Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Reading Horror

Monday, June 2nd, 2008


I just finished reading The Horror Film by Rick Worland, published by Blackwell. It is superbly written and potentially fascinating even for the horror anti-fan.

Worland discusses social factors that influence what horror films get made and repeated, and the ways in which horror has affected it’s audiences historically. He analyses the production of horror films during wartimes of the 20th century, also applicable to contemporary wartime horror film production.

The author gives excellent analyses of several pivotal slashers including Hallowe’en and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

He writes about horror and humour, referring to Le Théâtre du Grand Guignol which ran from 1897 to 1962 and featured bloody one act stagings of stabbings, rapes, electrocutions, and other horrors. Typically Le Grand Guignol mixed horror with humour. (p 111)
Suggesting that horror and humour can be combined only carefully to avoid a failure of both, he champions the bizarre 80s film Re-Animator for succeeding in creating a balance.

Maybe I’ve seen too many horror films, but the writing is so compelling that this book begs a sequel.

Saving 30 Days of Night

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

30 days of night

This is the least haunting image I can find from the film I started watching last night: the male lead trapped in an attic while bloodthirsty savages (vampires like you haven’t seen them before, see below) claw and pry the windows. I started watching it but quickly realized this was not a film for Jillian to watch alone, at night. So I’ll save it for next week’s trip to Québec City, where no doubt I’ll watch it even more alone, at night.

The snowbound “Alaskan” landscape is stunning, though the darkened town was filmed on a sound stage in New Zealand. Note to self: more footage for Snow Stories. Another snow covered landscape signaling despair, doom, and entrapment. There is no explanation so far for why the townspeople can’t simply drive away.

These vampires are more closely related in demeanor and appearance to the furious and faster frame rate zombies of recent films like 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Land of the Dead etc, than to debonair and handsome Hollywood vampires played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas. That’s a relief.


They resemble the original Nosferatu, or even the blind post-human cave dwellers in The Descent – batlike, with razor teeth.

Gone is the slow courtship, the stealth, the dark beauty… these vampires are messy, blood covered, and undeniably inhuman deadly monsters.

pictured above: 30 Days of Night, and Nosferatu.

Camp Fear

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

A few nights ago, I watched Jesus Camp, a documentary by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady about a Christian training camp for children in North Dakota. The preacher and her crew use metaphors of war and fear to ignite passion and political fervor in this veritable army of tiny preachers, evangelists, and religious warriors. It is far more disturbing than any of the horror films I’ve seen lately, including the camping themed Friday the 13th, The Blair Witch Project, and Sleepaway Camp.

The most astonishing scenes are the children’s veneration at the feet of a life size cardboard likeness of smiling George Bush, as though he were Jesus himself and the children the original mourners; and the rapture of young children who babble in tongues and convulse on the floor – faces streaming with tears. The children in the film are bright, but terribly sheltered and warned against the wrongs of science, and there is not much choice offered in this ideological path.

I can’t remember the last time I watched a film that had to be paused so often for discussion. Fortunately the rental allowed this punctuated viewing. The indoctrination and mis-education of children under the age of 13 by their parents and others in positions of trust and power, in the name of “taking back America for Jesus” (as if that were conceptually possible), is heartbreaking. The film is inherently objective and non-judgmental, a generosity on the part of its filmmakers.

Superfan in Vancouver

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Third Avenue Gallery

My solo show in Vancouver opened at Third Avenue Gallery on May 1, and will run through May 31. Minutes by foot from Granville Island, Third Avenue was awash in pink from blossoming trees all last week.

Including work from the past five years which can best be described as culture-jamming, the exhibition also features 2 new videos, Superfan and Staring Contest with Brad Pitt. I finished editing the latter a couple of hours before the show opened, the video equivalent of hanging a wet painting. The sweat was dripping from my brow.

Third Avenue Gallery
Third Avenue Gallery

From the press release:
Superfan stars Jillian Mcdonald riding in vehicles with costars Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent Gallo, and Donald Sutherland. Despite their attempts at conversation, the trio of male leads cannot shake her concentration on the Superbowl game. Staring Contest with Brad Pitt finds Mcdonald and Hollywood’s leading heartthrob locked in an endless gaze of a familiar childhood game. In To Vincent with Love“Mcdonald inserts herself digitally into scenes from Vincent Gallo’s film Buffalo 66” playing the ingénue opposite his socially awkward male lead. In Me and Billy Bob, she digitally manipulates romantic scenes from Hollywood films starring actor Billy Bob Thornton, creating a soft critique of celebrity obsession.”

Thank you to Michael Bjornson and Camille Graham for all their support and hard work on the installation!

Third Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue Gallery

Ode to a Prairie town; and Doing it, bug-style

Saturday, April 26th, 2008


The Tribeca Film Festival’s screening 2 nights ago of Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg was delightful – particularly enhanced by his own live narration in Winnipeg twang, and paired with Isabella Rosellini’s hilariously funny Green Porno micro-shorts describing the bizarre sexual practices of common bugs. She plays the costumed male of each species as well as various hermaphrodites, and is subjected to all manner of physical trauma. The low tech effects are enchanting. Beckley and I agreed that these should be shown to kids, and also would work well in a gallery installation. Rick Gilbert, Green Porno‘s producer who I recognized from somewhere (Winnipeg, it turns out), told me they have been trying various configurations as they tour the work. Stay tuned for her second series featuring sea creatures!

Maddin’s signature blurry style of a bygone era in endless snow grace this documentary/travelogue of our shared prairie home town. Its highlights include a hockey match between historical hockey greats amidst the wrecking ball demolition of their beloved arena; a reenactment of Maddin’s childhood living room complete with dead father exhumed like a mound of dirt beneath the carpet; a steamy coming-of age in arena locker rooms and the subterranean levels of a public pool; and Golden Boy pageantry in the otherwise dull and fading Paddlewheel family restaurant.

My favourite line references the newly erected MTS building looking “like a zombie in a cheap new suit” where Canada’s iconic Eaton’s department store once proudly stood. I’ve been away from home for a long long time – thanks for the memories, however self-deprecating.

Strange Beauty

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

josie mccoy painting

Josie McCoy is a painter who divides her time between London and Valencia, Spain. Beckley and I met her in 2006 in Valencia when she introduced us to far better cuisine than we were able to find on our own, and a deceptively alcoholic orange cocktail called Waters of Valencia. Her paintings are stunning, beautiful, and eerily unsettling – watery cyan flesh mimics the haunting glow of the TV screen. They memorialize the glamourous beauty of screen actresses that seems at once temporary, translucent and as artificial as painting itself. These perfect close-up moments where ripe red lips, expression-filled eyes, and flawless skin prevail is how the star struck remember their screen idols – far from the trashy paparazzi shots in supermarket tabloids.

Visit Josie’s website for more images. The recent painting above, of Sun Kwon, from ABC’s “LOST”.

Press for “Waking the Dead” at Moti Hasson

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Here is some nice press for my very recent solo show in New York (Oct 10 – Nov 11):

1. Last Chance: Trent Morse on Jillian Mcdonald at Moti Hasson, New York, by Trent Morse, The Saatchi Gallery, November 9th, 2007.

2. Jillian McDonald at Moti Hasson by S.C Squibb, Art Cal, October 25, 2007.

3. Night of the Living Awes – BUST magazine online, November 1, 2007

4. Daydream Believer by Caitlin Jones, Rhizome, October 8, 2007

5. La Semana de los Muertos en N.Y. by Juan Fernando Merino, El Diario, October 28, 2007

6. ART MORE OR LESS by Julia Morton, New York Press, 2007

7. Also, Tom Moody wrote a short post on his blog about my new video, “The Screaming”
Jillian McDonald’s Screaming Video by Tom Moody, October 16, 2007

Tagline: do not show emotion, do not see this movie

Monday, August 27th, 2007


I can tell by her expression that Nicole Kidman did not want to star in the re-remake of “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers” – the redeeming feature of which seems to be matching clothing and machines – any more than I want to see it.

Billy Bob in Zombietown

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Recently I watched the film Chopper Chicks in Zombietown. It was recommended to me by Netflix, which speaks volumes about my recent film-watching habits. It also sums up my art interests of the past four years in one fell swoop and makes me feel kind of cheap. This was one of Billy Bob’s earliest films, long before “Sling Blade”, and was not his finest hour.