Month: September 2015

Dailies: Have You Met Abbie Normal?

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Feeling more low-key today, so this will be a short one. The image above is from one of the great parody horror films: Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein (1974). Lots of fun with names and mispronunciation of names (“Frankensteen!”), including the supposed owner of the brain that Igor steals for his master: “Abbie Normal.” Hey: no one’s perfect.

Every now and then, when something seems amiss (why are there golfball-sized hailstones coming down out there? why does my foot feel so weird? why do I keep getting invitations to someone else’s 25th anniversary party?), I find myself saying: “Now that’s Abbie Normal.” Pin all the unexplained phenomenon on her; you’ll feel better about it.

Films about Filmmaking, Part I: Hugo (2011)

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Over the next week (or so), I’ll look at three films that explore the magic of filmmaking, with old-looking cameras and projectors in the spotlight, so to speak: (1963), Cinema Paradiso (1988), and Hugo (2011). Unlike previous features, I’ll break this one up into three parts, starting in reverse order.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is set in 1930s Paris and explores the later years of film artist and technical innovator Georges Méliès. Based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), Scorsese’s adaptation focuses on the relationship between an orphaned boy, Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who winds all the clocks in Montparnasse train station, and Méliès himself (Ben Kingsley), who runs a toyshop in the same station and has become embittered by the modern world’s neglect of his artistry.

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Dailies: Talk Back Tuesday, Or Why We Love…

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I celebrate Halloween for the entire month of October, though my celebrations take a different form each year. For example, I used to “go out” for Halloween and dress up; I don’t anymore, but I see nothing wrong with it: there’s the pageantry, and the general appreciation of things dark and subterranean and slightly anarchical. And isn’t that the essence of Halloween and its associated film genre, hahrah, an examination (sometimes intelligent, sometimes not so much) of the disorderly aspects of life, sometimes operating underneath the surface? This is partly the concern of the Gothic, the literary genre most responsible for influencing cinematic horror: there’s a beautiful ancestral home (say, in an exotic locale of Italy or France) in which reside beautiful residents; but these pleasing exteriors disguise something foul, something rotting underneath.

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Why We Love Breaking Bad, Reason #5: The “Fascination of the Abomination” (Mr. White is Not Your Friend)

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Sometime last week I decided to change up one of my Reasons for loving Breaking Bad. Why? Because my original Reason #3, “The Primal Urge of Human Pride,” seemed too similar to “The Beauty of Human Frailty” (Reason #1). And also because I had to admit to myself that the show, and its protagonist Walter White, had something like an unhealthy hold on me. Liking “the bad guy” is frighteningly easy, but analyzing why we like him is something we’re not always willing to do. So, finally, with the stake in my hand, the salt and matches in my pocket, I set forth to deal once and for all with this horror show—what Marlow, in Heart of Darkness, calls the “fascination of the abomination,” which is my Reason #5. (This piece is a little different. You’ve been warned…)

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