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Mirage 1965 Mystery/Drama
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Produced by Harry Keller
Screenplay by Peter Stone
Based on Fallen Angel
by Howard Fast (as Walter Ericson;
Starring Gregory Peck Diane Baker
Walter Matthau
Music by Quincy Jones

David Stillwell (Gregory Peck) emerges from a darken doorway of a 27th floor New York apartment block into a bustling crowd of slightly crazy people. A blackout has occurred through-out the building, bizarrely making everyone a bit feisty. To his surprise he is offered the chance to attend an orgy, twice! “I’ve already passed on one orgy. I have to go.”

Bumping into a lady called Sheila (Diane Baker) who knows him but he can’t quite place her they discuss what was happening upstairs.

David – “I think the entire buildings gone mad. Everyone’s running around trying to re-sin the Ten Commandments.”
Sheila – “I’ve never understood why most people will do things in the dark, that they’d never think of doing in the light.” “No, I’m serious. If we can lie, cheat, steal, and kill in broad daylight and have to wait until it’s dark to make love, something’s wrong somewhere.”

Now I’ve got that out of the way the mystery can start because none of that has anything really to do with the film! Don’t worry I always, I do hope so, try not to include spoilers in my posts, well as little as possible when outlining the basic plot details. So rest assured that reading will, I hope spark an interest in the film. That interest and mystery here is that David Stillwell has no recollection of the last two years!!!!

What has happened to him and all the strange things that keep happening around him and why is there a mysterious Major (Leif Erickson) after him? He spends his time puzzling over the mystery, trying to work out clues from chance meetings with people.

Even having to enroll the help from a private detective, the absolutely wonderful Walter Matthau who plays Ted Caselle. Can he somehow help David find out who he is or what the blue blazes is going on?

Add in the mystery pot, buckets of deja vu, a murder or suicide! Possible hit men, strange visions, a beautiful woman, a psychiatrist and a film that plays out like a feature length episode of The Twilight Zone.

This film is a masterpiece in my eyes, it never lets up. The dialogue is wonderful, the twisting, turning plot is relentless. Just revealing little tiny pieces, one at a time in all the right places. The editing is first class with quick flashes of memory recalled by some nudge of a key word or a situation. This film could sit nicely next to Hitchcock’s suspenseful thrillers.

Based on a novel called Fallen Angel written by Howard Fast under the pen name of Walter Ericson. Screenwriter Peter Stone (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) does his stuff to craft this taut thriller for the superb director Edward Dmytryk.

Musical arrangements are scored by composer Quincy Jones in what I thought was his second film soundtrack after The Pawnbroker but I’ve just seen listed a 1961 drama from Sweden called Pojken i trädet (Boy In The Tree) that he did. How did that come about I wonder?

By hook or by crook get on this mind-blowing thriller if you fancy it. I’m pretty sure there’s no way you won’t enjoy it.

Mister Cory (1957, Tony Curtis, Martha Hyer, Charles Bickford, Kathryn Grant)

A young punk (Tony Curtis) from the Chicago slums gets a job as a busboy at a posh country club resort. But he's ambitious and he passes himself off as a guest at the country club and romances a well bred heiress (Martha Hyer) while gambling on the side to fund his deceit. This is an enjoyable, well made potboiler elevated by Blake Edwards' stylish direction and Russell Metty's elegant CinemaScope lensing with Lake Tahoe and Lake Arrowhead subbing for Illinois. There's nothing particularly out of the ordinary to make it stand out but curiously it's a favorite of Jean Luc Godard. The young Curtis effortlessly brings some cocky panache to the unlikable hero but it's William Reynolds (ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS) as Hyer's weak, rich playboy fiance that steals the acting honors. The uncredited score is by Henry Mancini. With Charles Bickford, Kathryn Grant (adorable as Hyer's brash kid sister), Henry Daniell and Willis Bouchey.

About the time this film was done, in 1957, Curtis was gaining rapid momentum in what would become a memorable career. "Mister Cory" was bookcased by excellent mid/latter Fifties' Curtis films such as "Trapeze", "The Vikings", "The Defiant Ones", "The Sweet Smell of Success", "Kings Go Forth" and "Operation Petticoat." Each of these Curtis efforts received critical acclaim ... particularly "The Defiant Ones," for which he won an Oscar nomination, and "Sweet Smell of Success", for which he should have been nominated. "Mister Cory" rarely is listed among Curtis' major early efforts. It should be. It is a real "sleeper." The actor, and those around him here, lift the film multiple steps above its melodramatic flavor, into the realm of something quite riveting.

Curtis was 32 when "Mister Cory" was done, but his boyish good-looks and trim physique make him quite believable as the story's young man just out of the Navy, seeking his future. However, if anyone believes Curtis became successful on the screen just for those elements need only to watch performances as this to learn otherwise. Cory is a complex character study, with volatile undercurrents beneath his attractive, agreeable surface. Curtis expertly handles the various nuances of the role. He makes the viewer believe he IS the tough kid just out of Chicago, seeking to escape his seamy roots. First, in the verdant Wisconsin resort locale, and later as a manager/host for a glittering Lake Shore Drive gambling house catering to the wealthy and snobbish.

Mister Cory leaves his Chicago slum home and starts work as a busboy in a lake-side holiday resort for the very rich. Quickly he makes extra money by various games of chance. When he sees the elegant and beautiful Abigail Vollard (Martha Hyer) he decides he must have her, even though he is warned that she is a practiced heart-breaker. Cory pretends to Abby that he is a rich guest at the resort, but his tactics come to nothing when a jealous colleague lets Abby know that Cory works in the kitchen. Cory leaves and becomes a small-time professional gambler. He teams up with Jeremiah Caldwell (Charles Bickford) who introduces him to big-league gambling. (N. B. "Mister Cory was made a few years before "The Hustler" which had the same premise.) They open up their own gambling house and invite Abby and her fiancé. Mister Cory and Abby re-start their liaison with dramatic consequences.

"Mister Cory" is an early Blake Edwards movie, and incorporates his usual fascination with the difference between appearance and reality. That difference is obvious with Cory but is much more real and important with Abby. This was one of the best parts Martha Hyer ever had, and she plays her role well, bringing out both the sexual hypocrisy and the smooth good manners of a well brought-up beauty from a privileged background. Hair stylist Joan St. Oegger and cinematographer Russell Metty made Martha Hyer very glamorous indeed, and the audience has no difficulty accepting that all men find Abby irresistible.

In reality, Curtis was a tough kid seeking to escape his Bronx roots. He certainly could identify with Cory. But merely identifying with a character isn't sufficient for a believable screen performance. Curtis demonstrates that he brought much more to the table than attractiveness and a pleasing personality. "Mister Cory" is only one such example. Joining Curtis in "Mister Cory" are a wealth of outstanding supporting people. Twenty-two year old Kathryn Grant, less than a year from marrying Bing Crosby, is the saucy, outdoorsy, girl-next-door Jen Vollard who makes little doubt of her interest in Cory. In the role, Grant is adorable. She favored marriage over a screen career, a choice unfortunate for viewers.

Martha Hyer likewise is effective as the lacquered, polished Abigail Vollard, Jen's sister. Like most males who come into contact with her, Cory is taken. Unlike others, he is not overwhelmed. Ultimately, he learns that her smooth veneer merely whitewashes over unattractive beneath-the-surface elements. Veteran character actor Charles Bickford is excellent as the stolid Jeremiah Caldwell, Cory's friend/mentor. Russ Morgan also turned in a fine performance as Ruby Matrobe, the suggestively shady force behind the gambling house.

But, with Curtis and Grant, the film is stolen by British stage/screen veteran Henry Daniell. As Mr. Earnshaw, Daniell initially is boss to Cory's busboy at the resort. Later, he is recruited by Cory to tend to customers' needs at Matrobe's establishment. It is Earnshaw's "air of snobbery" that is his most marketable quality to Cory. Daniell carries off the stuffy, Mr. Manners role with enjoyable aplomb. With an O Henry-like twist near the film's conclusion, Cory learns that stiff, protocol-spouting Earnshaw once was arrested...for bigamy.

The film's most thankless role is that of Abigail's long-time suiter, Alex Wyncott. He has spent much of his life eagerly, if a bit wearily, fending-off numerous would be-rivals for her. William Reynolds handles the role well, and deserves credit for undertaking it. Not only is Wyncott portrayed to be a rich man's apparently inept son, he verbally is accosted by Cory in witheringly demeaning fashion. Only near the the 92-minute film's conclusion is Wyncott finally allowed to demonstrate backbone: he shoots Cory in the arm. Curtis responds: "...I didn't think he had the guts."

Upon viewing "Mister Cory," those unfamiliar with the film might likewise reply, "Where has this been all this time?" 'Mister Cory's' script is witty and sharp, with a sophistication and not heavy-handed use of cynicism. The story has a light heart as well as a darker edge that stops it from being glossy froth. Edwards' direction shows an ease, engagement with the material and a stylishness. The film works very well as a character study, with an interesting lead character.

It is sad that 'Mister Cory' isn't better known, for it really to me is a very good film and easily among Curtis' best early films and roles that sees a big growth as an actor. It is also a very good collaboration with Edwards. Of their collaborations together, the only one that underwhelmed was 'The Perfect Furlough' and that was hardly unwatchable. 'Mister Cory' really should be seen more and more accessibly available, it may not be extraordinary or among the best films ever made but it's entertaining and well made and crafted.

Writer-director Blake Edwards presents an episodic, coming-of-age tale of a young man from the slums named Cory (Tony Curtis) who wants more in life than his current surroundings afford him. Cory (whose first name we never learn) drifts to a country club, lands a job as a busboy, where his supervisor, Mr. Earnshaw (Henry Daniell), gives the lad a title - "Mister." This new appendage to his name is at first comical to Mister Cory, then it becomes a stranglehold. The title symbolizes the rules and decorum expected at the country club, as well as basic rules for living. (Cory laughs at the idea of washing his hands when working in the food service industry.) Mr. Earnshaw - with a rigid posture and attention to social boundaries- is the very symbol of what both attracts and repels Cory. This is one of two father figures for the orphaned Mr. Cory, who rebels against Mr. Earnshaw's strict rules, but who also adopts them in his own way. Author Sam Wasson notes that Mr. Earnshaw is an exasperating authority figure, the kind of person who must be "cut down to size" in a Blake Edwards film. Wasson calls this violation of dignity the "splurch," the sound a pie makes when it is slammed into someone's face. By this definition, Mr. Earnshaw does not deserve a splurch, but Mister Cory provides one or two anyway by constantly violating the rules even fighting in the kitchen and breaking dishes in a very raw action scene.

Once he's on the road again, however, Mister Cory is never the same. Perhaps the discipline expected of him at the club remains with him, because our lead character engages bigger goals. He now understands where his interests and talents lie - not in serving others but in serving himself at the poker table. Our anti-hero uses these skills to parlay a new career as the owner of a gambling den under the tutelage of "Biloxi" Caldwell (Charles Bickford). Cory gains another father-figure in Biloxi - a guest at the country club with whom Cory plays a poker game. Learning that Biloxi makes his living as a gentleman's card sharp (a dramatic version of what Charles Coburn does in The Lady Eve) the two become business partners and swindle people all over the U.S. They finally have a sizeable enough bankroll to set up a gambling den in one place - Cory's hometown of Chicago. Cory is like both of his mentors - resenting and appreciating the benefits of society's rules.

Cory also appreciates and resents himself. He has good instincts, drive and ambition. Unfortunately they are mostly selfish and on the wrong side of the law, which leaves him with a trail of enemies. Despite the presence of two mentors and a casino full of customers, Cory is a man alone. There is a poignant scene when our lead, now wealthy, returns to his old neighborhood in Chicago one night. It is eerily quiet. No one is stirring. Looks like a ghost town. There's no "hail the conquering hero" welcome and he's not expecting one. It's almost like a scene in My Fair Lady when Eliza returns to the slums of Covent Garden after having been trained to trick aristocrats into believing she is of them. She feels homeless; Cory might feel the same.

His loneliness is pronounced in the pursuit of women. The lusty young lad runs into wealthy country club sisters Abby and Jen Vollard (Martha Hyer and Kathryn Grant). The movie spends a lot of time watching Cory pursue one while the other pursues him. It is in these relationships where class distinctions are the most pronounced and frustrating for him, providing social commentary. In stories set in the present day, a gambler is contaminated by association, if not in fact, with the mafia and other underworld types. Thus, gamblers do not mix with "respectable" society in the movies, according to author David Hayano. Any romance between the two worlds is doomed from the beginning. Period movies -such as that set in the Old West- tend to treat gamblers with indifference or even as heroes, still a romance with a reputable citizen is doomed. There seems to be no place in the world that Mister Cory may call home.

Director Blake Edwards called Mister Cory, his "first film of any consequence." According to author Sam Wesson, this film would set the stage for most, if not all, subsequent Edwards films, whether drama or comedy. They all include themes of tension with authority figures. In fact, once Mister Cory begins his ascent, there are forces in place to flout his progress in much the same aggressive way in which he disregards authority earlier. The very title hints at this theme of authority. The honorific "Mister" originally referred to English gentry, later becoming the standard title for any adult male. By the time this movie was made, there was still the air of gentility about the title; something the tough street kid Cory can rail against.

Director : Jeannot Szwarc.
Script : Richard Matheson, according to his own novel.

Performers : Christopher Reeve, Christopher Plummer, Jane Seymour, Teresa Wright, George Voskovec, Bill Erwin, Susan French, John Alvin
Music : John Barry
Photography : Isidore Mankofsky
USA. 1980. 98 minutes

"He Sacrificed Life in The Present ... To Find Love In the Past."

Timeless love is embodied sometimes: romanticism in its splendor.

There are a million quotes about love. Ones that have been repeated over and over throughout the years. "Love knows no bounds. Love conquers all. It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. True love never dies." These are just a few that spring to mind. But what if the object of your affection was separated by an insurmountable barrier ... time. Is that too much of an obstacle to conquer? Is it too much of a boundary to cross? What would you do to bridge the gap between your own world and that of your true love ... a gap that is 70 years across.

Playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) has hit a dry spell. After several years of hits on Broadway, the dreaded writer's block has set in, and with a play very much anticipated by his backers, it couldn't have come at a worse time. In an attempt to shrug off his haze and return to form, Richard spontaneously decides to drive to the country outside of Chicago looking for somewhere to rest and rejuvenate his mind.

Driving aimlessly through the countryside, he comes across the majestic Grand Hotel, and seeing it to be an idyllic place of rest, promptly checks himself in. Little does he know that he has just taken the first step in a journey across time. Settling in at the hotel, he sets out to have a look around and perhaps a bite to eat. When he finds the hotel's dining room closed, he instead wanders into the Hall of History, an archive of memorabilia from the hotel's history. It is here that Richard becomes mesmerized by a photo of a young woman, a photo where the woman doesn't seem to be looking at a camera, but straight at Richard himself.

Immediately smitten by the image, Richard attempts to go about his weekend retreat, only to be again and again drawn to the picture. Asking about her identity, he learns that the woman is the actress Elise McKenna, a star of the stage in the early 1900s. At the local library, Richard begins his search into the history of the young actress in the picture when he makes an astonishing discovery.

On the night of his very first play, Richard was visited during the after party by an elderly woman who gave him a gift of an antique gold watch and just four words: "Come back to me". In his research into the life of Elise, Richard discovers that the woman that gave him the watch is in fact the same woman in the picture!

Startled by his discovery, Richard travels to the home of Laura Roberts (Teresa Wright), the companion of Elise at the time of her death. Laura is at first hesitant to answer the inquiries of the young stranger, but when he produces the gold watch that was presented to him by the elderly Elise, she immediately changes her mind.

Laura is well aware of the gift, as it disappeared the night of Elise's death, the same night she gave Richard the watch. The more Collier learns of Elise, the more he becomes convinced that the pair are somehow connected. When Laura tells Richard that her favourite book was Travels Through Time, written by a former professor of Collier, Richard is far more than convinced, he's positive.

A visit to his former professor and author of Travels Through Time further inspires Collier as he learns that maybe ... just maybe, time travel might be possible. The key is to immerse one's mind in the belief that you indeed are in the time which you desire to travel to. Through a sort of self hypnosis, one just might be able to travel through time.

Determined that the years will not separate him from the woman that haunts his every waking thought, Richard sets out to prepare himself for the journey. Clearing his hotel room of anything that would remind him of the present day, he dresses in the manner of gentlemen of the age, lines his pockets with money of the period, pre-records a tape of himself repeating over and over that it is the year 1912, and that he is in the hotel with Elise McKenna.

Unfortunately, this plan fails to transport the lovestruck playwright to the past and frustration turns to anger. While again wandering the Hall of History, Collier spies one of the check-in records from the hotel's past and seeking out the complete records, finds the sign-in book for 1912. Searching through the pages, he finds the page where Elise and her manager had signed in, and on the very next page he finds his own signature. He had travelled back in time, and in the book was the proof.

Assured of his success, Richard again returns to his hotel room and begins his efforts to travel back to 1912. While he is certain that he will succeed, he is unaware that his success could cost him everything, even his very life! This is one of my favourite romance films. Not only is it one of the greatest love stories ever to grace the screen (my opinion, as your mileage may vary), but it is proof that science fiction concepts such as time travel can be combined with a pure romance storyline in a cohesive manner.

Matheson wrote Bid Time Return after seeing the captivating photo of actress Maude Adams (1872-1953) during a trip to Nevada. So enamoured with the photo was he that it inspired him to write a story based on the real actress' somewhat mysterious life. In the book, the main character detailed his encounter with the photo and his travels back in time in a journal. As the writer of the journal suffered a terminal brain tumour, and it is read by the main character's brother after his death, there is some question as to whether the time traveller has indeed travelled back in time or instead imagined the whole thing.

Don't worry, this isn't quite the direction the story takes as told in this film, so I'm not giving anything away. Just bear in mind that while the film is based on the book, there are significant differences between it and the film. After the stellar success of the big budget blockbuster Superman, Christopher Reeve was inundated with film offers. For the most part, these were more in the realm of the big budget action blockbuster in the mould of the tested and proven Superman film. The one thing that attracted Reeve and the thing that director Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2, Ally McBeal - TV, C.S.I.: Miami - TV) set out to highlight was that this story was a real actor's piece.

Despite the reservations of his agent, and despite there being almost a dozen offers waiting his acceptance, Reeve decided that it would be Somewhere in Time that would be the follow-up to his success in the Superman films. While the film was a disappointment at the box office, it is a high point in Reeve's acting career. His performance as Richard Collier is fabulous. The shot of his gazing at the photo of Elise with a look of total fascination and wonderment is a real testament to his ability to go beyond the simple job of acting and instead truly become the character on screen. Equal in ability and quality is Jane Seymour (Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman), who captures the grace and mystery of the Elise character.

Rounding out the main characters is William F. Robinson, played by Christopher Plummer. He's great here, and through the years I've always loved to see him doing his usual great performances on screen. This film is no exception. I always had the impression that his character in this film might also have been from the future, therefore explaining his almost psychic premonitions about the coming of Collier. This isn't borne out in the storyline we see in the film, but watching this film over the years I always wondered if this was something that the filmmakers considered.

As stated before, this film didn't quite work at the box office. Despite the modest US$5 million budget, the film wasn't a huge hit in theatres, and this wasn't helped by a crippling actor's strike that prohibited the cast from going on the promotional circuit to plug the film. Instead, the movie faded from theatres in less than a month and it very well could have gone the way of the dinosaur ... but it didn't. What brought it into the public's eye again? In the early 1980s, the advent of pay cable television and home video meant that films that might have been missed could have a second life, none more so than Somewhere in Time. After screening on cable, stations began to receive numerous letters requesting the film.

From there, the film really took off. Instead of fading from memory, the film actually did a 'Star Trek' and inspired a whole legion of fans that would be avid and evangelical proponents of the movie. All these years later, this film remains much loved and this Collector's Edition of the film goes a long way to satisfying fans of the film who might wish to see more about the production of the movie.

So popular has this film become over the years that it has inspired a group called INSITE, The International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts . The group publishes a quarterly journal that covers news and articles about the film and its stars. Each year, the group holds its annual meeting at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (the location of almost the entire film) in Michigan where they hold dinners and seminars about the film. Cast and Crew are often guests during these meetings and from all accounts it sounds like a whole lot of fun.

This is a wonderful film that should satisfy both the fan of classic science fiction as well as those looking for a good ol' fashioned love story. This film features both, and delivers in spades.

It is June 27, 1912. You are lying in your bed in the Grand Hotel and it is 6pm on the evening of June 27, 1912. Your mind accepts this absolutely. 6pm on June 27, 1912. Elise McKenna is in this hotel at this very moment…

While these words may not sound like the most romantic recital in cinematic history, they absolutely are. Spoken by 1980s playwright Richard Collier (Reeve) in an attempt to send himself back in time, the mantra is filled with more angst, love and pain than most actors are able to imbue in a full 90 minute performance. His words not only transport him, but also us as an audience with him, almost 70 years into the past to a time where promising actress, Elise McKenna (Seymour) is getting ready to perform, completely unaware that she’s about to meet a man out of time that will change her life forever.

In so many ways, Somewhere in Time is the epitome of a cinematic love story. It is literally saturated in romance, from John Barry’s timeless and lip-quivering score, through the intoxicating performances from Reeve and Seymour and the heart-wrenching story from the king of fantasy storytelling, Richard Matheson. Funny, smart, touching and, did we mention romantic? Somewhere in Time is a masterclass in acting, writing and emotive cinema. Required viewing.

I do not know whether or not it deserves the status of a cult film, but without a doubt that the case of Somewhere in time is very curious. Film made in 1980 on a low budget, whose biggest incentive at the industrial level was probably none other than watching Christopher Reeve perform in a different register than his Clark Kent / Superman in Richard Donner's 1978 film Somewhere in Time premiered poorly, garnered tepid reviews and a poor box office, it seemed to be an easy and fast pasture of time, but, voilà,It turned out that those who liked the film liked it a lot -

I wonder if that devotion comes from the Richard Matheson novel he takes as a starting point or if it is generated as a result of the film without its consideration as an adaptation - to the point that in 1990 A specific fan club was created for the film, “The International Network of Somewhere in Time Enthusiast” (INSITE), which a quarter of a century later remains fully vital, with more than a thousand members, a presence on the network, organizing events and promoting publications.

Popularity that extends to the soundtrack, especially to a piece used by composer John Barry in the musical score, Rhapsody of a Paganini theme(Opus 43, variation XVIII) by Rachmaninoff, present in the edited soundtrack of the film, which has become a long-seller.

I am not and would not dream of being part of said fan club, although I do admire Matheson's novel of which the film, a novel of the same name in Spanish, and whose original title is Bid Time Return (something like “let the time go back ”). And I consider that the idiosyncrasy so peculiar to said novel infects enough premises of the film - it has to do with the fact that it was Matheson himself who signed the adaptation - to be curious, interesting, grateful viewing.

Summing it up to the bone, we will say that the story proposes an unconventional time travel, induced by self-hypnosis, undertaken by a thirty-year-old, Richard Collier (Reeve), from the year 1980 to the past, specifically to 1912, time travel that he has no other purpose than to meet a theater actress, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), whom Richard falls head over heels in love with after seeing her face in an old photograph he finds in a hotel exhibition with a sumptuous past.

In the novel there is a crucial element, the backdrop to the threat of imminent death – Richard is terminally ill with cancer –, which reverts in diverse and complex senses (including some meta-narratives) that are spared the viewer of the film version that directed by Jeannot Szwarc.

But since we are not talking here about the novel, but about the film, we say that the screenwriter Matheson, adapter of his own work to the cinema, lowers these recitals until he finds a more conventional formula, romantic not in the gross sense but in that of the Hollywood cinema conventions.

The good news is that he does it with his proverbial skill, a point of impudence necessary to build this mesmerizing story, and a pinch of genius - which is more than cunning - to come to offer, under that wrapping of hyperbolic romantic fable, a version to some extent complementary to that offered in the novel. For this, it has a modest but effective encouragement of the time, a work of staging that, while still being remarkable, knows how to press the precise keys to promptly push all those romantic premises.

Barry's score - and the mentioned inclusion of Rachmaninoff's piece as beautiful (although somewhat cloying from so much repetition) and an interpretive trio with enough charisma to modulate the tone for the benefit of the casual, including in that trio a Reeve who plays the hilarious trick at various times (avoiding the sense of transcendence, and vertigo, of his character in the novel ), to a Seymour that simply offers the façade of that immaculate beauty (leaving aside the underlying psychological considerations that were visited in Bid Time Return, presenting Elise as a feminist avant la lettre ) and a Christopher Plummer as more refined and less grotesque representative of the actress.

These pieces articulate, as has been said, a decaffeinated, level, affable, harmless version, but effective in its own modesty, of the story it takes as a substrate. But the most interesting thing about the case is, at least for the reader of the novel – that is, in an analysis as an adaptation, which is probably the focus from which the most juice can be extracted from the story –, attending to the subtle and interesting variations that Matheson - whom we certainly see in a brief and laughable cameo - introduces his story in this translational pact from literature to cinema.

I am thinking, for example, of details that seem inserted for the sake of syncretion but have substantive meanings, such as the fact of taking advantage of the different characterization of Robinson, the agent of the actress who plays an actor of plant and presence (Plummer), to suggest that Richard (and with him the viewer) suspects that this agent has maintained or maintains sentimental relations with the ill-fated Elise, and, pulling more, describe him as a father presence much more significant than the one that appeared in the novel, a man who she also keeps her mysteries and that she warned Elise that, at some point, that man of her dreams that Richard comes to incarnate would come to her, which suggests the stoic acceptance of that man, in love with his client, that his destiny will keep away from your love goal.

Although undoubtedly the most surprising sequence (and the surprise is pleasing) of the viewing of the film for the connoisseur of the novel is the one that relates how Richard attends the theater play that Elise stars in the hotel in which the action, representation that however, contrary to what happens in the novel, is strikingly marked by an improvisation on the part of the actress, who, in front of the public, and making the role that she has to assume in the play come to fruition, declares her love to Richard.

The sequence works well on the surface, as long as it seems to represent that intimate pact between the two lovers, that act of complicity, private, that takes place in public.

The solution is also effective because Matheson plays with the elements that he puts into play in the contextualization of the dramaturgy - the two lovers are theater people, he writer, she actress- to settle that culmination of the love encounter in an original and consistent way.

But it is that under those statements, below the surface, there is still more, and their incidence is meta-narrative: reality and fiction merge in that declaration of love that emerges from Elise's improvisation in her interpretation of a certain role in a play of theater, which is still a pertinent, and beautiful, digression on the wickerwork of fantasy that anchors this story in such a peculiar way in which, like reality and fiction are diluted in that interpretation, it does so the logic of time to reunite two lovers separated by a barrier that seemed insurmountable.

Yes, if Richard literally defeats time by traveling seventy years ago to meet Elise McKenna, Elise makes the same amazing journey from fiction to reality, in an improvisational act that is also the seizure of her own reins. Life, by imposing, for the first time and with such sonorous intention, her character, which is her role in the play, but also the vital and professional role she assumes as a prestigious and successful actress ... eloquent and conclusive example of a sign of Richard Matheson's style: his utter brilliance and clairvoyance in suggesting meanings, most often from the breastplate of subtlety .

The Franco-American director who satisfied his producers by ordering Les Dents de la mer 2 , chooses to adapt the novel by Richard Matheson mixing fantasy and love story. The couple formed on the screen takes the form of a James Bond Girl (in Living and Let Die from Guy Hamilton) and a Superman ( Superman by Richard Donner) falling madly in love in a 1910s luxury hotel in the United States. Everything feels the prefabricated of a film with immediate profitability given the fresh popularity of its protagonists ... and yet, more than thirty years later, we are surprised to be enchanted by the old-fashioned charm of this love story impossible. And it is not for nothing that the film has become a real cult film with many loyal fans who organize a pilgrimage every year to the location of the Grand Hotel where the story takes place.

The main asset of this film is above all the sincerity that accompanies it as much on the side of the main actors, the director or even the composer John Barry. Without being a masterpiece of cinema, Somewhere in time touches right in the thousand of the tear sources by bringing alive the essence carried by romanticism as an aesthetic and artistic form. Like German literary romanticism at the beginning of the 19th century, which saw a generation of young nobles overwhelmed by social changes becoming nostalgic for an unknown fantasy period, the story here highlights a love story that will take its toll origin at this precise time where the innocence of the feelings between two individuals could take place because the world had not known the first episode of a series of human exterminations with the First World War. Out of inspiration, our valiant successful director Richard Collier leaves a decade 1970 which saw so many social disillusions born, to join the high society of 1912.

Richard Collier, embodied with grace and candor by Christopher Reeve, is like a child awkwardly discovering but with an astonishing assurance which makes him face the iron discipline of the tutor of his bride. Certain of his love, this great child is looking for a maternal love lost in the past: it is this accomplished love that must allow him to give birth to the creative individual that he will be himself. In other words, it fully embodies the demiurgic figure of the artist capable of creating himself by traveling through time. For this, no magic, only the force of self-persistence: this is how time travel becomes possible. This is another brilliant idea for staging by Jeannot Szwarc, at least of great romantic efficacy! Likewise the tragic outcome or not.

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 contemplation.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Suspiria (Italy/United States, 2018)
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Grace Moretz, Angela Winkler, Mia Goth, Elena Fokina
Home Release Date: 2019-01-29
Screenplay: David Kajganich, based on the screenplay by Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi
Cinematography: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom
Music: Thom Yorke
U.S. Distributor: Amazon Studios

As a seriously insane (and seriously serious) expansion on the original. The two films share a setting, a few character names and a basic premise—that a prestigious German dance academy is a front for a witches’ coven, because of course it is—and that’s about it.

So if you love Argento’s lush and lurid Giallo phantasmagoria, you might wonder what exactly is happening here—or rather, when. Guadagnino creates an unsettling mood off the top, with a soaked and sallow young dancer dashing into her shrink’s office, spewing paranoid babble. And the score from Radiohead genius Thom Yorke creates an inescapable feeling of melancholy and mystery; his haunting, three-quarter time piano theme, titled “Suspirium,” plays over images of a woman’s body being lovingly cleansed as she lies in her sickbed.

But Guadagnino takes his time in exploring the cruel contours of this place, an Escher painting of stone stairways and dark halls where pained sighs linger and wicked laughter echoes. For a while, Dakota Johnson’s long, red braid is the film’s primary source of color. It will all explode into a blood-red orgy eventually, but for a long time, we are fully ensconced in the chilly discomfort of perpetually rainy 1977 Berlin.

“Suspiria” is as striking and severe as the director’s “Call Me by Your Name,” the best film of 2017, was warm and welcoming. He could have shocked you quickly with cheap scares. Instead, he’s in it for the long haul, insidiously working his way under your skin to disturb you deeply. And for the most part, he succeeds, even as he frustratingly undermines himself with an overstuffed script from David Kajganich (who also wrote the screenplay for Guadagnino’s “A Bigger Splash”).

The problem is that while “Suspiria” has a vivid and specific sense of place, it also strives to exist in the outside world with a larger historical context in a way that never connects.

The film aims to say something about the futility of trying to escape the past, despite fervent efforts at rebirth. The fact that “Suspiria” boasts a powerful, predominately female cast – led by Johnson, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven and multiple Tilda Swintons – certainly speaks to the formidable nature of feminine strength.

But just as he’s building a steady, suspenseful momentum, Guadagnino too often cuts away to the tumult encompassing all of Berlin: a city split in two, struggling to reestablish itself post-Nazism, but still being torn apart by attacks from the leftist Baader-Meinhof Group.

That feels like an entirely different film, one that blends ambitiously yet awkwardly with the story at the stylishly rotting core of “Suspiria.” Truly, watching Swinton and Johnson stare each other down in dance spaces and restaurants in an array of brown and gray period garb, their psychic connection piercing the ever-present cigarette smoke, is enough of a satisfying meal. (The co-stars of “A Bigger Splash” reunite with Guadagnino, once again bringing the alluring alchemy of their contrasting screen presences.)

“Call Me by Your Name” cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom soaks every scene in sadness and fear—even moments of theoretical creative joy are awash in an avant-garde gloom. And yet, evil is obviously lurking, gathering itself and finding ways to rear its head.

Into this dark world enters sweet Susie. Johnson uses her light, girlish voice—which carries hints of her mother, Melanie Griffith’s—to her advantage in the film’s early scenes as a shy but ambitious new student at the Helena Markos Dance Company. (It would be easy to underestimate Johnson based on her starring role in the “50 Shades” trilogy, but she is an actress of understated, unexpected power who continues to display her versatility.) Susie had dreamed of studying there since she was a child growing up in a religiously conservative family on an Ohio farm.

Now that she’s arrived, she wastes little time in impressing the school’s legendary choreographer, Swinton’s swanlike but stern Madame Blanc. (Swinton, Gudagnino’s longtime friend and muse, is a steely force of nature and fascinating to watch, as always.) Shooting in 35mm, Guadagnino uses ‘70s-style zooms and off-kilter camera angles early on to create a feeling of unease and imbalance. Susie and Blanc are forming a connection, and it might not necessarily be for the good.

This is most powerfully clear in the film’s tour-de-force scene, when Susie volunteers to dance the lead role in the company’s signature piece after having spent only a couple of days there. As she stomps, crawls, leaps and twists to Blanc’s modern moves, another dancer—trapped in a rehearsal space one floor below—finds herself being yanked violently around the mirrored room, her body contorted in excruciating ways that match the choreography upstairs.

She is the world’s most flexible voodoo doll, and it is horrifying. Guadagnino and his longtime editor, Walter Fasano, crosscut seamlessly and thrillingly between both rooms as the dancers build to their respective crescendos. By the end, both are spent, but in vastly different ways.

Guadagnino’s technical brilliance also is on display in a gorgeous and fluid sequence in the school’s dining room and kitchen, his camera panning around over and over as they fill up with food and instructors chatting, eating, milling about. One of the rare sources of humor in this bleak realm is the way in which the chain-smoking, hard-partying teachers interact with each other, their sadistic cackles filling the halls and fueling their fiendish deeds. They’re having so much fun, you almost want to join them—and they’re hoping that Susie, the pure vessel they’ve long sought, will do just that.

But two people who suspect strange things are afoot within the dance company begin investigating, at their own peril. One is vivacious fellow dancer Sara (Goth), the first person to befriend Susie and the first to recognize the transformation she’s undergoing. The other is the aforementioned psychiatrist from the film’s start, Dr. Josef Klemperer.

He’s “officially” credited as being played by Lutz Ebersdorf but is actually Swinton, again, beneath layers of convincing and detailed old-man makeup. Why? For the hell of it, but the performance is consistent with the shape-shifting Swinton’s penchant for toying with traditional gender roles, and it provides some genuine moments of pathos.

Never mind the well-intentioned doctor’s involvement, though. Men are essentially useless in the world of “Suspiria.” They exist to be mocked and manipulated. Female energy is all that matters, and it is overwhelming in the film’s truly gonzo finale.

You will stagger out of the theater wondering what exactly you just saw, but you will not easily forget it. But maybe that’s Guadagnino’s point in incorporating outside troubles into this intense, insular tale: Men got us into the problems that plague the world. Women can get us out—but that liberation comes at a cost.

The Lake House (United States, 2006)
Directed by Alejandro Agresti
Produced by Doug Davison and
Roy Lee
Screenplay by David Auburn
Based on Il Mare
by Kim Eun-jeong
Kim Mi-yeong
Starring Keanu Reeves
Sandra Bullock

Dylan Walsh
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Christopher Plummer
Music by Rachel Portman
Cinematography Alar Kivilo

Although this may amount to oversimplification, Alejandro Agresti's The Lake House is essentially a romance between two people connected by a time-traveling mailbox. As premises go, this has the virtue of uniqueness -

Hollywood doesn't churn out time-traveling mailbox movies on a regular basis. Unfortunately, trying doesn't necessarily mean succeeding and, even for those who buy into the basic ideas, there are credibility gaps that The Lake House cannot surmount. And for those who attempt to apply logic to this movie, everything will come crashing down like a poorly balanced house of cards.

The Lake House is based on the 2000 South Korean film Il Mare, which I have not seen. The final scene, however, is lifted not from the original but from the Hollywood shelf of cheap cop-outs.

How many foreign films, when "translated" into English, find their endings mangled or made over in order to pander to "mainstream" sensibilities? (Ironically, the ending of Il Mare was criticized in some circles for being too upbeat, although apparently not upbeat enough for Warner Brothers, which remove all vestiges of ambiguity.)

The Lake House is about the unlikely love affair between two lonely people: Alex (Keanu Reeves) and Kate (Sandra Bullock). Both live in an extravagant, glass walled house on the shore of Lake Michigan - he in 2004 and she in 2006.

They "meet" and begin exchanging correspondence via the house's mailbox. The fact that their letters are traveling through time doesn't seem to bother them. Eventually, seeking to meet his soulmate, Alex seeks out Kate's 2004 counterpart. For her part, Kate waits patiently for Alex to "catch up" to her.

In for a penny, in for a pound, they say. If you choose to see The Lake House, you have to accept it as a fairy tale, time travel paradoxes and all. Don't think too hard - you'll spoil the mood.

The romance, which is delicately developed as these two people reach out across the years to each other, is effective, but there's almost too much baggage.

Two things in particular bothered me about this film, and neither had to do with its preposterous premise. First, despite all their correspondence, these two never send pictures.

As a veteran of a long distance relationship, I can attest that pictures are the lifeblood of such interaction. Secondly, Kate never does an Internet search for her would-be love. Such lapses by the screenplay are unforgivable.

The Lake House represents the reunion of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, who were last seen discussing the potential future of a relationship that starts under tense circumstances. The spark that ignited between them in Speed still burns - they make an appealing couple.

Of course, since The Lake House is rated PG, their chemistry is more "cute" than "sexy." Christopher Plummer and Shoreh Aghdashloo have supporting roles (he as Alex's famous architect father; she as Kate's boss at a Chicago hospital).

Really, though, their roles are peripheral. The Lake House lives and dies based on Reeves and Bullock. By keeping the human element of the film more important than the fantastical one, they ground The Lake House and allow us to overlook many of its contrivances.

I am conflicted about this film. I like the fact that it takes chances. I appreciate that it's trying to do a supernatural love story without falling into the schmaltz of Ghost.

Yet I recognize that the screenplay is like Swiss cheese - riddled with holes, some of which are bigger and more distracting than others. The Lake House also has the odd distinction of raising metaphysical questions without boasting an overly intelligent storyline.

Despite the conventional ending, which has a tacky, tacked-on feel, the movie is designed for those who are more adventurous when it comes to romance. It will be interesting to see if it finds an audience.

IL Mare (2000)
Director: Hyun-seung Lee
Writers: Eun-Jeong Kim, Mi-Yeong Kim |
Stars: Jung-jae Lee, Ji-Hyun Jun, Mu-saeng Kim |

One of the earlier Korean hits in Singapore was Il Mare, starring Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Jung-jae, and last year it became the excuse of a remake by Hollywood to reunite Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on the big screen.

If anything good comes out these remakes, it is the acknowledgement that Asian stories are finding some legs to travel. There was no hesitation to obtain my copy of this movie when I saw the DVD, given that almost all the versions of the movie here was the VCD one

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I haven't seen the original, and had seen the Hollywood remake first. But if you were to ask me to decide right now which version is superior, I would say without hesitation, the original Korean one triumphs over the remake, simply because, as a romance, it sure knew how to present it the way it's supposed to be.

The way the movies were made, is akin to the lake house featured in both movies - the Hollywood one is very grand, with plenty of bells and whistles, but the Korean one is simpler though by no means less effective, in its minimalist look and feel, puts the focus of the story squarely on our lovebirds separated by time.

The first thing that strikes you is how quiet this movie can be. There is less dialogue, and it allows the images do the talking. As the cliche goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Containing plenty of beautiful, idyllic soft focus shots which contribute to the overall romanticized feel, Il Mare is slowly and intricately paced, and less complicated with its relationships, and its supporting cast is few and not given anything substantial to steal thunder and limelight.

This, compared to the very Hollywood style of development every minor subplot into a major one, and having to explain everything to the audience - this I thought was sledge-hammered through in the remake very early on into the film, which after watching how it was dealt in the original, you'll agree at which version is more superior.

There were many instances of "homage" shots, like the red coat, the paw prints, and the shots of the mailbox, as well as adapting plot elements like the train incident, and liberties were taken to bring to life some of its supporting casts, which were only mentioned in passing in Il Mare. If not for the inflation of run time because of the lack of skill in making a beautiful picture, then I don't know what is.

Il Mare allows the audience room to piece together clues and events, without stifling, and this enables a greater appreciation, as well as time to be absorbed totally into the lives of our protagonists, 2 lonely hearts finding each other through a temporal time warp via a mailbox at Il Mare, the name of the Lake House. One's an architect, and the other's a voice artistes, and both connect heart to heart during the winter season, leaving the question of, if we can click, why not meet up and get together?

Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Jung-jae play off each other really well, even though they share limited screen-time together. Coupled with the way each had their individual scenes shot, framed, and presented, I'd say again, you can't help but to feel for these 2, and root for them to transcend hell and high waters to come together. Watch this movie to find out if they do!!

Certainly one of the better romantic tales out there, done totally right. Forget about The Lake House, make it Il Mare instead! Perhaps Il Mare's greatest strength is its wonderful visuals. Hong Kyung-Pyo's cinematography is outstanding and clearly shows why he's one of the top DP's in Korea today.

Some of his other films that he's shot are The Foul King, Guns and Talks , Save The Green Planet and Tae Guk Gi . Just as important as the cinematography in Il Mare is the set design. The beautiful seaside house is the primary filming location of the movie and it looks amazing in every shot.

Of course this is all made possible by the cleverly written screenplay by Yeo Ji-na. In a film which could easily become clichéd and boring, Yeo Ji-na keeps Il Mare precise and to the point. Clocking in at barely over 90 minutes, Il Mare avoids the problem that many Korean films have during this time period, running too long.

What also makes Il Mare so enjoyable is the performances by Lee Jeong-jae (Seong-hyun) and Jeon Ji-hyeon (Eun-joo). Both actors' do a fabulous job portraying their characters and really bring the story to life. What's even more impressive is that they essentially deliver solo performances for the film. The very beautiful Jeon Ji-hyeon (best known for her role in My Sassy Girl ) was only 19 when this was shot, but seems far more mature with her acting. Her co-star, Lee Jeong-jae, matches up well with Jeon Ji-hyeon even though they don't spend much on-screen time together.

Besides working on films in Korea, Lee Jeong-jae has also worked in TV and the modeling industry. I'm sure both of these fields helped in shooting Il Mare, where he gets plenty of screen time. The director of Il Mare, Lee Hyun-seung, brings all the pieces of the film together brilliantly. Probably more important than anything in this movie was the editing (as in most time travel films). Lee Hyun-seung handles this aspect of production perfectly and it sets the pace and overall flow of the movie.

Il Mare is a heartwarming film that will put both a smile on your face and tears in your eyes. This is still one of my favorite Korean films and that's saying a lot considering the company it's up against.

Motion pictures are an illusion. They aren't really made
of moving images at all, just a series of stills projected
at 24 frames per second. The motion is a trick created
with the help of shutters, lenses, a little sprocket device
known as the Maltese cross -- and the human brain,
through a phenomenon known as persistence of vision.

Jean-Luc Godard famously claimed that cinema is the
truth 24 times per second; Brian De Palma countered
that it's really 24 lies per second; and Pablo Picasso
offered the cosmic perspective that art is a lie that tells
the truth. All of these things -- tricks of the eye, mech
anical illusions, artistic skills, suspension of disbelief,
philosophical principles, metaphysical questions -- are
at the mysterious, romantic heart of "The Illusionist,"
written and directed by Neil Burger, and based on the
story "Eisenheim the Illusionist" by Steven Millhauser.

Like "F for Fake," the delightful meditation on art and
deception by Orson Welles, "The Illusionist" places the
very film you're watching at the center of the illusion.
There's an irony inherent in making a movie about magic,
since the photographic medium is discontinuous and sub
ject to post-production manipulations beyond those that
can be created before a live audience. But it also focuses
your attention elsewhere, on the illusory properties of
movies and storytelling, and how much we love to be
dazzled by illusions in art, politics, religion, and other

This coolly entertaining turn-of-the-century fable, told
mostly in flashback by Vienna's Chief Inspector Uhl
(Paul Giamatti), concerns the political and philosop
hical duel between Eisenheim the Illusionist (Edward
Norton) and Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell).
Poised between them is the enchanting Sophie von
Teschen (Jessica Biel), furtive childhood soul mate
of Eisenheim and possible future princess of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Leopold sees himself as a man of reason, certain that
Eisenheim (rhymes with "Eisenstein") is a fraud. But
the enigmatic Eisenheim may be an even better politi
cian than the volatile Machiavellian prince: He lets his
illusions speak for themselves, making no overt super
natural assertions but letting his audience interpret for
themselves -- a tactic that only enhances his mystical
renown, and his sway over the enraptured Viennese

Uhl, a narrator whose perspective is limited by what
he thinks he has pieced together about Eisenheim and
his shrouded past, is, like Sophie, caught up in the ten
sion between the magician and the monarch. He's not
an omniscient story teller -- like any detective, he just
fills in any gaps in the case with his instincts and

The movie sets up a fascinating parable about art,
religion and politics, and the misty boundaries
between them. Leopold sees Eisenheim's popularity
as a political threat to his plans to become king, and
Eisenheim repeatedly challenges the prince's authority
in his act, through indirection. Religious leaders seize
upon Eisenheim's apparent conjuring of spirits as both
a blow against empirical science and absolute proof of
the immortality of the soul -- as if the soul could ever
be validated through corporeal measures, or magic tricks.

A critic for a Viennese newspaper raves that the Eisenheim's
work transcends mere sleight-of-hand and approaches the
realm of art. So it does not seem like mere hyperbole when
the magician's manager introduces him by invoking "the
forces of the universe" -- life and death, space and time,
fate and chance. Those are, indeed, the stuff that dreams
-- and art, and illusions -- are made of. If "The Illusionist"
approaches the realm of art, its spell is heightened by a subtly
mesmerizing Philip Glass score and cinematographer Dick
Pope's flickering, sepia-tinted visuals, evoking early motion
pictures and 19th century daguerreotypes. In the (imagined)
scenes from Eisenheim's childhood, the edges of the frame
blur into shadows, surrounding the picture with mystery.

And as the movie peels back layers of its core conundrum,
the images and their colors become clearer and brighter.
In the early days of movies, the novelty of photographic
illusions wore off as audiences became accustomed to the
conventions of the new medium. Filmmakers soon discovered
perhaps the greatest cinematic special effect ever invented: the
movie star. The human face, if it's the right human face, can be
the most spellbinding of subjects, the actors' splendid faces are
at the heart of the dazzling illusions in "The Illusionist" -- the
mirrors in which the real magic is reflected. The screenplay and
direction aren't particularly strong (I would have loved to have
seen what Werner Herzog could have made with this material),
so it wouldn't be half as entertaining without the right actors.

As Sophie, Biel is beguiling but not ephemeral; she refuses
to conform to Victorian images of women as benign reflections
of men's desires. Sophie is a woman whose heart, mind
and flesh are her own. Sewell's mustachioed Leopold is
at once formidable and ridiculous, fearsome and pathetic.
Edward Norton is an actor of fierce intelligence, and
with the lower half of his face masked behind an impenetrable
Van Dyke, and the rest framed by a sleek black mane,
his dark, penetrating irises conjure some of the film's
best effects. When he tells a volunteer from the audience
to look into his eyes and nowhere else, it's almost an
in-joke. Where else would you possibly look?

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 some
thing 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.

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

Billionaire media mogul William Parrish is considering a
merger between his company and another media giant,
and is about to celebrate his 65th birthday with an elabor
ate party planned by his eldest daughter, Allison.

He begins to hear mysterious voices, which he tries with
increasing difficulty to ignore. His youngest daughter,
Susan, a resident in internal medicine, is in a relationship
with one of Parrish's board members, Drew.

She is considering marriage, but Parrish can tell she's not
passionately in love.

When she asks for the short version of his impassioned
speech, he simply says, "Stay open. Who knows?
Lightning could strike!"

Susan meets a vibrant young man at a coffee shop.

She is instantly enamored but fails to even get his name.

Minutes after their encounter (but unbeknownst to her),
the man is struck by multiple cars in what appears to be
a fatal motor vehicle accident.

Death arrives at Parrish's home in the uninjured body of
the young man, explaining that Parrish's impassioned
speech has piqued his interest.

Given Parrish's "competence, experience, and wisdom",
Death says that for as long as Will will be his guide on
Earth, Parrish will not have to die.

Making up a name on the spot, Death is introduced to the
family as "Joe Black".

Parrish's best efforts to navigate the next few days, knowing
them now to be his last, fail to keep events from going
rapidly out of his control.

Drew is secretly conspiring with a man bidding for Parrish

He capitalizes on Parrish's strange behavior and unexplained
reliance on Joe to convince the board of directors to vote
Parrish out as Chairman,

using information given to him inadvertently by Parrish's
son -in-law, Quince, to push through approval for the merger
which Parrish had decided to oppose. Quince is devastated.

Susan is confused by the appearance of Joe, believing him
to be the young man from the coffee shop, but eventually falls
deeply in love with him.

Joe is now under the influence of human desires and be
comes attracted to her as well.

After they make love, Joe asks Susan, "What do we do now?"
She replies, "It'll come to us."

Parrish angrily confronts him about his relationship with his
daughter, but Joe declares his intention to take Susan with
him for his own.

As his last birthday arrives, Parrish appeals
to Joe to recognize the meaning of true love
and all it encompasses, especially honesty
and sacrifice.

Joe comes to understand that he must set
aside his own desire and allow Susan to
live her life. He also helps Parrish regain
control of his company, exposing Drew's
underhanded business dealings to the
board by claiming to be an agent of the
Internal Revenue Service and threatening
to put Drew in jail.

The party is in full swing, with jazz music, cake and speech
by Parrish. He makes his peace with his daughters. Susan
tells Joe that she has loved him ever since that day in the
coffee shop.

Joe realises that Susan loves the unknown man, not him,
and the realization crushes him slightly. Even mastering
his emotions powerfully he balks at telling Susan who he
really is, although she seems to intuit his true identity.

(it is slightly hinted that she experienced a similar state of
feeling as the old lady from the hospital when Joe was
trying to "take away her pain").

She mentions feeling like taking off before realizing something
was off (that state of feeling Joe emanates).

Struggling to comprehend the
enormity of the situation, Susan
can not label Joe as Death. She
says finally, "You're . . . you're Joe".

He promises her "you will
always have what you found
in the coffee shop." On a hil
lock in the grounds above the
party in full swing below,
Parrish expresses trepidation:

"Should I be afraid?" Joe replies "Not a man like you",
showing his respect for Parrish. Fireworks begin to pop
in the distance; Susan watches Joe and her father walk
out of view. She is stunned as "Joe" reappears alone,
bewildered, this time as the young man from the coffee

He is uninjured and cannot account for how he
got there. Susan accepts that her father is gone,
and rekindles the romantic spark she had shared
with the young man. "What do we do now?" she
asks. "It'll come to us," Joe replies, as the two of
them descend towards the twinkling lights of the

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Love always, and forever! Annette, "Thats All!"

When A Woman Loves A Man! From 1930 -- Wait for the Kiss 

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Slay, sparkle, be safe and shine. Darling, it is the weekend be daring and divine.




09/17/2021 18:10:00

midnight enchantress_2

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