & Coppola's lives. The difference is Coppola took a more subtle route whereas Argento went all out balls to the wall (imagine Lost In Translation on speed). Asia Argento managed to keep her father's name out of the film as to not ride his coattails but it’s still very much a family affair as it was produced by Dario & Claudio Argento (her uncle) with a cameo from her mother.


My biggest gripe with Scarlet Diva is that I wanted it to be longer (I guess that's a good criticism). Asia Argento has never held her tongue about her strained relationship with her father and the movie business as a whole (especially after this movie came out). Growing up in front of the camera under the shadow of a famous director father whose attention you never got when you needed it isn't exactly the easiest thing to deal with. Somehow Asia manages to cram all of that in over 80 minutes without things feeling too rushed.


Scarlet Diva is worth checking out especially for those interested in digital cinematography (this is one of those early digital films that never gets the recognition it deserves) and the filmmaking style of Abel Ferrara more than likely had a subconscious influence on Argento's work (Argento worked with Ferrara a few years prior on New Rose Hotel).



Marc Levie's THE PRAYING MANTIS (LE FESTIN DE LA MANTE) begins with the reminder that "for the praying mantis, killing the mate is part of survival." As Sylvia, a human praying mantis, actress Lou Boclain gives the best erotic performance as a non-human since Nastassja Kinski in CAT PEOPLE. But when she's not naked, it's the movie rather than her mate that's dead. This sensuous fairy tale for adults involves Sylvia and her two prey, Julien (Yann Chely), her cellist boyfriend, and Patrick (Sacha Kollich), the daredevil who pursues her like a wild animal only to find himself as the catch.


When Sylvia feels the devil -- or whatever it is -- coming over her, she banishes Julien from her bed. Trying to be the original alpha male, Patrick quickly takes his place. At first he thinks he has died and gone to heaven. He is having great sex with a gorgeous woman in her beautiful estate. What more could he ask? Safe sex would be one.


Sylvia is very physical in bed, biting lips, using her nails like ten sharp knives and choking her guys until they turn blue. THE PRAYING MANTIS has a lot in common with snuff films with the chief distinction being the high level of the production values. THE PRAYING MANTIS is sumptuously set and filmed. It's too bad that they couldn't have found more interesting things to say or do when not running around naked.


THE PRAYING MANTIS runs a long 1:36. The film is in French with English subtitles. It is not rated but would be R for sex, nudity and violence and would be acceptable for older teenagers. The film was shown as part of San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival (www.Cinequest.org), which ran March 3-14, 2004


While driving through the south of Belgium, the violoncellist Julien meets the mysterious and gorgeous Sylvia on the road and he immediately has a crush on her. They move together to his huge house and Julien builds a greenhouse for Sylvia in the field of his real state, where becomes her favorite place. One day, Sylvia has a strange behavior with Julien and asks him to stay alone at home.


When Julien leaves the house, she goes to a construction nearby her property and brings to her house the daredevil biker Patrick that is working in the building, playing erotic games with him. When Julien returns home, he surprises the couple having sex and the upset Julien leaves the place, going to the house of his friend and also musician Jean. But Julien is consumed by his passion for Sylvia, and when she tells him that she loves him, he understands her predatory need of life force of her mate.


Title: Le Festin De La Mante
Release Date: March 10, 2004
Runtime: 96 mins
Genre: Romance
All Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Languages: French
Country: Belgium


Marc Levie
Lou Broclain ...Sylvia
yann Chely ...Julien
Sasa Nikolic ...Patrick (as Sacha Kollich)
Adele Jacques ...Claudine
Hugues Hausman ...Alain
Michel de Warzee ...Georges
Serge Swysen ...Jean
Renaud Boucquey ...L'homme du cimetiere
Samuel Lemaire ...L'homme a la caleche
Stephane Shoukroun ...L'homosexuel (as Stephane Schoukroun)
Felix Verbist ...Le cure
Ulysse Waterlot ...Le chef d'orchestre


Frederic Chanteux
Marc Levie
Marc Levie
Erik Vandebosch
Laurent Mersch
Ulysse Waterlot


'At the end of the copulation, the praying mantis eats its partner.' By Jean-Henri Fabre, 1823-1915 this fantasy film of love, sacrifice and the hunt tells the story of a beautiful woman who is cursed with the instinct of a praying mantis. The growing force inside her compels her to go on the hunt for a man to consume. Although terrified, she will do anything to keep the man she loves from death including searching for a young man willing to give his life for her.


Julien’s intensely romantic relationship with the mysterious Sylvia unravels when she senses the instinct of a praying mantis growing inside her. Terrified and unwilling to harm the man she loves, Sylvia searches for another lover, and the result is an engaging exploration of the connection between eroticism and self-sacrifice.


Director Marc Levie tempers fantastic images with familiar psychological insights. Sylvia’s lovers represent opposing sides of the masculine psyche: the faithful and sensitive Julien set against the risk-taking womanizer Patrick.


Similarly, Sylvia, who moves effortlessly between tenderness and cruelty, illustrates the extremes of the feminine personality. A perfect blend of the ordinary with the extraordinary adds incredible depth to this.


The supporting cast and the principle actors - Lou Broclain (Sylvia), Yann Chely (Julien), and Sacha Kollich (Patrick) - give moving performances, making each moment true to life, despite the story’s mythic narrative.


These performances combined with the poetic vision of Marc Levie and Michel Van Laer’s lush renderings of the French landscape make The Praying Mantis an unforgettable experience.


A rather off-beat delight from Belgium, Praying Mantis seemingly starts in a merely quirky manner before fully morphing into a somewhat chaotic supernatural story. Admittedly I didn't realize there were supernatural themes before seeing the movie but having them come as a surprise probably added to the story which is, at face value, simple enough: a man meets a strange woman on the side of the road, takes her home and they start a relationship of sorts.


But she is not what she seems and despite an obvious affection for him rebuffs his sexual advances only to accept a rogue into her 'bed' instead. But who is the real predator here? Well of course SHE is.


Although the film fails to make a lot of things clear and leaves a number of questions unanswered, the overall storyline is quite compelling as it really is an exploration of people's emotions and their reactions to their desires and love.


From the besotted 'hero' willing to give up everything even once he discovers the truth, to the poor girlfriend of the local daredevil who will sleep with anything and anyone, it's an interesting emotional montage.


However probably my favourite part of this flick is the simply delightful initial sex scene where the director flexes his creative muscles to emphasise not only the predatory nature of his femme fatale but the similarities between human mating and the mating dances of animals.


A seemingly playful blindfolded foreplay descends into a choreographed dance that is part animal, part graceful ballet. You almost forget the nudity it's so well done.


It's a theme that is later repeated in the background in one of the more surreal cinematic moments of all-time: where we have our hero playing the cello in the snow (during a heatwave) while his love cavorts ballet-style naked with her lover in a greenhouse in the background. Very impressive.


Overall this was an intriguing and enjoyable experience. So much so that you're willing to overlook the lack of explanation of a few key elements such as her background (probably not necessary in truth), the hero's discovery of his own corpse, and the seeming discordant chronology with our woodnymph/siren/succubus.


  「就在交配完的尚,雌螳螂就把牠的配偶抓住,按照習慣先啃食頸部,然後一小口一小口有條不紊吃得只剩下翅膀。」—法布爾(1823-1915)•法 國昆蟲學家。




You are my everlasting, ma dame de cœur, my lady of
heart reine de douceur queen of sweetness tu combles
mes fantasmes. You fill my fantasies scelles mes pensées
sealed my thoughts, dans mon esprit, nous valsons.


J'étends ici le disposé pour penser à toi et I lay here the willingness
to think about you and la jeunesse vous m'avez donné tellement
il ya bien longtemps you gave me so many years ago.


That during the day you can take a few moments to think of me,
for surely I'll be thinking of you. E quando o entardecer invadir
o dia expulsado a luz do sol, cada estrela que aparecer me dará
notícias suas e assim você adormecerá sempre em meu


Tes baisers errants, frétillants your kisses stray frisky tels les
rêves hantant mon esprit, such dreams haunting my mind a fleur
de peau de tes lèvres satinées, at edge of your lips brushed,
habitués à m'embrasser en douceur accustomed to kiss me gently.


A gente se entende de uma maneira tão simples que uma troca
de olhares já nos faz saber exatamente o que o outro deseja e
quer. We understand it in a way so simple that an exchange of
glances already lets us know exactly what the other wants.


Bonjour je t offre une bise I offer you a soft kiss elle sera
douce comme une brise it will be soft like a breeze elle sera
donnée avec tendresse it will be given with tenderness
elle sera donnée avec gentillesse it will be given with kindness
elle sera donnée par magie it will be given by magic.


As palavras são expressão máxima dos sentimentos, então que as minhas
possam ser para você nesse momento a alegria ea certeza de que és muito
querido e desejado por mim. Words are ultimate expression of feelings,
so that mine might be for you at this time the joy and the certainty that
you are well loved by me.


Tenderly the day dawned ... e logo já estava em meus pensamentos. And
soon it was in my thoughts. Imaginei te dando um longo beijo de bom dia
e te desejando muita tranqüilidade para enfrentar mais uma etapa em sua
vida. I figured giving you a kiss good evening and wishing you much peace
of mind to face one more step in your life.


In my mind, we waltz, lente et longue, mais langoureuse valse, slow and
long, languorous waltz but, sensuelle étreinte, sensual embrace. Fougueuse
passion, fiery passionil est irréel, it is unreal, mon amour pour toi ne s'en
ira jamais, my love for you will never go away.


Em tudo que faço, desejo, quero e penso tem você a me acompanhar, a me
fazer ouvir muitas palavras de carinho e ternura, que me fazem tão bem.
In everything I do, I want and I think you have to accompany me, to make
myself heard many words of love and tenderness, I do as well.


Eu sempre te quis tanto, mesmo quando ainda nem te conhecia e hoje que
tenho você comigo, sinto que todos os meus desejos podem se tornar
realidade. I always wanted to do so, even when not even know you and
now that I have you with me, I feel that all my wishes can come true.


Que durante esse dia você possa reservar alguns instantes para pensar em
mim, pois com certeza eu estarei pensando em você.


And when evening invade the day expelled the sunlight, every star that
appears will give me news of you and so you fall asleep forever in my heart.


Meus beijos são e serão sempre seus...my kisses are and will always be
yours .. com Amor ... with Love ...


Hoje certamente tudo dará certo. Today certainly everything will be
alright. O seu caminho será suavizado pela brisa do ar que chegará até
você de mansinho, trazendo com ela o aroma das flores que darão
colorido ao seu dia.


Reflets incarnadins sur nappe de rubis reflections on incarnadine sheet
ruby va-et-vient flamboyants au chant des clapotis back and forth to the
sound of splashing flaming.


Friselis infinis dans les eaux frétillantes ripple in the waters infinite wriggling
clins d'œil étincelants au ciel du repentir winks at the sparkling sky.


Your path will be smoothed by the breeze of air that will come to you softly,
bringing with it the scent of the flowers that give color to your day.


What every morning, you feel in your heart to make sure that life awaits you
with open arms to receive their expectations and accomplish them one by one.


I'm getting ready for my new vocation, I am the man who will unite the nations,
this is love, the language of love.


Excusez-moi, my pretty Mademoiselle, you are a French girl it's easy to tell,
me, I don't smoke not even a French cigarette.


but I love my pomme de terre, and always croquette, I am from Angleterre
and you are from France, and you will honor me by having a dance.


I'm getting ready for a new sensation, never kissed them in another nation,
internationally I'm in clover,I was a native on the boat ride over.


We've been together now for more than a day, and I am waiting to hear what
you say, come on, come on, I think you're telling me lies, you are Italian, I
can tell by your eyes, I love Chianti and I hope you'll agree that Zefferelli
makes the movies for me.


I try my French, Latin, Spanish and Greek, this is the language of love that I
speak, I never know if they're from Paris or Rome.


We stop the talking when I'm walking them home, one little kiss and then
heavens above, this is the universal language of love.


Are you ready for a new sensation, I'm going to kiss a girl from every nation,
this is love - the language of love.


You write with kisses on the book of love, me das hambre de ti, me das infinitos
give me hungry for you, give me endless caricias sosegadas, me das sosiego
restful touch, give me serenity como una flor que acaricia mis sentidos like a
flower that touch my senses.


Je voudrai t'offrir mes louanges et mes désirs I would like to offer you my
praise and my desires ecouter le battement de ton cœur et te sentir frémir
listen to the beat of your heart and feel you shudder je voudrai lire dans tes
yeux ravageurs I would like to see in your eyes la tendresse.


Fougueuse passion, fiery passionil est irréel, it is unreal, mon amour pour
toi ne s'en ira jamais, my love for you will never go away.


J'ai ressenti ta chaleur pénétrer dans mon sang I felt your heat into my blood et
cette lueur dans tes yeux que j'aime tant and that glimmer in your eyes I love so
much, tes bras entourent ma poitrine et tes lèvres effleurent les miennes your
arms around my chest and your lips brush against mine tout à coup je deviens
coquine le désir s'infiltre dans mes veines, suddenly I become mischievous
desire seeps into my veins...


Conoscere la pena di troppa tenerezza essere trafitti dalla vostra stessa
comprensione d'amore, being impaled by your own understanding of love,
E sanguinare condiscendenti e gioiosi and to bleed condescending and joyful.


Amo in te il tuo pensarmi e poi chiamarmi... I love you in your thinking and then
call me ... il volerti sfamare solo di me... just want to love you always ... amo
te... I love you ... e null'altro voglio che... and nothing else I want ... annullarmi
nel tuo respiro su di me... canceled in your breath on me...



Faceless (film) 1987
Directed by Jesús Franco
Produced by René Chateau
Written by René Chateau
Jesus Franco
Michel Lebrun
Jean Mazarin
Pierre Ripert


Starring Helmut Berger
Brigitte Lahaie
Telly Savalas
Christopher Mitchum
Stéphane Audran
Music by Romano Musumarra
Cinematography Jean-Jacques Bouhon
Maurice Fellous


Edited by Christine Pansu
Release date
22 June 1988
Running time
98 minutes
Country France
Language English


Faceless is a 1988 French slasher film directed by Jesús Franco. The
film is about Dr. Flamand (Helmut Berger) and his assistant Nathalie
(Brigitte Lahaie) who lure unsuspecting victims to use their skin to
perform plastic surgery on the doctor's disfigured sister - a plot
reminiscent of Franco's first film, Gritos en la noche (1961). Hallen
(Telly Savalas) is a New York businessman who hires private detective


Sam Morgan (Chris Mitchum) to find his missing fashion model daughter
Barbara (Caroline Munro). Other elements of the story include a Nazi
doctor (Anton Diffring) and a chainsaw/power tool tormentor who are
called in by Dr. Flamand. Plot: A former patient of Dr. Frank Flamand
(Helmut Berger), a disfigured Mrs. Francoisis (Tilda Thamar) seeks revenge
for a botched operation by throwing acid at him but she misses and catches
his sister, Ingrid (Christiane Jean), full in the face, resulting in severe burns.


At a photo shoot in Paris, the doctor's assistant Nathalie (Brigitte
Lahaie) drugs and kidnaps Barbara Hallen (Caroline Munro) and
locks her in a room in the basement of Flamand's clinic. Whilst
checking on other kidnapped girls, a scuffle starts with Natalie
and Gordon (Gerard Zalcberg), who lives in the basement chops
off the girl's arms.


In New York City, Barbara's father Terry Hallen (Telly Savalas) is
desperately awaiting a news of his daughter and hires a private
detective, Sam Morgan (Chris Mitchum), to go and find her. Once
in Paris, Morgan visits a morgue with Brian Wallace (Daniel Grimm)
of the Paris police to see a decapitated body, but knows it is not
Barbara due to a missing mole.


Flamand and Nathalie go to see a surgeon Dr. Orloff (Howard Vernon)
about an operation to amputate Barbara's face and attach it to his
sister's Ingrid's face. Orloff tells them to track down Nazi doctor Karl
Heinz Moser (Anton Diffring). They return to find Barbara's face has
been badly cut by Gordon. Morgan interviews Barbara's photo
director Maxence (Marcel Philippot) and gets some information
through intimidation before Maxence's bouncer, Doudo (Tony Awak),
forces Morgan to flee.


Meanwhile, Flamand has kidnapped another woman, Melissa, to use
for the face transplant. Morgan updates Terry with information on
Barbara - that she was a prostitute and that she left with a gold watch.
Moser arrives for the operation, but destroys Melissa's donor face due
to complications and Flamand and Nathalie seek a replacement. At a
club they find an actress (Florence Guerin), trick her into going to the
clinic, drug her and hide her body.


Morgan traces a credit card belonging to Barbara Hallen to the Paris
suburb of Saint-Cloud, and to Flamand's clinic. At the clinic Morgan
sees a watch Natalie is wearing and later sees this in pictures at his
hotel as belonging to Barbara and decides to return to the clinic. A
nurse at the clinic enters the basement and finds all the girls locked
up. She is caught and killed by Gordon. At this moment Moser,
Flamand and Nathalie remove the actress's face and show it to Ingrid.


Morgan returns to the clinic and is attacked by Gordon but manages
to impale him on some hooks. Morgan finds keys and locates the girls
and Barbara but is locked in Barbara's cell with her by Natalie. Flamand,
Moser and Nathalie then brick up the cell. Barbara and Sam find them
selves trapped and gasping for air. Sam though has sent Terry a message
saying Terry, I traced Barbara to this clinic in Paris.


I'm going in tonight to look for her. If I don't leave a message in 12 hours,
send in the marines, Merry Christmas. Terry says to his office executive
Jenny, get me on the first flight to Paris!, in hopes to rescue the two.
Alternate ending: The original ending of the film involved Sam success
fully rescuing Barbara, and arresting Flamand, Nathalie, Moser, and
Ingrid, with Terry going to Paris to pick them up.


Jess Franco wanted a slightly different touch to make it different, so
while switching the ending around, this time it is mentioned that Terry
Hallen is going to Paris to the clinic, but it is left open, if he gets there
in time to save them or not.


Kate Beckinsale as Selene
Scott Speedman as Michael
Shane Brolly as Kraven
Michael Sheen as Lucian
Bill Nighy as Viktor
Erwin Leder as Singe


Sophia Myles as Erika
Written by
Len Wiseman
Kevin Grevioux
Danny McBride
Action, Fantasy,
Science Fiction,
Rated R For Strong Violence/
Gore and Some Language
121 minutes


Brendan Gill, the distinguished writer for the New Yorker, offered a
definition of pornography that has stood the test of time. A porno movie,
he said, is a movie where you become acutely aware that the characters
are spending too much time getting in and out of cars and walking in and
out of doors. Gill's wisdom came to mind when Todd McCarthy, writing in
Variety, observed of "Underworld" that "there may be more openings and
closings of doors in this picture than in the entire oeuvre of Ernst Lubitsch."


That is not the sort of detail that should occur to you while you're watching
a movie about a war between werewolves and vampires. But "Underworld"
is all surfaces, all costumes and sets and special effects, and so you might as
well look at the doors as anything else. This is a movie so paltry in characters
and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide
graphic visuals. Two of those visuals are Kate Beckinsale, who plays Selene,


a vampire with (apparently) an unlimited line of credit at North Beach Leather
, and Scott Speedman as Michael, a young intern who is human, at least until
he is bitten by a werewolf -- and maybe even after, since although you become
a vampire after one bites you, I am uncertain about the rules regarding were
wolves, Hold on, I just Googled it. A werewolf bite does indeed turn you into a
werewolf, according to a Web site about the computer game Castlevania, which
helpfully goes on to answer the very question I was going to ask next:


"What would be the result if a werewolf bites a vampire? It is called a were
-pire or wolf zombie... The reason Intern Michael is bitten by the werewolf
Lucian, I think, is because the werewolves want to create a new hybrid race
and gang up on the vampires. All of this is an emotional drain on Selene,
who finds herself in love with a werewolf at the same time that her vampire
kingdom is in grave danger.


Exactly why she falls in love with Michael, or whether love bites are
allowed in their foreplay, is not very clear, probably because romance
and sex inevitably involve dialogue, and dialogue really slows things
down. This is not a movie that lingers for conversation; its first words,
"You're acting like a pack of rabid dogs," occur after 15 minutes of non
stop and senseless action in a fight scene involving characters we have
not been introduced to.


Selene is being challenged for leader of the vampires by Kraven (Shane Brolly),
who, as you might have guessed from his name, is a villain, just as you can
guess from his name that Viktor (Bill Nighy) is not. Viktor in fact is deep in
a sleep of centuries when he's awakened prematurely by Selene, who needs
his advice to deal with the werewolf/human/Kraven situation. The gradual
transformation in appearance of the reawakened Viktor is an intriguing
special effects exercise; he begins as a terminal case of psoriasis and ends
as merely cheerfully cadaverous.


"Underworld" is the directing debut of Len Wiseman, an art director ("Stargate,"
"Independence Day") who can stage great-looking situations but has few ideas
about characters and plots. It's so impossible to care about the characters in the
movie that I didn't care if the vampires or werewolves won. I might not have
cared in a better movie, either, but I might have been willing to pretend.


Underworld: Evolution is little more than a muddled epilogue to the story
introduced in 2003's Underworld. Seemingly confused by its own legacy,
Underworld: Evolution has anti-climatic secrets for you to puzzle out,
provided you don't throw yourself to the wolves before the third act.
Kate Beckinsale returns as Selene, a vampire warrior who, when we first
encountered her, was still exacting her revenge on the werewolf race for
the murder of her family in the 1600s.


Scott Speedman is by her side as Michael, the human-turned-werewolf-
turned-hybrid at the end of the first movie. As the centuries-old war
between vampires (or Death Dealers) and werewolves (or Lycans) rages
on, Selene and Michael navigate a murky plot that involves Corvinus
(Derek Jacobi), the father of both races, and his sons Marcus (Tony
Curran) and William (stuntman Brian Steele), who became the first
true vampire and werewolf.

These two strains are of great import to the present, as the grand war
is edging toward a deciding battle. Speeches on betrayal, murder, God
complexes, and the idea of one race figure into the non-action sequences,
which lead up to the story's inciting moment, sharing secrets that don't
feel all that revelatory. There's nothing here that couldn't be packaged
as an addendum on a special edition Underworld DVD.


Beckinsale is surprisingly toned down this time out, though her husband,
director Len Wiseman, aims to obscure her muted performance with a
near-nude sex scene between his wife and Speedman. Selene talks and
shoots her guns more, where I can safely assume that the audience was
hoping for a more inventive fighting repertoire this time through. She has
flashbacks to her childhood which gave her character a bit more depth,
but mostly she comes across as incredibly battle weary. Speedman, as
usual, is the affordable alternative to Christian Bale, though the vicious
ness he doles out should get the audience on his side.


One interesting note on the action: most of it is horribly edited, except
for the goriest depictions of beheadings and torn-out organs. This is not
a sequel that aspires to be elegant, as the original dreamt. It's a shame,
because Selene looks so heavenly when she freefalls, and so cliched when
she shoots to kill. Still, I'd rather she empty clip after clip than appear be
hind the wheel of a truck (an attempt to outrun Marcus) or aboard a heli
copter (an attempt to confront Marcus); such things come across as so ...


When Underworld debuted in late 2003, it opened at #1 and shocked the
entertainment industry, who expected it to fare far worse than its closest
relative at the time, 2002's Resident Evil. Beckinsale, playing against type
and encased in black leather, drew the science fiction crowd, Goths, and
a more general audience into theaters. An Underworld sequel was announ
ced just as Beckinsale dove right into production on another monster movie,
Van Helsing. We all know how that played out, and we remember the fate
that greeted Selene's cousins (work with me here), Elektra and Patience
Phillips, aka Catwoman, upon their respective opening weekends.


Then came Aeon Flux to sink the genre even further into the muck. Underworld:
Evolution will be more successful than these films, but it rates alongside them all
in terms of quality while adding little to the sub-genre of films featuring solitary,
tragic super-heroines. My advice to the wonderful Ms. Beckinsale: let someone
else don the leathers next time (if the inevitable prequel is a go), safely dispose
of your werewolf-killer bullets, and consider the scripts that have you traveling
to farms and canyons.


Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: I'll admit to being surprised that the
Underworld series has reached a third installment. Apparently, these
films aren't that expensive to make because they have never been big
box office performers. With the second movie, Underworld: Evolution,
having wrapped up things too neatly for this production to continue
moving forward, the filmmakers have elected to do some backtracking.


This is an "origin story" - one that returns to the beginning and chronicles
how the vampire/werewolf war started. The limitations of the Underworld
saga are on display: the storyline essentially replicates that of Underworld
and Underworld: Evolution, meaning that if you've seen one or both of
them , there's no compelling reason to spend your hard earned dollars
on the third. The reasons for watching the first two Underworld movies
were simple:


Kate Beckinsale in a skintight leather costume, lots of fast-paced action,
Kate Beckinsale in a skintight leather costume, plenty of blood and gore,
and Kate Beckinsale in a skintight leather costume. The fast-paced action
and blood and gore are still present in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,
but Kate Beckinsale is nowhere to be found (excepting a brief appearance
near the end in a clip that I believe was lifted from the first film). Since
Underworld would not be Underworld without the dominatrix aspect,
Rhona Mitra steps into the skintight leather costume. The effect is
similar but not quite the same.


Beckinsale's husband, Len Wiseman, who directed the first two Under
worlds before turning his attention to Live Free or Die Hard, has ceded
the top chair to Patrick Tatopoulos (a visual effects guru who worked
on the previous two Underworld films), although he gets a story credit.
Tatopoulos, it should be noted, does a passable job of imitating Wiseman's
style. The story takes us back hundreds of years to when the werewolves
were slaves to the vampires. (A staunch defender of the movie might call
this aspect allegorical.) Viktor (Bill Nighy), the king of the bloodsuckers,
has a particular fondness for Lucian (Michael Sheen), the best and bravest
of his wolf bite-infected pets.


Unfortunately, as much as Lucian likes Viktor, he likes Viktor's daughter,
Sonja (Rhona Mitra), even more, and the feeling is mutual. Since sex
between vampires and lycanthropes is forbidden, the two must meet
in secret. Even before they are found out, the affair leads to their down
fall. In order to save Sonja's life, Lucian must remove the collar that
inhibits his shape-shifting. This is an offense that lands him in a cell and,
while he's there, his words and actions plant the seeds for the uprising
that will start the war.


Those who disliked Twilight because of the way in which it defanged
vampires while turning women into victims can rest easily here. Sonja
is anything but a victim and the vampires, especially Viktor, are nasty
pieces of work. The problem with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the
way in which it repeats all that has gone before: forbidden love, desatur
ated color, bloody battles between CGI werewolves and all-too-destruct
ible vampires. The whole experience feels obligatory. If the filmmakers
were going to go to all the trouble to make a new chapter to this saga,
why not do something interesting with it?


Bill Nighy, who had a significant role in the first Underworld, is a delight
to behold in the way he gleefully overacts. This is true scenery-chewing.
Here's a legitimate thespian who has elected to go as far over-the-top as
the director will allow (and that turns out to be quite far). There are times
when it's impossible not to chuckle. This first-rate hambone performance
causes the more sedate work by Michael Sheen and Rhona Mitra, who take
their parts seriously, to fade into the background. (Although, to his credit,
Sheen does join the party during scenes when he gets to shout snippets of
"rousing" dialogue.)


The special effects are less impressive than in the previous two install
ments, perhaps because of budgetary restrictions. They seem like they
were done cheaply and/or quickly. Granted, we're not expected to be
lieve that an army of werewolves is storming a castle, but neither is it
supposed to be obvious that the entire sequence was put together on
a computer. The level of immersion demanded by the story has not
been achieved by the effects technicians. Also, the fight scenes are
assembled with the now-popular fast-edit technique that makes
them difficult to follow.


Does one have to be a fan of the series to appreciate Underworld: Rise
of the Lycans? Probably, since the movie assumes a familiarity with the
saga's mythology. The film can be watched and understood by a neo
phyte (although I have seen the other two, I can't claim to remember
them particularly well), but there's no reason why someone unfamiliar
with Underworld would want to bother. The first film was significantly
better and, therefore, is the place to start for anyone with a modicum
of interest. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is an also-ran that is likely
to be appreciated only by completists.


Underworld Awakening: Just when you think the Underworld series is
dead, it suddenly lurches back to life with a new instalment. Fitting for
a series all about vampires and that, I suppose. Having diverted to a
prequel telling us a story we largely already knew, here we rejoin Selene
(Kate Beckinsale), last seen six years ago (real world time) in Underworld
Evolution, which was very much Part 2 to the original film’s Part 1. They
told a pretty complete tale, actually, so rather than try to find something
there, Awakening launches into something new.


Following a two minute recap of the first two movies (it’s so long ago that
this is actually very handy), a quick-cut prologue-y bit tells us that the long
secret war between vampires and Lycans (aka werewolves) was discovered
by humans, who set about wiping them out. Trying to escape, Selene’s cross
breed lover Michael (Scott Speedman) is killed and she gets frozen… only to
wake up however-many-years later into a changed world… And so on and so
forth. Escapes, shooting, action-y-business all ensues.


Said violence is very bloody and brutal, much more like the second film
— I swear the first (especially) and third weren’t anything like as gory.
Evolution well earnt its 18 certificate, after a very 15 first film, and quite
surprised me at the time. This isn’t as extreme as that, but still. The main
drama and attraction in the Underworld series lies in the vampires-vs-
werewolves-with-modern tech concept, not in ripping off limbs or spur
ting blood or whatever. Or maybe that’s just me.


Whose daughter might she be...By taking such a bold move with the plot,
Mean while, the story pushes the series’ mythology in new and relatively
interesting ways. It’s becoming a bit dense and fan-only (unless you let it
wash over you and just enjoy the punching), but at least they’re not regurgi
tating the same old stuff. It manages a few twists along the way too, which
is always nice. The plot seems to have been half worked around Speedman’s
non-involvement, leading me to wonder why — he’s not too busy, surely?


Perhaps he’d just had enough? But no, apparently it was genuinely just
written this way. I guess he couldn’t be bothered to turn up for some
cameo shots, because the stand-in is really obvious. Also glaringly obvious
is the set-up for a sequel. Not so much as the first film, which had such an
End of Part One feel (including a direct cliffhanger) that the sequel picked
up mere hours later.


But this is still a story obviously incomplete (again, there’s a sort of cliff
hanger), but at least it has the courtesy to… actually, no, it’s only as com
plete as the first film. The main narrative drive is resolved, but other bits
are blatantly open. But it didn’t seem to go down too well, so what are
the chances of us seeing it continued? Well, as we’ve learnt, you can never
write the Underworld series off. And its niche fanbase, semi-independent
production, and relatively long three-year gap between sequels.


There's still lots of shooting means the next one will probably turn up out
of the blue with little hype, much as Awakening did last year. Plus, though
this is the most expensive film to date (double the budget of the preceding
one!), it’s also the most financially successful: $160.1 million worldwide,
beating number two’s $111.3 million. Assuming Beckinsale still feels up
for it, I imagine 2015 will bring us a continuation — and, hopefully, a


The higher budget and higher gross I mentioned are surely both down to
one thing: 3D. Shooting in proper 3D (as opposed to the ever-so-popular
post-conversion) costs a fortune, as a producer reveals in the BD’s bonus
features, but it can also net you more money at the box office thanks to
that 3D premium. Such a gamble hasn’t paid off for everyone (Dredd), but
it clearly did here (how the hell did Underworld 4 make four-and-a-half
times as much money as Dredd?!)


Watching in 2D, it’s clear that some sequences were designed with 3D in
mind — not in the way that, say, Saw 3D or The Final Destination some
times only make sense with added depth, but in ways where 3D would
(I imagine) enhance the visuals. There are some instances of stuff flying
at the camera, a popular sticking point for the anti-3D crowd, but that’s
actually been part and parcel of Underworld’s style since the start (just
watch a trailer for the first film — there was a shot of it used prominently
in most of the marketing).


New-style evolved Lycan also worthy of commendation: new-style
‘evolved’ Lycans; a small role for Charles Dance (always worth seeing);
the evocative near-future setting; good quality action sequences; some
nice steel-blue cinematography/grading. Some of it was shot at 120fps
on brand-new pre-alpha never-used RED cameras — take that Peter
Jackson, eh. Plus it’s only a little over 1 hour and 18 minutes long with
out credits.


Some would bemoan such brevity, but it has its Positives. I’ve always quite
liked the Underworld series, even if the first one is still clearly the best.
Awakening gets most kudos for taking things in a new direction, even if, as
a film in itself, it’s only OK.


Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
Posted on May 29, 2017
Anna Foerster | 91 mins | Blu-ray
(3D) | 2.40:1 | USA / English | 15 / R
Kate Beckinsale is back in skintight leather for……


I’m sorry, my mind wandered off then. As I was saying: Kate Beckinsale
is back in… skintight leather……Sorry, happened again. As I was saying:
Kate Beckinsale is back in… her role as a werewolf-killing vampire for
the fifth entry in the Underworld series, which seems to be as undying
as its star creatures. Picking up a little while after the last one left off,
the war between vampires and Lycans (aka werewolves) is now back
in full swing, and both sides are hunting Selene (Beckinsale).


Her own kind want her for previous crimes (see: the first two films),
while the Lycans are after her daughter (see: the last film) to give
them an advantage in the war. Fearing for their safety, the vampires
invite Selene back into the fold to train a new generation of combat
ants, but there are sneakier plans afoot… Kate Beckinsale in leather.
Nuff said.


The first Underworld marked out somewhat-new territory when it hit
screens in 2003 by taking fantasy/horror elements like vampire covens
and werewolves and placing them in a modern urban environment,
fighting more with guns than swords and teeth. It certainly wasn’t
wholly original — Blade had already done a similar concept and visually
it owed a lot to The Matrix — but it was fresh enough. Since then the
series has increasingly strayed away from that:


the second film brought more traditional-style Eastern European
countryside, the third was a medieval prequel, and the fourth was
… kind of nothing-y, really. Now, they seem to have made some
thing of an effort to get back to the ‘world’ of the first film, with
extravagant vampire covens and underground Lycan forces, while
also growing the series’ mythology by introducing us to new areas
of vampiredom, primarily a Nordic coven.


This move also brings with it a degree of politicking among the
vampires, which is kind of what I imagine a millennia-old secret
society would be like. I mean, don’t expect House of Cards —
it’s done at the level of the action B-movie this series is — but
it’s kinda fun. To achieve this it’s had to ignore an awful lot of
the last film — not entirely, by any means, as it’s quite heavily
based in some leftover plot points — but other parts have been
completely glossed over.


This lax attitude to continuity could be irritating, but a counter
argument might go that isn’t it better to ditch stuff that isn’t
really working in favour of stuff that’s more entertaining?
Vampire politics: Part of the entertainment comes from
characters talking rather than just fighting, and we’re treated
to some magnificent cheesy, overworked dialogue. Some of
these scenes are edited within an inch of their life, lines almost
tripping over each other as they’re rushed on to the screen. By
rights that should be a problem, yet in something as fabulously
trashy as Underworld it feels more expedient — they’re getting
on with it, rather than being ponderous about the mythology,
like much fantasy is wont to do. I kinda like it for that.


Alternatively, there’s one bit where the main characters seem to
Express themselves in a quick-cut series of heavy breaths and grunts.
It’s either terrible or genius, or possibly both. This tone is supported
by some superbly hammy acting from a cast filled with faces from
British TV. Sherlock’s Irene Adler, Lara Pulver, seems to be having a
whale of a time as the scheming head of a vampire coven, while giving
Miss Beckinsale a run for her money in the kinky outfit department.
She’s accompanied by Merlin’s Arthur, Bradley James, pouting around
as her frequently-insulted boy toy. Tobias Menzies (take your pick of
what you consider him best-known for) does his best as the Lycan’s
cunning new leader, who’s most threatening in his CGI-powered
transformed state. And Charles Dance is back, exuding pure class
as always, completely convincing you that he believes in all the high
-fantasy drivel he has to spout.


Irene and Arthur: Similarly, we all know Kate Beckinsale is better than
this — and if you’d forgotten, Love & Friendship should’ve reasserted
it. Even here she’s called on to be more than just a shapely pair of but
tocks, getting to inject Selene with some rare emotion on several occa
sions. She also once again kicks ass left, right, and centre. The film’s
action on the whole is fairly entertaining. There’s little impressive
choreography or particularly original combat concepts, but it passes


Even Charles Dance gets to do some swashbuckling (as he terms it in
the making-of), which is only brief but also as awesome as it sounds.
Another part amusingly sees two bulletproof adversaries walk slowly
towards one another while emptying their guns into each other. It’s,
again, simultaneously close to being both terrible and genius. Despite
being renowned as a visually gloomy series, I thought it looked pretty
nice in 3D — better than Awakening did, at any rate.


Awakening was genuinely shot in 3D, whereas (based on what I could
see in behind-the-scenes footage from the special features) Blood Wars
appears to have been post-converted. It shows how far that technology
has come that even a modestly budgeted movie like this (just $35 million)
can afford post-conversion that often looks very good indeed. The only
major disappointment I had with the film was that, thanks to it being
in a rush every time it had some plot to get through, parts of it don’t
quite make sense.


The ending, in particular, where a voiceover monologue mentions a
load of stuff we haven’t just seen happen and doesn’t quite flow.
Surely they could’ve afforded an extra two minutes to connect the
dots? Apparently the ending was designed to both brings things full
circle and, perhaps, leave it open for a sixth instalment. Well, I would
say it shortchanges the wrapping-up bit — this could be a place to
conclude the series, but by not giving that sufficient weight (i.e. by
rushing it), it implies a kind of “tune in next time”-ness.


Kate Beckinsale. Leather. Nuff. Said. That aside, I actually massively
enjoyed Blood Wars; much more than the negative reception led
me to expect. Of course, the Underworld films are a fan-only experi
ence at this point — not because of diminishing quality, as most
reviews would cite, but because of how much the story is based
in events from three of the previous four films. If you’ve watched
any of those previous movies and not enjoyed them, it’s not worth
catching up for this — it’s fundamentally “more of the same”, just
done better than it’s been since the first movie.


These days franchises can revive themselves for new viewers later in
their runs — Fast Five being the best Fast & Furious movie is a case in
point — but Blood Wars isn’t a Fast Five. However, as someone who
would, at this point, I guess, count myself as a fan of the series, Blood
Wars delivered.



Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner: Daredevil) thought she was working
for a black-ops arm of the CIA. She thought her estranged father (Victor
Garber: Home Room) sold airplane parts. She thought she was going to
marry her true love and live happily ever after. She thought wrong. After
her fiancé is murdered and her father is revealed to be working for the
CIA, too,


Sydney enters a world of covert operations and double and possibly triple
agents as she works to bring down the agency that killed her husband
-to-be and stole her life. Garner quite deservedly became a star over
night for her performance as slinky, sexy, and smart Sydney, a woman
who takesgirl -power to a whole new level. She’s the rogue agent like
we’ve never seen a woman play before in a story that sneakily acknow
ledges its classic theme — “she loved a man, and she lost him” —
before smashing its clichés to pieces.


Strong and unsqueamish, Sydney offers no contradictions in her ability
to go from masquerading as a ditz at a cocktail party to digging up a
grave by herself to get at a buried nuclear bomb. We believe her when
she snarls at a bad guy, “I am your worst enemy — I’ve got nothing to
lose.” But not only does Alias raise the bar on portrayals of competent,
capable women, it’s one of the better spy series ever made for TV. The
beautiful widescreen presentation is accentuated by the digital sound,
perfect for the terrific pop and rock soundtrack.


When college student Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) joined SD-6
, a secret branch of the CIA, she had no idea that her father already
was a CIA agent and that her dead mother was in fact alive, but on
the run from the U.S. government after turning into a supervillain
in the grandest of James Bond traditions. That was the great setup
for J.J. Abrams’s spy show, which seemed inspired by Mission:
Impossible and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., even in the choice of
music. And it also had clones, a variation on the masks from Mission:


When we first met Sydney, she had no idea that SD-6 was in fact not
a part of the CIA, but a global criminal network. The only one of her
co-workers who knew the truth was her boss, Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin).
But after the murder of her fiancée, Sydney realized that she’d been
duped and contacted the CIA to become a double agent. She also
learned that Jack (Victor Garber), her father, already was a double
agent working both for the CIA and SD-6;


he gave her plenty of reasons to wonder where his loyalties lied, but
their relationship subsequently became much more affectionate.
Things changed over the years. SD-6 was brought down and Sydney’s
co-workers transferred to the CIA. As I wrote earlier, Sydney learned
that her mother was alive. The villainous Irina (Lena Olin) turned herself
in, but that was part of a plan and once she had accomplished whatever
she hoped to accomplish regarding a mysterious device, an all-powerful
weapon designed by a fifteenth-century prophet named Rambaldi, the
CIA were unable to prevent her escape.


Rambaldi had supernatural powers and Sloane (who once had had an
affair with Irina) was also obsessed with his weapon. Confused? There’s
more. The next seasons would deal with the growing love between
Sydney and a fellow agent, Vaughn (Michael Vartan), the problem of
not telling close friends that she was an agent, the constant emer
gence of new, powerful, evil organizations and the complex relation
ship between the agents and the mysterious Sloane whose finger
prints were always everywhere.


Character actor Rifkin was brilliant as Sloane, but Garner was the
true star; the missions took her all over the world, always landing
her in sexy disguises, including a new colorful wig for every job.
She was always up for the challenges, which were usually physically
demanding (she knew how to handle a gun and beat up bad guys).
The show reached its zenith in the second season, which was very
intense and creative; especially Olin contributed a lot as Sydney’s
two-faced mother.


The third season provided an amusing twist in the shape of forcing
old enemies to work together again in a newly created branch of the
CIA; people kept giving each other dirty looks, which is natural since
they had spent the previous season trying to murder each other. The
writing was uneven but the production values relatively high. The
actors made sure we rooted for the characters, even at times the
dastardly Sloane.


There were plenty of emotions, but everybody involved gave the
show a light touch that always made it fun to watch, even as the
quality of the show declined in later years. Alias 2001-2006:U.S.
Made for TV. 105 episodes. Color. Created by J.J. Abrams. Theme:
Michael Giacchino. Cast: Jennifer Garner (Sydney Bristow), Victor
Garber (Jack Bristow), Ron Rifkin (Arvin Sloane), Michael Vartan
(01-05), Carl Lumbly, Kevin Weisman, Greg Grunberg (03-05),
Bradley Cooper (01-03), Merrin Dungey (01-03), David Anders
(02-04), Melissa George (03-04), Lena Olin (02-03), Rachel Nichols
(05-06), Balthazar Getty (05-06), Mía Maestro (05). Golden Globe:
Best Actress (Garner) 02.


In the olden days, in what we call "The Before Time", Television
Shows used to follow certain formulas to construct each and every
episode so that the audience never received the jolt of abnormalcy
that could cartwheel them into an inter-dimensional nexus of confu
sion and angst resulting in less viewers, less product sold and ultimate
ly less profit for Brandon Tartikoff! Those were dark days indeed, and
I wish like hell these days were better.


However there are some family jewels in the rough out there, and
J.J. Abrams' Alias is the prime example of how a show can break the
proverbial mold and tell the TV Formulae to eat hot death! Jennifer
Garner's Sydney Anne Bristow started out as a College Student,
recruited by the Black Ops division of "SD6", before discovering that
they were evil as the Sith, and turning Double Agent on them, and
hoping that her beloved CIA isn't just as bad.


Sydney finds herself in water hot enough to make rice with CIA Director
Hayden Chase (Special Guest Star Angela Bassett) and subsequently quits
her job and sets about her task. The whole thing is a ruse, though be
cause Chase has already hired her for the brand new CIA Sponsored
Black Operations Division known as "APO" (Authorized Personnel Only)!
The good news? Chase surprises her by also hiring Marcus Dixon (Carl
Lumbly) and Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan). The bad news?


She's also hired Syd's dad Jack Browstow (Victor Garber), whom she
still hasn't forgiven for the minor transgression of popping a cap in
her mommy's ass! What could be worse than that? Oh, how about
the whole thing being headed up by SD6 leader Arvin Sloane (Ron
Rifkin)! As if losing friends, boyfriends, two years of her life and
several teeth isn't enough, she still has to work with Captain Bad


What follows has more action than a book of Verbs, more surprises
than an accidental date with a transvestite, and more sexy outfits
than the Frederick's of Hollywood Catalog. Without a mention of
Rambaldi, Syd and the new old fashioned crew travel the world in
search of Vadik and his evil Henchman Tomazaki, the goodies they
are trying to steal and the secrets they're trying to keep. And Secrets
are indeed revealed here, like Skin in a Club Jenna film, all the while
setting up more and more and more secrets to unravel in the hopeful
future episodes and future seasons.


Like moving into a new house with the same family, Alias is different,
but still the same, and the initial threat of a dumb-down for more
ratings is quickly dismissed. Interestingly enough, Sloan's daughter
(Syd's half-sister) Nadia (Mía Maestro) has joined the cast full time,
making one miss Lena Olin's Irina Derevko just a tad bit more. In other
casting news, this season the bad news is that Fan Pariah Will Tippin
(Bradley Cooper) will be coming back... the good news is that Peter
Berg's Noah Hicks will not!


As great as "Authorized Personnel Only" is, it's not perfect. The product
placement that has always plagued Alias is still here in full force. Also
some of the revelations in this episode are a little hard to wrap the old
noodle around if Logic is employed (but I trust that this will work itself
out). Lastly there are just a few scenes thrown in to justify continuing to
pay an actor or two (though Kevin Weisman's Marshall is a welcome
returner). It's a credit to a great show that so much can change each
season and it's still great to watch!


Four and One Half Stars out of Five for Alias's Fourth Season Opener,
"Authorized Personnel Only". It's a worthy new beginning to a great
show, now matched up with another great show and hopefully getting
some good ratings at long last! If ABC keeps getting great shows and
keeping them, they could be the next Fox... assuming Fox ever kept a
good show... I'm still bitter. So unless Garner totally ruins Elektra (and
it looks like somebody has), I'll see you in the next reel!



ELEKTRA (2005)
Jennifer Garner as Elektra
Kirsten Prout as Abby Miller
Goran Visnjic as Mark Miller
Will Yun Lee as Kirigi
Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as Roshi
Terence Stamp as Stick


Directed by
Rob Bowman
Written by
Zak Penn
Stuart Zicherman
Raven Metzner
Action, Science Fiction
Rated PG-13 for action
97 minutes
"Elektra" plays like a collision between leftover bits and pieces of
Marvel superhero stories. It can't decide what tone to strike. It
goes for satire by giving its heroine an agent who suggests mutual
funds for her murder-for-hire fees, and sends her a fruit basket
before her next killing. And then it goes for melancholy by making
Elektra a lonely, unfulfilled overachiever who was bullied as a child
and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. It goes for cheap
sentiment by having her bond with a 12-year-old girl, and then ...
but see for yourself. The movie's a muddle in search of a rationale.


Elektra, you may recall, first appeared on screen in "Daredevil" (2003)
, the Marvel saga starring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero. Jennifer
Garner, she of the wonderful lips, returns in the role as a killer for hire,
which seems kind of sad, considering that in the earlier movie she
figured in the beautiful scene where he imagines her face by listening
to raindrops falling on it. Now someone has offered her $2 million for
her next assassination, requiring only that she turn up two days early
for the job -- on Christmas Eve, as it works out.


She arrives in a luxurious lakeside vacation home and soon meets the
young girl named Abby (Kirsten Prout) who lives next door. Abby's
father is played by Goran Visnjic with a three-day beard, which tells
you all you need to know: Powerful sexual attraction will compel them
to share two PG-13-rated kisses. The back story, which makes absolute
ly no mention of Daredevil, involves Elektra's training under the stern
blind martial arts master Stick (Terence Stamp), who can restore people
to life and apparently materialize at will, yet is reduced to martial arts
when he does battle.


Her enemies are assassins hired by the Order of the Hand, which is a
secret Japanese society that seeks The Treasure, and The Treasure is
... well, see for yourself. As for the troops of The Hand, they have
contracted Movie Zombie's Syndrome, which means they are fear
some and deadly until killed, at which point they dissolve into a cloud
of yellow powder. I don't have a clue whether they're real or imaginary.
Neither do they, I'll bet. Eagles and wolves and snakes can materialize
out of their tattoos and attack people, but they, too, disappear in clouds.
Maybe this is simply to save Elektra the inconvenience of stepping over
her victims in the middle of a fight.


The Order of the Hand is not very well-defined. Its office is a pagoda on
top of a Tokyo skyscraper, which is promising, but inside all we get is
the standard scene of a bunch of suits sitting around a conference
table giving orders to paid killers. Their instructions: Kill Elektra,
grab The Treasure, etc. Who are they and what is their master plan?
Maybe you have to study up on the comic books. As for Elektra, she's
a case study. Flashbacks show her tortured youth, in which her father
made her tread water in the family's luxury indoor pool until she was
afraid she'd drown.


(Her mother, on a balcony overlooking the pool: "She's only a girl!" Her
father, at poolside: "Only using your legs! Not your hands!" Elektra: Glub.)
Whether this caused her OCD or not, I cannot say. It manifests itself not
as an extreme case, like poor Howard Hughes, but fairly mildly: She counts
her steps in groups of five. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything
else. A superheroine with a bad case of OCD could be interesting, perhaps;
maybe she would be compelled to leap tall buildings with bound after
bound after bound.


The movie's fight scenes suffer from another condition, attention deficit
disorder. None of their shots are more than a few seconds long, saving
the actors from doing much in the way of stunts and the director from
having to worry overmuch about choreography. There's one show
down between Elektra and the head killer of The Hand that involves
a lot of white sheets, but all they do is flap around; we're expecting may
be an elegant Zhang Yimou sequence, and it's more like they're fighting
with the laundry.


Jennifer Garner is understandably unable to make a lot of sense out
of this. We get a lot of closeups in which we would identify with what
she was thinking if we had any clue what that might be. Does she
wonder why she became a paid killer instead of a virtuous super
heroine? Does she wonder why her agent is a bozo? Does she clearly
understand that the Order of the Hand is the group trying to kill her?
At the end of the movie, having reduced her enemies to yellow poofs,
she tells Goran Visnjic to "take good care" of his daughter. Does she
even know those guys in suits are still up there in the pagoda, sitting
around the table?



Brad Pitt as Joe Black
Anthony Hopkins as William Parrish
Claire Forlani as Susan Parrish
Jake Weber as Drew
Marcia Gay Harden as Allison
Jeffrey Tambor as Quince
Directed by
Martin Brest


Written by
Ron Osborn
Jeff Reno
Kevin Wade
Bo Goldman
Drama, Fantasy, Mystery,
Science Fiction
Rated PG-13
174 minutes


“Meet Joe Black” is a movie about a rich man trying to negotiate the
terms of his own death. It is a movie about a woman who falls in love
with a concept. And it is a meditation on the screen presence of Brad
Pitt. That there is also time for scenes about sibling rivalry and a
corporate takeover is not necessarily a good thing. The movie contains
elements that make it very good, and a lot of other elements besides.
Less is more.


As the movie opens, a millionaire named William Parrish (Anthony
Hopkins) is pounded by a heart attack, the soundtrack using low bass
chords to assault the audience. He hears a voice--his own —


in his head. On the brink of his 65th birthday, he senses that death is near.
He tells his beloved younger daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) that he likes
her fiance but doesn't sense that she truly loves him:


“Stay open. Lightning could strike.” It does. A few hours later, in a coffee
shop, she meets a stranger (Brad Pitt). They talk and flirt.


He says all the right things. Lightning makes, at the very least, a near miss


They confess they really like each other. They part. He is killed.


That night at dinner, she is startled to find him among her father's guests.
The body of the young man is now occupied by Death, who has come to
nform Parrish that his end is near.


He does not recognize Susan. That's odd. Isn't Death an emissary from
God? Shouldn't he know these things? He's been around a long time (one
imagines him breaking the bad news to amoebas). This Death doesn't
even know what peanut butter tastes like, or how to kiss. A job like that,
you want a more experienced man.


No matter. We accept the premise. We're distracted, anyway, by the way
Brad Pitt plays the role. As both the young man in the coffee shop and as
“Joe Black” (the name given him by Parrish


he is intensely aware of himself--too aware. Pitt is a fine actor, but this
performance is a miscalculation. Meryl Streep once said that an experienced
actor knows that the words “I love you” are really a question.


Pitt plays them as a compliment to himself. There is no chemistry between
Joe Black and Susan because both parties are focused on him.


That at least leads to the novelty of a rare movie love scene where the
camera is focused on the man's face, not the woman's. Actresses have
become skilled over the years at faking orgasms on camera, usually with
copious cries of delight and sobs of passion. (As they're buffeted by their
competent male lovers, I am sometimes reminded of a teenager making


the cheerleader team, crossed with a new war widow.) A male actor would
have to be very brave to reveal such loss of control, and Pitt's does not cry
out. His orgasm plays in slow motion across his face like a person who is
thinking, this is way better than peanut butter.


I was not, in short, sold on the relationship between Susan and Joe. She
spends most of the movie puzzling about a very odd man who briefly
made her heart feel gooey. There is no person there for her, just the
idea of perfect love. Joe Black is presented as a being who is not familiar
with occupying a human body or doing human things. One wonders--is
this the first time Death has tried this approach? Parrish strikes a deal with


him (he won't die as long as he can keep Joe interested and teach him
new things) and takes him everywhere with him including board meetings,
where Joe's response to most situations is total silence, while looking like
the cat that ate the mouse.


The Parrish character, and Anthony Hopkins' performance, are entirely
different matters. Hopkins invests the dying millionaire with intelligence
and acceptance, and he talks wonderfully well. “Meet Joe Black” consists
largely of conversations, which are well -written and do not seem false or
forced as long as Parrish is involved in them.


His key business relationships are with the snaky Drew (Jake Weber),
whom Susan dumps for Joe, and with the avuncular Quince (Jeffrey
Tambor), his loyal but bumbling son-in-law. Quince is married to Allison
(Marcia Gay Harden), who knows Susan is her father's favorite but can
live with that because Parrish is such a swell guy. (He's ethical, sensitive,
and beloved--the first movie rich man who could at least squeeze his
head and shoulders through the eye of the needle.)


What's fascinating about Parrish is that he handles death as he has handled
everything else. He makes a realistic assessment of his chances, sees what
advantages he can extract, negotiates for the best possible terms and grace
fully accepts the inevitable. There are times when he handles his talks with
Death so surely that you wish Heaven had sent a more articulate negotiator.


The movie's ending takes too long. There are farewells, reflections,
confessions, reassurances, reconciliations, partings and surprises.
Joe Black begins to get on our nerves with his knack for saying things
that are technically true, but incomplete and misleading. The film
would play better if he didn't always have to talk in epigrams. Even
at the very end, when a line or two of direct dialogue have cleared


the air, he's still talking in acrostic clues. Still, there's so much that's fine
in this movie, directed by Martin Brest (“Scent of a Woman”).


Claire Forlani has a touching vulnerability as she negotiates the strange
terms of her love. Marcia Gay Harden plays a wise, grownup scene with
Parrish, as a loving daughter


who knows she isn't the favorite. Jeffrey Tambor's performance is crucial;


through his eyes, we understand what a good man Parrish is. And Anthony
Hopkins inhabits a story that tends toward quicksand and finds dry land.


You sense a little of his “Nixon” here: a man who can use anger like a
scalpel, while still standing back to monitor the result.



Keanu Reeves as Alex Wyler
Sandra Bullock as Kate Forster
Shoreh Aghdashloo as Kate's friend
Christopher Plummer as Louis Wyler
Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Henry Wyler


Directed by
Alejandro Agresti
Written by
David Auburn
Drama, Fantasy,
Science Fiction

Rated PG

99 minutes


"The Lake House" tells the story of a romance that spans years
but involves only a few kisses. It succeeds despite being based
on two paradoxes: time travel, and the ability of two people to
have conversations that are, under the terms established by the
film, impossible. Neither one of these problems bothered me in
the slightest. Take time travel: I used to get distracted by its logical
flaws and contradictory time lines. Now in my wisdom I have decided
to simply accept it as a premise, no questions asked. A time travel
story works on emotional, not temporal, logic.


In "The Lake House," it works like this. A woman (Sandra Bullock)
lives in a glass house built on stilts over a lake north of Chicago.
She is moving out and leaves a note for the next tenant (Keanu
Reeves). He reads the note and sends a strange response to the
address she supplies: He thinks she has the wrong house, because
"no one has lived in this house for years." She writes back to disagree.
It develops that he thinks it is 2004 and she thinks it is 2006, and
perhaps she moved in after he left, instead of moving out before he
arrived, although that wouldn't fit with – but never mind.


This correspondence continues. They both leave their letters in the
mailbox beside the sidewalk that leads to the bridge that leads to
the glass house. The mailbox eventually gets into the act by raising
and lowering its own little red flag. The two people come to love
each other, and this process involves the movie's second impossibility.
We hear them having voice-over conversations that are ostensibly
based on the words in their letters, but unless these letters are one
sentence long and are exchanged instantaneously (which would mean
crossing time travel crossed with chat rooms), they could not possibly
be conversational.


Never mind. They also have the same dog. Never mind, I tell you, never
mind! I think, actually, that I have the answer to how the same dog could
belong to two people separated by two years, but if I told you, I would
have to shoot the dog. The key element in "The Lake House" that gives
it more than a rueful sense of loss is that although Alex's letters originate
in 2004 and Kate's in 2006, he is after all still alive in 2006, and what is
more, she after all was alive in 2004. Is there a way for them to send
letters across the gap that will allow them to meet where she was in
2004, or she where will be in 2006, or vice-versa?


It is, although it involves many paradoxes, including the one that in
2004 all of this is ahead of both of them, and in 2006 Alex knows
everything but Kate either knows nothing, or knows it too late to
act on it. None of this prevents her letter of romantic anguish:
That was you that I met! Enough of the plot and its paradoxes.
What I respond to in the movie is its fundamental romantic
impulse. It makes us hope these two people will somehow meet.
All during the movie, we're trying to do the math: It should be
possible, given enough ingenuity, for them to eventually spend
2007 together, especially since he can theoretically keep the
letters he received from her in 2004 and ask her out on a date
and show them to her, although by then she'd know she wrote
them -- or would she?


They do arrange one date, which involves them in some kind of
time-loop misunderstanding, I think. She later understands what
happened, but I don't think I do. I mean, I understand the event
she refers to, but not whether it is a necessary event or can be
prevented. A great deal depends on the personalities involved.
Sandra Bullock is an enormously likable actor in the right role,
and so is Keanu Reeves, although here they're both required to
be marginally depressed because of events in their current (but
not simultaneous) lives.


Many of his problems circle around his father, Louis Wyler
(Christopher Plummer), a famous Chicago architect. The old
man is an egocentric genius who designed the Lake House,
which his son dislikes because, like Louis himself, it lives in
isolation; there aren't even any stairs to get down to the water.
Alex is an architect himself, currently debasing himself with
suburban condos, and Kate is a doctor whose confidante is an
older mentor at the hospital (Shoreh Aghdashloo). Alex has a
confidant, too, his brother Henry (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).


A plot like this makes confidants more or less obligatory, since
the protagonists have so little opportunity to confide in each
other, except for their mysterious ability to transform a written
correspondence into a conversation. Now about that dog: Dogs
live outside of time, don't you think?



Falling Water is an American supernatural drama tV series. A commercial
free advance preview of the pilot aired on Sept 21, 2016 ahead of its Oct
13, 2016 premiere. On April 3, 2017 USA Network renewed the series
for a second season, though with Rémi Aubuchon replacing Blake
Masters as the showrunner.


The pilot was written and co-created by Blake Masters and Henry Bromell
before Bromell died in 2013. In honor to his work, Bromell is still listed
as a co-creator and receives a producer credit. Three strangers realize
they are dreaming parts of the same dream. As they delve deeper into the
meaning behind their connection to each other, they realize that the
implications are much larger than their personal fates, and the future
of the world lies in their hands.


Falling Water has received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator
Rotten Tomatoes gives the series a score of 28% based on 18 reviews, but
they have an Audience score of 72%. The consensus says, "Falling Water
attempts complexity and intrigue but churns out an unimaginative concept
lacking a redeemable payoff." On Metacritic, the show has a weighted
average of 50/100 based on 14 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews."


From Universal Cable Productions and executive produced by The Walking
Dead's Gale Anne Hurd and her studio-based Valhalla banner, Falling Water
is described as a mind-bending thriller intersecting reality and unconscious
thoughts. The drama, which is being exec produced and directed by Juan
Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later), tells the story of three unrelated people who
slowly realize that they are dreaming separate parts of a single common dream.


Each is on a quest for something that can only be found in their subconscious
— a missing girlfriend, a son, a way to communicate with a catatonic mother.
However, the more they begin to use the dream world as a tool to advance
their hidden agendas, they realize that their visions are trying to tell them
something and that their very real lives are at stake.


"People have always been fascinated by the subconscious and
Falling Water explores that topic in very unique and unexpected ways,
" said Jackie de Crinis, exec vp original series at USA Network.
"In this story, the immensely talented and prolific storytellers, Blake
and Henry, have created an innovative thriller and compelling vehicle
to bring the subject of dreams to television."


French actress Lizzie Brocheré (American Horror Story: Asylum) has
been cast as the female lead opposite David Ajala in USA drama pilot
Falling Water, a supernatural thriller from the late Henry Bromell
(Homeland), Brotherhood creator Blake Masters and The Walking Dead
executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.


Written and co-created by Masters and Bromell and directed by Carlos
Fresnadillo, Falling Water, from Universal Cable Prods., is described
as a mind-bending thriller intersecting reality and unconscious
thoughts. It tells the story of three unrelated people — Burton
(Ajala), Taka and Tess (Brocheré) — who slowly realize that they
are dreaming separate parts ofa single common dream.


Each is on a quest for something that can only be found in their
subconscious. However, the more they begin to use the dream world
as a tool to advance their hidden agendas, they realize that their visions
are trying to tell them something and that their very real lives are at
stake. Tess is a cutting edge trend spotter with an uncanny ability to predict
the next big thing, who is haunted by nightly dreams of an absent child.


An intersection between reality and unconscious thought, FALLING WATER
is the story of three unrelated people, who slowly realize that they are
dreaming separate parts of a single common dream. Each is on a quest for
something that can only be found in their subconscious.


However, the more they begin to use the dream world as a tool to advance
their hidden agendas they realize that their visions are trying to tell them
something more, and that their very real lives are at stake.



Viewing Date: 2-22-2006
Directed by Robert Butler
Featuring Yvette Mimieux,
Monte Markham, Myrna Loy


Death (under the name David Smith) falls in love with the daughter of a
Senator.At the time of this writing, this TV-movie version of the Fredric
March classic is sitting with the exact same rating as the original version
on IMDB; there’s no doubt that it has its strong admirers. I suppose it
deserves them, as this remake is not a disgrace; it has an honest interest
in the issues of life, death, and they way we human beings deal with them.


It’s worst problem is that in its attempt to be timely (references to Vietnam,
talk about the ecology), it ends up dating itself even more than the one from


four decades earlier. Nevertheless, I will always prefer the earlier version,
simply because I will by my very nature prefer the moody tension of that
movie to the sweet blandness of this one, a quality that is probably due
simply to its being a TV-Movie, a form that rarely works well with me.


Nor do I care much for the fact that this movie seems filtered through a
LOVE STORY sensibility, and for those who prefer it that way. they’re
welcome to this one. Me, I’m just glad that I don’t have problems with
movies that are in black and white. Effective remake of the '34 film with
the added attraction of the pairing of Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas.
This is a melancholy and thoughtful version of the famous story.


The entire thing is very low key and maybe more atmospheric and talky
than some people might like, but the excellent performances by Monte
Markham, Melvin Douglas and Myrna Loy make this a beautiful movie.
Yvette Mimieux is also lovely and this is one of her serious roles.


The 1934 version with Fredric March is also very interesting and has much
higher production values. Both movies have the virtue of being much shorter
and much less pretentious than the modern version of the story with Brad
Pitt and Anthony Hopkins called Meet Joe Black. In many ways, the 1971
version of Death Takes a Holiday is a very interesting and rare film that is
definitely worth seeing.


This is such a beautiful movie in every aspect that I can think of. First off,
the cast is excellent. Yvette Mimieux, Monte Markham, Myrna Loy, Melvyn
Douglas, and Bert Convy to name a few. The cast did a wonderful job with
such a complicated storyline. Monte Markham and Yvette Mimieux were
such good actors in the era of the 1970s.The setting for the film was absolutely
gorgeous! The beauty of the scenery, and the mansion that the story was set
in, was breathtaking.


I thought that the cinema photography was gorgeous too. In the beginning
it had a very unusual guitar opening song that I really liked. I have seen
the other renditions of this story, but this is my absolute favorite one. Death
Takes A Holiday is a very tender and romantic story that is perfect for fans
of romance, and the unusual. I highly recommend this story to everyone.


It is easy to dismiss this film as a cheap remake of the original Fredric March
vehicle, but there is so much more here than simple recapitulation! The story
is timeless. It takes a very definite philosophical stance on a subject which will
always be relevant to all of us. Namely, how shall we cope with our own deaths
when the reality confronts us? What impressed me most about this production
was the way in which death was presented.


Death appears here as a gentle, benign presence. This presentation is a far
cry from the monstrous horror we have come to expect from death. Death
in this film is not a Grim Reaper wishing to engulf us in his inevitability. He
wishes only to present himself as a fact of life. To understand himself and be
understood by others as an experience which has a unique time and place
for everyone. Occurring not one moment sooner nor later than necessary,
and then as something not to be feared, but rather embraced in its turn.


There are other reasons to watch this rare production of the story. The fine
cast: The beautiful Yvette Mimieux is in her prime here and perfect for the
title role. I say "title role" because there is actually a dual title role here. It is
the interaction between Yvette Mimieux's character and Monte Markham as
Death that sets up the central dilemma that drives the picture. Myrna Loy and
Melvyn Douglas are fine in supporting roles. Laurindo Almeida's haunting
score creates an atmosphere of romantic suspense even while it facilitates


So why doesn't this production have a better reputation? I suspect it's
because, While the actors fulfill their roles admirably, they do so in a
nuts and bolts manner which lacks drama.


This production of the story is therefore out of step with the prevailing
value in Hollywood: entertainment. For maximum entertainment value,
a picture with greater dramatic impact is preferable. Nevertheless, it is
testimony to the dramatic impact and eternal relevance of this story
that it has been remade several times since with great success,
most notably in "Meet Joe Black." "Death Takes A Holiday" is a
fine, underrated film which I give five stars!


Tobe or not Tobe: I'M DANGEROUS TONIGHT (1990) August 05
, 2010 Looking to penetrate the market beyond game show
programming, the USA Network started looking toward original
movies in 1990. Perhaps influenced by their successful NIGHT
FLIGHT and USA UP ALL NIGHT programs, the product they used
as a springboard in the summer of 1990 were fixed in the horror
/exploitation genre. Titles included Frank Darabont’s feature
debut BURIED ALIVE (May 1990); the killer car feature
WHEELS OF TERROR (July 1990); the ludicrous HITLER’S
DAUGHTER (Sept. 1990); and NIGHTMARE ON THE 13th
FLOOR (Oct. 1990).


Debuted smack dab in the middle of these titles was Tobe Hooper’s return to
feature length television, I’M DANGEROUS TONIGHT (Aug. 1990). The
film opens with an ancient Aztec sacrificial alter being delivered to Dr. Jonas
Wilson (William Berger) at the Tiverton College Museum. It was used for
rituals involving the killing of “20,000 victims at a time” (says the overly
knowledgeable delivery man) and Dr. Wilson quickly opens it to find a
mummified body wrapped in a red cloak inside. He removes the cloak
and immediately goes mad.


You know what this means: the lowly security guard – who is required by
cinema law to be watching a sporting event (boxing this time) – gets killed!
We are then introduced to Amy O’Neil (Mädchen Amick), a parentless
college student who is bit of a pushover. How much so? In the first five
minutes she is on screen we see her agree to read a 1,200 page book for her
study partner Eddie (Corey Parker); agree to find props for a play; agree to
sew her cousin Gloria (Daisy Hall) a dress; agree to take care of her ailing
grandmother (Natalie Schafer); and believe her cheating aunt when she tells
her she is getting no inheritance.


Before you can scream Cinderella, Amy is at an estate sale of Dr. Wilson’s property
and picks out a trunk for the play. Inside she finds the red cloak and, when she touches
it, has flashes of Dr. Wilson killing his wife. Rule #1 when buying fabric: avoid the stuff
that makes you see past murders! Amy quickly sees the effects of the cloak when Eddie
puts it on while rehearsing Romeo & Juliet and becomes a badass fencer. Despite all the
“red” flags, she still opts to turn material into a dress that she wears to the Easter dance,
where she seduces Gloria’s man as this red dress has unleashed her inner whore.


Amy gets home safely after she comes to her senses when the dress came off, but is
confronted by mute grandma who can somehow sense the evil in the material. They
struggle over the dress and Gram dies after her wheelchair takes a flight off the steps.
A bummer for the family but not enough to stop Gloria from asking to borrow the dress
the next day after the funeral (yes, in movies funerals always happen the next day).
Amy says she threw in out, but snooping Gloria finds it hidden in the closet and puts
it on to visit her footballer beau.


Naturally, she becomes a psycho and she strangles him in the shower and cuts off his
penis (off screen). “You’re about to get sacked Mr. Superstar Quarterback,” she says
before doing him in, showing Aztec spirits have no love for the game. Gloria then tries
to run Eddie and Amy off the road in a 4X4, but flips the car and dies in the ensuing fire.
The next day Amy gets two visits from the exposition department. First, Prof. Buchanan
(Anthony Perkins) pops up as she is jogging in the woods and inquires about the purchase
she made.


He then tells her all about the cloak and how it can bring forth the wearer’s deepest nature.
So if you are sexually repressed, you may become “a whore” as Amy so delicately puts it.
Later, Lt. Ackman (R. Lee Ermey) visits her because he is suspicious of the two deaths
happening so close together. He finds Amy’s story of a possessed dress outlandish, but there
are now reports of a woman in a red dress killing drug dealers in the days since her cousin’s
death. Amy investigates further and finds out that assistant coroner Wanda Thatcher (Dee
Wallace-Stone) took the dress, which regenerated after the fire, from her cousin’s body.


And this dress really brings out the worst in Wanda as she craves cocaine, booze, and ice
cream! So Amy must now try to stop Wanda while proving to the police her story is real.
Having experienced the biggest flop of his career, Hooper’s direction is very workmanlike,
rarely offering the visual flair that set his previous TV feature (SALEM’S LOT) apart from
other made-for-TV movies. There are even a few bits that are downright embarrassing.
For example, Amy’s entrance into the dance is hilarious as everyone rubber necks at her
and Gloria even jumps in front of her boyfriend as if to protect him.


And wait until you get a load of the music and white guys dancing. Later, Hooper offers
one of the most unintentionally funny bits of his career when Amick has a tug of war
with her wheelchair bound grandmother over the dress. The prospect of Hooper working
with Perkins is certainly intriguing, but Perkins dials it down in terms of his trademark
odd ball performances and is only in the thing for a total of maybe 15 minutes. On the
plus side, there is some good acting. Amick is very good and attractive, even if she is
forced to do the standard Hollywood “hot girl in sweater with her hair pulled back =
nerd” routine.


The cigar smoking, food obsessed cop character played by R. Lee Ermey is a hoot.
Also, Dee Wallace- Stone is unrecognizable as the femme fatale, mostly because
she isn’t a crying suburban mother. I’m glad Hooper gave her the chance to play
against type here as the raven haired killer. So while it may not be vintage Hooper
(1974-86), I’M DANGEROUS TONIGHT is watchable Hooper especially when you
consider SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION before it. All this makes Tobe Hooper's
1990 TV movie I'm Dangerous Tonight an important part of the Hooper canon
rather than a minor late period work.


The cloak finds its way to Amy (Mädchen Amick), a college student writing a report on
Wilson's textbook on animism for a class headed by his associate Professor Buchanan
(Anthony Perkins). As mentioned, Amy is a Cinderella figure, recently orphaned and
forced to live with her aunt and cousin Gloria. An amateur seamstress, she thanklessly
creates stunning outfits for her demanding aunt and the spoiled Gloria, who for her part
does little but flaunt her relationship with a prospect quarterback in Amy's face.


This leaves Amy the sole caretaker of their invalid grandmother (Natalie Schafer
of Gilligan's Island fame, in her last role, made up to look like a pale corpse only
one step away from the mummified granny of the Chain Saw clan). Fed up with
being a mousy push-over, Amy stares in the mirror and wanders aloud whether
she shouldn't change her appearance to look more like her self-involved cousin,
to become more "sophisticated." Hooper uses the name Amy for his female lead
for the third time, Amick's heroine somewhere between Elizabeth Berridge's
virginal victim in The Funhouse and Amy Lester's idealistic independent looking
to change her lifestyle in Eggshells.


Eggshell-Amy's reliance on a dress to make that change for her is echoed in
Dangerous, and the superficial jock who looks to remove it (not for reasons
of personal liberation) recalls Buzz's efforts to get Amy out of her clothes in
The Funhouse. Funhouse and Dangerous could almost be part of a trilogy of
Tobe Hooper movies in which the main character's attempt to detach herself
from a dysfunctional family situation only ends up isolating her and leaving her


exposed to a series of degradations (Night Terrors being the third example).
For Amick's Amy, this starts the night she feels suddenly inspired to fashion
the strange red cloak into a cocktail dress.


Cinderella appropriately debuts her new look, and new "dangerous" persona,
at a dance where she upstages Gloria and seduces the football hero; once he
gets her out of the dress she regains her senses and hightails it home. Granny
tries to seize the cursed garment from Amy, but crashes through the upstairs
bannister and dies, whereupon a repentent Amy ("She was trying to warn me!")
discards the dress. Unfortunately Gloria has already gotten a taste of its power
and squeezes into the garment to go meet the jock.


When it becomes clear he doesn't have long-term plans for their post-coital relation
ship, she strangles him to death in the shower then castrates him with a razor blade.
(Unlike Funhouse's Amy, the football player's Psycho-esque shower demise is not a
prank.) Cackling maniacally, Gloria continues to run amok, going after Amy in the
jock's massive pick-up truck before crashing and burning in a spectacular sequence
that makes me wonder why Hooper never ended up directing a straight-up action


Gloria is swept up in the gleeful abandon granted by the garment like the
model in Woolrich's novella, embracing her transition from spoiled
brat to serial killer in the spirit of the model's justification for betraying
her boyfriend: "I couldn't think of any thing I wanted to do more than this.
That's why I'm doing it." The dress strips away any inhabitions and allows
her to become a force of wanton destruction. She feels invincible wearing
the dress, right up to the moment the overturned truck explodes with her
inside of it.


When faced with being cast off by her short-lived suitor, she detroys his future and
Sada Abe's him in a deranged display of female empowerment the repurposed cloak
has stirred within her. Her next impulse is to go directly after her romantic rival:
Hooper's corrupted females tend to see true threats in members of the same sex, as
opposed to the novella where the hostility is always directed at male characters
(the boyfriend, the husband, the cop). Hooper's film follows Woolrich's basic outline,
having the dress corrupt three different women.


But whereas Woolrich portrayed his female characters as going from naive, bubble
headed saints to petty, treacherous femme fatales, Hooper establishes that the
effect of the dress is based on the integrity of the person wearing it. If she thinks of
herself as a sexy badass, that attitude's going to come out in full under influence of
the clothes. Amy's mild disposition prevents her from going full psycho, she can only
be turned into, in her words, a "whore," a facade that's achieved by ditching her heavy,
dark shirt-and-pants ensemble for the slinky, revealing devil outfit (sans tail-like train).


Afterwards he becomes obsessed with the red material that quelled his inhibitions and
tries to convince Amy to wear it again (Amick has a nice little thematic line where she asks
if Eddie can wait for her to "change" before they go on a walk together). His increasingly
insistent request - he eventually puts her in the dress while she's unconscious - characterizes
a typical male emphasis on the way a woman should look and act, an attempt on his part to
take control of the power of the dress and consequently the freshly dominant Amy.


For his part R. Lee Ermey's Lt. Ackman (kind of a stand-in for the cop in Woolrich's story)
responds incredulously when Amy tries to explain the influence of the dress to him,
holding her under his thumb with baseless accusations and intimidations. Of course,
Ackman wears a nice long tie. A more subtle attempt to wrest power from Amy is made
by Anthony Perkins as Professor Buchanan. First introduced in a tie, he dresses more
casually when he first tries to get Amy to tell him where to find the cloak in what I'm
guessing is a wool sweater that unsuccessfully attempts to hide the wolf beneath.


After getting nowhere with that approach, he becomes more desperate and confronts
Amy in a very bold tie to show that he's no longer playing games. (The staging of this
scene is, appropriately, Buchanan standing over Amy as she's sitting in her car.)
Buchanan's clumsy deception puts me in the mind of Mahmoud from Night Terrors,
one of Hooper's best villains. Mahmoud's part in the conspiracy to corrupt Genie is
a genuine twist, specifically because Mahmoud seems to have an understanding of
what identifies evil people in a Tobe Hooper movie and dresses shrewdly, introducing
himself to his mark with the top button open on his dress shirt, clearly not wearing a tie.


He's not masked at the costume party. Moreso, we see him riding a horse in the buff
(an Arab edition of the Space Girl) and he takes it upon himself to liberate Genie from
her own clothes. (Somebody studied the Tobe Hooper playbook!) My favorite part of
Perkins's performance is his longest scene, in which he makes the most of his clunky
expository dialogue with Amy, describing how "certain garments worn in rituals have
the power to take control of certain individuals, to possess them as it were" as if he
were giving a college lecture. He cites a number of examples: "A cardinal's mitre, an
Aztec sacrifical cloak, a Zulu shaman's headdress, that kind of thing."


Real subtle, Buchanan! (It's too bad this line didn't set up a trilogy of movies –
personally I haven't given up hope on I'm Dangerous Tonight II: Headdressed
to Kill.) His likening of the garment to an "amplifier" that "draws out the worst"
in its wearers speaks to Tobe Hooper characters who knowingly sacrifice their
true selves in favor of clothes that create artificial representations, especially
when it's later revealed that despite his warnings Buchanan has designs on the


Perkins of course has an iconic history with a dress "amplifying" identity issues
and provoking a murder spree. After Gloria's been killed and we see the dark
silhouette of a female body wrapped in the porloined frock, there's even the
suggestion that it could very well be Buchanan in drag. As it turns out the new
model is coroner's assistant Wanda Thatcher, who swiped the red dress from
the morgue. Remember how I mentioned Hooper appropriating the symbolic
red dress from Schindler's List?


Well here we've got Dee Wallace, most famous for being in a Spielberg movie,
in a red dress! In what's sort of a dress rehearsal (ha) for her stab-happy Caril
Ann surro-Fugate in The Frighteners, Wallace plays Wanda as an unstable junkie
incited to full-blown self-destruction upon discovering the dress. Amy even
spectulates the dress "corrupts like a drug, it corrupts everything it touches!"
and that, with Gloria, it has "found a home." In the film's climax, Eddie over
powers Wanda but falls under the spell of the dress and threatens Amy with a


Amy, who has managed to defeat the garment and remove it, gives her big
culminating speech in her underwear, imploring Eddie not to let a piece of cloth
destroy his pure spirit. Eddie takes the first step against the cloak, stabbing and
ripping it repeatedly with the knife he intended to use on Amy as they both hold
it. Although she couldn't bring herself to destroy the dress after the death of her
grandma, Amy finishes the job by lifting the rags with a pair of gardening shears
and dumping them into a wood chipper.


The dress in Dangerous even shares some of the fantastic qualities of the symbiote,
its material being impervious to fire and keeping Wanda alive after she sustains fatal
injuries from plummeting to what should have been her death. Amick looks dynamite
in the red dress, but her cheesy dancing and clumsy plays at seduction show that she's
still a shy doofus trying to be sultry. Maguire takes the same approach, translating "cool
" through the inexperienced filter of a huge nerd.



Dark Angel: The Complete First Season (2000)
Series Created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee
Starring Jessica Alba, Michael Weatherly, Jensen Eckles,
John Savage, Valerie Rae Miller, Richard Gunn and Kevin Durand
Released by: Fox Home Entertainment
Rating: NR (violence)
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format


Max (Alba) has a little problem. She remembers all this stuff from
her childhood, but she doesn't know what any of it means. It's just
little stuff...like the mad scientists that created her, you know, and
her friends chasing her around a forest after escaping from their
genetics hospital prison where they were being trained to kick some
major ass as an elite, genetically altered infantry regiment...you know,
typical childhood problems.


Anyway, it's 2019, after the big terrorism EMP that knocked America
into the Second Great Depression and Max is trying to piece her life
back together by hiring some cheap, two-bit P.I. to investigate her
past. She teams up with a man known to the public as Eyes Only
(Weatherly) to pick up where the P.I. left off, and in return, she will
help him out with his revolution. This show started out with some
great potential. The pilot was really hot, fast paced and exciting, but
after that, the shows became really trite and predictable.


They just didn't really keep the premise of the pilot going so, I found
myself getting really frustrated with the fact that Max wasn't making
any headway at finding out how she became who she was. On a more
positive note, on the acting side, Alba and Weatherly are very strong
in their respective roles. I have no idea whether or not Alba does her
own fight and stunt work (maybe the DVD will eventually tell me, huh?),
but she kicks some major butt.


Not only that, she looks fantastic all the while she's doing it. Weatherly
was a good choice as the successful businessman who is running his own
video revolution out of his very upper-class apartment. Again, my only
problem with it is all the episodes began to look like each other way too
early in its life. Most of the special features are to be found on disc six of
the set. The first of the featurettes is a look at how the series came into
being; it's full of interviews with almost all of the actors about their main
characters and how they landed the roles.


This is really refreshing because we don't get a lot of psychobabble about
their characters, instead we get to hear the actors talking about their par
ticular audition experiences. The second, entitled "Seattle Ain't What it
Used to Be," is a look at the creation of the world of the show; the pro
Duct ion design of the sets and costumes. It's neat to hear their reason
ing behind their design choices, but that's about all there is to it.


And finally, the last is called "Creating an X5," a detailed look at the
creation of Max's character. Obviously, it is mostly a series of inter
views with Alba as well as some of the writers and producers of the
show. It gets a little heavy into the genetically engineered aspects
of the show that slowly unfold as the series progresses. Most of it
is stuff that you can get just by watching the episodes, but then it
gets into the other stuff like how Alba trained to prepare for the part.


Then we get to look at all the actors' audition tapes (which were com
prised of scenes from the pilot episode) and how they compared with
the final release of the pilot. Well, any genius could tell you that there
will definitely be changes between the audition tapes and the final ver
sion of the scene. There are little things like sets, costumes, lights, and
better camera equipment being used for the final shot. The thing I find
the most interesting is that they excluded Jessica Alba's audition tape
(she does appear on Weatherly's a little bit).


I have to say that I was very excited to see that there was a blooper reel
attached to this set, but I was only mildly amused by it. It's put together
r very well, but it's just a lot of them flubbing up their lines. The best part
about it is to see how feminine Alba can be when between takes! Finally
, the video game trailer is pretty well done, but how excited can you get
about a trailer for a game? The game looks like every other game spin
off that's out there.


Most of the commentaries provided are very dry and there's not a lot
of information presented. They're really just the participants in the
commentary relating what's going on in the show. This would be very
handy, were it not for the fact that I had functioning eyes and could
see all of that on my own, thanks. If you are a hardcore fan of the
show, you won't be disappointed with this set and will definitely want
to pick it up. Everyone else should just rent it sometime when you've
got nothing else better to snag.


Dark Angel: The Complete Second Season (2001)
Created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee
Starring Jessica Alba, Michael Weatherly, Jensen Ackles,
Martin Cummins, Kevin Durand
Released by: 20th Century Fox
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.


Dark Angel tells the near-future tale of Max (Alba), bioengineered
government weapon who, upon her escape from Manticore--a
government program, teamed up with computer genius named
Logan (Weatherly) to fight the corruption of their city and the
tyranny of Manticore. At the end of season one, Max was cap
tured by Manticore during the raid to free their other animal-
human bioengineered experiments; at the same time, the Manti
core recruits escaped and fled into the city.


Throughout most of this second (and final) season, Max is track
ing down a different recruit or two each week, each based upon
different animal physiology. The result is kind of a "freak of the
week" plot development, but the overarching themes of trying
to take down Manticore, dealing with the wicked Lydecker (John
Savage), and finally resolving the relationship of Logan and Max
enrich the plot. The features list is nicely chosen and produced.


Approximately one episode per disc has an audio commentary,
including the first and last episode of the season. Hearing the
actors, producers, and so forth talk about the episodes gives
you a fresh appreciation for the vision of the writers and how
each episode was meant to fit into the larger story of margina
lized youth finding a home in a society not of their creating. We
also get three nice behind-the-scenes featurettes, including a
really stand-out one, "Making the Manticore Monsters," a look
at the special effects makeup that makes the show work.


"Manticore on the Loose" is sort of a music video style look at
the various transgenics, and "Max Resurrected" is an overview
of the first season, a look at what they were hoping for from the
second season, and how the storyline is progressing. The bloop
ers reel, like most features of its ilk, is a mixture of funny and...


not, but overall it's a very nice addition for fans of the show. Given
that the film has already been shot, I don't know why more product
ion companies don't include bloopers as a feature; it costs them very
little to stick 'em on the disc, and fans like to see them.


The audio and video quality are both quite good here, a bit better
than you would expect from television. The surreal settings and
cyberpunk look of the series shows up nicely here, emphasizing
Max's cat-like good looks, as well as the appearance of the less
fortunate Manticore transgenics.


Fans of fantasy and science fiction shows like Buffy the Vampire
Slayer, Alias, and Mutant X might like this show and should at least
give it a shot. It's not so cheesy as you might be afraid that it is, and
we all need guilty fun sometimes. If you can deal with the MTV hip
ness and the frequent melodramatic dialogue, then this one just
might become your favorite tool for unwinding.




Brad Pitt as Joe Black
Anthony Hopkins as William Parrish
Claire Forlani as Susan Parrish
Jake Weber as Drew
Marcia Gay Harden as Allison
Jeffrey Tambor as Quince
Directed by
Martin Brest


Written by
Ron Osborn
Jeff Reno
Kevin Wade
Bo Goldman
Drama, Fantasy, Mystery,
Science Fiction
Rated PG-13
174 minutes


“Meet Joe Black” is a movie about a rich man trying to negotiate the
terms of his own death. It is a movie about a woman who falls in love
with a concept. And it is a meditation on the screen presence of Brad
Pitt. That there is also time for scenes about sibling rivalry and a
corporate takeover is not necessarily a good thing. The movie contains
elements that make it very good, and a lot of other elements besides.
Less is more.


As the movie opens, a millionaire named William Parrish (Anthony
Hopkins) is pounded by a heart attack, the soundtrack using low bass
chords to assault the audience. He hears a voice--his own —


in his head. On the brink of his 65th birthday, he senses that death is near.
He tells his beloved younger daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) that he likes
her fiance but doesn't sense that she truly loves him:


“Stay open. Lightning could strike.” It does. A few hours later, in a coffee
shop, she meets a stranger (Brad Pitt). They talk and flirt.


He says all the right things. Lightning makes, at the very least, a near miss


They confess they really like each other. They part. He is killed.


That night at dinner, she is startled to find him among her father's guests.
The body of the young man is now occupied by Death, who has come to
nform Parrish that his end is near.


He does not recognize Susan. That's odd. Isn't Death an emissary from
God? Shouldn't he know these things? He's been around a long time (one
imagines him breaking the bad news to amoebas). This Death doesn't
even know what peanut butter tastes like, or how to kiss. A job like that,
you want a more experienced man.


No matter. We accept the premise. We're distracted, anyway, by the way
Brad Pitt plays the role. As both the young man in the coffee s

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