Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “World of Tomorrow”


It’s shorts week for Hit Me With Your Best Shot, a branch of film that I’m unfortunately not well versed. Outside of wide release for each year’s Oscar nominated shorts, accessibility is the issue – though that seems to be changing as more streaming services hit the market. However, without the level of discussion and coverage given to feature length films it’s difficult to discover which ones to seek out.

This was not the case last year for Don Herzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow (long available on Netflix and other platforms) thanks to high critical praise and vocal fandom since its debut at 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It’s easy to know that a film exists if major critics are calling a film one of the year’s best, feature-length or not.

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “Death Becomes Her”


After all these years, Death Becomes Her is still a delightful romp – a broad blend of old Hollywood diva mudslinging, morbid farce, and goddess worship. As much as the film satirizes gratuitous ageism thrust upon women and its impact on the ego, the film adores its actresses. Isabella Rossellini reigns supreme, but Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep are audience catnip even at their most vicious. With this much talent, wit, and glamour in the frame, its no surprise that director Robert Zemeckis and director of photography Dean Cundey frame them like the queens they are.


No wonder gays and drag queens have kept the film alive with all this operatic idolatry – though where are the drag queens impersonating Rossellini’s sexual septuagenarian Lisle von Rhuman? Perhaps I just missed that one by a decade.




There is also a classic monster movie element to the actresses visual representation in the film. Mad and Hel are frequently scene lurking around a corner, behind a bush, stalking into the foreground to frighten Bruce Willis’s Ernest. Their eyes are lit like Dracula, their sexuality as threatening as it is enticing. What is Lisle if not a vampire empress, pulling you in precisely because she’s a bit spooky?

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “Throne of Blood”


Call me morbid, but MacBeth is my favorite Shakespeare. Having just hit the 400th anniversary of his death, it seems appropriate to celebrate one of his most death-obsessed pieces of work, here with the bold reinterpretation done by Akira Kurosawa in Throne of Blood.

Kurosawa folds in elements of Noh theatre to a streamlined, brisk version of Shakespeare’s text, creating perhaps the stagiest adaptation of the Bard this side of Baz Luhrman. The Noh angle creates a more archetypal experience for the actors and the audience, somehow getting to the root of the original text in a way that more naturalistic adaptations by Roman Polanski and Justin Kurzel have missed. This “Scottish” king and his Lady M (Taketoki and Lady Asaji) are physical embodiments of their fury and calculations, the contrast between his brazen madness and her anxious guilt never more clearly defined on film.

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot: “The Beguiled”


Don Siegel’s The Beguiled hadn’t ever entered my radar before recent remake news – nothing like Sofia Coppola announcing a new project to pique my interest. The female cast makes it all the more enticing: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. Yes please!

The original star Clint Eastwood is one I have always been mostly chilly to, so on the surface it’s plain to see why I hadn’t sought the film out prior to the Hit Me With Your Best Shot assignment. The film also was released in the same year as Siegel and Eastwood’s next collaboration Dirty Harry, so that maybe explains how it’s skipped in the history books.

The oversight is a shame on a few fronts. Firstly, the boarding school setting provides excellent fodder for some delightful actressing. While the always flawless Geraldine Page should have been enough to draw me to the film sooner, there’s also great varied work from Elizabeth Hartman, Mae Mercer, and Jo Ann Harris. Secondly, Eastwood’s mystique has rarely been used with such sexual self-awareness. His macho persona is used here as an object of lust, one he uses to his advantage to manipulate the women holding him captive.

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “Witness”


If you take my perspective from childhood, Witness is a horror movie. Yes this film, like Pretty Woman and Blazing Saddles, is one that I saw way too young and with what I view now as an insane amount of normalcy. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

The on-screen murder witnessed by the titular Amish child is an abruptly vicious moment, one that I first viewed through my fingers. Mom at least had instructed me to cover my eyes for the scene, but the punishing music cue in the score by Maurice Jarre brought out my childhood curiosity. I peaked through my eyes long enough to see a jet of blood shoot from the victim’s neck onto his bare chest, and the young Lukas Haas to peak through the bathroom stall. It was like we were witnessing it together. I’m sure my fellow members of the VHS generation can also attest to seeing similar shocking moments at far too young an age, considering we were among the first to have ready accessibility to movie mayhem. But this scene was a formative introduction to the power of cinematic violence – while I’d been taunted by the promise of Freddy Krueger, for the life of me I can’t remember seeing an actually violent scene before this one.

Perhaps I wasn’t too traumatized, because I remember falling asleep later in the film. Forgive seven-year-old me for not being intrigued by Witness‘s developing themes of pacifism and brutality.

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