Review of Suspiria (2018)

A review of the horror film Suspiria (2018), written by my buddy Jenna. Follow her at instagram.com/hermionestrangler


suspiria

Suspiria was definitely a well-made remake. I tried to watch it as a separate movie and not to compare it too much to the original version from the 70’s and it was actually pretty easy – they are very different kind of movies.

In the beginning young dancer Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz) disappears from a dance academy located in Berlin in the 70’s. Before her disappearing she told her psychotherapist Josef Klemperer (Tilda Swinton) the unbeliavable dark secrets of the academy and its leaders. The doctor starts his own journey trying to reveal the truth.

The main character is Susie Bannon (Dakota Johnson), an ambitious young dancer from America, who attends to the dance academy and soon proves her talent to the lead choreographer Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). She gets the leading part as one of the other students flees from the school after having a mental breakdown.

Susie befriends another dancer, Sara, who was also close with Patricia. Patricia’s psychotherapist tries to tell Sara what Patricia had told him, but of course he sounds crazy. Soon Sara learns that some of the rumors may actually be true. What will happen to the upcoming dance show? Where did the girls disappear? Who is the mysterious Mother Markos (again Tilda Swinton, I know, amazing)? Where is she?

The new Suspiria is a very long, complex story with lots of interesting characters and backstories. It managed to keep me interested the whole time, even though I usually can’t sit still longer than two hours. The casting was absolutely amazing and it was interesting to notice that almost the whole cast were actually women. Tilda Swinton plays three roles at the same time and as usual, she left me speechless. Dakota Johnson was definitely a fresh face in horror after her role in Fifty Shades film series.

The movie is dark, sinister, sexy and bloody. The artistic dance pieces are mixed up with blood and gore like a delicious horror smoothie. The setting was absolutely beautiful and the makeup and special effects were amazing, I truly didn’t realize I was watching Swinton as an old man the whole time.

All in all I really think that Suspiria is a very succesfull remake even though it’s not completely the same as the original. It is still very enjoyable movie with a great plot.

Film, book and music favorites of Dr. Robert M. Price

Robert M. Price is an influential American scholar of Christianity, known best to a wider audience for his intelligent debating style. Many of his debates with various other scholars are still available on YouTube. He also hosts a great podcast called The Bible Geek.

Dr. Price is one of the best-known proponents of the “Christ myth theory”, the theory that there never was an actual, physical person named Jesus of Nazareth.

In addition to his seemingly endless knowledge on the Bible, he is a scholar of the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Dr. Price’s books include:

  • Incredible Shrinking Son of Man
  • Bart Ehrman Interpreted
  • Deconstructing Jesus
  • Blaming Jesus for Jehovah

…among others. Buy his books here.


robertmprice

My three favorite movies? Hard to rate them, but here are a few:

Excalibur (1981), Star Wars (1977), The Avengers (2012). But there’s also Ghost Story (1981), The Dead Zone (1983), Fanny and Alexander (1982), Omen 3: The Final Conflict (1981).

Top 3 books:

Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Warrior, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and Others, and D.F. Strauss’ The Life of Jesus Critically Examined.

Top 3 albums:

Crosby Stills and Nash, CSN; Jesus Christ Superstar; With the Beatles.

Favorite place to read: the bed.

Film, book and music favorites of Dr. Matti Kamppinen

Our excursions into the favorite entertainments of fascinating people continue with the movie, book and music favorites of Dr. Matti Kamppinen, Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Turku. He also holds positions at the University of Helsinki and the University of Kuopio, and is an internationally recognized expert in his fields of study.

He was one of my favorite lecturers during my university days, a widely read and inspiring speaker with a penchant for interdisciplinary ways of approaching scientific questions. One lecture from him would provide endless, fascinating references to everything from Ancient Greek literature to the latest findings in natural sciences.

His books include:

  • A Historical Introduction to Phenomenology
  • Consciousness in Philosophy and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Intentional Systems Theory as a Conceptual Framework for Religious Studies

…among others. Buy them here.


Matti1

Top films:

Some like it hot (directed by Billy Wilder, 1959). Absolutely hilarious, even after having seen it quite many times.

Life of Brian (directed by Terry Jones, 1979). “So funny, it was banned in Norway” as it was truthfully advertised in Sweden. In addition, a solid introduction to any religion.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (directed by Woody Allen, 2010). This particular WA film depicts beautifully the flow of time in human lifespan.

Top books:

The Mind’s I – Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul (1981) by Douglas Hofstadter& Daniel Dennett is insightful, literally.

Introduction to Value Theory by Nicholas Rescher (1969) provides much-needed structures for our sloppy discussions about values.

The Moral Landscape – How Science Can Determine Human Values (2010) by Sam Harris goes a step further and intends to bridge the fact/value divide. Excellent antidote for overdoses of postmodernism.

Top albums:

Duke by Genesis, Division Bell by Pink Floyd, and Going for the One by Yes.

 

Film review: The Landing (2018)

My buddy Jenna (IG @hermionestrangler) wrote this review of the new film The Landing (2018).


landing poster

The Landing (2017) is a faux-documentary film about Apollo 18, the space mission that ended up in death of two of its crew members.

It’s the year 1973. Apollo 18 has successfully landed on the Moon and the crew is now returning to Earth. Something goes terribly wrong, and the main pilot, Bo Cunningham has to make an emergency landing. Their capsule ends up in China. There the crew members try their best to survive, but in the middle of the desert it’s easier said than done. One after another they seem to start losing their minds piece by piece.

Very quickly two of the crew members start to have strange physical symptoms, as if they’ve been poisoned. Soon enough they’re both dead. This is where the real story begins. What, or who, killed those men?

The movie is made in the style of a dramatic American style documentary film. It’s filled with 60’s music, lots of acted scenes and emotional interviews, and takes place in the year 1998, 25 years after the incident.

The main character is Bo Cunningham, the astronaut who didn’t get the chance to land on the Moon, since he was the one piloting the capsule. He still seems to be holding a little grudge about that, as he thinks he was more qualified to do that than some of the others. Still, he is the one that ends up bringing the capsule and the whole crew back to Earth safely.

After the crew is rescued from the desert, both the U.S. government and the FBI start their own investigations of the incident. The U.S. government seems to want to hide the evidence about the events in China, but the FBI wants to find the one who may be responsible of the two deaths. All eyes are on Bo Cunningham now, and as the documentary continues, more and more evidence starts to come up. Was it all just an evil plan to eliminate his enemies? Is Cunningham a hero or a villain?

The acting is quite good and the musical effects give a nice eerie feeling throughout the whole movie. I really enjoy the over-dramatic style in this kind of documentaries, so that didn’t bother me at all. The plot was very interesting and if you’re a fan of good mystery stories, this may be just the movie for you.

All in all The Landing was entertaining and well-made faux-documentary, especially if you enjoy a nice conspiracy theory every now and then.

Interview with the filmmakers behind Dead Man’s Line (2018)

A few weeks ago, I saw an incredible documentary called Dead Man’s Line. The film tells the story of Tony Kiritsis, a man who felt so wronged by a mortgage company that he took his mortgage broker hostage to get the attention of the media to his perceived plight. He tied a shotgun to his hostage’s neck, then tied a line from the trigger to his finger, thus ensuring that, if he was killed, he would take his hostage with him to his grave.

The standoff was intense – and so is Dead Man’s Line.

Below is my interview with the filmmakers behind the film, Alan Berry and Mark Enochs.

Thanks you, gentlemen, for taking the time to talk to Books, Bullets and Bad Omens!

Watch the film on iTunes or Amazon.


deadmansline

Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself!

AB: My name is Alan Berry and I’m the director, editor, and producer of Dead Man’s Line. In my day job, I’m a Director of Marketing for a private financial firm in Indiana. I’m an avid fan of the band Phish.

ME: I’m Mark Enochs, co-director and writer of Dead Man’s Line. I live in Indianapolis, Indiana with my wife, daughter, and our two dogs. I also share a woodshed out back with a family of chipmunks and a mama garter snake who eats mice at night. Professionally, I’ve been everything from a proofreader to an editor, and I am currently writing for a marketing platform company. Otherwise, I’m a typical binge-viewing, bird-watching, physical-comedy-loving dude.

2) Have you always been interested in true crime?

AB: I’m a fan of true stories of all kinds, especially if there is a video to back up the story.

ME: Alan and I have been friends since high school, and there have always been documentaries in our viewing queue. Whenever there was a movie that was based on a true story, we always wanted the true story, and back before reality TV, one of the best places to hunt for non-scripted, non-editorialized truth was the documentary section at the video store. There wasn’t as wide a smorgasbord as there is now, of course, so whatever we found we would consume multiple times, stuff like Incident at Oglala, all kinds of concert footage, and Hoop Dreams which I remember watching for the first time with Alan all in one go. It was such a commitment from the filmmaker and the families, and it just showed how to use film to tell anybody’s story.

True crime itself is a natural draw for me. Stories like this have a built-in drama, and I love seeing that unfold regardless of whether the stories end with closure or total mystery. So what separates a factual but flat rendering from a dynamic and intriguing one is the filmmaker, that person’s vision, and the way the narrative is built. The Thin Blue Line was an early example to us of how you can add creative elements and enhance the story without misrepresenting the facts. Coppola’s Hearts of Darkness was another early one where we could see how real life and fiction could get mixed up and merge.

3) How did you become a filmmaker?

AB: Part of the path for me in becoming a filmmaker was out of necessity. Up until 2011, I had owned and operated records stores in Indianapolis. I saw the end nearing, so I jumped ship over to video production. Which for me led to more filmmaking.

ME: In high school, Alan had a video camera, and we made comedies, real Monty Python sketch stuff. We shot a lot of the early bits in chronological order, but as we continued to come up with skits made up of more and more shots, we started editing, super primitive, but cutting together scenes was something we loved doing. It just took a couple decades for the stars to align and go about seriously making a film. In 2010, we shot “Band in a Jam” up in northern Indiana, and we learned so many critical lessons there about story-telling, stuff you’re never done learning, but I remember after half a year of shooting that film we felt like not only could we do this but we might be able to do it well.

4) Your film Dead Man’s Line tells the story of a truly bizarre kidnapping and hostage situation from the 1970s. How did you come across this story? When did you know you were going to make a film about this incident?

AB: It’s Mark’s fault. Six years ago now, we had just completed a day-in-the-life documentary of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, and when it came time to do the next project, we did an informal survey of friends and family, wanting to know what our potential audience was interested in seeing, and then from the short list that came out of that, we rated each idea. Kiritsis rose to the top, in part because it’s an intriguing story that happened here in Indy and that many people younger than us had never heard of. Also some of the other ideas we had for a project fell through quickly. Kiritsis was the only one where we found people who wanted to talk, starting with Jack Parker, a WTTV cameraman who covered the story in ’77, held on to his footage, and was willing to share it.

ME: So some of it is Jack’s fault, and we are so grateful for that. Another reporter, WRTV’s Linda Lupear, also shared footage and her account. When we were trying to come up with the next project, this was the one with this great historical Indy angle that came to mind for me. We were in the 2nd grade when the incident happened, but I recall watching the footage as it was replayed during the summer of 1977 on local TV as the court proceedings got underway. That image of Kiritsis and Hall and that wired gun had stuck with me for 35 years.

kiritsis

(Tony Kiritsis and his hostage, Richard O. Hall. Photo: John Hilley / Associated Press)

5) Was it difficult to get people to talk about the event?

ME: Yes. Short answer is yes. We both have real jobs, the ones that pay our bills, so scheduling convenient time isn’t always possible, and then of course, some people just aren’t comfortable being on film, or, in a few cases, on the record.

But of the 40+ interviews we did conduct, the vast majority were eager to describe what they’d witnessed. And not for attention-seeking purposes. There was nothing like that. People were just ready to put their recollections on the record once and for all. This was a one-of-a-kind event in these people’s lives, something they could document in one final work and pass on as local history to the next generation.

6) What do you think really drove the kidnapper, a man named Tony Kiritsis, to undertake such desperate measures? Was he a genuine “working man who’d had enough”, or just a narcissist?

ME: Kiritsis sawed off the barrel and stock of a shotgun and then took a man hostage with it. That’s a crime. There’s no way to get around that.

Did the mortgage company steal Kiritsis’ land out from under him? No. There is no evidence that Meridian Mortgage did anything so overtly illegal in their loan agreement with Kiritsis.

Could Meridian Mortgage have manipulated either Kiritsis or prospective buyers so that Meridian Mortgage could foreclose on the property and then resell it at a great profit? Yes, they could have.

There is no direct proof of that, but one thing I’m convinced of is that Dick Hall was only indirectly involved with the Kiritsis loan. He had been in the office when Kiritsis had come in. He knew Tony well enough to talk with him. On one occasion, he sat in on a heated argument between Dick’s father, M.L. Hall and Kiritsis, but that was it. Dick’s main error was showing up at the office that morning, a mistake none of us would ever have seen ahead of time.

Did Tony feel that M.L. Hall had done something to swindle his land away from him? Yes, he truly believed that. But the way he went about addressing the problem was to flip out and fantasize about revenge, and yes, some of that is because as a narcissist, he had a lot of trouble facing his flaws. But that’s not to say Kiritsis was a bad person. There are hundreds of examples of his generosity and good-natured camaraderie. Tony was an open book in many cases. He got things wrong, but he rarely lied. What he couldn’t face was losing that land. There was no Plan B. Everything past 1977 depended on that land and what it represented to Kiritsis. Think about losing your future. You still can’t wire shotguns to people’s necks. That’s not a solution, but I get the motive.

7) Your film tells the story perfectly: matter-of-factly, without too much background, letting the participants and news video archives tell the story in the moment. It reminded me of some of Oliver Stone’s better films. What techniques did you employ in constructing that intensity on the screen?

AB: I wish I could say I use some fancy techniques when I edit, but I don’t. One of my assets is that I have seen thousands of documentaries, good and bad. So when I’m going through cuts, I keep working it until I get that “Oh yeah, that works” feeling. That gut feeling that makes you want to go show it off. The next crucial step was to have Mark watch it to validate that my ego wasn’t just agreeing with itself. Mark has an excellent eye for crap, and our friendship is strong enough where he would tell me when my work was not up to par. Once it passed Mark’s crap test, the process would start over. Long story short, it’s a process of create, review, analyze, improve.

8) Where can people watch Dead Man’s Line?

Amazon and iTunes

9) What are you working on at the moment?

ME: Fiction. Podcasts are an intriguing idea too.

AB: Trying to become a roadie for Phish and other various video projects.

10) Where can people keep up with your work?

https://www.deadmansline.com/

https://www.alancberry.com/

And finally, my standard questions:

11) Your top 3 films?

ME:

Memento

Seven Samurai

Primer

AB:

Salesman

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

The Killing

12) Your top 3 books?

ME:

Watership Down

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Fight Club

AB:

Think and Grow Rich

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Rebel without a Crew

13) Your top 3 songs?

ME:

Could never pick 3 songs. Instead:

Queen. 2)Tool. 3) Iron Maiden.

AB:

1) Phish. 2) Frank Zappa. 3) The Rolling Stones