Memory is a funny thing. I can remember very clearly the first time I watched Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. I remember the apartment we were living in, which dates the viewing to around 2006-2007. I remember that small living room. I remember watching it on the floor. I remember my wife sitting on the couch doing something else - probably grading papers or studying for an exam so she wasn’t paying close attention to the movie. It was the weekend, either Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. I remember all that but hardly anything about the movie except for the titular bird and how little it had anything to do with the plot.
Memory plays a distinct role in the film too as the hero begins the film by witnessing an attempted murder, yet there is something about the scene that seems off to him. As the story continues, he regularly thinks about what he saw, playing the moment over and over in his head trying to find that one detail that might help him solve the crime. As he does, Argento shows us the scene from different angles and varying zooms as a way to reenact the character’s own memories.
It is an auspicious debut film. With it, Argento almost single-handedly put Italian Horror on the international map and went on to make some of the greatest films in the genre. Arrow Video is putting out a beautiful new release of the film with a spiffed up audio/video transfer and loads of extras. It was an easy choice to make this week and for once you get a review of my pick.
Life: Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this Alien rip-off about an international space crew that discover life on Mars and quickly have theirs removed by it.
The Lawnmower Man: Collector’s Edition: I saw this early '90s sci-fi flick about a simple-minded gardner who receives intelligence-enhancing drugs on a whim with my mother when it first hit theaters. I remember nothing about it but it introduced me to Jeff Fahey and so I’ll forever be in its debt.
The Paul Naschy Collection: Last week, I was intrigued by Naschy’s Inquisition (and Luigi Bastardo gave us a full review) and now there’s a whole boxed set of his films! Includes Vengeance of the Zombies, Horror Rises From the Tomb, Blues Eyes of the Broken Doll, Night of the Werewolf, and Human Beasts.
The Marseille Trilogy (Criterion Collection): French director Marcel Pagnol’s poignant love trilogy gets the Criterion treatment.