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Lemon-Shaped Rock

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  1. I finished the series about a week ago. Overall, it's pretty good. I still think it's better than Hill House. However, similar to Hill House, I did not care for the ending of Bly Manor. The tone felt too drastically different in comparison to the previous episodes.
  2. Love this one. Great take on the monstrous feminine. It's an especially excellent watch during October!
  3. I've watched the first two episodes and I'm actually enjoying this more than Hill House. I liked Hill House, aside from the ending which I thought was a tonal contrast to the test of the story--way too schmaltzy. I like the ambiguity of the book/1963 film far better. I actually find Bly Manor scarier. It focuses less on jump scares and more on subtle visual details to create genuine unease. That's just my initial reaction though. I'm curious to see how the rest of the series plays out.
  4. The Trip (1967) I'm a big fan of Roger Corman, though I had never watched this one. I had a lot of fun with it. It's now probably my favorite psychedelic drug film from that era. There's lots of trippy imagery and the story is actually pretty funny in places. I was also surprised at the amount of arthouse influence present. Corman has cited figures like Ingmar Bergman as being big inspirations, though I was taken aback by just how abstract and/or disturbing some of these scenes are.
  5. The Unknown (1927), dir. Tod Browning I had always read about this one and finally checked it out on the Criterion Channel. It definitely deserves all of the praise it's received. It's one of the most provocative films I've seen in a while. Lon Chaney plays Alonzo the Armless, a circus performer with a knack for throwing knives with his feet, who seeks to win the affection of Nanon (Joan Crawford), a fellow performer. However, Nanon also catches the attention of Malabar the Mighty (Norman Kerry), the circus strongman, and what ensues is a twisted, ultimately violent love triangle. Th
  6. I think this is an inaccurate generalization of contemporary horror. When you look at some of the most popular films of the 2010s like The VVitch (2015), Get Out (2017), Cam (2018), Hereditary (2018), and Us (2019), none of those are necessarily gory films. They're certainly not as extreme as the torture porn craze of the mid/late 2000s. This new trend of slowburn horror seems far more reliant on tone and atmosphere to convey scares rather than sheer shock value. Again, this isn't to say that color or black & white is more effective. It depends on how they are being used. For instance
  7. I don't think black & white is necessarily scarier than color. It moreso depends on how the lighting and cinematography are used. Sometimes black & white can be more effect. For example, the colorized version of Night of the Living Dead (1968) loses much of its bite because it's missing that key chiaroscuro effect that made the original so visually eerie. In contrast, specific subgenres like giallo films, for example, would become far less effective if they had been shot in black & white because those films rely on their bright color schemes to reinforce the gore effects.
  8. The first half was fairly entertaining, particularly in how it poked fun at the ideal Reaganite nuclear family that was so heavily promoted in the 1980s, but the latter half quickly became banal. Cohen often had interesting ideas, though the execution didn't always work out.
  9. The Stuff (1985) I'm a fan of both body horror and Larry Cohen (specifically his 1970s output) so I was intrigued by this one. I had always heard is was a fun horror/comedy that satirized the abundant consumerism in 1980s America. Although it has some fun parts (the scenes with Garrett Morris are pretty entertaining), there wasn't much else I enjoyed. The latter half grew a bit stale, particularly when the military characters show up. Some decent gross-out effects, though I'll stick with Cronenberg or Stuart Gordon if I'm in the mood for body horror.
  10. I watched Carmen Jones a few years ago and had the same reaction. Parts of it are alright, particularly the decision to change the opera's climactic arena scene to a boxing match. However, much of the film hasn't aged well. That dubbing is certainly distracting. Overall a decent watch for fans of Dandridge and/or Belafonte, but nothing anyone needs to immediately see.
  11. Branded to Kill (1967) This is another Japanese New Wave film I hadn't previously seen. It notoriously got director Seijun Suzuki fired from Nikkatsu due to how provocative it is. Having watched it, it's easy to understand why the studio disliked it. It features graphic sex and violence paired with a fair amount of arthouse influence, though it's also evidently not taking itself too seriously. The story revolves around a yakuza hitman with a fetish for smelling steamed rice. Again, this film can be tongue-in-cheek in places, albeit with some hefty dark humor. I enjoyed it. It's styli
  12. I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) I fully knew what to expect heading into this film. With Charlie Kaufman at the helm, I certainly expected a thematically dense, meta narrative, for better or worse. And even though I'm not as big of a Kaufman fan as I once was, I still enjoy films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Being John Malkovich (1999), even though they definitely deserve the "pretentious elitism" label often thrown at them. But even though I knew what I was getting myself into, I still wound up hating this film. It's pretentious even by Kaufman's stan
  13. The Blob (1958) I'm a fan of kitschy '50s science fiction films though I had never seen this one until last night. I unfortunately didn't care for it. The scenes with the alien are fun, though they are scarcely scattered throughout a narrative that really wants to be Rebel Without a Cause. Even the presence of Steve McQueen didn't do much for me. I'll stick with I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958)
  14. I'm a fan of those '70s eco-horror films, though I still need to watch this one. Even the blatant Jaws ripoffs like Orca: The Killer Whale (1977) can be pretty fun. My favorite from that period is Frogs (1972), which has one of my favorite movie posters of all time.
  15. Woman in the Dunes (1964) In this Japanese New Wave film, an entomologist becomes trapped in a sand dune with a widow and nearby villagers force them to continuously dig the sand for their profit in exchange for rations. Director Hiroshi Teshigahara incorporates a fair amount of avant-garde influence to create a pretty unnerving experience for the viewer (seriously, the last 30 minutes of this film are pretty disturbing). Toru Takemitsu's jarring score only heightens the film's eeriness. Very, very effective film. I need to check out The Face of Another (1966) next, as I hear that's Teshi
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