Tags: screening log

light

MAY 2011

2467 - 05/01/2011 - Devil - John Erick Dowdle
      Seeing two horror movies in the theater reminded me of how I had meant to see this movie in the theater when it was out. So I just downloaded it instead. The characters start out overwhelmingly obnoxious, but that ends, thank God. Though I mean mostly it ends because they start dying but uh hrm yeah. And there were a few points where I thought that it was going to end up some weird morality play and BELIEVE IN GOD AND TRUST HIM was going to be the 'moral of the story' or something but luckily that was avoided to. I mention these things because they specifically would have impeded my pleasure in viewing the film. I would have had a 'hard time.'
      But really, this ends up being fantastic. I like horror movies that involve elevators as pivotal plot points (yeah weird huh), and I am also prone to enjoying movies with small, enclosed casts. Also the actor who plays the detective, Chris Messina, is always kind of cute and fun to watch, even though he's basically boring and bland (which jesus christ Vicky Christna Barcelona sure highlights), but he's good and cute here.
      Suitably creepy, I think, and I really like how effective the scene where the fact of the devil is caught on the security tape (and it seems like the director has a fetish for video being involved in the creation of horror, which is cool with me). Works pretty well, and also seems really kind of fucked-up violent for only being PG-13, but whatever it's not like ratings are relevant or reflective of anything ever.

2468 - 05/02/2011 - Virgin of Nuremberg - Antonio Margheriti
      I am catching up on all of the movies that I haven't yet seen from that 100 European Horror Movies book that I've had for three years and not read. I'm still not going to read it, I plan on selling it, but I noted the titles I hadn't seem to keep as a list for when I'm in the mood for European horror that I haven't seen before and can't think of anything off the top of my head. This is pretty par for the course in terms of early Italian horror, but it's not bad. It's basically vapid and pretty and not really intense or creepy but nicely sexual and really just pleasant to watch.

2469 - 05/05/2011 - Playing with Fire - Alain Robbe-Grillet [sort of rewatch]
      Another "sort of" rewatch as I'd seen it before sans subtitles. It, of course, works better when you can understand the dialogue. However, I was at least a little disappointed because, really, this is basically an exercise in Robbe-Grillet being clever (which I'm sure critics could argue is most of his career, but I disagree). It lacks any sort of context to operate within. The best scenes are the scenes of Carolina wandering the brothel and peaking into rooms. It's weird to consider, because the scenes themselves have no utile function in the film, so I imagine it'd be hard to defend against misogyny outside of the fact that within the context of the entire film, it's very clearly constructed as artifice.
      Which, the more that I think about it, is a really weak defense. I struggle to articulate a defense for misogyny in these movies most of the time because I fail to read them as misogynistic, and this is with an awareness of the male gaze and how it functions. I wonder if it's just I enjoy these scenes that are often construed as misogynistic aesthetically that I become lazy, or passive, or something. I'm thinking about this here because it seems to be shit that Robbe-Grillet specifically gets a lot. This might also be the most 'suspect' of his films too, in the sense that, as I mentioned, the scenes that are the most interesting are the scenes in which our female protagonist wanders a bordello and simply becomes privvy to varying 'outrageous' scenes of sexuality (and in all cases except for one, it is women being subjugated to the laws of the paying Male customer). This is only, arguably, problematic because like I said, there is no real reason for the scenes other than the fact that they elaborate the nature of the bordello (which has little bearing on the narrative). I don't find this inherently problematic, but if I were asked to 'defend' the 'misogynistic' implications of these scenes I don't know if I would be able to, and that in itself is inherently problematic?
      As much as I want to be on the side of the marginal here (the marginal, of course, being the woman in comparison to the ironclad rule of Man in cinema's history), I think the reason I even have a hard time having a problem with these scenes is the following reason:
          1 - the scenes are highly aestheticized to the point where the artificiality is undeniable. it's this aestheticization that makes them interesting to me. a scene in which a woman gets burned alive is accomplished with an overlay--there is no attempt to mask this fact.
          2 - most of the scenes are shot from a medium angle, with very few lingering close-ups of the body. this, i think, arguably denies the fetishization of the body, instead favoring the aesthetic inference of the scene as a whole (which makes it less about objectifying & more about beauty).
I don't know. Is this all bullshit? Is this stuff I need to be thinking about? I like being accountable. I mean overall this movie is only so-so. Even Trintignant is looking kind of old & bloated. The cleverness of the post-meta narrative detective story is actually kind of dumb & not funny and reminds me of what I don't like about American post-modernism.

2470 - 05/06/2011 - The Poughkeepsie Tapes - John Erick Dowdle
      Check this out I'm writing my notes on a movie a mere 2 hours after I finished watching it. The is mostly unprecedented. Anyway. So, the guy who directed Devil directed this, and when I was looking him up I was like "oh hey I remember watching the trailer for that movie years ago it seemed vaguely interesting" and then of course I completely forgot about it but hey now it's available so I grabbed it and then today on my (very extended) lunch break, I watched it. & you know what? It was seriously about 100 times better than I was expecting. Devil, as I mention, was fine, but this is definitely creepy & evil, which are two things that I appreciate in a horror movie. Of course, because I am apparently an idiot masochist, I went to the IMDb and started reading reviews, and turns out every retarded horror fan in the world that's seen the movie thinks it has "TOTALLY UNBELIEVABLE ACTING" or that it's "not scary at all" or whatever dumb fucking shit these testosterone-bursting seventeen year olds need to do god I fucking hate horror fanboys they are the reason most horror movies are insufferable they are also the reason that Tarantino & Roth have money which is clearly not a good thing. Anyways, sorry for that little diversion there. I think I'll talk about what works here, in list form, because that worked out well above.
      1 - the 'found vhs footage' is actually framed extensively within a 'documentary,' as opposed to the way the trailer seems to push the idea that this is something similar to August Underground. This is much more interesting than AU & its sequels. The AU movies are sort of interesting in concept, but let's face it, no matter how well you can pull-off special effects and how easy it is to act like a spazzy serial killer, that shit gets really boring unless you're actually a sadist. I need narrative, and the framing of this footage within a documentary serves to both fill in a narrative & thrusts a power upon the footage, due to the mythologizing of the serial killer.
      2 - the construction of what seems to amount to the 'uber-serial killer' here is really interesting. like, holy crap, this dude is like leaps and bounds above every other documented serial killer, to the point where he frames an ex-cop & gets the cop executed on death row? that shit is insane. it's also a really nice touch that the revelation that whoops the cop was innocent gets over shadowed by 9/11? in the construction of an apocryphal document, the filmmakers do a really good job.
      3 - the 'found footage' itself is actually rather brief & mostly obscured-- the audience is denied the pleasure of the 'snuff' gore, which means we can be terrified without having to be implicated as 'just as guilty,' which really ends up heightening the terror because it's more, let's say, pure, instead of tainted by complicity & guilt. the found footage is also aesthetically interesting-- like i understand that the idea is towards some sort of realism, like, "these tapes are fucked up, deal with it," but anybody who deals with video tape knows that even after 100s of rewatches, video doesn't degrade in the fashion that these tapes do. With something like 2400 hours of footage, there's no way the tapes had been degraded enough to achieve what amounts to a mostly consistent aesthetic. This is fine with me. Because I don't care about realism I don't care when these sort of freedoms are taken: in fact, I'd argue that this makes it more interesting, the aestheticization of the footage. It takes it further away from the banality of reality and further into the realm of the unreal, which is where our terror needs to develop
      4 - the most exciting & simultaneously 'creepy' moment in the film is also the, arguably, most abject, the most aestheticized, the most performative moment of 'found footage.' it leads to an idea that the footage is really more of a performance, 'art', than just a 'memento' as is often posited by the talking heads in the 'documentary' diegesis (and part of me questions whether or not the filmmakers recognized this element of their movie)-- it's a ridiculously creepy scene where a kidnapped woman's head is framed in the right third of the screen, her mouth taped shut, her eyes screaming in despair and terror, and the serial killer, on all fours, sort of shuffles through the room in the background, a mask on his head (literally the top of his head) which presents an angled visage that doesn't make sense, but a face that stares at the camera. the serial killer then arrives at his victim, rises to reveal his second mask (which is similar to a mask from Bergman's Hour of the Wolf), and he sticks two needles, attached to his fingers, into the woman's neck. Blood spills into the tape that covers her mouth, the tape ends.
      5 - the masks in this movie are awesome and creepy. They are not dumb and obvious. like, geez, thank fucking god somebody had some taste.
      6 - really? definitely the most, er, engaging serial killer movie i've seen in a while. possible the best/creepiest serial killer movie that's been made since Seven, which, whatever, the fetishistic attention to detail there makes me appreciate it's construction (the plea for empathy is annoying but doesn't affect how it works). really, this movie just manages to pull off a lot of things effectively that most independent horror movies fail at. the score is fantastic (it's also not dumb aggro nu-metal which certainly helps).

2471 - 05/09/2011 - The Door with Seven Locks - Alfred Vohrer
      There's a book called 100 European Horror Films that I bought like 4 years ago, proceeded to read about 20 or 30 pages of, and then promptly put the book back on the shelf and forgot about it (it was basically and the end of the first Esotika wave, at the point where I couldn't really deal with reading or writing about film, and I was rarely watching movies). Since I'm moving in a couple months, I've been trying to get rid of as much shit as possible. I sold the book. But, first, I made a list of all the titles in the book that I hadn't seen yet, because I figured it'd be a nice reference point for when I wanted to watch some euro-horror I hadn't seen before and couldn't think of anything off the top of my head.
      So I decided to watch this because A) Klaus Kinski is in it and basically the rule is if Klaus Kinski is in a movie the movie is going to be at least watchable and B) I'd never seen a German Krimi film before, which I guess is historically the predecessor to Giallo, or whatever. It's OK. Kinski dies in like the first ten minutes. The plot is vaguely interesting, but too early historically (i.e. before sleaze was really "in vogue") to be really interesting, I guess. It felt very Sherlock Holmesian, with the protagonist Inspector reacting very banally to death, simply looking for a clues, pulling a big reveal at the end.
      The one really awesome part is that there's a man in a monkey costume for like... no reason, and for like a really brief period of time, which is pretty exciting? I don't know it was kind of funny at least.

2472 - 05/10/2011 - Conceptual Paradise - Stefan Romer
      The last year has lead to me having a realization that conceptual art, land art, and arte povera are basically the 3 realms of art that I maintain a heavy interest in. There are exceptions, but mostly the roots of what interest me in art come from these three 'movements' or 'groups' or whatever you want to call them. But the point is that this was fun to watch and I got to actually see some of these artists and listen to them speak and learn how to pronounce their names, hah. It's a pretty good documentary, and it even briefly addresses the ideas of modernism/conceptualisms in the non-Western world.

2473 - 05/18/2011 - Beyond the Door - Ovidio Assonitis
      The first hour of this is completely amazing. There's an exchange between precocious daughter, father, and son near the beginning that might be the best 45 seconds of dialog ever committed to celluloid. I will rip the scene and upload it to YouTube or something soon, it's so totally worth it. The last hour of this totally lags (this movie is also like... 3 times longer than it needs to be for some reason), and is where the Exorcist ripoff scenes occur, but eventually, near the end, things get better again as it gets batshit crazy and there is a scene in which the female protagonist is simultaneously possessed by satan & pregnant with satan in baby form, and she's floating in the air, while a man, who is actually dead, thus a ghost, is instructed, in his own voice, via the floating satan/satan's mother to deliver the baby by 'reaching inside of' the woman, and then she gives birth to a dead baby with no mouth and mourns by donning black and going out on a yacht. The end.

2474 - 05/21/2011 - A Nightmare on Elm Street - Samuel Bayer
      I "live tweeted" my experience watching this, so I guess i'll just put that shit here. Also, everybody in this movie is ugly or bland or both, what the hell.

i am watching the 2010 NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET should i live tweet it // heterosexual college males in contemporary horror films are ALWAYS macho controlling assholes and it's REALLY ANNOYING // the freddy makeup in this movie is weird. like, it seems to be aiming more for 'realism' or something, but really kind of looks hilarious. // like, honestly, there are more macho douchebags in horror movies than like any other genre ever & it's SO annoying // boy, they sure spell out what the conflict is here. "I CAN'T GO TO SLEEP OR I'LL DIE!" thanks we get that // new freddy voice is definitely retarded though, and (so far at least) it seems like a lot of the creativity of dreamland is gone. // seems like we might be replacing 'sins of the father' with some sort of 'childhood trauma', seems weird, victimizing maybe? // oh jesus they literalize the "1-2 Freddy's coming for you" song into pre-demon Freddy Krueger playing hide & seek with children? // hahahahaha holy shit. "THIS IS FOR MY SOOONNNNNN!" (throws flaming gasoline can into building) // the dialogue in this movie is ridiculously blunt. "un-nuanced" perhaps is the better word. it's just like, so incredibly obvious? // the things they're taking from other NoES movies and recontextualizing into the new plot is weird. // like i normally don't give a shit about things like dialogue, but jeez this is poor. // the thing i've always found interesting about the NoES movies (and i've seen all of them a million times) is that they never even attempt to // sort of demonstrate to the adults that don't believe them what's going on. seems like it wouldn't be that hard, really? // the potentiality that freddy krueger was not actually an evil bastard son of a million perverts & criminals, etc is kind of weird. // or i mean, maybe he still is, guess i'll find out in the next 20 minutes. i like the idea of him being innocent though. // oh look stack of pedo polaroids // and now MELODRAMA and SENTIMENTALITY jeez // what is this telescoping blur shit thing wtf // they literally use a heartbeat as the building for a jump-scare and then fail to execute it in any sort of successful manner. // hallway of blood is neat, but lacks the intense strangeness of quicksand stairs in the original // wait, seriously, you are going to burn freddy krueger again, that seems fucked, seems like OH HEY THAT DIDN'T WORK THE FIRST TIME EITHER // well the movie is over. ultimately that was pretty dumb.


2475 - 05/22/2011 - The Cave - Bruce Hunt [rewatch]
      I like movies that take place in caves, and, honestly, from what I remember this is a lot more fun to watch than The Descent, which I think is also actually completely retarded but in a totally different way than this. This is more fun + features hot manly nature dudes. Creatures are probably not as awesome, but there is less bickering and more bad-ass shit. Is this an entire subgenre that I've somehow not explored? Or are the only movies of the subgenre this & The Descent?

2475 - 05/23/2011 - Special Effects - Larry Cohen
      Zoe Lund is kind of amazing in this movie, because she somehow is so good at not being herself that she manages to actually act like she's a terrible actor because it fits the diegesis of the film, and then she plays another character who is an actress playing the first character she played and it's really hella meta. Also the sleazy director is like basically kind of an avatar for Jamie Gillis it seems like to me, and his apartment is mega lovely. Larry Cohen movies are pretty cool.

2476 - 05/25/2011 - Colour from the Dark - Ivan Zuccon
      Kind of completely didn't care what was happening, but the Italian father dude was way hot in a really weird way mostly because he had giant arms, and there were some kind of gross things that were fairly effectively pulled of? The tone to this reminded me a bit of the tone of the films of Dante Tomaselli (whatever happened to him?), but not quite as interesting/insane. There are some dream sequences that are interesting, but there's a bit too much... I don't know how to articulate it. Like, it kind of seems like the actors are trying to hard, or something. It's ok though. I am vaguely interested in seeing more Zuccon films, mostly so I can continue to objectify the hot Italian dude who I guess is in all his movies.

2477 - 05/25/2011 - Taxi Driver - Martin Scorsese
      I finally got around to watching this, mostly because I saw a production photo that made me realize just how dang hot Bobby De Niro is in this movie (especially when one considers that he is not even remotely attractive now). But, in this, in terms of younger dudes, he is totally 100% my type, derpy and everything. Also I love Jodie Foster so why hadn't I seen this? I don't know. The film is kind of really beautiful, the grime of the film itself immediately had me really excited, and I'd hate to use the word "gritty" but there's a real texture to this film that contemporary cinema completely lacks. The narrative itself is somewhat, hrm, naive I guess, I'm not sure if that's exactly what I mean. I mean it's kind of simplistic. Moral ambiguity is nice, but there seems to be far more weight placed on it in here than is necessary. Still really good though. I think I might just really like Paul Schrader as a script-writer, 'cos I really liked American Gigolo too. I should see the DePalma film he scripted.

2478 - 05/25/2011 - Paranormal Activity 2 - Tod Williams
      [notes towards a larger essay: the movie as an interactive experience, not within the film itself, but the 'multi-media' experience of the film; PA1 + 3x "alternate" endings, only one of them compatible with the continuing narrative found here- the choose your own adventure without any forethought.] I thought this worked a lot better than the first one, and I'm always interested in 'sequels' that sort of intertextually link with what they're following instead of like specifically carrying on with a narrative thread or whatever. Also the characters are less obnoxious here. The ending is also a lot better, and really interesting, possibly still because of the intertextual nature, but more-so because, what, like 6 months pass between the climax and the actual ending? That's awesome. Nicolas Rombes also wrote an article about how PA2 can be read as an experimental film which is actually what lead to me renting the film in the first place: http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/news/2011/05/six-asides-on-paranormal-activity-2/
      I think he's right, to a degree, in the sense that techniques from the avant-garde are adopted to a narrative end which, as I have pointed out in fuller reviews/articles before, is something I fully support.
light

APRIL 2011

2457 - 04/02/2011 - The Frightened Woman - Piero Schivazappa [rewatch]
     Weird chain of events lead to me rewatching this (randomly thinking of a Niki de Saint-Phalle artwork but forgetting her name, figuring out her name, looking her up online, realizing she made the sculpture that plays a part in this movie, thinking of this movie). Anyway, I thought I had sold this, but turns out I hadn't! Which was exciting because it turns out this movie is actually completely awesome. The most awesome part of this are the interiors, I swear to god some of them were directly inspired by arte povera, which is another thing I am completely obsessed with at the moment, but who knows. This is maybe ideologically simple/misguided, but it's pretty neat anyway, and really just aesthetically beautiful.

2458 - 04/02/2011 - Mean Girls 2 - Melanie Mayron
     I wasn't actually planning on watching this, but my roommate had it on and I ended up sitting down and watching the whole thing. It's dumb, nothing like the original, but still a lot of fun in a totally different way. It's really hard for me not to enjoy a teen comedy though.

2459 - 04/??/2011 - India Song - Marguerite Duras
     I may have actually watched this in April but I forgot to write down the exact date. I had been meaning to watch this for a long time based on three factors: 1) major film by Marguerite Duras, 2) Delphine Seyrig, & 3) stills & soundtrack. It's also often referred to as an exceedingly pretentious film, and in general I kind of love things that are described in that fashion. But, like most things that I convince myself I need to see immediately, I actually held on to this for like 2 or 3 years before watching it (welcome to my world). But it's good.
     I mean, it's not fantastic, but it's good. The dialogue that populates the film is like, combinatorily non-diegetic & some weird sort of diegetic sound in which the dialogue does fit what's happening on screen, to an extent, but the minimal number of actors, their lips don't move, they don't actually speak. The actors and actresses move like ghosts, floating through the tableaux of a lovely colonial hotel (it is so embarrassing how aesthetically awesome I find colonial narratives). There are only, I think, 6 people who ever appear on screen, and all the scenes are shot in I think something like 2 different rooms and along a fence. The dialogue circles around a narrative that may or may not involve the people we see. There's a part in the middle where a man who works for the embassy is in love with Delphine Seyrig and he tells her he will express this love by running into the night and screaming, and he does, and it lasts all night long, and the actors and actresses are so detached that it's way affecting and definitely the best part. The soundtrack is also really really great. Thinking about it now, it's actually a pretty great movie. It's also not even half as boring as I expected it to be, considering that the only things that happen happen in dialogue, but everybody is beautiful and it's so artificial that it's lovely.

2460 - 04/11/2011 - Killer Snakes - Chih-Hung Kuei
     Hong Kong exploitation. I watched the English dub because, for the first time in my life, having 2 computer monitors, I've realized that I can MULTI-TASK while watching movies--I did some layout work and shit while I was watching this, is the point, so subtitles would have been too distracting. Any way, did you know I like snakes? I like snakes a lot. Part of why I like them is because they are inherently repulsive and evil looking and moving, but they're awesome and I love looking at pictures of them and watching them move and playing with them when I can in real life. If I am ever rich and live somewhere more or less 'permanently' I am going to have a giant collection of house plants, aquariums, and 'evil' pets like snakes and huge millipedes and scorpions. Shit is awesome.
     Anyway, the plot here is kind of hilarious and if I had been paying more attention it probably would have been frustrating, but it's pretty cute when this pussy pushover makes friends with this cobra and then the third time he's getting the shit kicked out of him & his money stolen (he's literally useless) his lil snake friend comes to kill his enemy & that's cool, and then the cobra tells all the other snakes that this dude is a cool dude and then suddenly he has an army of snakes at his disposal. Snake pits are awesome, large groups of snakes are pretty cool. Of course our protagonist is completely useless even with his snake army and makes pretty dumb decisions like killing the girl he's in love with after she gets raped because he's saving her from becoming a prostitute? And then at the end of the movie when the police are after him he puts all of his hundreds of snake friends in cardboard boxes and sets them on fire because he "doesn't want the police to get them?" This dude is the kind of making terrible decisions. Like wtf, I don't think snakes can be arrested lol. But then the burnt snakes get their revenge on the dumbass, so overall NO MORAL which is nice but man did I lol. This is good. There are also komodo dragons that come literally out of no where during a bondage scene.

2461 - 04/16/2011 - From Beyond - Stuart Gordon
     Holy crap people how have I not ever seen this before? This is seriously glorious & amazingly fun. And pretty weirdly sexy, and I think we all know how much I like uncomfortable sexy. It's also a pretty magickal illustration of what I would describe as a sort of abstracted & non-person oriented sexuality. Like, mind sex without being new age. Alien technology that is evil and simultaneous to our world. I think I should probably watch more Stuart Gordon movies because they're always awesome and kind of gross, and it's not CG which makes it gross in an awesome way because it's far more visceral. Like honestly I think that's the problem with CG--no matter how good the computer graphics are, it lacks the pure physicality of the artificially derived body-messes.

2462 - 04/17/2011 - Aerobicide - David A Prior
     Another watch taken from Placenta Ovarie's movie log. This is pretty glorious as well, and I had a fun time playing "spot the hot obviously gay dude from the 80s doing aerobics" every time there was an aerobics montage. Since the aerobics montages were used basically to move from one scene to another, there were a lot of chances. I took screenshots of the dude because he was a cutie & watching this movie sent me on a quest for more 80s porn which I satisfied. I am the best at the internet. The movie is kind of confusing maybe, like if you stop to think about it, but ultimately I think it's really inconsequential because it's awesome.

2463 - 04/23/2011 - La Belle Bete - Karim Hussain
     Despite being not all that into Subconscious Cruelty upon seeing it (if I remember correctly it falls prey to a lot of dumb "extreme!" tropes that seriously dampen any power the film would otherwise have, but I might need to give it another shot), I've maintained an interest in the films Hussain continues to make. I was actually more interested in watching Ascension, but I couldn't find the copy I downloaded, so I watched this instead. It's good.
     It's Canadian, but feels very European, very French or Austrian or something. It's also a really good exercise of minimalism applied to the uncanny. The somewhat omnipresent horse-headed figure pops up like a ghost, and is deeply affecting. I also like to give shout-outs when movies directly influence something I'm writing, which was the case here. This movie deserves closer scrutiny, perhaps, but it's a movie where things work well, so closer scrutiny might be redundant.

2464 - 04/24/2011 - Scream 4 - Wes Craven
     I haven't seen the first three of these in probably over a decade, nor had I even really thought about them for a long-ass time, but for some reason I got really excited when I found out they were making a fourth entry. In retrospect, the self-awareness/reflexivity of the early Scream movies was actually significantly more intelligent/less-annoying than the sort of hyper-post-modern reflexivity that has, basically, become at least somewhat of a norm in genre movies. Realizing this made me really curious as to how they'd approach a similar theme ten years after the idea was as fresh.
     I read a comment on facebook that said this was "really self-aware," and in response I, being the bitch that I am, commented "isn't that the point of the Scream franchise?," to which the OP responded, "well, this was more self-aware than the other three." I don't know if I agree with that. This is, perhaps, smarter than the other three, if only because the screenwriters have had a decade of the self-reflexive horror movie to look at & really figure out how it's working. Plus the even larger presence of media in our day to day life has played a specific role.
     So, really, I found this interesting in the way that, perhaps, Marshall McLuhan's writings are interesting. There's a direct address on the issue of fame, the ephemeral nature of said fame, the reality that to be famous you literally do not have to be talented at anything, and a teenager's expectations of said fame? What was shocking to me was that I had literally not considered that the killer(s) who ended up being the killer(s) would even potentially be the killer(s), but that's what ended up making it interesting, the direction that the ending takes.

2465 - 04/25/2011 - Insidious - James Wan
     The day after I saw Scream 4 I was already jonseing to see another horror movie in the theater, so I went to see this before it disappeared forever. Turns out, this was really enjoyable. Also ended up being far more pleasurable and interesting to me than Scream 4 was. Despite the fact that I can recognize that Scream 4 was both smart and intelligent, I found far more pleasure and engagement in Wan's "low-budget" horror film.
     The film itself clearly borrows somewhat recently established tropes from other genre films (probably the most direct influence being the narrative events of Paranoia Activity & the "going into someone else's dream" of Inception), but it's ok because it takes these tropes and takes them in new directions. As a 'haunted [house]' film, I found this really interesting. It still clearly is working within the genre, but it does so in really creative ways. I am also prone to preferring supernatural horror above all other horror, because that realm is where you have the most space to 'play,' so to speak. I mean, the supernatural elements here are arguably metaphysical/'possible,' but you know what i'm saying.
     There's also an insistence on the present of evil, and with my recent, well, obsession with the idea of a pure evil & what that even means, that was especially interesting. Also, the film looked good. The 'demon' himself actually manages to stay 'creepy' and only almost crosses over into the ridiculous when we're in his 'lair.'
     I found myself slightly disappointed by the fact the filmmakers neglected to do much in the creation of the netherworld, instead just relying mostly on concrete architecture, particularly the house where the problem initially occurred. It was a place in the narrative that really could have opened up to something far more abstract and fantastique. But overall this is still worth it, I think. Definitely one of the most 'original' & 'creative' theatrically released horror movies from the US I've seen in a long while.

2466 - 04/27/2011 - Necronomicon - Christophe Gans, Shusuke Kaneko & Brian Yuzna
     After getting off on From Beyond I felt like this was a natural next step. Anthology films has a propensity to be not very good, in my mind, and that was mostly the case here, but there are some pretty cool/gross special effects again. I liked the final story in the trilogy best, I think, due exclusively to the sort of fevered hellpit it existed in.
light

DECEMBER 2011 - MARCH 2011

2424 - 12/05/2010 - Night Train to Terror - John Carr et. al.
I watched this having seen, and loved, the weirdness that's inherent within Deathwish Club, one of the three movies that is on display here. There's actually interesting things to be found in all of the fragmented, embedded stories: John Philippe Law is fucking FINE AS HELL in the first segment, the Deathwish Club appropriation is a really interesting exercise in intertextuality (specifically in the permutable nature of narrative inside different contexts), and the third segment, the longest by far, has some pretty weird stop-motion animation going for it (which actually goes through the whole movie, but I think is most present here). The narrative that keeps everything together is superfluous, but the "band" and the dancing are amazing and ridiculous in pure 80s unnecessary excess.

2425 - 12/11/2010 - Night Tide - Curtis Harrington
The environment that the narrative here takes place within is really amazing to me. There's also a bit of weirdness present in the story,despite the fact that the film is, ultimately, restrained. Dennis Hopper was, oddly enough, kind of hunkier when he was younger too. Ultimately the intersection of actual supernatural events and paranoia is actually interesting here--due more to poor-scripting than anything intentional I think--instead of frustrating and half-assed psychoanalytical or whatever. Reminds me, for whatever reason, of Benazeraf, although they're totally different, of course.

2426 - 12/12/2010 - Blood From the Mummy's Tomb - Seth Holt
I always have a particular experience when I confront Hammer Horror filsm-- I like them, but they stay just so utterly British that I can't get overly excited about them. I do always prefer the 70s ones when things have gotten a bit more sleazier, but shit is still a bit repressed compared to the batshit insanity that was happening over the rest of Europe. Anyway, I like the connection between the artifacts and power here, and it was watchable at least.

2427 - 12/18/2010 - Venom - Piers Haggard
Holy crap this is fantastic: Klaus Kinski & hunky Ollie Reed together on screen with a mother-fucking killer snake while the duration of the movie mostly occurs in a single house! Those are like four of my favorite things. I really fucking loved this movie. It was completely awesome. Like, I really loved it. The pleasure I found in watching the film is divorced, possibly, from any of the expectations of the filmmaker himself and delegated more towards my own subjective response to these things, these things that I love, and how they magically come together. I think this would be a good film for me to use if I wanted to sort of specifically examine what I imagine is Durgnat's "film as feelings" thesis (of course I haven't read that book so I don't actually know what it is, i'm referring to it as how I imagine it, I don't know, subjective film experience or something).

2428 - 12/18/2010 - Ghost Ship - Steve Beck
For whatever reason I hadn't seen this before, despite my propensity to enjoy big-budget horror movies. I also really like boats a lot, so hey this is pretty sweet. I guess it sort of reminded me of the remake of The Haunting or whatever, but only in terms of the architecture/design, I suppose. After I watched this, talking to my roommates, I realized that around the time this came out was really the last time that the entity that is Hollywood was consistently producing horror movies that were more or less original ideas. Now it seems like they only come once in a blue moon, and it's basically guaranteed to become a franchise.

2429 - 12/19/2010 - A View to a Kill - John Glen
I like Bond movies a lot, but having only ever seen Connery & Brosnan & Craig as Bond, I decided to remedy that. This is lovely, perhaps because of how much I love Grace Jones, and Christopher Walken is a lot of fun (while Walken is perhaps typed as a "thing," I think he is one of the few actors who is very distinct who manages to still actually play characters rather than just playing himself i.e. Jack Nicholas, Bill Murry, etc.), and the set-pieces are great. I suppose examining the politics of Bond movies are always tricky, and I know I've read that perhaps the original author was conservative or whatever, but it's really easy to watch Bond movies without any thought given to politics whatsoever (as opposed to, say, The Dark Knight, which is clearly a neo-con wet-dream). I am not one of those "keep politics out of art" people at ALL obviously, but considering these are just basically easiest to read as simple entertainment, I actually like the absence here. Bond also seems to be the only way that I can "deal" with a direct representation of masculinity.

2430 - 12/19/2010 - Gwendoline - Just Jaeckin [rewatch]
I bought this & watched it right when it came out (and I think it was one of the first releases, if not the first release, from Severin) due to the fact that it's directed by Just Jaeckin, who of course is responsible for the ubiquitous Emmanuelle (which I of course still love). Initially I didn't think much of it, probably because I wanted more of the soft-focus lazy sensuality of Emmanuelle, instead of what this is, a very European "erotic adventure" movie. Rewatching it, it's totally fantastic. Brent Huff is like stupid fine in this, and the story itself is a lot of fun. The design in the Land of the Yik Yak is amazing, and my roommate noticed that at least some of the design was done by Francios Schuiten, the artist responsible for the Cités Obscures comic book, which I'm totally obsessed with (and it makes sense).

2431 - 12/20/2010 - The Beguiled - Don Siegel
(LJ user Danschank has been talling me to watch this for years, and his idea that I would love it is pretty accurate.) Despite my propensity to hate period pieces (if the period is basically anytime before the 20th century), it was OK here. Crazy ass manipulating Clint Eastwood is also mad hot, which is kind of the point I suppose. I guess there's some gravitas to the narrative conflict at hand, and the "explosion" vis a vis sexual repression is deftly handled (holy shit did I just use the expression 'deftly handled' ?), but probing psychology is not something that I'm particularly interested in in film, I guess, as I prefer to, basically, stay on the surface level of things (albeit in a weird and specific way). Siegel's subtle positing of Eastwood being the soldier from the north vs the 'innocent' 'evil' of the south is an interesting one in its own right.

2432 - 12/21/2010 - Eyes Wide Shut - Stanley Kubrick [rewatch]
I had fond memories of this being really fantastic, and really creepy, and really atmospheric & moody. Of course, I think the last time I saw it was like 2002 or something. There are some points of interest here, but mostly it's obnoxious. The dialogue, in particular, is just really fucking terrible, in the sense that Tom Cruise's character, no matter what somebody says to him, he just basically repeats it as a question. I'm not kidding, if you watch the movie being aware of that it seriously becomes completely god-damned ridiculous. So, basically, the magic sheen of the movie did not stand up to closer scrutiny, which is unfortunate. Ultimately it seems like Kubrick himself is slowly being demystified, or something, which seems weird. Though I can say I've seen 2001 a whole bunch without it losing anything (and I'm tempted to try to just ignore Nicholson's presence and watch The Shining for the recently of topic mirror symmetry or whatever).

2433 - 12/22/2010 - Down Side Up - Tony Hill
Short film that D-L posted on his livejournal that, really, is just completely lovely, cyclical experience of space, fully spatial experience via a camera. There's a nice rhythm to the scenes, the way they carry, their tempo.

2434 - 12/27/2010 - Ramona and Beezus - Elizabeth Allen
I watched this on a plane and it was like really hard to not cry because I was hella emotional at the time. I think this is pretty much exactly what you expect, which is something I am ok with because I spend too much time watching children's & teen movies.

2435 - 12/28/2010 - Stalker - Andrei Tarkovsky
The last time I had watched a Tarkovsky film I was still living with my parents, and while I enjoyed them, I barely had the attention span. I understood that his movies (Solaris and Mirror) were good, but basically I had to watch each of them in five minute chunks because they move so slowly. Now it's easier for me to sort of just bask in the aestheticism. Although I have to admit that this was a lot "talkier" than I expected, so perhaps (lol duh) my memory of Tarkovsky is tainted. I'd like to revisit Mirror and see more of his films. I liked the idea of this movie a lot, and I think the film itself mostly lived up to the idea I had of it.

2436 - 12/29/2010 - CNN Concatenated - Omar Fast
The total effect of this is a sort of really intense hypnosis; this is utterly engaging & funny & amazing. It's weird that video art carries the same sort of "action-packed" intensity that narrative films can, but somehow this does, purely out of technique.

2437 - 12/29/2010 - Prayer - Cliff Hengst
Hermetic & DIY, ultimately interesting if only out of the context D-L offered. The improvisation is what makes it interesting, I think, it makes me like the idea of it, it makes me want to fuck with my video cameras more.

2438 - 12/29/2010 - Sentry - D-L Alvarez
Poetic super8 meditation on a bridge. Visually interesting. Despite the fact I was sitting directly next to the artist when I watched it, I neglected to ask what it was actually about.

2439 - 12/31/2010 - Night Train to Terror - John Carr et. al. [rewatch]
Just as fun with other people as it is alone.

2440 - 01/01/2011 - Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors - Sergei Parajanov
The other other Parajanov film I'd seen before this was Ashik Kerab, and I don't think I really "got it," but whatever. This is lovely, like intensely beautiful, the narrative is there but in the background, what is important is how amazing everything looks. I want to watch this again, there were some images I want to steal. Really nice, thanks to D-L for showing me this.

2441 - 01/04/2011 - Zulawski on Zulawski - Jakub Skoczen
I am obsessed with Zulawski x 100 so it was really fun and easy for me to watch him talking about his movies for an hour. I really like how Zulawski, as a person, is really dismissive of anything he doesn't agree with, like, he doesn't give a shit about the way 95% of people make movies, and that is really really lovely, because it assures that he will continue making movies in his specific, and perfect, way.

2442 - 01/09/2011 - Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Thor Freudenthal
I read both of these books when I worked at Borders because hey why not they were there. Kind of fun. This movie is kind of insufferable, and by that I guess I mostly mean that it was just really really embarrassing, and at times hard to watch. But for whatever reason I watched the whole thing, who the fuck knows why.

2443 - 01/17/2011 - Vexation Island - Rodney Graham
I didn't remember what this was until I looked it up. I watched it on Ubu web, it's a video art piece that is ostensibly a loop, and it's kind of funny. Basically a man wakes up on an island confused, tries to shake a coconut down from a tree to eat it, the coconut falls on his head and knocks him out, repeat. It's entertaining, I guess. I don't know. Sometimes funny art pisses me off, sometimes I like it. I remember feeling pleasant about this when I watched it, so I guess I was in a good mood.

2444 - 01/17/2011 - Sisters - Douglas Buck
It's been too long since I've watched DePalma's Sisters to make any comparison, but from what I can remember this is pretty different? It departs, at points, at least. The ending is weird and maybe kind of dumb, but also kind of works? The dude who is in love with Chloe Sevigny is hot. There's a really weird tone to this whole thing that I enjoyed. Buck's films always feel slightly off, but off in a way that really permeates the tone, which I love of course. I like it when things are slightly off. It puts me on edge, which in an artificially induced situation is a feeling that I like.

2445 - 01/26/2011 - Omen IV: The Awakening - Jorge Montesi & Dominique Othenin-Girard [rewatch, sort of]
I say "sort of" here because I think I saw this on TV in like 7th grade and this was my first time rewatching it since thing-- I've perpetually had the scene where there are faith healers or whatever walking in a box of rattlesnakes in the back of my mind, so I figured I should actually rewatch it and see what the fuss was about. This is kind of glorious in its appeal to early 90s new-age tropisms, and while ultimately, being direct to video and made for TV, it lacks the intensity of the former 3 (all of which I like), it's got some weird aesthetic things going for it. The ending also reminded me of something else that I've watched recently. Blessed maybe?

2446 - 01/29/2011 - She Killed in Ecstasy - Jess Franco [rewatch]
Oh my god this is lovely. I enjoyed this significantly more upon this viewing than I did when I first saw it (it was, perhaps, one of the first five Franco films that I saw). It's somewhat frustrating to me that so many things I saw in the past I need to watch again. Maybe not, I mean, when it's stuff I enjoy I clearly don't mind re-watching it, but damn there are still a lot of movies I haven't seen that I want to see. Anyway, Soledad is lovely as hell here, the fucking apartment is like God, and the narrative itself is reductive and fun and god damn I love Franco.

2447 - 01/29/2011 - Party Girl - Daisy von Scherler Mayer [rewatch]
Fucking hilarious. I love watching this. One of my "comfort movies."

2448 - 01/29/2011 - Smiley Face - Gregg Araki
I pretty consistently enjoy Araki's movies, so despite the fact that I kind of hate stoner comedies and was a little "unsure" about this, I decided to watch it. It was hilarious, and while the narrative situation would have ultimately been frustrating to me (as I have said a million times before, I have a hard time dealing with the whole need to get somewhere and can't narrative trope). Also wtf I found myself kind of retardedly attracted to John Krasinski here for no apparent reason. Fun fun fun fun.

2449 - 01/30/2011 - Mindhunters - Renny Harlin [rewatch]
I LOVE RENNY HARLIN. His shit is fucking the best most stupid fun fucks ever. This is AWESOME. Because obviously SERIAL KILLER MOVIES RULES especially when they're constructed as ELABORATE PUZZLES/TRAPS. I don't know if I have anything legit to say about this other than HEY THIS RULES.

2450 - 02/12/2011 - Cipher in the Snow - produced by WETZEL O. WHITAKER KEITH J. ATKINSON
This is a weird 18 minute "educational" film about a kid that basically dies of loneliness. I got it from the library to appropriate images from it and use it in a project. I sort of watched it twice, tho the second time I was just taking photos and writing down lines of dialog. It's weird.

2451 - 03/03/2011 - Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors - Chuck Russell [rewatch]
One of my favorites from the series, Patricia Arquette is awesome, and there's some weird ass stuff that happens in this that I love. The "actress" chick getting killed by the TV pulling her "into" itself has always stuck with me (I sort of borrowed the image for a scene in my text Float, but it's not direct so I doubt any one noticed). I also enjoy how the mythology finally develops here. Fucking NoES series is basically my favorite horror franchise ever, because it's really weird and unique and "creative" as they say.

2452 - 03/04/2011 - Breath - Damien Hirst
Hirst's brief take on Beckett's play of the same name, it's kind of beautiful. Rotating garbage barge and a heaving breath.

2453 - 03/13/2011 - 99.9 - Agusti Villaronga [rewatch]
It's sort of unfortunate to me that the most interesting part of this is the back-story of the woman protagonist's gay ex-lover or whatever, because that back-story only gets about 15 minutes of screen time while the woman's investigation gets most (also: dude is way fucking hot). But, this did get me through a block I had with a text I was working on at the time, and actually filled in the holes I needed filled it. It's actually basically worth it for the dead-lover's story, which is really amazing and haunting and creepy and fucking mediated by VHS tapes while rules.

2454 - 03/17/2011 - Puppet Master 4 - Jeff Burr
The trailer for this popped up on a VHS tape of a movie I still haven't watched, and it made this look so fun that I took the VHS tape out and popped this in instead. This is ultimately really pointless & dumb (also it's still weird to me that the puppets in the Puppet Master franchise are all basically signifiers of EVIL yet they were basically "made for good"??? like wtf) & the puppets are the "good guys" here but there are kind of cool demon puppets & the plot is a mess & who really cares I basically still enjoyed it.

2455 - 03/27/2011 - Mamba - Mario Orfini
More of me watching something with the specific interest in catering to my own aesthetics: snakes + COMPLETELY FUCKING AMAZING HOME that the whole movie takes place inside of = me not actually caring what happens. This is awesome, and the apartment is seriously so dreamy.

2456 - 03/31/2011 - White People - OHO Group
Somewhat fragmented assortment of scenes of OHO Group member dressed in white and doing, I guess, performative things on camera. I don't get the point (not that there has to be a point), but it's fun to watch, and some nice looking things happened. I have a feeling that reading more about the OHO group would be helpful in facilitating my understanding of what's going on here.
light

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2010

2403 - 09/07/2010 - Szamanka - Andrzej Zulawski
Perhaps Zulawski's "spazziest" film, so to speak, in terms of the characters it presents, it's also potentially my favorite next to L'Important C'est D'aimer, surpassing On the Silver Globe because it's more 'focused' and La Femme Publique because it's story holy christ it's story, so so close to my interests. My copy had slightly delayed subtitles, so at times this was confusing, but ultimately I can't think of a better expression of "amour fou" in any medium whatsoever. The ending is utterly sublime, recalling the ending of Possession but taking it further, making it more personal. Also, the sex in this is vicious, animalistic, and thus, totally fucking hot. It's a representation of two people who literally cannot control themselves when they are around each other, and it's overwhelming in the best way possible. And the parallel drawn between the shaman-mummy and the "she shaman" of the title is utterly fascinating.

2404 - 09/12/2010 - L'Amour Braque - Andrzej Zulawski
Watched immediately following Szamanka this was slightly disappointing, but it's still an excellent film. It struck me as almost bizarre, basically Zulawski's take on the action film (similar to how Possession is Zulawski's take on the horror film and On the Silver Globe is Zulawski's take on the sci-fi film), and the highly choreographed scenes of violence and mayhem, are simultaneously subdued and overwhelming-- clearly they are existing only as a backdrop for the the character relationships, but it's in such a prescient way. I have not read any Dostoevsky, so I have no idea how much of L'Idiot this draws from. One thing, however, that this film, out of Zulawski's oeuvre, really brought to my attention, was the specific types of architectures & interiors that Zulawski always uses, and how they work to echo the ideas in his films: for one, they are very European, but generally somewhat modern looking, even when set in what could ostensibly be called "old world" Europe. Secondly, they always dwarf the actors and actresses: wide open spaces, impossibly high ceilings. Also, there seem to always be symmetry, and a coldness present, a lack of furniture outside of the essentials. It's a really sort of amazing thing, and it's something to aspire to, aesthetically, I think.

2405 - 09/12/2010 - Piece Mandala/End War - Paul Sharits [rewatch]
I have been reading a lot about Sharits recently, and it's come to my attention that his project, that he executed primarily in terms of film, is really amazing and a lot more in line with what I think about when I think about the power of film than almost any other director. So, revisiting his films, and trying to think of these films with his project in mind, trying to force myself to read this films in a way other than how I read more directly narrative films (because one cannot say that Sharits's films are non-narrative; they very clearly have a progression). Anyway, his films are pretty amazing, although I know that literally half of his project really requires the celluloid itself, and all I'm seeing is a representation twice removed from the actual art.

2406 - 09/13/2010 - Cruel Intentions -Roger Kumble [rewatch]
A blog I read posted a YouTube clip from this and I remembered how much I enjoyed it when I was in high school, so I downloaded it and watched it. Considering how "edgy" it was supposed to be when it came out, it's really quite tame, and ultimately conservative in it's "love conquers everything (except death)" moral which is mostly annoying, but still whatever. Ultimately entertaining.

2407 - 09/15/2010 - Tails - Paul Sharits
This is different from the films of Sharits I had formerly seen--before I had only seen the flicker films & the early, lyrical Wintercourse that he made before he really decided what he was doing, apparently. This is later, and having read about it it was nice to see it (thanks Ubuweb). There is an obtuse narrative here, allowed by images that we are barely let to see, and it's the combinatory effect of these temporary images that add up to a whole.

2408 - 09/18/2010 - L'Important C'est D'aimer - Andrzej Zulawski [rewatch]
This is still, I think I can safely say, my favorite film at the moment. It also completely destroys me, emotionally, without fail. But really, what is so astounding to me about this film is how deeply disturbing it is while being, at the core, a really fucking good love story. It's also an incredibly heterogeneous flick, as most of Zulawski's films are, but it maintains a fairly downbeat tone (even Dutronc's humour is sad). Kinski is amazing, and there are moments that are so entirely fucking dark.

2409 - 09/18/2010 - Easy A - Will Gluck
Ideologically flawed, like, severely, but enjoyable none-the-less for the teen antics that are just sort of fun to watch. My problem with it is basically the concept which launches the entire narrative: our female protagonist tells our gay male protagonist to just, basically, pretend he isn't gay until he gets out of high school so he can avoid being beaten up. This is the same problem I have with the "It Gets Better" campaign, in the sense that it is intentionally denying a teenager's autonomy/sense-of-self in order to passively deal with the problems found in contemporary society. This is totally fucked and against basically everything I believe, but luckily that is hardly important to the movie as a whole.

Not half as enjoyable as Mean Girls, among other things, it's still a welcome respite from a lot of the plot-retreading that occurs in my beloved subgenre of "teen girl" films. Also, our female protagonist's parents are adorable, I love Stanley Tucci.

2412 - 09/24/2010 - Black Christmas - Glen Morgan [rewatch]
When the only independent video store in town was closing, I ended up buying a lot of DVDs for super cheap. I managed to go on the owner's birthday (and second to last day of being open), and was pleased to discover that all catalog (aka not new release) DVDs were only 47 cents. I picked up about 35 movies I think, mostly just random shit that I knew I wouldn't mind watching, which meant mostly horror movies. I did get some stuff that I actively wanted/knew was out of print, but mostly just random stuff.

I picked up the remake of Black Christmas because I couldn't remember having seen it before and figured that for 47 cents I may as well check it out. I started watching it and it actually took me something like a half hour of watching it before I realized that I actually had seen it before. I didn't totally remember it (which could be perceived as "not a good sign" I guess), so I figured it may as well just finish watching it.

On the upside, I love bitchy sorority girls, but on the downside there wasn't really enough bitchy sorority girl happenings that occur in the movie before the terror starts. Basically this movie is utterly banal, but there's nothing blatantly offensive about it, so, as is the case with almost all horror movies, I end up saying it's fine. Now, over two months later, I still don't remember anything particularly noteworthy about it, although the secret sister's deformity make-up is kind of hilarious and campy. Actually, I vaguely remember laughing a couple times, so I guess it does have some vaguely note-worthy ridiculousness going for it.

2411 - 09/26/2010 - Desperate Lives - Robert Michael Lewis
This is the fairly notorious made for TV "drugs are bad" schedule that features scenes commonly plucked onto YouTube for the purposes of pure camp hilarity. And yeah, the thing is, parts of this are definitely ridiculously hilarious. For example; Helen Hunt freaking out on PCP and jumping out a window is sort of amazing, but even more impressive to me is the scene where the Lil Bro & his goodie-goodie turned bad-girl girlfriend driving in a car smoking joints laced with PCP drive off the edge of a friggin' cliff while the girl, high as a kite, says, literally, "Wheeeee!"

On the other hand, I ended up feeling oddly affected by this, with some vague desire for positive change, even though I don't do drugs, don't particularly like drugs, and don't really have friends who are heavy users (as a note, I don't actually care if you do drugs, because if there is anything I believe in more than anything it's that you should have control over your own body and have the autonomy to make your own decisions). It's actually pretty well plotted in terms of narrative, and especially in terms of being an after school special. It actually really bothers me that people are fully willing to complete dismiss "old movies" as "dumb" or whatever because there are moments of total hilarity.

2412 - 09/??/2010 - The Burning - Tony Maylam
Quintessential 80s slasher flick that I hadn't seen yet. It's fun, it's kind of awesome at parts and the lead dude hero is totally hot with a killer jawline. Although it's weird for me to realize that, really, the only joy that can be found in probably 95% of slasher films (this is, of course, an opinion totally divorced from gialli) is purely the visceral reaction to gore. I mean, that's OK I guess, but it's not very economical or something. Well, gore and eye-candy. Actually I guess I don't care if it's economical, since clearly I derived pleasure from watching this, even though there were occasional bouts of frustration involved.

2413 - 10/??/2010 - Single White Female - Barbet Schroeder
This is pretty utterly amazing. Jennifer Jason Leigh is perfect, like, seriously, for this role, and if we combine this role with her role in Heart of Midnight we would have basically the JJL that I want to exist in almost every movie ever. Also this plot is just so good. I love obsession. I love that this is basically an EROTICAL THRILLER which I think we all know is probably what my real favorite genre is. I am majorly turned on by Steven Weber in this movie, is that strange, I don't think I care. The early 90s were so awesome. Early 90s erotic thrillers are so awesome. Why do I have absolutely nothing to say about this movie other than it's awesome. I don't know.

2414 - 10/31/2010 - Prom Night - Paul Lynch
More 'classic horror' that I hadn't seen yet. This was basically glorious; horror movies that intersect with disco's popularity might be the best thing. The movie itself is sort of plodding and occasionally boring, though I don't really know why. The sort of "six years ago" or whatever set up is nice and creepy and the twist was cool because it was both totally out of nowhere and actually made sense. Normally it's just one or the other. Or, like, a character that doesn't actually exist in the movie until he's revealed to be the predator. Jamie Lee dance scene might be the best part of this.

2415 - 11/06/2010 - Lawale - Dore O
Dore O's Alaska is one of my favorite films, so I thought it was high time that I finally watch the other films she had made that I had access to. This film features sort of posed, awkwardly still scenes from a domestic household that does seemingly everything together alternating with shots of Dore O herself sort of "freaking out" on a bed, throwing her hair around. There are occasionally shots of the ocean. The feeling I got from it, above all else, was the oppressiveness of the family structure, with the scenes of Dore O representative of a sort of desire for escape, the expansive ocean being freedom. It's pretty to look at, but I couldn't find myself slipping into the rhythm, and to be honest I started to get bored before it was over.

2416 - 11/12/2010 - Kaldalon - Dore O
Reading online informs me that Alaska, Lawale, and this make up a "trilogy." This is, also, apparently recognized as Dore O's "masterpiece." It's completely gorgeous, and the sound is wonderful, but my instantaneous response is less emotional than that I suffered regarding Alaska. I would like to watch it again, because Dore O's imagery is imagery that I am particularly fascinated by, and I feel like maybe I was distracted through part of my watching, but who can say for sure.

2417 - 11/13/2010 - Crawlspace - David Schmoeller
This is gloriously creepy & evil. I think maybe I "enjoy" the terror of post-Nazi death camp doctor experiments more than I've realized before? Like as a position of pure evil? I mean it's interesting in terms of narrative, I guess. But what's awesome in this is that that sort of just ensconces the actual narrative at hand, being Klaus Kinski, who is perfect in this, and his being psycho and crawling through vents and murdering his beautiful female boarders and their lovers. The tone of this is also pretty ideal, at least appealing to personal aesthetics etc. I was way into this, is what I'm trying to say.

2418 - 11/16/2010 - Death on the Nile - John Guillerman
I'm a big fan of movies where the entire plot takes place basically in a single location. Especially when that location is a mode of transport. I also like murder mysteries, obviously. I also really enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express, so I've been meaning to check this out for a while. This is arguably terrible if I'm reading the text in post-colonial terms, obviously, but dang, I like watching rich people do rich things and when they're murder involved that makes it more exciting. Also, I love how in Agatha Christie stories nobody is ever that distraught at the idea of murder, or the terrible things involved. It's so calm and collected, and there's something I really enjoy about it. The scenery/interiors are fantastic, and yeah, totally fun.

2419 - 11/17/2010 - The Skeleton Key - Iain Softley
I was actually vaguely interested in this when it received its first theatrical release, because I am into crazy white folks's interpretations of the evils of voudou (aesthetically, that is), and the plot looked, you know, interesting and somewhat original. Another DVD I got for 47 cents, this was a lot of fun, and this was the second instance in which I found Peter Sarsgaard, well, way hot (the other time being in Orphan--maybe he just looks hot in horror movies or something). The weird thing about horror movies is that the "obvious negative ending" (aka "evil basically wins," although, of course, the definition of evil here is variable, let's say, perhaps, "antagonist" instead) is often even more of a cliche than the generic & contrived Hollywood Happy Ending. This has, I think, sort of faded into non-genre movies as well. But anyway, this ending was fine aka not frustrating, but I just wish that these genre movies would start doing more totally balls out weird shit for their resolutions (despite the fact that Midnight Meat Train was terrible & dumb, the ending-ending there was actually totally awesome and out of left field. I guess recently Clive Barker has been better at endings than basically anything else).

2420 - 11/17/2010 - Book of Blood - John Harrison
And speaking of Clive Barker, next up in the 47 cent pile was this. The story that frames the main narrative here is kind of weird and dumb, but the plot itself was interesting enough. The main-character woman (can you tell I never ever remember character names) was kind of strange, almost playing her role in a "wow gee isn't life full of WONDER" way that was kind of annoying, but mostly not important. Fine.

2421 - 11/23/2010 - Seventh Moon - Eduardo Sanchez
This movie was interesting because you can't see anything for about half the movie because it's shot mostly in the dark with hardly any external lights used on a handheld camera. The "immediacy" the handheld, intimate camera brings is weird. The consistent use of it kind of mutilates any sort of affect it could impart on a viewer, and instead just sort of feels like Blair Witch Project with a plot & less atmosphere. Ostensibly survival horror, I was saved by being frustrated because our protags are surviving against weird demon monsters, which is dope.

2422 - 11/27/2010 - Prom Night - Nelson McCormick
"Remake" of the Jamie Lee Curtis flick that bears absolutely no similarity to the original other than the title & the fact that murders occur on prom night. There's something odd that happens in this movie: teen girls entire family gets murdered in a terrible fashion, while she watches. Then four years later all of teengirl's friends get terribly murdered by the same dude who is obsessed with her. This is not weird; this is standard fare for a slasher filck. What's weird is how oddly neutralizing the technical aspects of this film make the murders, and the implications of the murders. This is hella dark subject matter, being the idea of psychotic obsession. Reactions are stilted-- they're "overtly emotional" but in a really distanced way. I don't even really think the distance can be blamed on "bad acting" either, since my approach to acting is to "completely not pay attention to it," or whatever (this is a lie my favorite actors are people in Zulawski's movies and people in Rollin's movies [note: these two approaches to acting are literally polar opposites but they are both perfect]). It kind of weirded me out how non-dark the darkness was.

2423 - 11/28/2010 - Blessed - Simon Fellows
Everybody on the IMDb hates this movie and calls it a worthless Rosemary's Baby ripoff which, whatever, ideologically it is, but it's certainly a lot more original and weird than most of the tripe that has come out in the last decade in wide-release theaters. It features an institutionalized coldness that is hyper-present in a lot of weirdo movies that I love (Lifespan, Night of the Hunted, Pentimento), but it's applied to this weird religious thing, and the contrast is awesome. I found this a sort of worthy successor to Rosemary's Baby, to be honest. I also definitely feel like this is another one of those movies that people in like 30 years will call a cult classic or whatever, similar to how I think Silent Hill will be majorly appreciated in the future. I mean, okay, never mind, I was about to rant about "horror fans" here but I don't have the energy to do that right now.
light

MAY - AUGUST 2010

did you know i have no updated my screening log since april

well i haven't, so here we go

2382 - 05/02/10 - La Femme Publique - Andrzej Zulawski
Zulawski, despite my theoretical standpoints on film, is probably actually my favorite filmmaker, if we compare active usage of theoretical implications/techniques vs. my enjoyment and engagement in a film. From a purely theoretical perspective Grandrieux is my favorite, and I do love his films, but Zulawski's films are even more enjoyable as they're playing. Since it's been almost 4 MONTHS since I watched this my commentary here is not so "fresh," but I can comment that I think Zulawski's use of mise en abyme, present in many of his films, I think really hits the mark here, with there being almost no separation between the film the protagonists are filming and the lives of the performers, other than costume. Zulawski also loves to include fanatical bizarre creative-types in his films, echoing his own insanity, I think, in a self-reflective way that is totally fucking solid.

2383 - 05/09/10 - Hanno cambiato faccia - Corrado Farina
Farina is responsible for Baba Yaga, which is a personal favorite, and checking out another of his films proved worthwhile, even if here the sets & tone of the film isn't quite as stylish (plus Giuliani Esperanti is nowhere near as fiiiiine as George Eastman). All of the IMDb comments begin by commenting on how it's a "cool parable of capitalism," but it's more like a cool parable of vampirism, because the ridiculous & controlling nature of capitalism is pretty much on the surface. And I mean, for it to be a parable it has to be ostensibly hidden, right? Well, whatever. It's still a fun flick, and the contemporary architecture of the house reminded me of The Black Cat for whatever reason.

2384 - 05/18/10 - De Lift - Dick Maas
This is a pretty straightforward "haunted house" movie, except it's not a house that's haunted, it's an elevator shaft, and it ends up being some sort of weird conspiracy future-shock thing instead of a ghost, but those are just minor details, right? The soundtrack is perfect early 80s bliss, and the "kills" are pretty vulgar and scattered, not in a gore sense but just like "oh a blind man falls to his death" and "oh these drunk dudes fondling tits almost stop breathing." There's a bizarre degree of atmosphere that's not exactly tense, but it's certainly something. There's also a fairly irrelevant subplot about our hero-repairman and his relationship with his wife and an overly pushy television reporter. The hero himself doesn't seem to care, so the audience doesn't either, but I kind of enjoyed the utter superfluous nature of it.

2385 - 05/24/10 - Emmanuelle - Just Jaeckin [rewatch]
I finally read the book that the series is ostensibly "based on," so I thought I would revisit the film (I was going to rewatch all three of the originals, but got distracted or something). While the book is that ideal combination of erotica and sexual philosophical discourse (that is actually progressive), the film bypasses most of the theory and ends up with some distorted idea that the philosophy that the actual Emmanuelle Arsen espouses in her novel is "unrealistic," so they try to make it "more real," or something (this is purely speculative, by the way). I suppose what I mean by that is that in the film, Jean's desire for Emmanuelle to sexually discover herself is tainted by an actual jealousy, whereas in the book Jean is not jealous in the least, in fact, he explicitly encourages Emmanuelle to learn from other men as well as women, as early as the second chapter. It's frustrating to me, ultimately, because there's this tension where it seems like, in the film, Jean is still objectifying Emmanuelle as "his," in terms of the possessive relationship marriage so often inspires, and that sort of bent distracts from the ideas of sexual freedom that are far more apparent in the book.

2386 - 05/31/10 - The Invention of Morel - Emidio Greco
The novella this is based on is pretty great, and it's also "apparently" (I say that because I don't think Robbe-Grillet has ever admitted himself, at least in any interview that's been translated to/conducted in English) the inspiration behind Last Year at Marienbad (this inspiration has less to do with the plot and more to do with the "spirit" of the narrative, I'd say), so I was curious to see how a film directly based on the novel would play out. And I'm glad to say it plays out well. If anything the movie follows the book almost too closely (at least from my memory of the novella), and where Robbe-Grillet took the spirit and made it something far more specifically cinematic, Greco's film really just feels like an adaptation. Luckily the setting & the cheateau/hotel is really fucking amazing, and the Koi pond thing is perfect. It's icy, there is a lot of marble and blank wall, it's great.

2387 - 06/14/10 - Stridulum - Giulio Paradisi
I heard about this by reading an interview with Zola Jesus where she informs the interviewer that the title of her album comes from the title of this movie. God I am really bad at constructing sentences in these micro-comments. Whatever. Anyway, most info tends to call this a sort of third-rate Omen ripoff, but really it's kind of a new-age exercise in idle-rich aesthetics that's COMPLETELY AWESOME. Of course, 1/2 of my joissance in terms of the experience of the film comes from the interiors of the apartment, and how friggin' ideal they are, along with the Tangerine Dream-esque soundtrack. It's sort of a sci-fi horror hybrid that builds momentum by being incredibly fucking unique, which is definitely something that I was pleased to find. The child is actually the reincarnate of an evil alien (instead of the anti-christ), and her bent to destroy humanity is focused first on surviving--thus, her only target is her mother, who can "feel" that she's a bad seed, or whatever. There's kind of a jaw-dropping scene where the little girl pretty opens a present at her birthday party and discovers a gun, which, smiling, nonchalantly shoots her mother, which ends up CONFINING HER TO A WHEELCHAIR, as the girl laughs and skips away. But mostly my interest here is aesthetics, it's got a lot of visual signifiers of new-age-alien-claptrap-via-1982, which is, of course, perfect.

2388 - 06/26/10 - Sunshine - Danny Boyle
Hey I certainly liked this a lot more than pretty much everything else I have seen from Danny Boyle, but that is perhaps because I have an obsession with the sun. There's also a degree of artistry that Boyle pulls off regarding the design of the spaceship (the plant room for oxygen is amazing & ingenious) and the space of Space. The ending is pretty stupid, and normally I wouldn't care, but I wasn't entirely sold on the rest of it. Dude who kills himself via the sun is the best part though. Ended up making me wish I was watching Event Horizon.

2389 - 07/01/10 - Institute Benjamenta - Brothers Quay [rewatch]
Yearly rewatch. I think the hyper-sensual (literally, as in "appealing to all five senses", there's probably a better way to say this) nature of this film is often overlooked, and as this is not only the best thing the Quay Brothers have ever done, but also one of the best flicks ever made, it's still problematic to me that they're known primarily as stop-motion filmmakers. But, really, even something like 8 years after I saw this for the first time, this is still one of the most perfect synthesis of image with sound and narrative that I've ever come across.

2390 - 07/05/10 - Querelle - Rainer Werner Fassbinder [rewatch]
This is pretty much one of the most sexually-exciting movies ever, and while I realize there is an entirely subjective motivation behind me saying that, I really feel like the directly fetishistic nature of this is why it seems like so many (heterosexual males or whateverly-oriented females) pan it as bad Fassbinder. There's a direct relationship between violence, the gaze, and sexual fulfillment that is divorced from the idea of queer identity that, as far as I can tell, or at least offer as a reason for people hating this, would make politically-conscious straights uncomfortable (i.e. I think it'd be pretty easy to read as evidence of internalized-homophobia or something if you aren't queer yourself or aren't at least steeped in queer theory). For me, this film is basically pure sex. More boners-per-minute here than most hardcore porn gets out of me. It's also really a bummer that this was Fassbinder's last film, 'cos if this was the direction he was going in I'm pretty pissed we didn't get to see more. It's a perfect world of sexual fantasy. Like, I can't even really articulate how fucking hot this movie is.

2391 - 07/11/10 - Serpent and the Rainbow - Wes Craven
A recent spike in my interest in witchcraft/voudou and other variously similar religious practices had me suddenly hankering for this movie, which was, of course, kind of ridiculous. Also, I think everybody knows that I mostly don't give a shit about acting, but Bill Pullman is ridiculously wooden in this movie, or maybe he's just playing the role in a way that completely doesn't make sense. There are some nice images here, and I don't know if they're Craven's or the author of the book the flick's based on's, but regardless I'm glad they're there. The problem is that shit is kind of boring at parts, and it is uncomfortable watching a narrative that gets it's launching point from, basically, the exploitation of Haiti (and the film doesn't seem to care at all), while there is Serious Shit going on in Haiti, but overall I was OK with it.

2392 - 07/11/10 - Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple - Stanley Nelson
Along with the witchcraft, shit like death cults have been on my mind. I knew the basics of Jonestown, and was already vaguely fascinated by it due to the subplot in the third Tales of the City miniseries/book, but this is a much larger picture, and it's assembled by survivors of the camp, which is interesting. Especially because this film isn't directly antagonistic towards Jones-- the main point that's revealed is that initially the Peoples Temple was basically a Utopian-Anarchist group that still subscribed to Christian doctrine. I mean, it's pretty clear that while Jones was totally fucked up and did terrible, terrible shit, he started out really trying to help people and make a positive impact on the world. Somewhere along the lines shit went way wrong, but survivor's testaments to the fact that initially this was a good thing really sort of affirm to me that there was something happening. As a note, I literally have no capacity to discuss the form of non-fiction films. This seemed fairly standard, but as I was watching the flick for information & clips of original footage, that's not problematic?

2393 - 07/16/10 - Inception - Christopher Nolan
I think I commented on this when everybody saw it when it came out and I was still behind on my screening log, but I'll just say: unlike everybody else on the god damn internet who either loved this or hated it, I had basically no feeling towards it. I found it entertaining and dumb and that is fine. Tom Hardy is hot in it. That is the end of what I have to say about Inception.

2394 - 07/23/10 - Aliens - James Cameron
Not as good, or at least not as interesting to me as the first one. I mean it certainly wasn't a chore to sit through all 2 and a half hours, which was nice, but for me there is nothing particularly memorable. It's cool but isolated scientists in space are less occasionally-irritating than military and capitalists. Michael Biehn is way hot in this though, which was a weird thing to realize. Cameron's sentimentality gets annoying at times, but whatever, there is some kind of tense shit.

2395 - 07/23/10 - Expulsion of the Devil - Juan Luis Bunuel
The weird thing about this movie is that there's not a lot that happens in it, but what does happen seems to happen really fast. This is sort of a Poltergeist ripoff, but it adapts a far more European approach than Hooper's hyper-American view. It's also "one of those movies" where I really wanted to like it, because occasionally super weird shit will happen, but ultimately I feel let down, and can't exactly articulate why.

2396 - 07/26/10 - The Quest - Saul & Elaine Bass
This is pure visual satisfaction, to the point where the narrative doesn't even matter. The only thing of interest is the set, the imaginative architecture, and that is really enough to carry interest in the entire film (it's only about a half hour long). The visual sense is terrific, really really lovely.

2397 - 07/31/10 - Miracle Mile - Steve De Jarnatt
Oddly affecting in a really fucking bizarre way. Like, the first 3/4s of the movie are sort of slapstickish 80s "zaniness" and then shit gets real pretty quickly. Definitely worked. Like, it starts out almost corny and then by the end leaves you in a state of disbelief. I have to assume that that was the intent here, and it's pulled off remarkably apt--it's really hard to notice when exactly the shift occurs. Which resulted in me enjoying this a lot more than I expected to. I should clarify, I was enjoying it (especially when it sort of takes on it's new direction 1/3 of the way into the film by dodging a set up that could have ended with a generic Romantic Comedy plot), but didn't decide that it was actually kind of amazing until the end hits. There's also a weird tension present that reminded me of After Hours, though while that sort of just shows me my own nightmares and thus the tension is pretty subjective, this is more oddly biting away at your subconscious, or something.

2398 - 08/16/10 - Wild Orchid - Zalman King
Valerie kind of hits on everything you need to know in her brilliant-fucking-commentary over here, but I will just add that this movie is really a pure example of the absolute joy, divorced from any intellectual conversation, that I can thankfully still derive from movies. Like, if I ever get to a point in my life where I can't just bliss-out and watch something that is perhaps objectively dumb & dated, I do not want to be alive any more.

2399 - 08/17/10 - Hackers - Iain Softley [rewatch]
Okay, yeah, so I think we all know that this is pretty dumb and really, really unrealistic, but my response to that is, of course: so what? I mean, even when I was like 12 years old and saw this for the first time I always just considered that the 3D visual exploration of networks & shit was just sort of a visual signifier to entertain the audience, since watching command prompts for 20 minutes would be really, really boring. I mean, thinking that the director, or whatever, actually thinks that that is how people hack is pretty ignorant. Beyond that, I think what I actually still really like about this is it's ideology-- there's hints of an actual hacker mindset, with the ideas that information should be free & available to all, but most impressive is the autonomy that is both practiced by the "kids" and supported by the parents. While I'm sure there is a degree of cinematic fantasy involved in this, these teens actually get to actualized a sense of agency over themselves, and in DADE MURPHY'S case, his mother even supports him (via the arrest at the end).

2400 - 08/18/10 - Re-Wind - Hisayasu Sato [rewatch / sort of]
I saw this a year or two ago without subtitles, and since Sato movies are kind of batshit and occasionally nonsensical enough with subtitles, I didn't really have any idea what was going on. It's slightly more apparent with subtitles, though it seems like Sato likes to pull similar "reveals" over and over again throughout his career. The "snuff studio" at the end of the film is really amazing and sparse and it had an amazing title that I unfortunately cannot remember, and the gleeful perversion of the incest scenes (which aren't apparent as incest without subtitles-- "Let's commit incest!") is kind of funny in a very Sato-ian way. Ultimately it's not mind-blowing, but there are some interesting ideas and images.

2401 - 08/22/10 - Play It As It Lays - Frank Perry
Ultimately pretty fucking glorious. Didion's novel is one of my favorite books, and I'm tempted to say that the movie is just as good. Being, more or less, a story that is ultimately about a discontent/depressed actress in LA is something that can be committed to celluloid without losing any lustre. It's sort of like a Radley Metzger film with a lot more psychological probing, it's gleefully perverse in it's depiction of the idle rich (which apparently I never get tired of seeing). Tuesday Weld is perfect as Maria, but even better is Anthony Perkins as B.Z., which is maybe one of my new favorite performances/characters o.a.t., I'm totally in love.

2402 - 08/27/10 - Innocence - Lucille Hadzihalilovic [rewatch]
Another flick I haven't watched for a while, it popped into my head and decided I had to watch it RIGHT AWAY. I was distraught to discover my DVD no longer works, but it was easy enough to download again. I definitely appreciated the film more this time around, and I'm not sure why other than I guess it's more my pace? It's really a beautiful film, and there's sort of a terror lurking beneath everything scene, even when Positive things are happening. The perversity that's present here also actually feels threatening rather than sort of gleeful, which I think is part of what makes this uncomfortable. (But I like to feel a little uncomfortable, obviously).

2403 - 08/27/10 - Pretty Baby - Louis Malle
In terms of narrative this, I guess, falls flat? Like, it seems like in terms of its construction it should end up making some sweeping statement, or something, but instead it just kind of gets infinitely sad without getting all that melancholy and I feel hella bad for Keith Carradine's character who is kind of gorgeous and just happened to fall in love with Brooke Shields. It's way frustrating because, like, it clearly sort of presents Shields's character without much autonomy, despite the fact that she clearly does exhibit agency & autonomy while still falling into traps of being a 12 year-old-girl or whatever. I like the first half or so, in the whore house, because, I have realized, that I really like whore-house/brothel narratives, possibly mostly because of the architecture & hyper-sexualized "aura," or whatever. But I ended up really liking this, and despite Brooke being hella young, this feels remarkably less pervy that decontextualized film-stills would lead one to believe (thanks internet).
light

SCREENING LOG FOR MARCH & APRIL 2010

2361 - On the Silver Globe - Andrzej Zulawski
    Stunning, mouth agape, stunning. Certainly up there with Possession and L'Important C'est D'aimer, marred slightly by weird too-contemporary-sounding proggy 80s rock guitar solos. One of the things that I love best about Zulawski's films is his use of music, and this is no except save those few bits that really break the diegesis in a way that breaks affect too.
     This is actually potentially more 'other-worldly' than any other Zulawski film, and it's that quality that makes me love his work. The narrative (based on a novel by his father) is almost impenetrable, but what's important is that the narrative is only there to carry these spectacular scenes and images that are delivered in the most frenzied delirium imaginable. If you take Klaus Kinski at his craziest and multiply that by at least 50% you arrive at an approximation of the level of intensity brought forth by EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE ACTORS AND ACTRESSES IN THIS MOVIE. It's really glorious. Even parts where low budget (the bird-people's costumes are definitely weaker than the 'monster' in Possession) shine through, the film avoids slipping into camp by maintaining it's atmosphere and holding onto it's affect. It's certainly flawed, and it certainly would have been better had it been completed (although I actually really like the voice-over narration on contemporary footage scenes as punctuation, actually), but it's still an incredible thing that I can barely believe exists. At almost three hours or so in length I wasn't ready for it to be over. Zulawski might actually be the perfect director for my tastes, no idea why I still haven't devoured his entire filmography. Perhaps I'm savoring.

2362 - Inferno - Romeo Castellucci
    Shot for television, this is, from what I can tell, a fairly successful adaptation of Castellucci's play for television. What I mean by adaptation is that it's still performed on a stage, in front of an audience, but it's shot with an attention to the spectator as viewing the incidents from a television screen: thus there are close up to bring detail to what we cannot physically look closer at/magnify without details, the camera turns towards the audience for an 'interactive' element (that is largely reminiscent of my experience at a Blue Man Group show, oddly enough), sound is balanced for stereo speakers, etc.
    I have been majorly interested in the productions of Castellucci since I've found out about them, and this is yet another case of me having something and not watching/reading/listening to it for years, a really annoying habit that has been biting me in the ass lately. Luckily, this lived up to my expectations, though in a way different than what I had imagined: this difference, I expect, comes from my history as someone highly acquainted with film and largely (but not entirely) ignorant of theater. There is a sort of haptic gaze you can apply to the theater in a way that is different than in film: when you watch the movement of a body in theater it is more presence than movement, and despite the fact that the theater I have seen is always filmed version, I think there is still an insistence in the way the body moves and the way the "play" itself moves.
    I was slightly confused about the tenuous Warhol connection (I will admit: I know a decent amount about Warhol; at least enough to recognize all the reference; but perhaps not enough about Dante to know how it fits into the narrative movement of the piece?). I considered the idea of the artist as present in the work, especially since Warhol was obviously the star of his own art-world (and it was his persona that made him memorable as much as, if not more than, his art), and the fact that Castellucci himself begins the work by walking onto stage, announcing "Je suis Romeo Castellucci!," putting on some weird sort of body armor, and letting himself be attacked by "wild" (though obviously trained) dogs as many dogs chained to the front of the stage bark and snarl at the audience. It's an amazing way to start a work.

2363 - School Gyrls - Nick Cannon
    I will copy/paste my initial thoughts as related to my roommate via facebook: "
so holy crap; this movie is kind of retarded and amazing at the same time. it's only 46 minutes long and is basically just a music video. worth watching.
    I don't know if I can really call this a "movie" when it's really a 45 minute music video, but whatever, it's not like i regret watching it. Also: Nick Cannon what????

2364 - Sun Ra: Space is the Place - John Coney
    Sun Ra is one of my favorite musicians of all time, and this movie is sort of an interested look into his "world," and the world at the time. I feel like this really encapsulates a lot of what I know about his 'ideology,' but it's presented in such a hodge-podge/camp manner that it's hard to really take it seriously, and I wonder if that's how Ra looked at it himself. It's a hell of a fun hour and a half, with random interludes of Ra's sweet tunes, but the narrative serves really nothing besides scenes staged to illustrate this or that concept. It's interesting, and actually pretty awesome, steeped in 70s aesthetics.

2365 - Zoo Zero - Alain Fleischer
    There is a ton that is present here. It is very French, and very sort of emotionally intense, in a way that is not recognizable in contemporary cinema. This movie is saturated in the color blue, and characters are basically ghosts but they are alive. The plot is so desperate it's impossible, and that makes it really beautiful. This is like a gallery of cult French stars of the 70s. Catherine Jourdan and Klaus Kinski make a surprisingly good match. I want to watch it again and think about it more, because watching it made me feel kind of amazing in a way that I can't articulate, but it is the way I like to feel when I watch movies that I call "esotika" movies.


2365 - Bilitis - David Hamilton
    Apparently based on a Pierre Louys novel, at least tangentially, this is really light and sunny. There's some weird potential misogyny going on, but it's, like, conflicted, and you can never really tell if there's actually dissatisfaction or if everybody is just playing games. Hamilton's cinematography is not as beautiful as his photography, but I have a personal aesthetic interest in the soft-focus look of erotica from this time period so it's enjoyable nonetheless. I also actually kind of like the aimless eroticism. Like, there are a million bits that do nothing to further the plot, or add any sort of narrative dimension, but they wallow in the beautiful which creates a sort of eroticized space for the movie to exist in. It seems like the first half of the 80s were the last time anybody really managed to pull this off (Borowczyk does this a lot too, and I hadn't really realized that until now). In the 90s the hardcore revolution on video tainted 'erotica' to be as hard as possible while still being permitted on cable television, so the abandonment of narrative meant that the entire movie became aimless titillation, and instead of opening up the entire movie, it just devolved into repetition without context.

2367 - L'Argent - Robert Bresson
    Bresson is kind of amazing, and I don't know how I never realized that before? Somehow this movie, made by virtually anybody else, would be either boring or really annoying to me (I can't normally deal with narratives that involve people getting dicked-over repeatedly), but under Bresson's hand, and with the absence of "real" actors, this is actually really engaging. I don't think it's necessarily an example of cause and effect, but sort of a really admirable demonstration on capitalism, and how it fucks people up, and how easy it is to fuck with (I mean, two young kids set an entire narrative in motion that ends in the death of a family). I also like Bresson's totally cold tone, I think because I don't generally care about characters, and I don't really think Bresson does either; his characters don't seem to be people, but conduits for ideas and events.

2368 - L'enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot - Serge Bromberg & Ruxandra Medrea
    I don't know much, or think I even care that much about Clouzot, but after seeing some amazing footage of Romy Schneider on youtube I was way after this. Unfortunately, you can see all the best footage, more or less, on youtube, and not really have to worry about watching the entire movie. The story of the attempted making of the movie never really arrives at a point, and really only offers an opportunity to show all the footage shot for the abandoned project, which is interesting in it's own right, but the context the footage was thrown into seems kind of... dry? Yeah, dry. It's factual and slightly interesting, but I am more concerned with how amazing some of this footage is than how demanding Clouzot was or how behind schedule everybody was or how many times they shot scene X...

2369 - House of Voices - Pascal Laugier
    This is the only feature length film Laugier made before Martyrs, so I was curious to see it to see how he had developed as an artist. The plot here is more traditional, but still interesting, and there's a sort of similar "totally abrupt change of tone" near the end that is actually totally amazing, disorienting, & creepy. It doesn't really work as well because it ostensibly becomes chalked up to delusion, similar to I guess the ending of Haute Tension, and makes it kind of weak. However, if you compare this film to Martyrs, the fact that the abrupt, disconcerting, disorienting, enigmatic change of tone in Martyrs ISN'T just delusion/dream/psychosis, but the actual diegetic reality, it becomes interesting. It's almost as if the former film establishes expectations for the second, and then intentionally violates them.

2370 - Identikit aka The Driver's Seat - Giuseppe Patroni Griffi
    As a film based on a novel, it's not perfect, and not surprisingly it is Muriel Spark's text in The Driver's Seat that gives it it's power (plus the original ending is a lot more astounding than the film's ending, which is kind of banal and much less affective/transgressive. However, I am pretty sure that if I hadn't read the novel before seeing the movie (although, knowing and loving the novel is entire reason I looked for the movie) that I would have loved this. It's ostensibly a murder-mystery told inside out, and a lot of the mise-en-scene takes place in vacant rooms done up in very mid-century modern styling. Elizabeth Taylor is pretty good as Lise, although being inside of her head via the text is a far more rewarding experience than Taylor's filmic neuroticism. The book builds itself up by way of sensual tension, whereas the movie is an eternal present that attempts to build success via the inter-cut "flash-forward" scenes of the "murder investigation."
light

SCREENING LOG FOR FEBRUARY 2010

2348 - Blow Job - Alberto Cavallone
     Tone similar to Longchamp's Simona. An incredibly heady mix of Italian supernatural films and hippy-philosophy deconstructed with nihilistic intent. Misses the mark of perfect, but there is enough there to make it worthwhile. Cavallone's incredibly disruptive editing style is in full force, and works well to highlight the bodily displacement of the protagonists

2349 - Martyrs - Pascal Laugier
     I took notes about this because I want to write something full, but for some reason I'm facing this idea that I don't know how to actually write about film. So I have these notes, but I'm taking a break to read a lot of film criticism that is actually worthwhile in order to recontextualize what I'm doing. Regardless, here are some of my notes:

     DIVINE ECSTASY AND EXTREME HORROR
     MARTYRS

     2-ACT STRUCTURE
     Act one follows the dictate of "unending suspension without relief" disrupted only by the occasionally misguided non-diegetic music cue. Lucie's physical manifestation of psychic terror serves not only to heighten the tension, but also to question the validity of her claim (thus the discovery of the passageways leading to the 'dungeon' have a more amplified presence of epiphany, and thus, terror of the unknown).

     As viewers this level of emotional manipulation is necessary not for a bourgeois sense of "locating the self in the film," but rather to extend the degree of the film's affect. We might sympathize with Lucie, but this is why she has to die half-way through the film: the purpose of the necessary (manipulated) sympathy is only to play into the heightened emotional state, expose in the viewer him or herself the level of terror (bodily terror, anxiety), thus creating a vulnerable mental space for when the second half of the film hits (the ideas of the film, the "point," so to speak).

     The entire first act serves little purpose other than to place the viewer in a location of intense psychological affect.

     APPROPRIATION OF REALITY
     It has been pointed out that the Leng Tch'e photographs feature a man, not a woman, as mademoiselle describes to anna in the film. I would venture to suggest that this is not an unknown mistake on Laugier's part, rather, it is a deliberate change to fit an element of reality into the fictional narrative. Shortly after the photographic album is introduced, Mademoiselle comments that "We have had the most success with young women."

     The Leng Tch'e photograph is one of the most remarkable (and well-known) images of torture available to our contemporary milieu, because it does indeed serve to highlight the ecstatic horror of facing death. That is why its presence as a signifier in the film continues to heighten the intensity of the atmosphere. And this is why faulting the film for "not knowing the the human being pictured is a man" is an irrelevant criticism. If we were to consider it a fault that a man (with no distinguishing genitalia visible in the film, as opposed to some of the other photographs taken from the incident) is called a woman in order to heighten the narrative intensity of a fictional world, then we would also have to criticize the film for calling actress Morjana Alaoui "Anna" for two hours instead of "Morjana." The world of the film is a fictional world, the purpose of the fictional world is affect the viewer: reality is not a necessary element, it is only a tool used to expand the film's tone.

     and further notes:

     "I think it's ultimate point is experience, affect, more than any sort of "message" it might be implicit in delivering. Less than making us "examine violence" I think the purpose of the violence is to push the viewer into a specific mental state which is disrupted twice: the first time with the interjection of Anna's discovery of the underground system & the intervention of madam, and second near the end when the suffering has stopped and transcendence is reached. If the first hour were, instead of constant pain and violence, simply Lucie shooting the family and then 'dealing with it,' the emotional/affective tension would be severely delimited, and it would become more about psychologizing the characters rather than the film acting as an event-becoming. There is a specific contrast between the unending sadism without release & the epiphanic moment of discovery in the middle, the epiphany, both in the discovery BY the view and the character of Anna is really fucking heightened to a level of "holy-shit-ness." I mean, I think this is specifically intentional because the objective view that Lucie's "demons" are actually delusions come at the climax of the first movement of violence, directly before the cabinet is opened and the hallway revealed. We have intense violence, the revelation of delusion, and then while we are in the befucked "space" as a viewer, everything is suddenly contradicted and the discovery is made.

     Thus, the second 'act' starts with us in this different mental place than we were at for the first 'act,' -- this is why the violence is (arguably) restrained though still intense-- Laugier needs to maintain the tension, the "upness" that the violence brings, because this is necessary for the 'relief of transcendence' to have any weight at all. For if the viewer is already relaxed before Anna SEES, there is no experience present, it becomes an exclusively diegetic event, there is no viewer/participant catharsis.

     Also, regarding "indulging the viewer by satisfying their lust for sadism," i think the poeticized/intellectualized ending here is not only perfectly indicative of french intellectual culture, but also a big 'fuck you' to the presumed target audience, and this leads me to think that i don't really think laugier gives a shit about his audiences critical reaction-- i think he only cares about the experience of viewing the film.

     the act of violence/sadism used in terms of an affective excess plays deeply into Bataille's notions of expenditure/his 'accursed share,' which i don't think i'm totally as comfortable with as i could be to use to enlighten how this film works, but i will attempt:


     "If a part of wealth (subject to a rough estimate) is doomed to destruction or at least to unproductive use without any possible profit, it is logical, even inescapable, to surrender commodities without return. Henceforth, leaving aside pure and simple dissipation, analogous to the construction of the Pyramids, the possibility of pursuing growth is itself subordinated to giving: The industrial development of the entire world demands of Americans that they lucidly grasp the necessity, for an economy such as theirs, of having a margin of profitless operations. An immense industrial network cannot be managed in the same way that one changes a tire... It expresses a circuit of cosmic energy on which it depends, which it cannot limit, and whose laws it cannot ignore without consequences. Woe to those who, to the very end, insist on regulating the movement that exceeds them with the narrow mind of the mechanic who changes a tire."
     (Bataille in The Accursed Share)




     The idea here is that, even if the bloodshed, the sadism, the violence is simply excess, there is a use-value to be found in this excess qua excess; there doesn't need to be a reason for it outside of the fact that it is being used-- and excess-as-use-value here is serving the creation of an experience, and this transgresses, inherently, the general viewing mode that cinema has historically established. in this way the unending violence is not only an experiential act, but also a performative one, refusing not only mimetic representation & bourgeois thematic/ "high art" ideas of what cinema can represent, rather, it is used as an example of what cinema in itself can do.


2350 - House of the Devil - Ti West
     What I liked best about this was how simple it is-- it's a very straight-forward story that isn't cluttered by much of what makes other contemporary horror frustrating (i.e. irrelevant plot to make the characters 'three dimensional'). It is understood here that character hardly matter in a horror film, that the affect of spending so much time with a single character is enough to develop a necessary level of empathy. This empathy generally isn't even needed, since our culture is so rooted within the good guy vs. bad guy dichotomy we, as viewers, understand how the film/spectator relationship is expected to work at this point, the development of a character in a horror movie (a genre that aims primarily at sensual/visceral reactions) is a moot point at this time. But anyway, there is no time wasted with 'character development,' rather, we are introduced to a protagonist, we learn why she is desperate for money, and then she goes to the creepy house to 'babysit.' There is no bullshit here. There is the quirky friend (a staple of 80s horror) who is quickly disposed of, and the actual gore is only present in the last 10 minutes or so.
     In terms of 'throw-back' horror, this is, I think, most successful at that because of how subtle it is. Tarantino's grindhouse throwbacks fail because it's so over-the-top we cannot recognize anything but the attempt at displacement, a recognition of the past, whereas West's film simply adopts the techniques of 80s horror into a narrative that is set in the 80s. There is no obsessive browbeating over "fanboy details" here, there is only a rad horror movie.

2351 - Straight-Jacket - Richard Day [rewatch]
     Mmm, my own fault, I suppose, but the level of reluctant fantasy I can launch into with this is almost unmatched. Coded Rock Hudson's intellectual working-class hottie love interest's jaw line kills me and the naivety of romance makes me pine. I realized this time around, a second viewing, that I can possibly justify my reaction to this movie on a level other than bourgeois displacement: the humor is dead on in a darkly campy way that I've never seen anywhere outside of early 90s "indie" movies and "gay fiction" movies of the last two decades.

2352 - Sherlock Holmes - Guy Ritchie [rewatch]
     Hairy, mustachioed Jude Law with fine suits & a limp (the most ostensibly 'odd' of my fetishes) runs this for me (and warranted the $4 ticket to see it for a second time in theaters), but on a level of narrative and just cinematic happenstance, I can admire this for the same reason I can admire the three filmic versions of Charlie's Angels: the level of excitement might be occasionally held by explosions and punches and Ritchie's stupid-ass camera angles, but ultimately our protagonists are not macho assholes (which is what I assume Jason Statham's character is in the Crank movies... of course, even if the character he's playing is not a macho asshole, Statham will still look like one no matter what, so I will not be able to enjoy) but rather something inherently marginalized in the cinema of excitement: women, in the case of Charlie's Angels are appropriated not as a fetish object as in Tarantino, but rather as actual excited women who are doing things, and "gay men" in the case of this movie, where Holmes & Watson care far more about each other both visually and in dialogue than they do about their presumed 'love interests' that are tacked on to maintain the hetero-distance so Watson & Holmes's relationship can be characterized as a fucking "bromance" (I hate that term, so much). But this tacking on serves no narrative purpose, so it doesn't disrupt the diegetic pleasures of these two adorable men loving each other.

2353 - Acceleration - Ivan Martinac
     I can barely remember a single image from this film, other than the shot of a moon above a forest (or a building) and a man in sunglasses standing in front of in camera. But this is not a fault, because what I can remember, more than images, is a sense of the editing. The images move in a quick, jarred secession until their developing rhythm is quickly interrupted by a longer scene that has little to do with the quick images that have come beforehand. This style creates a real emotive sense of the film in itself, and this material, visceral presence supersedes the images, makes them not as important (for my purposes, at least).

2354 - Tunnel - Thomas Demand
     This video reminded me of another architecture-based video art piece that is apparently by a different artist (though not someone whose name I can remember) in it's motion based exploration of a model of architectural space. There is something here though, and the gentle lull of audio that accompanies the perspective "swoop" helps to fill up an enjoyment the other artist lacked. The image is confused: apparently a recreation of the tunnel and visual perspective that Princess Diana died in, we are treated to ten minutes of a repeating ~20-30 second clip. But the clip does change, and I found myself faced with an almost unreasonable amount of anxiety by one of the repeating clips, mainly in the fact that it was riding too far to the left of the "road," mainly due to the angle of the camera, I think, which lead to me being stressed out about when/if that specific clip (there are only about 3 variations that I noticed at least) would come up, and when that specific clip/angle repeated multiple times consecutively I found myself kind of aggressively bothered. I kind of liked that though.
     Also, I'm fairly certain this was intended as a video to be projected in a gallery, possibly as part of an installation, so my reading of the video as an "entity" in it's own right, watched a single time straight through, is probably distanced from the actual intention of the artist. Of course, I generally don't give a shit about the intention of the artist because it is the spectator that creates the work by engaging with it. Still, I like to consider the different routes of viewing something and how different methods can create different affects. I think a large projection in a dark room, were I to watch this for more than a minute or two in a gallery, would have been even more stressful for me. I can't figure out if this is an entirely subjective response (I mean, well duh, but like if it's uniquely subjective), or if there was an attempt in the close angle to heighten the anxiety. The intention would feel accurate in the fact that the architectural location is tied to a pop-culture death, and the subversion of an over-saturated event is a transgressive act in it's own right.

2355 - Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 - Tony Randel [rewatch]
     This movie is a mess. The dialogue is atrocious, but that's okay because it's completely unimportant. Most of the movie is actually incompetent, but that also doesn't really matter. Picking up immediately after the first Hellraiser ends (I think, it's been years since I've watched the first one), there's a little too much footage from the first move in the first forty minutes of this. I suppose, since the plot does pick up literally immediately after the first one ends, it's necessary to contextualize the narrative (this is, of course, a commercial film), but considering I was watching it for aesthetics & concepts it was annoying. I am glad, however, that this immediate a la Halloween 2 sequel allows for the film to completely eschew any desire to establish a character or psychologize anyone. There are hints at pathos in hell-tinged flashbacks, enough to sort of disrupt diegetic horror into an implied terror (occasionally), but nothing distracting.
     This is actually sort of all over the place, and there's a weird three minute Pinhead backstory that is introduced solely so the plot device of having Cenobites remember that they weren't always Cenobites in order to allow Kirsty-Kristy-Casey (I swear to God all three names are used) & her mute puzzle-solving friend ("Shit...") to escape. But what's important, of course, are two things: 1) the obsession of Dr. Whatever that brings us, as spectators, a room full of artifacts, diagrams, and ephemera related to the cenobites, the box, and hell. As a giant obsessive nerd who is interested in objects, this kind of shit really turns me on. I would be way into some retarded movie-tie-in book that collects this stuff as "back-story." Intertextuality pretty much feeds half my interests. 2) "Hell" itself as a giant fucking labyrinth with a diamonded-double-pyramid called "Leviathan." The architecture of hell in this movie fucking rules, and I'm into the idea of lots of compartmentalized areas of pain and desire and torture separated by unending corridors. Plus my penchant for late-80s/early-90s CGI is met to a tee here.
     Also, in contrast to horror movies of the last decade, there is an actual intensity present here, an edge of suspense. The present state of horror seems to rely on viscera without atmosphere, or jump-shocks that fail to linger beyond the brief experience itself. This has actual suspense that seeps into the entire run-time

2356 - Lecons de Tenebre - Vincent Dieutre
     Overwhelmingly sensual. Actual bodies of older men in a hand-held warm light; bodies of oil, renaissance/baroque paintings (I think, I'm pretty bad at art before the 20th century) muscles, faces, limbs, light. The camera teaches how to look at these paintings, how to understand the bodies pictured, how to return to beauty. Beauty, a narrator says, is what we must remember is important, what we must go back to.
     Adapting a second-person perspective in the narration ("You go to Rome... you remember his torso... [etc]") is an interesting technique. We do not have enough information to indulge in a bourgeois empathy, but we are experiencing the film, and the narration calls us out on this. There is a man on screen which is clearly the you, so it is also possible to read this "you" as directly addressing the man, and not the spectator. Of course, because of the nature of the film itself, we understand that it is the man himself who is speaking the you. But his "you" is clearly an "I." So how do we read this? I think we have to understand that it is Dieutre talking to himself-- in a fictional context, of course, as the character of the self (who I think is played by Dieutre) kills himself at the end (and Dieutre is alive). Is the plot fiction or memoir? Does it matter?
     There are two things that matter to the men in this film: art and the bodies of other men. This, I think, is possibly most of that I care about, so I might be easily accessible as an experiential target for this film, but you can really feel this. Colors, lights, repetitions, noises, bodies.

2357 - Antichrist - Lars von Trier
More notes from a comments thread:

     The problem that I’ve realized that I sort of have with LvT, and more directly, his “in-your-face” attitude (vs. his fairly subtle films), is that he is a director that is obviously really aiming for affect, and that is the number 1 thing that I look for in films, but he’s still so wrapped up in traditional “art house” modes of cinema (I think it’s particularly revealing that he spear-headed the Dogme 95 movement, which I think was him ostensibly trying to break out of his own shell [and more or less failing]) (even in Antichrist he dedicates the film to Tarkovsky [which, of course, can be read in different ways, but ultimately, despite Tarkovsky's penchant for the emotive status film can inspire, the materiality of film itself ((paralleled to a writing community as THE LEVEL OF THE SENTENCE, or the physical materials making up the book, etc., etc.)) never much concerned him]) that he cannot break free enough to push towards pure (or purist) affect in the way many French filmmakers have done (c.f. Martine Beugnet, Nicole Brenez) & the way many “experimental” filmmakers constantly do.


     He is moving, but sometimes you have to question “at what cost” and “why,” and how do I need to react to this, can this affect be attained when I am not in the diegesis of the narrative, etc. For films like La Vie Nouvelle and Lecons de Tenebre you could take a scene out of the context of the narrative that loosely threads the films together, and you can view it, and because it is spawning affect on a material (corporeal) level , you can still feel it as deeply as you can in context. Whereas with von Trier, his work is always very dependent upon the whole (i.e. his entire book is more important than his sentences). The most affecting scenes in Antichrist (I am using as my primary example of LvT affect because you’ve mentioned your familiarity with it) (namely Gainsbourg mutilating herself, the revelation of the mother distorting her son’s feet, Dafoe coming blood) are lighter, more as pure shock/schlock when divorced from the emotive narrative the film as a whole inspires.



2358 - Thot Fal'n - Stan Brakhage
     I have a difficult time engaging with Brakhage films, and I think this is for two primary reasons: the lack of sound almost ever (I enter a quandary: it is hard for me to do anything on a computer in silence if I am not at work, so is it okay for me to watch a film while I have other music playing? Is that distorting the intended affect? Should I care? Has Brakhage ever talked about the lack of sound? I'm sure it's a purity of the image thing or something...), and secondly, while there are often very beautiful images, the editing makes everything seem like it has equal weight, which therefore makes none of it important. For some reason this film was different. I let myself listen to music while I watched it, and more than ever before I was struck by many of the images in the film: water, sunlight, structures. And I noticed, for the first time, that maybe there is a narrative of movement here, that there is something that makes these films engaging that I'm just completely missing (or maybe at least just this one was). I know that talking about the mechanical aspects of experimental film is ostensibly useless, and in my own appreciation of film criticism it hardly matters to me any more how a film is made. What is important is how the film made me feel, and this film made me feel several things: I felt a pleasure in the sparkling texture of water moving, I felt desire for an oversaturated sun, for film grain and bright colors, and for a push through images that found repetitions as refrain.

2359 - 22/69: Happy-End - Kurt Kren
     Opens up with a clear shot of a woman's vagina, and then we are quickly plunged into the dark of a movie theater where (what looks liked) a Spaghetti Western is playing. The screen is shown at a rapid speed, occasionally at an odd angle, occasionally straight on. After some cuts showing the film within the film from different degrees, we are treated to a brief burst of 'hardcore' sexual intercourse, and then taken back to the film. This happens again a few more times, each time the sex shots becoming more brief.
     I'm not sure what to think about this. There's an interested disjunction between the cinema & the body, but we are viewing both on a screen, so it's meta-cinema and cinema we are comparing, I guess. There's nothing to pose the two in opposition either except for the cuts: are we to consider our roles as spectators? We watch a camera watch a movie and we watch an anonymous man and woman fuck. I don't know.

2360 - Thurible - Rusty Kelley
     This is really beautifully shot, and the tone is really confusing, but in a way that I like it. There's a sort of weird tension that's balanced where I kept expecting things to move into the absurd, like at times I almost expected people to burst out laughing, but really it just contributes to an abject tone of ritual, and the all-too-brief ending is actually pretty special because of this. Expectations are inverted in structure, and because of that it's unexpected and delivers something not found anywhere else.
tellmethatkillingyouwasincrediblysexy

SCREENING LOG FOR OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER 2009 & JANUARY 2010

2322 - 10/10/09 - Surrogates - Jonathan Mostow
I saw this with my friends on a Saturday and ate nachos while I watched it. It was fine, good stupid fun. I don't particularly remember anything that happened in it 4 months later, but I know it has some disposable opinions on 'the future of technology' and Bruce Willis with a kind of hot haircut, interestingly enough.


2323 - 10/11/09 - The Inconfessable Orgies of Emmanuelle - Jess Franco
I watched this for research when writing this article: (http://www.severin-films.com/2010/02/05/francos-golden-productions/), and then I pretty much forget it pretty quickly. Like, even before I wrote the article. Which was problematic, but I think I pulled it off okay (if you read the article you will notice that there are no textual references to this).... okay, I just went to read another review of this and I remember it more now. Yeah, there are some kind of hot scenes, but it was mostly kind of boring and average, especially for an 80s Franco flick.


2324 - 10/31/09 - House of Yes - Mark Waters
Hilarious. Parker Posey is incredible. I'm also a fan of super-artificial dialogue/the adaptation of 'underground theater' into film. While this was on one of my roommate's friends asked "is the dialogue supposed to sound really bad?" I was caught off guard. I forget that 95% of the general public can only handle 'acting' the way it takes place in 'Hollywood movies' which is something I totally despise. I'm not saying it's worthless, I just completely don't care about what the cultural hegemony refers to as "great acting," is my point. I asked him "If by 'bad' do you mean 'artificial'? It's adapted from a play." And he said "Oh, that makes sense." I'm not sure what the whole exchange means, but I liked this movie a lot.


2325 - 11/01/09 - Paranormal Activity - Oren Peli
This was certainly not the second coming of Christ like half it's audience claimed, but it also wasn't "totally fucking stupid" like the other half insisted. Structurally it was successful in a (relatively) unique mode of delivering suspense. Though I wanted to fucking slap the boyfriend for being a macho-control freak, but in a really passive aggressive way. This was a major deterrent in my enjoyment of the movie, because I hate that shit, but the ghost stuff was entertaining enough that I made it through unscathed. The ending of the theatrical version is fucking retarded but the rest of the movie 'worked' so I didn't care too much (I never place more weight on an ending than I do the rest of the movie). I've heard there are alternate endings that are less retarded, but frankly I don't care enough to seek them out. It's fun, but not important.


2326 - 11/02/09 - Show Me Love - Lukas Moodysson [rewatch]
This movie is comforting, and engaging, and is a pretty good example of why I love movies about teen girls.

2327 - 11/08/09 - Dolls - Stuart Gordon
I enjoyed this a lot, it reminded me of Full Moon stuff that I love. There is also a weird delicate balance between the childhood innocence/wonder presented by the protagonist & the vile world of the adults that can occasionally seem uncomfortable but in a really awesome way. But magick evil dolls are pretty exciting to me no matter what the context, so that's cool.

2328 - 11/08/09- Bad Burns - Paul Sharits
I like the colors. I like the light from the sprockets floating across the screen. The image that we cannot see, the image that is hidden, I think it might be a face, but I don't want to know if my guess is right, correct. I like when it speeds up and slows down. I like the interrupting materiality of the melting film. How this imposition becomes part of the movement. We can view the burn either as abstraction or as a material reminder. I like when the image blurs and the white light fades into another white light.

2329 - 11/09/09 - Nightmare Detective - Shinya Tsukamoto
I have somehow seen like 6 or 7 Tsukamoto movies, and I have realized that there really aren't any that I totally loved. They always have really cool concepts, but their execution is always at least slightly flawed. Take this, for instance, the idea of a man who can go into other people's dreams to solve mysteries is really awesome, but that idea gets muddled by some weird childhood trauma and depression which is more annoying than anything else. I have come tot he conclusion that I like Tsukamoto more as an actor than as a director.

2330 - 11/14/09 - 2012 - Roland Emmerich
This was AWESOME and basically one of the most awesome things to see in theaters of recent years. There is a real sensual joy in watching a majority of the world get TOTALLY DESTROYED on a really big screen with really loud sound. I thought my theater experience was going to suck because the theater was packed and we were stuck in like the middle of a row & if I would have had to go pee it would have been a real trial just to get to the bathroom, but this movie was so engaging in it's quickly-paced destruction that I didn't even notice it was like 2 and a half hours long. I would watch this again. The plot is totally disposable but none of the characters are obtusely irritating so it totally doesn't even matter!


2331 - 11/15/09 - Epitaph - Beom-sik Jeong & Jeong Sik
Anthology horror from Korea that is pretty beautiful to look at, but lacks a bit in any sort of engaging or terrifying narrative. There are also some cool ideas in here but they are mostly muddled by a hyper-presence of melodrama, which is, to some extent, enjoyable, but placates the terror away from any level of affect.

2332 - 11/15/09 - The Box - Richard Kelly
This was pretty wonderfully executed, and certainly the best thing that Richard Kelly has stuck his name to. There is a level of 'weirdness' that serves not it's own sake, but rather it helps to elaborate an off-putting atmosphere, a tone that the uncomfortable narrative can develop within. Narrative is straight up Twilight Zone, but Twilight Zone with like weird metaphysical interjections that are actually engaging rather than annoying. This tonally reminded me of a lot of the cold, weirdo stuff I like from the 70s and early 80s like Footprints and (wow i totally can't think of the name of this movie).


2333 - 11/21/09 - Pentimento - Frans Zwartjes [rewatch]
While watching this, the second time through, I started to try to pick it apart, what it was doing. I mostly came up with a mentally sketched out list of themes that are repeated, and what these themes do & how they work, but I didn't actually have my notebook next to me while watching this so the idea of developing these themes into a cohesive article on the film fell through. However, I feel like I am probably now equipped to face this again, notebook in hand, in order to really come to terms with it (this is one of my favorite movies, for the record). It works on a level that is totally elusive, but it is fascinating and I can feel it, and that is what makes me want to go into this deeper.

2334 - 11/21/09 - Shutter - Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom
Asian horror is as Asian horror does: somebody does something they regret that results in someone's death and they are haunted by it. I appreciated the fact that photography, in this movie, is treated as actual photography & things are ostensibly "realistic" (even though that pretty much goes against everything I believe in movies, it's really just a majorly frustrating pet-peeve: refer to the material aspects of 'photography' in Midnight Meat Train for an atrocious example). The denouement is actually interesting though, in the affect of the ghost on the protagonist. Can't really help feeling sorry for assholes though, and I think the movie is cool with that. It has creepy parts, but so much of Asian horror is a homogenous blog of themes and incidents that it's hard to actually feel effected by the tension any more.

2335 - 11/21/09 - L'Important C'est D'Aimer - Andrzej Zulawski [rewatch]
Another absolute favorite, this is a movie that I can turn to when I want to absolutely FEEL with my entire being. Similar to the way I used to use Camille 2000, I can't help but assume the level of emotional resonance I feel with this movie is due primarily to my very strong feelings for the male protagonist (Fabio Testi in his most perfect role of all time, of course). However, there is more going on in the movie itself (divorced from Fabio Testi) that allow me to feel less guilty about investing as much as I do in this movie: Kinski is perfect, Romy is perfect-perfect-perfect, Jacques Dutronc is perfect, basically the entire cast is perfect, and there is a sadness that permeates every frame. And it is not a sentimental sadness, it is a true sense of despair, and the film is dripping in it, and Zulawski's success in this regard is almost uncanny.

2336 - 11/22/09 - Satanic Rites of Dracula - Alan Gibson
Hammer horror with satan and nudity. Good stuff. I like movies involving satanic cults almost without fail, so I was really just looking to meet a certain need here.

2337 - 11/25/09 - L'Avventura - Michaelangelo Antonioni
I knew absolutely nothing about this movie before I watched it, despite being an obsessive movie fanatic for most of the last decade, and this being one of those 'european art house canon' titles that I probably "should" have seen by now or something. Anyway, I was randomly in the mood for some stark black & white photography and awesome shots of architecture, so I decided to watch this. And it turns out I kind of loved it? The first house was my favorite, the empty island looks great and is really sort of exciting, and the rich hotties on a boat is a theme I'm also prone to enjoying. But then in the second half with the existence of the girl that controls the first half ceases to matter, there is still a level of desperation, a sense of longing that permeates everything. And that's why this is great.

2338 - 11/26/09- Fantastic Mr. Fox - Wes Anderson
I was fully expecting to be irritated by the inherent "quirkiness level" here, but it turned out it was pretty good. The animation was engaging (and not cgi which was nice), and the story was dynamic enough to allow me to forgive the fact that there were some irritating bits of quirk I could have done without. Terrible-fucking-theater experience though.

2339 - 11/29/09 - Eyeball - Umberto Lenzi [rewatch]
I rewatched this by accident because I had it in my box of "unwatched" movies. It was fine though, it's fun gialli with an overly complicated plot, WONDERFUL music, and some creative killings. How do people write critically about gialli when virtually all of them are exactly the same with varying degrees of success? I mean I love gialli because they are basically all the same so I can watch something new and already know I'll totally love it, but there is critical writing on this stuff (that I haven't read yet) and it's astounding to me. Maybe I'm not thinking hard enough.

2340 - 11/29/09 - Mansion of Madness - Juan Lopez Moctezuma
The architecture of this "mansion" is probably what is most interesting to me (aside from the oddly hunky lead), but there is a level of absurdity that runs through this that is really entertaining as well. It's different than Alucarda, which was maybe a little better (though I haven't seen that since High School), but this is "larger" so to speak.


2341 - 12/04/09 - Killer Nun - Giulio Berruti
Somehow remarkably mediocre and restrained despite it's sensational subject manner. I do, however, have a semi for Joe Dallesandro during the "European genre flick" portion of his career though. Whoever dubs him in this is super weird. As for the movie, there's not quite enough atmosphere to make this work for me, though it's certainly watchable & entertaining.


2342 - 12/05/09- The Anniversary Party - Alan Cumming & Jennifer Jason Leigh
The bourgeois problems of the rich and famous. Despite my political stance, I do like movies about rich people not doing much, and I love Parker Posey and Jennifer Jason Lee so I pretty much loved this. Alan Cumming is a fucking weirdo.

2343 - 12/05/09 - Nightdreams - Francis Delia
Despite really wanting to like this, this ended up being partially disappointing. The intensity of the woman who screams under observation is a great framework, and some of the sex scenes are fantastic, but overall this kind of goes on longer than it needs to. The best sex scenes here are the ones that are fucked up and possibly disturbing; tainted with abject terror. The plot is lacking, which is generally par for the course in terms of porno, but this was written by Rinse Dream who went on to make Dr Caligari (which is fantastic) and Cafe Flesh (which I haven't finished yet, but is notoriously the last great porn film before the video era). The sound is great, and there are some great aesthetic flairs, but it's sort of too all over the place to be really successful.


2344 - 12/06/09 - Death Wish Club - John Carr
This would fall into the category of "really weird possibly bad movies that I can't figure out how they exist and actually end up being really amazing and good" movies that I'm pretty obsessed with. Unfortunately with a "genre" like that it's virtually impossible to "look" for them, you just have to find them by watching endless amounts of shit nobody's talked about (which I guess I'm pretty good at). This has the most bizarre rape commentary ever: A woman, who, from stress or something, ends up convinced she's a man, was the lover of a "college boy" who looks about 38. College boy is all depressed that his bitch is now a bro, and so he hangs out with his woman-in-drag to try to get her to remember who she is. So he's telling this story to the woman-as-man, telling her-as-him how he wants her to remember she's a chick. Confronted with the situation, the lady-lady's-man asks, "Well, have you tried fucking her?" to which College Boy responds, "Well, she won't let me near her." This is where it gets sort of incredible: Woman-as-man quickly responds, "well have you heard of rape?" This, of course, comes after C.B. goes to a shrink who tells him that the best way to get his beloved back is to "use his weapon." And yeah, by weapon he means dick. There's also this super weird & awesome subplot about the club of the title that meets and put themselves in fucked up situations to push themselves closer to the experience of death, and the nihilistic thrill of annihilation. It's kind of incredible & campy & abject at the same time, and I loved it.


2345 - 12/07/09 - Black Lizard - Kinji Fukasaku
This is lovely and decadent and stars my second favorite Japanese dragqueen (my favorite being Peter), but somehow not decadent enough. It starts out strong with lovely stylistics & music, but somehow (about the time we get onto the boat) loses steam. Regardless, the story was great and the characters & settings were too.


2346 - 12/08/09 - Gradiva - Alain Robbe-Grillet
An odd film, but still very much Robbe-Grillet: reminded me a lot of his novel Djinn, and I'm fairly certain plot points are explicitely borrowed from it, once again recontextualized into another narrative. Somehow the sadomasochism present seems much more subtle than in earlier films: it may be glossier, but even more than normal, it's very much just a part of a subjectively objectivity, and is probably not even happening.
For A. R.-G. this is fairly straightforward, but there's still a mystery, a journal, and a woman (though the titular Gradiva is nowhere near as beautiful as Anicee Aliva or Catherine Jourdan, or any of the protagonists that have bared flesh in earlier films). There is a weird texture to the video that almost makes the film feel like it was shot in the early 90s, but that doesn't detract from it. It also incorporates footage from Eden and After as a sort of parallel event, and it feels welcome in the film, probably due to the similar setting of the mid-east.

2347 - 12/20/09 - Videodrome - David Cronenberg [rewatch]
I had forgotten how awesome this is. The aesthetics are really what make it work, as the plot itself is really muddy and seems to be missing about a half hour to actually amount to anything, but the vague ideas complement the aesthetics in a way that makes this totally awesome as a whole.

2348 - 12/20/09 - Camera - David Cronenberg [rewatch]
Like the first time I watched this, I was once again struck by the fact that the tone of the overall piece doesn't quite match the monologue being delivered by the man at the heart of the film. Sometimes contrasting really dark ideas with a light & fun style is interesting, but it doesn't work for me here.

2349 - 12/20/09 - City of the Living Dead - Lucio Fulci [rewatch]
Revisit after not having seen it for a while. Liked it significantly more than I remember liking it upon first view, but it still doesn't hold a candle to The Beyond in terms of atmosphere, invocation of conceptual terror, or even aesthetic beauty.

2350 - 12/21/09 - Fatal Frames - Al Festa
This shit is kind of retarded, and makes even less sense than most gialli, but what is awesome is actually how retarded it is, like it's honestly hilarious, and literally every scene, no matter the time of day or place (even in a god-damned police station office) is set in the dark so the art director's retarded "stylized lighting" can be present, which is in itself fucking weird and hilarious.

2351 - 12/24/09 - Precious - Lee Daniels
I saw a trailer for this and wanted to see it, fully expecting to find serious flaws. I then read Armond White's review and my fears that I would find shit that was seriously offensive were (I thought) confirmed. However, then I saw it and wasn't actually offended by this, and actually pleased by the fact that the heroes in the movie are even more "Other" than even the poor black demographic is to white America. The only "good" people in the movie are lesbians (oddly middle class and ostensibly bourgeois, but still), a mixed-race (unidentifiable in the film itself) social worker, and broken teens (one of which is on his/her way to transvestism). Precious basically lays praises to homsexuality during a scene in which she is at the home of her teacher's. In a film that every middle-class, conservative Oprah fan probably has seen or will see, I hope this is noted. Then, reading Jim Emerson's commentary (http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/2009/12/precious_based_on_the_movie_fe.html), which actually points out that some of the potentially viewable hyperbole-as-racism is actually hyperbole-as-camp (and as much as I'm wary of paying attention to author's intent [sometimes, not going into this here]), and that made me like it even more.

2352 - 12/25/09 - Sherlock Holmes - Guy Ritchie
Having no sentimental attachment to Doyle's characters of Holmes & Watson allowed me to completely not give a shit that major character points are being abandoned in favor of something that's more of an action packed blockbuster. Despite the fact that Ritchie does, objectively, suck, this movie fulfills a viewing need similar to that I can find solace in with films like Charlie's Angels, except conveniently, this is a lot more gay and features a protagonist that gives me a boner (Jude Law with a mustache & a limp had me wet, and I've never even given a second thought to the man before. Also I am aware that fetishizing limps is weird.).

2353 - 12/28/09 - Mysterious Skin - Gregg Araki [rewatch]
This is a really strong film, and considering Araki's oeuvre that leads to this, I think it actually makes a lot of sense, rather than coming out of left field as is often assumed. Araki has always worked with the pain of conflicted teenagers, and his style is always very zeitgeist and angry. This, almost surprisingly, seems to be his least angry film.
Also, I like the fact that the coach isn't painted as entirely a monster: before any abuse actually happens, Neil recognizes that he desires the coach. Allowing an 8 year old to exhibit an autonomous sexuality within a semi-mainstream film is something that needs to be done more often. And Neil, when he is angry at coach, is not angry at the abuse, but angry at the fact that the only man who ever wholly loved him is gone. You can also not blame Neil's attachment to his "predator" as a lack of any real relationships in his life, because it is evident that he maintains a strong, loving relationship with his mother, despite his "cold hearted void" towards his friends.
Of course, Brian has been flat out abused, so as viewers we have to recognize Coach as a predator, but not wholly so. Blaming Neil's sexual promiscuity on his sexual abuse is lazy viewing; Brian's repression of the act has fucked him up more than Neil's attachment to it. If we are to blame Neil's "fucked up situation" on anything that relates to the summer with Coach, it is the fact that the summer ended, the fact that the relationship couldn't be public, couldn't continue, was forced to abondon rather than to run it's course.
Coach is, of course, completely fucking gorgeous, and the film treats both sides of the "sexual abuse" paradigm equally, showing outcomes of each. That is why this film is powerful.

2354 - 12/29/09 - Simona - Patrick Longchamps
This film takes Bataille's Story of the Eye as a starting point: borrowing the characters & major incidents of the first half of the book (basically events leading up to and including Marcelle's death [in the book]), and recontextualizing them. Simona/Simone is no longer as desperately perverse as in the novella, but here, played by Laura Antonelli, she is far more joyful in her perversity, though not half as perverse. The movie is somewhat odd; it begins by somehow presenting itself as both first person and third person: an objective view of all involved by also from Georges position, which is quickly abandoned.
There are many wonderful scenes in the movie, and as much as reviews like to say "surreal" I will avoid that, for we all know that Bataille broke from the surrealist group when he realized Breton was a dick (which is the right thing to do): and it's not really surrealism that is making these scenes so odd; it's excess. In this regard the film, though not loyal to Bataille's plot, is loyal to Bataille's thought: excess runs the film, through everything aesthetic to the secondary plot line which finds Marcelle's father obsessed with his dead wife. There are a million beauatiful images: Simone & Georges throwing eggs at family photographs as Simone's caustic, ex-moviestar mother sits in the room holding an egg, a picture frame draped around her head to frame her living portrait; the statutes that come to life and mingle with actual characters in Marcelle's mind during an orgy at a tomb; the waves, crashing again and again; and lighting striking the air lighting up the decadent rooms of Marcelle's antiquated cheateau that is adorned with modern bedrooms, secret passageways, and darkness.

2344 - 01/04/10 - Hand Catching Lead - Richard Serra
A very simple abstract visual representation, supposedly, of Serra's working process. Lead is dropped, repeatedly, and Serra grasps to catch it, then immediately drops it. High contrast photography isolated objects, heightens the marks the lead leaves on the hands. A pulsing effect via repetition, no sound. Read about this in relation to Bataille's informe vis a vis Yves Alain Bois & Rosalind Krass, much better within this context, I think, than if I had viewed it blindly.

2345 - 01/23/10 - Problem Solvers - Paper Rad
A gorgeous and hilarious cartoon that happens to have some music in it that I really like. It's not as irreverent as the Paper Rad comix can be, but there is still a lot of fun to be had with this. Bright colors, catchy songs, 'funky' characters, and a pop-culture littered plot make for an entertaining 25 minutes. I was having so much fun I actually wanted it to be longer!

2346 - 01/24/10 - Skin - Vincent O'Connell
Short film written by Sarah Kane that, in my opinion, lacked the gravitas that her other work presents. Part of the problem, I think, was that this felt like a forerunner to British movies that I don't particular like for aesthetic reasons, such as Trainspotting. The horror of the event (Ewen Bremmer's "retribution") is glossed over in a three minute montage which really doesn't allow any time for the viewer to understand/incorporate what's going on.

2347 - 01/30/10 - The Room - Tommy Wiseau
Amazingly, despite all the hyper, this still lives up to being a completely fucking incredible and worthwhile experience. What is amazing about this is that Wiseau is actually an alien and this film is actually his idea of a Blockbuster, and that is amazing! It is so earnest! This shit is so fucking funny! Also, this movie is like straight from 1992, aesthetically (even regarding the actors), which is incredible as well.
light

SCREENING LOG FOR JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER 2009

2299 - Loads - Curt McDowell
Kind of hot, hilarious, and revealing at the same time. Film of McDowell's interactions with rough trade, with narration on top that occasionally violates what we see on screen. What it amounts to, it seems, is a sort of intellectualized eroticism, that I found pretty hot.

2300 - Fuego - Armando Bo
The theme song for this was brilliant, and I really wanted to like this, but mostly it was just boring. It concerns a woman who apparently constantly gets so horny that she has to rub her tits. And that's about it. Oh at one point she gets depressed about how often she has to rub her tits or something. It's mostly just melodrama with tit shots thrown in.

2301 - Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera - Mark Obenhaus
This got me super excited. I've had the four-disc Philip Glass box set for a while, but I never made the connection to the fact that it was actually from an opera until Robbe-Grillet mentioned it in an interview. The creative process, and the scenes from the opera itself are incredibly inspiring, and I would love to sit through the entire four hour performance.

2302 - Orphan - Jaume Collet-Serra
This is probably what I would consider a very successful and well made contemporary horror movie, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It doesn't rely on some sort of retro-sentiment that invokes "the golden age of horror," it's devoid of "gore for gore's sake," and it's got a hell-of interesting story that taps into contemporary fears without pandering to them and claiming them as the excuse for the film (i.e. The Mist). There also an abundance of kind of awkward sex scenes that are totally hot. Plus the plot-twist is INCREDIBLE. Like, about three-quarters through the film I realized that my little brother had told me the plot twist the week before, and suddenly the movie became EVEN MORE AWESOME than I expected it to be.

2303 - The Haunting in Connecticut - Peter Cornwell
This has two reasons for being awesome. One: Elias Koteas, even as a completely non-sexual priest, is totally hot. Two: Ectoplasm; the scenes with ectoplasm are totally perfect..Aside from that the movie is more or less disposable. It's fairly competently constructed (although Marty Donovan's alcoholism seems totally superfluous), and somewhat creepy, but nothing special. I'm pretty into haunted house movies though.

2304 - The Perfect Getaway - David Twohy
I probably should have taken notes immediately after watching this, because for some reason I was thinking about it for days, despite it not being a fantastic movie. This is another "actually good plot-twist" that I feel like could have been severely exploited to produce something awesome, but instead to justification for the "plot twist" (which is actually the most interesting part of the movie, sort of) is pretty glanced over and probably missed by a majority of the audience. Plus like, after being edited fairly "naturalistically" for three-quarters of the film, really tacky editing effects pop-up during the climax, and I feel like it's def. got to be a "break out of the diegesis" sort of thing, which also fits into the conceptual application of the film. I don't know, I just kind of feel like there's a really amazing film buried beneath a "fun-popcorn-fare" film here.

2305 - Absolute Wilson - Katharina Otto-Bernstein
This was a fascinating look into an artist who I knew nothing about except from what I had seen in the Einstein on the Beach documentary. Most of Wilson's work looks completely incredible, and I would love to see some it. Of course, it's the 70s & early-80s stuff that interests me most, but there is a lot about those works in here.

2305 - District 9 - Neill Blomkamp
While this was, to some extent, entertaining, it was marred more by stupid bullshit that prevented it from being an actual good movie. I know that every sci-fi fan boy is looking for something "decent" and will shoot loads over anything that's better than the average sci-fi crap that comes out, but there's really absolutely nothing special about this other than... I don't know, good special effects I guess? The dialog descends into trite cliches ("I'll come back for you!") and the stupid, wish-fulfilling asshole that gets brutally murdered does not compensate for the first hour and a half that we have to sit through witnessing him being a terrible militant asshole for no real reason. Also, the protagonist-- are we supposed to sympathize with him? He's a fucking dick too. "Oh, you're going to go save your entire species before you fix my fucking arm? Well fuck you and your 4 year old alien son, I only care about myself and humans!"

2306 - Prophecy - Gregory Widen
I rented this due to Elias Koteas' presence (and how super-duper hot he is in this), and was pleased to discover a really fucking weird/intense "semi-mainstream" horror film. The plot itself is a bit convoluted, but there's enough not-forced weirdness present to make up for it. Christopher Walken and Viggo Mortensen are also pretty great here. There's some pretty awesome aesthetic CGI at the climax too.

2307 - Lawnmower Man - Brett Leonard [rewatch]
This is pretty much amazing. Pierce Brosnan as a casually sexy anti-militant VR scientist is more or less the most incredible character in the history of existence. Plus, the GRAPHICS in this movie are literally perfect, and the plot (totally divorced from any Stephen King retardation, thank you very much) is balls out to the max. Pure fun, plus some weirdly sublime questions and "ideas" about "the future" and "the nature of existence.

2308 - Dollman vs. Demonic Toys - Charles Band
This is pretty stupid, and, from what I can gather, comprised mostly of scenes from the three movies that make up the composite of characters here, though it's Full Moon so it's still fun. Demonic Toys are not as interesting as the puppets from Puppet Master, and Dollman is like, almost hot shit but not quite, and there's really only a 20 minute movie in here, but I guess I didn't get bored or anything.

2309 - Malefique - Eric Valette
This was really cool! And totally not what I was expecting! But I was totally into it because I'm really into occult/esoteric texts and "magick" actually "working" and doing really cool shit. I was also fairly impressed that this was really quick moving and took place almost exclusively in the same prison cell. The ending manages to be both creepy and sort of absurd, and to pull that off without it being like, totally stupid is hard, so more points for that. I mean, plotwise this is totally cool.

2310 - Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals - Joe D'Amato
More fun with Laura Gemser and D'Amato. I actually really appreciate the mixing of the exotic eroticism of Emmanuelle with the violence and sleaze of, well, most of D'Amato's career. Also, Gemser always scores with total hottie dudes in these movies. Cannibal scenes are grotesque and cool, and the ending is pretty okay. Very similar to Laure, except for there aren't cannibals in Laure.

2311 - Afraid of the Dark - Mark Peploe [rewatch]
This is basically an experimental film buried in a narrative film buried in something that got wide release and is now constantly being panned for "not making sense." The movie itself is really quite intellectually violent and terrifying, and the decision to handle blindness as a terrifying, alternate world is genius. Also really abjectly "erotically charged" (I love that expression in all it's generic-ness).

2311 - Adventureland - Greg Mottola
Pretty homogeneous "summer teen coming of age" story, though interesting because it's post-undergrad college students instead of high-schoolers. The cast is fine, there's not a lot annoying here, and the sound track is pretty good. Ryan Reynolds is mostly wasted. I mean, his character has relevance to the plot, but he's really not in it enough to be that relevant.

2312 - The Final Destination 3D - David R. Ellis
Best 3D movie I've ever seen, and def. the most fun I've had in theaters since Cloverfield. I've also always had a soft spot for the Final Destination movies (despite the fact I've still yet to see the original) because of the fun Rube Goldberg death scenes and the fact that the movies don't take themselves seriously (I either like things totally serious [if they are deservedly serious], or totally not serious-- in between doesn't really work for me, except in certain circumstances, it has to be pulled off really well). If this had taken itself seriously it would have been insufferable and obnoxious. But, as it stands, this is a retardedly good time.

2313 - Orphee et Eurydice - Robert Wilson/Brian Large
I thought this was directed by Bob Wilson, of "Einstein on the Beach" and the like. If this was, in fact, directed by him, it doesn't demonstrate any of his notorious stylistics. I basically only finished this because I was retardedly hung over and had never seen an opera before. It was mostly boring and (check it out, this is probably the only time I will ever say this:) pretentious. It mixed hyper-modern theater settings & costumes & lighting with the same boring classical music. The disjunct, instead of doing anything interesting, really just seemed out of place.

2314 - Salo - Pier Paolo Pasolini [rewatch]
I still don't think I know how to talk about it-- it's an incredibly powerful film, but it's not as, er, "shocking" as I remembered it (and when I watched it the first time I was watching the most outlandish, disturbing shit possible). I think that I was just more or less ignoring the dialog the first time. The spectacle here is controlled, and really the level of artifice is what's shocking. Much to take in.

2315 - Bring It On: Fight to the Finish - Billie Woodruff
Fifth one of these, just as awesome as the rest. I think I actually prefer all of the sequels to the original. This one is pretty bland and more of the same "rich girl/poor girl" dichotomy that the last few of the series have been exploring, but it's mostly played out by now, and relies heavily on cliche. As a side note, my roommate and I thought they said the latina girl was moving from East LA to Miami, so when it was only like a half hour drive we got really confused. This lead to my roommate lookign up "LA" on the internet and somehow determining that there was no LA in California, rather, LA was in Florida. Both of our minds were completely blown, and for the next two weeks we were telling people how astounded we were that LA wasn't in California. Nobody ever corrected us. Then, a couple nights ago, I was thinking about Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which also takes place in LA, and it didn't make sense for that movie to take place in Florida, so I finally looked it up, and yeah, duh, LA is in California. So, apparently, all of my friends are retarded, and I was as well, temporarily.

2316 - Satan's Baby Doll - Mario Bianchi
Mostly mediocre sex-ghost-thriller with weak deaths and a surprising lack of sex. Vaguely interesting plot, a mixed set of characters, and a nice setting meant that the movie was at least watchable. It also had a totally killer score.

2317 - Room Film - Peter Gidal
This is interesting, and at the same time it seems ostensibly "stupid." It's a 55 minute silent, experimental film that, for more than half the run-time, pitches a room in complete darkness. The rest of it depicts a sort of anxious exploration of space, that I was fairly into, and there are weird little splices and repetitions that work almost as nervous "ticks" in considering the materialist aspect of the film. Michael Snow's comments, that it reminds him of a film made by a "blind man," also sort of straddle the line between hilarious and incredibly profound. I didn't watch it in a single sitting (I watched it in segments at work), and I'm not sure I could make it through in a single sitting (unless, maybe, I was in the theater, because then I think I would let my subconscious take over and just drift in and out of sleep to it). I think, overall, it was actually pretty beautiful though.

2318 - Palindrome - Hollis Frampton
Aesthetic structuralism, Frampton arranging the end of film leader that look most "organic" and "abstract" into patterns. There's a heavy rhythm that makes the viewing experience calm and hypnotic. Gentle, pretty, meditative.

2319 - La Vie Nouvelle - Philippe Grandrieux
The first time I started watching this I fell asleep after twenty minutes. The second time I started watching this I fell asleep after 40 minutes. The third time I started watching this I fell asleep after an hour. The fourth time I started watching this I made it through the whole thing. I feel it necessary to point out that my body's reaction is not one of boredom. Rather, everytime I had formerly sat/lay down to watch this movie, I was already extremely tired, and the film itself is a very experiential "thing," where sound and movement, the implication of the image, take precedence over plot and character. The film is ostensibly about feeling, and getting the audience to feel, and to do this, Grandrieux abandons himself to the material qualities of film, new ways of using it, intensely delicate sound design, and violence. It's like a subtle Zulawski, and that's not an oxymoron in this case. The film is absolutely incredible, and the last 20 minutes are a fucking assault of everything on the viewer. Seriously intense, seriously amazing.

2320 - Eden and After - Alain Robbe-Grillet [rewatch]
Third time watching it, best print copy, def. seemed even better this time. I think Robbe-Grillet makes more sense and becomes more enjoyable the longer you've spent time with him. There's a lot going on here, but really it's just a structural/generative approach to a pretty awesome story with sex, lies, and murder (as well as fantasy, the double, and art) at the core.

2321 - Laure - Emmanuelle Arsan & Ovidio G. Assonitis
Plotwise, not much happens here, and some of the philosophy that I'm sure was Arsan's raison d'etre for making the film gets lots in the dubbing (and sort of poor sound design in general), but it's really sort of a pleasure to watch. The people (the dudes are totally hot, and Annie Belle and Arsan herself always just seem so excited to be naked) are beautiful, the locations are delightfully exotic, and the score complements both of these things nicely. There's also more nudity than actual sex (something that struck me as odd), but the sex seems fairly natural (no extreme placement tricks to hide coincidental male genitalia). It's pleasant and enjoyable to watch, but nothing special.
light

SCREENING LOG FOR JUNE 2009

2274 - Straight-Jacket - Richard Day
Adorable and campy send up of not only Rock Hudson's secret-life, but also Hollywood blacklisting (and lumping the queers in with the commies). There's also times when you actually feel sorry for the Doris Day character, because she's obviously to the fact that she's a beard. It's not ground-breaking cinema by any means, but I appreciated it and fully enjoyed it.

2275 - The Last Supper - Stacy Title [rewatch]
This is one of my favorite early to mid-90s "indy" films, and I find it's bleakness and early irony pretty hilarious. Also, Cameron Diaz is really great in this, which I always forget. I think it's probably got some humor in common with Hal Hartley, though delivered in a different way, that I really appreciate.

2276 - The Daytrippers - Greg Mottola [rewatch]
More Early-90s "indy," this time starring Parker Posey, who I'm pretty sure should have been in every movie ever made from about 1991-1998, as her inclusion would have made most of them significantly better. Also, Live Schrieber is hilarious as an earnest but misguided "revolutionary" and Stanley Tucci's eyebrows pretty much get their own scene.

2277 - Woman in a Box 2 - Masaru Konuma
Something that always amazes me about pink films is that these wonderful, aesthetically perfect scenes pop up amidst total sleaze and "immorality." This film is fairly beautiful, lots of scenes deep in the snow, a beautiful bright red box that holds women captive (this is how our protagonist shows love), amazing late 80s ski resort interiors. Obsession and desire are what is at stake here, which isn't anything remarkably unique for the genre the film belongs to, but it's carried with an air of sophistication that heightens both emotion and aesthetic pleasure.

2278 - Horse Woman Dog - Hisayasu Sato
Sato's infamous title that features, as the title would imply, bestiality. Though it's here, more or less, as a plot point. The situation is of interest: a secluded beach-side maison where a woman, desperate and beyond the summit of "life," plays sexual games with anybody she can find. It's maybe a brothel, of sorts, but that isn't quite explored here. My favorite of Sato's regular actors is here, playing a somewhat forgiving man who takes Polaroids of bodies he thinks are dead. An interesting scene occurs as he screws a woman (who turns out to be the films "hero," in a sense), while comparing her living body to the Polaroids he shot while he assumed she was dead.

2279 - Plot of Fear - Paolo Cavara
Convoluted gialli that features the remarkable Corrine Clery (the titular O of The Story of O). A playboy cop is our star as he solves a murder mystery that seems irrelevant to most of the plot.

2280 - Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains - Lou Adler
After hearing much praise for this film I was a bit let down by what turned out to be the story of three girls who weren't really in "it" for anything other than fame. I thought this was supposed to be some proto-feminist film with an all girl rock band finding success by doing their thing, but really it's just a weird story about girls exploiting themselves to "make it to the top."

2281 - Landscape Suicide - James Benning
Full review here.

2282 - C.R.A.Z.Y. - Jean-Marc Vallée
Oddly constructed, French coming-of-age film about a dude who's gay but hates himself for it so he fucks his best friend a lot and his family is cuh-razy and he has daddy issues and it's like 2 hours long and alright but really probably not that good.

2283 - Blood on Satans Claw - Piers Haggard
Wonderful period satanism! Eyebrows! One of my favorite "cult" film scores! This is good. The satan scenes are the best, and the dude who wants to save the day but is totally inept is kinda hot.

2284 - Arrebato - Ivan Zulueta
Full review here.

2285 - Extension Du Domain de la Lutte - Philippe Harel
Kind of boring film adaptation of my least favorite of Houellebecq's books (translated in English as Whatever). Some situations, which are bearable while reading, are totally hard to stand to actually watch because of how embarrassed I feel watching totally desperate, lonely men make fools of themselves.

2286 - The Decameron - Pier Paolo Pasolini
This was so good! I have had this movie for YEARS and my recent resurgence of interest in Pasolini found me pulling it out and watching it. It's so just sort of meandering and unfocused and ugly and beautiful at the same time and really, P.P.P. "celebrating life" is something to stand behind (even if he disowned the trilogy later in his life).

2297 - Arabian Nights - Pier Paolo Pasolini
I think this is maybe even better than The Decameron, if only because the story that sort of structures the entire film is so naive and joyous. Also the settings in this are totally breathtaking, some of the scenery totally destroys me. I would also like to live in a secluded cave-room thing under the beach on an isolated island.

2298 - Daughter - Eduardo Rodriguez
Semi-interesting student-made horror film about a woman who, I guess, killed herself and her daughter in a bathtub and now she's in hell, or something. There's some visually stunning stuff, and that's why this is worth it, but the story itself is a little heavy-handed and pretty disposable.