Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The same name but a different scent: Black Narcissus (2020)

There are two titles, two TV series, I’ve been expecting with much anticipation in this End of the Year time: one is the forthcoming new French Arséne Lupin series, and the other is the BBC co-produced adaptation of Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus.
Both titles are an important part of my past, both promise a different take on a classic, both are right up my alley, in both cases the bar is set very high.
And tonight, I spent three hours watching Black Narcissus.
So what follows is sort of an instant-blog.

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Thrills and chills from Egypt

Paranormal is an Egyptian web series that’s currently being distributed as a Netflix Original, and it’s available both in subbed and dubbed version via streaming. The first season includes six episodes, and I really hope we will get a second season, because this is the most fun I had in a long time with a supernatural themed series.

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A long night in Windward House

Let’s get to Windward House in a circuitous way, with a song: Stella by Starlight is a classic jazz standard, and it was recorded by a number of musicians, most notably Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon, and it was part of the repertoir of both Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. I first heard it in the Caterina Valente recording.
And it’s always good to have an excuse to post some Caterina Valente…

What I learned only much later is, the song is part of the soundtrack of a movie.
A ghost movie.
Indeed, one of the first movies to present the supernatural as more than just a gimmick for comedy or a scam with a rational explanation. Stella by Starlight, the jazz standard, comes from a proper supernatural horror.

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133 years in scarlet

It was on the first of December 1887, in Beaton’s Christmas Annual, that Sherlock Holmes made his debut with A Study in Scarlet, changing the history of popular literature forever.

I will refrain from talking about how Holmes was a central character in the building of my growth as a reader, as you can probably find other Holmes-related posts linked below through WordPress’ handy algorithm.
To celebrate the birthday, anyway, and to start the Christmas season in the right mood, here’s the BBC 1968 adaptation of A Study in Scarlet, featuring Peter Cushing as Holmes.
Enjoy!


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Dark and hopeless: Pale Flower (1964)

Despite the fact that I co-host a podcast about horror movies, I am not a huge horror fan – a lot of the horror movies I like are old and quite tame by today’s standards. If there is a movie genre I can claim to be a true aficionado of, is certainly noir. And the opportunity of watching an old noir I have so far missed is always a cause for celebration. The British Criterion Collection often helps me celebrate.

So last week I caught Pale Flower, a Japanese noir directed in 1964 by Masahiro Shinoda, and that is probably the bleakest, most nihilistic noir movie I’ve seen in a long time. And it is also beautiful to behold.

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