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They/he. Writer of fiction, screenplays, plays, reviews, essays, and poetry. Chicago. https://linktr.ee/jshetina

The Joliet Ceramic Shop Murders

Joliet, IL

Even today, the neighborhood where my grandmother bought her first house as a single woman has no curbs, few sidewalks, and the houses look as worn and beaten as they did twenty years ago. This working-class neighborhood, known as Ridgewood, is set against a series of hills in a chunk of unincorporated Joliet, Illinois.

About 40 miles southwest of Chicago, Ridgewood sits north of Interstate 80, and it is bookended by Route 6 to the north and Cass Street/Route 30 to the south.

My mother and her siblings were raised in Ridgewood, in houses near the one my grandmother would…


A Pride Month Playlist

Alexander Popov via Unsplash

The Six Pillars of Queer Emotion

  1. Pride
  2. Mess
  3. Longing
  4. Defiance
  5. Magic
  6. Euphoria

Note: The night out I describe here can be literal or metaphorical. You can feel all of these emotions at any time. A game night, a housewarming party, brunch. It’s possible to feel all of these feelings without leaving your computer desk. Believe me. I’ve done it.

PRIDE

It’s 9 PM and you are feeling yourself. No one can touch you. That coworker who’s getting on your last nerve, that person you’ve been crushing on for a year, that guy who’s texting you after two…


The ultra-stylized and violent take on the classic sitcom is confusing, uncomfortable, and unnecessary.

The series premieres on the Disney+ platform on June 2

When the new Disney+ series was announced last April, it tantalized viewers with an “edgy” take on the original Susan Harris sitcom featuring four mature women living together under one roof. While many of us thought this just meant even racier conversations about sex and 2021-friendly approaches to topics like queerness and race, few of us could have expected what the team behind golden girls had in mind.

Also, notice the style choice there. I mean all lowercase? Now that’s hip.

Like the original sitcom, golden girls features four mature women living in the same house. The first three episodes…


[PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING]

In Psycho IV, Norman Bates seems to exist outside of space and time. Surely after the last movie, he couldn’t have been released from another incarceration. Yet here he is, skulking around a suburban kitchen, preparing for his own birthday celebration. It is ostensibly nighttime, but the director and cinematographer remain indecisive about this. At the beginning, it is pitch black outside. A few moments later, it appears to be dusk. Then, a few scenes later, it is night again. It’s hard to know whether this is a product of incompetence, forgetfulness, or conscious choice — and if so, what…


[PSYCHO III]

The first scene of Psycho III pays tribute to another Hitchcock classic.

Diana Scarwid, five years removed from her role in the delicious camp classic Mommie Dearest, plays a suicidal young nun named Maureen Coyle. When we meet her, she is weeping, declaring that “THERE IS NO GOD!” and, in a somewhat unexpected turn, asks the same God she’s just renounced for a sign of his existence. Apparently receiving no answer from him, we next see her standing on the ledge of a bell tower, invoking Kim Novak in Vertigo, and repeating her anguished cry: “There is no God!”

Horrified…


[PSYCHO II]

Film bros and critics of the slasher subgenre like to imagine the Psycho sequels as symbolic necrophilia against Hitchcock. It’s a strange critique, considering how many post-Sixties films owe a debt to Psycho. Its innovations inspired too many movies to name and most of them are miles worse than anything you can find in the sequels made after Hitchcock’s death. It’s a shame that some people can’t move past their aversion to these movies. What the Psycho sequels, particularly the first two, do well is engage with the rich mythos of Norman Bates.

Despite some gruesome deaths — it was…


[CARRIE]

Trust me, Carrie. You can trust me.

The sun shines down on a group of teenage girls in gym uniforms lobbing a volleyball ball back and forth. Laughing, shouting, goading.

The gym teacher calls out “Game point!”

The mood changes. As the group becomes more intense, we hone in on Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a thin and freckle-faced girl who looks terrified. Hers is a terror familiar to those of us athletically challenged people who looked at gym class as a consistent arena for humiliation.

Inevitably, Carrie loses the game for her team. She casts her big eyes downward as…


[THE MALTESE FALCON]

Don’t be too sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be.

FADE IN: A San Francisco private eye’s office. Day.

Sitting at his desk is the cool and brutal-looking Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), rolling a cigarette and answering a knock at the door. His trusty secretary Effie Perrine (Lee Perrine) walks in. A woman is here to see Spade. “Customer?” he asks. Knowing his tastes, she flashes a cheeky grin and tells him “You’ll want to see her anyway, she’s a knockout.”

“Shoo her in,” Spade says with deadened nonchalance.

The woman in question (Mary Astor) identifies herself as…


[THE DEAD]

The festivities featured in The Dead are marked by performances. There are songs before dinner, speeches during dinner, poetic recitations, dances, and impromptu monologues, and all of them are made in the spirit of tradition and togetherness. These performances and recitations unlock memories, both beautiful and painful, which hang over the celebrants like mournful phantoms.

MR. GRACE: “You have taken what is to the left of me, you have taken what is to the right of me, you have taken what is behind me, you have taken what is before me, and, it is my greatest fear, you have taken…

Joe Shetina

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