Above – Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)
I was watching an old movie from the early 1960’s. A beautiful and horrifying film, sometimes painfully amusing, sometimes just plain sad.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is about many things, but chiefly a tortuous sibling relationship. It’s about broken dreams, the fragile mask of sanity, and the fall out of demented jealousy, depression, and alcohol abuse.
In one scene, the next door neighbour repeats the phrase ‘dead batteries’ to Bette Davis’ Baby Jane Hudson character, the focal force of much of the torment and abuse.
The phrase stuck with me.
A container of power capable of doing so much, of providing so much, then failing, no longer usable. There were no ecological rechargeable solutions for drained batteries in 1962. Small or large, receptacle batteries or car batteries, all lie at the edge of the road, beyond the picket fence, waiting to be carted off by the rubbish collection.
Review of Black Orpheus over at Flickering Myth and below…
Featuring an energetic burst of colour, vibrancy, music and dancing, Marcel Camus’ exhilarating take on the Ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice is a pure joy to experience. Winner of the 1959 Academy Award for best foreign language feature as well as the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Black Orpheus (Orfeo Negro) was a huge success and created a surge in popularity for the Brazilian music style the Bossa nova. The film is filled with beautifully choreographed dance pieces and the whole picture is one of festivity and party. This enchanting energy translates wonderfully well to Blu-ray, with Criterion issuing a restored and enhanced release completely worthy of this dream of a film.
Focusing on the favelas of Rio and the upcoming famous carnaval, the film tells the story of Orfeo (Bruno Mello), a local bus driver and Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) who arrives in Rio on the run from a man who is pursuing her. Orfeo, also an accomplished singer/poet and something of a ladies man, falls for Eurydice immediately and vows to protect her. In the process, he risks the anger of his quick tempered fiancee Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira), a woman easily provoked and thankfully for Orfeo, also easily distracted. An even greater risk to the potential happiness of the two new lovebirds is the individual stalking Eurydice, portrayed in the film literally as Death himself. Any one who knows the original myth – and countless tragic love stories the world over – can be pretty sure this isn’t going to end too well.
But even with this figure of Death hanging around though, there is nothing remotely bleak about the picture. It is firmly optimistic, as even with the inevitability of death, life, and the dance always continues. Life affirming is a phrase seemingly created for such a film as this. Eminently beautiful and profound.
Criterion have put together a whole host of features for this release including:
New restored high definition digital transfer.
Optional English dubbed soundtrack
Archival interviews with Marcel Camus and Marpessa Dawn
New interviews with Brazilian cinema scholar Robert Stam, Jazz historian Gary Giddins and Brazilian author Ruy Castro
Looking for Black Orpheus documentary about the film’s cultural roots in Brazil and its continued relevance today.
Classy neo-noir from Rich Tommaso in Dark Corridor… review over at Flickering Myth. and here…
Carter burns through his money like a big-baller. Also, we see The Scalinas death at the hands of deadly daughter Nicole.
Issue 2 of Dark Corridor continues Rich Tommaso’s rich and bloody vein of neo-noir in combative style.
Set around two ongoing stories; The Red Circle and Seven Deadly Daughters, Tomasso (Clover, 8½ Ghosts) creates an exhilarating ride through two distinct constructs taking in a range of largely cinematic influences.
As Tommaso writes in his last page commentary, cinematic entertainment has played a large part in his creative imagination. He cites violent action movies of a certain vintage like Commando,Predator, Lethal Weapon, Scarface and many more as having made a huge impact on his life.
He also describes how he turned away from these features and sought out more ‘intellectual’ filmic pursuits after reaching the grand old age of 21. With a bit of time to digest however, he returned to the wide-screen actioners and in particular, the 80’s horror and violent splatter-fests of his younger days.
So, what does all this have to do with his comic book? Well, quite a bit, as Dark Corridor is imbued with a Hollywood style of classic cinematic crime and noir. The two ongoing stories take a slightly different tone with The Red Circle using a classic noir template, calling to mind that great comic book artist of city crime Will Eisner (The Spirit). Seven Deadly Daughters on the other hand has more of an updated 80’s feel to it, with a distinctly Tarantino-esque rapid fire delivery.
The Red Circle, part two, Carter’s Misfortune, tells a suitably doomed tale of career criminal Carter. Just let out from a nine and a half-year stretch in the jail house and having saved up some cash from a five-week job as a security guard, he decides he’s in the mood for a party. Exploring the city of Red Circle fuelled by drink, drugs and various sexual encounters, Carter lives life-like there’s no tomorrow. And as is the case with many characters in a crime-soaked environment, there might not be…
Tomasso’s art work fits perfectly a portrayal of a city’s 50’s style crime underbelly. The world of Red Circle is timeless, with classic themes of Americana running throughout. The style is vibrant and hard-hitting. The cumulative energy built up around Carter’s long day and night of freedom is impressively displayed with Carter’s internal monologue accompanied by time and location run-downs on the base of the panel.
The Seven Deadly Daughters story, Greatest Hits volume 2, centres on Nicole Breccia and her quick-fire revenge on her father’s murderers. The story is fully turned up the max, with panel after panel of kicks, knife fights and dog attacks going on with no pause for breath. Essentially played out as a mini scene in an ongoing story, the chapter does more than enough to keep you wanting more.
Overall Dark Corridor is a great example of what comic books do best – provoke, entertain and inspire in equal measures. I, for one, am looking forward to reading more.
Following on from my own personal list of 2013, here is the best of 2013 from all of the writers at Flickering Myth…
Check the full story out here.The top 10 appears below…
10. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (dir. Peter Jackson)
9. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (dir. Declan Lowney)
8. Stoker (dir. Park Chan-Wook)
7. Star Trek Into Darkness (dir. J.J. Abrams)
6. A Field in England (dir. Ben Wheatley)
5. The World’s End (dir. Edgar Wright)
4. Only God Forgives (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)
3. Mud (dir. Jeff Nichols)
2. Rush (dir. Ron Howard)
1. Gravity (dir. Alfonso Cuaron)
Well it’s that list time of year again. So why the bejeebus not? Here are my top 10 movies of the year.
10 – The Wolverine – James Mangold
9 – Oz The Great and the Powerful – Sam Raimi
8 – Elysium – Neill Blomkamp
7 – Alan Partridge Alpha Papa – Declan Lowney
6- The Conjuring – James Wan
4 – Only God Forgives – Nicolas Winding Refn
3 – Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron
2 – A Field in England – Ben Wheatley
1 – Il Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) – Paolo Sorrentino