website, blog and vanity nexus of writer R F Brown

Posts tagged ‘children’

AT HOME WITH WOLVES AND LAMBS short story by R F Brown

“They should send all those sidewinders back to the desert,” Dad looked up from his Pennysaver to proclaim.

“And I should exchange you for Paul Newman,” Mom volleyed back across the kitchen. In my chair at our little kitchen dinner table I might have looked like a dispassionate referee on the sideline of my parent’s argument, but my quietness belied a history of unpredicted angry outbursts. Although that night I didn’t snarl into their fray which I recall was over a simple report from Mom about the new family in our neighborhood joining the summer car pool. She was standing up next to her electric drip coffee maker in a vain effort to hover above Dad with rational thought. “The Siarmanjanis are exiles from Iran,” Mom defended them. “Nobody in PTA seems to know the whole story.”

link to complete PDF: athomewolveslambs.rfbrown.web

Media Log: 01.20.2012

(cinema) We Need to Talk About Kevin, d. Lynne Ramsay, 2011. The IMDB entry for this movie says: The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions. I lived in Colorado at the time of the Columbine High School murders and I’ve thought a lot about what life must be like for a parent whose kid has does something so awful. It’s an intriguing script idea but it doesn’t happen to be what Kevin is actually about. The high school mass murders here are a sort of foregone conclusion to the story of a mother who is emotionally terrorized by her son, beginning when he is an infant. This is a unique piece in that the story is told in non-linear flashbacks and the cinematography is experimental. Yet the story to me plays closer in genre to horror than to a psychological drama you might see at the arthouse. I can recommend this movie if it’s only on the multiplex at the mall level. Otherwise we’re looking at something that it is on the edge of camp. Witness the

Ezra Miller as Kevin

scene where the mother tries to explain reproduction to her little boy via the Mama Bear and Papa Bear and the boy interrupts, “Is this about fuckin’?” If it isn’t highbrow horror Kevin is just Mommy Dearest with the abuse roles switched around. Did you want the gays to love your movie like that? ๏๏๏… Afterschool, d. Antonio Campos, 2008. The actor who plays the

Miller in Afterschool

sociopath in We Need to Talk About Kevin was in this earlier movie where he also plays a disturbed kid but with a bit more subtlety. Ezra Miller is great actor in addition to have grown up to be pretty hot. Anyway, in Afterschool, Miller is a nobody kid at a prep school who accidentally videotapes two popular girls die overdosing on tainted cocaine. As the school goes into damage control trying to shake out all the drugs, Miller starts to act erratically believing he is under surveillance. Surveillance, public image and acts of watching are huge themes in movie. Apparently a lot of people don’t care for the slow pace of the story and static camera scenes. I could write a book on why every shot matters. I think it’s brilliant.๏๏๏๏๏

Addendum: If you want to a see an excellent movie about the psychology behind school shootings I recommend Zero Day, from 2003. Both Afterschool and Zero Day stream on Netflix.

Patchwork of Horrors Under The Stairs

The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club.Track down today’s movie and post your comments.   Good?  Lame?  Scary?  Not scary?  Bring it.


Today’s recommended feature is:

The People Under the Stairs

Between numerous sequels of Nightmare On Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes, horror director Wes Craven came up with this wild, little urban-horror fairytale.  It is a horror movie, but a patchwork of just about everything horrible under the full moon: sadomasochism, poverty, injustice, incest,  slumlords, economic exploitation, OCD, racism, child abuse, castration anxiety, haunted houses, gore, slapstick, violence, and animal cruelty.

Fool, a 13 year old boy, gets involved in a  home robbery with two adult burglars.  Fool is looking for a rumored coin collection, the value of which could prevent his family from being evicted and pay for his mother’s lifesaving cancer surgery.  The coin collection belongs to a wealthy, racist and a bizzare man and woman who are also the family’s landlords.  After breaking into the fortress-like surburban house, the burglars discover that it is full of passageways between the walls, deadly traps, and a vicious guard dog.  Also, the homeowners are holding their teenage daughter captive as well as a dozen or so teenage boys in a cage under the stairs, and their tongues have been cut out.  The homeowners themselves are a nerotic folie a deux, alternately compulsively clean and prone to wanton destruction of their own property; alternately sexually perverse and obsessive about their daughter’s chastity.  Chased by the couple and their flesh eating dog throughout the house and it’s hidden chambers, Fool befriends the teenage girl and her imprisoned, mutilated consorts, and they help him escape with the coins.  His family’s financial crisis solved, Fool makes a deadly decision to return to the house and liberate all of the teen prisoners.

The People Under The Stairs isn’t great horror movie or a great movie period.  But its unique story and the story telling is intriguing.   It has a fairytale quality and a lot of juvenile  humor, yet adult themes.  It has slapstick and farce, but it’s also effectively violent and gross.  The bawdy comedy and gore is definitely intended for a broad theater audience.  However dumb it was, I have to confess it worked on me.  The bad guys lose and the audience wins.

The People Under The Stairs (1991, d. Wes Craven)

BSD Movie Log: Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby (1968, d. Roman Polanski)

A young couple moves into a new apartment and find themselves overwhelmed by peculiar neighbors and unsettling coincidences. When the wife becomes pregnant, she also becomes paranoid that the neighbors are witches and that the coincidences are parts of a plot to kidnap her unborn child for use in Satanic rituals.

Considered by many to be a horror classic, and even a cinema classic, I like the movie but find it disappointing on two levels.  The first is a fault in the construction of the film in that it seems to have no middle part.  It’s more than 2 hours of anxious build-up with a rather silly payoff in the last few minutes.  The second disappointment I suspect stems from being sui generous and controversial in its time.  But it’s been imitated so much that now that it comes off as trite.  I suspect people at the time of the movie’s release found it an indicting treatment of the upper-middle class and bourgeois professionals.  It just doesn’t seem shocking now.

La Vampire Boheme

The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club. Track down today’s movie and post your comments.   Good?  Lame?  Scary?  Not scary?  Bring it.


Today’s recommended feature is:

Let Me In (2010, d. Matt Reeves)


I think it’s bad that vampires have lost their pseudo-European offbeatness.  Dracula was a genuine weirdo who slept all day in a creeky coffin.  The Count on Sesame Street suffers from a common manifestation of OCD, uncontrollably counting things, and yet he is never compelled to clean his cobweb quilted castle.   Lestat and Louis from Interview With A Vampire want the same legal rights afforded to corporeal couples, but they also want to live as artists in The French Quarter and raise their immortal daughter on human flesh.  Now, because of Buffy, Twilight and oodles of copy-bats,  vampires have become all vamp and no bite.  They drive Volvos and wear Burberry.  I understand Twlight’s hip Cullen kids are frequently spotted living-it-up at Seattle Marriner’s night games (although they are invisible on the Diamond Vision screen).  Maybe all that is why it seemed relevant to the fillmakers of Let Me In to set it in suburban New Mexico, early 1980’s.  Perhaps they wanted to construct a feeling  of innocence and nostalgia.  Maybe they wanted to take us back to a time when vampirin’ wasn’t cool.

 

"Is that dress a Vivienne Westwood?" - Let Me In

 

12 year old Owen’s nerdy kidness will be familiar to all because we all knew one or were one like him.  His hair is greasy.   He looks permanently sewn in to his oversize, dirty, fake-fur parka. He’s smaller than his classmates and frequently the object of ridicule and pummelings on behalf of a trio of school bullies.  Owen and his single mother live in a rundown apartment complex.  He has little to do but spy on his neighbors through a toy telescope.  One snowy, winter evening Owen watches a barefoot girl, about his age, moving her box of possessions into the unit next door with the help of an unkempt, middle-aged man. Slowly, over several night time encounters in the apartment courtyard, the girl, Abby, starts up an awkward friendship and juvenile romance with Owen, over the objections of the man.  Owen begins to figure out that Abby is not what she appears to be but rather an ageless vampire in the body of a twelve year old.  The unkempt man  is not Abby’s father either, but rather her longtime mortal consort, dating back to his own childhood.  His duty is to look after Abby by going about the murders of young men.  He collects their blood in a plastic bottle and keep his vampire mistress fed.  Eventually the man’s nocturnal activities are accidentally exposed.  He dies and  the trail of murders leads back to the apartment.  Abby must move on,  although she helps Owen in a final violent showdown with the school bullies.

 

Let The Right One In - these sweaters were more Dale Of Norway

 

 

Let Me In is a loyal remake of the sucessful Swedish movie Let The Right One In from 2008.  In terms of story and tone the two movies are nearly idential and both are great, although I think the American remake offers some important improvements.  I find the child actors in the American remake to better actors, and there is a more convincing, eerie chemistry between them.  Also, the Swedish version employs an ill fitting sub-plot about a group of local alcoholics who are both victims of the vampire misdeeds and the source of public exposure.  In Let Me In, that group is swaped out completely for a gritty homicide detective who is putting together the clues of the murders.  This makes it more crime-thriller.  Also, the American version of this movie folds in an interesting homoerotic subtext that brings some texture not present in the first version.  Owen is confused about his male image, particularly in his associations with the bullies, whose taunt him as a wimp and call him “little girl.”   Abby is confused with her feelings toward Owen, saying that she is neither a girl nor or boy.  And the man stalks active young men for Abby, when more yielding victims could be easier prey.

A mild objection I have is over the choice of setting for Let Me In.  It makes sense to me that vampires who burn up in sunlight travel to long Swedish winters where they might not even see sunlight for a few months out of the year.   Los Alimos, New Mexico averages 310 days of sunshine a year.  Look it up.

Both movies succeed in telling a compelling and sad story that leaves fascinating mysteries to the imagination.  Why does the man object to the children’s friendship?  He may be acting like a  jealous lover or he could be protecting Owen from Abby and the circumstance that befell his own youth.  Does the middle-aged man risk the danger in murdering young men because that’s what Abby prefers, or is he acting out on some projected self-loathing, or even sexual frustration?   Does Abby really love Owen or is she killing him softly, selfishly grooming him to become her new life paramour?   The viewers are challenged with these unanswered questions and by the  morality in our sympathy toward Abby.  She is a pretty, 12 year old girl, who is also a human predator.  Yet, her station is to live forever, from consort to consort, in an unforgiving existential transience – a shattered, improverished eternity.  The Cullen’s are Whole Foods.  Abby will always be strictly whole blood.


Let The Right One In (2008, d. Thomas Alfredson)

Booth Brother Saves Lincoln Son and Other Strange Historical Coincidences

How Edwin Booth saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln and other bizarre coincidences in history.

link:  The 5 Most Mind-Blowing Coincidences of All Time | Cracked.com.