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Added by Mackenzi on 2 Feb 2019 04:28
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2019 Diary: February

February taught me new levels of exhaustion at work and I got very little media consumption done. Fortunately lots of older films are easy to find online and I was able to binge a handful of movies for my Gothic theme in the past week, so it wasn't a total loss.
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People who added this item 72 Average listal rating (45 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.9
Dragonwyck (1946)
A silly film, not terrible, though a little flat. It's formulaic and predictable, if you want Gothic Romance 101 definitely watch this! The Tyrant, The Maiden, The Foolish Woman, The Hero- all right there for you, textbook character and plot development. Vincent Price plays a cocky POS and while he's the same VP we've always known it's a good role for him. Gene Tierny's character on the other hand is laughably, even frustratingly foolish, falling in love with this terrible man with practically no effort on his part, despite witnessing for herself his cruelty over and over, and then being so surprised when he is cruel to her too. She is a complete buffoon and by the end, despite some truly tragic things happening to her, you're surprised she's ever had an ounce of fondness for the madman. The drama is still quite entertaining though.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 190 Average listal rating (112 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
A somewhat silly film and yet it is a lot of fun. Charming for sure, a product of its time- the skeptic wanting to embrace science at one point performs a hypnotism as evidence to debunk a cult. This sure is 1957. But it's got some nice shots, I am especially fond of the demon appearing from a distance to take its first victim near the beginning of the movie, and how the antagonist spends a decent chunk of time in clown makeup. The story is not anything new, in fact it follows the gothic horror formula pretty well (skeptic confronted with some kind of terrible thing, refuses to believe for as long as possible and by the end must make a dramatic personal change to either defeat or be consumed by the horror) and doesn't have any kind of surprises. But having a sense of what will happen lets you enjoy it one scene at a time and there is plenty to enjoy. The ending I found quite cheeky, though it tries to get away with that "it's better not to know" nonsense which at that point is ridiculous. We know.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 1043 Average listal rating (679 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
I first saw this in theaters and thought it was nice, very beautiful setting, a classic rundown mansion setting and boy did they do a good job of filling this old decrepit house full of stuff. It's got dozens of antique toys and taxidermy curiosities and books and old furniture and I would honestly pay money to get a tour of it because it looks like loads of fun to wander through. I am still very impressed with the overall production design, they put in a lot of work to make things look good in this movie and it shows.

In the end the movie feels so-so for me now. I think I've reached my lifetime quota of of scary films trying to make me jump by blaring LOUD SHRIEKING NOISES or making a ghost SHRIEK LOUDLY FOR NO REASON and god damn it's like, the opposite tone of the rest of the film- it is so so quiet in so many parts, and it works really well, and then they ruin it all with these terrible loud noises. I shouldn't feel like watching horror movies with earplugs the first time around. Horror movies need to stop screeching at me and this is a hill I will die on lol.

The story is fine, melancholy and almost humorously sad in some parts. I keep teetering back and forth if I like the ending or not but I think the film needed something to make it stand out at the end, it's not saying anything new or unexpected through the whole thing so the end made for a nice little morbid bow to wrap things up satisfactorily.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
Belladonna - PC Games
ONE gothic game. I had a few more queued up for this month but if I was gonna play one I'm glad I played this one. It was inspired directly by classic universal horror movies, especially Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, so it fit the gothic tone perfectly. Like many of my favorite gothic flicks, the great parts of this game are how they play with and change the classic gothic tropes. Multiple spousal murders, human dolls, reanimation, breaking into crypts, human experimentation, gay women in true love refusing to be killed off for dramatic effect. A lot of fun to be had, a worthy project that I am glad I got to play.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 641 Average listal rating (366 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.4
I hate to say it but this film was more parts dull than interesting. It did pick up a little bit as it went on, but it still felt like practically no content stretched into a feature-length film. I figure I just didn't click with the style of it, because the characters and plot where interesting and I was definitely too curious to actually stop it despite getting so tired of watching after a while.

I will say, the drama in the girl's school after the disappearances, does get pretty fascinating. The psychological torment all these girls and women experience is sharp and twisted, and there is nothing like a blisteringly hot summer day for psychological drama. It's a great set up. I just bounced off the slow, quiet style of it.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 1152 Average listal rating (769 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
I kind of also bounced off this one. It's also not like a lot of other movies out there so I don't have a lot to compare it to. Definitely some really cool things in it, I liked the setting a lot and it had a lot of depth to it, I bet the book is a very interesting read. I found a copy of the movie that had German subtitles for the non-English parts, and since I took a little German in highschool I took the time to pause the movie and try to translate, which was pretty fun and I felt added a bit to the atmosphere of the film, me scribbling in a little notebook as these old monks read their old tomes.

I won't deny it was a good use of religious inquisition as a truly sinister force. It perhaps had a strange view of women that put me off. But it a unique time period to set a murder mystery, so it's got a unique aesthetic if you're looking for something a little different, a little weird. I'll have to rewatch it some time and see if I like it better, maybe after reading the book.
Mackenzi's rating:
One of the more engaging films in this genre so far. I like movies involving psychological torment, but they're at their most fun and entertaining if both parties are at least somewhat equally matched (see: The Prestige). This movie succeeded in being more tense by turning the gothic romance formula around a little bit, casting Olivia de Havilland as the Tyrant and Richard Burton as the Maiden, Hero and Fool all in one. Combined with the gender roles of the time was a much more dynamic downward spiral than in films where their roles would be reversed.

As the Maiden, Burton was pure of heart but guileless, and as the Fool he was blindly submissive and weak willed, but as the Hero, the leading man could not be seen as passive or less virile, so his downfall was his ferocious and powerful love, resulting in both passion, confusion, recklessness, and even violence.
As a woman, especially one supposed to be stunningly gorgeous marriage material, de Havilland couldn't take any straightforward decisions or physical action else she overdominate Burton's lead and become too strong for him to want to marry. Direct action and control are simply unfeminine. So to fill the roll as Tyrant her schemes and acquisition of power are subtle, implied, often off-screen and discovered after the fact. She is never outwardly impolite and never defies social etiquette or niceties, and yet still has left a trail of dead wealthy husbands behind her. Perhaps too subtle in hindsight, it would have been nice to see more of her personality and desires, but still effective.

The ending left me a bit disappointed. It felt anticlimactic and somewhat weak: We never got a direct confrontation. Burton never had to face consequences of his ridiculous behavior, and de Havilland didn't get a moment of true power or strength. This would have been a good moment, a clash of wills to finally expose the truth and set the record straight on what was reality and what a feverish hallucination. But we end not with a bang but a whimper, and it makes the whole film feel a little less strong for it.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 75 Average listal rating (50 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.3
A weird mismash of somewhat cool things and somewhat dry, boring things combined, Frankenstein-esque, into an awkward film. I just couldn't get into it. I loved some parts, the narration of each suspect as their handwriting is compared to the diary of the killer for example. How thrilling! How charming! It made the "film each suspect committing the murder" thing seem much less goofy CSI nonsense. And I do like a good murder mystery detective story. Sadly only part of this beast was a detective story, and I cared a lot less for the other parts- drama and tragic flashbacks and some comedy thrown in for laughs- and none of it was done with much finesse.

I don't love how most women where kind of pitted against each other in this movie for no reason, I don't love how everyone kind of loved Lizzie from the start for no special rhyme or reason, I don't love how single-minded Bill Nighy was on Lizzie and still didn't lose his job for investigating a case he wasn't assigned to. And honestly since it's a period piece murder mystery with a character named Lizzie, we kind of knew who it was from the beginning, so it wasn't even a good twist. All of it was a little too vaudeville, which must have been the point right? Meh, just meh.
Mackenzi's rating:
Right on. Here is a great movie. Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland (I gotta watch more of both of these ladies' work!) are an excellent example of why we need more stories about and starring older women. There is a feeling I get in many films from the 60's and earlier, of this disconnect from reality. The mannerisms and patterns of speech and all of it can feel distancing, even knowing that this was just acting and not a reflection of reality. But movies like the beautiful Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, they show some real emotion. They put on a truly timeless performance here. These are two women who, in their youth, where used to putting on the performance of existing as very young women in a state of wealth and privilege. Their performance is up, the world has moved on now and they are still living in the echoes of that time even though it was so long ago. And it feels authentic, maybe because actresses of their age at the time might have an idea of what that feels like.

The way the characters go from yelling to appeasement to condescension to questioning, it feels like true reactions to a crazy and unpredictable situation. It feels authentic. And the story itself was imaginative and twisted but came from such a place of reality, a place we can imagine real people being in. What a wild ride.
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At Work

People who added this item 95 Average listal rating (54 ratings) 4.1 IMDB Rating 4.2
I don't want to look thru images of this again and part of me feels bad even listing this here if it means more people have to know about this horrendous film. It was horrible, truly. I am so positive there are people who will love this movie more than anything else and that's fine, but I wouldn't have minded never seeing this for my entire life.

NOT to say the two Colleens weren't funny. I thought those characters where very amusing and more power to them. Save the world thru yoga, great stuff. I just hated everything else about this horrible film. I am so mad I had to watch this, haha.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 2507 Average listal rating (1529 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
For the most part this was a bit of a drag. Some interesting or even beautiful cinematography gave a few parts of it a nice sparkle, but otherwise I thought it was too nihilistic for me. I felt practically no sympathy for the main character by the end, and it seemed a bit confused through the middle if it was a war film or not. Overall I wasn't impressed.
Mackenzi's rating:
This was alright! I liked the story and it definitely made me wanna go watch some baseball. I wish I could see some of the games they talk about in the documentary, it sounds like some real good baseball.

It is always cool to see a snapshot of how things where before, and this was no exception. It's just a bucketfull of nostalgia.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 2622 Average listal rating (1762 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.3
Heat (1995)
I might have seen this in January but I'm not sure exactly, so I'll stick it in here.

Heat isn't a movie I'd put very high on my own to-do list and I still don't know if I'd watch it again, but I ended up with a pretty strong appreciation for it. I think I'm surprised because I regularly forget there where actually good movies in the 90's, and I can write them off pretty quick when I should give them a chance.

There's some stuff with Val Kilmer and Ashley Judd's characters that I think the movie went too soft on, as if we are supposed to sympathize with Kilmer's abusive ass in any way. But it's not horrendous. And otherwise Heat is a really great snapshot of avoidable self destruction. I have joked with my boss about Al Pacino and Robert De Niro being practically the same guy, and in this film we both agreed it is to full benefit that they are so similar. It wouldn't have been so poetic with even one of them substituted for another actor. They are the same man, living different lives but suffering from the same problem, obsession with their dangerous jobs and not knowing how or being able to walk away even when it's better for them to drop it. Despite their very different lifestyles they share core flaws that eat away at them, and in the end one of them is destroyed because he can't let go, and one realizes he still has a chance to not suffer the same fate. It's poetic. It works, it doesn't get caught up in blind machismo to tell its story. In fact it is kind of a warning against blind machismo, it's a movie where the "cool guy" types will only suffer because it's all they know, and they are bringing it on themselves. It's not the universe turning a cold shoulder, it's their choice, and some men chose destruction.
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The Other Stuff

People who added this item 161 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 5.7
That sure was a movie. Not a lot on offer here, besides Zawe Ashton's gorgeous voice and some cool CGI bringing paintings to life. And there's not even that much of the second one. It's pretty cheesy and not very frightening. The best part was definitely the scene shown in the picture to the right, where an art gallery opens and dozens of people just assume the dead body and massive amounts of blood are part of the art installation, which is quite funny. Otherwise just a standard slasher flick, if you're looking for "a handful of people die in random and artsy ways" kind of movie this is probably a good way to spend the evening, otherwise it's skip-able.
Mackenzi's rating:
People who added this item 175 Average listal rating (125 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.1
I don't know how exactly to respond to this one. I have stronger responses to what other people thought of it, after reading some reviews, than I have to the actual movie. I've heard it stated this directer writes about men in "perpetual crises" and I like that description of First Reformed. But this director also wrote Taxi Driver, a film that gave me terrible anxiety... not to say it was bad, but both of these films people have described the main characters as more of a danger to themselves than others, and there is a focus on unpacking this type of person without much acknowledgement of the ripples they send through the community. That's the main thing to me- these films are to me about the kind of people one fears in our real daily lives, the people we fear to walk next to on a crowded sidewalk, sit next to on a bus, fear saying the wrong thing to because what could happen to us? In a split second that could be the end for us. This is a real fear and I feel like people are totally missing this about this director's movies. But I would say the films themselves are done well for the most part to achieve these feelings in me. I do feel like this director is getting the characters right in the films- they make sense, their building tension makes sense, their actions are startling and intense. A shock. I worry that he portrays these men as only healable by the love of women, which is a dangerous concept- love is healing, but no partner can fix someone simply by loving you. It doesn't fall on our lovers to fix our problems for us. And that kind of disconnect is why I can't love First Reformed. Sure it's hopeful, but its hope doesn't feel enough like reality, especially when its darkness feels way way too much like reality.

Ironically I rented it hoping I could say I've seen more Oscar bait this year and it didn't get nominated for practically anything. :P
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