Watching Movies Alone with crumbsroom

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minds his own damn business
I haven't read any reviews of it, but this was my basic take as well, the life stages of an artist moving into the modern world. I didn't necessarily divide it up by decades, but it seems to me pretty clear this is at least vaguely the structure he was going for.
Maybe part of the reason I locked onto 'decades' was knowing that Kurosawa was 80 when the film was released, and so the 8 dreams fit into that scale. I was struck especially by "The Blizzard" as an allusion to one's 20s, in particular, for me, the early 20s, where feelings of uncertainty and insecurity pour down, and the drive to keep pushing ahead becomes a primal act of faith. And then "The Tunnel" for the 30s, which fits a common refrain I've heard and am quite familiar with, that you spend your 30s putting out the fires you set in your 20s - guilt, regret, those you left behind, etc.


I was totally on board the film (first viewing) but fell asleep before the last three chapters. It seems this broke the spell, as I was left pretty cold by the last half hour or so. It's one of those movies I think one would be wise to watch all the way through in one take. It works better as a whole, rather than just looking at any one particular 'dream'.
I agree, and that's a shame because "Weeping Dragon" is one of the more powerful segments, imo.
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Any effective horror film should know the importance of keeping some of its mysteries to itself. To never give us the option of rationalizing our unease away. It should hope to leave something inexplicable stuck in the teeth of the viewer, something they werenít sure they even ate in the first place. Some fleshy substance their tongue does not recognize the taste of, or even appreciate the sensation of brushing up against. It will be an important element of this kind of intrusive horror that we donít know how it got stuck there in the first place or why it wonít come out. Its persistence should defy both logic and toothpicks.

In the case of Living Dead at Manchester Morgue though, Iíve found it extraordinarily difficult to discover exactly what mystery itís keeping from me. What about it keeps me up at night puzzling over it. There is nothing elusive about the films structure that can explain its mysterious effect. Its narrative is both simple and familiar. Itís characters relatable and behave sensibly. Even all of its supernatural elements come with explanations provided by the best science an Italian Zombie film could possibly provide. Nothing is left unresolved to pester me. And yet it lingers, like the smell of something turning rancid in my mouth. I suck on my teeth and can still taste this film.

Because of this, Iíve been thinking about this movie a lot recently. They are the kind of thoughts that have led me to the same place over and over again; a dark room in the middle of the afternoon, where I can watch it yet again. Each time it will be upon a television situated a little further from humanity, where no one familiar with this new prison of mine can dare ask ďWerenít you watching that this morning...and last night...and a few days agoĒ? I hardly see how itís anyone's business. If they truly cared about my well-being, maybe they would have mentioned the fact I am growing a little smaller with each viewing, as if my inability to find any unresolved mystery inside of the film is causing something to shrivel inside of me. Itís possible they donít understand what is at stake here. So, as I crawl beneath a lonesome sand dune out in some desert wasteland, I will watch it yet again in complete solitude, then pick at my teeth a little and hope I will finally figure out this trick it has played upon me.

I am by now, of course, delirious. Maybe this is why upon my fifth viewing I am so struck by a moment of such irrelevance I have completely discarded it from my memory until now. The small wood carving, after all, has nothing of any particular importance to add to the film. It just pointlessly sits upon a table as the film opens, a man walking around it as he gets ready to close his antique shop for the weekend. As we leave with him through the door and watch him ride away on a motorcycle, there seems no reason we should be cutting back to an interior shot to check in on it. But this will be exactly what happens, and as the camera draws attention to the fact that it is now missing, we are left to wonder why we needed to come back in here to learn this.

As it turns out the missing statuette is not why we have come back inside at all. Instead, the cameras gaze will carry on past the empty place it once sat, and venture further into the shop, creeping ever nearer to a painting that sits overlooked on the floor. It is a portrait of an old man standing in shadows, and there is a decayed and grizzled quality to his face, although the darkness that surrounds him makes it hard to see any of his features clearly. As we draw closer to it, an unearthly sound will begin to rise up from the silence. It is like the sonar blip some haunted submarine might make as it brings its ghostly passengers up to the surface. This noise, while incongruent with the antiquated surroundings, continues to grow ever louder. It sets us on edge as our attention now becomes completely consumed by the painted image. Unlike the wooden figure, we begin to accept the fact that, yes, of course this is what we should be looking at. Concentric neon green circles begin to radiate from the center of the screen towards us. Itís becoming clearer and clearer that we are being hypnotized. That if there ever was any point to the hidden figurine, it was only to keep us off guard for the coming mind control. The film now has us in its grips.

What comes next may have been imagined, possibly only seen by those who are susceptible to the influence of these strange sounds and hypnotizing spirals. An image of a frightening looking man becomes superimposed over the film. He seems to be staring directly back at those of us in the audience. Is this the same man from the painting? It will never be made clear what the connection between the two will be, only that we will eventually meet him later in the film, wandering through the Manchester countryside and clearly a member of the undead. We will see him from a distance at first, but there is no doubt about who it is. He brings with him those strange sci-fi noises. This time it will be an electronic burbling not unlike what Dr Whoís Tardis might sound like if it had been an underwater coffin instead of a telephone booth. It grows louder and louder as the camera grows ever closer to him standing there, once again looking back at us.

With the peculiarity of its soundtrack now haunting the film, no matter how rationally the rest of Manchester Morgue depicts its zombie invasion as being, there will be an ever-present link to some subliminal influence the film has over us. Maybe everything we see, in some way, is coming from that antique shop we took one last peek into. From that painting we have already forgotten about. That we never would have looked at in the first place if the camera didnít pretend to be so interested in that god forsaken pointless wood carving.

As the movie continues, it will prove to have all manner of these strange Pavlovian triggers tingling at our ears, maybe hoping for some kind of response from us. Sometimes it will be a high-pitched drone that overwhelms every other sound like radioactive tinnitus. Other times, it seems to have even gotten right inside of the quaint and pastoral murmurs of the surrounding environment. The cries of birds in trees, the rustling of wind, the splash of creek water running over wet stones, all seem to shiver with some kind of distortion. It turns what could seem peaceful into yet another reminder that something is wrong here. That there must be a world that can only be hinted at living just beneath the surface of this film. Itís possibly down below, where the dead are coming back to life. But it feels as if it is reverberating in our pineal glands, and as I take another mouthful of this psychedelic dune sand, I start the film over and find myself back inside an antique shop. Yes, this is where Iím meant to stay. Picking my teeth, forever






minds his own damn business
That's a good one. I think it's a favorite of Wooley's.



That's a good one. I think it's a favorite of Wooley's.

I think in a lot of ways, it's kind of a seminal zombie film. It has (or rather steals) much of its structure from the no messing around style of Romero's "Night". Yet also incorporates all manner of outrageous drip and goop that would soon be the norm in all the Italian zombie films that had yet to come. It both looks back and is looking forward to where this genre can go. And it's also kinda impeccably made and could be considered just as frightening a film as any of its more well known brothers.


My favorite is always going to be Return of the Living Dead, but this gets precariously close to infiltrating the essential Romero's.



I think somebody else on here brought it up recently. Or was it a few months ago. Or last year. Who knows.


Anyway, probably due for a rewatch.



I will just say that I enjoyed this movie a great deal.



That's a good one. I think it's a favorite of Wooley's.
Well, you're not wrong.



I think in a lot of ways, it's kind of a seminal zombie film. It has (or rather steals) much of its structure from the no messing around style of Romero's "Night". Yet also incorporates all manner of outrageous drip and goop that would soon be the norm in all the Italian zombie films that had yet to come. It both looks back and is looking forward to where this genre can go. And it's also kinda impeccably made and could be considered just as frightening a film as any of its more well known brothers.


My favorite is always going to be Return of the Living Dead, but this gets precariously close to infiltrating the essential Romero's.
This post pleases me very much.



I will just say that I enjoyed this movie a great deal.

I've always liked it, but I think I've always overlooked how well made it is until recently. I think in the past I would have thought of it as being a 'standard workmanlike' zombie film. But its full of beautiful images, a surprising level of really blunt violence for the time and, as mentioned, a perfect sound design that is integral to the whole thing.



I've always liked it, but I think I've always overlooked how well made it is until recently. I think in the past I would have thought of it as being a 'standard workmanlike' zombie film. But its full of beautiful images, a surprising level of really blunt violence for the time and, as mentioned, a perfect sound design that is integral to the whole thing.
Yeah, that's the wonderful surprise.





There are times in your life where you assume no one is looking. Dillinger is Dead should make you feel watched. Especially if youíve had those secret moments where it is late and everyone is asleep and it suddenly becomes clear you are surrounded by nothing, so you just start doing things around the house to prove youíre somewhere.

This movie is here to remind you that, no, actually you really are nowhere, so you might as well just sit down and watch Michael Piccoli cook a rack of lamb in the middle of the night, try to disappear into his home movies and reassemble a gun. And if makes you feel any better, his wife canít be bothered to wake up when he gets home either.






I remember having fun trying to unpack that one through wild speculation. Not sure how accurate my reading was (review from blog below), but here it is for posterity.


Marco Ferreriís Dillinger is Dead is the kind of movie thatís probably more fun to pick apart than to actually watch. The plot is very basic. A man (Michel Piccoli) comes home from work, kills time, kills his wife and begins a new life. Thatís about it. Most of the runtime consists of the man roaming around his house, finding ways to pass the time. He makes dinner. He disassembles, cleans, reassembles and gives a new paint job to a gun. He watches home movies. He seduces the maid. To put it glibly, not a whole lot happens. But that doesnít mean that the movie is boring. Ferreri loads the proceedings with so many symbols that their meanings beg to be unpacked.


The monologue delivered by the manís colleague in the first scene provides a few clues. The man is a designer of gas masks and works in a factory where they are built and tested. The testing chamber, full of poisonous gas, is a metaphor for the modern industrialized world, his colleague argues. The manís home, like the testing chamber, is hermetically sealed, isolated from the outside world. The colleague proceeds to criticize the conformity imposed by a consumerist society, specifically mentioning the objectives of film, radio and television, forms of media that the man later enjoys later that night. He also mentions that this consumerist society snuffs out individualism and replaces oneís natural urges with its own, and the man does satisfy a few urges, both polite and profane, over the course of the night.


Is this shaping up to be a consumerist satire, where the poisonous gas of the testing chamber parallels the harmful pressures of a society obsessed with consumption? It does seem that affection for material objects has replaced affection for fellow humans. The man and his wife barely talk, but he spends all night playing with a gun and consuming all kinds of media, while she smooches a fishbowl and pops pills in the few moments she is awake, and their maid dances for a poster of a matinee idol. Playbacks of home movies and audiotapes reveal a further absence of compassion of the man for his wife, as if these forms of media and the tools to create and enjoy them enable a lack of empathy. What little interaction the man has with others over the night is characterized by much less engagement than he shows when interacting with those objects and pieces of media, and his humorous flirtations with suicide betray a lack of appreciation for human life.


The suppression of urges that the colleague spoke of earlier combined with the dependence on consumption and the enclosed, antiseptic quality of the house evoke a lack of potency, which could explain the heroís fascination with the gun he comes across (the discovery of which is punctuated by newsreel footage of John Dillinger) as well as the bullfighting movies he watches. These objects and images of violence might suggest a more potent form of masculinity that his neutered consumerist life does not afford him. Eventually he does achieve that potency through sex (bedding the maid) and violence (killing his wife) and escapes to the open sea to pursue a new life as a shipís cook. Cooking is shown as the primary creative act that the man engages in, which might make it a more admirable pursuit, but his painting of the gun and designing of gas masks also quality as creative acts, undermining the wholesomeness of the cooking by association. Further irony comes from the fact that the manís realization of potency is largely aided by material objects - the gun that kills his wife and the jar of honey that finds its way into the tryst with the maid. And while it seems at first that he escapes his purgatorial existence in his home to the heaven of the open seas, the look of that paradise seem informed by common commercial imagery, and the red tint of the final moments suggests that it might in fact be hell.


A lot of this is extrapolated from the film rather than explicitly argued, and I wouldnít be surprised if others arrive at completely different, possibly opposing meanings from their viewings. The lack of action and poker-faced style make it difficult for me to confidently reach a conclusion as to what the film is about, and Iím not sure the movie intends for that questioning process to be part of what itís about. An argument could be made that the meaning of the film could be speculated just as easily from reading a synopsis of the movie as actually watching the movie itself because of how little happens, which puts its cinematic value in question. While I do feel the movie lets the viewer do much of the heavy lifting, I think itís still worth seeing. The house makes for an engaging space, the symbols have visual power, and the movie works as a cryptic, curated tour with a bemused Piccoli as our guide (he allegedly received little other than blocking directions from Ferreri, and one wonders if he was as baffled by the proceedings as a viewer might be at first). So while I do wish the movie stretched its muscles a little more to draw the viewer in, I canít say it bored me.



I remember having fun trying to unpack that one through wild speculation. Not sure how accurate my reading was (review from blog below), but here it is for posterity.

That's basically my take as well. Every desire he has is preordained and his memories nothing but shadows on a wall. I remember noticing the particular attention the camera pays to a photo from a cook book he looks through before being possessed to cook. It's almost as if he is lest motivated towards a good meal as he is towards an image of a good meal.


Another element I like about it is just how dream like it feels, even though almost nothing out of the ordinary occurs in it. It's an extraordinarily mundane film, with a few peculiar accents. Yet another manifestation of of surrealisms long reach, and how essential ordinariness is for it to really work.



I think I felt similarly as you did in your first viewing of wanting there to be more presented on screen to watch, but I've found on my rewatches, its total emptiness allows it to be much more emotionally resonate. It's a really sad watch. And also at times a very funny one, mostly at his expense. Which makes it even more sad.




Apparently Ernest Borgnine has the body type required to play a viking, while I had type cast him as having more the physique of a compulsive masturbator. Or maybe this film simply knows more about viking lore than I've been told.

Either way, this movie is dumb, but fascinating to watch as how not to stage action scenes. Rarely has the last gasps of old Hollywood grandiosity seemed so flaccid. It's almost like they knew no one would be looking as these leagues of extras stormed the battlements, and so no one would notice Borgnine lumbering around like a fat old baker with his 'broadsword in hand'.





minds his own damn business
Apparently Ernest Borgnine has the body type required to play a viking, while I had type cast him as having more the physique of a compulsive masturbator. Or maybe this film simply knows more about viking lore than I've been told.
Who else would you want on your viking front line to furiously masturbate on unsuspecting natives? That's the kind of **** they'll be painting in caves for centuries. "Someday, children, the Bologna Bear will come again...."



Who else would you want on your viking front line to furiously masturbate on unsuspecting natives? That's the kind of **** they'll be painting in caves for centuries. "Someday, children, the Bologna Bear will come again...."
Hahahahahaha!!!





Earth hours sure are long, and in the case of Nicholas Roegís "The Man Who Fell to Earthď, there are two and a half hours of them. So just imagine what an entire lifetime must feel like to someone who doesn't belong here and just wants to go home. It might be fair to call it interminable.

Jerome Newton (David Bowie) has come to Earth for the singular purpose of earning enough money so he can bring water back to his home planet. In the meantime, he must simply wait in this alien world he has become stranded on, with nothing to feel towards those who now surround him and even less to do. Since he cannot afford to grow attached to anything while he is here, neither will his audience. We can only watch him as he waits, and as we sit and observe his sole habits of watching endless television and drinking bottle after bottle of gin, the way we pass our time may even seem similarly unbearable in its unenthusiastic approach to living.

Itís almost as if the film can see us. We might even worry it is casting judgement on how we have come here to pass our time with this wasted and empty life that it presents. Itís possible its even making fools of us by elegantly dressing up this cypher of a film in mysteries and obfuscations so we canít help but crack our skulls against it in hopes of making sense of what it all means. I know I did, and how terrifying it was when it turns out there is nothing much else to be said here beyond this very act of watching and waiting. My head bandages are still sticky from all the blood.

This emptiness of the film can still be a strangely transfixing thing though. Like Kubrickís monolith, there is something imposing about the movies inscrutability. Even as we scratch at its surface, hoping to uncover the mystery it is concealing, but only finding its black flatness unrelenting and immovable the further we dig, we can still admire its complete blankness in this way.

In the end the film will prove to have only one emotion to reveal to us, and I guess we should be happy it has decided to give us even this much. It will be a sense of loneliness so impenetrable we can only stare at it and barely move as we contemplate its enormity. It is almost alien in how absolute it feels. In fact, it will hardly feel like anything at all, instead peddling a sensation that is almost an absence of everything. Unlike the kind of loneliness films that want us to like them offer, this will not even grant its viewers the balm of being allowed to relate with this homesick alien. This would be too easy on us. Roeg doesnít so much want us to relate to Newton as he'd prefer we simply waste away with him. Which, over the course of its two and a half hours, we most definitely will do.

One of the criticisms The Man Who Fell to Earth is most likely to face will be its basic lack of any narrative momentum, but claiming the film is lacking story would be completely wrong. The movie, in fact, has many stories, each of them related directly to Newton. There is the woman whose love affair with him sends her towards alcoholism. A womanizing professor who tries to find purpose by seeking a job at his mysterious corporation. And the patent lawyer who has grown inordinately wealthy due to his affiliation with this alien visitor. But all of these stories will be out of reach, each orbiting Newtonís desolate life like distant stars. We will catch glimpses of them floating out there in the ether, presumably along with the television waves that deliver him his regularly scheduled commercial breaks. In fact, this is what these lives seem almost reduced to, serialized interruptions of his mission, viewed passively and without any perceived emotion. And as it will turn out, whatever they are selling, he will not be buying.

Caught between the encroaching memories of life back on his home planet, and the distance he feels to everything that surrounds him on this one, the profound sense of isolation can only be compounded as the film inches on. By contrasting Newtonís life to all of these lives which flicker and then dim alongside of him, we will get a clearer sense of how long he has been waiting to go home, especially as they carry on without him, grow older and leave him sitting forever in the place where they left him. And as the credits begin to roll, and we are left with one final image of Newton, head drooped and undoubtedly hopeless, while those of us in the audience may feel a heavy weight has been lifted from us, we can now after all continue on with our own lives, it's clear he will be sitting in this place forever, waiting and drinking and learning what it means to be sad on Earth. Purgatory, after all, is a lot longer than two and a half hour.








I wasnít a big fan of TMWFTE. Itís ok....

It's a hard movie to like. I thought that I had seen it before, many time before, but it turns out I've never made it through the first hour until now.


But while I can't say I enjoy it much, I admire it alot. All of Roegs work is worth at least seeing ( except Insignificance, blech)