234 posts categorized "Literary Adaptation"

October 30, 2023

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE — 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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ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comTHE BLOOD OF DRACULA

THE BLOOD OF DRACULA

NosferatuWerner Herzog's inspired homage to F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent film is an appropriately chilling telling of the Gothic tale derived from Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Klaus Kinski delivers a delightfully unhinged performance as the bloodthirsty vampire Count Dracula who takes advantage of a real estate broker (Bruno Ganz).

Naturally, the vampire has to travel in his coffin on a ship infested with plague-carrying rats.

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Herzog plays with surrealistic compositions that are truly terrifying.

Plague carrying rats are a thematic symbol in this twisted tale of horror.

Nosferatu1979

Isabelle Adjani brings her immutable beauty to bear as the broker's fearful wife, fated to suffer Dracula’s blood-hungry bite.

Screen Shot 2023-07-29 at 5.23.13 PM

"Nosferatu" is filled with delightfully scary touches and recreated camera angles from Murnau's original that add a historic context to this masterpiece of horror from one of the New German Cinema's most prolific and enduring members.

Rated PG. 107 mins.

5 Stars COLE MONSTERCozy Cole

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October 28, 2023

THE NINTH GATE — 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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ColeSmithey.comThe Ninth Gate is a well-crafted and entertaining horror film. While director Roman Polanski chooses to lilt over the horrific trajectory that tugs mercenary book dealer Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) toward the gates of Hell, rather than embrace his protagonist's terror as he did with such shockers as Rosemary's Baby (1968) or The Tenant (1976), Polanski stakes out his own ground rules and adheres to them flawlessly.

The sense of suspense is formal as it is purposeful. 

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From the film’s textbook opening scene in which Polanski's subjective camera discerningly divulges aspects of a millionaire's library in which imminent death approaches, to the thorough European pacing over which the devilish story unfolds, The Ninth Gate takes the audience on a joyfully evil descent into perplexing other-worldly shadows.

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Based on Arturo Perez-Reverte's best-selling novel El Club Dumas, this is a modern gothic horror story woven from the proposed power of satanic literature to conjure up the Devil himself. Dean Corso is an unscrupulous book broker hired by Satan scholar Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to travel from New York to Toledo, Portugal, and Paris to compare Balkin's recently acquired 1666 edition of a rare, hand-bound manual of satanic invocation, supposedly written by Satan himself, against the only two other copies in existence to verify the tome's authenticity.

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Balkan tells the amoral Corso: "There's nothing more reliable than a man who can be bought." Corso's cynical character trait of temptation is written in the sanguine fluid of money from the film's beginning. Corso wears death on his sleeve like a war zone journalist hot for action. Johnny Depp uses a vocal texture that rumbles from the screen in a dark pitch that catches you off guard. His economic but heavy timbre establishes a hollowness in his character, dying to be filled with some unknown organic passion. At times, Depp seems to recede into the film's creaking metal and dry tinder-in-a-box settings. He suggests a precise mortal puppet being manipulated by collaborating evil forces to trace steps he cannot help but follow.

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Polanski and his two collaborating screenwriters, John Brownjohn ("Tess") and Enrique Urbizu, orchestrate their Faustian script in a cinematic shorthand that magnifies tiny details like subtle differences in the nine diabolical engravings which comprise the murderous puzzle that Corso attempts to unravel amidst the three volumes. Polanski drops in sudden repulsive images that give terse nods to such horror films as Hitchcock's Frenzy, and Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now. He allows scenes to play without the ersatz aid of musical accompaniment, resulting in a delightfully intimate game of call and response for the audience to conceive while the action unfolds. There are so many highly polished cinematic elements to enjoy in every frame of the movie that repeated viewing beckons.

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Pauline Kael said that "great movies are rarely perfect movies," and this truism certainly applies to The Ninth Gate. Actress Emmanuelle Seigner's (Frantic) sub-plot as Dean Corso's mysterious, dark guardian angel slips through the film as a sexy and enigmatic mascot that Corso accepts too easily. There are plenty of silly bumps and loopy twists that don't sufficiently fulfill a dynamic dramatic arc for the film's slightly long running time, but no jolting scares. Still, there is plenty to enjoy in director of photography, Darius Khondji's ("Seven") hand-in-glove association with the masterful vision of a director who believes that content is more important than form.

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In the end, Dean Corso could readily be an alter-ego fugitive that Polanski recognizes in the mirror of the camera lens. It's an image you can almost imagine.

Rated R. 133 mins. Three Stars SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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FIGHT CLUB — 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.comColeSmithey.comLA GRANDE BOUFFE (THE BIG FEAST)Screen Shot 2023-06-26 at 2.46.36 PMFor episode #64 Cole pulled out the big guns with FLYING DOG BREWERY'S DOUBLE DOG IPA to go along with our discussion of David Fincher's mind-blowing adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's classic if prescient novel of post-modern satire. Pull a chair up to the banquet table and join us for one hell of a feast for one hell of a movie! 

Bon appétit Bouffers!ColeSmithey.com

Fincher Does Palahniuk
Blood, Sweat, and Emotional Bankruptcy Follow    
By Cole Smithey

Colesmithey.comMisogynist, anti-capitalist, and class-conscious, novelist Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” takes a "Trainspotting" brand of glee in dismissing lifestyle mores and status quo materialist limitations of American social existence.

This black comedy plays like a boys-only video game where male audience members encouraged to kick over the machine that ate their quarters. For all of the controversy surrounding the movie for fear that young males will begin setting up fight clubs of their own all around the world, the theory is countered directly in the movie as Ed Norton’s nameless character comes to view his dimwitted, class-conscious Fight Club cohorts as complete morons. — These are people who, in Lou Reed's words, follow the first thing that comes along that allows them the right to be; you know it's called bad luck.

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Indeed the Fight Club cult that Norton sets up under the tutelage of his brutal disenfranchised alter ego/evil-twin, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), digresses into a flesh-chewing tombstone that gets dumped on the floor like so much bloody brain matter.

Fight Club' Review: Movie (1999) – The Hollywood Reporter

From David Fincher's hyper sci-fi juiced credit sequence — underscored by searing punk music — to its "Blade Runner"/"Mean Streets" ending, the visionary filmmaker pulls out every stop in his arsenal of cinematic tricks to deliver walloping visual blows. Fincher’s visual approach is aggressive, and packed to the surface with such a high sperm count that you can almost see the microscopic swimmers bursting to get free. There’s never a gesture, vocal quality, intention, or motivation from any character (with the exception of Meat Loaf's hormone challenged character Bob) that isn’t full-bore masculine.

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If that means that more than a few tons of fury are coming along for the ride, so be it.

In Palahniuk’s cold satire, if you’re a consumer then you’re a pussy. The post-modern author presses you to see through the culture of housewife-behavior where free time is spent imagining and buying things to complete your vacuous identity.

From the Vault: 'Fight Club'

A greater social repercussion from "Fight Club" would be a trend where American males ceased spending money and began hoarding every dime as if they were collecting names on a petition to embargo our snotty soul-crushing corporate run government.

Sleep Procrastination” Is Real, and You Probably Do It | Edward norton  fight club, Fight club, Edward norton

However heavily "Fight Club" relies on extraneous voice-over narration from Norton's unreliable character, the grist of the story lies in his need to follow something. Even as it becomes glaringly clear over the course of the movie that he's pulling his own strings, rather than acting on the suggestions of Pitt’s rock-star-perfect persona, it’s the human inclination to be lead that troubles us.

Fincher's FIGHT CLUB is a Punk Rock Hegel Dialectic – Father Son Holy Gore

Chuck Palahniuk seems to be saying that males have such a strong urge to follow another person’s lead that it’s only through pain that a man can fully realize his own responsibility to himself and to the world around him. It’s a coming-of-age stratagem that fits perfectly within Fincher’s previous films and taps into films like "Taxi Driver," "The Graduate," and "A Clockwork Orange."

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Like the insomniac Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver," Ed Norton gravitates to his true nature by exploring society in a heightened state of sleep-deprived accessibility. That Norton’s job as a car company recall analyst demands that he fly into different time zones in cities where he can buy all the same stuff, magnifies his disassociation to other people. Just when he’s finally is able to quell his insomnia by crying at support groups for people with terminal ailments, he becomes stalked by a woman named Marla (Bonham Carter). Marla shows up at every meeting he goes to, and her very presence mocks his ability to find refuge in fringe social enclaves. Jammed, embarrassed, and exasperated, Norton’s character makes a self-enabling breakthrough.

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By becoming free of all of his worldly possessions, and donning the badges of physical abuse, he attains a sainthood status that he can’t help but abuse by encouraging males around him to join his cult of social terrorists. The performances, direction, and themes are thickly woven in scratchy narrative wool, and David Fincher never lets you forget what the social loom looks like. "Fight Club" is Fincher's cinematic Hail-Mary pass that the audience desperately wants to catch.

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Rated R. 139 mins. 

5 Stars SF SHOCKTOBER!

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

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