The Sixth Sense

“The Sixth Sense”, the only Oscar-worthy film of M. Night Shyamalan, takes the ghostly horror genre and turns it into a subtle, dark, and intimately shot feature. Starring Haley Joel Osment as the notorious young speaker for the dead, “I see dead people”, and a sensitive psychologist played by Bruce Willis. The movie is great at establishing mood and atmosphere, as well as emotional nuance between the boy and the psychologist and the boy and his single mother. We are never told where the father has gone, but can assume the effect it has had on the boy, a factor that argues to the audience that the boy may just need extra help. This is not the case.

The Sixth Sense begins with a shivering scene of a young-man who felt Psychologist Malcolm Crowe didn’t help him in the way he needed. The anger is thrown into physical action, and the movie starts with the recovery of Dr. Crowe.  Their is a massive twist near the end, one that has become famous in movie culture. It haunts with the actions of the young boy, while also creating sympathy through the extended hand of Dr. Crowe, who wants to help the boy even more than usual as a makeup for the failure with his past, raging client.

Stark, cold, and highly emotional, “The Sixth Sense” is a linear-narrative and a great piece of cinema, invoking cluttered sets and on-shelve photography to create a really authentic ghost picture.

The Last man on Earth

Runtime: 1h 54m

‘The Last Man on Earth’ is a methodical study of the titular character, and it is done slow and with increasing intensity throughout. The role seems a bit unfitting for the unsympathetic, rather snide face of Vincent Price, but he does his best regardless, scurrying around like a character in the twilight zone.

There are two main conflicts involved in the film: The first is Dr. Robert Morgans’ (Vincent Price) battle with his will to live and the second his physically exhaustive battle of remaining alive, which entails barricading windows and setting up snares for the vampires that seep in from the darkness, from which he gathers supplies for from vacant grocery stores on his daily errands. The combat with will is displayed through flash-back, revealing his unfittingly beautiful wife, and his obsessive studies as a scientist, which is strangely haunting. He is occupied with curing the disease that ravishes the race, but is so confident and in control with himself that he lacks emotional composition with his ill-ridden daughter. A sort of reflexive behavioral-mode of disbelief or lack of acceptance.

The film’s structure lacks pace, yet I found in it that strange subtlety notion of film that makes some, even intellectually awful movies, bearable. If you are given little to study, you will study that little thoroughly. The melancholy mood is spare and encompassing, a drunk-mans looking glass.

In the end, The Last Man on Earth is a well-made character and conditional study, with the grace of an unusually good, not grotesque, company of veteran actor Vincent Price.

There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson directed this film that chronicles the life of Daniel Plainview, a man whose greed and ambition gets in the way of a steady life and a sense of livelihood. His son is permanently def because of an accident with an oil-explosion, and for the rest of the film we see the desperation and lack of interest that rumbles inside Daniel Plainview; by the end, we see he is a tortured and merciless man with little in his life but a big checkbook; yet the character’s grittiness, and the amazing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis causes any criticism towards him to bounce back with the thought of his piercing self-defense mechanism.

The dark, shadowy shots of the film combed with the dirty concept of oil creates an atmosphere of disgust. Basing the film on Upton Sinclair’s “Oil”, it exposes the harsh realities and lack of safety-regulation in the oil industry, depicting from the first scene, where a man is killed after falling into an oil-well. The baby of the man goes to Daniel, a man whose interests lie elsewhere.

Later in the movie, we are bombed with another dimension to judge Daniel’s personality, when a man arrives on his location alleging he is Daniel’s half-brother. The line between truth and the assumed exploitation of his money, Daniel acts cautiously and bluntly around this man, showing no signs of affection other than the protection of his money.

The movie has the sort of life-defining scope of Citizen Kane, chronicling Daniel’s rise in the oil industry, and his subsequent fall into self-hatred and alcoholism, the age old motto that money does not make you happy. He falls into a state of complete dismal ecstasy so that we cannot any longer empathize with his troubles;  he Is mean to his son, who by all merits should be angry at him for such a busy, unstable childhood.

The film has a menacing soundtrack that is held beyond expectations; beating, like a heart, we expect it to wan out and into mute, like Daniel’s son, but it keeps going. The suspense is withheld by this, and by the natural darkness of the subject-matter: Holes, shady bars, and iron-drills, it is a place in need of a monster rag. An undoubted masterpiece showing the harsh realities of capitalism, greed, and saving money in sacrifice of safety; a movie that should not be missed, despite It’s deep and depressing qualities.

They Live

John Carpenter’s “They Live” is a tough-guys journey into self-denial and disbelief. Roddy Piper is Nada, a cross-country walker, a lonely soul seeking work and a way to live. He finds a homeless shelter where the non-capitalist, working-class folk stay performing construction or making food. The division between wealthy and poor has no in between; Carpenter head-on tries to look at the commercial world with a frown, and a little more conviction in the fist.

Nada befriends a family-loving, seemingly benign Frank, a dark-skinned man with the biceps of a God, who works on the construction team with Nada. Not too much exposition happens when Nada starts thinking that the church is run by a secret organization, planning to do something terrible. The preacher is blind, which is a signal we figure out in the end means he either didn’t know what was going on, or was fine with it if he couldn’t see it. Regardless, Nada sneaks into the theater in the midst of a meeting.

He finds glasses that reveal to him who is an alien and whose a human; the aliens have skulls for heads in a color-screen superimposition, acceptable for the time it was made. Their is a fight between Nada and Frank, because Frank is a family-values man and doesn’t want to investigate and ruin what he has–while Nada is a lone stranger, who has now taken up this mystery full-time. This conflict sends them spiraling into a fist-fight, one of the most famous of all time for its ridiculousness. Frank slams his fist and knees him in the stomach, throws him. Cars are used to hurt each other, and after a long fight of comic book Foley-sound punches,  they finally stop rather abruptly. It had to end eventually: they punched each other like they were sacks.

The film takes an on-the-limb character and turns him into a combatant of a conspiracy; some classic Carpenter action and cheesy dialogue mix for great fun. The film had a ‘matrix’ quality that could have minorly inspired it, especially a scene in a store where Nada wears the glasses and fears what he sees beneath their human faces: They look like he is out of the loop, what is he looking at, and it creates the spellbinding imprinted reality of the Matrix. A blast of inventiveness and over the top action, They live is a movie you won’t be sad for digging up.

Cape Fear

Cape Fear is a horror remake directed by Brooklyn big man Martin Scorsese, and is a welcome and terrifying entree into the genre. The plot surrounds a man just released from prison 14 years after being convicted for rape (Robert Deniro) and the revenge he intends for his defense lawyer (Nick Nolte), for what he thought was injustice and a poor defense. He stalks the lawyer, Sam Bowden, and his family at their home and while they are out in the city. A rather small town, most people are known. Max Cady, the stalker, truly accomplishes when it comes to invoking fear and paranoia in his victims, as well as turning Bowden’s teenage daughter into the image of a slut, though she didn’t do anything with Max when he approached her.

By recognizing the motions and wanting to correct things, it externalizes the inner fear of Max Cady, and since this externalization is what we see from Bowden, and not actually what went on fourteen-years ago, we can have no clue if Max was cheated or not. Does he have the right to revenge? No, of course not; but what I believe Scorsese has done here is created a monster out of a victim. He’s taken a man, dressed him tattoo’s and a Marine-like muscle tone, and then stated the facts and opinions of Sam and Max. When Sam isn’t under his own spell of self-righteousness, he seems to me like a shady character; he doesn’t remember much about what happened in court, yet remembers what exactly caused Max to get into court in the first place and has negative opinions about what Max did. He thought it was disgusting: Is that what a defense attorney should be thinking?

Despite being in the horror genre, I find Cape Fear to be highly philosophical. The woman who Max raped is a prostitute, a whore, he says once released. Did Max know this and should it matter? The performances in the film are very well done, including the young teenage girl, played by Juliette Lewis, who is a main point of restlessness for Sam after she has encounters with Max.  Scorsese takes man vs. man to the limit, with a heart-pounding meditation on human rights and self-dignity. The fear mounts in the third act and the persona of Max Cady is heightened to insanity by Scorsese, creating a jam-packed ending: Can the lawyer beat Max Cady, without using the words he’s so attune to as a defense-mechanism?

Forbidden Planet

Forbidden planet, directed by Fred M. Wilcox, takes Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” and churns out a full-length science-fiction movie for the ages. The suspense is well-kept, as the film plays off more ‘Trekkie’ than science-horror through out, and it definitely isn’t horror, despite an incredible climactic action scene. It’s a tense, ‘who-done-it’ exercise, possibly inspiring the ideas behind John Carpenter’s “The Thing”.

Leslie Nielson stars as Commander J.J. Adams, along side two equally sex-hungry Lieutenants who scout alongside to explore the “Forbidden Planet”. The scouting crew finds Dr. Edward Moebius, a survivor of a lost landing-team, his wife dieing alongside every other soul in the party suddenly and still without reasonable explanation; the man has the presence of the character from “The World’s Dangerous Game”, appliance-equipped, knowledgeable, and eerily presentable. Dr. Moebius has a daughter, Altaira or “Alta” to carry out his life with, and she is the subject of desire for the lost-in-space astronauts.

Dr. Moebius tries very hard to remember how his search-party, so many hard years ago, were killed. It was like they were ripped to the ground by an invisible whip; dead, just like that. He has created many mechanisms as safe-havens to the mysterious killing-beast; one being the famous Robby the Robot, who can take anything and replicate it twenty-fold, among many things; this is comically abused by the ship’s cook, back at base, as he has Robby replicate a hill of rum. Wait: A cook in space? Retro.

The story and the secrets of the planet’s inhabitants is executed with atmospheric finesse. For me, the grainy color of the picture, the expertise of minimalistic set-design, is wonderful and highly-memorable; realistic design alongside FX can be created well, but never with the novelistic form of classic science-fiction films, like Fred M. Wilcox’s “Forbidden Planet”. When I think of 50s and 60s science-fiction, Robby the Robot and Moebius come immediately to mind. A must-see adventure on the other side of space.

Scarlett Street

Scarlet Street is a masterful piece of film noir, featuring pulpy characters and two-faced women. The main character, Christopher Cross, played by Edward G. Robinson, leads us assured and clear-eyed through the film’s moral ambiguities.

Christopher is put under the spell of ‘Kitty’, a sharp dressed girl he rescues from the shadowy arms of a thief after a drinking party with fellow workers. This leads to Kitty and he going out on the spot at a sulky and suave underground bar and results in Kitty making wild assumptions of Chris’ personal life, thinking in cloudy retrospect that he is a wealthy old man.

Chris finds refuge from his brutal life and wife, who hangs a portrait of a double-chinned Welles-looking man, her dead ex police husband, by painting pictures in a small narrow room she “kindly” sets aside for him. These paintings are properties of the con-jobs that Kitty follows up on after their late-night date, with the nudging of her boyfriend, a ruthless and conspicuous thief…