THE 13TH UNIT (2014) – The genre of storage unit horror is thankfully small, relegated as it is to the pretty forgettable Noel Clarke vehicle STORAGE 24 or this extremely low budget entry, THE 13TH UNIT.
Despite an obviously anemic budget, some solid camera work, for the most part involving performances, initially show promise and keep me watching. Unfortunately the film is sabotaged by a cliche ridden script, annoying characters who make obviously irrational and stupid choices, and a complete lack of audience investment due to the stupidity of these characters. It’s finish-able, however ultimately not worth that investment of time. Grade: D.
Other movies to avoid, far more inept than 13TH UNIT are FALSE FACE, 5 SOULS, BEAST WITHIN, 7 NIGHTS OF DARKNESS, THE CREEPY DOLL, and NO ONE WILL KNOW.
THE ARTIST AND THE MODEL- Fernando Trueba (director of Oscar-winning BELLE EPOQUE and Oscar-nominated CHICO AND RITA) collaborates with legendary screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière to present this exquisite tale of a quest for beauty and artistic inspiration. Sumptuously shot in black and white by Cinematographer Daniel Vilar, and with captivating performances from Jean Rochefort, Aida Folch, Claudia Cardinale and Chus Lampreave, THE ARTIST AND THE MODEL is a delicately crafted contemplation on life, death and art that won Trueba the Best Director award at San Sebastian Film Festival.
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS- Revisiting the movie it continues to reward, and becomes more enjoyable. Grade: A.
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE- John Malkovich and William Dafoe star in this dark fable take, on Murnau’s filming of NOSFERATU. Solidly enjoyable. Grade: B.
BIG ASS SPIDER!- Far better and more enjoyable than recent stabs at the B-movie monster quickie. This one is solidly aware and embracing of its influences. Well performed and engaging bit of 90 minutes. Grade: B.
STATE OF EMERGENCY- Beautifully filmed, this claustrophobic little film is definitely a slow burn, takes a while to get going, but stick with it, I find its content and quality belies its idiotic poster. I am not a zombie fan, I think the first two seasons of the Walking Dead TV Show are both idiotic and annoying, but I like this film. Grade: B/B+
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI- Inventively told Documentary is good, if a bit overhyped and overlong. Grade: B-/B.
COUNT YORGA VAMPIRE- An interesting take on the Vampire craze, sensuous and bloody, this takes Vampire out of Hammer’s Victorian age and deposits him into the Free Love Movement and the age of Aquarius 70s. Equal parts ludicrous and engaging, this movie is better than I initially thought it would be. C+.
THE MACHINE (2013)- Fantastic looking poster, and solid visuals throughout, however this scifi film feels overlong, like a retread of better films and already well trod cautionary tales. Worth a look.
SPACEBALLS- Huge fan of Mel Brooks films like HIGH ANXIETY and BLAZING SADDLES, I don’t like this film. I want to like it I just don’t particularly find it well cast, funny, or interesting.
UNREST- Start interestingly, this tale of a cadaver that may be more alive than it should be, devolves quickly into utter nonsense. Grade: D.
SACRAMENT – Ti West has three movies on NETFLIX, the great HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, the tedious INBETWEENER, and this film an intriguing but flawed looked at cults and massacres. Just underwhelming. Grade: C-.
DOOMSDAY PREPPERS -hit
CUTTHROAT KITCHEN -hit
ARROW Season 2 -hit
BEING MARY JANE -hit
THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR ; SATAN CAME TO EDEN – Directed by Daniel Geller, completely engrossing true life tale and mystery about a band of Europeans in that time between the World Wars, and their search for an escape from society’s madness, that would breed madness of its own. Grade : A.
Less an art book than a travelogue/diary and historical exploration of an at the time still largely mysterious region, FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA is an 1890s scholarly work (done during a time of an earlier Afghanistan War)on that area between the lands of Nubia and Asia that today we call the Middle East, by one of the preeminent artists of the 19th century, Edwin Lord Weeks.
I first became aware of his glorious oil paintings when visiting the Richmond Art Museum a couple years back. His HOUR OF PRAYER painting in person, is simply massive in scale, and cannot truly be appreciated except in person (when you stand in front and beneath the painting, it’s like you could walk into it), carrying as it does not just the seminal strokes of a realist at the height of his powers, but the weight of history and a moment of time, and region, and culture (all of which is under threat of going away) preserved here; hauntingly captured.
I have since seen several other Edwin Lord Weeks paintings in person, Weeks was a very prolific artist, and another standout is INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE AT CORDOVA.
While not as large as HOUR OF PRAYER it is a gorgeous painting at any size, unlike HOUR OF PRAYER where pictures on the web don’t do it justice. Part of what makes HOUR OF PRAYER the award winner that it was, is the play of yourself against its vast spaces. There is an alchemy that happens when you see that picture in person, that is not reproducible on your computer screen. INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE AT CORDOVA, in contrast, is a far more repeatable image. What you see on the web or in a book, is a good approximation of what you’ll see in person.
Along with Virgil Finlay, Robert Duncanson, and Zdzislaw Beksinski; Edwin Lord Weeks quickly became one of those IT artists for me. A massive artistic talent whose work was largely unknown, or under appreciated to this day, and definitely still largely unheralded/uncollected in a comprehensive tome. He became an artist I set out to find books by and about.
Today’s selection is one of those books.
“With the permission from the War Department to visit Central Asia came an urgent telegram from the American legation at St. Petersburg, advising us not to go on account of the cholera which, after devastating Meshed, had left Persia and invaded the Russian provinces. We were then leaving for Constantinople by the Camboge, and finding that she would not proceed to Batoum, by reason of quarantine we were again forced to change our route. This time we elected to follow the old caravan from Trebizond on the Black Sea, to Tabreez, through the mountains of Kurdistan, that country of indefinite boundaries.
In short, there was no other route left open to us; we must either turn back, or, setting our face forward, head straight for the Persian frontier, five hundred miles away, and we decided to go on.”
—-Lord Edwin Weeks, from the preface to FROM THE BLACK SEA THROUGH PERSIA AND INDIA.
Being in the public domain there are numerous variations of this work online. The quality is all a bit less than stellar, as largely it looks to be photocopies of photocopies, and the pencil drawings/sketches that accompanies the words, all a bit muted… still there is enough there to get the brilliance, and you can flip to any page, read a paragraph and be entranced by Weeks’ evident love and romance for the region.
So until a proper tome dedicated to Lord Edwin Weeks is done, for reasons both historical and cultural this 462 page book, to any fan of the work of Weeks, is a must own.
Get your copy here: