Occultober – Day 14 – Paradise Lost 3

Paradise Lost: Purgatory
The third West Memphis 3 documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky was made in 2011. This was now 18 years after the three young children were killed and hog-tied in a ditch on the side of the road in small-town Arkansas. While the filmmakers were diligently following the legal proceedings, and coming to grips that John Mark Byers, as tantalizingly over-the-top as a suspect, was really not guilty, some DNA testing was performed and in some degree disputed the guilt of Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin of the crime.

Before another appeals trial could be put together, the state of Arkansas offered a plea deal allowing them to go free, but they had to agree to be ‘guilty’ and not further press legal charges of their own for wrongful prosecution. All of this happened just as Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory was about to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, and thus, the whole trilogy had an ending of sorts which contradicted the ‘Purgatory’ subtitle.

The third part in the chapter is more of a summation of everything to date, with apologies to John Mark Byers, and a focus on another suspect, Terry Hobbs, a different step-father one of the three murdered boys. The film is not as aggressive as the second one, and lacks focus, often is too repetitive. I do not necessarily recommend watching the trilogy in a single binge, or you will be a bit frustrated with these repetitions.

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A Month of Horror 2014 – Chapter 3

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Let’s dig into a few more tasty horror treats…In this post: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Monster Club, The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Gurozuka.

 

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (Bob Clark – 1973)
I’m not sure how this “let’s get our friends together and make a movie” movie didn’t completely collapse into itself, but it somehow stayed afloat even if about 70% of the frame at any given time seems to be complete blackness. Fortunately director Bob Clark (Black Christmas and a c.v. of films almost as diverse as Robert Wise) wisely decided to clad his group of friends in brightly coloured clothing for their night time adventure through an island cemetery for fun & games and inspiration for their play. None of them seem to like each other, so calling them “friends” might be a stretch, but they all seem to follow the egotistical and nasty director who performs a number of rituals over the graveyard. Without really meaning to, he ends up accidentally waking a whole assortment of dead folks. The last 20 minutes of the movie actually work quite decently with the troupe trying to battle and escape the zombies, but it’s a bit of a challenge to get there.

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Occultober – Day 13 – Paradise Lost 2

Paradise Lost: Revelations
The second documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky on the West Memphis Three was made seven years after the three young children were killed and hog-tied in a ditch on the side of the road. This follow-up, taking place in the middle of the lengthy legal appellate process, is one of the most emotionally powerful movies ever made. It’s power comes at the expense of any kind of objective reality, however, as the filmmakers set out to make a very strong case against one of the victims’ step-father, John Mark Byers. Cherry picking evidence, simultaneously inflating importance of things while deflating others, the filmmakers fall exactly into the trap that they accuse the community and law-enforcement in their first film, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.

Here we get to see Byers perform (apparently whacked out on mediation) for the camera. He spits fire and brimstone, give church sermons and raise holy hell against the convicted teenagers Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin. Meanwhile, Damien Echols, who got by far the most media attention of the three, has matured considerably on death-row for 6 years, and is far more articulate to the camera. Equal parts regretful of his naiveté during the original trial and grateful of the support of activists, celebrities, and others on the outside who are helping his legal team make sense of all the evidence – or lackthereof in terms of ‘reasonable doubt.’

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Soundtrack Of Your Life #6: Donnie Darko

0 days… 1 hour… 12 minutes… 49 seconds. That… is when the episode… will end.

Each episode, Corey Pierce welcomes a guest onto the show who has chosen a compilation or soundtrack that speaks to a memorable era of their life. The soundtrack will play underneath and serves as a springboard to discussion about the music itself, how it works within the film, and what was going on with their life at the time of its release.

For episode 6 Corey welcomes Toronto Film Scene writer Sean Kelly to pick apart the lyrical themes and time travel theory details that makes up 2001’s Donnie Darko, the cult sensation that after countless viewings inspired Sean to seek a B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies. We use the rare 2004 Director’s Cut version of the soundtrack as a base and discuss the difference in song usages, as well as diversions on bullying, 9/11, life with aspergers, and more.

Follow Corey Pierce on Twitter at – @coreypierceart
Follow Sean Kelly on Twitter at @SKonMovies
Follow Soundtrack of Your Life on Twitter at @thisisyourOST

DVD Review: Two Days, One Night

Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Writers: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Pili Groyne
Producers: Denis Freyd, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Country: Belgium
Running Time: 99 min
Year: 2014
BBFC Certificate: 15


(maybe add half a star if you’re not familiar with the Dardenne brothers’ previous work)


I had the pleasure to review The Dardennes Collection back in 2012, which consisted of 6 of the brothers’ most famous films, including their latest from that year, The Kid With the Bike. I hadn’t seen any of their work previously so I received a crash course in their brand of no frills yet perfectly balanced filmmaking and fell in love with it. I may not have given every title top marks, but they were of such a high standard I found myself being quite harsh on the slightly less mind-blowing films in the set even though I adored the collection as a whole. So understandably my expectations were very high for Two Days, One Night, the Dardennes brothers’ latest film, especially since it’s been picking up universal praise amongst critics, many of whom are calling it their best work.

Like most of their other films, the story here is quite simple, in fact this could probably be their most sparse narrative. Basically, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), a young mother with a history of depression, is told that her work colleagues have opted to take a €1,000 bonus rather than keep her on as an employee. Feeling the staff had been pressured into making this decision, Sandra manages to talk her boss into running another vote and she has just the weekend to convince her colleagues one by one that they should give up the money to let her keep her job.

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The Empire Strikes Back: Uncut (Director’s Cut)

It’s finally here. The full, uncut version of the fan made version of The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars Uncut was released a few years ago and after the success, the powers that be deemed a sequel was necessary. It’s been a long wait, but The Empire Strikes Back is ready to be watched in all of its fan-made glory.

It’s the entire length of the movie cut into short clips (from about 5 seconds to 15 seconds) and created by fans from around the world. Drawings, action figures, home CGI, live action office hijinx, marionettes, animals, stop motion, claymation and even just ethereal wierdness; you name it, all were brought in to recreate this masterpiece. And if you watch carefully, other areas of inspiration were brought in by many fans as well; from Wes Anderson to beer commercials to Devo to spaghetti and meatball Star Destroyers… and that’s just in the first fifteen minutes!

You can check out the entire uncut film below. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop watching. Enjoy1

Occultober – Day 12 – Paradise Lost 1

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
The West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were positive proof that the “Satanic Panic” that held 1980s America looking behind every corner for Ritual Abuse of children did not fade away completely with the end of that decade. In Arkansas in 1993 three very young boys were murdered in a grisly fashion and their bodies disposed of in a forested gully just off the highway. A year later, with the full weight of law enforcement and the local judiciary, the blame was placed on the shoulders of three other boys, themselves all under 18, with no hard evidence.

The victims were hog-tied and left in a ditch, for animals to chew on, but by the time the corpses were discovered, it certainly looked like some kind of ritualistic mutilation to the local law enforcement in need of a quick closure on the crime due to the young age of the boys. So, they grabbed a pair of kids that listened to Metallica, wore black, and occasionally checked Aleister Crowley from the library along with another that had an IQ so low, it was almost debilitating.

The resulting miscarriage of justice, botched police work, eccentric members of the community and other bits of true crime drama were captured by an HBO crew, and the appeals process went on for 17 years.

The first part in a trilogy of documentaries (more to come in this space for the next few days) is horrifying, engrossing, and illuminating all at the same time as the filmmakers become more and more involved in the trial.

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A Month of Horror 2014 – Chapter 2

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I‘m behind in my viewing, so I’m feeling a bit under the gun…After this batch it’ll be time to pick up the pace again. In this post: Dr. Terror’s House of Horror, Trouble Every Day, Night Of The Eagle and I Married A Witch.

 

Dr. Terror’s House Of Horror (Freddie Francis – 1965)
I’m a big fan of the old Amicus horror anthology films – titles like The House That Dripped Blood, Tales From The Crypt, Torture Garden and Asylum would give you 4-5 short horror stories with a variety of actors (as well as a bonus wrap-around framing device) and bring forth a great 90 minutes of entertainment. The tales weren’t really overly gory or jump-out-of-your-seat scary, but they excelled in bringing horrific ideas into 15-20 minute long stories with dashes of black comedy. Dr. Terror’s grab bag was the only remaining one of the Amicus omnibus films that had eluded me, so I finally caught up with it and it didn’t disappoint. With Peter Cushing dolling out the fates to 5 men he meets on a train (via tarot card readings) and Christopher Lee and Donald Sutherland amongst the leads of the individual scenarios, the film breezes by at a fast pace and introduces you to plants with their own brains, voodoo jazz, an artist’s disembodied hand, and a couple of different spins on vampires and werewolves. Great stuff.

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