In Anticipation Of: Who’s Your Daddy and the return of the Radar


The In Anticipation Of posts have been a bit too infrequent on this site. However, I have created them both for films I eventually saw, like Mercy, and those that have not yet come to fruition, like The Necroscope.


Usually after I release my BAM Awards on an annual basis I try my best to keep tabs on who was nominated so that I can see what they follow-up with. This is usually the case with directors, writers, and actors. Especially when they happen to be involved in foreign (to the US) productions, as you typically do have to be more proactive to watch them in something else.

Barring being overly-proactive you can only find new projects almost entirely by accident, which is how I learned about Who’s Your Daddy having just started pre-production.

Who’s Your Daddy

Who’s Your Daddy tells the tale of

Nineteen year old sweethearts Simon from Denmark and Ida from Norway has just come together and moved in an apartment in Oslo. To celebrate, they open a few bottles of red wine and decide to inaugurate the bedroom, which ends in a not-so-planned pregnancy. In Ida’s eyes, there must be changes in the house for her to want to keep the baby. He must begin to take more responsibility and stop spending all day playing Playstation and smoking weed with his buddies. He needs to get a better job, join the couples therapy: anything that can get the relationship on a new level. He must grow up. Ida moves out, and Simon embarks on a journey with buddies, a journey to learn responsibility, love and change his personality. A comedy about friendship, love and dead dogs.

and stars William Jøhnk Nielsen, Nikolaj Groth and Aurora Nossen. I’d previously seen Nielsen in In a Better World which he earned a BAM Nomination for in the first year I expanded the young acting categories.

Here were my thoughts on Nielsen’s performance in summation at year’s end:

William Jøhnk Nielsen has perhaps the most impressive “simmer” of these actors. He has a lot of anger and frustration to play and he has to work up to a boil frequently. It’s a different kind of emotion than most of these actors had to work which is why this is one of the few categories I decided to expand this category to six nominees, which was unprecedented until this year in three instances.

Later, Nielsen also played a small role in A Royal Affair, a tremendous film that brought Alicia Vikander to my attention, as well as inciting my fandom of Mads Mikkelsen.William Jøhnk (Clinton Gaughran)

However, since that brief appearance I had not seen him in anything. Fast forward a few years to where I serendipitously learned of his next project.


This movie sounds like a good one, and it’s great when actors in their late-teens/early-twenties are afforded roles true to their age and their transitory life stage, as opposed to playing down in age a few years merely to simplify production. So I look forward to what writer/director Marius Pinnås Sørvik (pictured in the header) brings to cross-cultural comedy of today’s youth.

I await this film eagerly, and will update this post as necessary. Overall I’ll not rest on chance too much anymore, so I will also begin a Watchlist on Letterboxd and take fuller advantage of Go Watch It from now on in lieu of the My Radar feature I once had here.

In Anticipation Of: The Necroscope

NOTE: This post has been updated. New information that supersedes the production update in the body can be found at the bottom of the piece.

The first time I did a piece labeled In Anticipation Of it was regarding Mercy the adaptation of the Stephen King short story Gramma, which was produced by Blumhouse and will be released by Universal Horror. With this one I have decided to go with something that I’ve watched off an on for a long time that could probably be better described as being development purgatory rather than development hell for a long time.

My history with the Necroscope, if we are to be quite literal, goes back to just after I started reading the horror genre. I really started to embrace horror, and enjoy being scared, after I watched The Shining in a cinema class. I then proceeded to read Desperation, then Bag of Bones, and despite my not enjoying that one quite so much, I borrowed It and then I was a King devotee for life. As I went to browse bookstores for more King, or other future possibilities, I came across the Necroscope series. The only reason I delayed really was because it took me a while to look up and confirm the correct reading order.

The books that really caught my attention were the covers and stories of the Vampire World trilogy, books six thru eight. However, there was the debate about committing, at least in theory, to a series that long. Then I did. The first two books are brilliant; absolute masterpieces of the horror genre. Further on down the line there are still strokes of genius. For as good as the beginning is that section, which I did eventually get to, is very strong. And the most recent book, a short novel entitled The Möbius Murders, is by far the strongest installment in The Lost Years chronology.

Necroscope (Bob Eggleton)

Part of the issue with a film, or potential series of films, in my estimation, has been the budget that I believe a halfway decent adaptation would incur. While I was in college I immersed myself in Lovecraft for a time such that not only was I worried for my mental health for a week or so, but I also managed to turn out my take on the mythos in screenplay form. The script was what I wanted it to be: a tale that would take its time yet consistently build atmosphere and pace. However, my best guess that at is original 150 pages its budget would be at least one million dollars a minute, and that’s a problem for a Lovecraftian tale. Therefore, I decided to turn said spec script into prose. Just look at how the supposedly high-budget At the Mountains of Madness fell apart. My expectation for the budget on Necroscope is similar. Add to that the international intrigue, foreign tongues, potential for voice over, finding the correct tone and detailed mythology being built; and there are pitfalls.

Yet, that hasn’t stopped the property from being optioned numerous times. Like I said, I get why, but as Lumely’s site reports it’s now six consecutive years the option has been picked up. What prompted me to write this piece was that after hearing the words “Necroscope” and “movie” on TV, as Glenn Hetrick was introduced on an episode of FaceOff I wondered “Is it really that much closer to happening?”

As per Lumley’s site in March, it seems not, save for the most recent renewal. Maybe Hetrick was just trying to get some interest, buzz and free advertising for the possibility. Can’t say I blame him really.


However, this property, which is amongst the iconic properties of horror fiction, is also on a short list of big properties oft delayed, and this one likely offers a bigger tonal challenge onscreen as opposed to things like King’s Dark Tower and The Talisman, which have also been oft delayed and changed hands many times. It’s getting to a point where I do wonder if I could fight my fandom when a film came out: could I supplant my image of Harry in my mind? Could I deal with a Yulian not speaking Romanian, and so on? I’d like to think so. However, with this project so long in the offing and seemingly still so far off I honestly can’t answer as a fan if I want to see the film happen. I just know that if it does, when it does I’ll be there.

UPDATE: I recently saw a link to a Necroscope fan group on Facebook, joined, and it seems Glenn Hetrick messaged the group Admin with an update on the status of the project. It reads as follows:

Happy New Year Guys! There is nothing that I can discuss at the moment, we are honing the pitch and script and setting up meetings for early 2014 with studios, but this entire process, contracts, waiting for responses, etc. is quite drab I assure you, so the reason I have been silent is that there is nothing new to report other than we are moving forward. Not a day goes by that I do not spend time on the phone or computer trying to push this ahead, if you think you are feeling impatient I also assure you it is far worse for me. There is also the legality of the whole thing, which will compel me to remain reticent even once we have a deal, up until such time an interested STUDIO concretes a deal, picks it up and then decides to officially announce the project, which i feel will be sometime this year. During that entire period I will not legally be capable of discussing the project publicly, but just know I am throwing everything I got at this. It requires a Herculean effort to get a film produced by a major studio and near impossible to get that done right, with integrity of the source material intact, a promise I made to Brian personally. I am years into the process…we are getting close. Know that as soon as there is something to report, I will do it here. Currently working on Hunger Games sequels and will be going back to shoot Face Off again soon, during which time I am developing new designs and visuals for our pitch whilst tweaking the script, fingers crossed everyone! Ok, rob, get to liking, I want bloody fingers!

In Anticipation Of: Mercy


A large part of why I started this blog, as opposed to continuing at the site I was perviously, was that I wanted to control my content and also if I should choose to be publishing daily I wanted to not necessarily constrain my focus to a particular region or breaking news.

Yes, having access to information is great, and I partook in the internet explosion that occurred when Jurassic Park IV added itself to next summer’s calendar, but I want to focus mostly on things I have seen rather than will see. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and the new Universal/Blumhouse production of Mercy, which starts rolling today, is an exception.


Gramma (Signet)

Mercy is based on a short story by Stephen King. The original story was entitled “Gramma” and was first read by most in his short story collection The Skeleton Crew.

When I heard the news the name of the story didn’t immediately ring a bell. As the casting announcements started coming I decided to revisit it. This time I read it not just to be refreshed on the story but to look at it as an adaptation. I can still mostly keep prose in mind as pure prose (Hitchcock reached a point where he could no longer read for pleasure because he read everything with an eye for adaptation), unless I am consciously adapting it like I did with Suffer the Little Children.

So, how are the elements being prepared for the screen? How good do they look? For the most part they reinforce my positive outlook.

The Story

Now, as is the case with a lot of prose (particularly King’s), a certain amount of externalization will need to take place. Much of the tale takes place in a single location and chronicles the protagonist’s reaction, through inner monologue, to the predicament he finds himself within.

It’s a highly effective narrative, which has potential for great visuals, interesting construction and a lot of tension. In fact, it was brought to the small screen during the short-lived return of The Twilight Zone.

The Screenwriter

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Brought in to adapt the story into a screenplay was Matt Greenberg whose previous credits include Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, The Prophecy 2 and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later as his franchise prolonging starting points, then Reign of Fire; an intriguing installment of Masters of Horror called The Fair-Haired Child, then most importantly 1408, based on King and the upcoming Pet Sematary remake. King projects have been botched enough that track record and pedigree matters; Darabont and Garris usually means a good visual treatment of the tales; Greenberg may as well, if his previous works are any indication.


The Haunting in Connecticut (2009, Lionsgate)

Peter Cornwell has genre experience in a film I happened to like quite a bit, A Haunting in Connecticut. That does lead me to the next point…


Based on the narrative of the story itself this film should be a PG-13 horror movie. I believe a faithful adaptation would make it so. You’d need to amp things up to get it to an R-Rating. I don’t have an issue with that in and of itself, it’s just something I predict.


American Horror Story (2012, FX)

Stephen King, the story and the team (including Blumhouse the production company helming who have had much genre success lately, namely Sinister and the Paranormal Activity series) are enough to make this a movie to anticipate, however, then you get to the cast.

Dylan McDermott is first billed. In recent years he’s not only had a return to prominence, but I’m sure gained many new fans with his very successful forays into the horror genre. Most notably on American Horror Story. I know my appreciation of his work has grown exponentially.

The lead as per King’s text is George, the younger of two brothers, who I presume will be played by Chandler Riggs. Playing Carl Grimes in The Walking Dead is no small feat. You know this to be true whether you’re a fan of the show, graphic novels or both. I read a lot of the books before trying the show and Riggs gives a much more well-rounded interpretation of Carl than I had imagined.

Then there’s Frances O’Connor who I have not seen nearly enough of since I first became of her in Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

Joel Courtney and Chandler Riggs (Joel Courtney/Twitter)

If we are to presume McDermott and O’Connor are the parents and Riggs is the younger sibling, then naturally Joel Courtney (Super 8) would be Buddy, the older brother. If this is to be the case then it would be an interesting change of pace from Courtney‘s appearances thus far. In Super 8 and his guest spot on The Haunting Hour he’s been a dreamer, a bit of nerd, and all-around good kid. However, Buddy, as written from George’s perspective, is your typical older brother maybe a little meaner, a little more antagonistic than most.

Last, but certainly not least when the source material is called “Gramma,” is the grandmother who will be played by Shirley Knight, which is another great choice. It’ll be great to see her in a film like this as opposed to Paul Blart: Mall Cop.


I don’t want to wander into potential spoilerdom. The story, which should give you an idea what the film will sort of be (but don’t judge it on that!), is out there if interested. I also needn’t go into each production department and discuss where else awesomeness can happen, but the potential exists elsewhere also! The more I got into the story and examined in cinematic terms the more exciting a prospect it became. I am definitely looking forward to this one.

Blu-ray Review: The Reflecting Skin

Philip Ridley and the Film

As a fan of the horror genre one is usually on the lookout waiting for something new, persistently waiting for—living in anticipation of your mind being blown. However, sometimes something you’ve seen before, or haven’t looked at in the right way yet, can bring the same effect. One of the things about The Reflecting Skin I never fully took into account were those involved in the making of it. This reexamination has revealed Philip Ridley—and artistic force in multiple media—who I’d somehow never really considered or looked into despite holding this work in such high regard. Furthermore, close examination of this film made me realize that I have one of his novels on my TBR (To Be Read) pile and I only made the connection now. 

For a work to stand out and be unique it needn’t create entirely new American iconography.  The Reflecting Skin combines familiar tropes of Americana which are ingrained in not only our consciousness, but the world’s (the film being the imagined version of America by a British auteur). In its presentation, through the twisted perceptions of a traumatized child, the move recombines the familiar in unfamiliar ways, mingling the sacred and the profane, humor and horror, beauty and depravity, open spaces and oppressive homes.

The Reflecting Skin tells the story of an eight-year-old boy, Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) and a harrowing sun-soaked summer on isolated Idaho farmland wherein death looms and strikes indiscriminately; he longs for the return of his older brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen) from the war; copes with his overbearing mother (Sheila Moore), tolerates a pitiable father (Duncan Fraser), suspects a strange neighbor Dolphin Blue (Lindsay Duncan) of being a vampire; and is stalked by black Cadillac driving hoods.

This film will leave you overwhelmed by its beauty on occasion. Its subjective, dreamlike, subconscious language will either speak to you or it won’t. An example of this is that as I prepared to view this film anew my thought on it was that for 96 minutes it instills in me an awestruck fright that my childlike self felt at the quasi-literal visual that accompanied the line “All the vampires walking through The Valley, move west down Ventura Boulevard” in Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” video. This is what came to me before images from the film itself, such is its dreamlike persistence. 

The Images

I’m not one for statements like “I’d never really seen this movie before” even though I firmly believe in being a member of the #AspectRatioPolice on film-Twitter, but aspect ratio is the least of the sins absolved by this new release. The opening frame of this film hit me like a sledgehammer unlike it ever had before. So long had it been since I last saw it I’d forgotten that before we’re introduced to Seth Dove all we see is a wheat field. The sumptuous beauty of the image properly framed, immaculately presented, and color balanced toward excessive saturation forced a reflexive expletive from my mouth. 

The Essay

As is standard with Film Movement Classics releases there is an essay accompanying this film. This one is co-authored by Travis Crawford and Heather Hyche and illuminates some of the unique path of The Reflecting Skin’s path to cult classic status. It also teases Philip Ridley’s other two feature films which comprise a horror trilogy of sorts. Its closing line about cult films rings particularly true when this new, proper presentation elevated my appreciation of this film:

“Ridley has stated that the film’s restoration looks even better than the movie did upon its initial release, and this should finally satiate fans who know the truest cult films are not only the ones that have aged well over time, but the ones that also improve with each obsessive repeat viewing.”

Angels & Atom Bombs: The Making of The Reflecting Skin

This 44-minute documentary with insights from Philip Ridley, Viggo Mortensen, Dick Pope, and Nick Bicât is worth watching, but perhaps the most interesting part of it is Ridley’s explanation of the anthropophagous creation of the story from his art to a story idea about a recurrent figure in those paintings and collages. 

The Commentary Track

For any and all who might be inclined to get this film, I recommend all the bonus features. While between the making of and the commentary some information will be conveyed twice, however, with Philip Ridley’s feature-length commentary there are some things taken more in depth, such as the adjustments to cover sets; other filming specifics like lighting challenges, film cheats, and more. Both are suggested after seeing the film if the title is new to you. As I’d seen it before, I saw the featurette first.

Pertinent Details

Release: August 13, 2019

Formats: Blu-ray/DVD/Digital

Review: Mercy

Mercy was a film that I had on my radar for quite some time. It was a film announced a while ago. It was one of a rash of projects that Joel Courtney got involved with on the heels of his outstanding performance in J.J. Abrams’ Spielbergian Super 8. Combine that with the fact that it is a Stephen King adaptation, the signing of Chandler Riggs (The Walking Dead), the involvement of Blumhouse and Universal and there were plenty of reasons to look forward to this film. Eventually though, without and fanfare (as there usually isn’t), this film kind of vanished from consciousness as all involved moved on to the next job.

Then with just as little fanfare the film plopped up available as a digital first download on Amazon ahead of its DVD release.

Mercy mainly concerns a young boy, George (Chandler Riggs), who with his grandmother (Shirley Knight) bedridden starts to wonder about and discover her true nature and family secrets buried in their past.

The difficulty of divorcing one’s fanboy self from an objective film-viewer is epitomized by the fact that this film could have harvested an intriguing internalized tale from the prose, but instead it perhaps over-externalized it. One of the pitfalls it faces is also expanding a short and building out characters because it only does so part of the way. More dimensions are added to characters but it only goes part of the way. Mark Duplass, plays an uncle, he comes to George (Riggs) to disavow him of his notions because he idealizes her. However, this has to be assumed. He’s barely introduced when he makes this leap, and knowing how jaded he is, why not try and talk to Buddy instead (Courtney)?

The aforementioned facets of the film nits; smaller quibbles. There are things that occur that in some ways make you wonder about the production, and in general questionable decisions. The very first scene in the film cuts awkwardly. Riggs and Courtney overall do fine jobs, but in the early scenes they seem a bit ill at ease in their roles, Courtney especially; as they get caught up then the stakes go up. Unfortunately, CG plays a hug role in the latter third and it doesn’t really work that well at all.

I think to convey it best to King fans I can frame it this way: the CG-heavy climactic portions of this film remind me of a 21st Century Langoliers, only this film isn’t anywhere near as compelling as The Langoliers is before being heinously under-served by the effects work.

Up until then the film is passable, and there are things worth watching it for, Shirley Knight is another. In a film whose running time is less than 80 minutes it tries to spread the tale between too many inconsequential supporting characters, and doesn’t move as quick as it should.

When Mercy is available on rental platforms it’s worth it if you’re curious enough, but in this case sadly the whole is far less than the sum of the parts.


My Radar 2014

This is a list I started last year to try and track some necessary viewing. It will serve as an unofficial checklist for my BAM Awards. I will not hold up the awards in anticipation of seeing these films. A deadline is a deadline. It will help me either define Gray Area films or keep an eye out for undistributed titles. Secondly, this will serve as a back-up to my watchlist on GoWatchIt, which is a great site to get notifications about film releases. I anticipate I’ll update this monthly as I do with films watched and older film posts.

The Carry-Over Titles

Some titles did not see, or get adequate distribution last year, and some I have my eye on early; therefore, they make a return appearance.

1. The Dirties

The Dirties (2012, Phase 4)

Heard it was picked up by Phase 4.

2. Faust

Heard of Sokurov’s version last year. Currently at Film Forum in NY.

3. Tragedy of Man

The Tragedy of Man (2011, Mozinet)

I know this hit an New York screen while I was not there. Haven’t heard about it being on video.

The following films are those which are on my GoWatchIt queue as of today (5/15/13):

4. Me and You
5. Reality
6. Good For Nothing
7. Just the Wind
8. Thursday Through Sunday
9. Father’s Chair

The following are selections based on Larry Richman’s top picks of 2012.

Dead Europe (2012, Wild Bunch)

10. Vanishing Waves
11. Una Noche
12. Pavilion
13. Apartment in Athens
14. Blackbird

And a random one I just called which stars a BAM Nominee from last year for Best Original Song, Troye Sivan.

Spud 2: The Madness Continues (2013, Nu Metro Films)

15. Spud 2: The Madness Continues

16. Heli
17. Ilo Ilo
18. The Past
19. Satellite Boy
20. Summerhood
21. The Human Promise

21. The Rocket
22. The Weight of Elephants
23. The Double
24. Staten Island Summer
25. Leap 4 Your Life

26. The Art of the Steal
27. Grand Piano
28. Slow West
29. Beyond the Heavens
30. Bunks

31. Category 8
32. The Fall
33. Child of God

34. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair


Yes, I know the odds are I won’t miss this one. However, not only do I plan for many of these titles to crossover into next year (and beyond) but this is the film I wanted next.

35. The Borgman
36. Joe
37. Concrete Night
39. Rhymes for Young Ghouls
40. WNUF Halloween Special

41. Torment
42. Kid
43. Into the Woods

New Titles

44. Boyhood
45. Cooties
46. Whiplash
47. Maze Runner
48. After Tiller
49. Hors Satan
50. Abuse of Weakness
51. Camile Claudel 1915
52. Stranger by the Lake
53. A Touch of Sin
54. La Jalousie
57. Nobody’s Daughter Haewon
58. The Young Ones
59. Age of Panic

60. Walking with the Enemy
61. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her
62. Lonely Boy
63. Oculus
64. Concrete Night
65. Moebius
66. Nothing Bad Can Happen
67. Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
68. Eastern Boys
69. Plus One
70. 7 Boxes

71. Marina
72. Noah
73. Midnight Sun
74. Skavengers
75. Mercy
76. Sins of Our Youth
77. Dear Eleanor
78. Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn
79. The Between
80. Low Down

81. Maleficent
82. Olive’s Ocean
83. Locke
84. The First
85. Pawn Sacrifice
86. The Great Gilly Hopkins
87. La beauté des loutres
88. Bastards
89. Explosion
90. Watercolor Postcards

91. The Deadlands
92. Genesis
93. Hellions
94. Wish I Was Here
95. London Town
96. V8 – Die Rache des Nitros
97. X Plus Y
98. 2 Autumns, Three Winters
99. La Belle Vie
100. Among the Living

101. 2 Temps, 3 Mouvements
102. Skating to New York
103. Dark Places
104. Grass Stains
105. The Forger
106. The Boxtrolls
107. A Birder’s Guide to Everything
108. The Wilderness of James

Series Tracker

This is a post whose idea I had a while back and never did, but now I came up with a better approach. Essentially, my plan with themes/series’ lately has been, for the most part, to split them up. My series on A.I. was virtually all consecutive. My unwillingness to post my ’80s series every day for practically a month led to that one halting and restarting. So I figured this would be easy access to other posts for you the reader, and a great reminder for me about what’s in-progress and should be touched upon on occasion.

Ongoing Series

Make Your Own Festival

I select slates to demonstrate the ease of self-programming titles.

Pick an Actor: Robinson Stevenin
Macaulay Culkin
Pick a Country 1: Brazil
Brazil 2
Pick a Country: Brazil 3
Pick a Country: Part 4
Pick a Country: Part 5
Pick a Country: Part 6
Pick a Country: Part 7
Bad Movies
Macaulay Culkin

The Arts on Film

I examine instances of other arts on film to examine the source material a bit more closely.

Ivan’s Childhood

Silent Feature Sunday

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Man with a Movie Camera
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
Battleship Potemkin
The Kid (1921)

Hero Whipped

A chronicle of my journey back to the comics medium, usually also relating the characters to their depictions in other media, especially film.

From Film to Comics (Part 1)
From Film to Comics (Part 2)
Comics and the Studio System
A Question of Form
The Double Life of Archie Andrews
Why This Spider-Man Amazed Me
Richie Rich

Tarzan Thursday

A retrospect on Tarzan films through the ages.

Tazan Thursday: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)
Tarzan Thursday: Tarzan of the Apes (1918)
Tarzan Escapes
Tarzan and His Mate
Tarzan Finds a Son!
Tarzan’s Secret Treasure
Tarzan’s New York Adventure
Tarzan Triumphs
Tarzan’s Desert Mystery
Tarzan and the Amazons
Tarzan and the Leopard Woman
Tarzan and the Huntress (1947)
Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)

Cinematic Episodes


Don’t You Recognize Me?

Posts on early roles by know well-known actors that occurred to me by surprise.

Joel Edgerton
Andrew Lincoln
Chris Evans
Sarah Paulson

61 Days of Days of Halloween 2013

Dracula (1931 – Philip Glass Score)
Films to Keep You Awake: A Christmas Tale
Curse of Chucky
Demonic Toys 2
Trilogy of Terror
Films to Keep You Awake: To Let
Pulse (1988)
The Dead Father
The Baby’s Room
The Fog (1980)
V/H/S 2
Insidious: Chapter 2
Die Farbe
A Real Friend
Dead of Night
The Asphyx
The Case of the Bloody Iris
Graveyard Disturbance
Dementia 13
Tremors 2
Child’s Play 3
Bride of Chucky
The Blair Witch Project

2013 BAM Award Considerations

Monthly posts tracking contenders for this year’s BAM Awards, my personal film awards.


Mini-Review Round-Up

Bite-size reviews of titles viewed at home. Many of which need a wider audience.


Late August/September


In December it was replaced by Year-End Dash



Film Thought

Moviegoing Solo
I Think We’re Alone Now
Walking Out of a Movie
Film Word Association
Who Would Play You in a Movie?
What’s Your Favorite Film?
Sorry, No Refunds for Bad Movies
Excuse Me, Did You Like the Movie?
The Foundation of Everything is Drama
A Film For All Occasions
No List is Ever Complete
The Elasticity of Film
Critical Buzzwords in Need of Banishment

In Anticipation Of

The Necroscope

Limited Series, Current

Bela Tarr Retrospective

Short Film Saturday: Prologue from Visions of Europe
Werckmeister Harmonies

Limited Series, Comncluded

Underrated Dramas


Shyamalan Week

BAM Best Picture Profile – The Sixth Sense
Things Worth Discussing
Village Building
The Spiritual Trilogy

Django Unchained

Django Unchained: Mandingo Fighting and Phrenology
Django Unchained: Apparent Defeat and Tarantino’s Cameo
Django Unchained: The Politics of Language
Django Unchained: Introduction and the Spaghetti Western Treatment
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained: How Good it is to Kill Fascists, Racists and Slave Owners!

Poverty Row April

Posts and reviews about shoestring Hollywood productions, mainly in the 1930s.

Short Film Saturday: The Phantom Empire, Chapters 1-3
Book Review: Poverty Row Studios, 1929-1940
Poverty Row April: Viewing Log and Introduction
Short Film Saturday: The Phantom Empire, Chapters 1-3
Short Film Saturday: The Phantom Empire, Chapters 4-6
Short Film Saturday: The Phantom Empire, Chapters 7-9
Poverty Row April: Wrap-Up

Once Upon a Time in the 80s

A wide-ranging paper on what made the 80s unique in entertainment, mainly film.

Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Conclusion
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Kidco
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Amazing Grace and Chuck
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: The Breakfast Club
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Parenthood
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: The Neverending Story
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Television
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Genremeld
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Music Videos
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Directors
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: The Directors
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Animation
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: The International Scene
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Box Office Boom
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Sequels
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Special Effects
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Sociopolitical Overview
Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Introduction

March to Disney

A focus on films by Walt Disney Studios.

March to Disney: Disney Animated Feature Ranking
March to Disney: Titles That Should Come Out of the Vault
March to Disney: Disney at the BAM Awards
March to Disney: Terabithia, Timothy Green and Other Inauspicious Ends
March to Disney: Secretariat and the Sports Films of Disney
March to Disney: Zokkomon and Disney World Cinema
March to Disney: What Bolt and Dumbo Share
The Gnome-Mobile
Trips to Treasure Island
Der Fuehrer’s Face
The Rescuers in More Ways Than One
Three Little Pigs
Short Film Saturday: The Little Matchgirl
Short Film Saturday: Aquamania (1961)
Short Film Saturday: Runaway Brain

Blogathon Entries

Funny Lady Blogathon: Louise Fazenda
Children in Film Blogathon 2: The Juvenile Award
Children in Film Blogathon 1: Jackie Searl
Actors in Comic Book Films
Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon: Doctor X (1932) and The Return of Doctor X (1939)

My Radar

This is a post that I’m creating for a few purposes. First, it will serve as an unofficial checklist for my BAM Awards. I will not hold up the awards in anticipation of seeing these films. A deadline is a deadline. It will help me either define Gray Area films or keep an eye out for undistributed titles. Secondly, this will serve as a back-up to my watchlist on GoWatchIt, which is a great site to get notifications about film releases. I anticipate I’ll update this bi-weekly as I do with films watched and older film posts.

1. The Fifth Season

Played SxSW 2013. Belgian film about a endless winter. Made known to me by Scott E. Weinberg.

2. To the Wonder

New Malick. Ebert’s last review. SOON TO BE VIEWED

3. White Elephant

From Strand Releasing. Look for it on Netflix.

4. Sister
Foreign language film nominee. Missed Theatre N date. Seek out on video.

5. Amour

Amour (2012, Sony Pictures Classics)

Only nearby engagements in 2013. Have missed them. For more about qualifying for the BAM Awards read this.

6. 56 Up

Knew it was hitting both Philly and local theaters and didn’t get out to it.

7. Our Children

Heard of it during Oscar-season last year, appears to be hitting screens, at least in the UK.

8. Mud

Heard of it last year at Cannes. Has been at Philadelphia Landmark theater(s) for two weekends and I haven’t been yet.

9. In the House

Heard of Ozon’s latest in late ’12. Have followed some reactions and release dates. Have had three weekends to see it. Haven’t yet.

10. The Dirties

The Dirties (2012, Phase 4)

Heard it was picked up by Phase 4 this week in THR.

11. Cody the Robosapien

There’s a one sheet. Not much in the way of release date information as of yet.

12. Dark Frontier

Saw the trailer for this film before watching Deep Dark Canyon.

13. Jacob

Was to be my second Redbox freebie recently had my other code not expired.

14. Faust

Heard of Sokurov’s version last year. Currently at Film Forum in NY.

15. Tragedy of Man

The Tragedy of Man (2011, Mozinet)

I know this hit an New York screen while I was not there. Haven’t heard about it being on video.

The following films are those which are on my GoWatchIt queue as of today (5/15/13):


17. Jack and Diane
18. Dracula 3D
19. In Their Skin
20. Beyond the Hills
21. Antiviral (SOON TO BE VIEWED)
22. Me and You
23. Post Tenebras Lux
24. Reality
25. Good For Nothing
26. Just the Wind
27. Thursday Through Sunday
28. Father’s Chair
29. I Killed My Mother SOON TO BE VIEWED

The following are selections based on Larry Richman’s top picks of 2012.

Dead Europe (2012, Wild Bunch)

30. Stuck in Love
31. Vanishing Waves
32. Una Noche
33. Pavilion
36. Apartment in Athens
37. Tio Papi
38. The Playroom SOON TO BE VIEWED
39. I Declare War
40. Funeral Kings
41. Electrick Children SOON TO BE VIEWED
42. Blackbird

And a random one I just called which stars a BAM Nominee from last year for Best Original Song, Troye Sivan.

Spud 2: The Madness Continues (2013, Nu Metro Films)

43. Spud 2: The Madness Continues

The following title was made known to me by frequent reader/commenter Connie:

La Jaula de Oro (2013, Machete Producciones)

44. La Jaula de Oro

The following titles are ones I hear much buzz about recently in general or out of Cannes:

The Kings of Summer (2013, CBS Films)

45. Frances Ha
46. Stories We Tell
47. Blue is the Warmest Color
48. Inside Llewyn Davies
49. Heli
50. Nebraska
51. Ilo Ilo
52. The Past
53. The Kings of Summer
54. The Place Beyond the Pines
55. What Maisie Knew
56. Ginger and Rosa

57. Satellite Boy
58. Blackfish
59. The To Do List
60. Fruitvale Station
61. Only God Forgives
62. Chennai Express
63. Blue Jasmine
64. Standing Up
65. Summerhood
66. Horrid Henry: The Movie
67. The Human Promise
68. Hannah Arendt
69. Child’s Pose SOON TO BE WATCHED
70. The Rocket
71. Blancanieves SOON TO BE WATCHED
72. The Weight of Elephants
73. The Wicker Man (1973) Extended Cut
74. V8
75. The Double
76. Staten Island Summer

77. Leap 4 Your Life
78. Headlong (Corps Perdu)
79. The Art of the Steal
79. Grand Piano
80. Slow West
81. Beyond the Heavens
82. Bunks
83. As I Lay Dying
84. The Lost Medallion SOON TO BE WATCHED
85. Category 8
86. The Fall
87. Side Effects SOON TO BE WATCHED
88. Child of God
89. The Short Game SOON TO BE WATCHED
90. The Contest

91. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair


Yes, I know the odds are I won’t miss this one. However, not only do I plan for many of these titles to crossover into next year (and beyond) but this is the film I wanted next.

92. The Borgman
93. Joe
94. Concrete Night
95. Rhymes for Young Ghouls
96. WNUF Halloween Special
97. Chennai Express
98. Torment
99. Kid
100. Into the Woods
101. 13/13/13
102. Crystal Fairy
103. Prince Avalanche

See also: John Waters’ Best of 2013 list.
and Cahiers du Cinema for more options.

Two for Tuesday #1

OK, first of all I realize it’s Wednesday. I may find a way to write and post in anticipation of the day but in order to truly get started I want to watch films on the day of and identify my theme properly and then post. Yesterday it was just too late by the time I would’ve gotten around to it.

Anyway, the idea for Two for Tuesday is just to watch two films, no matter how different they may be. Yesterday’s choices were disparate indeed: they were Mrs. Miniver and the aforementioned feature film cut of Blake of Scotland Yard.

Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver (MGM)

This is another film I watched for 31 Days of Oscar. What was frustrating to learn was that this was during a Greer Garson block on TCM wherein her five consecutive best Actress nominations were shown. This is a feat that was only matched once, by Bette Davis. It makes sense to feature Garson, however, because I, like most, am underexposed to her. With Robert Osborne doing the introduction there was much to be learned. First being that the role of Mrs. Miniver was originally offered to Norma Shearer. Shearer didn’t want to play the mother of a fully grown son, as there’s a stigma of being an aged actress attached and thus it was offered to Greer Garson who at the time didn’t want to do it either but didn’t have the clout to turn it down. The age concern was such that Garson according to the studio was 34 but in actuality was 37 at the time. Thankfully she did it and it worked out wonderfully.

This film swept away quite a few Oscars and it’s not a wonder. Suffice it to say I just thought myself brash in guessing it was nominated for 10 Oscars, I underestimated it. It was up for 12 and won six. This film also bears a stamp this time is that of William Wyler. Wyler, who despite winning three Oscars and the Irving G. Thalberg Award doesn’t seem to get as much recognition as a man who has a similar name to him, Billy Wilder. Wyler’s film’s are always well-shot and moreover beautifully framed. This film also has a quiet realistic tension to when Mrs. Miniver (Garson) is held captive in her own house by a wounded German soldier there is no scoring it’s all quite realistically handled. Then there is shockingly good sound design that also makes you flinch as you see the quiet, simple village life disturbed by air raids.

It’s also not a wonder that there was pressure on MGM to get this film released to show the American public what life in Europe was like during the war. It’s also no surprise that this film was added to the National Film Registry in 2009.

There was also the wonderfully woven in subplot of the flower show. This not only demonstrated class differences and stasis in society but as things developed came to symbolize the solidarity of a nation. As Mr. Ballard says “There’ll always be roses.” A beautifully deft and understated way of saying the world will go on and life will persist despite what may try to ravage it. I could go on elaborating the naturalistic-humanistic symbolism of the film ad nauseum but you get the idea.

However, the poetics of the film do not halt there. During one of the first air raids the Mr. (Walter Pidgeon) stay awake as their young children do manage to fall asleep and they discuss their love for, and recite the ending of, Alice in Wonderland. The words made far more haunting and beautiful due to the backdrop and wonderful example of artistic re-appropriation of material.

Christopher Severn, Walter Pidgeon and Calre Sandars in Mrs. Miniver (MGM)

There were also some notable long take and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Wyler allowed the camera to roll a bit to see what his actors did. One example of this, and the genesis of this idea for me, is when Mr. Miniver and his young son Toby (Christopher Severn) and young daughter (Clare Sandars) are looking into one of the rooms of their house after an air raid taking in the damage. they look for quite a bit of time such that it feels like the scene should end but then Toby kicks a piece of rubble over the step and laughs, forcing a smile from his father. Whether improvised or whether this long pause was dictated kudos are still in store for Wyler.

Mrs. Miniver (MGM)

The very ending is also remarkable without giving too much away. There is a great reveal of the roof of the church most of which is missing. Through the hole in the roof can be seen bombers off to another battle as the congregation sings “Onward Christian Soldiers.” You can protest as much as you like about the propagandist nature of this ending or of mixing religion and war but without even involving politics it’s a great piece of cinema that ending.

In the interest of not spoiling too much I avoided the plotline of Vin (Richard Ney) and Carol (Teresa Wright, who also won an Oscar for her role) it is a major component of the story as it is a love affair that springs from a subplot and becomes quite an important and poignant part of the film. One interesting note was that the part was originally offered to Montgomery Clift who turned it down because it came with the stipulation that he sign with MGM for seven years. Clift, and the industry apparently, felt his time would come and he stayed on Broadway in the meantime.

This movie slowly and steadily rolls itself along picking up meaning and creating a tense environment in the characters. There is no real resolution within the narrative, as they are still in the midst of war but life goes on and “There will always be roses.”

Blake of Scotland Yard (1937; theatrical cut)

One thing that could’ve been added to my manifesto is that I want to try not to be redundant. I realize that I just posted about this here but yesterday I saw this version mostly for lack of something better to do and time. I will try not to over-elaborate but merely convey how utterly gutted I found this film.

The main thing that’s off when you lop 75% off a story is pace. There are moments that are far too slow or protracted and then some that whiz by in a blur, the film ends up being shorter than it feels because of that. There are far too many characters involved in this tale for it to only run 71 minutes and taking out so much you lose clues, speculation and discovery of facts and are left with basically an inciting incident, a long chase which becomes tiresome and a final reveal that is still a surprise because you had little time to wonder who the scorpion could be and were busy trying to figure out what’s up. I had issues following it and I’ve seen the longer version twice I can’t imagine the uninitiated confusion upon viewing this mess.

The intent of this piece is to honor the original film as it was made. There were some notable players involved in this such as Ralph Byrd who played Dick Tracy in more than one incarnation, Joan Barclay who starred alongside Douglas Fairbanks in The Gaucho and Dickie Jones who later went on to voice Pinocchio. There’s also a lot of good story cut out: There is a big arc with the false beggar that here seems pointless, there is Baron Polinka who is oft suspected and one of his catchphrases that cracked me up (“But I’m Baron Polinka”) is missing from this, even the tertiary involvement of Scotland Yard, which is in the title here seems unnecessary.

The only thing I liked is that it made me nostalgic for the original version. This one also gave you a virtually muted soundtrack as the theme rarely played within scenes but was always played in titles which, of course, you only see once here. Due to the desire there are some weird and bad cuts including a very awkward “If you can’t solve it, dissolve it.”

As a DVD presentation it is also a failure: it looks like there are VHS tracking lines at the bottom as if this was a dub and there’s no resume play option so when I stopped I had to find a spot within the chapter.

Ultimately, this proved it’s a failed concept as you see a long but simply-told tale diluted into a short confused mess. I hope other distributors stick to full-length serials.

Close Demands to be Seen, Not Defined


Categorizing this post as a Film Thought means I’ll be examining Close in some detail. There will be spoilers within. As I’ve mentioned on this blog, I am gay. In this piece I will discuss what I feel is the universality of this film, that is not to detract from the significance a film like this can have on the community but it is intended to talk up the broad impact it can have if people are willing to watch it withou pigeonholing it.   


To discuss Close is to have to discuss how to label it. Labeling films invariably causes issues. In an ideal world it shouldn’t be necessary, but it’s human nature to do so. This film itself deals with the issues of labeling and definitions on a subtextual level. The innate human need to define things that don’t conform is the inflection point of the story. 

Another way Close might be labeled is as a coming-of-age film. Coming of age films— particularly dramas, perhaps more than any other subgenre of film—are easy prey for the proclivities of a given viewer. To put it more simply, because it’s about a coming-of-age and every person has had a unique experience with life’s rites of passage, there exist biases in each viewer about what kind of film it should or should not be. These biases could be implicit or explicit but they exist; and their presence affect the individual’s perception of a film.

The more I think about labels one might apply to this film the more problematic it becomes. Because all labels will serve to do is limit the opinion —or potential opinion—people have of this film because while all labels define, many are also limiting.

To tag this film with an “LGBT interest” label (or something similar) comes close to belittling it because that’s an identifier, which more often than not that limits the audience it denotes to many “this film might be excellent but it’s for you, not for all.” The LGBT tag is limiting because Close addresses themes within aren’t only about sexuality; they’re broader and more fundamental than that. Any and all labels are limiting to this film and all should see it. 

The Narrative

As the title implies, Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav De Waele) are close. When this closeness is on display around their classmates it gets them talking, making jokes, and asking bluntly if they’re together. Everyone labels Léo and Rémi. Léo’s response to direct examination about the nature of their friendship underscores the double-standard that exists regarding how boys can and should relate each other and how girls can and should relate to each other.

These are the assumed gender roles that pervade society incite the questions come from a classmate who doesn’t ask these things to be cruel, but Léo pushing back on these questions, against these labels doesn’t force any of their peers to  reconsider what they say, or change how they act around Léo and Rémi, if anything it reinforces it and forces both Léo and Rémi to re-examine their relationship instead. It puts their new reality in sharp focus. As opposed to their unobserved summertime idyll, they are now under the harsh spotlight of their peers. They can either cling more tightly to one another, damn the consequences, or adapt and hope to survive. Miscommunication, distancing, deceit, and self-doubt that all play into the eventual ends the characters meet are a direct result of the fact that they feel they have to cope with these confusing emotions alone and can’t find someone to talk to about it. 

We learn in retrospect that Rémi didn’t give his mother (Émile Duquenne) any indication he was having troubles. We are witness to Léo’s struggle with how to deal with this new reality. On a few occasions, when Léo does seek a word of advice he asks his brother but he gets responses that encourage him to not think about the problem at hand. His reaching out to male role models inidcates his need, the need many male characters in this story have to talk to each other about certain things, but they find they’re unwilling or unable to do so. Eventually, Léo does reach out to women in his life, his mother and Rémi’s mother, but that’s only with great difficulty and added complications. The women in his life might be more receptive to listen or engage, especially those at school, but he doesn’t want to answer when prompted because many times confession or sharing confidence isn’t just about the act of sharing but whom the information is being shared with.

If you watch the trailer of Close there’s a lot of imagery of the idyll and pull-quotes and not as much of the struggle. However, you know a portrait of beautiful and close-knit friendship without conflict isn’t a movie. The conflict occurs for the most part beneath the surface and manifests itself in two physical confrontations: one that starts as roughhousing and escalates between the two boys (and is expertly staged and breaks apart almost like a dance but it’s very naturalistic), the second is more fraught and occurs at school. 

And after this is where some people lose the film and don’t realize that nothing about the story fundamentally changes. There is a school field trip. Although, Léo and Rémi aren’t on speaking terms after the fight, Léo is surprised that Rémi doesn’t respond when his name is called on the roll. Léo looks around for him. When the trip is over and the bus is pulling into school again the children are told their parents are at the school and will meet with them. As soon as I heard this first bit of information my first thought was “Rémi’s dead.” While I wasn’t wrong, the revelation is still exceedingly powerful and doesn’t detract from the overall effect of the film. In fact, it might only redouble it. For even in those beautiful pure early moments, I wondered if Lukas Dhont was making a visual allusion to Bergman’s hauntingly evocative red walls in Cries and Whispers (pictured below) but picking up on a potential allusion is not needed to anticipate this turn in the story. Anticipation of that plot-point is not a detriment because the fact that the death occurs is not the point of the film, rather what occurs afterwards is.

It can be easy to view any off-screen suicide or not as a twist, or as manipulative, however that opinion to me is one more commonly shared by someone who’s life hasn’t been shaped or affected in any way by suicides or the threat of them. Unfortunately, this is a very real threat that rears its head far too often. (Pre)teen suicide is not the narrative crutch 9/11 can be, nor is it something almost without impact due to overexposure on the news like school shootings seem to be. These tragedies aren’t nameless or faceless. Aside from that this film is not about vilification, shock value or introspection. It’s a tale of imperfect self-discovery that has as its midpoint and all-too-common occurrence. By looking that harsh reality in the face, this film becomes something more than a lyrical narrative with hypnotic visuals and instead becomes a tour-de-force by visually examining everything that’s hard for these boys to say to each other and to the families and what the consequences of those silences are. Specifically, speaking about the pressures and issues at school, not that they need to be “picking labels” or understanding what their truth is yet. In point of fact, the “certainty” Rémi and Léo’s classmates—who don’t think their thoughts and don’t inhabit their bodies—seem to have about confused kids are undoubtedly stressors. 

Léo’s struggles before and after Remi’s death make this a film as much about toxic masculinity as sexuality. Léo takes up hockey during the film not only as a hobby, but to have something to do separate from Rémi, to have a something to do with the guys, a “typically” masculine activity. After he’s tried an failed to express his guilt, or any of his emotions—to his brother, to his mother, to Rémi’s mother—he tries to injure himself during a drill. Later on, when he’s trying to partake in another drill but his emotions get the better of him and he can’t do the drill physically he ends up hurting himself. With that escape gone, he’s left with nought but his thoughts and emotions he cannot go on without sharing them eventuall, but it’s not done easily.

While many will have spent much of the second half of the film crying, the restraint of the narrative remains, though it might not feel that way because the audience’s emotional tenor for us has been ratcheted up, as we can sense what Léo needs to get off his chest but can’t say. In lieu of his speaking his truth we watch him twist in the wind. The emotional volatility Léo carries within can be summed up in one sentence. When he does confess it doesn’t come forth in bombast when confessed. Maybe if Léo felt he could behave otherwise it would’ve been full-throated. Maybe if he didn’t have to sit through group counseling sessions at school where he repeatedly heard the wistful confessionals of classmates who didn’t know Rémi, speaking of his passing as if it was nothing that could’ve predicted, then when he finally spoke it wouldn’t have been in anger before he stormed out but instead have been able to express his true feelings as he would’ve liked. However, therein lies the rub: When Léo and Rémi behaved naturally around each other that led to too much gossip. 


To put a capstone on the topic of labels: they’re tricky because some labels carry connotations that aren’t universal. Those who refer to this as a “buddy movie” up to a point at least acknowledge how the boys classified their relationship. However, the conversation the girls have with Léo underscores the converse problem to intolerance; which is a sort of performative acceptance which first insists on the other party labeling themselves and then the mainstream force makes a show of “accepting” them.

Many reactions to Close from viewers seem to state things like “it’s so close to being perfect.” However, that goes back to personal biases. It’s more apropos to say that many viewers are so close to truly getting it. This film is not a fairytale. The beginning of the film is close, but what it really is is just the end of their childhood where they could behave as they pleased, no one cared, and they didn’t have to justify why they were so close. 

Close is the best way to label Léo and Rémi’s relationship. However, even that is seen as an abnormality in a world where there exceeding examples to be found on social media of normal human behavior some boys and men think of as gay, examples that are superficially funny until you examine the real insecurities and concerns that lead to such statements. What’s most important to note in a work like this is that whether Léo and Rémi shared something beyond a deep fraternity is not something they were allowed to discover on their own. They were asked questions, those who posed questions demanded answers, the answers were deemed insufficient, and their subsequent behavior was more scrutinized than the behavior that led to those questions. Léo and Rémi losing the natural state of their relationships is a sin and it’s one that repeats itself in varying degrees daily the world over. Being a boy (or labeled as one) means certain modes of comportment are expected unless you want to be labeled gay. Working to avoid labels robs us all of so many fundamental, universal aspects of our humanity. It is this exploration that makes Close such a vital and important work of cinema. 

Close is available to purchase on digital now and will be available to rent 3/28/23.