The End…or a New Beginning?

Swimming off into the sunset

I mentioned in my Father’s Day post that I became a father over the last year.  It might not surprise you, but this means that I have far less time to both watch about and write about movies.  Running a Movie of the Day series, even with a lot of wonderful help from the rest of the team here, was hard even before MicroMort was born (indeed, I suspect the only reason I was able to do as much of the work I did the first year we were running the series was because the Baroness was living in another town during the week for work).  We managed to do the series for four years-two years with a new movie every day, two years with gaps and entries recycled from previous years.  I’ve enjoyed it, but, quite frankly, readership has declined, not increased over these last two years of Movie of the Day.  It is really hard to see those numbers and summon up the energy to keep writing. Despite the fresh energy from the League writing team, am pretty burned out at this point (and, to be honest, the number of movies I’ve seen that I would like to feature but haven’t gets smaller each year we do this)!

Sleep now

So what does this mean for this blog?  Well, first off, I’ve talked with the rest of the writers and made sure they know they are free to write reviews, movie lists, thoughts about movies-really, anything they would like to write that’s movie related is welcome here. I myself would like to get back to the occasional movie review or list or musings post.  So don’t unfollow the blog, twitter account or Facebook page just yet-though we aren’t going to post every day, we will also not be going away entirely.  In the meantime, I thank all of our readers for their time, eyes, and feedback over the years and I hope you’ll stick around to see what we do next.  As to my writers, thanks to everyone who contributed posts, with special thanks to David “Mr. Invisible” Cole for his help keeping the site going in 2011-2012, for his help setting up our social media accounts and for encouraging me to run a Movie of the Day series in the first place!  Thanks to Bellabone, who wrote more of our posts than any other author behind David and I, and who encouraged me to see out the last year rather than awkwardly ending it early.  Thank you everyone who’s read and commented; I hope you’ve all enjoyed our picks-it was our pleasure telling you about the movies!

Sleep now

December 31, 2014: Strange Days (1995)

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December 30th, 2014: The Land Unknown (1957)

The Land Unknown

 

 

Cast and Crew:  William Alland (Producer); Henry Mancini (Score); Henry Brandon

What It’s About: A naval helicopter on an exploration mission crashes in the mouth of an Antarctic volcano that houses a lost world of prehistoric dinosaurs and plants.  Can the survivors find a way to repair their helicopter before the expedition gives up searching for them?  What or who is it that the dinosaurs fear?

Why Watch it Today?: Although not directly named, Operation Highjump, the 1946 mission to explore Antarctica, especially the crash of one plane on today’s date, partly inspired today’s film.  While not a classic by any means, the film features some wonderfully goofy dinosaur effects and a lot of great 1950s “can do” scientist action, and it does feature one clever twist that I won’t spoil here.

 

 

 

 

December 28th, 2014: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

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December 27th, 2014: Touch of Evil

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December 26th, 2014: Diva (1981)

diva

Cast and Crew: Jean-Jacques Beineix (Director); Irene Silberman (Producer); Frederic Andrei, Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, Richard Bohringer, Thuy An Luu

What It’s About: Diva is a purely aesthetic experience.  It is about so much: art, honesty, friendship, love, corruption; it is about so little: accident, death, unbelievable plot coincidences.  Young motorcycle postman Jules has a borderline-stalker-grade obsession for opera diva Cynthia Hawkins.  While surreptitiously recording her performance and stealing her dress, he unknowingly comes into possession of a recording by a prostitute implicating the chief of police in the management of a large drug and human-trafficking ring.  Witnesses are eliminated one by one by a couple of distasteful homicidal pimps who aspire to look like Depeche Mode.  Our spineless hero randomly befriends a young Asian shoplifter and her mildly creepy meditating sugardaddy Gorodish, a gent who looks like the mythical offspring of a union between John Belushi and Robert Downey, Jr.  Jules and Gorodish each inhabit excruciatingly cool lofts, where one can park junked cars or go rollerskating.  Apparently director Beineix had some issues with the French film establishment, but for international audiences, Eighties Paris never looked so alluring as in this film.  Alternately satisfying and infuriating, it is a memorable experience.

Why Watch it Today?: On this date in 1770, Mozart (aged 14) premiered his first opera seria, “Mithridates, King of Pontus.”  It was six hours long.  As a genre, opera seria was not long for this world, but the visceral power of opera more widely has not dissipated.  Diva features two highly discordant musical genera.  On the one hand, you will experience the pure tones of Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez’ operatic range, lovingly recorded.  If you are even mildly musically sensitive they will send chills down your spine.  On the other hand, much of the soundtrack is primitive synthesized electronica, jarring and discordant.  This juxtaposition is actually quite suitable to the plot of the film, where art crashes headlong into crime, meditation into racketeering.

To get a feel for the movie, take a look at any YouTube film of the diva singing; or this odd bit from the guru, Gorodish, on bread:

Alternately, watch the trailer.  I must warn you, however: this movie may, possibly, have the worst trailer ever made.  It manages to give away spoilers for some major plot points without giving any hint of what the movie’s “about,” and is sonically discordant and obnoxious where the film’s soundtrack is actually well put-together.