Thursday, June 4, 2009

A few more thoughts on UP and the beautiful horror that is SISTERS (89)

I'm ashamed of my Up review from yesterday. I was tired and feeling rushed and I just sort of spat out a load of words that only barely touched on both the quality of that amazing film and my thoughts on it. Thus, I'm going to do a little bullet point touch-up to see if I can save my own intellectual keister with you, my most beloved and toughest critics.

- For a long while Disney, and most modern day animation studios, were given a lot of shit about the way they rarely featured characters of different ethnic backgrounds and when they did, they usually added certain characteristics to the animation that made them look, well, white. It was annoying, and it was an unattractive trait, and a lot of people stopped giving Disney the time of day because of it (and a plethora of other reasons). Russell, the enthusiastic scout boy in the film, is a perfect example of how Pixar is changing this. Russell's character, I believe, is Japanese, but the film never makes any blatant point about it. It isn't something that effects his character, or that's discussed in a lesson-learning sort of way. Nope, Russell, and his ethnic background, are just a part of the tapestry of the film. We look at the film and we see everyone not as racial stereotypes, but instead just as characters in an amazing film. Russell is just a kid like every other kid, racial background be damned, and the way Pixar represents him is really quite nice.

- I said this yesterday, but Up is a fantastic film. Heart-warming, HILARIOUS, and breath-taking in the skill used to create it, I implore you with all of my animation-loving heart to get out there and see it on a big screen, 3-D or not. Hell, bring a kid, or your lover, or your family, everyone and anyone will enjoy this film. Unless their heart is a chunky piece of coal, and well, nobody likes a card carrying grinch.

You know what movie you, you mature adult, should see and not bring any child under the age of 16 that you aren't trying to subversively corrupt is Brian DePalma's twisted conjoined twin thriller Sisters (89). This film is 70s horror at its most psychological, the tale of a murder and a cover-up and the very, very fucked up people who play a part in it.

DePalma is a fascinating director for me. He's famous for The Untouchables and Carrie (and rightly so), to most people, and for and the string of awful films he's shat in to cinemas in the last five years or so (The Black Dahlia and so forth) but in the 1970s DePalma was an on-the-fringe innovator of horror films. He made movies outside the grasp of the studios, that played with camera techniques to better exemplify the twisted psychological studies he loved. Sisters (89) is a prime example of this, as the main character in the film, Danielle (Margot Kidder, the future Lois Lane) is a formerly conjoined twin, split from her sister, Dominique, and as mentally unstable as one might be. When Dominique murders a lover of Danielles, a deliriously twisted version of A Tell-Tale Heart begins, with a nosy neighbor/columnist seeking answers, and everyone trying to hide something from everyone else. It's creepy and sick and Seventies in the most enjoyable way.

The director uses a variety of editing effects (split-screen, films-within-films, 8mm black and white) to showcase the world these people exist in, and I couldn't have enjoyed them more. There's a body-hiding scene that's split-screened with the nosy neighbor (Jennifer Salt in all her mulleted-glory) and the police zoning in on the apartment that had my skin crawling. Hell, the terrifying last hour and a half of this film had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and my t-rex like arms wrapped around my girlfriend.

This is a great flick, a delightful slab of gory, psych-horror from the 1970s that has me scrambling to my Netflix queue to find a few more gems like this.

Friday: Kwaidan (90)

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