“The world is a mystery to me,” the awkward, aspiring writer Lee Jong-su tells his new “Gatsby-like” acquaintance Ben, at a moment of a maximum queasiness in Chang-dong Lee‘s Burning. The film is a mystery to us, not just in its genre mechanics but in terms of how we are supposed to engage with it: Burning talks and moves like a mystery, lingering on images in ways we’ve been trained to recognize as meaningful, before trailing away like smoke.
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!
He’s a classic, essential horror movie stereotype. He has hung around for centuries, but he really came into his own once movies about hauntings turned “scientific”: The Haunting or The Stone Tape, for example. He’s the scientist who wants to empirically study demonic/ghostly activity, and he’s one of my favorite character types in the classic era.
At one point in Synecdoche, New York, the Charlie Kaufman-stand-in Caden is giving his actor — a twenty-something man playing the role of Willy Loman — a note in his production of Death of a Salesman. “Try to keep in mind that a young person playing Willy Loman thinks he’s only pretending to be at the end of a life full of despair.
The Wild Boys, Bertrand Mandico’s feverish and gleefully overstuffed debut feature, is many things at once, and not all of those things make immediate sense together. It’s a highly theatrical coming-of-age story set on the high seas, featuring boys played by women becoming men who become women.
With several months still to go, and no shortage of forthcoming releases, there’s already been talk about 2018 as The Year of Documentaries. Heather Lenz’s Kusama: Infinity probably won’t top too many year-end lists of these, but it merits inclusion: a solid, empathetic look at an artist whose body of work deserves the attention it’s finally receiving.