Diary of a Mad Prairie Housewife

Every once in a while a film comes along that doesn’t conform to the expectations of its designated genre. A case in point is Emma Tammi’s debut feature The Wind (2018) from a screenplay by Teresa Sutherland that is being positioned as a horror film by its distributor IFC Midnight at selected theaters across the U.S. and streaming services after a critically acclaimed run on the film festival circuit. Yes, The Wind has the necessary ingredients to attract horror film fans such as ghosts, demonology and unexplained phenomena. But the film could also be described as a psychological thriller from a feminist perspective or even a period western in which an inhospitable landscape becomes a central character. Continue reading

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Ivan Passer’s Intimate Lighting

Krzysztof Kieslowski placed it on his Top Ten list for a Sight & Sound magazine poll. Dave Kehr, formerly of The Chicago Reader, called it “one of the finest works of the short-lived Czech New Wave. The New York Times noted that Intimate Lighting (1965) was one of those movies that “loses none of its charm, to age or to repeated viewing,” and countless other critics who have seen it have championed this small-scale but beautifully observed character study about the brief reunion of two musician friends and their realization of how their lives have substantially changed since their school days.  Continue reading

Divine Intervention

A political allegory that was one of the first films to openly address the problems resulting from the Great Depression, Gabriel Over the White House (1933), directed by Gregory La Cava, takes on such pressing issues as unemployment, homeless people and the rising crime rate in a storyline that comes across like a populist turned fascist fantasy. You also won’t see another Hollywood film from the 20th century in which our fearless leader is viewed by his constituents as either a madman or a messiah.  Continue reading

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night….

This one sentence synopsis should sound familiar. A group of travelers are stranded during a severe storm at a creepy mansion where the hosts are the most unsettling part of the experience. It’s an audience-pleasing premise has served countless mystery thrillers and horror-comedies from James Whale’s The Old Dark House (1932) to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) to Stuart Gordon’s Dolls (1987). But The Unnaturals (1969), directed by Antonio Margheriti, is one of the few dark and stormy night movies that stands out from the pack by virtue of its genre resistant narrative which begins as a decadent character study, slowly morphs into a supernatural thriller and signs off as an apocalyptic morality tale. Continue reading