Tuesday, June 8, 2021

What I Watched: 2021-05

 Here are the movies/television programs I watched last month. Giving each a one-word review. Going to make this a thing...

Thunder Force - Okay        Sullivan's Travels - Good        Class of 1984 - Good        

The Regan Show - Good    Cemetary Man - Terrible        Bad Trip - Great

Sons of Sam - Good        The Lady Eve - Bad        Happy Death Day - Great

The Mitchells vs. the Machines - Good        You Only Live Once - Good        

The Disappearance of Crystal Rodgers - Good        Maniac Cop - Good        Hemingway - Great

Army of the Dead - Okay        What Keeps You Alive - Good        

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight - Okay        The Clovehitch Killer - Okay        

Truth or Dare - Terrible        Hard Eight - Great

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Clovehitch Killer is the greatest movie of all time

The Clovehitch Killer. "The first murder happened before I was born. The killer called himself Clovehitch, after his favorite type of knot. Our town lived in fear. And then, ten years ago, he stopped."

Rotten Tomato Consensus: The Clovehitch Killer patiently dials up the tension with a story that makes up for a lack of surprises with strong performances and a chilling wit.

Gist of the movie is an Eagle Scout type kid named Tyler finds disturbing images depicting extreme bondage hidden in his father's shed, and he begins to suspect may be responsible for a series of unsolved, serial murders in their rural Kentucky town. Share a lot of DNA with BTK, that piece of shit. 

Film stars Dylan McDermott as the killer dad (who was great), Charlie Plummer as Tyler (whom I've never seen but was stellar, Samantha Mathis as the mom who has a face that I can't place, and Madisen Beaty as a victim's daughter who helps Tyler in his investigation who I immediately recognized as the one with the hair from Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood. MVP is a tough call. McDermott is great but is basically playing hero ball. The two kiddos were both phenomenal and more subdued. Ultimately, giving it to Plummer who has to carry a lot of the emotional weight of the film. 

I thought the movie was fine until the third act when it really stepped it up a couple of notches. Would have been a pretty forgettable disturbing movie otherwise. Type of low-budget flick that you think of as quintessential independent. One big (ish) named star. Solid upstarts. I liked it. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I'm Thinking of Ending Things. "For years, my life has been flat. I’m not sure how else to describe it. I’ve never admitted it before. I’m not depressed, I don’t think. That’s not what I’m saying. Just flat, listless. So much has felt accidental, unnecessary, arbitrary. It’s been lacking a dimension. Something seems to be missing." I hear ya. 

Debut novel Canadian writer Iain Reid. Published in 2016. Of the psychological thriller and horror fiction persuasion. 

Narrated, for the most part, by this guy Jake's unnamed girlfriend whom he's been dating for a few months. They met in a bar during trivia, so far so good. Jake gave her his phone number by writing it on a piece of paper and slipping it into her bag. Unlike real life, she calls him. Most of the story takes place months later as he takes her to meet his parents on their remote farm. She has been considering "ending things," i.e. breaking up with him, but has not done the deed. It is a long drive, and they engage in lengthy philosophical discussions. Again, love this shit. 

They get to the house and the parents are as fucking weird and creepy as anyone can be, which pretty much seals the deal. Most of the book takes place at said creepy locale. Then they leave after the weirdness becomes too much for someone you're about to break up with and the guy by the guy's high school. This is when things get really cray. 

Was feeling it about this point, but then, with 10 or so pages to go, the book turns to bullshit fiction. This is one of the rare books that I hated that I finished. That is mostly because I was really digging it, and then the end, which comes as a huge reveal, I found rage worthy. 

Huge fucking pump fake, this gimmicky bullshit ending. Ruins everything that came before. Get some red herring clues, but there is nothing that would make anyone think the ending that we get was coming in any way. Extremely unsatisfying. Do not recommend. But, hey, I'm no novelist and I'm sure some people will dig it. But, yeah, fuck this book.

Was turned into a movie since I read it. Hear it's good, adapted/directed by the great Charlie Kaufman. Also has some actors I find interesting. Trailer looks great too. Never watching that shit though. Sure it's bullshit, just like the novel. 

The Lady Eve is the worst movie of all time

The Lady Eve. "There's just one thing. I feel it's only fair to tell you. It would never have happened except she looked so exactly like you." ... "They look too much alike to be the same." ... "Positively the same dame!" Fucking idiot. A woman grifts a guy multiple times, and he just thinks she's a look-alike. Insanity. 

Been on a Preston Sturges kick. Added a bunch of flicks on the Criterion Channel recently. I'm not sure if I think he is terrible or not. This movie, though. The fucking audacity of this movie. Considered a classic, both my female companion and I thought otherwise. 

Gist of the flick is that a trio of grifters go to cheat Henry Fonda's character, an adventurous heir to a brewery fortune, but the dame falls in love. So after they take him for some of his money, she decides to do it again, and this fucking dipshit falls for it because he is too dumb to live. 

Movie stars Barbara Stanwyck from the fantastic Billy Wilder flick Double Indemnity as the lady grifter, the "legendary" Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, and William Demarest who is an old guy you might recognize from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Demarest or Stanwyck win the movie. Demarest is a great hard-ass straight man, while Stanwyck more or less carries the movie. 

Not exactly the wokest movie I've ever seen. A lot of stupid women talk. Example: "A girl of sixteen's practically an idiot anyway, so I can't very well blame you for something that was practically done by somebody else." Thank you, oh wise one who can't even recognize the same woman. Of course, Fonda says this to Stanwyck's character, who is grifting the shit out of him. It is insane, really. 

While Fonda does a great Lincoln or Tom Joad or whatever, he is not good at comedy. Dude is stiff as fuck. There were times when I questioned whether his character had a traumatic brain injury or something. Again--sort of hammering this home--Stanwyck comes back into his life as another person... which he believes because he thinks if it was the same woman, she would’ve disguised herself... Are you fucking kidding me, bra? I thought he couldn't fucking believe this because it was so audacious. He had to fucking know, right? But apparently not. He's just insanely dumb. He deserves to be grifted. 

Nor did I find the movie all that funny. A lot of the humor revolves around Fonda having to change his dinner jackets like five or six times. Maybe it is a metaphor or something. Plus, I think, a lot of the humor is based on close talking and the idea that Fonda has an unseen erection (see above photo)--which might actually be kind of funny in retrospect. 

Maybe you should watch this flick just to see this for the sheer bizarreness. I mean, holy shit. I'm sort of still in disbelief. Fonda is such an amazing tool that I may never get over it. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Memento is the greatest film of all time

Memento. "We all lie to ourselves to be happy." Wow. Still fucking genius. Maybe more so than I remember. Holds the fuck up, I tell you. Christopher Nolan is perhaps my third favorite living director, depending on the day. This is the film that put him on the map. Rightfully so. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Christopher Nolan skillfully guides the audience through Memento's fractured narrative, seeping his film in existential dread.

Memento, a neo-noir psychological thriller, released in 2000, written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Gist is a dude with anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories), can't remember anything short-term after 15 minutes. He got this way from an injury resulting from an attack on him/his wife, who was raped and murdered. Having developed a system where he uses Polaroids and tattoos to track information, he is tracking down his wife's killer. 

The film is told through two sequences. The ones in color tell the story backwards in little chunklets. Basically, the audience sees shit the way he does, in these short increments with no idea how we got here until we get to the next chunk of time. The black-and-white scenes show what is happening chronologically. These sequences meet at the end of the film, producing the complete narrative. It is clever as fuck. 

Stars Guy Pearce as Lenny, the guy with the condition. I bought a shit ton of Guy Pearce stock after LA Confidential. Really paid off here. Some really good that guys in this film--you get Ned Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky) and Lieutenant Dangle (Thomas Lennon). Plus, total that guy Mark Boone Junior (most memorable part, for me, is as the pizza stealing FBI guy in Se7en). Jorja Fox, whom you might recognize from ER or CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, plays Lenny's wife. 

The only substantive female role is that of Carrie-Anne Moss's character. A lot going on with her. For a while, I thought she was just getting revenge on the guy that killed her person. She says some genuinely awful shit to Lenny and calls him a "retard." Even steals his pens so he can't write anything down before she tells him she is going to fuck him over (and fuck him) and that she will enjoy it more knowing that he's too stupid to remember. Ouch. But she ends up helping him. She might have figured out that the death of her dude was more the result of this other guy, played by Joe Pantoliano (the true villain of the movie), which is probably somewhat accurate. Still, I think she sees Lenny as a victim too, which is why she helps him. Her whole look and vibe are exactly like this girl I dated in 2002, who I watched this with. She thought that Lenny was the real villain, which I still think is insane. 

Nolan is the obvious MVP of the movie. Pearce is perfect but goddamn. It's hard to get over how great this film is or what it was like watching it for the first time. I've seen it roughly five times and like it more after every viewing. I still don't 100% get it, but I get closer with every watch. Multiple viewings are definitely a requirement. Crazy good.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle. 1962 novel by Shirley Jackson. Last book before her death in 1965. Man, this book is dark and full of triggers. Gaslighting and family violence. Makes for a complex and sometimes unpleasant read of a total masterpiece. 

Gist of the book is that a wealthy Vermont family, devasted by the poisoning deaths of several relatives living on the estate, are more or less complete pariahs in the backwoods town they inhabit. It is to the point that only one of the three people living in the house can get food and things, and she is constantly harassed whenever she does. This is the eighteen-year-old Merricat Blackwood, the novel’s unreliable narrator. She lives with her uncle, Julian, and sister Constance, both of the Grey Gardens persuasion type shut-in. Things are going fine, I guess, until their relative Charles shows up, sort of woos/takes advantage of Constance, and looks for ways to steal the family fortune. He also maybe encourages the idiot townspeople to be cunty to the Blackwoods. This until, you know, possible poisoners get tired of his shit.
I’ve had a long fascination with the “other” and the way dumb fucks treat them in works of fiction and film. This is fucking dripping with that shit and is a significant theme in most of Jackson’s work.
Not sure I would have liked this book as much if I’d read it at another time in my life. But I am unfortunately able to identify with the agoraphobia of the main characters. Without giving too much away, it is brutal that, in the end, with the house barely livable, they choose to retreat further inward. With this time of covid coming to an end, with fear still present despite being vaccinated, I get the sentiment. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Following is the greatest movie of all time

Following. “You take it away... to show them what they had.” Made my high school girlfriend watch this. All I remember really was that it was pretty fucked up and she hated it. You’re welcome. Also, another 1999 film, one of the best years for cinema. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Super brief but efficient, Following represents director Christopher Nolan's burgeoning talent in tight filmmaking and hard-edge noir.

Gist of the flick is a grungy dude follows around strangers like a fucking creep and picks another fucking creep that draws him into London’s criminal underworld. Eventually they get caught up with the girlfriend of a crime boss and shit goes south pretty quick.     

Nice little short flick. Christopher Nolan’s first. You can see a lot of his signatures here. Time is all fucked up and confusing. Dudes spend the movie investigating shit. Complicated male relationship at the center of the movie. Femme fatale between them. Great shit. Plus, I fucking love neo-noir. Great story told with impressive technique with some twists and turns.     

Definite MVP is Nolan. Currently watching all of his flicks again. Doing it sort of in order. Figured I’d do the Batman films together though.    

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Love Witch is the greatest movie of all time

The Love Witch. "Men are like children. They're very easy to please as long as we give them what they want..." "I'm the love witch! I'm your ultimate fantasy!" I loved this movie. Like Season of the Witch except good. Solid movie with a lot of layers to unpack. Plus it is extremely visually appealing. Would be a hell of a movie to trip to. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: The Love Witch offers an absorbing visual homage to a bygone era, arranged subtly in service of a thought-provoking meditation on the battle of the sexes.

Gist is a a modern-day witch uses her magic to get men to fall in love with her before killing them for failing to live up to expectations. She drugs them with love potions made out of hallucinogenics before giving men "what they want." She is totally deadpan, which allows the guys to project whatever they desire onto her, which drives them crazy. It's a playful tribute to 1960s horror and Technicolor films, combined with its serious inquiry into contemporary gender roles. It's a super interesting take. 

Came out in 2016. Was written, edited, directed, produced, and scored by Anna Biller. Stars Samantha Robinson (a very pretty lady) as Elaine Parks, the modern-day witch who uses spells to get men to fall in love with her. She played the role of Abigail Folger in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Didn't really recognize anyone else from the movie, but all the acting was serviceable. One of thems, one Laura Waddell, looks just like Chassie Tucker from At Home with Amy Sedaris, which is like my favorite show. Others include Gian Keys, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, and Jennifer Ingrum, if you've heard of any of them.

Watched this on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. It was his Valentine's Day special. He has a great interview with Biller. His drive-in totals highlight the six "wang doodles" in the film. Also talks a lot about how the movie is super colorful and looks so good because it was shot on 35mm film, instead digital. The last bit focuses on this crazy sequence near the end that involves a random renaissance fair and includes a mock wedding. It's out there... Again, love.

Really hard to pick an MVP in this since Robinson is so great in this role and Biller's vision is so well executed. Ultimately giving it to Biller for putting together such a fine and visually appealing film. Good shit. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Tenet is the greatest movie of all time

Tenet. "I think this is the end of a beautiful friendship... I'll see you in the beginning, friend." I loved this movie. Checks a lot of boxes for me. Crazy time travel stuff. Billionaire shit. Male friendship. Insane action. A smoking hot femme fatale. Amazing cast. Chirstopher Nolan movie. Cool ass watches. Dope Travis Scott soundtrack. A title that is palindrome. I could have watched/restarted this immediately after finishing it. Dope AF. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: A visually dazzling puzzle for film lovers to unlock, Tenet serves up all the cerebral spectacle audiences expect from a Christopher Nolan production.

Not going to go through much of the plot with this one. It's too out there to get into. Basic gist is that this is a time travel spy movie that is focused on stopping World War III. The word "tenet" also has a lot of significance. 

Directed by Christopher Nolan, I'll go see every one of his movies in the theater. It stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki (she plays Princess Di in The Crown and is crazy beautiful), Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. MVP, for me, was Pattinson. I love that dude's work over the last few years. He sort of stole the show in this, although many of the performances are memorable. 

Also, seeing this was a sweet experience. This was the first movie I saw in the theater since Onward the first week of March of 2020. I was the only person in the entire cinema. Did not disappoint. However, right after this things blewing up again, coronavirus wise, and then the theater I went to only opened Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I don't foresee myself back in a theater until after I get my shot, which is hopefully soon. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Kid is the greatest movie of all time

The Kid. "Please love and care for this orphan child." Fucking classic. Loved, loved, loved. Part drama, part comedy. This was amazing. Even if you aren't into silent films, you should give it a chance. Hell of a film. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Charles Chaplin' irascible Tramp is given able support from Jackie Coogan as The Kid in this slapstick masterpiece, balancing the guffaws with moments of disarming poignancy

A movie that doesn't need sound to tell a hell of a story. From 1921 so is silent. Written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, this guy was, believe it or not, a genius. This Jackie Coogan, who plays the kid, is adorable and great as well. He is considered the first child movie star based on this film. Watched the Criterion Collection version of this. Is indeed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Can confirm. 

Gist of the film is a kid gets abandoned by his mother. She was very poor and her baby daddy is a mother fucker. Don't blame her, she tries to make good later. The Tramp finds him and cares for him. They have a good life. But that comes crashing down when the state gets involved. 

Doing a little half-assed internet research, there is some dark shit surrounding this film. First, something fucked. There is a child named Lita Grey in this film. She is 12 years old. Chaplain, in his 30s, much to my disgust, makes out with her (as does this guy with a total catcher's mitt of a face). When this same girl is 15, Chaplain knocks her up. They get married when she is 16. This nymphet was part of the inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, if that tells you anything. 

Now something incredibly sad. Just before the movie was filmed, Chaplin's first child, an infant son, died. There is a lot of speculation that the depth of the relationship portrayed in the film may have been connected with the death of that child. His care for the kid does indeed seem to be extremely genuine, though dude is a hell of an actor. 

What really makes the movie is Chaplin, who is so the MVP here. Not as much for his acting, which is exceptional, but for his direction. Truly innovative shit here. It was the first full-length silent comedy for christ's sake. Blends comedy and drama. Made me laugh and gave me some feels. Had a few subtitles but it sure as shit didn't need them. You really get everything you need visually. The screen language is fucking sick. Chaplin was a genius.