Ah, October, a month when talking obsessively about slashers, vampires, haunted houses, killer aliens, werewolves, and dismemberment is generally socially condoned. I have been enormously enjoying my own spooky season, an extension of my personal exploration of horror over the past year. Though I’ve seen many new-to-me horror films recently, it has been especially heartening to check out a few titles written and/or directed by women, which aren’t exactly common. Two of my favorites so far are the lycanthropy-as-metaphor-for-puberty drama Ginger Snaps, written by Karen Walton, and the body-mod gorefest American Mary, written and directed by the Soska Sisters.
Trying their soon-to-be-totally-famous hands at the sexy noir thriller genre, Andy and Lana Wachowski made their directorial debut with Bound in 1996. Gina Gershon stars as Corky, a hardened ex-con recently released from prison, trying to keep her head down as she does some home improvement for an unprejudiced employer. The apartment she’s working happens to be adjacent to that of mob lackey Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) and his girlfriend, Violet (Jennifer Tilly). Feeling an instant mutual attraction, the women soon begin a steamy affair, though Corky doesn’t think it’s anything lasting.
Wanting a night away from their super hot wives for some reason, blue-collar workers Steve Jackson (Sidney Poitier) and Wardell Franklin (Bill Cosby) decide to sneak out to a fancy, secret nightclub/casino. Unfortunately for them, the place is held up and their possessions are stolen, with Steve waking up the next morning to realize his purloined wallet held a winning lottery ticket. He and Wardell skulk around Chicago trying to find the robbers, falling into a dangerous criminal turf war in the process.
Lately whenever Miles and I sit down to watch something I’m immediately like “Let’s watch a horror movie!” because, well, it’s just how I feel, you know? The other night he obliged me with The Loved Ones, an Australian slasher he’d seen at SXSW a few years ago. It covers a decidedly sordid day in the life of teenage metal head Brent (Xavier Samuel), who is still reeling from a car accident that killed his father but left him unscathed. He struggles to emotionally communicate with his girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine) as they’re both getting ready for the big school dance that night. Shy outcast Lola (Robin McLeavy) is dismayed to find out Brent is going with Holly, and concocts a plan to secure his attentions for the evening, in extremely violent fashion.
Based on James Ellroy’s novel, L.A. Confidential follows three very different police officers hanging around 1950’s Los Angeles. The murder of a corrupt detective and a sex worker during a diner robbery launches a multifaceted investigation that eventually uncovers a number of seedy underbellies- drugs, homicide, prostitution, blackmail, etc. Three officers- the naive but opportunistic Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), the brutish but sentimental Bud White (Russell Crowe), and the smarmy but mildly ethical Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey)- open their own separate cases that unexpectedly come together in violent, tragic ways.