Mini Reviews, Part 9 (WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED,
LOVING HIGHSMITH, BRAINWASHED: SEX-CAMERA-POWER)
(film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
and Evelyn C. Leeper)
This Week's Reading (THE ILIAD) (book comments
by Evelyn C. Leeper)
TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 9 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
Evelyn C. Leeper)
This is the ninth batch of mini-reviews, all documentaries.
WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED--A HISTORY OF FOLK HORROR:
WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED--A HISTORY OF FOLK HORROR is a
194-minute documentary on "folk horror" in cinema. It is long, but
is divided into six chapters to make viewing easier. It begins on
a very strong note with the "unholy trinity" of folk horror:
WITCHFINDER GENERAL, BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW, and THE WICKER MAN (the original, of course). Then we have a look at the many other
British films in the genre, paganism and witchcraft in cinema,
American folk horror cinema, worldwide folk horror cinema, and the
current "folk horror revival". It is an amazing in-depth study
that every folk horror fan should see.
LOVING HIGHSMITH: LOVING HIGHSMITH is a biography of the author
Patricia Highsmith, with particular emphasis on her lesbianism.
Highsmith is best known for the novels she wrote, including
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, which was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY and its sequels, where were adapted several
More recently, her lesbian novel CAROL was filmed starring Cate
Blanchett. Highsmith herself was a lesbian and in her diaries
tells a remarkable story of her mother's attempts to convert her to
a heterosexual orientation. The three main interviewees are former
lovers: Marijane Meaker, Monique Buffet, and Tabea Blumenschein.
The film is mostly told in photographs from her childhood and
entries from her diaries,, revealing some of her writing output and
its relationship to her childhood. Through all this, we come to
see how her signature character of Ripley was conceived, as a man
who constantly has to hide his true self. The film ends with
Highsmith going through a long period of self-examination.
Unfortunately, this does not make for good cinema, and the film
does lag at the end.
Released theatrically 2 September 2022. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4)
BRAINWASHED: SEX-CAMERA-POWER: BRAINWASHED--SEX-CAMERA-POWER begins
with a quote by James Baldwin: "Not everything can be changed but
nothing can be changed until it is faced."
It then proceeds to the notion of the "male gaze", a term first
used in film criticism by Laura Mulvey, and demonstrated with
scenes from METROPOLIS. what follows is a description of the
various aspects of showing a woman on the screen as it is in the
visual language of women in films: subject/object, framing, camera
movement, and lighting.
Interestingly, the musical score sounds much like Bernard
Herrmann's scores for Alfred Hitchcock which, given how much
Hitchcock's films exemplify the male gaze, is ironic--or perhaps
Released theatrically 21 October 2022. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or
TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
I mentioned the podcast "Literature and History" by Doug Metzger a
few weeks ago. I have gotten as far as THE ILIAD by Homer
(Episodes 9-11) and was once again drawn into re-reading the work.
But my first comment is more on Metzger's choice of words than on
THE ILIAD itself. Metzger keeps referring to Briseis as
Achilles's "bride" while to me it seems a more accurate term might
be "slave", or even "rape victim". Achilles tries to make this
sound like something deep:
"Are the sons of Atreus alone among mortal men the ones
who love their wives? Since any who is a good man, and careful,
loves her who is his own and cares for her, even as I now
loved this one from my heart, though it was my spear that won her."
[Book 9, Lines 340-343]
But then practically the next minute he is showing how that is a
"But Achilleus lay in the inward corner of the strong-built
and a woman lay beside him,, one he had taken from Lesbos,
[Book 9, Lines 663-664]
And the attitude of the time (or at least of Nestor, or at least of
Homer) was not exactly one that saw women as romantic partners:
"Therefore let no man be urgent to take the way homeward
until after he has lain in bed with the wife of a Trojan
to avenge Helen's longing to escape and her lamentations."
[Book 2, Lines 354-356]
And these are the good guys?
My theory (for what it's worth) is that Achilles is trying to make
his motives in protesting Agamemnon's seizure of Briseis as noble
as possible and not just a dispute over property. The fact that in
Book 19 Briseis says that Patroclus had promised her to convince
Hercules to marry her indicates that Hercules was not as devoted to
her as he claims. [-ecl]