Celluloid Diaries: Reading / watching / listening to...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reading / watching / listening to...

Superstition The Witch


* Autobiography by Morrissey. Though Morrissey writes his autobiography in the present tense, it‘s hard for the reader to ever feel in the moment. Therefor his account is too factual, too emotionless. The only thing that surfaces is anger and frustration towards the many injustices in life, which he describes in great detail. Yet, I liked Morrissey’s autobiography as every word is well thought out, his style uncommon, and I savored each sentence as if it were a rare delicacy.

* The World According To Bob by James Bowen. Once in a while I fall in love with a book and its characters. I was already head over heels with James Bowen’s A Streetcat Named Bob, and it was once again love at first sight with The World According To Bob. These true tales about a heart-felt friendship between a busker and his cat may not be perfect due to their repetitiveness and lack of stylistic flair, but what it provides in terms of feel-good qualities and emotional pureness forgives any of its shortcomings. Even just thinking about this book brings a smile to my face.

* After Dark by Haruki Murakami. After Dark starts with a bang with the description of a girl reading in a coffee shop during the night. As if inside a camera, the reader looks at the characters and their surroundings from different angles, once in a while zooming in on the details. Sadly, after that brilliant opening, the story falls flat. Murakami’s characters seem alien to me and this is accentuated through the dialogue which takes over most of the book. This is the second Murakami novel I’m giving a try (the first one was Kafka On The Shore that I reviewed here), and I just can’t seem to be able to count myself amongst his humongous fan base.

* Hidden Horror: A Celebration Of 101 Underrated And Overlooked Fright Flicks by Aaron Christensen. The problem with most horror reference works is that they put too much emphasis on well-known classics and don’t leave room for the discovery of new titles. Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated And Overlooked Fright Flicks is NOT such a book. As soon as I saw several obscure titles listed in the index along some of my favorites (Evilspeak, Curtains, Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, The Brotherhood Of Satan, Dark Night Of The Scarecrow), I knew I was in for a treat. Every film is treated in-depth as the essays are written by people who know their subject through and through - horror movie directors, film critics, journalists, genre authors, and film festival organizers (the chapter about the rape/revenge film I Spit On Your Grave is even compiled by a rape victim). Highly recommended to any horror fan. Fun fact: Steve De Roover, the director of the movie adaptation of my vampire story A Good Man / Un homme bien, is one of the 101 authors of this book.

* Consumed volume 1 by Kyle Scott. In this collection of horror stories, Kyle Scott surprises with the intensity of his graphic descriptions of mayhem and gore, and his ability to churn stomachs. His fiction moves forward at a rapid pace, yet takes time to slow down and elaborate in its most uncomfortable moments. Within all the horror, there’s also beauty – the beauty of the author’s love for his child that permeates the pages, and the beauty of his writing which rises above that of most horror novels. It’s time to put your Richard Laymon books aside, and to discover a new master of the genre.


* The Driver. Did you think Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive was original? In that case you should have a look at Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978), as there are not just similarities in terms of story and title, but also in the use of neon-lighting and visual style. Starring Ryan O’Neill, Bruce Dern and Isabelle Adjani.

* Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz (DVD courtesy of Splendid Film and Badass PR). This horror film about a Russian elite unit that's being attacked by zombies has been compared to Dead Snow and Frankenstein's Army. While certainly in the same vein, Outpost is not as good as those in terms of creepiness and humor, but it’s still a decently made film with a good atmosphere.

* Nymphomaniac part 1 and Nymphomaniac part 2. How do the rules of fishing apply to sexuality? Why does it matter if we cut our left hand’s nails before our right hand ones? Both films delve deep into certain subjects such as grief, religion, predictable reactions to certain stimuli, and avoidance of responsibility. They not only show what it means to be a nymphomaniac, but also what it means to be human. Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac part 1 and Nymphomaniac part 2 sound pretentious, but they are funny, intelligent and engaging, and together with Dallas Buyer’s Club, the best of this month’s batch of movies.

* Resolution. In a cabin in the woods, a young man helps his friend to get off drugs. Meanwhile their violent neighbors film them, and the men try to find out why. That’s basically the story, ending included. Don’t sacrifice an hour and a half of your life for this.

* Another Earth. Scientists discover a new planet that’s an exact replica of the earth - its inhabitants and history included. Packed with interesting ideas, Another Earth works particularly well in terms of concept. What it misses, however, is emotional attachment, which is pretty strange considering the film puts the focus on its characters and their traumas. I’m wondering what more experienced filmmakers would have done with this promising story.

* Superstition/The Witch. Creepy music, lots of murder scenes, a cool-looking monster, a mysterious child, and haunting visuals. Superstition/The Witch is exactly what a good eighties horror movie should be.

* Grand Piano. A few years have gone by since pianist Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) retired following a disastrous concert. When Tom finally returns to the stage, he finds a message written on his music sheet: if you mess up one single note, you die. Without moving his hands from the piano, Selznick must deal with the situation in the middle of a packed auditorium. Despite the static position of the main character, Grand Piano keeps the viewer at the edge of his seat thanks to innovative and claustrophobic camera angles and a smart action-packed script. Unfortunately, the movie falls short in the third act, turning to silliness and deconstructing what was so cleverly built up.

* The Birthday. From the same director as Grand Piano (Eugenio Mira), The Birthday excels in being absurd and surreal, even if it all makes sense in the end. Everything about The Birthday is deliberately irritating: Corey Feldman’s speech disorder, his girlfriend’s hysterics, the crazy denouements. I can’t really say this was a good film, but it definitely was a weird and interesting one.

* Kiss Of The Damned. Style over content reigns in Kiss Of The Damned. And while it’s true that this vampire story is contrived and easy, this is easily forgotten when we are submerged in the colorful visuals, the beauty of the actors, and the revival of a long-lost atmosphere reminiscent of films such as Vampyres and Daughters Of Darkness.

* The Carrier. Objects turn deadly when touched by the carrier of a virus. The townspeople use cats to determine which objects are safe or not (if the cat melts, the object is infected), but what to do when there are no more cats left? And, even more importantly, who is the carrier? The storyline is as original as it is farfetched. I mean, where else can we see books and mirrors eating people? But if The Carrier leaves us mouths agape, it’s mainly because of the scope of the brainless dialogue, the low production value, and the atrocious cast.

* Cameron’s Closet. Based upon the book by Gary Brandner (The Howling), Cameron’s Closet tells the story of a child with psychokinetic powers who has a monster in his bedroom’s closet that acts out his negative thoughts. This supernatural eighties flick disappeared quickly off the radar, probably because of the predictable storyline and bland ending. Most of the movie is pretty entertaining though. An easy, but forgettable watch.

* Dallas Buyers Club. It’s no surprise that both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (I didn’t recognize him at first) won the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in this movie about AIDS patients in the eighties. Both actors really are the main attraction of this movie, and they put together some of the most surprising performances seen in recent years.

* Best Night Ever. Advertised as 'The Hangover with women', Best Night Ever follows a group of girlfriends who spend the night in Las Vegas for a bachelorette party. I had a hard time getting into this movie at first, because the women were so puerile, but once they find themselves in the craziest and most distasteful situations ("Why was that big, naked woman chasing us?"), I was laughing out loud, tears and all. Best Night Ever made for a fun date night with my sister.

Listening to:

* Music for Judge Dredd Inspired By Mega City One by Geoff Barrow. Sounds exactly like John Carpenter. What’s not to like?

* Les Revenants by Mogwai. The soundtrack for Les Revenants is one of the things that made this TV series so special.

If you're looking for more to read, watch, and listen to, you can check out my old "Reading / Watching / Listening to" posts.


  1. Hidden Horror sounds good! There are some great small flicks out there, specially those that were straight to video.

  2. I'd like to see GRAND PIANO, it does sound like a suspenseful movie judging from its trailers

  3. I'd like to see Best Night Ever. I didn't' know Morrisey had an autobiography.

  4. You get a lot of reading, watching, and listening done. That's awesome! (Although I now feel like a slug...)

  5. Wow, loved reading through all of your reviews Vanessa. Morrisy was an idol of mine while I was at school (along with almost everyone else our age at the time) but I have seen him interviewed and heard stories of people who've met him, all of which suggest he's a grump big on self-pity. But I'd still LOVE to meet him :)

    Dallas Buyers Club was brilliant. And Matthew's performance surprised me. I was never a huge fan of his till this movie, plus the highly recommendable True Detective (in which he plays a very intense character - the true detective).

    I'm interested in Hidden Horror. Off to check it out. Have a great weekend.


  6. ✿•̃‿•̃✿
    J'aime venir sur ton blog Vanessa, c'est toujours intéressant.
    Merci pour ce partage.
    et belle journée !!!

  7. Wow, you've been busy. I'm trying to read more lately since I finished drafting a book, but I just got edits I have to work on, so that might not happen. ;)

  8. Resolution sounds super duper boring

  9. Grand Piano was a movie I thought I'd like to see. Too bad the end wasn't as good as it could've been.

  10. One of the things I've always loved about following your blog is that you always bring up books, movies, music, etc, that I've never heard of before, so it broadens me out a little bit! I have heard of Morrisey before, but I haven't read any of his stuff. I'm impressed with anyone who can have such a factual account by your description, but still compel you forward. I'm not a fact-oriented person, so that seems pretty awesome!

  11. I wouldn't consider a movie called Nymphomaniac, were it not for your descriptions of those two. It sounds fascinating, actually. I'd like to see one or both of those.

    Have a good weekend, Vanessa.


  12. That's quite a list of things. I can't think of three books, movies or music that I could write about at the moment. I'd like to read what Morrisey has to say about his life. And The Dallas Buyers Club sounds like something I'd like to see.

  13. Wow, you are a busy girl. I did see The Dallas Buyers Club. Both Matthew and Jared highly deserved their Oscars!!

  14. My brother would love the Morrisey book, as he is a big fan of his! I know what I will be getting him for his birthday.

    I love that you found a book with some obscure horror films. Always fascinating to stumble upon movies that you didn't know about. The book sounds well researched and very interesting. I have someone in mind for that book too! Yeah. :)

    I don't think I have seen any of the movies you mentioned- so it was great to learn about them.

  15. You have a lot going on girl! Thanks for the great list ;o)

  16. There are a lot of lessons here about what NOT to do. LOL

    Great list. :)

  17. You've been busy. Shame about After Dark. It sounded good.

  18. Wow. You're generous in your reading. I only give an author one shot. If I don't like their style, I won't read them again--because I'll get hung up on the same issues. (Tested and tried.) Of course, I also read about 150 different authors with a growing list, so...

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