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WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

First off…

Next week, Alex Kittle will explore The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Cattet & Forzani’s neo- followup to Amer), while new contributor explains what the deal is with The Bothersome Man (2006). Bothersome is in our reader-suggested review queue, and G. Smalley will take a look at another film from that clan, an unassuming little flick you may have heard of called Pink Flamingos (1972). Thursday you can take a breather from that weirdness as Alfred Eaker faces The Gunfighter, another  oater from the 1950s.

And, believe it or not (and you have no reason not to), the publication of the 2013 Yearbook is right around the corner… we may interrupt regularly scheduled programming for an announcement.

We didn’t see the usual host of weird search terms this week. We blame spring fever: folks who’ve been cooped up all winter must be leaving behind their perverse, pasty keyboard exploits for some (yech!) fresh air and sunshine. Still, we’ll highlight what we can in our never-ending quest to bring you the Weirdest Search Term of the Week. We’ll start with “movie about a girl who cant get wet shes an alien”—see, we told you we were having a hard time coming up with weird search terms! Just a little bit weirder was the search for “obscure hirsute movies,” which is only strange because the searcher assumes there are commonplace hirsute movies, and wants no part of them. For our Weirdest Search Term of the Week, however, we’ll have to bite the bullet and go with “80s 90s movie with old guy mustache dwarf eats chicken.” Next week, you guys need to come inside and start looking up bizarre stuff on the Internet. The novelty of the outdoors wears off quickly.

Here’s how the ridiculously-long reader-suggested review queue currently stands: The Bothersome Man (next week!); Pink Flamingos (next week!); Celine and Julie Go Boating; Abnormal: The Sinema of Nick Zedd; Nightdreams; Rubin & Ed; The Real McCoy; Themroc; Candy (1968); Northfork; Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

SATURDAY SHORT: HAPPINESS HAS A HOLE (2014)

A well-rounded combination of eerie music and abstract animation which seeps under your skin with its simplicity.

For more listening and viewing, I recommend Marie Louise’s live performance of Wind. The musicianship is astounding.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 4/18/2014

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 on the official site links.

FILM FESTIVALS – Tribeca Film Festival (New York City, April 16-27):

Besides an April 26 special screening of Certified Weird classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which concludes with a scientific panel discussing the possibility of the film’s memory-erasure technology becoming a future reality) and a suite of shorts collectively titled “Totally Twisted” (programmers describe the set as “Fun. Creepy. Weird.”), there’s only one film playing at Tribeca this year which looks to have some potential bizarre impact:

  • Der Samurai – A small German town believes itis being menaced by a wolf, but onepoliceman discovers the killer is actually a samurai (in lipstick). Screens Apr. 19, 22 & 24.

Tribeca Film Festival official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

The Lobster (est. 2104): Dogtooth auteur ‘ first English language movie involves a “Hotel” where singles are forced to find a mate in 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choosing. The latest news is that John C. Reilly joined an ensemble cast that already included and along with Lanthimos regulars and . Read the latest news at Variety.

NEW ON DVD:

The End of Time (2012): An experimental documentary on the nature of time. Looks to be in the same cinematography-centric vein as Koyaanisqatsi and its progeny. Buy The End of Time.

Wrong Cops (2013): ‘s third feature is an absurdist comedy about cops-gone-wrong entitled, oddly enough, Wrong Cops. The cast includes , Marilyn Manson, and former “Twin Peaks” spouses and Ray Wise. Buy Wrong Cops.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Alice [Neco z Alenky] (1988): Read the certified weird entry! ‘s stop-motion surrealist version of “Alice in Wonderland” is a crucial addition to the Blu-ray ranks, even though the First Run Features disc arrives sans extras. Buy Alice [Blu-ray].

Touch of Evil (1958):  Orson Welles’ overheated noir about a Mexican lawman (Charlton Heston!) who uncovers border town corruption, embodied in the massive, commanding personality of bad cop Hank Quinlan (Welles).  Maybe it’s not completely weird, but if you’ve never seen it you’ll likely be amazed at the ornate camerawork, frighteningly quirky characters, Code-challenging evocations of drugs and rape, and general ahead-of-its-time style. This Blu-ray contains the same content as the 2-disc “50th Anniversary” DVD, including three separate cuts of the film and four (!) commentaries. Buy Touch of Evil [Blu-ray].

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.

WILL PENNY (1968)

From 1956 on, actor  kept an actor’s journal, which he published in two volumes, in 1976 and 1996. These are some of the most fascinating and valuable behind-the-scene writings published on the subject of studio filmmaking. In addition to these writings, Heston was also an exceptional and underrated visual artist. Often, when actors turn to painting, the result is less than memorable, and can even be downright painful. One thinks of Henry Fonda’s vapid watercolors or the recent, execrable “world leader” portraits by George Bush as painful examples. Heston’s visual art was an extension of his journals. His pen and ink drawings of makeup artists, stuntmen, cameramen, and technicians celebrated the unsung blue-collar workers. I was fortunate enough to attend a small showing of Heston’s extensive work and it remains of the most compellingly unique exhibits I have attended to date.

The story of the making of Will Penny (1968) is a standout entry in Heston’s “The Actor’s Life: Journals.” Heston was handed an incomplete script. Under normal conditions, the actor would have refused to read an unfinished screenplay, but Heston was so taken with the fragment that he immediately expressed interest in taking on the role of the aging, illiterate cowboy Will Penny. Heston was then informed that the writer, Tom Gries, was insistent on directing. When Heston inquired on Gries’ directing experience, he found it consisted of “a couple of television programs.” Heston put up a mild protest, but quickly changed his mind upon learning that Gries’ demand was unconditional. While it is fortunate that Heston compromised in what turned out to be one of his best and most underrated roles, his skepticism about Gries’ lack of experience had some validity.

The central performances and an intelligent, sensitive script are the strengths of Will Penny; however, Gries’ television-like visual direction and an embarrassingly melodramatic performance from  are noticeable flaws. As excellent as Heston’s work is here, Joan Hackett is even better. She imbues her part with an unglamorous freshness (Heston amusingly related that several actresses turned down the role upon reading the description of Catherine as plain). Heston later counted Hackett as the best of his leading ladies, and for good reason.

Will Penny is not a Wyatt Earp type. He does not bravely face down the enemy to clean up a corrupt town. Rather, he is a fifty-year-old cowhand who works with cattle. It’s all he knows. He doesn’t even know how to write his name. When he gets into a fight with a younger co-worker, Penny uses a frying pan “because I use my hands to work.” When a trail job ends, Penny finds himself traveling with a young Lee Majors and Anthony Zerbe in hopes of finding work. Majors is a bit of a nonentity here, but Zerbe gives a very good performance as a recently transplanted, thickly accented European immigrant who awkwardly shoots himself and then milks every ounce of sympathy he can.

Still from Will Penny (1968)Zerbe and Majors try to steal an elk from demented preacher Quint (Pleasance) and his sons (one of who is played by  in one of his worst and most cartoonish performances). Penny is inadvertently drawn into the conflict, which will have eventual and horrific consequences.The three men temporarily part company when Penny lands a seasonal job as a line rider. Penny finds his shack occupied by squatters in the person of Catherine (Hackett) and her young son (Jon Francis).

The romance between Penny and Catherine is authentic. They do not wind up in each others’ arms within thirty seconds. It is the building of the relationship between the two that gives Will Penny its substance. Even the inevitable conflict between Penny and Quint is in service of the understated chemistry between Heston and Hackett.

While Gries’ does not have the cinematic visual flair of the best directors, his strength lies in characterization and elegant writing. This was Gries’ first feature film. His subsequent films were mere assignments, lacking the personal vision of Will Penny.

168. MR. NOBODY (2009)

“Oh, my God, and when you got up in the morning, there was the sun in the same position you saw it the day before—beginning to rise from the graveyard back of the street, as though its nightly custodians were the fleshless dead—seen through the town’s invariable smoke haze, it was a ruddy biscuit, round and red, when it just might as well have been square or shaped like a worm—anything might have been anything else and had just as much meaning to it…”–Tennessee Williams, The Malediction

Must See

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Jared Leto, Toby Regbo, Sarah Polley, Natasha Little, Rhys Ifans, , Diane Kruger, Linh Dan Pham

PLOT: In 2092, after all disease has been conquered through cellular regeneration technology, 119-year old Nemo Nobody is the last mortal man left in the world. He recounts his life story to a psychiatrist and a reporter, but his memories are wildly inconsistent and incompatible, and at times fantastic and impossible. In his confused recollections he is married to three different women, with multiple outcomes depending on choices that he makes in the course of his life; but which is his real story?

Still from Mr.  Nobody (2009) BACKGROUND:

  • The genesis of this story came from Jaco Van Dormael’s 1982 short film “È pericoloso sporgersi,” about a boy who must make an “impossible” choice between living with his mother or with his father.
  • According to Van Dormael the script took seven years to write, working about five and a half hours a day, every day.
  • Van Dormael published the Mr. Nobodoy screenplay (in French) in 2006, one year before production began and three years before the film was completed.
  • Despite being made in 2009, the movie was not released in the U.S. until 2013, and then only in an attempt to capitalize on the Oscar buzz surrounding Jared Leto’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
  • Leto temporarily retired from acting after Mr. Nobody, spending the next four years focusing on his band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
  • Mr. Nobody’s first name, Nemo, means “nobody” in Latin.
  • The movie is full of visual tricks and illusions, some of which are so subtle that they’re easy to miss. For example, watch for a scene where Nemo enters a bathroom then focuses on his own image in a mirror. When he turns around and the camera follows him back out of the room, we now see the perspective as if we had passed through the mirror; the reflection seamlessly swaps places with the real world.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Mr. Nobody‘s essential image is of branching, criss-crossing railroad tracks; if you want something with a little more surreal zip, however, check out the scenes of a fleet of helicopters delivering slices of ocean, slowly lowering them into place on the horizon.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Essentially an experimental narrative film disguised as a big-budget science fiction extravaganza, Mr. Nobody, an epic fantasia in which the protagonist lives a dozen different lives and a dozen different realities, was doomed to be a cult film from its inception. Even with a healthy dose of romantic sentimentality and whimsy a la , it is far too rare and peculiar a dish for mainstream tastes. The opening is confusing, the moral ambiguous, and reality won’t sit still; it’s got unicorns, godlike children, helicopters delivering the ocean, a future world where everyone has their own genetic pig and psychiatrists are known by their facial tattoos, and a malformed sub-reality where everyone wears argyle sweaters. It’s unique, unforgettable, and utterly marvelous.


Original trailer for Mr Nobody

COMMENTS: One of the enigmatic Nemo Nobody’s many possible past identities is a TV science lecturer who explains such esoteric concepts as Continue reading 168. MR. NOBODY (2009)

366 UNDERGOUND: ACID HEAD: THE BUZZARD NUTS COUNTY SLAUGHTER (2011)

Beware

DIRECTED BY: Tony “Tex” Watt

FEATURING: , Tony “Tex” Watt, Lana Tailor

PLOT: A teenage goth girl meanders around the New Jersey suburbs killing people and allegedly eating them. Sometimes. But there are scumbags, strippers, prostitutes, F.B.I. investigators, mafiosos, and mafioso’s children who get more screen time than the titular character. Also, breasts.

Acid Head
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s unequivocally terrible, which overshadows any weirdness the filmmakers manage to conjure up from the depths of their eye-rolling sexual deviancy. If GWAR and Ween collaborated on an album that was turned into a film, it would be this one, although, unlike Acid Head, that film surely would not be 155 minutes, cast with boorish amateurs, and shot through the most annoying faux-grindhouse filter of all time.

COMMENTS: Tony “Tex” Watt finally answers the question, “should watching a movie feel like a punishment?” with his latest directorial effort, Acid Head: The Buzzard Nuts County Slaughter. This guerrilla warfare-style film has a brazen, almost felonious contempt for the audience. The interminably long opening credit sequence involving monotonous driving, out-of-place sound effects, and a song so forgettable I forgot who I was during the chorus sets an unhealthy precedent of open hostility towards anyone who dares to watch. The gargantuan running time could have serviced two complete films, but somehow it houses around five, all of them claiming to be the same movie, and all of them, infuriatingly, incomplete. It’s a slasher flick, kinda. It’s also an outlaw buddy comedy, if comedy was spelled “zzzzzzz”. There’s a grindhouse sleaze movie in here, a mafia drama, and a sex farce involving the FBI for good measure. It’s all over the map, nothing makes sense, and I suspect it’s not supposed to. It’s an exercise in hatred for the audience the likes of which have not been seen since Thierry Zeno’s Wedding Trough. How much does Acid Head hate its audience? There is an intermission—not in the middle, mind you, but rather near the end of this behemoth—entitled “The 10-Minute Beach Slut Intermission.” It features the main draw of this production, Playboy model Lana Tailor, and another attractive cast member loafing around the beach for ten minutes, accompanied by two grimy dimwits, doing nowhere-near-the-vicinity-of-sexy things. Ten excruciating minutes. It even throws up a timer on the screen, so you can count the 840 seconds of life that slips away during this torturous and tepid ordeal; as if we had to be reminded of how mind-meltingly tedious this is. These aren’t 10 regular minutes; these are treadmill minutes, these are underwater minutes. But this is not to take away from the ineptitude and ennui of the other 145 minutes. After all, once the zany sound effects settle into predictable patterns, the innuendo starts to register as vaguely erogenous wallpaper, and the wig-heavy costumes all begin to look the same, Acid Head creates the worst kind of movie environment, which is of course a boring one. It is an excuse to talk about bewbs on camera and play at DIY horror for a cast and crew with tons of vision but zero aptitude. It is an enigma of purpose, like a crop circle or a platypus. And ultimately, it is a waste of time for everyone concerned.

I recommend Acid Head to anyone who loves nothing, and anybody who just can’t get enough self-loathing packed into a 24-hour day.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…seems to go out of its way to confound and drive crazy anyone who comes to it expecting good acting or anything more than a series of aimlessly rambling scenes and random exploitation homages that only ever occasionally connect up into a plot.”–Richard Scheib, Moria: The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film review (DVD)

CAPSULE: FANTASIA 2000 (1999)

DIRECTORS: James Algar, Gaetan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, Francis Glebas, Eric Goldberg, Don Hahn, Pixote Hunt

CAST: James Levine (conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), plus hosts James Earl Jones, Quincy Jones, Angela Lansbury, Bette Midler, Steve Martin, Penn and Teller, and Itzhak Perlman

PLOT: Like the original Fantasia (1940), Fantasia 2000 has no overarching plot. Instead, the film presents a series of short subjects “illustrating” classical compositions by such masters as Igor Stravinsky, George Gershwin and Ottorino Respighi.

Still from Fantasia 2000 (1999)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: This semi-sequel lacks the edge of the first Fantasia’s sinister “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence (the one with the giant demon). Also, this later Fantasia is unlikely to attract the kind of audience that went to the late 1960’s re-issue of the first film while under the influence. After all, the original Fantasia received the Harvard Lampoon’s 1968 “OhGodOhGodOhGodTheLightsTheSoundsTheColors” award, which it shared with Yellow Submarine and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

COMMENTS: While lacking the innovative qualities of its predecessor, which was one of the first–if not the first–films recorded in multichannel sound, Fantasia 2000 is a (much) shorter, faster and more kid-friendly variation on the original, all of which does not necessarily make it better. Nevertheless, the film is both amusing, and, during the Stravinsky and Respighi sequences, surprisingly stirring.

Fantasia 2000 begins with Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5 in C Minor” being portrayed in abstract fashion with lots of Origami-style butterflies fluttering across the screen. This sequence is obviously meant to recall the original Fantasia’s opening: an impressionistic rendering of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”, which was the dullest scene in either movie. Things perk up considerably after that, as Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” is turned into a touching computer-animated tale of humpback whales. Then comes a funny take on Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, animated in the style of legendary New York caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. This is followed by another digital segment: Shostakovich’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in F. Major”, now rendered as a somewhat lackluster adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” Next up is a very brief bit from Camille Saint-Saens’ “The Carnival of the Animals, Finale”, which here becomes a watercolor-painted sequence featuring pink flamingos playing with a yo-yo. One gets the feeling that this is supposed to be reminiscent of the 1940 original’s version of “Dance of the Hours,” with its immortal ballet-dancing hippos and ostriches, but if that is the case, then the earlier film’s anthropomorphic gags are far more memorable. There’s more anthropomorphism to come, as “Carnival of the Animals” is followed by a reprise of Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” This is simply the classic sequence from the original Fantasia edited in here: Mickey Mouse, thinking himself a great wizard, must fend off an army of living brooms. As it was it the best scene in the original, this is the best sequence in the second one, probably because it’s the only segment that illustrates what the composer was actually writing about. Donald Duck then gets equal time, as it were, by starring in Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.” This is not a story about Donald’s graduation, but a retelling of “Noah’s Ark” with Donald and Daisy standing in for Noah, and it’s amusing enough. The film’s finale is a memorable take on Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite,” as a woodland sprite brings the spirit of spring to the forest, only to be vanquished by the Firebird spirit, who lives in a volcano. But this is Disney, so the sprite rises again like the phoenix. Although this is arguably the most lavishly animated segment in Fantasia 2000, some of the imagery is suspiciously reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 film Princess Mononoke, as well as the forest fire in Disney’s own 1942 Bambi (complete with woodland creatures). Nevertheless, this is a fine note for the film to go out on.

Nothing in Fantasia 2000 is the slightest bit weird, but it is all gorgeously animated and quite entertaining. Compared to its legendary, if sometimes ponderous, 1940 predecessor, however, Fantasia 2000 does seem a bit lightweight.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“If it’s a head trip you’re looking for in the millennial version of Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia,’ you’ll have to wait for the grand finale, in which the world appears to come to an end, then suddenly bursts to life again… [it] often has the feel of a giant corporate promotion…”–Stephen Holden, The New York Times (contemporaneous)

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Next week, Scott Sentinella takes a look at Fantasia 2000, the belated (for 59 years!) sequel to the fabulous 1940 original, while Eric Young tackles Acid Head: The Buzzard Nuts County Slaughter, the latest 2+ hour B-movie marathon from the indefatigable Alfred will head back West for a look at Charlton Heston’s portrayal of the illiterate title cowpoke in 1968′s Will Penny, and we’ll dip into the reader-suggested review for Mr. Nobody (2009), the long-awaited speculative sci-fi drama from  about the last mortal man on Earth and his faulty memories.

Speaking of faulty memories, one of our main sources for the bizarre phrases we examine in our weekly survey of the Weirdest Search Terms of the Week comes from people looking in vain to find those mangled movie memories from their youth. For example, we noticed someone looking for “movie vintage hitler’s people abuse in an asylum.” Another searched for “movie with black teen with backpack walking into trees,” which sounds to us like they might have been thinking of an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” rather than a movie per se. The cheapskate looking for “free movie of destroy a woman’s body by a man” probably intended to turn up something unspeakably horrifying, but the search just sounds weird instead. Our official winner of the Weirdest Search Term of the Week, however, is “low bugged sex british movie lists.” Of all the sex movies out there, no one denies that the low-bugged ones are the weirdest, and no one does them better than the British.

Here’s how the ridiculously-long and ever-growing reader-suggested review queue currently stands: Mr. Nobody (next week!); Celine and Julie Go Boating; Abnormal: The Sinema of Nick Zedd; Nightdreams; Rubin & Ed; The Real McCoy; Themroc; Candy (1968); Pink Flamingos; Northfork; The Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

SATURDAY SHORT: MOMPELAAR (2008)

After being scolded by his transgendered mother, mumbling Lubbert goes out to the woods to visit his treasure trove of plastic bags filled with rotting objects. The darkly humorous plot only gets more bizarre from there.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 4/10/2014

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 on the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Only Lovers Left Alive: s latest tackles vampires in love; with Tom Hiddleston and  (as vampires named “Adam” and “Eve”) and in a rare villainous role. It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for this one to come to theaters. Only Lovers Left Alive official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

Glilgamesh (post-production, estimated release November 2014): An expedition accidentally releases Innana, the Sumerian goddess of lust. The U.S. government plans to use the divinity as a weapon of mass destruction, while Communists plot a coup, and immortal Gilgamesh decides whether to intervene. With a plot like that it could be weird. From the writer/director of Scrooge in the Hood. No official page but updates appear on production company Boston Film Family’s Facebook page.

Way Down in Chinatown (2013, seeking distribution): A playwright and a theater director flee to a sexually surreal underground world to escape the apocalypse. I think. There’s no question this one will be weird. Way Down in Chinatown official site.

NEW ON DVD:

Apocalypse Kiss (2014): On the eve of a future apocalypse, a miffed serial killer assists a detective in tracking down a thrill-killing couple whose sloppy murders are being falsely attributed to him. plays the President in a cameo. Buy Apocalypse Kiss.

A Field in England (2013): Read our review! Historically, far too few psychedelic freakout movies have been set in 17th century England; ‘s latest seeks to rectify that oversight. Buy A Field in England.

I Am Divine (2013): A documentary on the world’s favorite 300-pound copraphagiac transvestite, Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as . Likely to be an un-weird doc on a very weird guy. Buy I Am Divine.

The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012): A filmmaker searches for his missing transvestite friend in Macao and uncovers a shadowy conspiracy. The description makes it sound like your typical gay-interest sci-fi documentary/noir hybrid. Buy The Last Time I Saw Macao.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

A Field in England (2013): See description in DVD above. Buy A Field in England [Blu-ray].

FREE MOVIES ON CRACKLE:

Run Lola Run (1998): Read the Certified Weird entry! We’re not crazy about the idea of watching movies with commercials—especially this one, which depends on relentless momentum for its effect—but free is free. Not the ideal way to see Lola for the first time, but maybe a good chance to catch up with her. Watch Run Lola Run free on Crackle.

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.

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