Over a freeze-frame of Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) reaching out to accept the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement, we hear Addison DeWitt (via George Sanders’ wonderful voice) introduce us to the titular character: “Eve. Eve the Golden Girl, the Cover Girl, the Girl Next Door, the Girl on the Moon. Time has been good to Eve. Life goes where she goes. She’s been profiled, covered, revealed, reported. What she eats and what she wears and whom she knows and where she was and when and where she’s going. Eve. You all know All About Eve. What can there be to know that you don’t know?”. Well, having seen All About Eve dozens of times now, the first thing that always springs to my mind is that Eve is a complete psychopath.
There appears to be three basic ways to approach adapting a book into a film. As with most things in life, the easiest way to illustrate this is through Stephen King film adaptations… The first, and most obvious method, is that of Frank Darabont with Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption (The Shawshank Redemption) or Rob Reiner with The Body (Stand By Me), which is to take a book and simply try to be as faithful as possible to the source material, leaving the dialogue and set pieces essentially in tact, making only minor changes for cinematic purposes. The second, and probably most sensible when tackling an 700+ page Stephen King novel, is that used by John Carpenter with Christine or David Cronenberg with The Dead Zone, which is to deliver a faithful, but condensed version of the book by building the screenplay around key scenes and concepts of the novel, removing repetitive and non-narrative scenes and sometimes combining characters. The final, and most interesting method, is to pick a few key scenes and ideas from a story and then build something completely new out of this handful of ideas, Stanley Kubrick did this to great success with The Shining (much to the ire of Stephen King who later readapted his novel into a considerably less interesting TV series), Brett Leonard did this to extraordinary WTF-ness with The Lawnmower Man and Stephen King himself did this and vast quantities of cocaine with Trucks (Maximum Overdrive).
Looking back over 2015, it was quite an extraordinary year for home video releases. Companies such as Arrow Video, The Criterion Collection, Masters of Cinema and Twilight Time not only released a wealth of fascinating and brilliant films on blu-ray for the first time, but raised the bar in relation to restoration, packaging and supplements. Subsequently, narrowing this list down to only ten releases was a difficult process, but for me, these are the ten most essential new releases that I watched this year.
Whenever the topic of Christmas films arises, the first film I think of is Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa. Not only is Bad Santa my favourite Christmas film, but it’s right up there with my favourite films of all time. I mean honestly, what is a Christmas movie without a sex-obsessed alcoholic shopping mall Santa who specialises in both safe-cracking and foul language, accompanied by a violent and aggressive little helper who is the mastermind of the operation, a woman who is overwhelmingly sexually attracted to Santas, an awkward but wide-eyed kid who has been left largely unsupervised since his father went to prison for a white collar crime, all being tracked by a corrupt and heavily manicured head of mall security who likes to dress like a cowboy? Sounds like Christmas to me…
I guess the big risk of watching and writing about a Christmas film every day for twelve days at this time of year is exactly what has happened today… I have imbibed very heavily on the Christmas spirits. Subsequently I am so full of the Christmas spirit, well Christmas wine, I guess, that this could go in any direction. Thankfully The Nightmare Before Christmas is a film that I have watched many, many times previously, so my confused ramblings will at least be reasonably well informed. Possibly. I mean, it’s a Christmas film with Tim Burton’s fingerprints all over it, it’s not like it’s anything particularly unique…
I guess this could go one of a few ways… Given that the title is remarkably similar to Arnaud Desplechin’s 2008 film A Christmas Tale, maybe it’s another film where an angry bourgeois French family filled with bitterness, loathing and very dark family secrets drink too much and fight about bone marrow transplants. Although, as it’s Bob Clark’s first film following the hugely successful sex comedies Porky’s and Porky’s II: The Next Day, maybe we can expect some zany, madcap hijinks with Pee Wee, Meat and the gang at Angel Beach High School, possibly celebrating Christmas in 1954. That said, Bob Clark’s previous foray into Christmas movies was 1974’s Black Christmas, a slasher film about sorority sisters being stalked and murdered by a deranged psychopath, so maybe it’s a bit of a return to his previous unique brand of Christmas cheer.
It’s three days until Christmas, so what better way is there to prepare than to watch the misadventures in a pastel coloured suburbia of a slow-witted goth with razor sharp blades for fingers dressed head to toe in bondage gear? It had been some time since I had last seen Edward Scissorhands and to be perfectly honest I had absolutely no recollection of this movie having any connection at all with Christmas… However, watching it again, it is definitely a Christmas movie of sorts, but in much the same way that Batman Returns is also a Christmas movie. Say what you want about Tim Burton as a filmmaker, he likes the look of Christmas decorations on screen.
Well this is obviously going to be great holiday fare! It says “Merry Christmas” right there in the title… It’s got 1980s David Bowie, so we can expect to see some jolly Goblin King style hi-jinks, who knows, maybe even a ludicrous codpiece. It also stars the great Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, so maybe he and Bowie will have some crazy musical number in the middle. The great Takeshi Kitano’s name also appears right up there in the credits, so maybe we can expect some kind of big action sequences, maybe a car chase or two. Given that this is directed by the singular Japanese Director Nagisa Oshima, maybe the eternal mystery raised in Die Hard as to whether Christmas is celebrated in Japan will finally be answered.
Joe Dante’s Gremlins is a cautionary tale about Christmas… A cautionary tale about the dangers of buying the wrong Christmas gift for your son from an old man smoking what appears to be opium in a poorly lit emporium. A cautionary tale about not following the instructions written on the back of the box your Christmas present came in. A cautionary tale about the incorrect use of Christmas lights. A cautionary tale about opening the door to Christmas carollers. Most importantly it’s a cautionary tale about dressing as Santa and climbing down the chimney laden with presents to surprise your family.