Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Two Lois Weber silent films, live

A rare treat for Mr Robot and I last night: we went to see two silent films at Chapel Arts in Bath, as part of the Bath film festival. We saw The Blot (all the photos accompanying this post are from that) and Suspense, both directed by Lois Weber, one of the earliest and greatest female film directors. It's not the only silent film showing for the festival, as Pandora's Box, Louise Brooks' most iconic film, is being shown tonight, but Pandora's Box is so popular I know I'll get other chances to see it on the big screen, whereas I can't say the same for Weber's films.

Monday, 5 November 2018

The retro style of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Given it was aimed at young people in the late 90s/early noughties, I'm guessing most people who read the Robot won't have watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I never really did - caught the odd episode here and there, but I was probably a good decade older than the target audience. Netflix has turned the old Sabrina the Teenage Witch comic books into a TV series again, and while I'm probably definitely too old to be the target audience, I really enjoyed them. Called The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, it's darker and more complex than the older series.

"C'mon Mim," you're saying, "The original comics might have started in the 1970s but is this really an appropriate topic for the Robot?"

Well, yes, actually, because one thing that really struck me is how the programme's designers have used retro styles and elements to create a strange not-modern-but-modern world.
Aunts Hilda and Zelda – Zelda channels a 1940s femme fatale.
No single element is authentically vintage styled, yet there's very little that feels utterly 21st century. Sabrina Spellman's vampish Aunt Zelda, with her Veronica Lake waves, heavy metal jewellery and slinky dresses, is a film noir femme fatale. (Quite literally fatale as she's prone to killing and resurrecting her sister.) Aunt Hilda, scatty and constantly making preserves, is a curious sort of midcentury housewife, with Yoothalicious blue eyeshadow and baby pink lipstick. You know instinctively that Zelda is the older and more dangerous, because of the vintage tropes the designers are playing with.