Like many people in the post-cinema age, I suspect, I first encountered them in the closing sequence of Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof: Leader Ladies – or Shirley Cards, or in the off-puttingly Orientalist language by which they’re more traditionally known, China Girls.
In a world of near-constant commercial imperatives, the library’s very existence is something of a miracle. It’s easy to forget just how rare it is to simply exist in a space where you aren’t expected to purchase something until you’re standing in one.
It wasn’t just the grating banter from otherwise likable film presences, or the lazy ugliness of its images, or their coddling familiarity.
Bluray was meant for the grand, beautiful classics of the film world: your Lawrences of Arabia, your Two Thousands One. But it has also done a service to a different, much less distinguished kind of film. It has recovered the shocking ugliness of films like Two-Minute Warning.
There’s a near-consensus among critics that 2018 was an unusually strong year for film, and I can’t disagree. My list for the year is heavily tilted to the 4-star and above, even with some glaring gaps in the mix – I missed BlacKKKlansman, for instance; I’m waiting to see Roma screened at the Castro in 70 mm, like the cinephile tool I am; I didn’t see the new Claire Denis, or the new Andrew Bujalski, or the new Hang Sang-soo, or the new Frederick Wiseman.
One of the many wonderful things about my friendship with Rick Kelley is that, despite being two contrarian film nerds, and despite one of us being a queer woman living in rural Indiana and the other one being a straight guy living in Berkeley, we actually end up with pretty similar opinions on a lot of things.
Halloween is a week out now! Scared yet?
No? Perhaps it’s something like the genre exhaustion we’ve been feeling, or the gnawing sense that the horrors of the screen are ill-equipped to keep pace with the horrors of the world. (Am I alone in finding First Reformed to be the best horror movie of 2018?) Or maybe scary movies were never that scary in the first place?
The works of horror fiction luminary Shirley Jackson might always play best in the chilly, overcast weeks leading up to Halloween, when gathering around a fire to elegantly process trauma seems to make more intuitive sense than in, say, June. That’s clearly the bet Netflix made in timing the release of its 10-part adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, only the latest treatment of her classic.
The month’s half-over, but there’s plenty of time left for October horror. (Or so I reassure myself, as I watch my horror friends’ lists spiral into the dozens, as they report back from 24-hour scare-a-thons, and generally act like a bunch of goddamn lunatics with weird time-management skills and no regular jobs!