For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween and a list of previous films covered go here.
Dementia 13 (1963)
This post is an exciting one for me in a few respects. First, I’ve known of this film for a very long time and I’ve always been a bit hesitant to watch it. The reasons that is likely have to do with the fact that the synopsis doesn’t sell it very well, and the early work aspect scared and intrigued me in equal respects. The second reason is that seeing something and then shortly thereafter writing these posts was the initial foundation of the 61 Days of Halloween idea. I wanted to see 61 new horror films in the season. Maybe I still will but I haven’t even met the bogey yet, so I will be featuring some titles I know already to try and do that.
Dementia 13 was probably more destined than ever to be seen since I not only recently saw Twixt, but Coppola stands as one of my most viewed filmmakers of the year as can be seen both in what I’ve watched and liked.
In very traditional AIP fashion the title is virtually meaningless. However, while Corman’s AIP productions are a very mixed bag this does end up being on the favorable end. It doesn’t all click along perfectly, and there’s a very murky section you have to trudge through, but if you’re patient (which should be easy with a running time of 76 minutes) the payoff is pretty good.
It can sound odd to say you’re a fan of knock-offs of a particular film, as well as the film itself, but I’ve come to find that many films that are riffing on, borrowing from, or borderline plagiarizing Psycho have mostly worked for me as well. This one does play some of its tropes and weaves them in quite a different pattern.
If you’re into programming double-features this would actually pair well with Coppola’s most recent foray into the genre. As there he weaves a far more elaborate tale but they both definitely feel born of the same mind, this one more youthfully creating an homage and the latter showing a vibrant maturity.
Originally I didn’t want to list considerations for either Entertainer of the Year Award or Neutron Star Award and the same goes for the Lifetime Achievement Award. The reasoning behind this was that these awards being for a body of work should’ve had their winners be rather apparent. However, owing to previous memory lapses, I reconsidered this philosophy.
Therefore, any and all eligible, worthy candidates for either award will be kept on this list. It will be one of the running lists that I update on a biweekly basis.
In essence, this will give those who stand out in these categories their due. For example, last year I felt remiss in not mentioning Matthew McConaughey in my explication for the Entertainer of the Year Award for 2013. In my reasoning behind Samuel L. Jackson’s win I had to talk about his year and how great it was and why Jackson’s superseded it. With this list, at year’s end I will be able to discuss each of the prospective candidates works.
Please note that unlike the Entertainer of the Year Award there are few if any set-in-stone pre-requisites. Having said that notable filmmakers or actors with works due out this year that I have not yet seen are eligible here.
Without further ado, the candidates…
Michael Apted (Need to see the latest installment of the Up series.)
Alain Resnais (His latest is a must-see that should be added to My Radar.)
Max Von Sydow
Francis Ford Coppola*
*Would need retrospectives
This is a new edition of this post, it’s a follow-up to one wherein I chronicled the films I could recall having viewed on my birthday. Some have been good to great, some have been awful. I usually try to make the selection something befitting a mood I wouldn’t mind being in on that day (hence I saved Amour for today) and something I think I would remember. I think both the titles from yesterday. For a guide to what these ratings mean, please go here.
This is a film that I wanted to see first because it’s Coppola returning to horror, but then also because of some of the people involved. I cannot argue by any means that it’s perfect. However, if there’s one thing that gets under my skin is when people argue “It’s just a horror movie” implying: there’s a ceiling to how good it can be, or it’s OK if it’s stupid, or worse, it’s allowed to be unambitious. I don’t think this film falls into any of those tappings. It’s hard to say if going beyond a standard horror film’s running time would’ve benefitted or hurt it, but I think it may have hurt. I recall that why I liked My Soul to Take so much was underscored by what was left on the cutting room floor. The exposition that was deleted spoon-fed things I and my friends pieced together after it was over, and that made it more powerful. There are deeper mysteries and enigmas here and multiple plots all horrific and well-wrought, though they don’t always seem so. After seeing him in a few that were not-so-great, it’s good to see Val Kilmer in a fascinating horror film.
The allusion I made above to occasional greatness definitely applies here. For a filmmaker such as Woody Allen who on many occasions has been accused of using his films as therapy and being un-cinematic this film is a rebuttal. For myself, as a long-time devotee, it’s wondrous not only to see him work a story that again employs a wonderful editorial language that is quickly-learned and never off; but also such a non-judgmental character study. It’s a film of revelation rather than reparation. It has its humor, too, but is perhaps the most searing, honest drama he’s committed to the screen since Husbands and Wives. The casting, as well as the cast, is flawless; but it’s really Cate Blanchett who makes this film work. She’s as powerful, if not more so, in her character’s detached, pained moments as she is in the “big” ones, which is what makes her turn so immaculate. It’s a performance that towers not only due to the sparsity of great roles afforded women in the American cinema lately, but because of how titanic an effort it is on its own.
Engaging and enthralling from the first frame this film of a life shattered, whether by design or not, may be his most Bergmanesque, and is truly one of the year’s best.