Tag Archives: The Shining

Turner Classic Movies Film Festival Wishlist 2018: Thematics

Last week I brought up some “anniversary movies” that would make interesting offerings at the 2018 Turner Classic Movie Film Festival. I took the theme “Powerful Words: The Page Onscreen” into consideration. Some (Some Came Running) proved relevant, others (Danger: Diabolik) did not. Not everything can be a 100% thematic match.

Since this is merely a fun exercise in thinking about what might be, I decided to extend the thought process to come up with another short list that emphasized movies about writers and the writer’s life. This is the ultimate form of procrastination. With the TCMFF right around the corner, I’ve started to daydream about that schedule, which is surely coming… any… day… now…

(By the way, passes still remain for the 2018 Turner Classic Movie Film Festival. If you feel like a trip to Los Angeles in late April, hurry over to the TCM page and pick up a pass today. It’ll be your best purchase of the year.)

Mask of Dimitrios (Jean Negulesco, 1944)

Excellent and underseen noir directed by the prolific and talented Jean Negulesco. Peter Lorre stars as a Dutch mystery writer who becomes fascinated by the sordid story of a dead man that has washed up on a nearby beach.  Available via Warner Archive DVD, this movie might cause Double Harness-brand riots at the small Multiplex auditorium.


House by the River (Fritz Lang, 1950)

Falls under the category of movies I’ve had on my watchlist for a long time. Fritz Lang’s films always offer something of interest and this one has had a kind of rediscovery of late after a nice DVD presentation by Kino Lorber. A rich novelist kills his maid after she becomes inebriated and attempts to seduce him. The writer dumps the body in the river, shenanigans ensue. There’s a gloomy mansion, Victorian-era set decoration, murders, chiaroscuro and an avant-garde score by George Antheil. Sounds like something I’d prioritize at the TCMFF.


In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)

Because I just watched this Nicholas Ray film and because it was one of the best things I watched in all of 2017, I think we should all have a chance to see this one the big screen. Humphrey Bogart plays a struggling screenwriter who may or may not have committed murder. Gloria Grahame supplies his alibi, but does she believe in his innocence? Beautifully shot and featuring two actors at the peak of their powers.


Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)

This should become an entry on my personal Cinema Shame list. I’ve owned this Criterion DVD for as long as I can remember, and it still remains unopened. This just happens to fit our theme ever so perfectly. A genius playwright is lured to Hollywood to work on an adaption of The Odyssey by a “vulgur” producer played by Jack Palance. Plus Bridgitte Bardot. I tend to appreciate Godard when I get the opportunity to experience him in the cinema. Make it so.


The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

As I was considering films about writers that I’ve never had the opportunity to see as the Cinema Gods intended, my mind went straight to Kubrick’s masterpiece. An opportunity to see this at the Egyptian or the Chinese Theater would be a dream come true.


Castle of Blood (Antonio Margheriti, Sergio Corbucci, 1964)

And finally my writer-themed midnight movie. Castle of Blood features a writer spending the night in a haunted, gothic cathedral on “All Souls Eve” in order to challenge the legitimacy of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe (which in this film are presented as non-fiction). An example of the European gothic-style of filmmaking, Margheriti’s film may not be very scary, but his innovative camerawork and use of score makes for a highly entertaining slice of horror cinema. A Barbara Steele classic that should play well among TCMFF attendees — if they give it a chance. It’s style over substance and pure cinema over scares.


The Slide Into Meh

I doubt that you’ve read this bl-g from the beginning. So to recap. I began writing about music and life and everything else because my therapist recommended that I journal. I started journaling but just didn’t keep up. The bl-g went up because by posting these entries, there were good people out there to hold me accountable. Well, you might be good people (wholly debatable) but you haven’t held me accountable. So it goes. The bl-g morphed into something more about music than therapy as I grew “healthier.”

Pi, the man with the drill

The problem with mental health is that it’s not entirely unlike physical health. Mental health waxes and wanes with much less predictability. My daughter comes home with hellfire disease from preschool, physical illness is just around the corner. Guaranteed. Mental illness is tricky and always in flux. Some days are better than others, some weeks are better than others. Only now I’m more aware of these little slides up to the edge of a “funk.” We’ll call it “funk” in lieu of “depression” because I have been clinically depressed and I no longer throw that word around lightly.

Lately I find myself looking over into that pit. And I’m becoming tired, tired of preventing myself from falling in.

It was two years ago when I first slipped into depression proper. I remember coming home after watching Black Swan, a shell of myself. Movies seemed to have affected me more deeply in recent months. Inception had caused a panic attack. Black Swan forced me to recognize that what I was feeling was not normal. I’m not prepared to draw connections between the content of this movie and my own revelation, but I’m sure there’s plenty of material. Sappy movies induced real emotional pain. I experienced similar results from dark, depressing lyrics. Instead of observing from the outside looking in, I was on the inside looking out. In the thick of it.

These feelings are flowing again. But I’m able to confront them because I’m aware of the possibility of what lies below. For me, it was six months of pervasive emptiness. It’s extraordinarily hard to put into words. I no longer found joy in the things that I loved. I could get out of bed and I could take care of my daughter, go through the motions. I didn’t care to watch movies and music had lost its joy. These activities just seemed so frivolous. After getting my daughter to bed I just wanted to go back to sleep. I had no energy to write or enjoy my wife’s company. Or anyone’s company, really.

This rumble has no point. I have no great revelation to impart. I’m merely journaling because it’s what I need to do. And I’m not doing enough of it. I’m turning to consuming myself in writing and work and movies and music and video games and Twitter because I see these activities as guardians of the fortress, but they’re terrible guardians. They’re probably drunk and take just about any bribe you offer them. I’m taking a weekend with a friend at the end of this month to get away for a bit. A nice Sears mail order home (heck yes) on the Chesapeake. I’m taking my typewriter and my computer and a lot of beverages. Lots and lots of beverage. I see two possible outcomes. I’m looking forward to both.


The Shining, Jack Nicholson happy


The Shining, Jack Nicholson CRAZY


Jack Nicholson, The Shining