To all our Eastern Seaboard US readers, stay safe! "Sandy" is raging toward us. Should I lose power there are are a few posts ready to be published. The storm begs a movie question... What movie scenes or entire movie sequences come to mind when you think about stormy weather?
I mean besides Dorothy & the twister and her sudden transport to Oz... which has never and will never be bested in human movie history... especially once you include her technicolor recap of the events. Which is like the best in-movie "previously on..." moment ever.
♫ It really was no miracle.
What happened was just this.
The wind began to switch,
the house to pitch
And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.
Just then the Witch,
to satisfy an itch
Went flying on her broomstick,
thumbing for a hitch. ♩♪
My god, I just love that movie so much, don't you? Judy. Judy. Judy. Any chance to think of her is welcome. Even if it means violent house threatening weather.
But oddly the first thing I thought of out in the rain today was the climax of Four Weddings and a Funeral when Andie MacDowell was all...
My brain is so weird.
Before I embarrass myself further, I'll turn it over to you. Favorite stormy movies?
One week from tomorrow we choose America's future. Every time I see a statistical tie or tight race type of poll I hear Giles' weary dismay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The earth is doomed."
Here Lies... "Mrs. Warren" the bedridden matriarch of a Victorian mansion that's haunted by a serial killer.
Hasn't Team Experience been doing a great job with the Oscar Horrors series? I figured, after passing out all these assignments, that it was time I chimed in, so I filled in one of my own Supporting Actress viewing gaps with Ethel Barrymore's Oscar nominated work in The Spiral Staircase (1945). This black and white horror flick, an early member of the neverending serial killer subgenre, is set almost entirely in an old mansion where our mute protagonist Helen (Dorothy McGuire of Gentleman's Agreement fame) works. It's not at all clear what her job is since she's neither nurse nor maid nor cook, those duties being performed with "hey, I'm in this movie, too!" gusto by How Green Was My Valley mama Sara Allgood and the Bride of Frankenstein herself, Elsa Lanchester.
We first meet "Mrs. Warren" twenty minutes into the picture. Nurse Barker (Allgood) warns Helen that their boss is in a mood...
She's sly, too. Even with her eyes closed she seems to be watching you like an evil spirit."
...but the nurse's warning doubles as an impossibly truthful, succinct and funny description of Ethel Barrymore's entire performance. I half imagined Nurse Barker tweeting it with the hashtag #ItsBarrymoreBitch
Ethel Barrymore died 17 years before her great niece Drew Barrymore was born but I kept thinking of Drew during the movie. Perhaps it was the through line of Barrymore Girls & Acclaimed Performances in Horror Flicks? Drew Barrymore was, infamously, the first kill in Scream (1996). Tough demanding Mrs. Warren might have rescued poor Casey by insisting she hang up that phone immediately and hide under her bed.
In horror parlance Ethel's "Mrs Warren" is no Victim or Final Girl but something like a cross between Psychic "Tangina" and overbearing monster mom... "Mrs. Norma Bates" ? Barrymore makes excellent use of her eyes and modulation of her voice but it's a very limited role consisting of essentially the same three point scene on repeat:
- Sassy Rudeness #ItsBarrymoreBitch
- Fade into Ill Health/Sleepiness
- Sudden Snap Back to Life for either:
a) Ominous Pronouncement: "There's been another murder hasn't there? No one told me. I always know everything."
b) Direct Warning: "You're not safe here my dear. Leave this house at once."
The Spiral Staircase is something of a predictable dud now since horror movies have been so endlessly dissected, parodied, and Screamed in the last few decades and this is an old school blueprint -- the women here are always doing stupid things like walking into dark basements when they hear noises / feel a draft! -- but it's worth a watch for its quartet of Supporting Actress: domineering Ethel, put-upon fussbudget Sara, drunk funny Elsa and emotional hussy Rhonda Fleming. They all run circles around McGuire, a Damsel in Distress with only her muteness as a defining characteristic, but someone's got to keep your pulse up when you're watching a horror movie. Actresses to the rescue!... in the case of Ethel Barrymore, quite literally.
Argo F*** yourself!"
That's what I imagine Ben Affleck and team were saying to their box office competition this weekend. In the Best Picture hopeful's third weekend, it climbed to the top of the charts which is a fine very good extremely significant sign that it's going to have legs and thus a indefatigable sturdy stride towards February's Oscar ceremony. Those getting f***ed included Cloud Atlas (some are wild for it -- see below -- some think its silly but the nearly 3 hour running time and gargantuan budget have made profit a ridiculously ambitious dream), and Chasing Mavericks... When was the last time Gerard Butler had a real hit? Was it The Ugly Truth? The specialty box office was good for The Loneliest Planet (reviewed) and The Sessions which will continue to expand as it moves into awards season.
Box Office 15
01 ARGO $12.3 (cum $60.7)
02 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA $9.5 (cum. $130.4)
03 CLOUD ATLAS $9.4 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*
04 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 $8.6 (cum. $42.6)
05 TAKEN 2 $8 (cum. $117.3)
06 SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D $8 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*
07 HERE COMES THE BOOM $5.5 (cum $30.6)
08 SINISTER $5 (cum $39.5)
09 ALEX CROSS $5 (cum $19.3)
10 FUN SIZE $4 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*
11 PITCH PERFECT $3.9 (cum $51.3) podcast fun
12 FRANKENWEENIE $2.4 (cum $31.7) capsule | notes on the original short
13 CHASING MAVERICKS $2.2 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*
14 LOOPER $2.1 (cum $61.5) Review
15 SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS $1.4 (cum $11.9)
What did you see this past week?
I saw Anna Karenina but Cloud Atlas eluded me in part because I am allergic to three hour movies, in part because I haven't rushed to see it because I disliked every single film the Wachowski Siblings made after The Matrix (which I didn't even love as much as Bound so it's frankly been all downhill with them since their debut). But mostly I missed it because my favorite theater stopped showing movies at 2 pm today (!) -- presumably due to Hurricane Sandy (quite the troublemaker) -- and the subways are also closing up tonight which is big trouble. Boo. Thankfully I have screeners to keep me company and Sunday night is always good television (Revenge + Homeland. Holla!)