Review: The Exorcist III

Review: The Exorcist III (1990)

Director: William Peter Blatty

Writer: William Peter Blatty

Stars: George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Ed Flanders

currently available on Amazon Proime (as of 10/30/19)

William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III is supernaturally exhilarating, spellbinding its viewers in fascinated horror as it entrances them with incomparable dialog and some of the most intense performances ever captured on film.  The original novel The Exorcist, which was also written by Blatty, was transformed into a bona fide horror masterpiece by the sure hand of master director William Friedkin (The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A., Bug).  When Blatty took over the director’s chair to adapt its first true sequel (I am discountingThe Exorcist 2 which was a shameless cash grab disowned by Blatty), he touched the film with a passionate knowledge of self, missing from the coldly scientific perspective of Friedkin’s masterpiece.  This means that pain and evil each drip from the screen during The Exorcist III, making it no less horrifying and nearly as fascinating as 1972’s The Exorcist..

Whereas Friedkin filmed his experiment in horror like a police procedural, The Exorcist III(which is actually a police procedural) is filmed with an emotional lens, making its shadows deeper and its reality more pliable.  Characters transform their faces and voices, figures crawl quickly on the ceiling, and a crucified adolescent innocent floats up from a hole in the floor.  While all the horrific descriptions and depictions of violence might risk guiding viewers to look away, the film’s performances are absolutely riveting, especially the starring turn by George C. Scott.

The pain and the terror in Scott’s face is deeply meaningful, and the rage in his arms is captivating.  It is almost as if, in times of great emotional strife, Scott’s character Lt. William Kinderman loses control of his muscles as they spasm in pain.  But it is not only Scott’s performance that elevates the film, but also Ed Flanders’ portrayal of horror-hardened Priest Father Dyer that grounds the emotion of the film in wise empathy.  But it is Brad Dourif’s spellbinding showing as the malevolent Gemini Killer that makes the film intoxicating.

Unlike his magnificent showing in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as the suicidally bashful Billy Bibbit, Dourif’s turn in The Exorcist III shows us the self-assured face of evil.  Imprisoned, tormented, and unstoppable.  This film shows the monstrous nature of evil, forbidding its audience from looking away even for a second.  Though to my perspective this is not the staggering achievement the original The Exorcist was, this film is more emotionally tangible than its predecessor, and definitely as worthy of a watch this Halloween.

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Review: The Exorcist III

Movie Review: Cam

Many Netflix original movies have so far ranged from simply awful (The Cobbler, The Ridiculous 6) to charmingly loopy (The Babysitter, Turbo Kid), frequently producing content that simply would not fly in a theatrical release, either due to shocking and unexpected violence or the laziest of comic writing.  However, with 2017’s Wheelman Netflix showed that it could produce a first-rate thriller, creating a fast-paced, exciting ride, even if the plot was a little thin for a theatrical release.  2018’s Cam represents another step forward for the production team, crafting an immensely watchable and unconventional thrill ride, one that is familiar in the type of tension it brings to the fore yet wholly modern in its conclusion.

Though Cam was helmed by promising first-time director Daniel Goldharber (and co-written by Goldharber and Isabelle Link-Levy), the story comes from Ilsa Mazzei, who used her own experience as a working cam girl to color the piece with an unmistakable layer of authenticity.  The story concerns Alice Ackerman (Madeline Brewer), an enterprising young woman who makes a more than healthy living as a cam girl, which is a term I was unaware of before I saw the film.  Cam girls make their money by performing an improvisational pornographic cabaret in front of their personal webcam, receiving suggestions and payment from legions of leering patrons.  The film offers a peek inside the world of the cam girl, including the friendships, collaborations, and antipathy shared among this society of modern entrepreneurs.  Early in the film’s runtime, however, Cam takes a turn to the dark underbelly of the Cam girl business, making of itself an unconventional and immensely watchable thriller.

As the movie never strays from her character’s point of view, Madeline Brewer delivers what could be a star-making performance, displaying in equal parts intelligence, strength, resourcefulness, and desperation.  As Ackerman and her cam girl pseudonym “Lola_Lola” are toyed with by a mysterious doppleganger, the film’s tension expands into unexpected avenues, keeping the tension tangible and unconventional.  There is at one point a threat that Ackerman’s cam girl persona might be exposed to her friends and family, and while a more conventional look into this business might cast this as the ultimate horror, Cam simply allows it to happen and then deals with the consequences.  The greater threat comes from the false “Lola_Lola,” and in a climactic showdown that takes place entirely on Ackerman’s webcam, she vanquishes the threat and regains control of her digital identity.

Though the film is littered with excellent supporting performances, most notably from Kevin Druid (13 Reasons Why) as Ackerman’s younger brother and Patch Darragh (The First Purge) as her most slavish patron, the film lives and breathes through its star.  Brewer’s performance acts as the perfect conduit for the statement being made by Ilsa Mazzei, that cam girls are not like prostitutes or even strippers whom could become victims of exploitation, but are more akin to explorers in a new field of profitable sexuality.  Though this statement might seem dubious to some, particularly Ackerman’s mother Lynne (Melora Walters), Cam constructs a fascinating argument, and heralds the arrival of exciting new talent in modern filmmaking.

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Movie Review: Cam

Poem: The Future

At bottom is a gulf between, each and every

soul bent apart, twisted pygmy, reading eyelids

inner night vision, grasping hopeless horror

overlong listing in slumber, bored building blocks

bastardize violence, besmirch baritone drawls

deeply resonant, like a tuning

fork in the throat, bleeding us empty, helpless

plaintiff stemming with chopsticks, humanity falls away

in modern times, naught to be done.

 

OR, the holy 2-letter bite size

spit bubble, opening trapdoor politics with a hammer

sickle and sinister thought, rising tides horizon

settling a score as old as time, versus confusion

fakery, swat the flies, kill the beasts, trample the protestors

on the capitol steps, as do what thou wilt

is the only law, if you can afford it, that is

factual forces farm, blood fertilizing the soil

with souls of sinners, we will dance, hopefully.

Poem: The Future

Movie Review: Oldboy (2003)

Oldboy (2003)

Director: Park Chan-wook

Writer: Garon Tsuchiya (story), Nobuaki Minegishi (comic), Park Chan-wook, Chun-hyeong Lim, Jo-yun Hwang (screenplay)

Actors: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Hye-jeong Kang

Available now on Netflix

When I first saw it in 2005, Park Chan-wook’s seminal standout Oldboy knocked me on my ass, enrapturing me in a world of heretofore unrealized filmmaking potential.  It seemed so alive.  From the first scene of Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) yelping in drunken rage from a bench in the police station, it was plainly evident that this film was the work of a master.  From the exquisitely crafted set pieces to the relentless movement of the action scenes, it is easy to see why this movie, which was not originally submitted for competition to the Cannes film festival, ended up winning the Grand Prix (unofficial second place).  Though at it’s heart, Oldboy is in many ways a horror movie, and the squeamish might do themselves a favor by staying away, for those with the stomach for it, there is scarcely a better movie-watching experience to be had.

At the beginning of the movie, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), a nondescript, drunken Korean office worker, is kidnapped and imprisoned in what seems like a shabby hotel room.  He is kept prisoner in this one room for fifteen years.  In these fifteen long years, while he trains himself obsessively, he also becomes increasingly unhinged.  When he is unexpectedly released inside of a suitcase on top of a high-rise, he has only one goal, to discover what happened to him.  This is a very compelling plot line, and though I believe it would have been engrossing enough to hold my interest whoever the performers were, Choi Min-sik does a superb job of making his character seem genuinely deranged.  When he is released on the skyscraper’s roof, he stops a man from committing suicide, only to break into a wide grin as the man finally does kill himself moments afterwards.

As the plot twists its way through various insane and unseemly revelations, Park Chan-wook fills the movie’s running time with unforgettable scenes and sequences, creating an entrancing head-trip of a movie.  One scene that is undoubtedly the movie’s feature attraction, a three-minute fight scene where the hero dispatches with a hallway full of faceless thugs using only a hammer, is only one of the notable scenes in Oldboy.  Choi Min-sik devouring a living octopus whole, as well as the villain (Yoo Ji-tae) clad in a gas mask and hazmat suit spooning a naked Oh Dae-su are two more examples of the enthralling artistry on display in this movie.

As the particularities of the plot reveal themselves and the story delivers a sickening denouement, the true intricacy of Oldboy reveals itself.  As the movie ends and each character’s path finds its own twisted conclusion, a message finally makes itself clear.  This is a movie about obsession, showing the way that vengeance, especially when taken to its greatest possible extremes, brings only evil into the world.  Through his use of ecstatically inventive filmmaking, Park Chan-wook has created an unflinching, deeply entertaining, and philosophically relevant work of art.

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Movie Review: Oldboy (2003)

Poem: Beacon

Hollow artifice, ironically surrendering, seriously

stationing paper doll houses, slinkily pointed snakebite

venom of eternity, puncturing the platitudinous

anchors chaining patriarchy, stone faces, mountain hollows

frakked for gold and frankincense, under the glower

cloudless blue forever, until it burns to see

what’s being done, that it is nothing until tomorrow

tornado sharks raining, spin one eighty

jesus christ it’s almost here, unstoppable endings.

 

Fear the fathomless hope, haunting dreams

whistling horror head holes, wicked banalities

whisper “never” sweetly, to be ignored

forever, fight with a smiling fist, into the mirror

frowning falsehoods, discover the dawn break

exterior startling, feelings dazzle the drunken

heart breakers, flash the bro faces blind

stumbling over footstools, existing as a hurricane

lighthouse unmoving, point the way to the soul.

Poem: Beacon

Poetry: Frustrations

Helpless shitting, that’s what we call it

when you spew your poison, out into the air

with its fascist leanings, but you can’t help yourself

can you, malcontent squabble

that will be your disintegration.

 

Narcissistic poisons elegantly costume kings, evil as they are

already, flamboyant extravagances dance

chained by the neck together, torturing a cripple

like me, convinced of a sleepover

simple Simon sad son, bating hate.

 

The way it is, this is as awful as ever

and ever on it seems, I can barely remember

yesterday anymore, but before I know it

things will be normalized, but I wonder

if sky will remain, blue like fresh clean water

Poetry: Frustrations

Poem: Contested Bloodbath

“Their skin is different and they’re coming!”

scream enflamed anuses, wearing masks and burning leaflets,

censored Wicker Man stuck in a Nicolas Cage,

“Rage is power” scream dire spokesmen, “Unleash and burn it all!”

stupid blades jag left and write, authoring wars of confused misdirection,

rope-a-dope movement, dump it in the fryer, sleep to the scream symphony,

“It’s my party and you’ll die if I want you to,”

delegates bound with twine, chewing cud and bullshit,

hanging from rafters and pissing on the electorate,

“”Plunge suffocation,” master says, “this man lost faith”

standing over onetime prophet, shoving his head in a bucket,

face force into sunlight, offstruck at the hinge,

“Not one of us will know rules but dangers are all around,”

read by the light of their glowing eyes, dream by the paranoid light,

the spies everywhere, false hearts in drunken frenzy,

“Look!” the hangman spouts, “to your left is a liar,”

bathe in kin blood, don’t look back, future reflective blindsight,

blodpile champion, leading down a darkened suicide,

“Hear the shouts and raise the blinds high, we finally come home,”

months after, the carnage was through,

the dead outnumber the living, and no one sings the old songs.

Poem: Contested Bloodbath