The Squid and the Whale (2005)

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

As I continue to burn through my newest pile of DVDs, I decide to watch a film I bought on two principles. The first being that it was a movie inducted into the Criteron Collection, and the second being that I found a pre-Criterion edition of it on sale for under two dollars (Canadian, meaning it was roughly four American cents).

The Squid and the Whale is an independent dramatized autobiographical comedy-drama written and directed by Noah Baumbach and produced by Wes Anderson. Don’t worry, it’s not entirely as pretentious as I made it sound there.

The Squid and the Whale follows the Berkmans, a family of four in 1986 being torn apart by an incredibly messy divorce between Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and Joan (Laura Linney). Their two sons Frank (Owen Kline) and Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) immediately take sides, with Frank siding with his mother and Walt his father. While it isn’t apparent why Bernard and Joan are separating in the first place, information begins coming to light, further dividing everyone in the family and cementing which sides they have chosen in this petty battle of favors.

(more…)

City of God (2002)

City of God (2002)

Let’s take a break from the Hellraiser series. No matter how much I might like some of those movies, most of them aren’t great. Barring the first, they aren’t really achievements in cinema. I’ve recently picked up a bunch of DVDs and Blu-Rays on clearance (rest in peace, HMV) and I really feel like I need to start working my way through them. So, I decided to start with one of the most highly praised films of all time.

City of God (Cidade de Deus in Brazilian Portugese) is a Brazilian (duh) crime drama set in the titular favela (rough slang for a lower class district or slum) of Rio de Janeiro that follows a large ensemble cast of characters across multiple decades of their lives. While they all grow up impoverished, their lives take different turns as they navigate the gang, drug, and violence filled City of God, a place where children are killed in the streets and you rarely make it past the age of 30 without being riddled full of bullet holes first.

While City of God follows the stories of over five main characters, the protagonist and antagonist that draw a through-line from one end of the story to the other are Rocket and Li’l Zé. Both starting the story as young kids who see the “glamorous” life of local low level street thugs, one develops a creative passion and becomes enamored with photography and journalism while the other indulges a thirst for power and blood that only violent crime can provide him. (more…)

Hellraiser V: Inferno (2000)

Hellraiser V: Inferno (2000)

For the uninitiated: Hellraiser (1987), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996).

We’ve crossed the threshold now. Currently there are nine Hellraiser films (although a tenth is allegedly on its way), so we’re over fifty percent through the franchise. Too bad we can’t just round it up and call the whole thing done.

Hellraiser V: Inferno is the first direct-to-DVD Hellraiser sequel, and a big departure from the previous films. Inferno follows Joseph Thorne, a crooked detective who discovers the Lament Configuration at the scene of a brutal crime, and after solving the puzzle box begins to have vivid and disturbing hallucinations all while more ritualistic and sadistic murders begin happening to people he knows. Thorne finds out that someone or something known as The Engineer is behind the killings and that he has kidnapped a child, leaving a severed finger at the scene of every murder. (more…)

The Devils (1971)

The Devils (1971)

The Devils is not a movie for everyone. In fact, according to Warner Brothers, it’s not a movie for anyone.

The Devils is a 1971 drama written and directed by Ken Russel set in 17th century France chronicling the final weeks of Catholic Priest Urbain Grandier’s (Oliver Reed) life in the fortified city-state of Loudun. King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu have begun plotting the destruction of all of France’s fortified cities in order to rule over them all, however, Louis XIII has made a deal with the Governor of Loudun to keep its walls standing. The Governor, recently deceased, has passed control of the city over to Grandier who is now a target of the united heads of Church and State. Louis, Richelieu, and a local Baron decide to set in action a devious plan to remove Grandier from political power by framing him for demonic possession and heresy so they can finally take control over Loudun once and for all. As wild as all this sounds, this is all loosely based on real historical events. Ken Russel based his screenplay on Aldous Huxley’s non-fiction novel, which itself is based on the 17th century Loudun possessions. The Devils is quite removed from the original source material and is very clearly a dramatized retelling of the events that transpired.

(more…)

Don’t Look Now (1973)

Don’t Look Now (1973)

Today marks a special day in Coffee and Illithids history. A while ago, I formally asked on my Facebook page (*cough* throw me a pity like *cough*) for recommendations and I got precisely one in reply. Being the wonderful human being I am, I kept procrastinating and putting off watching it until now. I’m a butt, sorry Anthony.

Don’t Look Now is a 1973 horror-drama from British director Nicolas Roeg, a man who has directed a bunch of movies I’ve never even heard of. It stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as John and Laura Baxter, two architects who are grieving the recent loss of their daughter Christine who died by drowning in a pond by their cottage. The Baxters are commissioned by a Venetian priest to help restore an old church. While in Venice Laura meets a pair of women, one who is psychic, and John begins to have odd visions and flashbacks to his daughter. The psychic while at first is warm and welcoming, eventually warns Laura that John will be in danger if he stays in the city any longer and that he must leave immediately. Odd happenings continue to happen to John and Laura the longer they stay in Venice, until John’s odd visions clearly become something more supernatural and sinister.

(more…)