Wednesday, June 23, 2010

so you've returned to lengthen my shadow

On occasion, we find things we never knew we wanted:

Second Life,shopping,needles,pins,sewing,adornments,voodoo,voudon

"Needle decollete", she calls it. This is it in the red lace...

Second Life,shopping,needles,pins,sewing,adornments,voodoo,voudon the dark lace...

Second Life,shopping,needles,pins,sewing,adornments,voodoo,voudon

...and in the "Mystical Light" lace. Notice, especially on the close one--these are pearl-threaded needles trailing thread and bits of fabric. I especially like the color-changing; it will go with ever so many more outfits that way.

It's from the little shop in the lava field, these long threaded needles draped with gauze. The entire thing is touch-scripted to glow (or not) and to change color (or not). L$150. Stabs into your chest and flutters.

So, admittedly, I've been thinking about horror films. It's not exactly October, though I can revisit this list then, but I posted the "lesser-known" list yesterday. What would be on my list? Not necessarily greats, or even passables, but the ones I go back to, time and time again?

#10 has to be Blair Witch II: Book of Shadows:

Whereas the Blair Witch Project was, purportedly, a "true" story using "real" video and hand-held camera footage, the sequel had no such pretensions. But they wanted it to feel "authentic", and that, my friends, is where things skew so delightfully.

Admittedly, I will be honest--the movie works best if you are cynical, first, and pagan, second. Because the Wiccan character in Blair Witch II does everything wrong. I mean, completely, totally, if there's a way to cast or chant or even pray to the right godform...she spins it 180 and does it in reverse.

When she first hits the woods, she chants "Evil intent in the ground, may your release soon be found" over and over. When she's praying for guidance, she prays to Persephone, goddess of the underworld. "By earth and air and water and smoke, Persephone do I invoke..." It's...almost impressive, in a mind-numbing sense. If you have any pagan leanings at all--or have friends who've shared some of the multiple beliefs of the faith--you will be laughing hysterically in spots. It's an utter, braincell-slaying joy.

Even with that, though, it has its share of genuine unsettling moments, not the least of which is wondering what's real and what isn't, in terms of the movie's universe. We know--because we see the original events--what happened in the woods...don't we? Videotaped footage later found says otherwise. But videotapes can't be altered...

...can they?

A surprisingly canny question buried under some heavy-handed screenwriting, but there nonetheless, and still a pointed question to this day.

It's available to rent from Netflix, available to buy from Amazon, and if you're willing to be annoyed by technical glitches, you can watch it online.

#9 is Audition:

Director Takeshi Miike's profound and disturbing vision of the game of love, or what passes for it, in the modern day. Everyone's looking for something...but sometimes, we need to be very sure what we want and need is the same thing that the other we seek wants and needs.

It remains as powerfully raw and disturbing today as when it was first released; several members of several audiences, in fact, have walked out of showings of the movie. One notably broke down, though he later discharged himself from care.

It's set off some odd little ripples in other forms of media, as well; My Chemical Romance, for instance, turned one of their videos into a three-minute capsule of the film. (More or less; the ending changed. But to that point, it follows the film fairly closely.)

Audition is available on Amazon and on instant watch on Netflix.

#8 is 2001's Frailty:

Frailty is a deceptively simple film that asks the audience a simple question: is a man mad for listening to God? Then asks a follow-up on the heels of the first: Is that same man mad for killing people on God's command?

Sane, insane, religious and devout, schizophrenic and demented; the film delivers strong performances from an excellent cast that leaves you questioning which way the film's going to turn until the end. Inspired, genuinely inspired, and terrifying for its simplicity and honest presentation.

#7 is Alien:

Forget about the downline of the franchise, almost a full dozen films now: thirty-one years later, this claustrophobic little space epic still packs a punch. Now, yes, any horror fan worth their bloody popcorn knows about the Nostromo, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and what a Xenomorph actually looks like; but back then, we were given glimpses to the full picture only sidewise, and shadowed, and it worked surprisingly well. It was science fiction only tenuously, in that it was set in space; otherwise, the events could have happened anywhere, which made it perfect as a horror film.

It gave us new monsters to fear by virtue of not explaining much about them; and even though Dan O'Bannon, writer and screenwriter for Alien, admits it was gleefully plagiarized from every sf plot he could find, that makes it feel mythological, more than rehashed; we are invested in these characters nearly from the beginning, and we feel genuine shock when they get hurt.

It's available on Netflix, and also for sale on Amazon. I get the idea that it's not available to watch on Hulu, but mysteriously, Alien III is.

#6 is 2009's Orphan:

Orphan is a whole big ball of disturbing wrapped in a sweet sticky glaze of insanity all tied up with a bright red ribbon of WTF. I'm not kidding. Even assuming things are as we see them, it's wholly screwed up; but then the plot points drop, and everything we've seen before is turned on its ear.

We know from first sight of her that Esther has something wrong, deeply wrong, with her; but we're just the audience. Soon, how'ver, the wife of the couple that adopt Esther starts to feel it too; and from then on, it's us watching along, helplessly carried forward, as a couple's life completely disintegrates, with Esther spinning gracefully in the center, utterly deranged.

Absolutely compelling to watch, vicious hook of an ending, brilliant casting. This one will linger.

It's available on Netflix for rent, and on Amazon for purchase; a quick search didn't turn up another online source, though at the still regrettably-named SyFy Channel, you can catch an excerpt and interview with the director of the film if you like.

Think I'm posting the next five later, as this is becoming a rather largeish post.

And they're not specifically in any particular order, save for numbers 10 and 1. I really felt those two needed to be the top and bottom of the list.

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