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Article ID: 4309
Age Group: Adult
Posted: May 12th. 2002
Witch Cinema 08
by Peg Aloi
Hello all and happy spring! I don't know about all of you, but when spring finally arrives for real, I begin to understand that I will be watching less TV and probably not going to the movies as often (something about all that extra daylight, warm weather and sweet-smelling growth all around!) There are a few interesting things to mention in this current installment of witch cinema, including a renegade comment or two about everyone's favorite TV show...so grab your favorite beverage (Reed's Extra Ginger Brew for me) and join me for the latest!
Some of you probably already read in Wren's Nest about the latest WICKER MAN news. The Hollywood "remake" written and directed by Neil LaBute and starring Nicolas Cage is still going ahead, as far as we know. The newest thing (also reported on Wren's Nest--hard to keep up with all that woman's news-gathering, isn't it?) is that a sequel is being made in Scotland with many of the members of the original team (including writer-director Robin Hardy, and star Christopher Lee). This sequel is to be called THE RIDING OF THE LADDIE and rumor has it might also be starring Ewan McGregor! Wren's one-word comment on this ("Drool!") was even more eloquent than my own wordless gasping for breath--! Watch for more updates on this exciting development. The British team was obviously not to be outdone by a big-budget American production, which landed the remake deal primarily because the film's rights now belong to one of the biggest and fastest-growing studios in the industry, Canal + (that's "plus" pronounced in the French way), and the name of the game is usually "money." I hope the Scotland-based production gives the USA-based one a run for ITS money! (Ewan McGregor is way sexier than Nic Cage in my book).
A new film making the rounds of art houses these days is the chilling WENDIGO written, directed and edited by Larry Fessenden. It's a contemporary thriller about a young urban family (Jake Weber and Patricia Clarkson star as the McClures, with Malcolm in the Middle's Erik Per Sullivan as their son Miles) who goes to a small town in the Adirondacks for a winter getaway weekend. As they arrive they hit a big buck, injuring it, and clash with local hunters who have been tracking the deer all day. The deer is shot at close range to euthanize it. One of the hunters gets especially obnoxious because the car damaged the deer's antler, but the McClures try to have a fun weekend, sledding and checking out the local shops. Miles meets a middle-aged Native American man in the pharmacy, who hands him an antlered totem figure and tells him it is a Wendigo: shape-shifting spirit than can live in wind or water or trees. When he askes his mom if he can have it, who asks the manager the price, no one else but Miles has seen the strange man he got it from. He takes it home and, already psychically-sensitive, he starts to have waking dreams and visions. Although the mythology of the Wendigo is only briefly sketched out, the appearance (real or imagined) of this antlered man-like figure is nevertheless terrifying. It seems to be a revenge-oriented being, and the implication here is that all the dead deer (in the Adironacks? in November? That's a lot of deer) have something to say. The Wendigo figure is also reminiscent of the Celtic Cernunnos or Herne, at least in its human/deer characteristics, so I would be interested to hear what other pagans think. I found this film beautiful and haunting: Fessenden's photography captures a beautiful but menacing landscape. There are a lot of sly nods to other scary film classics (Poltergeist, Deliverance, The Blair Witch Project, Paperhouse, Harvest Home), and the acting is superb (especially Sullivan, one of the best child actors out there). The film is still playing in theatres, but should be available on VHS or DVD fairly soon, and there is also a limited-edition comic book available.
Although not really pagan in any way, the new British film ME WITHOUT YOU is a sensual, colorful depiction of a close but claustrophobic friendship between two young women, Marina and Holly (Anna Friel and Dawson's Creek's Michelle Williams) that spans the 1970s, '80s and into the present. Holly is the intellectual, Marina the fashionable party girl. At one point Marina decides to convert to Judaism (Holly's family's heritage) because she doesn't feel any spiritual identity. The film's period detail is stunning, from the costumes and set decoration to the soundtrack (with glam, goth, punk, New Wave and techno music), even the dance moves from the 1980s are right on! Because much of the film is set during the "New Romantic" period there are plenty of pre-Raphaelite prints on bedroom walls, and one dream sequence in which Holly is depicted like one of the mermaids in a Waterhouse painting. Watch for this entertaining and beautiful film (and its great soundtrack) to appear in June.
Also in June: the new Australian film RABBIT PROOF FENCE, an inspiring true story of three sisters who live in the outback in the 1930s. Fathered by white railroad workers, the girls live a happy rural life with their mother and grandmother, until the government decides that "half-caste" or mixed race children must be brought up with white families, to breed away their Maori blood through several generations of internarying with whites (yes, this is insidious and yes it really happened). The sisters are taken to an orphanage 1500 miles south, and escape one night to walk all the way home, dodging police and Aboriginal trackers the entire way. Kenneth Branagh stars as the government official who oversees the program to remove children from their mothers. Gorgeous footage of the Australian wilderness, and incredible portrayals by the young Maori actresses who play the sisters make this a must-see.
Now out on DVD: One of my favorite films of the year so far: Donnie Darko. Sure to be of interest to anyone who lived through the 1980s, is interested in time travel, has ever felt alienated from their peers, or has awakened in a place they shouldn't have. If that doesn't pique your interest, rent it because it was too weird to get a big distribution deal, and because it's AMAZING.
Soon to be out on DVD: Richard Linklater's WAKING LIFE, an animated meditation on dreams, philosophy, human nature and why we're all here. This film changed my life and gets my vote for the best film of 2001. (Ridiculously, this sublime, intelligent film did not even get NOMINATED for best animated film, but JIMMY NEUTRON did; go figure).
In the works: a local Boston-based company is producing a film called INSIDE THE BUTTERFLY NET which features a "Wiccan" character (a beautiful and vivacious female, of course). A casting-call advertisement appeared that detailed the main characters, inviting actors to send resumes and headshots. More on this as I hear more.
In the mail: I received a screener copy of the new season of WITCHBLADE for my perusal and review. I have never watched this show and am not sure I want to start, but since they sent me a tape I will give it a look and let you know what I think. The new season premieres on June 16th.
Now on to TV: The season finale of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER approaches. I have already received email from people who think the implied vengeance that seems likely to occur (from the hands of Willow, the witch who renounced magic when it was hurting people around her, and won back her lover Tara recently) is something witches should be up in arms about. I can't say until I see what happens. But I will say, even when Joss Whedon throws out something disturbing or hard to take (killing off prominent characters, for example), this is still one of the most well-written and thought-provoking shows on television (people who dismiss it because it's about teenagers and vampires don't have a clue what they are missing).
That's all for now; feel free to email me with any thoughts or news!
Blessed be and be sure to get outside!
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, May, 13th 2002
Email: [Staff Email]
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