Last night’s viewing. Rebecca Hall plays a researcher and popular author who exposes fraudulent mediums in England shortly after World War I. She’s invited by schoolmaster Dominic West (best known here as McNulty in The Wire) to find the ghost of a young child that has been haunting the school grounds, or (she presumes) expose the non-ghostly culprit who is the real source.
This is a damned good, psychologically-driven ghost story of the kind Hollywood doesn’t really make any longer, not often, though in keeping with the times, there are a few visual nods to contemporary American horror films like the Ring remakes (and The Sixth Sense, for better or worse). The story works both on the themes of the modern horrors of the first War, and the legacies of violence and abuse with the emotional damage they cause.
Hall is, essentially, dashing the hopes of bereaved survivors of the war dead, even for the purpose of truth (the grieving are being taken by con artists, although willingly so). This theme becomes more complicated as the film progresses; traumas both personal and cultural intertwine in unexpected ways, and Hall learns she may have unconscious reasons for taking her line of work. The title, like any good one, carries more than one meaning for the story; ghosts from the past can haunt the living in more than one way.
Most of the best horror films I’ve seen in the past decade have been produced outside of the U.S., and this British film is a great example (it was not released in theaters here, but went straight to video). We’re too busy churning out shitty Saw and “found footage” garbage, unfortunately, aside from interesting movies on the margins, away from Hollywood.The Awakening is beautifully shot, with strong screen compositions which demonstrates the care and thought that the filmmakers brought to the production. There are lyrical overhead shots and slow camera pans that visually construct an atmosphere of mystery - these impressed me much more than a few quick jump-cuts, also in the film, that nod to a different type of contemporary horror film.
It’s also worth noting that Hall is playing a female character not common enough in horror films (especially now). She’s not a victim, or, in spite of the setting, a governess or teacher (though the story calls to Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw). She’s chasing the ghost, after all. The story isn’t particularly Gothic, either, as Hall commands modern science (of the time) in her research, and the WWI theme brings something different (and horrifying in a different sense) to the story.
i loved ellen raskin’s books as a kid, but i didn’t know until today that she was also a talented illustrator/designer and that she even did the iconic wrinkle in time cover you see here. just lovely. (image from here.)
That’s the edition of A Wrinkle in Time I checked out of the local library (multiple times) when I was a young ‘un.
I loved The Westing Game. I re-read it as an adult & it holds up!
You check your very first boss’s email, as laid out in your job description. He is a very important literary agent who does not have time, particularly after a three-martini lunch, to thoroughly check his email. But you are thorough. Among the emails you find is a reply to your boss’s…
Here Comes a Regular - The Replacements (from Tim, 1985)
I was looking up Replacements clips on YouTube this morning, and found a good recording of Paul Westerberg playing this song at what looked like a radio station broadcast somewhere. I hadn’t listened to it in a while, and I discovered how great it is all over again. And then I thought about the possibility that Westerberg was writing a thinly-veiled metaphor for his relationship with the other Replacements - particularly Bob Stinson, who didn’t like Paul’s new singer/songwriter-driven creative direction at the time. It’s a song about someone grown disenchanted with hanging out in bars pounding back beers, feeling that his friends might be holding him back. The next Replacements record, Pleased to Meet Me, was arguably the first Paul Westerberg solo record. I seriously doubt that I’m the first person to ever think of this, but the idea hit me strongly this morning.
On Twitter yesterday I went on about how New Adult is a bona fide category now — so much so that there’s a way to report them specifically at Publishers Marketplace — but that it won’t be “real” to me unless literary novels by men that qualify actually get classified that way. And since everyone…