Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


BROKEN MIRRORS, BROKEN MINDS: The Dark Dreams of DARIO ARGENTO. Maitland McDonagh. University  of Minnesota Press; 2010 -- expanded edition.

McDonagh takes an interesting look at the Italian maker of horror films with an academic approach. Dario Argento has garnered many fans of his work, although he's never been taken that seriously by U.S. mainstream critics. Some of that is due to what may be seen as over-the-top violence, a few weak screenplays, an adherence to visual effect over logic, and so on. Despite this, some of his films are quite creepy, exhilarating, and yes, artistic in their way. McDonaugh won me over with her fond [?] look at the Times Square movie houses of yesterday [where she first saw Argento's early films], where often there was more drama going on in the audience than in the picture, writing of one theater that it was "a shoebox of a grindhouse, so dirty, claustrophobic and relentlessly seamy that I remember it more vividly than the movie." Broken Mirrors looks at several of Argento's films, and includes an interview with the director. There are analyses and behind-the-scenes details. Although an admirer of Argento, McDonagh doesn't shy away from sharp criticisms of certain aspects of his work, as well as awkward and lame moments in each film. She's also pretty rough on Trauma, which I've always considered one of Argento's best movies. Still, to each his own.

Verdict: Argento fans will enjoy this although some may find it a bit heavy going at times. ***.

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