Occultober – Day 2 – The Believers

The Believers
Oscar winning director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy) comes to the Satanic Panic party way late in the game, albeit there was a bit of a mini-revival in 1987 (Jacob’s Ladder, Angel Heart, and two others that will come up later on this month.)

The Believers has a shocker of an opening involving a coffee pot and a puddle of milk which makes Martin Sheen a widow and his son, motherless. While trying to rebuild his life as a police psychologist, they are persecuted by conspiracy and cults in New York City as he gets into a deep investigation into Latin America’s brujerías, or witches. Lurid, panicky and sweaty, as is right for this kind of film, Schlesinger pulls no punches, which may not exactly class up the joint, but makes for an pretty effective 80s horror outside of the ubiquitous teen sex and slashers glut.
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Movies We Watched

Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.

Point Blank

2011 France. Director: Fred Cavayé. Starring: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Gérard Lanvin, Elena Anaya.

The immediate comparison when talking about Point Blank is to Guillaume Canet’s Tell No One. Both are high-paced French language thrillers about the search for truth and motivated by love for a wife. That comparison is certainly apt. And while Point Blank is a decidedly less memorable and weighty piece than Tell No One (I still think that’s one of the best mystery thrillers of the last few years, foreign language or otherwise), I still very much enjoyed Point Blank mainly for its taut pace that barely stops for breath throughout its pleasingly brisk 80 minute runtime.

Cold Souls

2009 USA, France. Director: Sophie Barthes. Starring: Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn, Emily Watson, Dina Korzun, Lauren Ambrose.

This was a big disappointment for me. It has a great, unique premise in which people extract and store their own souls, with Paul Giamatti playing a version of himself, an actor struggling to play a part because he feels his soul is weighing him down. It is going for the same sort of quirky but realistic feel of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich (all written by Charlie Kaufman) but doesn’t come together in an entirely satisfying way as those movies do. I wanted a lot more from it instead of just hints and snippets of brilliance here and there. I still enjoyed it for its existential ideas and great cast (Giamatti is particularly good) but I felt it didn’t fulfill its potential.

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