On this episode, we’re discussing Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice (1971) with special guest and Visconti aficionado Jon Laubinger (Film Baby Film, The 25th Frame Media)! We go into the film’s themes of beauty, art, and decay, as well as how setting and geography fit into this dark tale. Jon also shares great insight around how Death in Venice fits into Visconti’s filmography, and how it gives life to ideas the director explores throughout all his work.
This week had a few jumbled viewings, as I fell asleep and had to resume no fewer than three films. I watched:
Tangerine (2015) – Outrageous, hysterical, and ultimately moving story of friendship between two prostitutes in a sun-bleached vision of Hollywood. Fully fleshed out characters and strong performances anchor what would otherwise be a camp-fest, into a well-grounded window into another world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Little Mermaid (1989) – Special screening at the Hollywood Bowl, with the music performed live by an orchestra with singing by Jodi Benson (the real Ariel), Rebel Wilson (as Ursula), and Darren Criss (Prince Eric), among others. Another highlight was the opening acts, of Brad Kane (the real Aladdin) and Susan Egan (the real Megara). Here’s a post reflecting on my experience. REQUIRED.
Zootopia (2016) – I’ve seen this four times now, and each time I uncover something new in this wonderfully rich film. It’s a heavy one thematically, touching on racism, sexism, discrimination, politics – but it balances them all beautifully in a labyrinthine mystery. REQUIRED.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) – Had a hard time getting through this one. A male outsider comes to a northwest mining town, followed by professional Madame, and they pair up to start a high-class whorehouse. I went into it with enthusiastically (I enjoy the other Altman films I’ve seen), but I cared little-to-nothing about these characters or their slow-moving plotlines. NOT RECOMMENDED.
The Conjuring 2 (2016) – Spooky paranormal thriller combines standard “jump” moments with some creative scares, all enriched by a quality story and stylized visuals. The Warrens are back and taking ghost-hunting to an international level, traveling to London to help a desperate family rid their house of spirits. RECOMMENDED.
The Player (1992) – I’m still brewing about this one. I loved the first half of the film: a studio executive being pursued by a frustrated writer, all while balancing his paranoia with the chaos and cynicism of show business. I fell off during the second half, where it gets into an unnecessary love story, but it all circles around to a twisty ending I appreciated. So, opinion is still TBD…
What did you see last week? Am I wrong about McCabe & Mrs. Miller?
I have a very hard time watching, in good conscience, any non-horror movies during the month of October. And of course the Christmas season de facto starting on Black Friday (me? I start a little earlier), leaving only 3-4 weeks per year of true “fall,” unencumbered by other holidays.
To celebrate, here’s a list of fall movies to be thankful for, this and every year:
Dressed to Kill (1980). While this film doesn’t scream “FALL,” it certainly takes place during this time of year – as explicitly as seeing a personal calendar for November 1980. We also get snippets of this through the costume design, including memorable moments with a glove (pro tip: how to pick someone up at the art museum). And don’t forget to buy turkey!
Harold and Maude (1971). Unlike Dressed to Kill, this movie does scream “FALL,” from its gorgeous oranges and tans to its acoustic guitar-driven soundtrack by Cat Stevens to more scarves than you can possibly imagine. I jokingly wrote last year that this is “the ultimate Pumpkin Spice Latte movie,” and that sentiment still rings true.
Rushmore (1998). Wes Anderson’s second movie covers mostly the (literal and seasonal) fall of its protagonist, Max Fischer, as he adjusts to a new school and new adult figures in his life. It all culminates to a warm January as the pieces of his life come together.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012). In this excellent film largely rooted in family, it is interesting how holidays take a back seat and are more incidental to the timeline. A “date” between Pat and Tiffany takes place on Halloween, a fateful night in which Tiffany agrees to help Pat contact his estranged wife, only to later leverage this into a bargain where he must join her in a couples dance competition. The following weeks, between Halloween and Christmas, solidify their unique relationship.
What are your must-see fall movies? Reply in the Comments below!