Thursday, February 28, 2013

Corpse Road

In medieval Britain, corpse roads provided a practical means for transporting corpses from remote communities to cemeteries in larger towns, that had burial rights. Concomitant expansion of church building throughout the UK during the late medieval period inevitably encroached on the territories of existing mother churches or minsters. Demands for autonomy from outlying settlements made minster officials feel that their authority was waning, as were their revenues, so they instituted corpse roads connecting outlying locations and their mother churches that alone held burial rights.
For some parishioners, this decision meant that corpses had to be transported long distances, sometimes through difficult terrain: usually a corpse had to be carried unless the departed was a wealthy individual. Many of the corpse roads have long disappeared, while the original purposes of those that still survive as footpaths have been largely forgotten, especially if features such as coffin stones, on which the coffin was placed while the parishioners rested, or crosses no longer exist.
Such corpse roads have developed a great deal of associated folklore. The essence of spirit lore is that spirits, that is, spirits of the dead, phantasms of the living, wraiths, or fairies move through the physical landscape along special routes. Such routes are conceived of as being straight and by the same token, convoluted or non-linear features hinder spirit movement.
Similarly, corpse roads would run in a straight line over mountains and valleys and through marshes. In towns, they would pass the houses closely or go right through them. The paths end or originate at a cemetery; therefore, such a path or road was believed to have the same characteristics as a cemetery, where spirits of the deceased thrive. As such, corpse roads became intrinsically associated with fairy roads and the supernatural entities which reside there. 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


VERY excited for this film. Here's the official synopsis:

Before there was Amityville, there was Harrisville. Based on a true story described in the book House of Darkness, House of Light: The True Story by Andrea Perron, The Conjuring tells the horrifying tale of how world renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were called upon to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.

The Warrens are notorious for being FULL OF SHIT, but I'm not going to let that get in the way of enjoying a potentially creepy film.

The Conjuring comes out on July 19th.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Can I Be Honest With You? I Am Bad Fucking News" : Why Audiences are Missing the Point of Zero Dark Thirty

After a few minutes in total darkness, surrounded by the sounds of real 9-1-1 calls during September 11th, 2001, we, the audience, are dropped into the middle of an “enhanced interrogation” (torture) of a prisoner. CIA interrogator Dan (Jason Clarke)  wants prisoner Ammar (Reda Kateb) to divulge when and where an upcoming attack is going to take place.
Ammar is beaten, bound, water-boarded and deprived of food and water; treated more like an thing than a human being.

He appeals to the only female in the room, Maya (Jessica Chastain), when he tells her, in regards to Clarke’s character “Your friend is a monster.”

There’s a brief moment where it seems like Maya, who is clearly squeamish about these techniques, will take pity on the man. But she simply says: “You can help yourself by being truthful.

There has been a lot made about the torture in Zero Dark Thirty. Several members of Congress have stated the film is wrong for suggesting that torture lead to discovering Bin Laden’s whereabouts. Members of the Academy Awards have gone on record saying they refuse to vote for the film when it comes time for the Oscars, because it “supports torture.” 

The internet is full of people decrying the film as “propaganda” and “pro-torture.”

Every single one of these people is flat-out wrong. 

I have to wonder if these naysayers were paying attention during the film, or if indeed they even watched it at all. The controversy over ZDT is entirely fabricated, based on false notions and misunderstanding and rumor. 

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal took great steps to be as accurate as possible in crafting their decade spanning thriller. Indeed, when the film was first being made, Bin Laden was still at large, and the film was mostly the story about how America was failing to get the job done. The actual death of Osama Bin Laden gave the filmmakers a whole new ending to the material, but until that ending, not much changes. The film is still primarily about how badly the CIA was doing, and how it took them so very, very long to finally get Bin Laden. 

The filmmakers take a very neutral stance with the story. They don’t hammer home any sort of “message.” There’s no heavy-handed exposition about why the characters are doing what they’re doing. And as such, there aren’t any scenes where characters thoughtfully pause and say “Gee, all this torture is wrong!” Because of this subtle approach, audiences are forced to think for themselves, and that’s not something audiences like to do that often.

The torture that takes place in the film does not lead to any positive results. In fact, after weeks of torturing Ammar, Dan and Maya finally get somewhere only when they start to be nice to the prisoner, offering him food and letting him leave his holding cell. The torture gets them nowhere; instead, Ammar is a complete wreck, unable to offer any useable information, and as a result, the next attack takes place. This alone should be enough to make audiences realize that the film is in no waycondoning torture. It doesn’t come right out and say it, but the message learned from the Ammar portion of the film is this: Torture got us nowhere, let’s try something else.
It’s a little embarrassing that a film like ZDT, which, make no mistake, is a masterpiece, is getting so much flak for something that isn’t even present in the film.

The frontrunner for best picture this year, Argo, also tells of turmoil in the Middle East, and is also based on a true story. However, as countless historians have pointed out, the events in Argo have been so heavily fictionalized that it bares little resemblance to what actually happened. Meanwhile, Zero Dark Thirty has gone to such painful extremes to be as accurate as possible, and people want to crucify the film. 

The simple fact of the matter is, just because the characters in the film don’t come out and declare the evils of torture, it doesn’t mean the film supports torture. 

It’s not pretty, but the truth is torture was used in real life. To ignore that torture, and act like it never happened—that would be the very definition of propaganda that so many are incorrectly labeling ZDT with. To complain that ZDT depicts torture so brutally would be the equivalent of someone complaining that Schindler’s List featured too many scenes of Jewish people being killed during the Holocaust. These things happened. They are not something to be proud of, but to ignore or overlook them would be a flaw itself. 

In an age when few filmmakers are willing to take chances, ZDT is a film that challenges its viewers. It is the type of film that should be rewarded and studied, not just casually tossed aside because of an incorrect assumption.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Who SHOULD Win the Oscar?

Hollywood’s favorite night of giving themselves pats on the 

back and handjobs is fast approaching, so I thought I’d give you

my picks for who SHOULD win the major awards. It doesn’t 

necessarily  mean they WILL win—but they should.

Best Actor: 

Daniel Day-Lewis for LINCOLN: This is pretty much a no-brainer. Day-Lewis should, and

 likely will, walk away with the award. He’s one of the best actors around, and he was able

 to breathe real life into the marble-statue of Abraham Lincoln. We’ll never get to see how

 the real Lincoln talked and walked, but I’m willing to bet all the five dollar bills in the world

 that Day-Lewis’ performance is pretty darn close. (note: any other year, I would say this

 award should go to Joaquin Phoenix for his haunting performance in THE MASTER, but 

you just can’t beat Day-Lewis).

Best Supporting Actor:

Christoph Waltz for DJANGO UNCHAINED: This is a hard one. All of the actors

 nominated in this category gave great performances, especially Tommy Lee Jones in

 LINCOLN and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in THE MASTER. But Waltz is so damn fun in

 this role, his charm is irresistible.

Best Actress:

Jessica Chastain for ZERO DARK THIRTY: The media has pretty much all but declared

 this award for Jennifer Lawrence, and she will likely win, and that’s a damn shame. Don’t

 get me wrong, I love JLAW as much as the next fellow. She seems like a charming young

 lady, and she does give a fine performance in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. But

 Jessica Chastain’s work in ZERO DARK THIRTY is one of the strongest performances

 I’ve ever seen on film. It’s not a very showy performance, but it’s a thing of beauty.

 Chastain’s character Maya is in almost every frame of this film, and even when she’s not 

saying anything, you can constantly see the gears turning behind the eyes of this

 character. She is obsessive and determined, and in the final moments of the movie, she 

finally lets her guard down and we as audience see what a terrible toll this manhunt has

 taken on her. This award should be a lock for Chastain, and the fact that it isn’t goes to 

show you how flawed the Oscars can be.

Best Supporting Actress: 

Amy Adams for THE MASTER: Now, who am I kidding? This year this award might as

 well be called The Anne Hathaway Award for Excellence. Hathaway will be going home

 with this award come Oscar night, and it wont be entirely undeserved. Her performance is

 one of the best things about the messy train-wreck that is LES MISERABLES. But the

fact of the matter is, Hathaway doesn’t really do much. Her performance of I Dreamed a

Dream is no doubt a show-stopper, but she’s more or less out of the picture after that

scene. Amy Adams’ performance in THE MASTER, however, is a tour de force. Adams’

character first seems like a timid wife, but we slowly begin to realize how cunning and 

ruthless she can be. She also delivers perhaps the most awkward handjob in film 


Best Original Screenplay:

Quentin Tarantino for DJANGO UNCHAINED: Tarantino’s bloody, brutal, hilarious 

screenplay for DJANGO UNCHAINED is the stuff cinema dreams are made of. The 

screenplays for ZERO DARK THIRTY and MOONRISE KINGDOM both come very,very 

close to getting my pick, but when it comes down to it, Tarantino’s screenplay is just too 

damn good to ignore. 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Tony Kushner for LINCOLN: Chris Terrio’s script for ARGO will probably win this, but

really it should go to Kushner. Kushner turned what could’ve easily been a boring cradle

to the grave bio-pic into a heartfelt, touching, and surprisingly funny slice-of-life film about

the final days of Abraham Lincoln. Kushner took Doris Kearns Goodwins massive book 

Team of Rivals and whittled it down into a tight, fast-paced story.

Best Director:

Kathryn Bigelow for ZERO DARK THIRTY: Okay, this is cheating, because Bigelow

wasn’t even nominated—but remember, this is my list of who SHOULD win. And god 

damn it, Bigelow SHOULD WIN. The fact that the Academy chose NOT to nominate her is

a joke. Bigelow’s direction for ZDT is masterful—she has complete and total control of 

everything that is going on, and moves the story along at a break-neck speed. The

Academy should all get a swift kick in the ass for overlooking her this year. That said, if I

have to pick someone who was ACTUALLY NOMINATED, I would go with Steven 

Spielberg for LINCOLN. It’s the SECOND Best Directed film of the year…

And finally:

Best Picture:


Zero Dark Thirty: It seems like ARGO is going to win this award, since it has won pretty

much every other award in this category, and frankly, the Academy LOVES movies 

ABOUT movies, so it’s probably a safe bet that ARGO will win. But, to borrow a phrase 

from the film—Argo fuck yourself. ZERO DARK THIRTY is hands-down the best film of

the year. What could’ve simply been a propaganda piece, or a heavy-handed diatribe 

about post 9-11 politics is, in the hands of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, a break-neck 

thriller for our times. The lengthy hunt for Osama Bin Laden is stripped down to one

woman’s relentless quest to get her job done. The ending raid on Bin Laden’s compound 

is one of the best pieces of directing ever put up on the silver screen, and while many in

the media have talked out of their asses about the “message” of the film, Bigelow and

Boal never point fingers or even take a specific stance—they present the story as-is, and 

let the audience draw their own conclusions. This is challenging, thrilling filmmaking, and i

should be rewarded.

So there you have it. Feel free to tell me YOUR opinions/picks.

Saturday, February 2, 2013