Hallo-WIN, people.

You see that second picture?  That happened when I tried to take a picture of the pumpkin.  But I accidentally took a picture of myself, because my phone’s camera was reversed, and I am an idiot.  For some reason, I’ve now discovered, I look as intense as the goddam Batman when I am taking pictures.  I should go to the roughest part of Roanoke and just point my cell phone camera around — scare the crap out of criminals.

 

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Tis’ the season.

Isn’t this the coolest Halloween card ever?  The little skeleton guy dances.

Hope you guys have something scary planned for the month ahead.  I’ve got a short list of movies I’d love to make time for: “Dracula” (1939), “House of the Devil” (2009),  “Annabelle Creation” (2017) and “Mr. Mercedes” Season 3 (2019).  Yeah, I know that last one isn’t a feature film, but it’s a program of truly cinematic quality.  “Mr. Mercedes” has been the best kept secret in Stephen King fandom — no, its antagonist isn’t as flashy as Pennywise the Clown or The Gunslinger’s various nemeses.  But it’s a gorgeous adaptation of a King novel that might even be better than its source material.  Check it out, seriously — skip “American Horror Story” if you have to.

There are two movies I need to get to that have been recommended to me with a lot of enthusiasm.  The first is “In the Mouth of Madness,” 1994’s H.P. Lovecraft adaptation starring Sam Neill.  (I actually started it a few years ago after a friend in New York urged me to, but it just didn’t hold my interest.)  The second is 2001’s “Shadow of the Vampire,” which features Willem Dafoe doing Nosferatu.  (I only discovered just now writing this that John Malkovich portrays F.W. Murnau.)

I’ll tell you something else, too — I’ve checked out one or two short films on the free ALTER channel and they’ve been terrific.  Maybe I’m due for another visit there.

 

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A few quick words on “Black Mirror” Season 5 (2019)

I’m just piping in here to say that I still enjoy “Black Mirror” — even after Season 5 left a lot of fans nonplussed.  No, this tonally different, three-episode arc wasn’t the show’s best season, but it was still a decent watch.   I had some minor criticisms, but I’d rate it an 8 out of 10.

Perhaps predictably, my favorite of the three was “Smithereens.”  Not only did it most closely follow the tone and dialogue of past seasons, it boasted a fine lead performance by Andrew Scott, better known to many of us as Moriarty from Britain’s “Sherlock” (2010-2017).

For those of you who are wondering why the “season” was so short, I read today that “Bandersnatch” was supposed to be a part of it, and was produced at about the same time.  The showrunners then decided to make that episode a standalone feature, given its unique nature.

 

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A short review of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019)

It’s true what they say about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019) — its script is almost completely brainless.  It’s got about as much depth as the old “G.I. Joe” cartoon (1983-1986) that played after school when we were kids.

But I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t enjoy this.  And I’m sure you know why — the big-budget, big-MONSTER special effects.  They were spectacular — and sometimes they approached being unexpectedly beautiful.  (It’s hard to explain here, but our eyes are treated to more than skyscraper-tall brawls between “titans.”  We get a light show too — thanks to some confusing, thinly scripted, but nonetheless dazzling energy-based monster powers.  It was really damned good.)

Add to this a generally excellent cast, and you might be able to forgive the screenplay for insulting your intelligence.  I know that most people would name Ken Watanabe as the actor who truly classes up the joint.  And there’s plenty of truth to that, but I myself would name Charles Dance as the movie’s biggest standout.  The man’s craft is goddam Shakespearean, and I think he’s equal of the likes of Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen.  And I’d like to think that his throwaway line, “Long live the King,” was at least partly a fan-service reference to what I’m guessing is his best known role — Tywin Lannister on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (2011-2019).

Based on my own enjoyment, I’d rate this movie an 8 out of 10 — with the caveat that I’m a kid at heart when it comes to giant monsters.  If you’re the same way, then “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” might just become a guilty pleasure that you return to more than once.

 

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“Lilac, Wine, Pomegranate, Black,” by Eric Robert Nolan

This new mountain night
drains the waning day in violets.
Light declines to lilac, wine, pomegranate, black —
another plum-colored
sunset over Roanoke.

(c) 2019 Eric Robert Nolan

 

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