FEBRUARY 2014 IN FILM
Back in screener land, so a few of these are redacted. Check back sometime this summer, early autumn and it might very well be updated.
- DOWN BY LAW (Jim Jarmusch, 1986)
- DEAD MAN (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)
- ROBOCOP (José Padilha, 2014)(T)
- GHOST IN THE SHELL 2.0 (Mamoru Oshii, 1995/2008)
- HIMIKO (Masahiro Shinoda, 1974)
- THE FOG (John Carpenter, 1980)
- GHOSTS OF MARS (John Carpenter, 2001)
- EMMANUELLE (Just Jaeckin, 1974)
- REAL (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2013)
- THE WARD (John Carpenter, 2010)
- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (John Carpenter, 1987)
- CHRISTINE (John Carpenter, 1983)
- GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI (Jim Jarmusch, 1999)
- IRMA VEP (Olivier Assayas, 1996)
- IMITATION OF LIFE (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
- THE SOCIAL NETWORK (David Fincher, 2011)
- STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (George Lucas, 1977 [2011 Blu-ray version])
Stray thoughts on John Carpenter.
The horrors in Carpenter’s cinema have a way of being momentarily defeated without ever disappearing, often characterized as true forces of nature, or linked to the natural world in fundamental ways. Michael Myers (then still known as “The Shape”) is perhaps the best example, an elemental mountain-like boogeyman whose exploits span nearly a dozen sequels. So are the spirits from The Fog (1980) and Ghosts of Mars (2001), for more obvious reasons: both manifest via nature and both embody the spirit of the oppressed, risen from the dead as zombie-like monsters (the former) or infecting colonizing forces to repossess land (the latter, which also plays out like 1976’s Assault on Precinct 13 in space). The metaphysical, ectoplasmic-like incarnation of Evil in the very Fulci-esque Prince of Darkness (1987) is also a good example. Like in Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy (1980-81), Evil is characterized as intrinsically linked to the natural world (through insects and weather, notably), and much like the sun, the moon, or the tides, it is always there, waiting to reappear through a door Carpenter inevitably leaves wide open at the end of his films. While the “open ending” can be seen as a generic genre trope (horror films need sequels, don’t they?), its recurrence in Carpenter’s cinema becomes something of an apocalyptic worldview, let alone the fact that the implied sequels have never manifested. Through this, Carpenter becomes one of cinema’s most successful chroniclers of mankind’s cyclical struggle against extinction, both small scale or large… and usually best fought against in groups (although that is another topic entirely, for which I recommend seeing Precinct, The Thing, Prince or Ghosts of Mars rather than Halloween, They Liveor Escape from New York — Carpenter’s lone-hero films). Interestingly [spoiler], The Ward which starts as one such film (I love the idea of Heard standing in as Russell or Piper), creates this “group” within her character’s mind and bridges the two categories quite nicely.
I have yet to see Dark Star (1974), Someone’s Watching Me! (1978), Elvis (1979), Starman (1984), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), Body Bags (1993), In the Mouth of Madness (1995), Village of the Damned (1995), Escape from L.A. (1996), Vampires (1998), “Cigarette Burns” (2005) and “Pro-Life” so take this with a grain of salt.