Sister My Sister

Before I go into Sister My Sister, a movie about housekeepers, a little housekeeping (har har). I really, really don’t like it when a movie filmed and presented in a wide format is cropped into a so-called “full-frame” pan-n-scan for the DVD release. The last movie I saw that did this was when I rented Polanski’s Frantic from Netflix on DVD. I was so put off by the cropping that it took me a month and a half to actually sit down and watch the dang movie (which I mostly liked).

I’m grateful as all heck for IMDB’s technical specifications listing for films. It lets me see exactly what the filmmaker intended. When I rented Sister My Sister on DVD from Scarecrow, I didn’t realize the crop had been done, and a 1.85:1 film suddenly had to be watched in 4:3. Needless to say, I think I could have enjoyed the film a lot more had the cinematography not been butchered.

All in all, I liked the ambience and presentation of the material, even if it was a bit overly melodramatic. I like stories about bizarre friendships between women (like in Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures), especially but not exclusively if they’re based on a true story. Here, it’s not just a friendship, but between sisters. I could have taken a lot more of this movie, though, and its brevity is a serious shortcoming when given what I see as the compelling strength of the source material. It was all right, but it felt incomplete.

Near Dark

I rented Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark from Scarecrow. I’d been meaning to watch it for a long time, in no small part because of Bigelow’s other movies (I’m lookin’ at you, Strange Days!), but also because it was a cult classic low-budget vampire flick. Lemme just say, I rarely seem to understand the cult followings many movies have. I don’t want to seem a fuddy-duddy, but this movie is just not that special, or at least not to the degree it seems so beloved.

I did like the intimacy and grittiness of it, which kept me mesmerized more than the actual craftsmanship did. Those factors made up for a lot of the pure exploitation cheese vibes I was getting for large swaths of it. The injection of the western genre into the vampire legend was remarkably innovative and truly delightful to see. In short, it was a fine watch, but I probably won’t watch it again for some time.