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October 2023 logbook

Oct 31, 2023

I thought it might be fun at the end of each month to list the movies I’d seen that month & some thoughts about each.

Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948). Jacqueline & I decided to watch some Hitchcock in honor of Halloween at the end of the month. We’ve seen a few Hitchcock already, but not Rope. I enjoyed it, though it’s not my favorite of his (that remains Psycho). I love good, long scenes, & Hitchcock’s clever camera work to make the entire film seem like a single take really ratchets up the tension.

Scream (Wes Craven, 1996). I’d seen bits of the recent Scream reboot on someone else’s screen on an international flight a couple years ago, but this is the first time I’ve actually watched a Scream film start to finish. It was great! It was meta without being too in-your-face about it (with maybe an exception or two here or there), & there were some unexpected resonances with Rope (chiefly in the homoerotic subtext between Billy & Stu). The opening sequence is genuinely frightening, & killing off Drew Barrymore at the very beginning is brilliant. I have little interest in the rest of the franchise, but this was a good one.

The Greatest Showman (Michael Gracey, 2017). One of my students watched my favorite movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, & insisted I watch this movie in return. I’ll confess, I didn’t love it. The music really didn’t do anything, and the story felt pretty tepid (surprising, considering the actual history of P.T. Barnum’s life).

The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963). Another Hitchcock in honor of Halloween month. Amazing how threatening Hitchcock makes birds seem—the scene as the birds gather outside the schoolhouse!—& how he used real birds for almost the entire movie.

A Serious Man (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, 2009). I watched this movie as a candidate for the theology & film course I’m designing. I think it’ll make the syllabus. The film obviously engages the book of Job but also has some pretty significant differences. I think it will make for great discussion, to bring this film into dialogue with its source material.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984). Another Wes Craven to finish out October. I thought this was pretty good, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as Scream. It had some creepy sequences but I think I really only jumped once or twice (& I tend to be very jumpy during scary movies). I liked Nancy’s character. That last sequence was very confusing though (& apparently an addition at the insistence of the producer). I’d like to see Wes Craven’s New Nightmare now.

I’d hoped to see Killers of the Flower Moon this month, but it was a very busy month at work. I’m planning to see it in the next week or so.