For decades, a notorious film by director Ken Russell provoked debate, controversy, and sometimes disgust in audiences who had the rare privilege to see it. Banned in several countries around the world, and lacking formal distribution in any others, The Devils was one of film connoisseurs’ most heavily sought lost treasures. Warner Brothers began a rocky distribution in the early 2000s, releasing the film in limited printings, with sub-par video quality, on DVD. It appeared on iTunes in 2010, only to be removed again without explanation after only 3 days. Even these few releases removed the more severely controversial moments of the film, and a complete version remains extremely elusive, if not entirely lost.
On the short list of candidates for the proverbial title of “definitive fairy tale”, you might find Snow White, Cinderella, and – of course – Beauty and the Beast. For countless audiences, both young and old, this “tale as old as time” is framed almost exclusively around the images, the events, and the unforgettable songs of the 1991 Disney animated masterpiece. So, needless to say, a live action reimagining has some immense expectations to meet along with its baked-in good will.
The best science fiction operates on two levels: limitations and possibilities. Mostly the limitations are human ones while the possibilities are scientific ones. Coherence is a film that has a strong handle on both. It largely takes place in one room… sort of… and yet, seemingly points to nearly endless differences between reality and understanding.
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.