Uptown is…Fairview Mall?

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Haunting History of the Barclay Hotel: A Review of J.M. Moore’s Work

Book Reviews

“The History of the Barclay Hotel: A collection of true short stories both epic and tragic” is an extremely interesting and well written piece from author J.M. Moore. As a whole, the book is a collection of the vast, sordid history of the Barclay Hotel, ranging from the structure’s historical past to its popularity amongst filmmakers as a set.

Immediately, I was entranced by the author’s approach to the depiction of the infamous hotel. Instead of presenting a straightforward historical retrospective of the location, J.M. Moore rather uniquely presents snippets of the past via newspaper articles and splices it with just enough back story to bring these isolated events in history alive to the reader.

Clearly, hours and hours of research was made into The Barclay by the author. Each carefully selected word is a veritable testimony to the historical facts that has befallen its walls. Is it haunted? Maybe. Have there been mysterious deaths and murders throughout the years? Uh huh. Is the novel riveting? OMG yes.

I have so many favorite parts, but the if I had to choose one, it would have to be the virtual tour of the hotel found at Barclay Hotel History.

You get chills from the stories that all of the walls speak.

 

A Bright “Greenleaf”

Best of 2016, Television

If “Six Feet Under” and “Gilmore Girls” had a baby, it would be something like OWN’s new tv series “Greenleaf”. Finally a show with an all black cast, Greenleaf simmers with tension and betrayal, making it a television viewing event. What sets it apart from other shows on television today is that race is NOT  at the forefront of the Greenleaf family, or at least not in the first three episodes that I caught. It’s ripe with familial drama and salacious regrets, and a narrative that keeps the viewer on edge.

The entire cast is strong, particularly the prodigal daughter Gigi (Merle Dandridge), and each scene drips with ferocity and implication of there are many things simmering below the surface, waiting for their first chance to pack another punch to the Greenleaf family and their religion-based organization.

I can’t wait to watch more.

The New Tate Modern Museum Wing Makes Room for Art by Women — TIME

Random Musings

The Tate Modern extension opened its doors Friday in London to reveal galleries filled with more art by women. The museum has touted the opening of the Switch House addition as a renewal for the entire modern art gallery because the collection has more work from international and female artists, who are generally underrepresented in…

via The New Tate Modern Museum Wing Makes Room for Art by Women — TIME

Billy Eichner Accuses Ross Mathews of ‘Pathetic’ Billy On The Street Ripoff — Whose Side Are You On? — TVLine

Random Musings

Billy Eichner is no fan of Jay Leno’s former intern. In a series of NSFW tweets, the Difficult People star has accused E! Network’s Ross Mathews of ripping-off his pop culture gameshow Billy On the Street in a new commercial for Capital One (as embedded below): Yet another Billy on the Street ripoff. I usually ignore but this one…

via Billy Eichner Accuses Ross Mathews of ‘Pathetic’ Billy On The Street Ripoff — Whose Side Are You On? — TVLine

See Photos From Christo’s ‘The Floating Piers’ — TIME

Random Musings

Conceptual artist Christo is giving visitors to Italy’s Lake Iseo a chance to walk on water, creating a vibrant orange floating walkway that connects two islands in the lake to the mainland. “It’s really a physical thing, you need to be there, walking it, on the streets, here,” said Christo, who seeks to reinvent familiar…

via See Photos From Christo’s ‘The Floating Piers’ — TIME

Friends and Fans Mourn Star Trek Actor Anton Yelchin — TIME

Random Musings

Fans and friends of Anton Yelchin mourned the loss of the young Star Trek actor who was killed in a fatal traffic collision early Sunday at age 27. Yelchin, who was best known for playing Chekov in the new Star Trek films, died after the incident, his publicist Sara Planco confirmed to TIME. “His family…

via Friends and Fans Mourn Star Trek Actor Anton Yelchin — TIME

A Conjecture on “The Conjuring 2”

Best of 2016, Film, Rave!

As a film scholar and enthusiast, I am often asked why do I like horror films so much. What is it about the genre where bloodshed, psychological warfare, and disturbing images intrigues me? To this question, I do not have an answer. Like with traditional art and sculpture, describing the feelings that accompany a particular piece is impossible. Same goes with film, in my humble opinion. The film going experience is less about the representation of a series of images used to form a narrative but about the visceral, more emotional responses the audience has to it. It is often these feelings that can make a film extremely successful or a major flop.

Before I begin to wane philosophically on the nature of cinema, I am bringing my focus back onto my most recent cinematic experience with the film The Conjuring 2. A sequel to 2013’s The Conjuring, the aptly titled The Conjuring 2 acts more as a partner piece to its predecessor rather than relying upon the conventions that so often mire sequels today. As opposed to a continuance of a particular story, The Conjuring 2 extends the world of Ed and Lorraine Warren, “Paranormal Investigators”,  into another time and place. This installment finds the two charismatic and spiritually complicated characters in 1977 London, England, where muted greens and plush carpets adorn every depicted scene. It’s all so 70’s. The Warren’s task this time is to assist a family who is experiencing strange, paranormal phenomenon in their City-subsidized house. Reports of levitation, unexplained sounds and the demonic possession of Janet, one of the four Hodgson children being plagued by these nightmarish incidents.

Instead of resorting to a plot play-by-play, I instead want to center more on the tangential elements of the film. The narrative is interesting in many ways. It develops enough back story of the Warren’s to support their intentions throughout the film without becoming iterative of the first film. There are also many unique questions asked throughout the movie, whether intentional or not by the director I do not know. These questions prompt the viewer to take each and every depicted character’s motivations with a literal grain of salt, giving the film an air of  incredulity. This incredulity compliments the skepticism that accompanies the Hodgson’s families attempts with convincing the authorities of their supernatural situation. The dialogue and cinematography, like the apparent ambiguity of the verity of the films’ events, are subtle and provocative, leaving the viewer with the dilemma of whether to believe what they are seeing, or to laugh off the incidents being presented as though it was one big elaborate hoax.

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The plagued Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe)

I mention the idea of a hoax because The Conjuring 2 is based on actual events reported by the Hodgson Family in 1977 London. What makes it so unique is that some the events depicted in the film are, in a way, re-enactments of the real life events that were recorded audibly and visually. Known as the Enfield Haunting, I ask you to Wikipedia it to see how the film successfully relayed the real Hodgson’s family experience into film as a piece of art.

I propose that aside from the traditional horror/thriller film tropes at play in The Conjuring 2, there’s also a whole lot of subversion going on. Yes, this film has components often associated with ‘popcorn flicks’ or mindless entertainment, but there’s also various concepts lurking below the surface, below what you as the viewer and the Warren’s as characters, cannot see. It’s a feeling that’s invoked. This feeling lies somewhere between skepticism and sympathy.

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Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren

Acted the hell out of, The Conjuring 2 is a solid, welcome addition to the horror genre canon. As Lorraine Warren, Vera Farmiga shines with tenacity and inherent conflict. Her scenes with that terrifying nun are a sight to behold. The younger actors, particularly the revelatory Madison Wolfe who portrays the possessed (?) Janet Hodgson, is stellar. Instead of pulling a Linda Blair-esque performance, her role is subtle and quite sad. But this film is less about the acting and more about the feelings.  Is The Conjuring 2 scary? Yes. Is it a classic horror film? Maybe. Is it an exercise in the power of cinema? Most definitely.