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Archive for October 21st, 2020

 © 2020 by James Clark

      Our film today, Brink of Life (1958), opens by way of a presence you might not notice. A muffled ambulance siren can be briefly heard. The credits chug along. And a murky way provides an endless underground cave. Periodically we can hear reports, as if from a mining concern. Panning through this terrain there are gentle, fleeting clouds, shadows from a source unknown. Why was such a configuration brought to bear upon a saga of a maternity ward? Somehow, the action becomes about something bigger than babies.

Coming one year after producing two of the giants of the Bergman goldmine, namely, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, this chamber drama here, though making a splash for a year, seemed to have become in total eclipse. Not only does Brink of Life deserve better; it is arguably even better than the panoramic two, inasmuch as its brink opens deeper dimensions.

Getting to the nub of this excitement involves, first of all, its surface of the everyday percolating into a magic of high caliber which tends to become stillborn. The woman in the ambulance, Cecile or Cissi, materializes in an Emergency Ward where, as early as three months’ time, her pregnancy were to segue to other fields. Indeed the pain and flow of blood at that crisis had its impact—a rather familiar impact. Cissi, and her entourage of a husband in a precious trench coat, elicit, from the other group waiting to see a doctor, a working-class family with a sick little girl, bemusement and vague hostility. The Hollywood dresser, calls out, “Be a brave girl and all will be fine… Remember, Cissi, Ellius [his family] expects his wife to do her duty.” (The preceding films of 1957 having been studies of pedantry and advantage.) (more…)

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By J.D. Lafrance

I’ve always been drawn to the horror noir sub-genre – a hybrid of horror and film noir that features downtrodden protagonists immersed in a nightmarish, shadowy underworld fraught with danger at every turn. Instead of the antagonists being simple criminal underworld figures they are quite often beings infused with supernatural powers. Some memorable examples include Angel Heart (1987), The Ninth Gate (1999) and Constantine (2005). One of my favorites is Lord of Illusions (1995), an adaptation of Clive Barker’s short story, “The Last Illusion” by the author himself. The protagonist in both is Harry D’Amour, a private investigator and occult detective that has appeared in several of Barker’s fiction, most notably, albeit briefly, in The Great and Secret Show, a short story entitled “The Lost Souls, and also the novel Everville.

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