William Peter Blatty, the legendary author of The Exorcist, directed exactly two films. The most popular of those is The Exorcist III, but before that, he helmed the bizarre, reflective, often hysterical and often alarming oddity called “The Ninth Configuration”. Starring Stacy Keach and Scott Wilson, the story tells of an insane asylum which has just received a new director named Kane. What begins as an apparent adjustment period as director and patients get to know one another eventually shifts into unusually heavy and thought-provoking territory.
They’re here. The biggest, most important movie awards ceremony on the planet that is named after a person whose name is a palindrome. There are no trophies, no red carpet, but there are Red Robin gift certificates that will arrive in the mail boxes of the winners sometime in the next four to six weeks.* My apologies to everyone from Mad Max: Fury Road last year for the non-existence of Red Robin in Australia. Please contact your local…whatever you call senators there; I can’t be bothered to look it up. I didn’t want them to go to waste so I just sent extra ones to a few of the Carol people. This is w- Wait. Where was I going with this? Oh, yes. The Bob Awards. The winners. They’re here. So read them. If ya wanna.
I must confess that the style of the genre known as “mumblecore” is still something to which I’m adjusting. The sparse settings, the mostly improvised dialogue, and the naturalistic performances seem to be striving towards a deliberate reality, and as a result have their virtues and their detriments.
In turbulent and uncertain times, heightened anxieties and tensions are often described by four metaphorical words: “Things are heating up.” Blind Sun, a recent French film from director Joyce Nashawati takes those words to heart and crafts a story around them that is challenging, reflective, and, at times, quite troubling.
In 2001, a relatively unknown 40-year old British comedian named Ricky Gervais burst onto the BBC. As David Brent, the hopelessly oblivious boss on The Office, the character describes himself as “a friend first, a boss second…probably an entertainer third.” Brent’s excruciating mugging, tone-deaf jokes, and attempts to be everybody’s friend, pained his employees and made the audience laugh and cringe in equal measure. Both in the lead role and as the co-writer and co-director of all 14 episodes (it was designed to be that short), Gervais managed to always walk a tightrope without falling off of it. Brent was almost a cartoon character but he remained just believable enough, as did the show, that viewers running across it unaware The Office was a mockumentary could have been forgiven for believing it was real.
The anthology format has long been a specialty not quite unique to the horror genre, but certainly utilized by it more than any other genre. What usually sets apart the best entries are a unique wraparound narrative and inventive individual sub-stories. V/H/S manages to accomplish both, although it still remains something of a mixed bag.