Godzilla the Messiah Monster, and other atomic-age aberrations

(This review is spoiler-free.)

On the sixtieth anniversary of the original Godzilla, director Gareth Edwards reboot succeeds more by the strength of the director’s undeniable talent than it does its tired and pedestrian script. Infused with Edwards’ obvious passion for the material and the genre, the film is unfortunately perched on the rickety skeleton of action and disaster movie clichés. For all the passing similarities to real world analogues, little in the film is novel or particularly exciting, and the assortment of recycled ideas keeps Godzilla from ever reaching its full potential. However, considering that it’s Edwards’ first time directing a major tentpole film the results are more than competent. Continue reading

Werner Herzog 16 film boxset on sale at Amazon.ca

Imposing cover art for the limited edition set

Werner Herzog, the director I respect and admire more than any other, has been collected in a massive 16 film box set by Shout Factory that includes many of his most renowned films, and just today Amazon.ca has dropped the price on this blu-ray set by a third. Limited to only 5,000 copies, if you have even the slightest interest in this director there may never be a better time to indulge. Certain to cause ontological shock and epidemiological dilemmas of the most absurd degree, and at only $7 a film, this set is the greatest bargain on Amazon presently.

Note, however, that there is also a Region B set with 18 of the director’s films being offered by BFI. Having compared the titles (though not the transfers) between the two, I assure you that the main titles in Herzog’s oeuvre are found in both sets. Whichever set you purchase you’ll be getting an astounding overview of Herzog’s work. Though it’s unfortunate that the BFI has 8 exclusive titles and Shout has 6, and that the only real way to settle the difference is to buy both sets, there is some comfort in knowing that both sets offer a terrific sample.

When the set finally arrives I may just have to go about writing a career length retrospective of this unique and impossibly brilliant man.

I’ll close with a quote I believe succinctly embodies Herzog in all his mystery and startling contradictions, offered in Les Blank’s painful Burden of Dreams (sadly offered only on the BFI set, though available also in a fantastic deluxe DVD edition from Criterion):

“Kinski says [the jungle] is full of erotic elements. It’s not so much erotic, but full of obscenity. Nature here is vile and base. I wouldn’t see anything erotic here. I see fornication and asphyxiation and choking, fighting for survival and growing and just rotting away. Of course there’s a lot of misery, but it’s the same misery that’s all around us. The trees are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don’t think they sing; they just screech in pain. Taking a close look at what’s around us, there is some sort of harmony. It’s the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder. But when I say this, I say this all full of admiration for the jungle. It’s not that I hate it. I love it. I love it very much. But I love it against my better judgment.”

Here’s the link to that Shout deal:
Herzog: The Collection [Blu-ray]

NOTE: This link is for the Canadian version of the Amazon site. I can’t be certain what the final price might be after import duties, but consider in your calculations that the price for the set on Amazon.com is $40 USD more.

Recommended Reading: Nehme’s “Spirits by Starlight”


Still from Lewis Allen’s 1944 haunted house story “The Uninvited”

If you’re looking for something inspiring to read, check out Farran Smith Nehme’s essay about Lewis Allen’s most successful and popular film, the 1944 ghost story The Uninvited starring Ray Milland, courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

The alacrity by which such troves of insight are revealed should serve as an examplar for any piece of film analysis, be it a review or essay. Amateurs and professionals alike should study its form and nuances to glean what insights they may from it. Everyone else, may I recommend a double-feature of Allen’s The Uninvited with Hitchcock’s most ostensibly gothic masterpiece Rebecca?

Nehme also runs her own blog, Self-Styled Siren, which is similarly filled with brilliant monographs about cinema.