Halloween Memories: Clue (1985)

Clue

Family game night at the Brooks household was no joke. Board games were a prominent fixture in our family room; Monopoly® games left untouched for days at a time, ready for resume play at a moment’s notice, and blue and pink Life® people were permanently embedded in the carpet. When our parents unearthed a tattered box with the word ‘Clue’ on the top, my sister and I had no idea what was in store. This antique relic (it was probably an 80’s edition, but as kids, anything older than you is an antique) would begin a lifelong obsession with a unique game of deception and secrecy. I still remember our combined delight when a trusted video store clerk pointed us in the direction of Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 adaptation of the game. How could this possibly be a thing, and why didn’t we already know about it? We grabbed the VHS, and headed home. That night changed us forever, and our love for Clue singlehandedly kept that video store in business (one of the last holdouts against Blockbuster in the neighborhood). As the crowning jewel atop our Halloween marathon, Clue was a yearly event that we anticipated as much as the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, or the Thanksgiving Bond-a-thon (albeit that one was more me than my little sister). And before you say, “Clue isn’t a Halloween movie, much less a Horror movie;” any movie that takes place in a spooky mansion and surrounds six murders is damn close enough.

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March Around the World: Week Four

March Around the World

Week four comes with the added benefit of having the most films (thirty, for whatever reason, “math,” is not divisible by seven), and having the longest single film, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Roublev. With an incredibly diverse selection of films, week four benefitted from my week three struggles, and provided me with even more insight into the critical mass consumption of film. Week four began with a sullen tone carried over from week three’s Kanal, and only burrowed deeper into dispiritedness with the utterly bleak Ossos and Andrei Roublev. The beginning moments of the Senegalese Touki Bouki seemed aptly relevant to my frame of mind going in to the third film of the week. A group of men try desperately to control a cow as they slaughter it, and send it on its way down the line to the butchers – blood thick on the men’s faces and clothes, climbing up the walls, and pooling slickly on the floor. Thrown into a world of chaotic violence, sharp tools in hands made unsteady by a thrashing animal and a slippery floor, men shouting commands across the room, and a massive cow trying desperately to escape with its life, I felt like the sacrificial cow – I needed an escape. Director Djibril Diop Mambéty provided. Clawing itself out of this bloody muck, Touki Bouki invoked a Godardian surrealism and levity, to achieve a narrative lightness; a camera circling around characters, caring much more about what they were doing than why. Mambéty’s film has a feeling all its own – brimming with vibrancy, and a unique sense of self.

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March Around the World: Week Three

March Around the World

After such a strong week two, week three began with a bit of a disadvantage. Beginning in Japan, and ending in Poland, week three crisscrossed the globe, telling an incredibly diverse group of stories along the way. A surrealist short (from the incomparable Luis Buñuel), a rockumentary, an Oscar nominee, and a chilling horror diversified my week three viewing experience, rendering it the most jarring day-to-day film campaign of my “March.” From the hammy melodrama of Misaki Kobayashi’s I Will Buy You to the psychological complexities of Jane Campion’s Sweetie, week three became an exercise in “resetting” my expectations. One of my goals for this project was to go into as many films as blindly as possible. I purposefully neglected to research any films on my list (save for the few added to alleviate the pressure of my expanding queue), challenging myself to pick up cues as to the narrative structure/cinematic style without any preconceptions or information. With the narrative subversion of I Will Buy You, and the disjointed timeline of Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain, week three proved to be a conjectural struggle. In order to fully appreciate these films, any prior knowledge, biases, and even my mood had to be discarded before facing the daily film. More so than any other week, my ability to discard supposition was rigorously tested. The need to quickly pick up social cues, cultural and historical context and narrative tendencies was crucial to fully understanding each of week three’s diverse range of films – strengthening my abilities to conceptualize a film’s purpose without any prior research.

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March Around the World: Week Two

March Around the World

Week two left me in awe. Such an immensity of beauty and emotion from films like Le Havre and The Music Room. Starting the week in Denmark and working through Italy, My only respites from Europe were two “trips” to Iran and India. Week two did, however, span the greatest amount of time. From Germany: Year Zero (1948) – The Great Beauty (2013), the transition was startling. Having started just three years after the end of WWII in bomb-riddled Berlin, and seeing, just three days later, the nearly-unscathed Rome of 2013(not to mention the color in which Paolo Sorrentino bathes his film) was truly jarring. Having never seen a Finnish or Iranian film (at least none that are worth recollection), week two was also quite the learning experience. While the Finnish film (Le Havre) was not based in, or involved with Finland, my exposure to Aki Kaurismäki has lead me to an entirely new realm of film discovery (more on that later). Satyajit Ray’s The Music Room offered a glimpse into the feudal/caste system of India, and Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up introduced me to the, almost comically-informal Iranian court system. Roberto Rossellini’s Germany: Year Zero opened my eyes to the historically-forgotten post-WWII German peoples, and their (one could argue, deserved) struggles.

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