Movie Reviews

In the Slender Places

Movie Review: Beware the Slenderman
Directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky
2016

The final shot of Beware the Slenderman is haunting. It shows us a construction site in progress, two roads intersecting, a patch of cleared woods. It’s as banal as images get. But it’s the unseen–as in all great horror–that’s truly terrifying. In this case, it’s the erasure of a bloody deed, the active sanitizing of a terrible blight. Quite literally paving over it. The image taps our deepest well of fear, where all the bad things get tossed, deep and dark. From Edgar Allan Poe to David Lynch to Stephen King, this has been the great theme and subject of horror: walling up or burying the bad. Forcing forgetting.

Creativity, Spaces and Places

On 2016, or: I Have Measured Out My Year With Tax Receipts

I’ve been wanting, since January 1, to write something hopeful about the new year. 2016’s passing was, by and large, welcomed by all. For reasons I’m sure many of you share, I couldn’t muster the strength. But then, just this week, I spied Lady Liberty on a street corner wearing sunshades and sneakers, twirling a sign promising fifty quick bucks — hers a promise of resumption and, weirdly, normalcy — and so I knew it was time. Time to muster, time to try. Time to start thinking about getting on with it all.

Time to start thinking about taxes.

Two years prior, when a little freelance web-design work I forgot to file got me a stiff rate with no losses to claim against it, we had to pay. That was also the year our accountant left H&R Block and someone else took over, and the friendly-neighbor discount we’d been receiving for their services dried up. Last year, I turned to TurboTax and our finances resumed their usual ebbs and flows. I like it best like that: no surprises. This year, however, I am once again a pilgrim in the unholy land of the freelancer status with additional income to report.

Anticipating trouble, I’ve started early, sorting through a pile of receipts related to twelve months of writing expenses, all of which I’ve long been been stuffing in a cracked Winnie-the-Pooh cookie jar in our kitchen (Pooh slurping honey from a broken honey pot, I don’t know, seemed kind of funny). Over the last few days, I’ve sorted and reviewed all of these, unfolded and pressed each one flat, ordered them by month and day and time, and out of this ragged little nest of bother, an unexpected thing emerged.

A truly momentous year.

Movie Reviews

Swamp Water

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Written by Dudley Nichols. From Vereen Bell’s novel.
Directed by Jean Renoir.
1941.

Jean Renoir’s Swamp Water is a troublesome picture. On the one hand, it is, as The New York Times allows, Faulknerian in its scope and, despite its many off-set troubles, an intensely personal movie. On the other hand, it occasionally smacks of a certain attitude toward the backwoods southerner that falls just short of barefoot caricature.

Movie Reviews

The Neon Demon

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Written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
2016.

I sometimes think of Nicolas Winding Refn and Lars Von Trier as two halves of the same coin. Both haunt the twenty-first century landscape of independent cinema. They make movies about esoteric ideas with heroes and heroines who are less than noble.

Movie Reviews

Byzantium

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Written by Moira Buffini.
Directed by Neil Jordan.
2012.

I’ve never copped to being Neil Jordan’s biggest fan. I’ve always disliked The Company of Wolves, despite my love for Angela Carter’s source material. But the truth is Byzantium charms me. Sure, Jordan goes full-Jordan here and there, with waterfalls that gush blood on what I’m pretty sure is the same island where Luke Skywalker’s currently residing in self-imposed exile (wouldn’t that be fun, if Luke had entered the wrong hut and come out a vampire, the big reveal of Episode VIII). 

Auteurs and Authors, Writers I Love

A Font of Horror: Stranger Things

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The type is called Benguiat. It’s the font of my childhood, big and mysterious and curving in a way that suggests the edge of something sharp, something dangerous. Something we, as children, should not be handling. Viking used it, in part, to make Stephen King’s name iconic on their covers, though most would agree (myself included) that King himself did the real carving out, cutting his name into our imaginations like a mad-skilled butcher — but not with Benguiat, no; he did it with the dull, spoon-like edges of an Underwood’s Courier-shaped keys. And in this way, the Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things affects us. It entices us with a font, makes us remember a very specific set of iconography, then draws us into something far deeper, far richer: a collective well of imagination.