90 Movies in 90 Days: Alice (1988)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Alice
Release Date: 3 August 1988
Director: Jan Švankmajer
Production Company: Film Four International | Condor Films

As a fan of Lewis Carroll’s  classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I’ve never been quite satisfied with film adaptations.  This Czech film adheres to the spirit of the original’s surreal, dreamlike quality through a child’s point of view. It is after all, a film made for children.  Perhaps.

The only actor to appear in the movie is the exceptionally young-looking Kristýna Kohoutová (I haven’t been able to confirm her age at the time of filming) as Alice.  In the English-language version I watched, all of the dialogue is narrated by Camilla Power.  Everything else in this film is created by animating taxidermy animals, dolls, and household objects.  The herky-jerky nature of the stop-motion lends an uncanny valley quality to the animation.

The whole production teeters on the line between whimsical charm and nightmare fodder.  I’m sure this movie would’ve terrified me as a young child.  But it fascinates me now both as an adaptation of a great book and as it’s own weird and wonderful thing.

Rating: ****1/2


Book Reviews: Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Around the World for a Good Book selection for Malaysia

Author: Zen Cho
Title: Black Water Sister
Narrator: Catherine Ho
Publication Info: [Prince Frederick] : Recorded Books Incorporated, 2021.

Jessamyn Teoh, a recent college graduate who grew up in the United States after her family emigrated there from Malaysia during her early childhood, faces an uncertain future.  She is moving back to Malaysia with her parents where she has to adjust to an unfamiliar culture, find work, and maintain a long-distance relationship with her girlfriend while hiding that she’s lesbian from her parents.  Things grow more complicated when Jess begins hearing the voice of her deceased grandmother Ah Ma.  Soon Jess finds herself plunged into an adventure featuring a powerful real estate developer, gangsters, and gods.  To put things right, and to find justice for Ah Ma, Jess must become a medium for a vengeful goddess known as Black Water Sister.

Black Water Sister is a unique novel that blends elements of fantasy, mystery, and fish out of water story to tell a story of contemporary Malaysia.  Facets of Malaysian culture such as tradition, religion, and family are woven into the narrative.  Unfortunately for Jess (and others like her), homophobia is also a part of the Malaysian culture.  It’s an interesting and well-written story that I enjoyed.
Recommended books:

Rating: ****