Los Espookys Season 1 (HBO)
Written by Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega, & Julio Torres
Directed by Fernando Frias
There is nothing else like Los Espookys on television. From the opening of the first episode, a fast-paced series of scenes that introduces us to Renaldo at his sister’s quinceanera which he decorated in an all horror/goth theme to moment we see Andres’ shock of tightly cropped blue hair appear on screen we know that our protagonists will be odd, to say the least. The most normal of the Los Espookys crew is Ursula who is technically genius, yet she’s saddled with her little sister Tati, who is competing with Andres to become the most esoteric character to appear on television since Agent Cooper. This is a fully realized and specific world, like ours but slightly askew.
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Stranger Things is an unabashed recycler of 1980s movie tropes, so it is worth our time to explore the films that inspired the show. It’s easy to see the influences of Steven Spielberg, Dungeons & Dragons, Stephen King, and George Lucas in the show, but here are some inspirations that are not in the mainstream public sphere quite as much.
Continue reading “Post-Stranger Things 3 Movie Marathon”
Written & Directed by Ari Aster
Ari Aster proves doubters wrong with his sophomore feature, a return to familiar themes of family and grief centered around pagan ritual. In contrast to the dark, emotionally volatile tone of Hereditary, Midsommar presents itself with a bright yet neutral atmosphere. Aster manages to tackle romantic relationships and their conflicts with the same sure hand he brought to examining the bleak inner workings of dysfunctional families. There’s a sense of hypnosis as we journey into the world of this film, a warm uncertainty, feeling doubts about treading further only to be nudged forward by a deceptively friendly hand. Before you know it, we are too far along to turn back and can only grimace at the horrors played out before our eyes.
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Under the Shadow (2016)
Written & Directed by Babak Anvari
It should come as no surprise that, being a Westerner, I know very little about the Iran-Iraq War. The opening prologue of this film explains that it went on for almost a decade, the 1980s. I would suspect most ignorant Americans like myself, not helped in any way by the media, consider Iraq and Iran the same in most ways. However, the Middle East is a more complex region than most in the West give much credence too and if anything comes of watching this film I’ve already found a well-reviewed text on the Iran-Iraq War to read and educate myself on. That opening prologue was most definitely added for audiences outside of the region, and the rest of the film doesn’t spend time expositing the details of the conflict, which is precisely as it should be. The human element becomes the focus, and primal emotions help us connect with the characters.
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Black Hollow Cage (2017)
Written & Directed by Sadrac González-Perellón
Ambiguity in media is often the point of frustration for many audience members. I can remember in college where classes read texts that left all the answers up in the air encountering students who would get red-faced with anger over the lack of finality. I was always the opposite; I cherished stories that left me hanging; they would linger in my mind for a long time. These texts were worth going back to and analyzing deeper. This comes down to two different ways of looking at life. Some people get very upset if they feel they don’t have a handle on the way the universe works and seeing it not correspond to their values. Other people accept the mystery of the void and keep going, knowing there will be blank spots and bumps in the road, that a lack of meaning is inevitable. I fall into the latter camp and so too does this film.
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The Love Witch (2016)
Written & Directed by Anna Biller
We find Elaine speeding down a California coastal highway, running away from the death of her ex-husband Larry. She starts a new life in Arcata, taking an apartment her friend Barbara used to live in, still decked out in the witchy paraphernalia that links these two women. Elaine has one focus in life, the attainment of the love of a man. Using magic, she begins seducing local men who end up overwhelmed by the feelings that bubble up inside them. Unable to process all of this love they meet their ultimate fate and Elaine shrugs it off and move onto the next guy. However, the police are investigating, and it’s only a matter of time until this witch is caught for her crimes.
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Written by Scotty Landes
Directed by Tate Taylor
Blumhouse has created a monopoly on the majority of horror in cinemas these days. Paranormal Activity was the first production that Jason Blum saw as a successful foray into horror films, and he hasn’t stopped since. I haven’t enjoyed any Blumhouse movie I’ve seen, or least I wouldn’t make an effort to rewatch anything that has crossed my screen. The factory model of filmmaking is inevitably going to deliver a majority of mediocre products and maybe once in a while something special. I don’t think Ma is that unique jewel amongst the garbage, but it isn’t awful. The core factor that keeps Ma from being a monotonous mess is Octavia Spencer.
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