Horror, westerns science fiction, crime, magic, demons, vampires, zombies, witches, a one-legged detective, people trapped in a deadly house, a damsel in distress and a film editor driven mad by cheap exploitation movies …
Two modest documentaries delve into the compulsion to create and the fraught relationship between creator and creation.
Two excellent recent Blu-ray releases illuminate different strains of British fantasy. They Came to a City (1944), written by J.B. Priestley and directed by Basil Dearden is a Utopian political fable proposing a new Socialist society for post-war Britain, while Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit (1959) spins an epic tale of human evolution and our innate propensity for violence through the story of an ancient spaceship discovered buried beneath London.
A collection of random thoughts about recent viewing and reading, including an ambivalent excursion into Netflix streaming.
Another eclectic selection from my recent viewing, from an old fondly remembered BBC sci-fi series to an unsettling French psychological thriller, from a nasty John Frankenheimer thriller to a pair of atypical Rossellini features striving to break out of the confines of neorealism.
Although I saw fewer movies in theatres than ever, this year offered a rich array of films on disk, belying continuing prophecies of the medium’s demise in the face of on-line streaming.
Two distinguished British actors passed away in June after long and varied careers in film and television: the imposing Christopher Lee and the debonair Patrick Macnee, both at age 93.
Despite perennial predictions of the demise of movies-on-disk, 2014 offered a rich and varied selection of new and old titles in often impressive editions from many different companies, though not necessarily from major distributors. The cream came from specialty labels like Criterion, the BFI, Arrow, Eureka/Masters of Cinema, Shout! Factory, Olive Films, Kino Lorber, Flicker Alley and Twilight Time.
The range of my recent viewing covers classic Italian and Eastern European films by Elio Petri and Karel Zeman as well as a pair of 1970s sci-fi/fantasy productions from the BBC, newly released on disk by the BFI.
Two disks illustrate the spectrum of British genre production in the ’70s and ’80s: Pete Walker’s cinematic horror Frightmare and David Rudkin’s epic BBC fantasy Artemis 81.