RSS feed for Catherine
  • The Babadook 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 29 Oct, 2014

    "It is altogether rare when a horror film works as equal parts psychological character excavation and a genuinely scary piece of cinema (to be fair, not all horror aspires to both). In Jennifer Kent’s debut film The Babadook, the two are bone-chillingly inextricable by making a grief-ridden mother-son relationship the nucleus from which a storybook monster’s infiltration is born. Statements like this are not usually in my deck of words, but after seeing this heartbreaking and deeply disquieting tale of woe, it is hard to deny that The Babadook is the best horror film of the decade so far."

    Full review over at Criterion Cast: criterioncast.com/reviews/catherine-reviews-jennifer-kents-the-babadook-theatrical-review

  • Man of the West 1958

    ★★★½ Watched 08 Oct, 2014

    “When you were a boy?”
    “I don’t know what I was”

    I was considerably unprepared for Man of the West, the Straw Dogs of studio westerns — that is, if you replace the invaded home with a derelict barn that symbolizes a tense union between past and present. Twenty minutes in, Gary Cooper’s reformed criminal, Arthur O’Connell’s gambler, and Julie London’s dance hall girl wander off together after an unfortunately timed train robbery. I thought ‘oh lovely; it’ll be about…

  • The Big Country 1958

    ★★½ Watched 07 Oct, 2014

    A joint project with Gregory Peck (he and William Wyler produced) about what happens when a man challenges, through refusal to kowtow, the social norms of his environment. The two families-in-a-long-standing-feud story carries the kind of history stewing that befits a film of this scope. And what a scope. Shot in CinemaScope, Franz F. Planer drowns the characters in vista without, critically, losing the human intimacy that often evaporates when working in widescreen framing. Lots of Westerns showcase beautiful landscape…

  • Terror in a Texas Town 1958

    ★★½ Watched 05 Oct, 2014

    Joseph H. Lewis, expert in the art of B-noirs and westerns, kicked off his retirement with this unusual and self-consciously artificial coda populated by blacklisted participants (Dalton Trumbo scripted this under a pseudonym). That this one’s a bit different is immediately apparent. For one thing, it starts in media res…with Sterling Hayden…clenching a harpoon! Then the credits kick in and we backtrack to the beginning, which isn’t as much about Sterling Hayden (and thank goodness, because his naive do-gooder bit…

  • Dracula 1958

    ★★ Watched 22 Sep, 2014

    Since this is a go-to exemplary representative of Hammer Horror by many, I question if Hammer is for me. A transitional marker for horror, it arrives after a primary focus on atmospherics and the unseen, during censorship testing, but before transgressions that endure as transgressions on the screen today (this caused quite the stir in the UK upon release but doesn’t retain that sense). Hammer became a 50’s equivalent of the Gainsborough Melodramas of the 40’s in the UK, but…

  • Grip of the Strangler 1958

    ★½ Watched 18 Sep, 2014

    A stuffy affair with Boris Karloff is its sole partially saving grace (even the unnerving face contortions are all his). Shows its hand halfway through when it repositions into a Jekyll and Hyde take that soon finds its own static mold. An intrusively shot hanging at the start contains a tangible dirty perversity that sadly isn’t approached again. This is the second 1958 film I’ve seen (the other being Cairo Station) that uses soaked breasts as a censor-pushing weapon. Unexpectedly contains perhaps the highest ratio of can-can dancing (due to the film’s short length) I’ve ever seen.

    cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/capsule-reviews-1958-watchlist-section-three-horror/

  • The Fly 1958

    ★★½ Watched 05 Oct, 2014

    A standard 50’s don’t fuck with nature B-story, but not a B-movie, as illustrated by the atypical presentational pairing of lux Cinemascope. Also atypical is its structure, starting as a domestic murder mystery and segueing into a lengthy cautionary tale flashback. The Fly misuses its time in some pretty egregious ways (ten minutes are spent trying to catch a fly), but the moments of screechy pleas and kaleidoscopic perspectives break through the dryness in ways that elicit shivers.

    No doubt…

  • Attack of the 50 Foot Woman 1958

    ★★ Watched 02 Oct, 2014

    “HAARRRYYY!!!”
    Starting off with a brief trip into sci-fi. Equivalent to an average albeit stretched out “Twilight Zone” episode (every one of its 60 some odd minutes are felt) with its hearty helpings of melodrama and noir. A peculiar little item that never becomes much of anything, but the effects transcend bad to become simultaneously riotous, nonsensical, and even haunting.

    cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/capsule-reviews-1958-watchlist-section-three-horror/

  • The Blob 1958

    ★½ Watched 02 Oct, 2014

    Youth: the newly favored benefit-of-the-doubt perspective of 50’s American cinema. The Blob is a very early example of teens taking center stage in horror. Of course, we now recognize them as a predominant demographic for both onscreen slaughter and off-screen viewership. And try as I might, it’s difficult to think of earlier examples of growing pains and pleasures at the center of horror. Scientists, fully formed mad men, and unsuspecting women held the reins in decades previous. This fusion between…

  • The Goddess 1958

    ★★★ Watched 15 Sep, 2014

    Wrote about this and Too Much, Too Soon as 1958 showbiz biopics over at Cinema Enthusiast:

    cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/capsule-reviews-1958-watchlist-section-two-biopic/

  • Too Much, Too Soon 1958

    ★★★ Watched 14 Sep, 2014

    Wrote about this and The Goddess as 1958 showbiz 'biopics' ove at Cinema Enthusiast

    cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/capsule-reviews-1958-watchlist-section-two-biopic/

  • The Muppet Christmas Carol 1992

    ★★★★★ Added

    I’ve been foolishly psyching myself out in regards to writing about The Muppet Christmas Carol because from the start I’ve been treating it as an attempt to convert or convince others of its greatness. Like I have to make up for eye-rolling that may or may not occur from those who will wrongfully dismiss this as a ‘clouded by nostalgia pick’ (though I have more faith in my readers than that). Or maybe I’m just overthinking it.

    But I’ve ditched…