240 posts categorized "Criterion Collection"

October 31, 2023

HOUSE — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comNobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 surrealistic satire regarding the overwhelming aftermath of America’s atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a virtuosic fantasy horror movie unlike any other.

Of the atomic bombs’ 200,000 causalities, all of Nobuhiko Obayashi’s childhood friends were among the deceased.

Nobuhiko Obayashi was just eight years old at the time of the attacks. Clearly, he never lost sight of his pals, or his loss. Here, Obayashi throws a cinematic extravaganza party to celebrate the lost potential of a generation.

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Extreme teenage Japanese punk power pop! You bet.

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We’re way beyond “Rocky Horror” baby.

“House” takes the cake, the dining room table, the piano, and most certainly the title’s house of horrors that devours seven teenage girls via a very hungry piano.

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Chomp, chomp, chomp.

“House” shows Obayashi’s encyclopedic mastery of state-of-the-art filmmaking, from a deeply personal approach to meeting the sugary commercial demands of the film’s producers.

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This insanely ambitious movie puts George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to shame with pure inventiveness.

Obayashi received story ideas from his eleven-year-old daughter, Chigumi. A blood-spewing white cat piles on the film’s cartoonish tone of outrageous evil consuming every body that steps in its path.

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Nobuhiko Obayashi uses every filmic technique at his disposal, in order to transmogrify the grief, pain, and sense of incalculable loss that he and so many others experienced. What results is a cinematic phantasmagoria overflowing with humor, expressions of love, and deep-seeded fear of the unknown.

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Visually and viscerally stunning from start to finish, “House” is much more than a mere masterpiece.

Not Rated. 88 mins.

5 Stars THE BLOOD OF DRACULA THE BLOOD OF DRACULA ColeSmithey.com
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
Cozy Cole

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October 30, 2023

BLUE VELVET — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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THE BLOOD OF DRACULA

ColeSmithey.comIn 1986 David Lynch broke the language of cinema wide open in the same way that Jackson Pollock did with the art world in the early '40s.

Using a minimalist filmic palate for a neo-noir set in small town America, Lynch blends surrealist elements into a suspenseful story of adult sexual awakening (vis a vis BDSM) juxtaposed against violence, mystery, and mental illness.

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Using iconographic character names drawn from '50s Americana iconography (see Frank, Sandy and Ben), and a moody musical score to match, Lynch presents returning hometown boy Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan).

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After his father suffers a heart attack while watering the family lawn, Jeffrey unearths a severed ear in a field that he crossed thousands of times in his youth. Unspeakable acts are being carried even in America's most seemingly provincial towns. Every city has its "bad side of town."

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Our curious protagonist finds a willing ally for his impromptu private investigation into the mystery of the ear's owner in the local police detective's romantically inclined daughter Sandy (Laura Dern). On the surface, Sandy seems like natural girlfriend material for Jeffrey, but this guy has a taste for the exotic (if incestuous) that vanilla Sandy can't fulfill. 

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However, Jeffrey is unprepared for the psychological and emotional upheaval that will devour him when he stalks the fetishized life of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a sultry nightclub singer used to playing rough with a very debauched criminal named Frank (Dennis Hopper). The bi-polar Dorothy has a nasty little taste for kink.

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"Blue Velvet" is David Lynch's greatest cinematic achievement next to "Eraserhead." His balance of symbols, and artful use of montage, is at its most poetic and powerful. His metaphoric allusions about the dysfunctional nature of the ideal "American Dream" family incite hellish visions of the abusive father (as embodied in Hopper's character) and the traumatized wife/mother who needs saving from her idealized son.

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Every role is perfectly cast. Dennis Hopper's portrayal of a whacked-out crime boss is terrifying. Lynch's haunting small-town mystery carries an indescribable undertow that kicks like a spastic mule in heat. 

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"Blue Velvet" is the closest that any filmmaker other than Buñuel has ever come to such a daring cinematic feat.You can bet that Quentin Tarantino took notes from "Blue Velvet" in creating "Reservoir Dogs." Here is a film that alters everyone who sees it.

Rated R. 120 mins.

5 StarsModern Cole SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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ColeSmithey.comEd Gein's legacy of a body-flaying serial killer, which also provided Hitchcock’s “Psycho” with its inspiration, gave novelist Thomas Harris the unsavory elements he used to build “The Silence of the Lambs.”

The fact that director Jonathan Demme turned Ted Tally’s screenplay adaptation into a masterpiece of film horror reflects an array of ingenious choices: fully developed characters, exquisitely fulfilled by the actors in each of their roles. The unusual storyline boasts two sets of opposing protagonists and antagonists.

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Jodie Foster’s character, FBI trainee Clarice Starling, makes for a highly empathetic central character. Headstrong yet engaged in a constant battle of insecurity, Clarice isn’t about to squander the opportunity to track down a serial killer known as “Buffalo Bill” when Agent Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, assigns her to interview convicted serial murderer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, in an iconic role).

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“Hannibal the Cannibal” is the ultimate anti-hero. A hyper-intelligent former psychiatrist and highly skilled painter, Dr. Lecter has been laying in wait for a visit from someone like Clarice, whom he can mentally dissect and manipulate. Lecter knows his chance to kill will come again. The audience knows it too. However, unlike our disgust at Buffalo Bill’s crimes, which targets overweight women whom he murders for their skin, we secretly want to see the charmingly malevolent Dr. Lecter in action. Hannibal’s alternately cheerful or crass demeanor has a knowing wink about it that Anthony Hopkins milks for every drop of diabolical ingenuity available.

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The bizarre mentor/apprentice relationship that develops between Clarice and her criminally insane subject makes for a compelling mix of visceral —almost sexual — tension and dark humor. For all of her naiveté, Clarice is perfectly capable of matching wits with the demented doctor, even though it takes her some practice to get it right.

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Anthony Heald’s Dr. Frederick Chilton is a petty bureaucrat whose ambitious political goals put him at odds with Clarice. His character presents a different type of villain. Even Clarice’s trusted FBI mentor Jack Crawford fails to come through when Clarice most desperately needs assistance. She is always on her own.

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“The Silence of the Lambs” is indisputably dynamic in every technical detail. Jonathan Demme uses high camera angles to create chilling visual compositions. The film constantly seems to change direction. A tense subjective sequence seen through Buffalo Bill’s night-vision goggles ramps up the suspense with an organic filmmaking technique that puts the audience temporarily inside the mind of the killer. For a few brief moments we, know the fear of the would-be victim and her lurking attacker.

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The effect is petrifying.

Winner of five Academy Awards, “The Silence of the Lambs” is the only horror film to ever sweep the Oscars.

Rated R. 118 mins.

5 StarsColeSmithey.com THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
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