A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, October 12, 2015

House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)


This manic Japanese horror film has achieved something of a cult status. It was the feature film debut of its director, Obayashi, who began his career as a director of TV commercials, which shows in the film's continued barrage of brightly colored images and in the loud (and banal) pop music soundtrack. The story deals with a gaggle of Japanese schoolgirls (with nicknames that translate as "Gorgeous," "Fantasy," "Kung Fu," "Melody," "Prof," "Sweet," and "Mac") who find themselves trapped in a haunted house. They do a lot of running, yelling, giggling, screaming, and dying -- one of them is literally eaten by a grand piano. Ultimately, the film had a huge impact on music videos, but it remains a one of a kind movie experience -- for which some of us remain thankful while others of us relish yet another instance of the unfettered imagination of a Japanese artist. In this case, the imagination was not just that of the director but also of his pre-teen daughter, whose ideas about things that frighten children were worked into the screenplay. A great deal of credit (or blame, if you will) goes to production designer Kazuo Satsuya and cinematographer Yoshitaka Sakamoto.