The Changeling (1980) Peter Medak

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The Changeling (1980)
Directed by Peter Medak
Produced by Joel B. Michaels, Garth H. Drabinsky
Written by Russell Hunter, William Gray, Diana Maddox
Cinematography by John Coquillon
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:47)

Quite possibly the best ghost story you’ve never seen, The Changeling (not to be confused with the 2008 Clint Eastwood film starring Angelina Jolie) will not overpower you with an abundance of special effects, but it’s atmosphere and creepiness instead seep into your pores, causing an uneasiness that you can’t quite shake off. Much of this is due to the wonderful set design of the large Victorian era mansion where composer John Russell (George C. Scott) goes to live in Washington state (actually filmed in Vancouver) after the deaths of his wife and daughter.

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Manchester by the Sea (2016) Kenneth Lonergan

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Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Kevin J. Walsh, Lauren Beck
Cinematography by Jody Lee Lipes
DVD – library (2:17)

Given enough time, I will eventually see all of the Oscar-winning movies from the previous year. Casey Affleck, of course, won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Lee Chandler, a handyman working for an apartment complex in Quincy, Massachusetts. As the film opens, Lee goes about his routine tasks, saying little when tenants complain about the building, or ask his opinion on plumbing issues. Later Lee loses it by cursing at a tenant and starting a fight at a local bar. Clearly something’s going on.

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Kill List (2011) Ben Wheatley

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Kill List (2011)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Produced by Claire Jones, Andy Starke
Written by Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Cinematography by Laurie Rose
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)

For its first fifteen or so minutes, Kill List looks and feels like a domestic drama. It soon turns into something else, then goes in another direction that catches you totally by surprise – or maybe not, if you’ve been paying close attention. During the final fifteen minutes of the film, nothing short of an earthquake is going to pull you away from the screen.

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Jug Face (2013) Chad Crawford Kinkle

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Jug Face (2013)
Written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Produced by Andrew van den Houten, Robert Tonino
Cinematography by Chris Heinrich
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:21)

I’m not sure where or how I heard about Jug Face. I think it popped up as I was researching something else, but I was intrigued enough to request it through interlibrary loan. You have to understand that I’m not a huge horror fan, so when I looked at the cast on the movie’s DVD cover, I thought I recognized the name Larry Fessenden, but I couldn’t think of any of his films. (I later saw that Fessenden has made many films, including an astounding 26 movies since Jug Face, to say nothing of his work in short films and television.) I did recognize Sean Young’s name, but I figured it was some other Sean Young. To be honest, I got so caught up in the film, I didn’t even recognize her until the film was over. That’s because Jug Face is a film that’s so good it’s easy to get caught up in it.

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TCM Big Screen Classics: North by Northwest (1959) Alfred Hitchcock

n-nw-optimized-0e7b9ffc07feeb03ff7190c62513066aNorth by Northwest (1959)
Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Ernest Lehman
Cinematography by Robert Burks
Music by Bernard Herrmann
TCM/Fathom Events, Bowie Regal Cinemas, Bowie, MD (2:16)

The first time I saw North by Northwest was in my college dorm room on a 12-inch screen. I’ve probably seen it at least ten or twelve times since then, but yesterday I saw it in a theater on a big screen (thanks to TCM and Fathom Events) as it was meant to be seen, and boy, did it make a difference. I noticed things I’d never noticed before and was completely caught off-guard by aspects of the film that become apparent only by seeing it in its original format.

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