Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ken Russell: Gothic/Lair of the White Worm

As this retrospective comes to an end, I thought it appropriate to review these two low-budget horror efforts by Ken Russell together (I understand that this may seem like an arbitrary stopping-off point, but this is the conclusion I feel the retrospective has led itself to). Both Gothic and Lair of the White Worm are two very different types of horror films – the former is cerebral and fantastical like the best of Russell’s work while the latter is lazy b-level filmmaking that is not reminiscent of Russell at all – that Russell ended up making because he needed money. Russell, coming fresh off an unsuccessful two-film run in America (read about those here and here), came back from his American sojourn looking to get back to small, non-studio films. However, what he really was looking to do was bankroll some more films with low budget horror flicks that he thought he could get to make him some money. The result wasn’t anything that catapulted Russell back into the forefront of experimental cinema (although he did experiment a lot with home video stuff), and, sadly, kind of ended his career more as “that guy from Big Brother” than one of the most amazing auteurs of the 70s. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Four Years of Blogging and 2011 (sorta) in Review

There’s this tendency in the blogosphere that if one doesn’t move quickly -- whether that's with their thoughts on the latest movie or by the amount of posts they produce -- they’ll be rendered insignificant. Now, granted, this may all be made up in my own mind since I am a person that prefers to view films and post about them at my own speed, but I think there is this general feeling that if your site isn’t getting hits – and isn’t getting hits about the latest releases – then you’re doing something wrong. 

No, this isn’t one of those posts where I proclaim that I just can’t do this anymore – because, seriously, how much of a chore is it really to watch and write about movies – no, the thing I constantly have to come to terms with are the droughts – the three or four month periods of time – where I go without having the time to really watch or write about anything. That, for me, is the hardest part: finding a balance between work and life and hobby. I suppose I could do the Twitter thing to share my initial thoughts about things, but I would hate to replace this blog with 140 characters or less. So, considering this is the blog’s fourth anniversary, I think I’m going to do something different this year for my year-end post. One reason is I haven’t even begun to make a dent on my viewing list for movies released this past year. I think I’ve seen maybe 25 movies, tops. I only went to the theater five times this year – three of those were to see The Tree of Life – and my queue at home has grown when usually I’ve pared it down to a just a couple of films by this time of the year. So, I can’t do a traditional list this year because there’s still so much for me to see (as you’ll see late on in this post), and I just didn’t have the time to see everything I needed to (or even write about the films I did see, for that matter…there’s still about 10 half-assed capsule reviews on my flash drive that I don’t think will ever see the light of day). Instead, I think I’m going to piggyback off of an idea that Jim Emerson linked to in a recent post.

Before we get to what Emerson has to say, though, I should say a few things about the 2011 films I did see...