Tag Archives: The Invitation

Halloween Favorites

27 Oct

 Some terrific scary movies you might not have seen…

Halloween week! You gotta watch at least one scary movie, right? Let me give you a few choices you may not know, movies you can easily find right now. 

Note: It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find classic movies online… some favorites I wanted to list here… Ils (Them), Session 9, The Haunting, Rebecca, The Innocents… are not available, which is a problem. Still, this is a wonderfully scary list.



If you haven’t seen Train To Busan, this is your watch. It’s a remarkable movie. Not only is this hands down the best zombie movie ever made, Train is an equally gripping emotional rollercoaster, a beautifully crafted movie that goes much deeper than your usual scary movie. Think of the emotional depths of something like Ordinary People… combined with zombies. It’s that good. The first 45 minutes is textbook craftsmanship on how this kind of movie should open. The rest? Whoa.

If you think a zombie movie can’t make you weep, you haven’t seen Train To Busan.



The Orphanage goes just about as deep emotionally as Train To Busan. A woman returns to the orphanage where she was raised, now an abandoned mansion. She buys the house with her husband, intending to turn it into a home for sick children. More a classic ghost story than horror, that’s all you need to know.

Awesome, with an Oscar-worthy performance by Belén Rueda.



Like The Orphanage, The Invitation is an exercise in dread. When I saw this deceptively simple movie in the theatre, my chest became so tight I had trouble breathing. Taking place all in one night at a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills, this beautifully directed and performed film is in the ‘nothing seems to be happening’ tradition of Rosemary’s Baby, which is the kind of movie that gets under my skin the worst, um best. Terrific. 



This low-budget chiller scared the absolute shit out of me. Seriously. Annie returns home after her mother’s death to find her sister and cousin have disappeared. What happened?

It’s really, really scary. No really. 

THE FLY (Amazon)


The Fly remains one of the most devastating movies I’ve ever seen. Yes, it has some Cronenberg gore but the horror of this movie is emotional. Geena David and Jeff Goldblum fell in love on the set and their chemistry is palpable. Which makes the last thirty minutes that much more upsetting. At its core, The Fly is a love story … gone very wrong.

As the brilliant tag line said, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”



Yes, I’m still talking about it. I’ll push this on you forever. Still the best piece of TV I’ve seen in years, this modern update on Shirley Jackson’s classic novel, with just as many homages to Robert Wise’s brilliant 1963 adaptation, it’s a phenomenal piece of art. As for scary, well, I screamed out loud more watching this TV show than I ever have in my life. One scare… which famously caused a reviewer to admit it made her wet her pants… caused me to scream so loud the neighbors called. I had to stop the show, drink some bourbon, and try to calm down before I could finish. That episode kept me up all night.

The Haunting of Hill House is Kick. Ass.

What are your Halloween Favorites??

Best Films of 2016

31 Dec

(With a little TV included!)

Most exciting to me about the films on this ‘best of’ list are the directors, none of whom are old guard. I should state that while I very much believe diversity of all kinds is of the utmost importance in the arts, I myself don’t think about the age, race, sexual identity or gender of an artist when I view a work. Is this a dichotomy? Some would say yes. I think not. A work of art is great or it isn’t no matter who creates or guides it, at least by my own judgement. 

A debate for another post.

Something wonderful is happening in movies, though. Only after I compiled this list did I realize all the directors were younger or less established than the directors we usually find on year-end lists. A very diverse collection of artists were involved in the movies I found worthy of note in 2016. I didn’t compile the list with this in mind, it just happened. Which fired me up.  

Agree with my list or not, the directing (and writing!) talent found here bodes well for the future of my favorite art form.



Denis Villeneuve is my favorite director working today. As evidenced previously in two incredible thrillers, Prisoners and Sicario, Villeneuve builds tension and dread better than anyone. In Arrival he does the same, brilliantly, but for very different effect. A thought-provoking work of science fiction with a dazzling emotional payoff, I’ve seen the movie three times. It gets better and richer with each viewing.

Along with stunning cinematography by Bradford Young and an innovative score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, Villeneuve creates an atmospheric movie that somehow is simultaneously majestic and intimate. All of the actors shine, even in the smallest parts. Jeremy Renner does some of his warmest, most charming work ever. And Amy Adams is my pick for best actor of the year, male or female. Her understated performance is filled with great emotion and depth. She grounds the movie with a quiet power that makes the last twenty minutes even more thrilling and eye opening. A second viewing only elevates her work, given the final revelations. I’m not ashamed to say I wept the first time I saw ArrivalIt’s a masterpiece.

For the rest of the picks, click here to  Continue reading