Good & Evil & Movies: Diary, 8/28 to 9/1/21

Horror & other DVDs; Nietzsche quote leading to good and evil muddle; nothing else worth a mention.

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 17: Hailee Steinfeld attends AOL Build to discuss the new movie ‘The Edge Of Seventeen’ at AOL HQ on November 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)

Copyright (text only) 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{8/28/21}  Weight 215.0 at 6:10 am.

Hellbound—Hellraiser II is awash in “blood” and is completely nonsensical.  There are occasional vivid and imaginative scenes, but mostly it’s a lot of running around and running away and screaming.  If there’s one saving grace, it’s the completely weird and kind of awesome transformation of the main villain.  Overall, a disappointment and not something I plan to watch again.  50% from Rotten Tomatoes.  Subsequent sequels that I’ve seen are dreadfully boring and worthless—I didn’t keep the DVDs.

{8/29/21}  Weight 214.2 at 6:15 am.

So the Hemlock Club meeting, sans Pablo, was in fact a “relaxed chat about philosophy and literature,” as advertised.  Well, not much philosophy; but we (Nog and I) did talk quite a bit about books, especially when I gave him a copy of my Best Books list.  When Portia showed up and sat with us, she joined right in.  She was smitten with the title of Lonesome Dove until I told her it was a western novel.

I did not watch a DVD yesterday.  I spent the evening reading Karen Horney:  Self-Analysis and diddling on Twitter.

On 5/15/21 I was celebrating 100 followers to my blog; today it’s 118.  Meh.

{8/30/21}  Weight 215.4 at 6:20 am.

Watched Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand, and Anthony Perkins in Goodbye Again (1961 B&W).  Montand comes across as creepy and corrupt.  Bergman and “15-years-younger” Perkins have a “doomed” romance.  In fact, Montand is six years younger than Bergman but looks ten years older than her; Perkins is seventeen years younger.  I stress the dates because it is central to the premise.  There is a memorable scene on the dance floor.  It was diverting for a couple of hours, but it made me sad.  “Do you love Brahms?” was a theme, based on the title of the Collette novel.

Nog is reluctant to come to my place because of bedbugs.  Yeah, there is that.

After paying rent, back rent, bills, and allowing for other expenses, plus car for $1,000, I’ll have about $250 left to pay for insurance—assuming that I can avoid other expenses.

{8/31/21}  Weight 215.0 at 5:35 am.

Shallow Ground (2005; released 2008) is the silliest damn horror movie I’ve ever watched all the way through.  As it was running I kept thinking, “Bloody bloody everywhere, and not a drop of sense,” trying to make it funny.  In the “making of” featurette, the director (Sheldon Wilson) said, “We had forty thousand dollars, so we just started shooting.”  Clearly, he had some idea in mind, it wasn’t just scenery, but impossible things kept happening:  blood flows across the floor, then flows back; if the blood touches your shoe, you will have visions; words are written on doors in blood when no one could have done it; and so on.  The actors were appealing and effective, but…no.  Just, no.  Leading man Timothy V. Murphy reminded me very much of Ed Harris.  Patty McCormack of The Bad Seed (1956) appears.  A 57% splat from Rotten Tomatoes; the audience score was 33%.

Somewhat more promising in concept was Severed (2005), which starts with a clash between loggers and environmentalists; alas, it turns into a standard “slow zombie” knockoff of Night of the Living Dead, without the latter’s tension and claustrophobic terror.  No critics have reviewed this dog at RT; the audience score is 25%, regrettably well-deserved.  Again I watched all the way through without fast-forwarding, though I was tempted.  For lovers of slow zombies only.

Both of these movies came in a package with six others that I haven’t seen yet.  The package doesn’t seem to have a specific title, showing instead “Horror” and “8 Film Collection” and “8 Nights of Fright” and “Movie 8-Pack”; it’s from GT Media and Screen Media Films.

So far it’s a lot better than the “4 Movie Midnight Marathon Pack:  Supernatural” from Universal, which has star talent (Sarah Michelle Geller, Kevin Costner, Kate Hudson, and Michael Keaton) and the Universal brand, but thoroughly boring movies that I fast forwarded through or just shut off after about twenty to thirty minutes each.  Maybe I was just in a bad mood, or maybe the lack of gore was the decider.  One, The Skeleton Key, I reviewed in 2019 as being promising but finally disappointing.  Even at that I think it’s the best of the six I’m sorta-reviewing here.  Perhaps surprisingly, I recognized it quickly, even remembering that John Hurt has a supporting role.

I don’t mind distracting myself with these DVDs because Kick Me has progressed nicely and I did a good two hours of work on it yesterday.  Now, how can I excuse myself today?

I used to read a lot.  Now, not so much.

On the other hand, instead of stupid movies I could be spending time on dictating the prison diary, like I used to.  Or I could start on the Hemlock Club Novel (HCN).  So many irons, so little fire.  I haven’t kept my balls in the air.

Instead I watched more stupid movies.  Hell’s Gate 11:11 (2004) is a cheesy, failed attempt to make bullying and bullies interesting, with some horror angle I’ve already forgotten—something about a prophecy, I think.  No score from the Rotten Tomatoes critics, only two reviews, one fresh, one (in Spanish) rotten.  The audience’s 11% is indicative, as well as ironic.  Think gory slasher without charm.  If there was a surprise in this, it was that the murderous escaped convicts killed the woman without raping her first—in the opening sequence.

Somewhat better, at least for a while, was The Demon Within (2000), which gets three splats from the critics and 10% from the audience.  Katie Wright plays Sarah, The Sculptress (which is the title on RT) who creates sculptures she doesn’t intend to create, much to her chagrin and her college instructor’s irritation.  Jeff Fahey, a name I knew from Psycho II, was unrecognizable to me as Sarah’s scenery-chewing neighbor.  Sarah becomes the object of pursuit from a fellow student after a romantic date.  But there’s a serial killer on the loose.  What does it all mean?  What could have been good instead falls very flat because of stupid and large doses of dull.  Not recommended, even with the bit of business from Psycho that I won’t tell you about.

And it’s only 3:00 pm.  What riches lie ahead?

Opened my Prison Diary 3 file and started reading.  Discovered many errors, fixed some, found more, ran my “post-dictation cleanup” macros on the last few pages, now feel discouraged and bored.  Hey, half an hour’s work!  How about that.  No, not really—the first fifteen minutes was just reading with a little editing.

And now?

Part of the fatigue is this chair, a standard folding chair that I’ve been sitting far forward on.  I need to think some about “ergonomics,” or maybe just move back to the living room.  Why did I move in here (“the office”) in the first place?  To work on KM, I presume.

{9/1/21}  Weight 214.2 at 7:20 am.

Woke early and read Nietzsche for a while, then slept some more and dreamt about playing video games and comforting Oliver, all else forgotten.  The Nietzsche was wonderful:

Against the slanderers of nature.—I find those people disagreeable in whom every natural inclination immediately becomes a sickness, something that disfigures them or is downright infamous: it is they that have seduced us to hold that man’s inclinations and instincts are evil. They are the cause of our great injustice against our nature, against all nature. There are enough people who might well entrust themselves to their instincts with grace and without care; but they do not, from fear of this imagined “evil character” of nature. That is why we find so little nobility among men; for it will always be the mark of nobility that one feels no fear of oneself, expects nothing infamous of oneself, flies without scruple where we feel like flying, we freeborn birds. Wherever we may come there will always be freedom and sunlight around us.”  Friedrich Nietzsche:  The Gay Science, Walter Kaufmann (ed, tr), Vintage Books/Random House, 1974, p. 236.

When I read this I found it liberating, even exhilarating.  In the book I underlined “natural inclination” and “inclinations and instincts,” those things that the church has warned us of as being “evil.”  But are all “natural inclinations” good?  What, then, is evil?

I have argued before that “good” and “evil” are “teaching terms”; words we use with children to teach them how to behave.  The labels are certainly a part of the culture, and when “evil” is applied to certain “inclinations and instincts,” we find ourselves in conflict with the culture when we have those inclinations.  But I sense a muddle in my point that I cannot see through.  I should have written this at 3:30 in the morning, probably.

Caught the last half-hour of The Browning Version (1951) on TCM and was impressed.  Fascinating dialogue, maybe the end of a good story, good acting from Michael Redgrave as a teacher and some other Brits that I didn’t recognize except Wilfrid Hyde-White.

Even more impressive was The Edge of Seventeen (2017) with the adorable, beautiful, and funny Hailee Steinfeld (at twenty) in a high school comedy-drama with no bullies.  94%-83% from RT.  Everybody loves Hailee.  Watch the trailer on RT and see if you can avoid laughing.  Woody Harrelson is hilariously dry, the dialogue is sharp, the acting is excellent.  I mentioned this movie in my 2018 diary but didn’t review it aside from saying that I was “smitten” with the star.

Last night I also watched Evil Remains (2004), an incoherent bore set in Louisiana, not reviewed by RT critics, 12% audience score, well deserved; and Gone Dark (2003), listed as The Limit at RT. Dark is not a horror flick, despite being in the “Horror 8 Film Collection,” and was actually not bad if you like movies about undercover Feds and drug criminals. With Lauren Bacall and Pete Postlethwaite in supporting roles, Claire Forlani as the lead, playing a heroin-addicted Fed, and it’s her addiction that is the driving force behind much of the plot. Double-crosses abound. No critical reviews, 20% from the audience.

Copyright (text only) 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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