Meshes of the Afternoon, dir. Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid (1943) ★☆☆☆☆
Yes, I know I'm a little bit pretentious when it comes to movies. I scoff at people who refuse to watch black and white or foreign films. I believe that learning the history of the artist is important. And, most controversially, I believe you can't separate the art from the artist.
With that being said I don't like every arthouse film. I know the cultural significance of Meshes of the Afternoon and can recognize the innovated style and "story," but I still didn't enjoy it. Using strange imagery to beat around the perverberal bush that is feminism just didn't sit well with me. If I have to read an essay or watch a Youtube video to understand what happened, it probably isn't a good flick.
The Great Silence, dir. Sergio Corbucci (1968) ★★★★★
One of my favorite things about movies is sharing them with the people that I love. I got to share Sergio Corbucci's snowy western The Great Silence with a friend from high school while I was home. After a trip to the mall where memories of our days back at Niles North flooded back, we went back home to avoid the rain that started to beat down on the Chicago north side. I asked her what genre she wanted to watch and to my surprise she requested a western.
During college I had written about The Great Silence while examining the work of Corbucci and I have a special connection to this film as I watch it during the first snowfall of the year.
While it might be unconventional to introduce someone to the western genre through a snowy Italian film, she thoroughly enjoyed it and I had plenty fun sharing it.
Fade To Black, dir. Vernon Zimmerman (1980) ★★★★★
This was another movie that I got to share with someone and I've talked about how much I love this movie in my introduction post about a month ago. I showed this to my mom and I'm always slightly nervous to show her things; I think when I get attached to a piece of media I am blindsided by its flaws. Thankfully, I think she enjoyed it. Perhaps it was just the inclusion of Breaking Away star Dennis Christopher or 80s heartthrob Mickey Rourke, but either way we both had a good time watching/rewatching this 80s horror gem.
Los Huesos aka The Bones, dir. Cristóbal León & Joaquín Cociña (2021) ★★★★★
Back to short films and this one was unlike anything that I have ever seen. I have had one of the director's feature length films The Wolf House on my list since it was released but this was a simpler short. Using a mixture of puppets, stop motion animation, and live action actors, The Bones shows a woman bringing two people back to life using their bones.
My favorite part of this is how it is presented; the introduction to the short say that it was actually a lost film from the early 1900s. I will dive into this topic later on this year, possibly doing a whole week on it, but I am fascinated by the idea of lost media. After the MGM vault fire in 1965, lots of silent and early sound film was lost. This short film plays into that idea by giving us a look into a "found" film.
He Who Dances on Wood, dir. Jessica Beshir (2016) ★★★☆☆
When I got back home to Marion I was exhausted. It was time for another short and this time I wanted to make sure to get some non-fiction stories in the mix. While in Chicago and riding the L throughout the city, I noticed plenty of street performers bracing the early January frost.
I value all types of art and have even performed on the street myself; I would go into the city with my mom on the weekend and spend my afternoon playing my ukulele in Logan Square. I think I got a maximum of five dollars but at least I can say I'm a paid musician. So, I love watching people express themselves through the art no matter the setting. This short follows a man that tap dances who tells his story and why exactly he does what he does. It's a quick watch and enjoyable.
Satanic Panic '87, dir. Bryan M Ferguson (2019) ★★★★☆
I'm addicted to short films. There's something so amazing about watching a whole story unfold in under a half hour. This time it was under five minutes.
Following two teenagers as they make various sacrifices, the short features intense neons, 80s vibes, and hints of immigrant culture in the United States. There's nothing like hearing your mother yell at you in your native language while you prepare to sacrifice her in order to gain access to Hell...which you travel to in a demonic various of Chairy from Pee-Wee's Playhouse. You can find this streaming on Arrow Player.
A Forbidden Orange, dir. Pedro González Bermúdez (2021) ★★★★☆
I closed off my week with one of my favorite types of films: movies about movies. This documentary shows the long lasting impact Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange had on our culture and focuses on a small town in Spain. It's narrated by Malcolm McDowell aka Alex DeLarge from the original film.
Growing up there was one summer I will never forget. It was the summer I was left alone. As my family struggled with other issues, I was about 12 and had to entertain myself. I was also just old enough to be without a babysitter. That was the summer I really fell in love with movies. It was also the summer that my local library had self checkout machines installed. No adult was monitoring what I watched and so I picked up A Clockwork Orange and became obsessed with it....In secret of course. I kept my copy of the book under my mattress and only watched the film when everyone was out of the house. I would meet McDowell at age 16 at a horror convention and thanked him
for being my gateway to true cinema.