#286- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Quick recap: An older couple invites a younger couple over one evening and it turns into a series of mind games and horrible secrets revealed.

Kirk: It could not be more simple, Luanne. You want me to show this to the cat, and have the cat tell you what it is? 'Cause the cat's going to get it.

Kirk: It could not be more simple, Luanne. You want me to show this to the cat, and have the cat tell you what it is? ‘Cause the cat’s going to get it.

Fun (?) fact: Bette Davis never said, ‘What a dump!’ like Martha (played by Elizabeth Taylor) said she did. She did however start saying it that way when she did her one-woman show.

How Elizabeth Taylor can make eating fried chicken look glamorous, I'll never know

How Elizabeth Taylor can make eating fried chicken look glamorous, I’ll never know

My thoughts: As someone who suffers from second-hand embarrassment on a daily basis, this movie was almost unbearable to watch at times. The other day, my cat Kiedis attempted to jump onto the counter but didn’t quite make it and I had to walk away because it was just that awkward. So, watching people fight, especially two amazing actors like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton was like torture for me.

This movie is the very opposite of any #relationshipgoals you might have, and yet, Martha and George are doing something right to have stayed married so long. It was the young couple I originally banked on surviving until the end of the film, but now I’m not so sure. Martha and George are both destructive tornadoes and if you get close you will be destroyed. But together, since they are both tornadoes, I suppose they cancel each other out or something. It was fascinating to watch the destruction of both relationships and the lingering hope at the end.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf apparently stays very faithful to the play, written originally by Edward Albee. There are only 4 main characters and just a couple of different sets. Normally, this might be where I lament why this was ever turned into a movie, but I know the answer to that-the acting. Oh my god, the acting. It’s no wonder everyone was nominated for an Academy Award because all of them were phenomenal. I briefly considered finding if there was a production going on somewhere I could watch, but for now I’ll shelve the idea because if there’s no Elizabeth Taylor, I’m not interested. I haven’t seen enough of her work to ‘get it’ before, but after watching this movie, I don’t need any more proof of her greatness.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Diner

 

 

#285- The Natural

Quick recap: Roy Hobbs appears seemingly out of nowhere to join a baseball league and in the span of one season becomes a legend.

look at him go!

look at him go!

Fun (?) fact: ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson was one of the inspirations for the character of Roy Hobbs. I’m sure there are more interesting facts out there about this movie, but my knowledge of baseball is very tiny and this was the only name I recognized.

 

My thoughts: Being left-handed, my dad used to joke with me that I would make an excellent baseball player. I loved the idea, but the truth was that the sport terrified me growing up. I played softball for a few seasons and I remember my mother bribing me with money if I would at least swing the bat and not cower in fear. No dice, mother. I still love the concept of the game now, but I’ll leave it up to the professionals and tiny children who are braver than me to play.

So, Robert Redford, who played Roy Hobbs, was basically made for this role. His character is almost sickingly sweet with his high morals, but it works in this context of an old fashioned baseball legend. Any other person playing the role and I would’ve scoffed my way through the film, but with Robert Redford as the lead, I’ll let it slide. I have no idea if he plays baseball in real life but he seems like the sort of person that would join a game for the fun of it.

The plot didn’t do much for me, but I can’t really remember why. My thoughts kind of glazed over at some point into a patriotic babble of apple pie, cookouts and playing catch with the Old Man. The Natural is one of those movies that gets passed down between father and son to strengthen an already intimate bond. It doesn’t really matter what happens because in the end, everyone is happy and America continues marching forward and bald eagles soar and……you get the picture.

Final review: 4/5. I thought about something lower but I feel any less would be unpatriotic.

Up next: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

 

#284- Häxan

Quick recap: A documentary-ish about Witchcraft through the ages

Don't feed after midnight

Don’t feed after midnight

Fun (?) fact: Director Benjamin Christensen originally planned on writing the script with the help of experts but dropped that idea when he learned they were against his movie.

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My thoughts: Another year of HorrorFest is in the books and another year where I still think the 1920s were a pretty creepy time. Häxan alone didn’t do much for me because ‘meh’ on witches, but people dressed UP as witches, no thank you. I’m not talking about the sexy kind we have walking around these days, but the ones with dead eyes featured in this film.

Häxan is half dry documentary about the history of witchcraft and half stories that the director heard. The dry documentary part was more interesting to me than the vignettes because people a long time ago imagined some pretty scary stuff. I’m all for science and learning how the world works, but sometimes it would just be nice to blame things on witches, you know? Like, it’s not my fault I didn’t get grades on time- my witch is a neighbor! I was going 30 mph over the speed limit because a witch cursed my foot. It works in every situation. We make jokes how stupid people back then used to be but they sure were the masters of shirking responsibility.

The vignettes are your typical witch fare of curses and making weird brews in a big pot. One ‘fact’ the director wanted us to remember is that witches like to kiss the butt of the devil. He mentions it 3 different times, complete with recreations of a bunch of witches lined up, ready to literally kiss ass. It seems like such a weird thing to focus on, as if that is the most offensive thing witches do. I didn’t know that was a thing before the movie, however, so I can’t completely hate on it. The more you know, I suppose.

Final review: 1/5. I’m still ‘meh’ on witches, but please don’t make me look at people dressed up during Halloween in the 1920s.

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Up next: The Wizard of Oz

 

#283- Eyes Without a Face

Quick recap: After a horrific accident, a father goes out of his way to try and repair his daughter’s face. It sounds like the sweetest story ever, until it is revealed he is murdering young women and stealing their faces.

there's a face that'll keep you up at night

there’s a face that’ll keep you up at night

Fun (?) fact: In order to get financial backing for the movie, director Georges Franju was advised to leave out the animal torture scenes (to not offend the English), too much blood (to not offend the French) and a mad-scientist character (to not offend the Germans).

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My thoughts: Many of the horror films I’ve watched from other countries do a nice job of building up suspense long after the movie is over. Except for Funny Games, which traumatized me from the very beginning. Eyes Without a Face is no exception. I thought it slow moving while I watched, but there were enough creepy scenes to keep me somewhat occupied. After the movie was over, however, I couldn’t get the image of the girl out of my head and it has stuck with me since then.

Unsettling is the best word I could use to describe the movie. There was never anything downright scary, but instead several scenes that unsettled me. The surgery scene, for example, as the doctor removed the girl’s face to transplant it on to his daughter’s. It was gruesome, but not terrifying. And then end scene when the doctor gets what’s coming to him was also gross but not scary. All the scenes in between, though, especially anything to do with the main character and her Mask of Gloom bothered me. She was very sweet and didn’t ask for any of this, but why did she have to look so creepy with the long, flowing night gowns? And whoever decided that the mask was an improvement over her disfigured face was out of their mind.

As has been the unofficial theme of HorrorFest this year, I had trouble trying to figure out exactly what I was supposed to fear. The doctor was evil, murdering pretty girls just for their faces, but that didn’t particularly scare me. Or maybe it was the girl herself, who, as I just described, creeped me out, but only because of the mask,not because of who she was. I can appreciate that my knowledge of the horror genre has increased, but it also makes me a little sad that it’s harder to find good movies that just scare me, without any rhyme or reason. Maybe one will pop up here next year, because this year has been a bit of a dud.

Final review: 3/5. The girl wasn’t enough for a higher rating, although the movie itself wasn’t bad overall

Up next: the last film of HorrorFest!