December 30

Apology (1986, d. Robert Bierman)

The detective, caught
In her Chinese finger trap
Artists are assholes.

Shakedown (1988, d. James Glickenhaus)



December 29

For Your Eyes Only (1981, d. John Glen)

Now I have a game,
So see if you can spot the
Transgendered Bond girl.

December 25

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992, d. Francis Ford Coppola)

For All Mankind (1989, d. Al Reinert)

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983, d. Nagisa Oshima)

December 21

The Last Waltz (1978, d. Martin Scorsese)
Out of the Dark (1995, d. Jeffrey Lau)

“Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge, since imagination makes things possible.”

December 18

Silkwood (1983, d. Mike Nichols)

Kurt Russell and Coach
Why are you hitting yourself?
Gloating on the farm.

Heart Condition (1990, d. James D. Parriott)

I’ll never understand the smear against this film. According to IMDb trivia, Denzel Washington fired an agent who talked him into making this, one of the most original – and, of course, one of the last – comedies of the 1980s. But what exactly is wrong with it? I suppose some people might be uncomfortable with having a bigot for a protagonist, others may be bored with the shouting-at-air hijinks of ‘ghost comedies’, but the film does manage to be tense, and to balance its genre loyalties (between action and comedy) with aplomb. The general complaints against it were of little interest to me – it’s a story about two sleazy people who redeem themselves, and that is its narrative skeleton before all of the details of haunting and drug running – and if the film is light on ‘laughs’, it is still a first-rate action movie of the ‘buddy cop’ tradition. When that action finally comes, in the final 10 minutes, it’s brilliantly executed (Hoskins, hobbled by a second heart attack, takes on a house of drug dealers armed with a shotgun, the kick from which knocks him around the room). And for all of its treacle, the final line of the film (from which it takes its title) still has considerable power. It’s a very ambitious and effective, and not terribly overbearing, anti-racism film.

December 17 (Yuletide Terror party)

Black Christmas (1974, d. Bob Clark)

“the way it balances on your head just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine.”

Elves (1989, d. Jeffrey Mandel)

Paging Adolph Elfman.

This whole movie is like a cross between a question mark and a swastika.

Silent Night Deadly Night 2 (1987, d. Lee Harry)

We spent the first part of the evening playing Mystery Date. I got the mental patient. On a serious note, this is the most formally complex American commercial film ever made and should be taught widely in narratology courses alongside Last Year at Marienbad and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. I’m being sincere. It absorbs and recycles its serial predecessor.

Bonus image!

Rage in joy.

Perhaps I should have reversed these.

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984, d. Edmund Purdom)

of a citizen above
suspicion … — “it’s me!”

Happy Yuletide Terror!

December 16

Mother of Tears (2007, d. Dario Argento)

A real Cinderella story.

I’ve often taken time here to defend Dario Argento’s recent output – much of which I’m inclined to call action-thrillers, largely drained of stylistic polish and that traditional neon color scheme of his best 70s and 80s work. And I still think very well of them, but I find this puzzling. I never really understood the appeal of Suspiria, which I find the least interesting of his classic films, and on a recent viewing of Inferno I found my esteem for it rose considerably. With Mother of Tears, I understood why friends who attended its TIFF premiere were so disappointed and, in some cases, outraged. Of all of his films to date, this is Argento’s most baffling, convoluted mess, and certainly not a film to close (whether I like it or not) a legacy.