I have somewhat eclectic cinematic tastes. I’m just as thrilled to see classic American films like Casablanca or To Kill a Mockingbird as I am modern blockbusters such as the Marvel movies or the new Star Wars. I can sit contemplatively through even the densest Bergman or Godard arthouse films and fist pump at creative kills in an '80s slasher flick or the sadomasochistic weirdness that is Takashi Miike movies.
As such, I am perpetually feeling guilty about not watching one sort of film or another. If I start watching a bunch of big budget, smashy-smashy, exploding movies, then I feel bad that I haven’t seen all the classics on my wish list. Then when I sit through a few classics, I feel remorse over them not being more art-house or foreign. If I switch to that, then I’ll see a listicle in my Facebook feed about Italian exploitation cinema and I’ll fret about not having seen most of those. On and on it goes. No matter what I’m watching I’m always thinking about the things I haven’t seen.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not really losing sleep over this, and I suppose it's the curse of all cinephiles to think about all the films out there that have yet to be watched. There is joy in that as well, knowing there is a lifetime of great cinema ahead in one's future.
Still, I do sometimes wish I had a greater knowledge in one cinematic area rather than a little bit from so many genres. One of the extras on Arrow Video’s new release of The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is an interview with critic Stephen Thrower who gives an in-depth discussion on the film and how it fits into the giallo genre and Italian cinema at large. Thrower has appeared on several of Arrow’s releases and he always demonstrates a far-reaching knowledge of exploitation cinema.
He’s kind of my hero. I just love the idea that there is someone who has not only seen all of these sleazy old pictures, but has really studied them and can place them in an academic context. As I’m watching him talk, I’m thinking to myself that maybe I could study all these old Italian horror flicks and become an academic in the field. But then the next day I find, in storage, my copy of 1001 Films to Watch Before You Die and I want to do nothing but watch all of those films, and my dreams of being Mr. Giallo fade away.
Round and round that goes. Circle gets complete. I don’t know that I’ll ever have the discipline to really study one genre or director or whatever, but it's fun to contemplate. I tell ya what though, if I ever want to study the Italians, Arrow Video is where I’d start. They are really doing terrific work with their giallo collections. The aforementioned Evelyn comes in a double bill with The Red Queen Kills Seven Times and it's a brilliant set. Upgraded audio and video plus loads of extra including audio commentaries; interviews with cast, crew, and critics; plus loads more.
I might not be ready to go full time into the genre, but this set gets me one step closer. That’s certainly enough to make Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers my pick of the week.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
The Player (Criterion Collection): Robert Altman’s brilliant satirical take on Hollywood gets the Criterion treatment. I haven’t seen it since college but I’m betting it's gotten better with age (and a few hundred more movies under my belt).
The Finest Hours: Captain Kirk (or at least the actor who plays him in the new films) leads a four-man team of Coast Guardsmen (that's what they are called, I looked it up) to rescue dozens of seamen trapped on a sinking tanker in this based-on-a-true-story drama.
How to Be Single: Dumb-looking comedy that stars Alison Brie (amongst several others including Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson). Normally I wouldn’t mention such a film but Brie gets me all tingly in all the right places so it goes on the list.
Risen: Jesus movie starring Tom Felton and Joseph Fiennes about a Roman military dude (that's what they are called, I looked it up) who is charged with finding out what happened to Jesus after he disappeared from the grave (spoiler alert He rose!) I half expect this to be an attempt to make the George Clooney film within a film from the Coen Brothers' movie Hail, Caesar!
Zoolander 2: Packed with cameos (including Justin Bieber, Katie Coric, Christiane Amanpour, and Matt Lauer amongst many others), the sequel to Ben Stiller’s comedy about the fashion business, is…well I don’t even know what. I didn’t see the first one and I have no real desire to see this, but I know plenty of readers are excited about it.
Call the Midwife: Season Five: I still need to start watching this PBS series about a group of midwives in 1950s London (a fact I’ve noted in nearly every seasonal release right here in this column.)
Zapped!: This silly '80s comedy starring Scott Baio and William Aames about a boy who gets telekinetic powers (spoiler alert he uses it to rip the clothes of beautiful women) played regularly on basic cable stations when I was a pubescent boy. I’m sure my memories of it are much fonder than anything approaching reality, but I’m kind of excited about this Blu-ray upgrade from Olive Films.