{Movies} Shirley Jackson, Hail, Caesar! & Dead Don’t Die

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2018)

In the realm of Shirley Jackson adaptations Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House television series and Stacie Passon’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle are on opposite ends of the fidelity spectrum. The Haunting of Hill House is sort of Jackson-flavored. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but I feel bad for TV watchers who may have picked up the book after watching the Netflix series expecting to find the modern-day Crains.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, on the other hand, suffers somewhat by being faithful to the source material. The novel is very much from Merricat’s point of view and she’s an unreliable narrator. That’s hard to pull off in film. As viewers, we don’t quite feel Merricat’s dread and distrust of the world; the plot ends up feeling a little flat. That’s unfortunate because everything else about this movie is more than I could want in an adaptation of one of my favorite books. The world is lush and dreamy. Taissa Farmiga is a perfect Merricat, and I’ve missed Crispin Glover’s off-kilterness.

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

A friend I play ultimate frisbee with has been on me to watch the Coen Brother’s Hail, Caesar! since, well, 2016. At league finals this Saturday, I can report that I’ve finally seen it. Alas, I don’t think I like it as much as he does. There are parts that I definitely found enjoyable. George Clooney should do more comedies and we should bring back musicals with dancing male leads just for Channing Tatum. Josh Brolin is an actor I enjoy in nearly every role aside from the ones that involve an overage of CGI. I almost can’t believe that he’s the same actor who played Llewelyn Moss in No Country for Old Men (2006) or that the Coen Brothers are the same directors behind both of those movies. I get that Hail, Caesar! is a love letter to 50s Hollywood, but the pretty set pieces get in the way of the plot. The trailer above makes it seem much more put together than it is.

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

The 30 Day Horror Movie Challenge proved me a liar. I don’t hate zombie movies. But for me to really like a zombie movie, it has to have something a little special about it. Jim Jarmusch puts a surprising number of horror and B-movie nods into The Dead Don’t Die. He does seem to care about the genre and playing with the genre tropes. In the spirit of George Romero’s zombie fare, the movie tries really hard to be socially conscious. It has an out-standing cast. But if it’s a horror comedy (and maybe it isn’t), it sort of forgets, aside from a few moments, to be horrific or comedic.

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