The Bat (1959)
Dir. Crane Wilbur
By no means even a good film, but for Vincent Price and “old” movie fans, it’s not completely terrible. Though it’s more thriller than the traditional horror films Price is known for, he plays a familiar character here. The Bat, a mysterious criminal and killer, gets one of the laziest and oddly effective costume designs I’ve ever seen. I enjoy the way these films feel, the atmosphere of how they’re filmed, how they sound, the imaginative worlds and spaces they create.
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini
A real surprise. The only Pasolini film I knew was Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. Back when there weren’t so many streaming possibilities, my Netflix DVD account was a paradise for an Alabama film fan with few resources. I would watch everything in print by particular directors or watch films based on themes. I used to make more lists and I think I’ve mentioned I used to organize my cash by serial number somewhere on here before. All those days are gone, and that’s probably for the best. Anyway, I decided to watch a series of banned films and Salò was at the top of the list. For good reasons. But, the film is more than its brutality, likewise, Accattone is more than its subject matter.
Accattone is about pimps, prostitutes, and thieves in Rome. Pasolini worked with both Fellini and Bertolucci, so if you know those filmmakers, you may have a rough understanding of what to expect. This movie had to have influenced Martin Scorsese, especially films like Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), and even Gangs of New York (2002).
The entire film is shot in natural light, I believe, except for the night scenes, which seem to be filmed under regular street lamps. The filming techniques are as raw as the story. There are a few scenes where a boom’s shadow can be seen, but production “mistakes” like this don’t detract from the film.
Last year I watched the fantastic The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), and felt like I discovered a type of Grail for Guillermo del Toro’s films and his child protagonists. Accattone, felt similar, but for ‘70s Hollywood drama of the down-and-out, in particular, the aforementioned Scorsese work.
Dir. Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
A Spanish horror film that does a great job with a found footage conceit. The movie opens with a film crew shadowing a fire department. They get an emergency call to a building and once inside, get locked in and quarantined by authorities. An old lady covered in blood begins trying to chew on them. Creepy and fun, though some may disagree about the end when things turn into an Aphex Twin video, kind of gross, silly, and weird. There’s an American remake called Quarantine (2008) that’s good, too.
Kool-Aid Man in Second Life, 2008-2011
Dir. Jon Rafman
Shana Moulton and Jon Rafman are two of my favorite contemporary artists and filmmakers. Rafman has made a few different found footage film series using video games. As the title says, this particular series is about Kool-Aid Man inhabiting the game Second Life. There is a lot of material on and by Rafman out there and I’ll likely be checking out as much of it as I can this year by him, while continuing my Moulton obsession.
This is not going to be for everyone. People do some strange things in Second Life, evidently. Meditative. Bizarre. Enveloping. I need to see it more before I can really say much of substance about it.
The Adderall Diaries (2015)
Dir. Pamela Romanowsky
A solid drama that pursues the nature of memory, friendship, and family. This reminded me of the family dramas that seemed more frequent in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Just a glance at reviews shows the disgust many critics leveled at this. I just didn’t think it was that bad.
In many ways this could be paired with my Recent Reading, Accattone, heck, even Kool-Aid Man in Second Life.
I like red peppers and Jan Švankmajer movies.
1. Current Listening: Lots of soul from Muscle Shoals
2. Current Viewing: A Hard Day's Night (1964).
3. Current Reading: H.G. Wells: In the Days of the Comet