By Leo Racicot
Rosemary’s Baby – 1968 – dir. Roman Polanski
In the summer of 1968, our mother, recently widowed, treated my sister and me to a week at the beach. After a few days, needing some time to herself, she asked a woman she had struck up a friendship with at the hotel if she would watch Diane and me so she could see the
new hit horror movie playing at the little cinema on the casino boardwalk. When she got back, she could hardly contain her excitement and delight; it was “one of the best movies”, she said. She went to bed and tossed and turned all night long. “What kind of a movie”, I thought, “does THAT to you?!!”
The answer, of course, is Roman Polanski’s twisted masterpiece, Rosemary’s Baby, a movie that, for almost 50 years, has been scaring the daylights out of people. Based on the Ira Levin bestseller of the same name, Rosemary’s Baby hit theaters like a tidal wave. A surefire “blockbuster” back before that term ever existed, it had moviegoers lined up for blocks, dying to see what they had heard was the most terrifying movie since Psycho. And they did not come out disappointed. Like all well-crafted movies, Rosemary’s Baby survives the test of time and is as scary now as it was in 1968. Scarier, even, maybe because its spiritually shattering story stands in such sharp contrast to our present day pragmatism and shock-resistant, “who gives a damn?”, nonchalant society. The movie shakes people on every level and still sends shivers up the spine…
By Jared M. Gordon
The Master – 2012 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is a tale about masters and pets, leaders and followers, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Dodd, the brilliant but short-tempered founder and prophet of The Cause, takes Freddie on as his template, his patient zero. As Freddie hungers for sex, food, and survival, Dodd meticulously draws inspiration from Freddie, himself. His own religion changes shape, the more time he spends with this sex-crazed, alcoholic lunatic. Freddie learns from Dodd, Dodd learns from Freddie. Dodd leads with his directives, and Freddie follows. Freddie follows with his whims, and Dodd changes things to suit Freddie’s desires… but to a point. There is still very much a master at work.
By: Victoria Large
Invitation to the Dance – 1956 – dir. Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly was, of course, a major creative force behind some of the most commercially successful, critically acclaimed, and enduringly loved movie musicals of all time. His most popular films – particularly On the Town, An American in Paris, and Singin’ in the Rain, all released within a few years of one another – still regularly play repertory cinemas and remain must-sees for classic film buffs and musical fans. But Kelly’s lesser-known projects tend to be fascinating too. Whether it’s the cult movie The Pirate, which was far too underappreciated upon initial release, or the deliciously satiric and often underrated It’s Always Fair Weather, Kelly’s filmography has quite a few hidden gems.
By Reuben Baron
Shaun of the Dead – 2004 – dir. Edgar Wright
Now for a more natural apocalypse film. Perhaps the most natural apocalypse film for an apocalypse that most likely isn’t happening but feels like it could. Not a parody of the zombie apocalypse genre but rather an entry that just so happens to be a comedy, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead presents pre- and post-zombie apocalypse life as uncannily similar. Its comically bleak set-up turns into a twisted sort of positivity. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by REM would fit if not for the fact it’s a complete cliche and Wright has much better taste in soundtrack selections than that (the movie owns “Don’t Stop Me Now”, and also makes good use of Prince’s Batman soundtrack… as a weapon).
By Reuben Baron
Milk – 2008 – dir. Gus Van Sant
If you are reading this, congratulations! You have survived the apocalypse/are surviving the apocalypse/laughing at everyone who made a big deal over some BS about an apocalypse happening today! You deserve some great movies, courtesy of Focus Features’ 10th birthday celebration! First up today, we have Gus Van Sant’s Milk. This may seem like an odd film to celebrate the apocalypse/post-apocalypse/lack thereof, but you know, I think it kind of fits emotionally. If this is the end for humanity, I think Milk’s a story that demonstrates a lot of the progress we as humans should be proud of, underlined by the tragic pang of regret that we could have done more.