It has been a long, weird week in the Mat Brewster home, culturally speaking. Work has been busy, keeping me from listening to things as often, or as intently as I might want. Evenings too have been a little weird. I’ve started several movies but for differing reasons have not finished them. Likely I’ll write about at least one of them next week as I do plan to finish them soon. What I did finish, I didn’t like all that much. [*cough* X-Men: Apocalypse *cough*]
So what’s a guy to do when he wants to bring forth five cool things in a week in which he didn’t actually consume five cool things? Why bring in some friends, of course. This week my Cinema Sentries cohort Shawn Bourdo has brought in a couple of cool things to fill us out.
You Must Remember This: Charles Manson’s Hollywood
Since I was a teenager, I’ve been fascinated by mass murderers and serial killers. I don’t know exactly why. There is the trainwreck aspect of it - the gore is so terribly gruesome it's hard to look away. But there is something truly interesting about someone who kills more than once, not for revenge or greed but for the sheer desire to end another person.
Charles Manson is probably the most famous murderer of all time (even if he didn't actually kill anybody himself). His crimes, though over four decades old, continue to tantalize people the world over. This is a man who has spent the vast majority of his life in prison. Yet in the few years he had as a free man, he managed to befriend celebrities including Beach Boy Dennis Wilson (who recorded two of Manson’s songs), became a cult leader, and brainwashed his “family” into committing several gruesome murders in order to start a race war he felt was being directly prophesied to him by The Beatles.
The excellent You Must Remember This podcast did a 12-part series on Charles Manson last year and it's an incredible piece of work. Writer/host Karina Longworth digs deep into Manson’s life, his “family”, his victims, and the various celebrities that strangely connected to him during the late '60s.
I highly recommend it. I recommend the podcast as a whole, actually. It's not normally interested in killers but rather tells the untold stories of old Hollywood.
John Carpenter’s The Fog
The other night I’d gotten the daughter to bed early and the wife was in bed sick so I found myself with the opportunity to watch anything I wanted. I settled on this 1980s horror film. I’d seen it once before, probably a decade ago, and actually remembered not liking it much at all (a quick perusal of IMDB finds that I rated it a 6 our to 10 stars). Now why I own a DVD copy of a movie I didn’t really like that much is a question I don’t have an answer to. But I’m glad I do.
This time around I found it to be quite affecting. The story is still pretty goofy - the ghosts of a leper colony have come back to murder the decedents of a small town who caused them to shipwreck 100 years ago. But the visuals are stunning. Carpenter knows fog photographs really well and he spends much of the film finding interesting ways to show it creeping across the landscape.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson’s third feature is hands-down my favorite of his films. I’d not seen it in several years so sometime this past week I made it my lunchtime movie. It's got all Anderson’s best attributes - his divine attention to detail, quirky characters, both humor and pathos in equal measure. and a soundtrack to die for - and none of his worst habits.
It's a film I enjoy more and more each time I watch it. It's so full of little things that I always find something new. The entire cast is terrific but Gene Hackman is brilliant. It might be my favorite performance of his ever. As always, Criterion did a great job of making the film look and sound amazing, and packaged it with the most wonderful of designs and special features.
And now for two cool things from Shawn Bourdo:
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
The weirdest set of characters to grace a TV show since David Lynch left television. I loved the BBC series and it makes me want to read the books by Douglas Adams.
The Dark Tower Series
I'm about halfway through the first book by Stephen King and it feels like it could be two movies already.
Rest in Peace, Mary Tyler Moore
We hope her death helps a whole new generation discover the timelessness of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.