Palatable: Weekend of a Champion

Weekend of a Champion (1972, 2013)
Directed by Frank Simon, Roman Polanski
Written by Frank Simon
Produced by Roman Polanski, Mark Stewart, Timothy Burrill
Starring Jackie Stewart, Helen Stewart, Roman Polanski, Ken Tyrrell

“There are other things in Monaco, and the other things are not a mere sideshow of the Casino. The Casino itself continues progressively to become the sideshow, a relic of a Golden Age that is irrecoverable. Monte Carlo is the place where the motor rally is held, where international conferences meet in the functional new centres, where Cousteau pursues his oceanographical researches. It is the place where people come to start businesses, unhindered by a crippling tax system that seems, to most of us, to represent a more terrible immorality than could ever be attached to merely spinning a roulette wheel.”

–Anthony Burgess, The Ball is Free to Roll, 1978

On the curving Circuit de Monaco in preparatory reconnaisance, in a garage where he confers with his sponsor Ken Tyrrell, engineers and other members of his pit crew as they tune and adjust his custom-built Tyrrell 003 to his scrupulous satisfaction, fraternizing with fans who won a contest by Monte Carlo’s harbor, speeding through a Formula 3 practice run to maintain his pole position, dining at the spicy birthday party of interwar racing champion Louis Chiron, discussing subtleties of his hazardous craft with Polanski as they share a ritzy breakfast in his hotel suite, and constantly accompanied by his wife Helen, Formula 1’s lovably loquacious and Falstaffian superstar Jackie Stewart basks anxiously in Monaco in May, 1971 during a few days anteceding his second of three blistering wins at the Monaco Grand Prix. Simon’s and Polanski’s immersive direction yields an absolutely absorbing portrait of the famed racer, his friendship with Romek, and a momentous victory concluding the Grand Prix that’s shot and cut with thrilling pizzazz. Other highlights include: over-the-shoulder shots of Stewart’s rainy trial drive along the Monégasque course’s tight hairpins, strategic chicanes, disorienting tunnel and varied elevations; the champ’s exposition of his meticulous methodology and its delicate techniques; fleeting footage of his competing protégé, the dashing and tragic François Cevert; congenial confabulation with Graham Hill, who’s here still a formidable rival, if a couple years past his celebrated prime; a fete hosted by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace also attended by Joan Collins and Ringo Starr, et al. An epilog suffixed to the recut, remixed re-release by Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment finds Stewart and Polanski contemporarily contemplating spectacular (and often spectacularly survived) crashes, miraculous advances in safety for motorsports credited to improved practices, tracks, medical facilities, and automotive engineering that he’s insistently boosted for years (after an outrageous crash at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 1966), Stewart’s dyslexia that was diagnosed well after his racing career had ended, the development of Monte Carlo’s local industry and enlarged harbor, and its anfractuous track’s gently graded curbs and brighter, longer tunnel — luxuries he and his competitors weren’t afforded forty years before. Much of this may not engage laymen, but for fans of Formula 1, sociable Stewart, or Polanski, it’s one among several indispensable historical records of colorful cynosures prosecuting the twentieth century’s fastest fatal bloodsport.

Mediocre: The Beaver

The Beaver (2011)
Directed by Jodie Foster
Written by Kyle Killen
Produced by Steve Golin, Keith Redmon, Ann Ruark, Dianne Dreyer, Mohamed Khalaf Al-Mazrouei, Paul Green, Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll
Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones, Riley Thomas Stewart, Zachary Booth
It never quite transcends its sappiness or absurdity, but Foster’s third directorial undertaking fixates with psychodramatic peculiarity that’s anchored by its discerning leads. Crippling despondency has immobilized a businessman (Gibson), isolated his long-suffering wife (Foster) and sons (Yelchin, Stewart), and nearly destroyed the toy company that he inherited. His attempted suicide fails, after which he finds solace and success by communicating with everyone through a manual puppet fashioned as a plush beaver — an artifice that restores two of his three familial relations, revivifies his managerial confidence and accomplishment, and admits an afflatus that he elicits into a bestselling toy. When his depressive symptoms recrudesce, his personality’s new aspect is viciously vitiated, and threatens to fordo its host’s headway. Vice and addiction are etched deeply into Mad Mel’s lineaments; his trials clearly inform the sensitively shaded intensity with which his tormented executive is personated. Foster’s knack for effusion of desperate empathy finds her in good footing among her fellow orbital foils. A subplot whereby Yelchin’s bright and fraudulent misopaterist is commissioned by a cheerleader (Lawrence) to ghostwrite her valedictory renders both as handily as it supplements a running time of 90 minutes, but it’s so cornily, collaterally discrete that its thematic congruity with the primary plot is at best tenuous. As for her previous features, Foster’s solidly workmanlike direction ballasts these and balances an often uneasy mixture of comedy and drama that isn’t helped by Marcelo Zarvos’s twee score. Killen’s delineations of clinical depression and the vice president (Jones) of Gibson’s firm as an adept, unassuming administrator (rather than the overbearing virago who flourishes only in Hollywood’s fiction) are refreshingly honest. Most contemporary American dramas are sunken by melodramatic contrivances that erupt between characters demarcated only by variances of narcissistic inauthenticity, but the sincerity of this screenwriter and directress shines through their mundane missteps.

Palatable: Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Produced by Ronaldo Vasconcellos, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nira Park, Karen Beever, Natascha Wharton
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Olivia Colman, Kevin Eldon, Stuart Wilson, Edward Woodward, Anne Reid, Adam Buxton, Billie Whitelaw, Rory McCann, Karl Johnson, Eric Mason, Kenneth Cranham, David Threlfall, Lucy Punch, Paul Freeman, Ron Cook, Peter Wight, Julia Deakin, Trevor Nichols, Elizabeth Elvin, Bill Bailey, Tim Barlow, Lorraine Hilton, Patricia Franklin, Ben McKay, Alice Lowe, David Bradley, Maria Charles, Robert Popper, Joe Cornish, Chris Waitt, Stephen Merchant
Wright’s comedies elicit overvaluation from the magnifying pathologies of approving British audiences, but they do meet a demand for nimble humor that Hollywood can no longer produce. Shaun of the Dead hardly met its hype, but this follow-up — an uproarious lampoon of overcooked actioners by the likes of Tony Scott, John Woo, Michael Bay, Guy Ritchie, et al. — merits its repute. From London, an accomplished, finical sergeant (Pegg) is transferred for his inconvenient superiority to a goofily idyllic village in Gloucestershire, where he’s partnered with the oafish son (Frost) of his constabulary’s chief (Broadbent). He chances instanter upon delinquency, deplorable dramatics, an overabundant arsenal, and a spate of murders that befall some of the locality’s notables — mistaken as mischances by his unskilled and complacent colleagues (Considine, Spall, Colman, Eldon, Johnson) — just beneath a provincial veneer nurtured by its hospitable businessmen (Dalton, Wilson, Woodward, Whitelaw, Mason, Cranham, Freeman, Wight, Deakin, Nichols, Elvin). Pegg’s again cast well to type as an authoritative straight man opposite clownish co-stars, funniest among whom are dopey Frost and vulpecular Dalton, who steals his every scene as a conspicuously sinister supermarketeer. That Welshman’s fellow old hands play up their quaint parts with as much esprit as the director’s usual collaborators; Whitelaw is meted a few droll scenes for her final appearance. Fans of Wright’s circle will also enjoy snappy cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy as the overachieving officer’s injudicious top brass. One might expect from most Anglophonic, contemporary cinematic comedies an hors d’oeuvre of occasional laughs; here, Wright’s and Pegg’s story serves a full course of hilarity, whose thousands of frantically cut shots are crammed with one-liners, sight gags, prefigurations and adversions intrinsic and extrinsic, many of which rely on the cunning casting of its older players. Featured clichés of the targeted genre include ostentatious rising pans and rotating shots, overzealous foley, digital blood, and dumb catchphrases. Whether they enjoy or abhor tasteless action pictures, this is recommended for whomever can stomach its multiple bloody homicides, especially Britons who need two hours of respite from metropolitan police farcically focused on trifling offenses, if only to divert public attention from their failures to curb violent crime.

Recommended for a double feature paired with Burn After Reading.

Palatable: Standing Tall

Standing Tall (2015)
Directed by Emmanuelle Bercot
Written by Emmanuelle Bercot, Marcia Romano
Produced by François Kraus, Denis Pineau-Valencienne
Starring Rod Paradot, Catherine Deneuve, Benoit Magimel, Sara Forestier, Diane Rouxel, Elizabeth Mazev, Anne Suarez, Christophe Meynet
Prepubertal years influenced by his screwy, slutty, irresponsible mother (Forestier) lead to a criminal course through foster families, juvenile homes, stretches in rehabilitative facilities and briefly prison, to the ultimate reclaim of a teen joyrider (Paradot) whose precipitant recidivism is dishabituated with the ministration of his compassionate counselor (Magimel), his firm, boyish girlfriend (Rouxel) and a juvenile court’s judge (Deneuve) assigned to his decadal case. This is far better than Bercot’s underwhelming, antecedent On My Way for its moving, unusually wholesome story, and acting that subtilizes rather shallow characters. Deneuve flawlessly underplays her jurist to no disappointment, but neophyte Paradot is a standout who incandescently expresses callow rage, sorrow and tenderness without veering into melodrama. Numerous social workers employed at detention centers also play themselves quite well. Bercot’s and Romano’s barely didactic tale observes simply in its conclusion that paternity’s often an effective means of reformation.

Recommended for a double feature paired with Sweet Sixteen or The 400 Blows, especially for those who care to observe how much more lenience France’s juvenile delinquents enjoy 56 years later.

Palatable: Tracks

Tracks (1976)
Written and directed by Henry Jaglom
Produced by Howard Zuker, Elliot S. Blair, Irving Cohen, Ted Shapiro, Bert Schneider
Starring Dennis Hopper, Taryn Power, Dean Stockwell, Zack Norman, Michael Emil, Barbara Flood, Topo Swope, Alfred Ryder
From Santa Fe to his unspecified hometown somewhere in New England, a shell-shocked Army sergeant (Hopper) escorts the coffin of a fallen friend on a train where he meets a flirtatious oddity (Stockwell), a pushy peddler of realty (Norman) bantering with a chattering accountant (Emil) prepossessed with chess and sexology, one perrerating lady (Flood), and a sweet student (Power) with whom he’s enamored straightway. Jaglom’s second feature is the first produced during the immediate postwar years to address the adversities of veterans, and breathes the ardent, aimless anomy intrinsical to the climate of the ’70s. Hopper’s a cut above the great supporting cast, born to play the jittery, erratic officer whose hallucinative episodes confront him with his own penitence, nostalgia and violence. The late Stockwell meets expectations by precipitating himself from breezy geniality to desperate frenzy, and Power’s tender turn as the pretty innocent serves to highlight Hopper’s temperamental tirrets. Much of the dialogue is naturalistically extemporized; together and separately, producer Norman (A.K.A. Zuker), and Jaglom’s brother Emil are fully, pricelessly unscripted, portending their chaffing collaborations in the filmmaker’s several sequent comedies. Cameos by Alfred Ryder, Richard Romanus, Cayle Chernin, Paul Williams and Sally Kirkland are as amusive as appearances by real stewards and soldiers on the Amtrak trains from which Jaglom and his cast and crew were often ousted. His approaches to photography and histrionics correspond, as Jaglom shot players and passing locales in picturesque natural light, silhouette and shade. Only a few years before Coppola qualified it as box office gold for over a decade, popular aversion to the subject of the war prevented this movie’s theatrical distribution, but as a depiction of the traumatized soldier to become a cinematic archetype, and an unspoken reflection on the United States’s morbidly optimistic addiction to war in the 20th century, it’s yet to be bettered.

Recommended for a double feature paired with Apocalypse Now or The American Friend.

Palatable: Eyewitness

Eyewitness (1981)
Directed by Peter Yates
Written by Steve Tesich
Produced by Peter Yates, Kenneth Utt
Starring William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, James Woods, Steven Hill, Morgan Freeman, Pamela Reed, Kenneth McMillan, Irene Worth, Albert Paulsen, Keone Young, Chao Li Chi, Alice Drummond
Burdened by supernumerary character development, Yates’s and Tesich’s second coaction after Breaking Away doesn’t quite compass its potential as a murder mystery or a romance. A janitor (Hurt) employed at a palatial office building reports the murder of a businessman (Chi) who’d leased an office therein to two cynical detectives (Hill, Freeman), who correctly suspect his maniacal buddy (Woods) of means, motive and opportunity. Their case is complicated by the unsophisticated custodian’s incomplete disclosure — recounted first to them, then to a fetching news reporter and chamber pianist (Weaver), who’s enticed by the prospect of breaking a story that’s closer to home than she imagined. Tesich’s story is timely and absorbing, but his script’s plagued by his zeal to humanize nearly every single character with at least one deepy personal, expository monologue or discourse — all of which are delivered so well by Yates’s eximious ensemble that one almost doesn’t notice this superfluous sentiment. Singly fresh from Altered States and Alien, Hurt and Weaver effortlessly inhabit proper parts with charm and conviction, but their shortage of chemistry does nothing to make their amorous developments seem any more probable. Woods hyperactively betokens some of his best work to come as the volatile Vietnam vet who drives the plot. Most notable for its population of established and ascending stars, this one almost hits its mark, and almost satisfies.

Palatable: Tenue de soiree

Tenue de soirée (A.K.A. Ménage) (1986)
Written and directed by Bertrand Blier
Produced by René Cleitman, Catherine Blier Florin
Starring Gérard Depardieu, Michel Blanc, Miou-Miou, Michel Creton, Bruno Cremer, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Caroline Silhol, Jean-François Stévenin, Mylène Demongeot, Jean-Yves Berteloot
Joyance is rare in the gutter, where immiserated spouses (Blanc, Miou-Miou) languish until they’re enriched and debauched by a charismatically manic burglar (Depardieu), who seduces both after introducing them to his nomadic, intuitive pursuit. From the brawny bisexual’s schemes come prurient escapades through interrelational and epicene permutations, each more depraved than the last. Blier’s fourth film starring his (and everyone else’s) favorite leading man is energized by Depardieu at the robust peak of his powers, as a force of nature capable of channeling any vim, violence or vitiation that the novelist and filmmaker could conceive. The headlining trio consummate his rapid loquacity with a kinky elan, seamlessly vacillating between thalian perversion and touching tristesse, all penned and directed with equal elegance, and suitably scored by Serge Gainsbourg. Like Imamura, Breillat or Almodóvar, Blier elicits from smutty scenarios stories of remarkable inspiration; for whoever knows what to expect from him, this one is satisfactorily scabrous.

Recommended for a double feature paired with Going Places or Bad Education.

Execrable: Filth

Filth (2013)
Directed by Jon S. Baird
Written by Irvine Welsh, Jon S. Baird
Produced by Mark Amin, Christian Angermayer, Jon S. Baird, Will Clarke, Stephen Mao, Ken Marshall, James McAvoy, Jens Meurer, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler, Jessica Ask, Christopher Billows, Alexander Denk, Alex Francis, Benoit Roland, Berry van Zwieten, Sean Wheelan, Tyler Boehm, Rachel Dargavel, Jona Wirbeleit, Alexander O’Neal, Guy Avshalom, Tony Bolton, Jane Bruce, Charles E. Bush Jr., Mohammed Hans Dastmaltchi, Karin G. Dietrich, Ralph S. Dietrich, Stephan Giger, Stefan Haller, Marc Hansell, Jon Harris, Robin Houcken, Steven Istock, Zygi Kamasa, Pierre Lorinet, Benjamin Melkman, Nick Meyer, Matt Petzny, Yasin Qureshi, Marc Schaberg, Judy Tossell, Jean Pierre Valentini, Irvine Welsh, Paul Andrew Williams
Starring James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Poots, Brian McCardie, Emun Elliott, Gary Lewis, John Sessions, Shauna Macdonald, Jim Broadbent, Joanne Froggatt, Kate Dickie, Martin Compston, Iain De Caestecker, Shirley Henderson, Joy McAvoy, Jordan Young, Pollyanna McIntosh, Bobby Rainsbury
Akin to his American obverse Chuck Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh fares best when concocting humorous metaphysical mishaps and exploiting memorably crude conceits; when either delve too deeply into existential excogitation, their immanent immaturity issues as mundanely as the most formulaic romantic comedies. Trainspotting and The Acid House are audaciously appealing for their attention to Welsh’s fantastical degeneracy (notwithstanding the former’s maximal overestimation); the same can be said for only a few moments in this adaptation of his eponymous novel, which ebbs from goatish mischievousness into cloying moralization and introspective angst-by-numbers, affirming once again the propensity of Anglos to misrepresent masochism as moral play, and glamorize vice as a self-serving pretense of expiation. If he weren’t so preoccupied with pranks and gossip intended to undermine his constabulary’s other inspectors (Bell, Poots, McCardie, Elliott, Lewis) and invalidate their eligibility for a coveted promotion, a coked, boozing, madly misanthropic detective (McAvoy) might attend to the case of a Japanese tourist murdered by a thuggish gang (Compston, De Caestecker, McAvoy, Young). Instead, multiple addictions exacerbate his haunted, schizoid psyche until he desolates what’s left of his life and mars those of associates and acquaintances before committing suicide. The End!
Perhaps the best filmic evidence that GenX have become as obstinately ossified as Boomers is the junk constituting this pic’s rancid rubric, which was scarcely tolerable when Britain’s film industry was first infected with Tarantinism in the mid-’90s. Baird hoarily regurgitates by rote the obligatory, introductory strut in slow motion and abounding, artless exposition in pestiferously prolix narration and presentational shots. Just as wearying to watch and hear are edgy vitriol delivered by a supporting cast who overplay their one-dimensional roles like teenagers at drama camp, sluttishly overripe wives (Macdonald, Dickie, Henderson) among those, hallucinatory episodes where Broadbent and McAvoy retread unamusing references to A Clockwork Orange, Clint Mansell’s niminy-piminy music, and McAvoy’s fatuous breaches of the fourth wall. Filth was a domestic hit where a preponderance of ignorance and political correctness have lowered the popular threshold of transgression, so its moderate violence, harrassment, drinking, snorting, sexism, racism, homophobia, transvestism, erotic asphyxiation and disloyalty aroused Scottish critics and viewers to acclamation and animadversion unknown to other markets. Nothing sates the immoral appetites of a softened society as decadent froth with a syrupy center.

Instead, watch Bad Lieutenant or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Execrable: Tales of Halloween

Tales of Halloween (2015)
Directed by Dave Parker; Darren Lynn Bousman; Adam Gierasch; Axelle Carolyn; Lucky McKee; Paul Solet; Andrew Kasch, John Skipp; Mike Mendez; Ryan Schifrin; Neil Marshall
Written by Dave Parker; Clint Sears; Greg Commons; Axelle Carolyn; Lucky McKee; Molly Millions; Andrew Kasch, John Skipp; Mike Mendez, Dave Parker; Ryan Schifrin; Neil Marshall
Produced by Axelle Carolyn, Mike Mendez, Shaked Berenson, Patrick Ewald, Sarah Gorski, Charles Arthur Berg; Mike De Trana, Jace Anderson; Tada Chae, Michael Arter; Vanessa Menendez
Starring Adrienne Barbeau; Cameron Easton, Daniel DiMaggio, Austin Falk, Madison Iseman, Hunter Smit; Barry Bostwick, Marcus Eckert, Christophe Zajac-Denek; Casey Ruggieri, Trent Haaga, John F. Beach, Tiffany Shepis, Mia Page, Marnie McKendry, Clay Keller, Kennedy Fuselier, Sage Stewart, Bianca Rose Miller; Keir Gilchrist, Gracie Gillam, Booboo Stewart, Noah Segan; Alex Essoe, Lin Shaye; Pollyanna McIntosh, Marc Senter; Dana Gould, James Duval, Elissa Dowling; Nick Principe, Amanda Moyer, Jennifer Wenger; Sam Witwer, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Ben Woolf, John Landis; Kristina Klebe, Pat Healy
It’s a fait accompli, so any ordinance dictating that 80% of all motion pictures produced in Los Angeles county must be idiotically infantile and scored to the hacked hilt would meet with sweeping, immediate compliance and probable applause for its foregone success by Ellay’s dim and demented Board of Supervisors. Of course, such a rescript betrays a self-awareness that would forefend the unsatirical majority of those prescribed movies, as this omnibus of ten edgily adolescent chapters about a gluttonous revenant (Easton/Smit), mayhem instigated by a cartoonishly dapper demon (Bostwick), trick-or-treaters (Page, McKendry, Keller, Fuselier, Stewart, Miller) who wreak bloody vengeance on two married couples (Ruggieri, Haaga, Beach, Shepis), revenge realized by the conjuration of a timorous victim (Gilchrist), a single woman (Essoe) stalked by a story’s spirit, the psychotic downward spiral of a wretchedly childless couple (McIntosh, Senter), altercating Halloween decorators (Gould, Duval) who come to blows over their clashing bedizenments, one hulking, rural serial killer (Principe) confronted by a tiny extraterrestrial, abductors (Witwer, Cantillo) who struggle to ransom the seeming son (Woolf) of a wealthy industrialist (Landis), and a police detective (Klebe) who pursues a sentient, rampaging jack-o’-lantern. All of these demonstrate Hollywood’s inability to tickle or terrify, now that it’s overrun by unimaginative drug addicts straining to rekindle but a spark of the magic plied by American wizards like Romero, Carpenter, Raimi, et al. before their output in the ’90s declined, anticipating this dreck. For this, an embarrassment of obvious references to genre classics, lovable Barbeau’s mellow narration and cameos by Barbara Crampton, Stuart Gordon, Felissa Rose, John Landis, John Savage and Joe Dante are more dispiriting than diverting. This is almost unwatchable in toto, an example of what happens when gruesomeness and frivolity are accorded anteriority, absent substance.

Instead, watch Trilogy of Terror or V/H/S.

Sublime: The Wailing

The Wailing (2016)
Written and directed by Hong-jin Na
Produced by Suh Dong Hyun, Ho Sung Kim, Xian Li, John Penotti, Robert Friedland
Starring Do-won Kwak, So-yeon Jang, Jun Kunimura, Woo-hee Chun, Hwan-hee Kim, Jung-min Hwang, Kang-gook Son, Do-yoon Kim, Jin Heo, Seong-yeon Park, Chang-gyu Kil, Bae-soo Jeon, Mi-nam Jeong, Gwi-hwa Choi

“It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.”

–H. L. Mencken, A Little Book in C Major, 1916

Attentive viewers (especially those versed in Catholic scripture and Korean folk sortilege) will best appreciate the innuendo of Na’s creepingly circuitous chiller, but such insights can’t conduce prospicience of its outcome. A village’s police are confounded when locals are sanguinely slain by ensorcelled relatives, who then succumb to grisly afflictions. This unaccountable spate coincides with sightings of an earthy, impertinent beauty (Chun) and an old Japanese (Kunimura), the latter of whom is a subject of macabre and concordant scuttlebutt. When the daughter (Kim) of the force’s sluggardly sergeant (Kwak) manifests incipient behavioral and dermal symptoms common to the doomed murderers, he’s desperate to interrogate both strangers. Refreshing restraint and professional calculation characterize Na’s masterly direction, which discloses minimally in slow zooms and pans as his plotted convolutions gradually unravel, without ever relaxing the intensity of his drama or action. By Kyung-pyo Hong’s photography, South Korea’s sylvestrian beauty is blazoned in establishing landscapes, and many figures are strikingly limned in silhouette and shadow. The cast is exceeding, but its concerted excellence admits of certain standouts. Kunimura’s internationally recognized for his versatility as villains and victims alike; his stony stare and mutable mien here sustain his loner’s imperative mystique. A dynamically antipodal approach by Hwang to a shaman hired by Kwak’s deviled officer informs his energic exorcism preceding the movie’s centerpiece, a clamorously violent, elaborate, apotropaic rite not to be forgotten. Kim’s metamorphosis from sweet schoolgirl into maledicted malefactor recalls Linda Blair’s most famous role — and she interprets it with analogous anguish and audacity. All of the seven deadly sins are committed, but their significance is primarily representative. Na’s moral compass is pragmatically oriented, indicating how obtuse skepticism, inaction, misjudgment, and hysteria result in a small, appalling tragedy. These misdeeds frustrate the talismanic and lustrative white magic that might’ve dashed demonomagy conjured by and thriving for vice, folly, and confusion.

Recommended for a double feature paired with The Exorcist.