1525 – Gretel & Hansel (2020)

Gretel & Hansel (also known as Gretel & Hansel: A Grim Fairy Tale) is a 2020 horror film based on the German folklore tale “Hansel and Gretel” by the Brothers Grimm. The film is directed by Oz PerkinsSophia Lillis and Sam Leakey portray the title characters, alongside Charles BabalolaJessica De Gouw, and Alice Krige. The story follows Gretel and Hansel as they enter a dark wood in order to find work and food, and then stumble upon the home of a witch. (wiki)

imdb   /   rt

1522 – Rabid (2019)

Rabid is a remake by the Soska (Jen SoskaSylvia Soska) sisters of the Cronenberg 1977 cult classic. It is rare to say that you can watch a remake without having seen the original, but this even works on its own I think. In this sense it is a re-imagining not a remake. From all the recent art horror remakes, especially 2018 Suspiria, I like this one the best.

Also from all the recent glam fashion horror that stick out as pure exercises in style which is perfectly ok, such as Neon Demon or the self-reflexive art world satires such as Velvet Buzzaw, I prefer this one. It is somehow in tow with Raw, Black Swan or Starry Eyes, or even Brian de Palma’s Passion.

When I say it is not a just rehash on the older Cronenberg – although choke-full or references, I do not especially care if it is a faithful homage or not, in fact it should be as unfaithful as a skin graft to its donor. Rabid 2019 is a new chapter in the exploitation of abortive new flesh, artificial lab grown tissues and liveliness of unwanted grafts. Fashioning oneself and fashioning others via proteins as well as wardrobes links to a larger pursuit of bodily success on par with financial one, good looks, malade beauty and catwalk Schadenfreude. The secretive reclusive 70s Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery shifts into a new big money Transhumanist enterprise with more defined Immortalist creepy ideals & skin graft wet dream. It not just catwalk horror, it is full with inserts, cameos, even TV sitcom moments, combined a lot of goofy gore, a lot of splattershtick that would make Sam Raimi proud, dismemberment, trembling foaming bodies, it’s a mess, and this I like. Even if over the top, I like the Burroughs-Frankenstein moments and direct quote, the fact that he seems to loom large over the power and control issues of the present.

Like in the high bureau corporate melodrama Passion, it plays on the highly pressurized and pasteurized, the toxic competitive job environments that capitalism is so good at fostering, all prone to back-stabbings, cancellations and public humiliations, everything that the Internet pundits and social platform critics abhor, the propensity to use exposure, shaming, revenge porn, character assassination, sextortion, dank humor, every vulnerabiliy transubstiantiated into some sort of easy satisfaction, gain or trade for LULZ. What is not apparent in the techno panic version is exactly how this plays out for the silent or the subaltern. When it’s not the boss making a point, they permit a cheeky contestation, pointing skilfully the faults of another in public, the reading, shade in queer or afro- code switching and the schadenfreude joy this brings, hacking of the very codes of competition allows such dissing of the powerful. Ultimately rabid bodies are eminently white, with greedy clinics catering for such clientele.

The Soska sisters really brought this new cosmetic ideal to Rabid, in a lusty, Mask of the Red Death-like over the top full of gory humor way. This has an overlay with contagion from pre Covid 19 era that blends into now, that I consider particularly helpful in the context of the epidemic as spectacle, as hype and fashion trend not just as scare.

This was already there in Cronenberg and his interest in the stylishness of disease, the aesthetic and erotic appeal of bruises, laboratory chic, cool steel instrumentalism, clinics as new health temples and the surgical design being the new embalming of the dead alive rich etc but here they all contribute and prepare for the catwalk of disease. The wellness clinic is a ramp, and when it does so, it not only pampers the celebs and the rich, but infects everything around, nurtures the monster under folds of custom flesh. Both the cool interiors & medical devices are in contrast with the burning, scarlet red, hellish color of costumes, hidden floor levels, flesh corridors, blood iso drinks.

I especially enjoyed the relationship of delicate Sadeian Rose(perfect name), the quiet, mousy Rose that nevertheless is scarified by various accidents, horrible if ridiculous events- her perfect face already a broken mirror, and her expansive ‘friend’; the truly overpowering and obnoxious protector. I felt this has very much to do with how charities or rich donors actually play their goodness drowning their objects of care that they pick up from the gutter like little puppies to be offered the best. One does not bite the hand that feeds or caresses you no?

I like how all the characters have something repulsive in their goodness, how in this world of charitable rich people everything is “mercy-fucking” and “free experimental treatment” with no price tag attached, almost everything appears like a favor to the poor, luxury crutches for the down trodden, poisoned cups for the forsaken.

1517 – Birds of Prey (2020)

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a 2020 American superhero film based on the DC Comics team Birds of Prey. It is the eighth installment in the DC Extended Universe and a follow-up to Suicide Squad (2016).

It was directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, and it stars Margot RobbieMary Elizabeth WinsteadJurnee Smollett-BellRosie PerezChris MessinaElla Jay BascoAli Wong, and Ewan McGregor.

The film follows Harley Quinn as she joins fospin-offsrces with Helena BertinelliDinah Lance, and Renee Montoya to save Cassandra Cain from Gotham City crime lord Black Mask. (wiki)

future   /   imdb

1491 – Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (2018)

a documentary by Arwen Curry

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a feature documentary exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the late feminist author Ursula K. Le Guin. Best known for groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy works such as A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Dispossessed, Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the margin of “respectable” literature until the sheer excellence of her work, at long last, forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. Her fascinating story has never before been captured on film.

Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a journey through the writer’s career and her worlds, both real and fantastic. Viewers will join the writer on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, opening new doors for the imagination and inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. The film features stunning animation and reflections by literary luminaries including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, and more.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, California Humanities, the Berkeley Film Foundation etc (description taken from the original website of the documentary)

The documentary is truly one of the best I have seen dedicated to an author, the more to such an incredible and inspiring one such as Ursula K LeGuin. Take some time to explore her website https://www.ursulakleguin.com/

One of the best documentaries about Sci-Fi indeed and one to carefully and attentively thread along and listen to one of its most cherished authors. It wanders elegantly from personal life, the landscapes that shaped her novels, the childhood memories, her rise and response in Sci-fi fandom and canon, her relation, acknowledgment and understanding of the first nation people genocide in the Americas and in particular her knowledge of indigenous peoples of California.

It also combines some really great animation work that blends in very well with her world building. There are in fact very few movies based on her actual work.

To her previous mentioned works I would like to add The Lathe of Heaven about dreaming and the universe (also a movie) and the wonderful short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Also mentioned in the documentary is her 1985 experimental work Always Returning Home written and situated in the Napa Valley, a speculative anthropology works and tapes made by a future ethnographer and anthropologist Pandora with the rituals, the musical instruments, chants and language of a post-apocalyptic people named the Kesh, a sort of anarcho-primitivist tribe that combines elements of hunterer-gatherers, agricultural and industrial civilization while rejecting city building.