Respect and affection for the late Nichelle Nichols, 89, whose casting as Lt. Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series (9.8.66 to 6.3.69) and beyond, was a huge deal, representation-wise, in the late ’60s. Her big kissing scene with William Shatner (“Plato’s Stepchildren“, 11.22.68) was quite the historical benchmark.
“House of Darkness isn’t that bad,” I wrote. “Creepy, diverting, socially thoughtful — altogether a half-decent sit.”
I described it as “an elevated horror film that uses (borrows?) themes and situations from Promising Young Woman and Midsommar.”
I added that “when it opens, House of Darkness, which costars Kate Bosworth and Justin Long, will probably be attacked as a metaphorical woman-hating horror film. Or a man-hating #MeToo horror film. Or something like that.
“It’s definitely trafficking in social metaphor — #MeToo and #TimesUp and others in the women’s progressive movement looking to bring pain and terror to the male jerks of the world.
“I don’t think House of Darkness does anything phenomenal. All it does is apply the basic LaBute attitude software to Promising Young Midsommar.”
The trailer tries to sell House of Darkness as a reimagining of the classic Dracula tale….except it isn’t. (It’s much more interesting than what that suggests.) The ostensible distributor or at least the producer is Dark House Films, Inc.
Michael Caine‘s Jack Carter is an icy, ruthless bastard in Mike Hodges‘ Get Carter (’71). A real brute and a shit of a human being, and yet curiously emotional in a deeply buried sense. Which is to say a psychopath who cares about “family”, or at least about a certain offspring.
Carter is emotionally enraged, to put it mildly, over the death of his brother and the sexual molestation of his brother’s (or more likely Carter’s) daughter, Doreen (Petra Markham) and yet brusquely efficient when it comes to dispatching certain citizens of Newcastle. Five, to be exact, and none of them assassins or muscle types (like Carter) but basically go-alongers.
What stands out in Get Carter isn’t so much that Caine murders three shady fellows — Ian Hendry‘s “Eric Paice” (whose eyes are like “pissholes in the snow”, Carter observes), Glynn Edwards‘ “Albert Swift” and Bryan Mosley‘s “Cliff Brumby” — but also a pair of youngish, attractive women — Geraldine Moffat‘s “Glenda” and Dorothy White‘s “Margaret”.
These two aren’t killed in the heat of rage or passion exactly, but because of their laissez-faire complicity in nudging Doreen into performing in low-rent sex films. They are disposed of without any feeling, but certainly decisively and with absolute precision. (Okay, Glenda isn’t deliberately killed but she certainly wouldn’t have died if she hadn’t associated with Carter, and her ghastly manner of death — drowning in the trunk of a submerged car — rouses not the slightest emotion on his part.)
What other big-screen bastard has killed two prime-of-life women for what boils down to a moralistic motive — for going along with the corruption of a child? I can think of only one other murderer of this generally cold-blooded sort — Richard Widmark‘s “Tommy Udo” in Kiss of Death (’47), although his victim was an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman (Mildred Dunnock).
Seriously, what other bad guy has iced an attractive younger woman or two without blinking an eye? Caine’s Carter isn’t alone, but the others aren’t coming to me.
Why the decades of reluctance? I guess I was afraid of hanging out with a mousey, fearful spinster in her mid ’30s who has little to look forward to and knows it. I was afraid of what I’d been told would be a kind of downer vibe — a death-watch film. Which, one presumes after reading the synopsis, is seemingly emphasized by the fact that Rachel’s deceased dad (played by a 37-year-old Donald Moffat) was a mortician.
I was wrong to presume this. Because the film is more sad than downish, because the screenplay is shrewd and well-honed, and because Woodward’s performance is undeniably moving. Many have called it her best ever, and I’m inclined to agree.
Woodward, also 37 during filming, was nominated for an Oscar**, and won Best Actress trophies from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc. and the British Academy Film Awards.
Estelle Parsons as an outwardly cheerful, inwardly grief-struck lesbian (also a little mousey) is deeply touching as well.
I was struck by the Woodward-like eyes of the eight-year-old actress who plays Rachel in flashbacks, and lo and behold the performer is Newman and Woodward’s daughter, Elinor Teresa Newman.
Newman, a first-time director, wasn’t Oscar-nominated but won trophies from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Hollywood Foreign Press. He and Woodward shot Rachel Rachel in Bethel, Danbury, Georgetown and Redding in August 1967 — two and a half months after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and smack in the middle of the Summer of Love.
I could have theoretically worn a ballsack monokini (aka a “ballkini“) in my 20s and even my 30s. I was slender enough, I mean. But I wouldn’t have. The idea of a “package” being reduced to the size of a small racquetball or a large golf ball and wrapped in thin, jellybean-colored spandex material…well, it’s fucking humiliating.
I’m not saying that Harry Styles would wear a ballkini, but I can certainly imagine his willingness to consider this. Would Henry Fonda, Troy Donahue and John Garfield have mulled it over? Doubtful. Farley Granger, George Nader and Rock Hudson would have also had reservations. Kirk Douglas might have gone there on a Cote d’Azur beach in the early to mid ’50s. He was vain like that.
The November mid-term elections will be “interesting,” an industry friend wrote this morning.
“Interesting?” I replied. “As you well know the Democrats have all but slit their own throats with (a) the embrace of trans ideology & teaching soft-clay kids (kindergarten to third grade) about gender fluidity plus (b) supporting equity over merit in schools and instructing kids about the inevitable tendency of whites to oppress BIPOCs plus (c) condemning the legacy of Abraham Lincoln by having his name removed from schools plus (d) the fundamental unfairness of Lia Thomas…all of this insane woke shit will likely ensure their defeat in November.
Consider Glenn Youngkin‘s Virginia victory + those San Francisco school board removals and then multiply by hundreds.
“On the other hand there’s the rage over the killing of Roe v. Wade plus the Jan. 6th committee having increased awareness of Trump’s mafia brutishness. That should motivate a lot of fence-sitters and lazy-bone types to get off the couch and actually vote.”
“You are so right about the Dems,” he answered, “although I almost never hear Democratic leaders discussing those issues. I just hear the GOP losing their shit every time a trans athlete wins a race.
“Dems will lose the House almost for sure, but I’m confident we’ll maintain control of the Senate. Because of Trump’s obsession with celebrity and the advancement of laughably unqualified candidates like Herschel CTE Walker and Dr Oz. and JD Vance.”
Keke Palmer came along 13 years after Bill Murray‘s SNL “Weekend Update” interview with Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow.
Snopes says that the “Beaver was killed in Vietnam” rumor became a thing sometime during 1968. It must have lingered to some extent or Murray and the SNL writers wouldn’t have focused on it.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »