9 items from 2017
When one is in the mood for a romantic stroll through autumnal New England, the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne offer transport. His fables and novels evoke that era with atmosphere, bringing the reader into a landscape of brisk wind and rich colors, surrounded by the possibility of enigmatic sorcery. Amongst the dying forests and chilly winds, his characters encounter demonic entities, ghosts, and their darkest temptations. His collection of Twice Told Tales, published at the start of his career, showcases a broad example of his themes.
Some of Hawthorne's tales are simply depictions of pastoral New England life; describing a child’s view of her small town in “Little Annie’s Ramble,” or observing village courtship as a storm approaches in “Sights from a Steeple.” Morality inspires and buoys almost all of his substantial stories, often in rather surprising ways. When writing about the Puritans, whose culture is based on infamously rigid moral standards, »
- Ben Larned
Several years before she won the Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog,” Suzan-Lori Parks wrote a pair of plays seeking to riff on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlett Letter.” The more successful is “In the Blood,” which gets a spirited and stirring revival at Off-Broadway’s Signature Theatre complex — where its Brechtian counterpart, “F—ing A,” is playing just across the hall. For “In the Blood,” Parks reimagines Hester Prynne as an inner-city woman struggling to make ends meet as she raises her five children, each the product of a different, long-gone father. As played by the remarkable Saycon Sengbloh (“Scandal, »
- Thom Geier
Suzan-Lori Parks has said that the original idea for her play “F—ing A” was something of a joke: “I’m going to write a riff on ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and I’m going to call it ‘F—ing A’!” This was before Parks had won the Pulitzer Prize for her breakout 2002 play “Topdog/Underdog.” More tellingly, it was also before she had even read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel. And like many an idea borne of an ill-informed joke, “F—ing A” doesn’t really sustain itself over its two-hour-plus running time. That’s the takeaway from director Jo Bonney’s occasionally stirring revival, »
- Thom Geier
Gothicism has been around for centuries, pervading architecture, music, literature, and film alike. Its roots are deep, and its identifying factors are strong—baroque style, high passion, and a healthy heap of darkness. Compared to architecture and music, Gothic fiction is fairly young, developing in the late 18th century with English authors such as Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe. No one was prepared, however, for the arrival of Matthew Gregory Lewis, who published his deliciously controversial novel The Monk at the ripe age of 19.
When The Monk was unleashed, the literary world had already been introduced to Radcliffe and Walpole’s gloomy melodramas, along with Romantic works from Germany and France. None of these stories contained the moral quandaries, the viciousness, or the sex and violence of Lewis’ novel. It tells the story of Ambrosio, the titular Monk, who is considered the holiest man in all of Madrid, until he »
- Ben Larned
Paul Martinovic Aug 3, 2017
Despite being one of the most in demand actors on the planet, we were lucky enough to catch up with Bryan Cranston while he was over in the UK to promote his new film Wakefield, a dark, literate tale of midlife crisis and male entitlement. Our interview took place mere hours after the Breaking Bad star scandalised the nation’s breakfast tables by casually dropping the word ‘shite’ in an interview on Good Morning Britain with a star struck Kate Garraway. Of course, Bryan Cranston being Bryan Cranston, nobody really minded all that much.
It’s this butter-wouldn’t-melt, all-pervading likeability that is used to killer effect in Wakefield, the story of »
Ambition in film doesn't get enough credit these days – maybe because it's so rare. But the daring of writer-director Robin Swicord is all over Wakefield. Based on a 2008 short story by E.L. Doctorow (and before that, an 1835 tale from none other than Nathaniel Hawthorne), the film gets whisper-close to Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston), a New York lawyer who turns his life upside down. He's so fed up with the Groundhog Day-ish sameness of his routine – working in his Manhattan office, commuting home to his wife Diana (Jennifer Garner) and »
Offred, wearing a uniform of prim hood and draping gown — its color might be described as Nathaniel Hawthorne Scarlet — is in the supermarket, moving past armed guards and listening to other hooded women prattle on about oranges.
“I don’t need oranges,” we hear her thinking to herself. “I need to scream. I need to grab the nearest machine gun.”
She’s perfect in this fascinating Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, the famous »
- Tom Gliatto
Starting today, horror fans can check into The Institute at theaters and on VOD via Momentum Pictures, and we caught up with co-director Pamela Romanowsky to discuss collaborating with co-director James Franco, the movie's unique filming location, and much more.
Pamela Romanowsky: Well, the first question for me was “why a horror film?” I like films across lots of genres, but I’m not a horror buff, so this was a first for me. The horror films I do love are genre blending, movies that are character-based and explore things that are dark but still based in reality, and in the dark corners of human psychology. I’ve never really been scared of the supernatural, but people are certainly capable of terrifying and very dark things. »
- Derek Anderson
By Hank Reineke
Though Vincent Price would eventually garner a well-deserved reputation as Hollywood’s preeminent bogeyman, it was only really with André De Toth’s House of Wax (1953) that the actor would become associated with all things sinister. In some sense the playful, nervously elegant Price was an odd successor to the horror film-maestro throne: he was a somewhat aristocratic psychotic who shared neither Boris Karloff’s cold and malevolent scowl nor Bela Lugosi’s distinctly unhinged madness or old-world exoticism.
His early film career started in a less pigeonholed manner: as a budding movie actor with a seven year contract for Universal Studios in the 1940s, the tall, elegant Price would appear in a number of semi-distinguished if modestly-budgeted romantic comedies and dramas. His contract with Universal was apparently non-exclusive, and his most memorable roles for the studio were his earliest. In a harbinger of things to come, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
9 items from 2017
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