Understanding Michael Haneke: Time of the Wolf (2003)

The term ‘time of the wolf’ finds its roots in Nordic folklore and in the most basic terms it denotes a time of the night just before the dawn. Ingmar Bergman once summarized it as a “the hour between night and dawn, when most people die, sleep is deepest, nightmares are most real. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their worst anguish, when ghosts and demons are most powerful.” This note was an accompaniment to the screenplay to Hour of the Wolf, his 1968 psychological horror with Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann.  

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Earwig and the Witch (2020)

I sincerely believe that the release of Earwig and the Witch was supposed to be a momentous occasion because – after decades of adhering to a traditional hand-drawn style of animation – Studio Ghibli was finally making a move in the world of 3D computer-generated graphics. What is more, it could be read as a landmark strategic shift or maybe even a ‘changing of the guard’ as the studio’s first ever CG-animated project was helmed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki himself.  

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The Kubrick Appreciation Project: Killer’s Kiss (1955)

There is an entire universe of difference between Fear And Desire, Kubrick’s feature debut, and Killer’s Kiss, his sophomore effort. Although one could see the filmmaker’s potential in the former film, especially exemplified in aggressive editing, confident staging of static shots and the way the narrative goes about exploring its central themes, many choose to see it as a failure whose reputation is solely derived from the eventual trajectory of Kubrick’s filmmaking career. In other words, it takes some real effort to see past the film’s blatant flaws in craftsmanship and occasional instances of narrative meandering marring the progression of the story in order to appreciate it as more than a stepping stone. 

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The Wes Craven Retrospective: Swamp Thing (1982)

Long before what we now understand as the Golden Age of Comic Book Movies, the pickings were slim for fans keen on seeing their favourite spandex-clad superheroes on the silver screen. Richard Donner’s Superman had only opened in 1978 and the public at large was most likely not ready to embrace comic books as a serious source material for cinematic treatment. Granted, The Incredible HulkCaptain America and others featured prominently on TV, but I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark if I assumed these works were never taken as anything more than entertainment for children.  

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The Uncut Gems Podcast – Episode 01: Mission to Mars

Although the official press release for this can be found on CLAPPER, I thought I’d share this here as well and maybe offer a few extra words of personal commentary. For a very long time I have been carrying an idea for a podcast about movies that for one reason or another are no longer talked about. In its initial guise it was a one-man show where I’d be talking at length about these films and traversing from the story to themes, to nuances of production, some anecdotes about filmmakers and so on. But as time went on it dawned on me that a show in this format would benefit most profoundly from a conversational format. So I pitched it to my good buds over at CLAPPER and now we’re here.

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Songbird (2020)

A simple google search of the word ‘escapism’ will quickly reveal the following encylopaedic definition: 

“Escapism is mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life, typically through activities involving imagination or entertainment. Escapism may be used to occupy one’s self away from persistent feelings of depression or general sadness” (Wikipedia) 

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Understanding Michael Haneke: The Piano Teacher (2001)

I have to say that The Piano Teacher is an interesting specimen in Michael Haneke’s filmography, especially considering the entirety of what came before it, in that it is both a continuation of the journey throughout his longstanding thematic interests and a breath of fresh air at the same time. This is particularly with regard to Haneke’s proclivity towards detaching himself emotionally from the matter at hand and assuming the role of a cynical jester who takes pleasure from the simple act of torturing the viewer, which is almost completely absent from this film. 

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Nine Days (2020)

I have thought long and hard about how to bite into this review. In fact, I have spent quite a while trying to characterize what Nine Days reminded me of and I still don’t think I have a good or sassy enough idea. All I know is that I was really looking forward to watching this and that what I ended up seeing fell vastly short of my expectations.  

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The Vast of Night (2019)

Putting a debut together is no easy feat. Though, doing so completely independently and without any financial backing or a grant is a whole new kind of challenge. However, most often the resulting films will require a massive adjustment of expectations on behalf of the viewer in order to be enjoyed, appreciated or admired. One has to look past the cheap aesthetic, amateurish performances or any other kinds of shortcomings stemming from the veritable lack of experience behind the camera or money to sass up the production value.  

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The Kubrick Appreciation Project: Fear and Desire (1953)

Released in 1953 and clocking in at just about one hour of running time, Fear And Desire is widely considered Stanley Kubrick’s directorial feature debut. This idea of trying to define whether it should still be considered a short film instead is a controversy one could devote an entire article to delineating, because there’s but a dozen of definitions out there devised with the intent to segregate films into shorts, featurettes and features. Since cinema isn’t really an exact science, a lot of it is rooted in opinion; and as we all know, opinions are like buttholes – everybody has one. So, in the interest of steering clear of any rectal explorations trying to make up my own mind on the subject, I will just agree with what looks like a consensus and instead focus my energy on discussing the film itself. 

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