Once Halloween horror movie viewing was a seasonal treat because this was the one time each year a wide variety of spooky content was available. Horror fans like yours truly savored every morsel from networks, local channels and then limited cable offerings. To recapture the excitement seasonal schedules once caused we make lists, participate in challenges, and create of our own personal 31 Days of Horror or Halloween (among other schemes) on social media. I’m always tempted by Hubrisween, the one created by BMMB ex-pats (probably one of the damned Fiasco Brothers!)* which consists of posting 26 reviews in October, with the titles covering the alphabet. I’m also tempted by Hoop-Tober, with it’s complicated structure and demands, and maybe next year I’ll do it-if I remember before doing my own Fall Horror Binge Plan, which has an equally complex set of rules intended to insure I experience the full breadth of horror while finally crossing off some titles from the endless “list”. I could reveal them all, Hoop-Tober style, but I don’t actually expect anyone to join with me….look at that name for staters! Fall Horror Binge lacks romance as a title, but it is very American in it’s directness and gluttony!
Well, the lights have been off on this site for quite some time. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not still watching movies! While I continue to be a parent (did just one baby stop me from blogging about movies obsessively-it seems so quaint now that there are TWO lil Mortises!) I am, in fact, always watching movies. If you want to read some mini-reviews, I highly recommend checking out my Letterboxd stream. Recently League member Sean Frost started up a podcast with the inestimable Tim Lehnerer-The Fiasco Brothers Watch a Movie. Sean and Tim, the titular Fiasco Brothers, discuss a new movie every other week, chosen randomly from their own list of possible titles.
Not having a podcast of my own and not genetically blessed with the ability to shut up, I of course wanted to join the pair to talk about a movie. Sean asked me about a few titles. Thanks to a scheduling mishap you missed my tale of how I first saw Live and Let Die in French during a family vacation to Quebec as part of a general discussion of Blaxploitation attached to their episode on Truck Tuner. Instead they booked me to discuss Death Wish 3,, one of our former Movies of the Day. I had an absolute blast recording with these guys and I highly recommend subscribing to their entertaining podcast. Without further ado, here is Episode 9 of The Fiasco Brothers Watch a Movie: My Roscoe Goes Ka-Chee.
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)!
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!
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.
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.