Home Movies/Out on Digital: March 23, 2017
Based on a Robert Bloch story, The Skull (1965) is a metaphor of compulsion—the desire to acquire at all costs. Peter Cushing is excellent as the morally weak armchair student of evil who wants to add the Marquis de Sade’s skull to his collection. Why not—he already owns Bluebeard’s dagger. Christopher Lee co-stars as fellow devotee of the outré who tries to warn his friend. Can Cushing resist the irresistible urge to kill?
The premise is improbable: D-Day fails and the Germans somehow rebound and capture Britain. But suspending that thought, Resistance is a fascinating story that eschews combat scenes and easy heroics in favor of the psychology of occupation, collaboration and refusal. Life in Nazi England becomes a moral gray zone. The setting is moody (and tense with silence) as a Brontë-sisters’ landscape of rural Britain. Resistance stars “Game of Thrones” actors Tom Wlaschiha and Iwan Rheon.
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
Many people are forever hunting for bargains, keeping up with fads and shopping for the happiness that will always elude them. Matt D’Avella’s documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things doesn’t refer to an aesthetic as much as a philosophy of life focused on owning only what is useful and joyful, turning off the enervating stimulus of advertising and—ultimately—escaping the prison of desire. D’Avella interviews sociologists and psychologists as well as Millennials disillusioned by the emptiness of consumption.
Massacres by lone gunmen on campus were unheard of in 1966 when a sniper climbed the University of Texas Tower in Austin and began shooting. Keith Maitland’s Tower is an inventive documentary interposing animation with television footage and the memories of survivors whose horror has mellowed into matter-of-fact recollection. The use of animation brings the subject to life (and archival footage is scarce). Remarkable is the bravery of ordinary people and first responders grappling with an unknown situation.