Friday, April 21, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks - A Disappearance

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them - we won't disappear on you!

Fear not, my friends! I haven't disappeared, I'm just CRAZY busy and tried to do this on my lunch break at work but that didn't work because I haven't really had a lunch break all week. Anyway, this week's theme is disappearances, which can be traumatic - for the disappeared as well as the ones they left behind.

The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2016) A Puritan family is exiled from their village after their views are deemed too extreme (which, since we're talking about Puritans, must have been pretty damn extreme!). They settle on the edge of a wood and before long, when teenage Thomasin (a star-is-born performance from Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing peek-a-boo with her baby brother, the baby disappears. As it turns out, he was stolen by a witch who lives in the wood, and the young twins insist that the family goat, Black Phillip, is talking to them. One of the best films of last year, The Witch (or, if you prefer, The VVitch) is supremely chilly, a tense, beautifully shot freakout that never feels anything less than completely authentic, and features outstanding performances from Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson as the heads of the household.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975) On Valentine's Day in the year 1900, three schoolgirls and their teacher disappeared during an outing at Hanging Rock in Victoria, Australia. This didn't actually happen, but after watching Peter Weir's gorgeous masterpiece, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was based on a true story. The film knows that not knowing what happened is scarier than giving a definitive answer, and it accumulates a lot of power in its depiction of the disappearance and its aftermath.

L'Avventura (Michaelangelo Antonioni, 1960) A woman disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip, and her fiancée and best friend become attracted to each other during the course of the investigation into her disappearance. Because of the ennui of the Italian socialite set. Or the landscape. Or something. I don't know. I just don't like this movie. No one is likable and the pace is too slow. I'm sure it all MEANS SOMETHING, but I could care less about these poor sad beautiful rich people.


  1. Very interesting choices. Haven't seen The Witch but I'm intrigued so I'll be tracking it down.

    Picnic at Hanging Rock is a perfect fit and such a unique film. Moody and evocative with beautiful performances, especially the ill-fated Rachel Roberts. I've heard there is a new adaptation afoot as a series. I think that's a terrible idea-they'll never match the mood nor Peter Weir's measured direction.

    I was fearful when I saw L'Avventura that I'd have to rain on your parade but was relieved when I saw your take on it. I had finally gotten around to watching it about a month ago and was singularly unimpressed. Monica Vitti was a very distinctive and attractive woman and her performance was good but I could not have cared less about the story or any of the characters. I didn't hate it with a passion like I did Last Year at Marienbad but I was puzzled why it is so acclaimed.

    I was excited for this week since it enabled me to use one of my all-time favorite films as my first pick and while I'm not as devoted to my other two they are good films.

    Missing (1982)-A young American couple Charlie and Beth Horman (John Shea & Sissy Spacek) are living in Chile while he works as a freelance writer observing the political situation. Suddenly they are caught in a coup and when Beth returns home one day their house is ransacked and Charlie is missing. When word reaches the States his disapproving father Ed (Jack Lemmon) arrives looking for answers. Despite assurances by the authorities that everything is being done an unbelieving Beth and increasingly doubtful Ed begin their own search, as they come to understand each other at last Ed’s eyes are opened to facts that go against everything he believes in. Riveting fact based drama directed by Costa-Gravas earned four Oscar nominations-Best Actor & Actress for Lemmon and Spacek as well as a Best Adaptation and a Best Picture nod.

    Without a Trace (1983)-Susan Selky (Kate Nelligan) helps her six year old son Alex get ready and watches him set off on the three block walk to school in their affluent New York City neighborhood but he never makes it. When he doesn’t return home at the appointed hour she slowly comes to the realization that something is terribly wrong and contacts the police. Both she and her husband (David Dukes) are immediately suspected, when it becomes clear they aren’t involved the police follow other leads but the case soon turns cold. For everyone that is but Susan who becomes so determined in her pursuit she pushes almost everyone including her husband and good friend (Stockard Channing) away. However with the assistance of one detective who also won’t give up (Judd Hirsch) she presses on determined to have some resolution whatever that may be. Exceptionally well-acted but a tough watch.

    The Seventh Victim (1943)-Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter) arrives in New York City intent on locating her sister Jacqueline who has disappeared. As she starts searching she meets resistance from all quarters including her sister’s husband. As she delves deeper into the mystery she discovers a connection to devil worship and begins to fear for her own safety. Low budget noir produced by Val Lewton has a nice sense of dread and looks at a provocative subject for a forties film. This was future Oscar winner Hunter’s screen debut.

  2. I haven't seen any of these although I heard of the last 2. The first one has already scared the hell out of me especially with the goat so not sure if I would see this one. Picnic is something I would like to see and I did think it was based on a true story. The 3rd and white, foreign, frustrated sex....that was the rage back then. Basically women are needy and try to achieve it through sex. Men...well the. One is a slut who searches for whatever through sex....ok.

  3. I haven't seen any of these but now I have a good reason to watch The Witch. It seems like it is a good film after all.

  4. I love that you went with The Witch! That's a great choice.

  5. The Witch and Picnic at Hanging Rock are perfect choices! I haven't seen L'Avventura.

  6. The witch! Can't believe I didn't think of that. Completely agree that this was a star making performance from Anya Taylor-Joy