WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/24/2016

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available at the official site links.

Lots of strange happenings this week!

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

The Neon Demon (2016): An aspiring model () moves to Los Angeles and is menaced by a cabal of mysterious women. ‘s allegorical horror tale is one of our most anticipated films of the year, and so far it’s divided critics right down the middle. The Neon Demon official site.

Swiss Army Man (2016): Stranded on a desert island, a man makes friends with a dead body that washes ashore, using it to survive and to make his way home. A surprise sensation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the “farting corpse” movie came out of nowhere to be one of the most talked about films (if not the most acclaimed). Swiss Army Man official site.

SCREENINGS – (Los Angeles, Cinefamily, 6/24-26, 28):

Suspiria (1977): Read the Certified Weird entry! The Cinefamily caps off its month-long “All of Them Witches” series with ‘s eye-popping occult classic. If you miss it at the witching hour tonight, you can still catch it Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday. Suspiria at Cinefamily.

SCREENINGS – (Silver Springs, MD, AFI Silver Theater, 6/27-28):

Johnny Got His Gun (1971): Read the Certified Weird entry! Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s weird anti-war passion project goes inside the mind of a WWI casualty turned into a vegetable. Johnny Got His Gun at AFI Silver Theater.

FILM FESTIVALS – New York Asian Film Festival (New York City, June 22 – July 9):

Now in its 15th year, the NYAFF (hosted by Lincoln Center) seems to get high quality Asian movies overlooked by other festivals. It doesn’t hurt that this year’s fest is anchored by a couple of Certified Weird revival screenings: 1989’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man (this Saturday, June 25) followed by Tekkonkinkreet (a June 26th screening commemorating the anime’s 10th anniversary).

  • Alone – A Korean photographer becomes lost in a mental labyrinth when he keeps blacking out and awakening in a different spot. Screens July 6.
  • Creepy‘s latest is a return to his horror roots, as a detective comes out of retirement to investigate a cold case and finds an irrational world instead. June 29.
  • Hentai Kamen 2: The Abnormal Crisis – The sequel to the reader-suggested movie we still haven’t reviewed about a superhero who gets his powers from wearing women’s panties. Catch it July 6.
  • The Mermaid – A mermaid assassin is sent to kill a businessman whose dolphin-killing sonar is massacring her people in ‘s latest weird comedy. July 2.
  • The Tenants Downstairs – A devilish landlord spies on his perverted tenants in this extreme Taiwanese film. International premiere July 9 (it’s the closing film).
  • Too Young to Die! – A high school metalhead finds himself in Buddhist hell after a bus crash. Screens July 1 & 9.

New York Asian Film Festival homepage.

IN DEVELOPMENT (pre-production):

About Endlessness (est 20??): Post “living” trilogy, 366-fave has secured funding for a new feature film (apparently retitled from the working title “1001 Nights”). This one will involve stories from India and the Middle East and a Scheherazade-style framing device, which should allow Andersson to continue his favored sketch format. Read the footnote at Screen Daily and an older article at Cinema Scandinavia.

IN DEVELOPMENT (completed):

Atmo HorrorX (2016): It’s hard to tell exactly what happens here, but it looks like the movie follows an assassin creature through a future world run by pharmaceutical companies. Director promises that “[t]he movie is a VERY weird one, it’s kind of a psychedelic horror b-movie inside an experimental satire and then wrapped into a cryptic mystery thriller…” Chances are pretty good we’ll review it. Atmo HorrorX official site.

NEW ON DVD:

Embrace of the Serpent (2015): Read our review. Apocalypse Now on the Amazon, under the influence of ayahuasca. Buy Embrace of the Serpent style=.

Fantastic Planet (1973): Read the Certified Weird entry! An outfit called Accent Cinema released a wonderful DVD of René Laloux and Roland Topor’s psychedelic science fiction allegory in 2007, but it went out of print; the Criterion Collection to the rescue!  Buy Fantastic Planet [Criterion Collection] style=.

Human Highway (1982): The owner of a roadside diner built next to a nuclear power plant tries to torch the place for the insurance money. This bizarre comic vanity project from singer Neil Young co-stars members of Devo (who sing a version of Young’s “Out of the Blue, Into the Black”) and debuts on DVD in a director’s cut that’s different than the old VHS tapes that were kicking around. Buy Human Highway style=.

Knight of Cups (2016): Impressionistic survey of a hedonistic writer searching for meaning in the modern world. The six main sections of ‘s latest mystical drama are named after Tarot cards, so study up on your symbolism. Buy Knight of Cups style=.

Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise (2015): “Fairytale documentary” about the legendary and eccentric Rastafarian music producer, with animation sequences depicting Scratch as a superhero fighting evil. Perry is the of reggae, and he “conquer[s] all the vampires.” Buy Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise style=.

Shark Exorcist (2015): A priest must exorcise a great white shark who’s possessed by Satan. Just when we think the shark spoof cycle has, er, “jumped the shark,” they pull us back in with a new gimmick. Buy Shark Exorcist style=.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Embrace of the Serpent (2015): See description in DVD above. Buy Embrace of the Serpent [Blu-ray] style=.

Fantastic Planet (1973): See description in DVD above. The Criterion release ports over most of the special features from the Accent Cinema release, and adds a second short cartoon (1965’s Les temps morts) and a few additional interviews. Buy Fantastic Planet [Blu-ray] style=.

Human Highway (1982): See description in DVD above. Buy Human Highway Blu-ray style=.

Knight of Cups (2016): See description in DVD above. Buy Knight of Cups [Blu-ray] style=.

Lady in White (1988): A young boy witnesses the ghostly recreation of a murder, and the victim enlists him to help bring her killer to justice. Atmospheric (some say “surreal”) horror with a small following. Buy Lady in White [Blu-ray] style=.

NEPOTISM CORNER:

“See Hear Podcast episode 29 – Catch My Soul”: “El” Rob Hubbard guests on this podcast about music in film. This episode’s topic, as you might have guessed, is the obscure “Othello” rock opera Catch My Soul (reviewed here). 366 gets name-checked, and Rob does a great job as the guest expert, so if you have a passing interest in the film you’ll want to give this podcast a listen. Listen to the “See Hear Podcast episode 29 – Catch My Soul”

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

LATTIE (2016, KEVIN L. CHENAULT)

There is always the risk of sentimentality for a writer, actor, director in depicting a terminally ill, or potentially terminal ill, character. The risk is even greater if none of the above have experienced the process.

Picasso once listed nostalgia and sentimentality as enemies of art, and reportedly walked out on the premiere screening of ‘s valentine to himself, the embarrassingly saccharine Limelight (1952). The younger Chaplin, unfettered by dialogue, is one of the few artists who could actually get away with overt pathos. An older, talking Chaplin could not.

As written, directed by and starring , Lattie (2016) does not entirely escape or transcend that inherent risk. Like Chaplin, Lattie succeeds most when relying on visuals to interpret his narrative. Even then, the film is uneven. At times, Chenault is almost in an experimental mode, but there are just as many vignettes that hold back and play it safe. Striking a James-Dean-lying-alone-on-the-floor posture, contemplating his condition, Lattie smokes his cigarette down to the butt, accompanied by angsty indie alt music that sounds like it cut its teeth on post-Syd Barret Pink Floyd (AKA “lesser Floyd”). Lattie receives a voice message of concern, talks to family and shrink, gets hugged.  Here, it’s paint-by-numbers filmmaking, a rudimentary sketch hampered by arthritic acting, with the exception of Chenault himself as the title character.

Still from Lattie (2016)Once done with the obligatory disease-of-the-week bullet points, Chenault trusts himself, and us, venturing into quirkier, more refreshing terrain. Lattie is catapulted into an absurdist murder mystery combining offbeat humor and visual cues: a Christmas tree, a pre-adolescent drawing on a face, an ominous Bible as a facade for a cash-stashed phone book. When overly-serious family members prod him about his impending drama, Lattie is too preoccupied to invest much time in shoulder-patting. He has a mystery to solve. Damn right. And, of course, there are the little hassles, like an uncooperative truck and stooge-like adversaries who attempt to derail the murder investigation.

Lattie is episodic in the best way, its surreal qualities conveyed in under-the-breath pacing. When it gets right to the meat of it, Lattie confirms that, for death to be interesting, there has to be a bit of funny business. The unexpected finale is welcome and queerly memorable.

Chenault’s body of work is an interesting one, with his strengths being in sublime restraint (seen at its most effective in 2011’s The Strangers). As in Chenault’s previous efforts, Lattie is well-filmed and shows a filmmaker concerned about craftsmanship, commendably unhampered by budget restraints.

More information on Lattie is available at the official home page.

241. PIERROT LE FOU (1965)

“Velazquez, past the age of 50, no longer painted specific objects. He drifted around things like the air, like twilight, catching unawares in the shimmering shadows the nuances of color that he transformed into the invisible core of his silent symphony. Henceforth, he captured only those mysterious interpenetrations that united shape and tone by means of a secret but unceasing progression that no convulsion or cataclysm could interrupt or impede. Space reigns supreme. It’s as if some ethereal wave skimming over surfaces soaked up their visible emanations to shape them and give them form and then spread them like a perfume, like an echo of themselves, like some imperceptible dust, over every surrounding surface.”–opening lines of Pierrot le Fou, supposedly from the book on modern painters Ferdinand reads throughout the film

Recommended

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING,

PLOT: Ferdinand, who is married to a wealthy Italian woman and has recently lost his television job, leaves a bourgeois cocktail party early and skips town with babysitter Marianne, with whom he had coincidentally had an affair years before. After knocking out an intruder, the two go on a crime spree and end up living on a remote island, but Marianne grows bored and wants to return to city life. Things get complicated when Marianne, who claims her brother is a gun runner, kills a man in her apartment, and the lovers are separated.

Still from Pierrot le Fou (1965)

BACKGROUND:

  • Pierrot le Fou is a (very) loose adaptation of Leonard White’s pulp novel “Obsession.” In the novel, the babysitter is much younger than the man she runs away with, creating a “Lolita” dynamic; when Godard decided to cast Belmondo and Karina, the nature of their relationship had to change.
  • “Pierrot” means “sad clown,” a stock character from commedia del arte. Pierrot is archetypically foolish, in love, and betrayed by his lover.
  • Two days before the film was to shoot, Godard still had no script. Some of the film was therefore improvised, although, according to Anna Karina, the extent to which the film was made up as it went along was later exaggerated.
  • Godard and Karina were married in 1961; by the time Pierrot was released, they were already divorced.
  • The film was booed at its debut at the Venice Film Festival, yet went on to do well at international box offices.
  • Director has a cameo as himself in the cocktail party scene, where he gives his theory of the essence of cinema.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The despondent Ferdinand, speaking on the phone, grabs a paintbrush and begins daubing his face blue. Once finished, he goes out into the Mediterranean sun, carelessly swinging two bundles of dynamite—one red, one yellow—around his body. He’s off to end the movie.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Topless cocktail party; scissored dwarf; Pierrot is blue

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Inspired by a film noir plot, but shot in a sunny primary-color pop art style that banishes all shadows, Pierrot le Fou is a bittersweet contradiction, and a story that refuses to sit still: it’s a road movie, a romance, a comedy, an adventure, a musical, a satire, a meditation, a surreal fantasy, and a postmodern lark (sometimes, it’s all of these in a single scene). Godard’s personality holds it all together with a lighthanded unity that he would seldom pull off.


Video review of Pierrot le Fou from Lewis Senpai (MoviesEveryday)

COMMENTS: “Fou” means “crazy” in French. Ferdinand’s lover, Marianne, calls him “Pierrot” throughout the film, although he constantly Continue reading 241. PIERROT LE FOU (1965)

LIST CANDIDATE: LI’L QUINQUIN (2014)

P’tit Quinquin

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Bruno Dumont

FEATURING: Alane Delhaye, Bernard Pruvost, Philippe Jore, Lucy Caron

PLOT: A big city detective with facial tic disorder comes to a remote French beach village to investigate a bizarre double murder: parts of the victims were found inside the bodies of cows.

Still from Li'l Quinquin (2014)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: Bruno Dumont’s sprawling (206 minute) longform Gallic mystery is quirky and ominous in about equal measure, with an ambiguous non-conclusion that adds to the weirdness while also making the entire enterprise feel strangely incomplete.

COMMENTS: Because of its quirky dark humor and strange-outsider-in-a-stranger-town mystery plot, L’il Quinquin almost always dubbed “the French ‘Twin Peaks.'” Indeed, it shares many of that series’ strengths and weaknesses: absurd, dark humor; meandering subplots that can become more interesting than the main thread; fascinating rural eccentrics; a hint of the supernatural; and an unsatisfactory resolution.

That last part bears keeping in mind. Although L’il Quinquin is presented as a mystery, beginning with the macabre discovery of human body parts inside of cows, the murders are, most frustratingly, not solved at the end. This fact is in accord with the director’s wishes—he presents a world where evil is allowed to triumph, even to the extent of remaining anonymous—but, after such an amazing buildup, the anticlimax inevitably leaves a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste.

That disappointment won’t arrive until the very end, however, and there is much to savor up until then. We’ll start with the performance of Bernard Pruvost as Commandant Van der Weyden, a detective who looks like Albert Einstein with uncontrollable facial tics—his expression changes an average of two times per second. Pruvost projects a weird sort of competence, and serves as the film’s disapproving moral center, but shares the limelight with Alane Delhaye as the titular Quinquin, a mischievous “bad kid” who absorbs the town’s unreflective racism, but is redeemed by his innocence and his genuine love for a neighbor girl (Lucy Caron, whose penetrating stare recalls the blank intensity of Kara Hayward in Moonrise Kingdom). There’s also an African Muslim boy who snaps when a popular white girl rejects him; a beautiful and talented young chanteuse who seems bound for the big city; Carpentier, Van der Weyden’s dim and nearly toothless second-in-command; Quinquin’s uncle, a speechless, nearly catatonic wreck just back from the institution, given to wandering around in circles; and dozens of other weirdos in brief bits (like the developmentally-disabled English man who throws dishes in a restaurant while the detective is giving a status report to his superior officer). Offbeat comic touches, often quite absurd, break up the serious dramatic sections: a pair of priests preside over an awkward funeral and giggle inappropriately; Quinquin is bedeviled by a costumed younger boy calling himself “Speedyman!” who shows up on his doorstep without explanation; a car careens down the street on two wheels. But in the midst of all this everyday madness, things grow ever darker, as secrets are uncovered and more and more bodies are found, leading the detective to his eventual, apparently final, conclusion: “l’enfer, ici” (“this is Hell, here”).

But for all L’il Quinquin‘s assets, it ends on little more than that involuntary eyebrow shrug by our detached detective. I appreciate an ambiguous ending, when well done, but the idea of a mystery that is never resolved, yet is wrapped up in a way that the audience will find emotionally satisfying, remains cinema’s elusive white whale.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a wonderfully weird and unexpectedly hilarious murder mystery.”–Scott Foundas, Variety (festival screening)

LIST CANDIDATE: THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION (2000)

DIRECTED BY: Jonathan Weiss

FEATURING: Victor Slezak, Anna Juvander, Michael Kirby, Rob Brink, Diane Grotke, Caroline McGee, Robert Morgan, Mariko Takai

PLOTIn a mental institution, a doctor has enticed patients and staff into staging bizarre microdramas and recording them on film. Is he recording his own mental breakdown, or the larger ills of society?

reagan_sex_s7

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Inasmuch as cult author J.G. Ballard can still be called “weird” nowadays, the film perfectly captures the clinical nature of his themes and uneasy alliances. One scene is a fashion shoot in the midst of a surgical operation. Another memorable sequence has Traven emerging from a 1950s  black sedan on an airport runway shouting “Marilyn Monroe” and breaking into a run with the sound of helicopters on the soundtrack; he inexplicably ends up back at the sedan, vomiting over the front hood.

COMMENTS: The Atrocity Exhibition is another one of the many “unfilmable” novels that some filmmaker, at some point, takes on as a challenge. first took the plunge, being the first to adapt Ballard’s other “unfilmable” novel, Crash, in the mid-90’s, and largely succeeding. “The Atrocity Exhibition“, however, was slightly more challenging for an adapter: there’s no real plot, just linked incidents; the main character is undergoing a mental breakdown affected by mass media; each chapter represents an aspect of the protagonist’s psychosis (his name changes in each segment); and most of the action is psychological. The book is a collection of themes and ideas showing up in Ballard’s work at the time (the mid to late 1960’s), some of which would be fleshed out/explored further in works like “Crash” and “High Rise,” and is much more fragmentary than most novels.

Jonathan Weiss’s approach in adapting Ballard’s work is geared to the experimental film work in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Using stock-film sequences interspersed with new footage, the film is presented as the artifact from Dr. Traven’s project, staged mini-dramas reflecting his obsessions (assassinations, war, celebrity, plastic surgery, the Space Race) which document his—and by extension, society’s—surrender to psychosis. But is it a surrender, or merely an adaptation to the new order?

Exhibition is perhaps the purest adaption of Ballard’s work to date. The low-budget, as well as the unusual nature of the main role, excluded any casting of name stars, and the movie was shot over the period of several years. It’s not as polished or sexy as Cronenberg’s Crash, but it’s even more intellectually rewarding.

the-atrocity-exhibition

DVD INFO: The Atrocity Exhibition had limited festival screenings in the early ’00’s, but no true theatrical release. It seemed it would languish in obscurity until its release on DVD in 2006 by Reel 23, a European company—Region 0, but on the PAL system—now a pricey import, if you do some hard looking. You get a good transfer of the film in picture and sound, highlighting the score by J.G. Thirwell (“The Venture Bros.”, “Foetus”), subtitles in French, Spanish, German and Dutch, and an informative commentary track by the director. But what makes this release special is a second commentary track with the director and J.G. Ballard together. Ballard doesn’t stick around for the last 20 minutes of the film, pretty much having said whatever he needed to.

A contentious interview with Jonathan Weiss can be found on the “Ballardian” website, along with the review that touched things off.

Oswalds Mill Audio (OMA), selling high-quality and high-end audio equipment, is Jonathan Weiss’ current venture.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Weiss works superbly with the material here, creating the most Ballard-like visual representation of the author’s work on the screen… They are all meaningfully integrated into the screenplay – if not in any immediately comprehensible way, at least in a way that is true to how Ballard envisioned it in his writing – and thankfully not in any pretentious rapid-fire montage.”–Noel Megahy, The Digital Fix

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads who took care of us when we were sick!

Next week’s reviews start off with El Rob Hubbard digging deep into the reader-suggested queue for Jonathan Weiss’ obscure adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s “unfilmable” The Atrocity Exhibition. Next, G. Smalley will cover a couple of Frenchies in Bruno Dumont’s “Twin Peaks“-ish miniseries L’il Quinquin and ‘s classic tale of love, betrayal, and scissors, Pierrot le Fou. And, while he’s awaiting the release of the new Ghostbusters, Alfred Eaker promises to write about something authentically indie.

Now is the time when we survey the weirdest search terms that brought people to the site this week. Prepare to “enter trange movies,” as one searcher says. This week, we’ll start by focusing on a running theme: boobs. We saw searches for a “movie female time-travelling samurai bares breasts for magic powers,” the intriguing “a movie where the girl is a robot and has sex with her boobs a bunch of cords come out her boobs,” and finally  “dwarf man as a baby trying to drink boob milk in a party. findout the movie name.” And yet, we award none of those boobs our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week laurel, going instead with “woman transforms monster watch the soup shower.” We think the search is divided into two parts: “woman transforms [into a?] monster” and “watch the soup shower” (the latter is always a good suggestion!); the weirdest part is wondering how these two ideas are connected in the searcher’s mind…

Here’s how the ridiculously-long and ever-growing reader-suggested review queue now stands: The Atrocity Exhibition (next week!); Pierrot Le Fou (next week!); Candy; Salo, the 120 Days of Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/17/2016

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available at the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Cosmos (2015): ‘s first film in 15 years—and the last before his death in 2016—is a metaphysical farce about a law school flunkout vacationing in a strange house. Based on a novel by Witold Gombrowicz. Cosmos official site.

Tickled (2016): Investigating a “competitive tickling” video, a journalist finds himself harassed by cyberbullies. Reviewers have called this documentary “strange,” “offbeat,” and yes, “weird.” Tickled official site.

SCREENINGS – (Tribeca Screening Room, New York City, Jun. 17):

“In the Bight”: is offering a free screening of his latest 28-minute short, a moody, weird horror about two eight-year-olds who make macabre discoveries while playing in the woods. There are two screenings, at 7:00 and 8:00 PM, so you still have time to make a midnight movie (see below) afterwards. The screening room is at 375 Greenwich St. Tribeca Film Center.

SCREENINGS – (Nitehawk Cinema, New York City, Jun. 17-18):

Eraserhead (1977): Read the Certified Weird entry! Eraserhead on Fathers’ Day weekend; brilliance. Eraserhead at Nitehawk Cinema.

SCREENINGS – (IFC Center, New York City, Jun. 17-18):

The Holy Mountain (1973): Read the Certified Weird entry!” Lucky New Yorkers, who can catch Eraserhead one night and Mountain the next. The Holy Mountain at IFC Center.

NEW ON DVD:

Cemetery of Splendor (2015): A medium helps a woman explore the troubled dreams of a soldier with sleeping sickness in s latest mystical drama. Anxiously awaited by “Joe”‘s fans, this release contains behind-the-scenes footage and deleted scenes. Buy Cemetery of Splendor.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Cemetery of Splendor (2015): See description in Blu-ray above. Buy Cemetery of Splendor [Blu-ray].

“Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Vol. 2”: A collection of obscure yakuza comedies produced by Nikkatsu in the early 1960s: Tokyo Mighty Guy, Danger Paws and Murder Unincorporated. Unincorporated is the one that caught our attention: from what we can gather from the few fans who caught it, it features assassins named “Joe of Spades” and “Al Capone III” (who uses an exploding slingshot) and features bizarrely-staged killings might have approved of. Buy “Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Vol. 2”.

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

DIRECTOR RETROSPECTIVE: THE FILMS OF DAINA KRUMINS

During one of my incognito Sacred Heart Catholic Church field trips with my Aunt Greta, visiting from the Arizona desert, I received a mild scolding—albeit not from immediate family, who would have flipped out had they known my father’s sister had smuggled me into one of those Catholic churches. Rather, it was from Greta herself, who corrected my venial sin: in being transfixed by the statues of the Infant of Prague (a toddler Jesus in drag), Our Lady of Sorrows (Mother Mary with seven knives jabbed into her chest), and Teresa of Avila (she of Lorenzo Bernini’s orgasmic ecstasy), I made the mistake of saying: “It’s cool that your church has such weird imagery, worships women, and you don’t have to worship Jesus.” Greta very quickly and sternly pointed out to me: “We do worship Jesus, and we don’t worship Mary or Teresa. We venerate them.” In hindsight, and putting aside that I was in my teens that was probably the first time I became vaguely conscious of a latent (although denied by some) connection between feminism and blue-collar Catholic Surrealism.

The films of Daina Krumins have these qualities, and more. As with most Krumins followers, I was introduced to her via The Divine Miracle (1972). I can’t recall where I first saw it, but it was in the late seventies, and Aunt Greta’s parish icons immediately called to mind Krumins’s film. Another weird image that I had cemented at the time, mixing my mythologies, was from a TV documentary about the suicide of George “Adventures of Superman” Reeves, in which the narrator described the late actor’s devoutly Catholic mother going to the crime scene and placing holy cards of saints on all the blood stains and bullet holes in the room (the narration was accompanied by eccentric flashing images of devotional postcards). The reason I reference the latter is that there’s something of a holy cards-on-bloodstains texture to Krumins’ work.

Krumins was born in 1947 in a Munich refugee camp. Her family immigrated to the U.S.A. Like her mother, Krumins suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. Fortunately, her father, who was an accomplished photographer, and her uncle, a Latvian painter, encouraged her early creative eccentricities, which included collecting metal shavings, wax teeth, snakes in formaldehyde, jellyfish, and crabs. Ignoring her teachers’ advice to be more social and pursue a normal life, Krumins received her BFA at the NYU Film School, followed by an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and found employment as a rotoscoper with Lookout Mountain Films. Images from her art and film can be viewed on the filmmaker’s website).

Still from The Divine Miracle (1972)Krumins is a New Jersey resident and has been described as a “homegrown Surrealist.” That description suggests something coming from the earth, which is apt. Krumins refers to her film, photographs, woodwork, and sculpture as preoccupations with textures. To date, she has completed a total of four  films, Continue reading DIRECTOR RETROSPECTIVE: THE FILMS OF DAINA KRUMINS

Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, strange, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!