The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is joy and sadness, lightheartedness and seriousness, just like his paintings. It’s about love and art in the oddly beautiful vagaries of what it means to be a human (in the company of cats). Wain’s cats graced the epochs before Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse (and Minnie) and His Gangs) debuted. But Wain was not Disney, and would he have even wished it? Perhaps, that is why Benedict Cumberbatch decided to give Wain a second chance to shine his name once more on earth in the magic of moving pictures that resurrected him from the lapse of time through the chapters of his story in this superbly narrative of the artist.
Louise Wain was a brilliant artist, a contemporary of French impressionist artists, such as Monet, Pissarro, Degas, and Renoir, and Dutch Vincent Van Gogh, all of whom were united in the brotherhood of independent spirits and resilient creativity. Yet Wain’s was a different sort, more existentially debauched in the provisional circulation of works, in the crossroads of the reality of being the only male figure in the parentless family led by the dominant matriarchal sister and of the ideal of ensconcing himself in the solitary niche. All artists are by nature sensitive, but Wain was extraordinarily sensitive, and the world was too much for someone like him to deal with. His wife, the light of his life, was the only happiness and love he felt and shared, but jealous God took her away from him and left him in the lurch of the familial duties and responsibilities in the somber household. This house eventually drove him and his younger sister into the oblivion of reason to the end. Yet, notwithstanding the personal tragedy, Wain’s unique visual world articulated with the sonar modulation of impulse that sparked his creative spirit yearning to soar up to the boundless ether on a par with constellations with stars.
Benedict Cumberbatch, now universally recognized as the Sherlock thanks to the phenomenally successful BBC series, proved to be a superb character actor who became Louis Wain rather than merely playing the artist’s part. Ancient Greeks and Romans regarded actors as an equivalent of a spiritual medium whose body could be channeled into another spirit for a willful possession during a mysterious rite of sacred ceremony. If that was the case, as it were, that was how I felt watching Cumberbatch being Wain as if he had summoned the soul of the dead artist from the beyond and asked him how the artist’s life would be told. His naturally mild, gentle deliverance of character nuanced the inner fear, confusion, and frustration that Wain must have felt in dealing with the realities of everyday life as a reluctant and unlikely head of household. Yet, his passionate eyes and particular diction dictate that Wain was an artist of force, a man not of an age but for all seasons.
“The Entity (1982)” is an American film based on the real-life event of Dorothy Bither, who was habitually raped by evil spirits that followed her everywhere. In the movie, Dorothy is Carla Moran, a young, intelligent single mother of three whose life becomes a Circle of Hell incarnate on earth in which she becomes a sexual slave of the unseen unclean spirits. Despite the physical signs of attacks, her well-meaning but over-zealous psychiatrist Dr. Phill Sneiderman believes that her unhappy childhood and different anfractuous life experience generate the mind’s play. He then forces his belief into her with a superior sense of academic and professional pride, even if her children have witnessed supernatural powers are attacking their mother. Carla catches at straws in the form of parapsychology to set herself free from the demonic forces, even if the help is not entirely altruistic and may turn on a full circle of violation of her body, her heart, and her spirit.
The film agrees to the truth on the supernatural essence of rape by portraying Carla as a woman of diligence, intelligence, and heart who goes to a secretarial school at night for a better future. Her love and affection for children are filled with kisses and smiles, even to her head-strong adolescent son. Her childhood memories and paths she treaded upon thus far might have been labyrinthine, but just because you have past wounds doesn’t mean you are stigmatized for the malady of the heart forever. Dr. Sneiderman’s attitude toward his patient Carla is reminiscent of the late Victorian and early 20th-century institutionalization of women with checkered lives, the victims of violence, into crudely primitive asylums where any sane person was sure to lose a reason before long. However, Carla rejects her telltale testimony to the supernatural terror to be nothing but a tale told by a lunatic woman, full of sound and fury that means nothing.
‘The Entity’ is a classic movie of supernatural phenomena in the ordinary surrounding of Los Angeles, CA. What makes this film classic in its pure literary sense is the absence of gory scenes accompanied by shrill screams of overtly acted characters who know what will happen to them. Nudity is present in the film not as gratuitous scenes of repertories of box-office horror movies but as realistic segments of what and how it happened all. I initially avoided watching this film by its thematic subject of rape and its naturally subsequent psychological narrative analysis as someone craving for a true supernatural story without frequent staccatos of blood splashes and big sharp tooth. It was a low hope for high heaven when the film was impressively indelible in my mind after I watched it last Saturday. If you prefer watching 70s and early 80s supernatural films over slash movies after the golden periods of the genre, ‘The Entity’ will entertain your sentiment and satisfy reason. And remember this: “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Don’t forget that.
The history of immigrants equals to the history of humankind. It has always been and will be part of the civilization of the world: Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the Trojans’ migration into modern-day Italy, the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, the Norman conquest of England, peoples of all continents landing on America, and many others still counting to this date. It is innately natural for man to move to a place for different reasons, whether they result from cohesion, or volition, or a little bit of both. Jersy Skolimowski’s “Moonlighting” (1982), a British film about a polish electrician named Nowak leading a team working illegally in Lonon, focuses on his daily moments of existential vertigo between the winds of the world and provisional needs of livelihood.
Nowak is an intelligent laborer who accepts the offer from a Polish government official to renovate his house in London with lucrative promise, plus a taste of glamourous capitalism. Yet at the first taste of cold London and cold Londoner that makes his presence miserably pathetic and casually ignorable, Nowak decides to survive in a game of hide-and-seek as best as he can. The work is his only painkiller that rids anxiety and worries off his chest, but the effect is only temporary and minimal. As Rome is a great city when you have money, so is London, and Nowak and his team live their provisional days in hiding and stalking under the suspicion of their not-so-gentlemanly and kindly English neighbors. They regard the Polish workers as no more different than poor foreigners unsuitable for their daily English landscapes. Nowak chooses to be a Hector of his own with his crew of non-speaking polish in a vertigo of existential quandy.
Setting in the early 1980s when Poland was going through her first labor pain of democracy with Lech Wałęsa leading Solidarity Movement, the film’s realistic portrayal of illegal workers’ dailiness is visually palatable. The narrative of Nowak transcends to a ballad of Man anxiously adhering to a sense of purpose that gives him a reason to live in a harsh land surrounded by strangers who don’t like them. It’s a film about how changes in the world affect an individual’s daily life based on a symbolic interactionist theory. The present and future of Nowak and his team cannot escape from the winds of changes crossing their faces, which change the compass of the wheel of fortune.
The film is a hidden gem, starring the veteran English actor Jeremy Irons, whose excellent performance of Nowak deserves special recognition from the Polish audience. Irons is so convincingly Polish in appearance, manners, and speech that the non-speaking performance of the other Polish actors as his team of laborers serves to make his presence more outstandingly Polish. Also, the director being Polish himself contributes to the genuineness of the story’s narrative, which guards against patronizingly officious outsider’s perspectives of the people he wants to tell about because it is also his story. For these reasons, Moonlighting is a bracing film that makes you think whether existentialism in which experience proceeds essence is right.