Greetings Cinema friends,
Tomorrow evening we don our best wolf pelts and head full-gonzo into battle with Robert Eggers’ The Northman. As with The Witch and The Lighthouse before it, Eggers’ meticulous attention to historically-accurate details is only bested by the filmmaker’s respect for the beliefs, fears, and superstitions of the culture portrayed—in short, Robert Eggers makes folklore flesh.
While the previous films drew inspiration from the alien and idiosyncratic found diaries of their eras, The Northman’s source material—the ancient legend of Amleth—should be universally recognizable as the template for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Of course, Hamlet hasn’t necessarily included psychedelic Norse rituals and active volcanoes, but revenge is still the bloody, beating heart at the core of both tales.
Accuracy, coming-of-age themes, and reverence for lore also coalesce in Jane Shoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. Most easily described as The Blair Witch Project for the internet age, the comparisons end at the inventive use of the horror genre and found digital aesthetics; the earnest relatability of Shoenbrun’s film, especially for those whose self discovery was primarily online, might be its scariest feature.
Finally, in the spirit of archetypes and adaptations, on Monday evening we screen MGM’s studio treatment of Tennessee Williams' American classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It’s the story of a young man in crisis—portrayed iconically by Paul Newman—drinking away the days and giving a slip-clad Elizabeth Taylor the cold shoulder after the death of an old football “friend.” Carrying just as much gay subtext as the Production Code would allow (or, more likely, were painfully oblivious to), Williams’ words, and even the studio’s softening of them, speaks volumes to the chilling effects of social—and personal—repression. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is presented, with the support of Unbound Book Festival, on glorious 35mm.
Avenge Father, Save Mother, Kill Fjölnir,