By all accounts, Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” should not have been such a stunning success. It’s an original murder mystery with an eye toward paying tribute to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie, and yet it’s such a brilliant work of cinema through and through. “Knives Out” is a traditionalist murder mystery ensemble piece but one that also evokes modern sensibility without resorting to pandering to a younger audience. You’re either in for the ride with “Knives Out,” or you’re not as it takes its time unfolding what is a sly, slick and fantastic crime thriller that kept me grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end.
In 1969, America was forever rocked by the vicious Tate-LaBianca murders which saw the Charles Manson family convicted for murdering five people including up and coming actress Sharon Tate. Decades later, Hollywood and many artists are still considerably fascinated not just by Charles Manson, but the Manson Family. On the anniversary of Sharon Tate’s murder, a lot of Hollywood jumped on the band wagon to find a way to highlight or explore the events leading up to her terrible murder. Except for Quentin Tarantino. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has managed to become yet another Tarantino masterpiece that has sparked endless discussion and arguments.
Despite the fact that Tarantino stages another alternate reality where the bad guys endured horrible deaths, “Once Upon a Time…” still managed to get approval from Sharon Tate’s family. And that’s probably because, refreshingly, Tarantino takes the piss out of Charles Manson and the Manson Family.
Quentin Tarantino has always been a connoisseur of Hollywood and the concept of filmmaking and storytelling. There’s a certain peculiar magic that comes with creating a narrative and how it allows the creator to do whatever they want. With all of Tarantino’s movies, he’s paid tribute to ideas like Chopsocky cinema, gangster pictures, blaxploitation, and with “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” he pays tribute to Hollywood and the one and only Sharon Tate.
The explanations I’ve read on online for “Simon, King of the Witches” insist that the obscure Andrew Prine movie is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s strictly dark comedy. But then you watch one of the most nonsensical unnecessary opening monologues ever filmed, and wonder if the writer himself was high while creating this genre confused tedious mess. “I really am one of the few true magicians,” Simon insists in the prologue, while declaring his affinity for magic, and aspirations to be a god. It is then followed by the man being arrested for vagrancy while being hulled away from his home: a sewer.
I have to say that I liked “The Dead Don’t Die.” It feels a lot like Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” doesn’t just seem to feel like his effort to give his own spin to the sub-genre, but it also feels like the proving ground for the man to be as bizarre and often stupid as he possibly can. With “The Dead Don’t Die” it’s a bit of an experimental and bizarre zombie comedy that has absolutely no breaks on. It throws everything at the wall to see what sticks, from terrible breaking of the fourth wall, clunky symbolism (chairs that look like tombstones! Hah! Get it?), sub-plots that go nowhere, and space ships.
With 2019 seeing the release of the animated reboot of “The Addams Family,” I thought it’d be fun to check out the line of Addams Family video games that came to consoles over the years. I’ve always been an Addams Family fan, preferring the darkly demented family over the more whimsical Munsters. Hopefully the animated movie can be the start of a brand new franchise like “Hotel Transylvania.” Until then, these are the Addams Family games from the absolute best to the utter worst.
What’s your favorite?
Joe Dante’s 1984 masterpiece “Gremlins” is that perfect hybrid of a movie and culture milestone that appeals to horror fans, and fans of Amblin and Spielberg. It influenced a whole sub-genre of monster movies, and serves a wonderful purpose as a Christmas movie and a horror movie. It’s also a perfect bit of gateway horror for blossoming fans that want to ease in to what kind of heights this genre is capable of. There are also the hallmarks of Dante’s films from the chaos and terror implanted in to the suburbs, and the always great Dick Miller.
Fantastic Fest 2019 has come and gone once again and we were lucky enough to take in some of their line up from this year’s festivities. There was some damn good short films at the fest this year, and we thought we’d spotlight the line up that played as “Fantastic Shorts,” “Short Fuse,” and were “Paired Shorts” with feature films in the festival. The festival had no shortage of genre shorts; if you’re ever near a film festival or are attending one, be sure to look out for these titles.