Monday, October 08, 2018

everyday is halloween

i had today off work.  i had the house to myself.  it was a lovely day, sunny, warm.  the doors & windows were open.  leo the cat was in & out & out & in all day.  i even had two cups of joe.  usually i limit my caffeine intake to one cup of rocket fuel in the morning.  but today?  what the fuck.  i had some chores to do.  i finished them.  i read a short story, 'sonny liston is a friend of mine', by the wonderful writer, thom jones.  i read poems online & a few twitter feeds.  then i turned the TV on & watched the news.  holy shit.  all bad.  politics suck.  & a new study released today is the most stark, most dire, warning from the UN that states we only have a few years to decarbonize our economy, & change our lifestyles, if we are to limit global warming to mere hellish conditions.  fuck me.  that is scary.  i think we have missed our window.  if we get 'mere hellish' global conditions from a disrupted climate we will be lucky.

so then i was watching the TV news & texted the climate change story to a couple of friends.  both were just as horrified as me.  but one texted me, 'lopez, turn off the news & watch a stupid movie!'  good idea.

i flipped on netflix to watch one of the scarier films i've seen in a long while, under the shadow [2016].  this iranian-made movie is about a young mother & daughter who live under enormous stress of 1980s post-revolution, war torn, tehran.  the father is a doctor & conscripted by the military to the front lines.  tehran is under constant bombardment.  the child says that a neighbor boy told her that a djinn arrives on the wind as it sports along the fears of both mother & child.  should the djinn take a beloved possession of yours you will be haunted by that demon.

the girl's doll goes missing.  the mother's husband calls from the front to urge her to get the hell out of the city & to his parents' house in the country where it is safer.  she resists.  she is an independent woman who has a VCR & exorcises to contraband VHS jane fonda exercise tapes.  she is also frustrated because her earlier radical political activities prevented the young mother from resuming her medical studies.  the mother changes her mind when the rest of the building's occupants flee one by one to safer ground.

there is a hitch.  the child will not leave without her beloved doll.  the mother appears to be fighting madness caused by stress but she agrees they won't leave the city until they find the doll.  the filmmaker does an excellent job of ramping up the tension so that when there is a jump scare it makes for a large jolt, at least in this viewer.  of course, i couldn't tell if the demon is real, or a psychological manifestation of the enormous fear & stress both the mother & daughter suffer from.

that is what makes this a brilliant movie.  it is not just a horror film, but a war movie, a study of the intense pressures of living in wartime.  & too that post-revolution iran was transitioning from a fairly open, liberal, western style, society to a conservative theocracy where a woman can be punished by the lash if she dared to appear in public in western clothes & head uncovered amps up the making strange hyper-reality of a world going crazy by war & fundamentalist religion.  would it be so weird for a djinn to terrorize someone under such conditions?

at any rate, i admire this film for its artistry of stark terror caused by the war & a burgeoning theocracy.  i watched this flick in broad daylight with the doors & windows open to a beautiful early fall day.  didn't help.  the movie still scared the shit out of me.  & as i measured the nuanced terror that the filmmaker created by inserting demons into a war film i thought maybe a filmmaker can insert something from my beloved horror genre into the utter massive scale & terror that is climate change.  at any rate, this movie needs repeated viewings like any good story or poem needs rereading.  i know of no higher praise.



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