MANDY (2018)– Finally catching this 2018 released film courtesy of SHUDDER. And I have to say… stunning. A lurid and at times lucid nightmarish primary color tinged, cosmic fueled descent into the Maelstrom; a revenge flick that goes to damnation and beyond. Panos Cosmatos has created a singular vision of the places that wait beyond our reason, places horrid , and awe-inspiring, and unrelenting. And all we must offer up… is everything.
A stunning film by Cosmatos, fueled by a great score by (I have just found out) the late and uber talented Johann Johannsson (composer of one of the best scores of recent memory, SICARIO… he will be missed), and powered by transformative performances by all; but particularly by Nicholas Cage, who takes us into the maelstrom with him, into hearts of darkness.
Nicolas Cage has really been taking some rough roles, brutal roles recently. That will take much out of any actor, and he does it again here, but going further than anyone should have to, into places dark and demanding. And it is so great to see the legendary Bill Duke in a film, he just raises the bar of everything he is in, and does so here. Panos Cosmatos (the son of George Cosmatos who directed one of my favorite films, TOMBSTONE, also an iconic film, with revenge, pushing the wrong man too far, at its core conceit) with only his second film, the first the equally magical realism imbued BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, has cemented himself for me, as a director to seek out, and to purchase his films when available.
And Kudos to producers Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah for helping champion these criminally underused (and in one case, seemingly blacklisted) visionaries, and working with them to get their films out to a wider audience again. MANDY is very much a gift, from a filmmaker who we have not heard from since 2010. Also very much looking forward to their collaboration with Richard Stanley.
Final thoughts on MANDY… Hypnotic and an experience, that is… compellingly watchable and re-watchable. It is a rabbit hole, and will suck you in. Highly recommended!
When you have viewed it courtesy of streaming, ‘tried before you buy’ so to speak, and are as impressed as I am, then I suggest buying on Bluray. However I would hold out until they release a steel-book or digi-book with special features to include commentary. The Bluray on the market now lacks any commentary or really notable special features, which I think is a big misstep, to release a bare-bones disc. These days I do not buy a disc, unless it is loaded with special feature to include a commentary track.
In the age of streaming you really need to step up your game with the special features to make the Bluray worth it. Here’s hoping a full fledged disk will be released soon, this film deserves it.
Must watch Streaming VOD film of the first week of 2020!!
DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS– I have often seen this movie come up when looking for something to watch, but have always avoided this film. A film about killer plants, and the ludicrousness of the poster just not really piquing my attention. However, I finally decide to watch it here in 2020, nearly 60 years removed from when it was first released on theaters, and I have to say… allowing for the limitations of the time, regarding effects… it is surprisingly gripping.
You very much see in it the template for current movies and tv shows, such as BIRDBOX, A QUIET PLACE, etc. Infact the very opening of THE WALKING DEAD and 28 DAYS LATER is borrowed or a homage, to DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS scene of waking up in a vacated and devastated hospital. It is a surprisingly mature take on the end of the world, though it itself being influenced by HG Wells (father of literary Scifi and Cosmic Horror, I add the literary, because you can make a case for there being an oral concept of scifi and cosmic horror going back to the origins of man) game changing WAR OF THE WORLDS. The denouement of DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS owing obviously to WAR OF THE WORLDS, that aside DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS is a very compelling film of the early 1960s.
View it courtesy of Amazon Prime.
And then if moved to, get the DVD/Bluray here.
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Holidays are upon us.
That we, reading this, have the luxury of celebration and remembrance and family, is a blessing. Many do not.
And we are stuck in the middle.
Time keeps on rolling… rolling… rolling… into the future.
Sorry bits of archaic, near forgotten song lyrics, stuck in my head. 🙂
Glad for so much here at the end of this cycle of days.
Here at the end of days, glad for so much.
But also aware of so much… that I should have made better.
We are almost a hundred years removed from the wonders and horrors of 1920, and almost a hundred removed from the wonders and horrors of 2120.
Here is hoping that in 2020, that our wonders transcend our horrors. That the places where we aspire, transcend the places where we tear down.
All speculative. All we have of any real import, is our pressure on the moment.
Is our will… applied.
Do we make a better world or a worse one.
Depends on you.
It ripples outward.
No guarantees, but we fall down going forward… it matters. The intent transcends the fall.
All this to say… embrace… better. ‘Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.’, Blanche DuBois said in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. We are all at times cruel, and petty, but I try to always remember that line, and not be.. cruel, or petty.
Because Tennessee Williams was right, right in his 1947 Pulitzer prize winning play, and right in the Elia Kazan, nearly x-rated for the time, 1951 Academy Award Winning movie… deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.
But it is avoidable and it is correctable.
Here at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, with change like the stuff of science fiction upon us, we must hold to that one true thing… to aspire to better. To be better. And to spend less energy trying to make things (our phones, our tablets, our tv, our refrigerator, our voice operated Alexa assistants, our drones)… human, and more time making humans… humane.
God, whatever God or Gods you bend your knee to, bless you and yours, and give you the wisdom here at the figurative ending of days and at the beginning of a new cycle of days, to judge your wrongs… right.
If you enjoyed this rambling, but heartfelt, post, then like and subscribe to this blog, and click the link below and peruse some great gift ideas (ideas for 2020, it is too late to make it for the 2019 holidays). Your purchases keep the proverbial doors open, and are greatly appreciated. And you get great stuff. (ie Everyone should have an emergency bag , one in their car, and one in their house. It’s good karma to be… prepared. )
PROPHESY (1979)- It took me three attempts, three attempts, to finish this film. And the only reason I even started it was because the legendary John Frankenheimer’s name is listed as director. But this is a Frankenheimer removed from his 1960s heyday of ‘A list’ stars and ‘A list’ movies.
There is no BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE TRAIN, or SECONDS here. This is Frankenheimer in solid B movie mode, needing to work where he could get it. But even here, Frankenheimer wants didactic films, films that say something, if only obliquely, about real life issues. So we have one of the earliest environmental, EPA tinged horror films. And oddly enough that part works fine. Also Frankenheimer always an actor’s director, gets the most out of his solid cast.
What hampers the film is shown clear in the lackluster poster. The creature does not look great. Even allowing for this being a 40 year old movie, the creature… not good. Add to that the “unbelieving clueless” husband, and the “I have to keep this very important fact, secret from my husband” wife, and that dynamic feels a bit old and stupid. The movie gets a little frustrating around the hour mark, and around there is where I end up bailing on the movie.
However, I stuck with it on the third go around, and around the 1 hour 15 mark you see why John Frankenheimer is a celebrated director. Through pure direction he sells how terrifying this creature is; and the scene where they are driven and trapped underground, one of the most masterfully filmed, and tensest scenes, I have seen in any movie in a long time. Simply brilliant sequence. How he shoots it, how it is framed, how it i s performed. Simply a phenomenal scene. From there to the end of the film, I am officially onboard.
Now moments of, ‘uhh why are you just sitting there being stupid’ still popup, but overall that ending is simply great. Ludicrous, but great. So yeah, it took a few tries to actually finish this film, but having finished it, I have to say… I really enjoyed it, and see myself coming back to it for a repeat viewing. Grade: B-.
View it with VOD courtesy of Amazon Prime.
Thanks for checking and come back for more, next installment!
Amazon Prime Short Horror film of the Day : Ray Sullivan’s THE THING AT 2:37
Do not read reviews, just go into this blind. If you have Amazon Prime you can view it right now.
I went into this movie not knowing anything beyond the vaguest description, and was rewarded by 8 minutes of imaginative eeriness.
The ending is very Ligottian, in that the film lets you (if you have imagination), ruminate on that ending. I thought it was a very effective little short. Did more in 8 minutes than a lot of films do with 80 minutes.
Now don’t get me wrong, it is no LIGHTS OUT or DON’T MOVE, but it is a very good short film, and I look forward to more from this filmmaker.
Rating: B+ Strongly Recommended!
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ITEM OF THE DAY!
“This marvelously macabre film is based on a classic short story by Alexander Pushkin which is the same one used by Tchaikovsky for his opera of the same name. It stars Anton Walbrook (fresh from THE RED SHOES), Ronald Howard (son of Leslie and looking just like his father) and Dame Edith Evans in what marked her screen debut at the age of 61.
Set during the time of Napoleon, QUEEN is the story of a young man who is obsessed with the secret of winning at cards and the old woman who possesses that secret. It is turned into a tour de force by Thorold Dickinson who had earlier directed the original version of GASLIGHT (which also featured Walbrook) back in 1940. The movie is full of baroque chiaroscuro lighting and bizarre camera angles and looks like a cross between the films of Val Lewton and Orson Welles with a little F. W. Murnau thrown in for good measure.”