All posts by Gregory J. Smalley (366weirdmovies)

Originally an anonymous encyclopediast who closely guarded his secret identity to prevent his occult enemies from exposing him, a 2010 Freedom of Information Act request revealed that "366weirdmovies" is actually Greg Smalley, a freelance writer and licensed attorney from Louisville, KY. His orientation is listed as "hetero" and his relationship status as "single," but Mr. Smalley's "turn-ons" and "favorite Michael Bay movie" were redacted from the FOIA report. Mr. Smalley is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.

ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY 2018 AWARDS (WITH OUR VOTES)

The 2018 Online Film Critics Society awards awards are out. A few weird films garnered nominations this year—Annihilation and Suspiria for Best Picture, Sorry to Bother You for Best Original Screenplay and Best Debut Feature—but we had no winners from our genre (unless you count the marginally weird Hereditary).

The Online Film Critics society has predicted the Academy Awards Best Picture winner three out of the last seven years.

Normally I add comments on my choices, but due to a time crunch this year, I am merely listing the winners, along with my votes for posterity.

BEST PICTURE

Winner: Roma

My Vote: The Death of Stalin (not nominated); Hereditary (official vote)

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Winner: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

My Vote: Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (not nominated); Incredibles 2 (official vote)

BEST DIRECTOR

Winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

My vote: , Isle of Dogs (not nominated); Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here

BEST LEAD ACTOR

Winner: , First Reformed

My vote: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

BEST LEAD ACTRESS

Winner: , Hereditary

My vote: Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline (not nominated); Olivia Colman, The Favourite (official vote)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Winner: Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

My vote: Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (not nominated); , Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Winner: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

My vote: , Suspiria (not nominated); , The Favourite (official vote)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Winner: First Reformed

My vote: , Sorry to Bother You

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Winner: Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

My vote: The Death of Stalin (not nominated); Can You Ever Forgive Me? (official vote)

BEST EDITING

Winner: Eddie Hamilton, Mission: Impossible – Fallout

My vote: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

My vote: Mandy (not nominated); Roma (official vote)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Winner: Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk

My vote: Mandy (not nominated), First Man (official vote)

BEST DEBUT FEATURE

Winner: , Hereditary

My vote: Hereditary

BEST FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Winner: Roma

My Vote: Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (not nominated); Roma (official vote)

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Winner: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

My vote: Free Solo

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Winners:

Annihilation, Best Visual Effects
Black Panther, Best Costume Design
Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Best Stunt Coordination
A Quiet Place, Best Sound Design
A Star Is Born, Best Original Songs

My votes:

Border, Hair and Makeup
Mandy, Production Design
November, Production Design
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Visual Effects
Suspiria, Hair and Makeup

TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2018

2018 was deep in weirdness. Although we deemed only a trio of movies (one of which was technically a 2017 release) as worthy of Certification as among the 366 Weirdest Films of All Time, there were a lot of hard cuts at the bottom of this year’s top 10 list. At the beginning of the year, we were confident that the homoheroic spoof Fags in the Fast Lane would remain among the ten strangest cinematic offerings by December, and yet it got lost among a multitude of odd releases. Chained for Life was a metanarrative farce starring real-life “freaks” making a movie in their off hours, but it didn’t sniff the top 10. Nor did ‘s Double Lover (despite featuring the year’s most innovative gynecological camerawork), Australia’s microbudgeted Hitler Lives! (despite depicting Nazi war criminals as marionettes), or the Suspiria remake (despite having the best avant-garde exploding-witch choreography of the year).

Poster for Mandy (2018) - weirdest movie of 2018Besides that wealth of weirdness on the big screen, we should note that the small screen brought us the second (and sadly final) season of the metaphysical comedy/mystery “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” while  went miniseries mad with the Nippo-Gothic “Tokyo Vampire Hotel” (also released in a condensed and even more incoherent version as a feature film). And, on a final note, we’ll mention that we’re holding off on ranking ‘s surreal Hollywood noir Under the Silver Lake, which is going back to the editing bay for a rework after debuting to puzzled audiences at Cannes (we expect his original vision will be both better and weirder, but eventually think we’ll be able to see both side-by-side for comparison).

As for the choice of movies: as always, I personally pick them using a secret proprietary formula that accounts for cinematic craftsmanship, the degree of surrealism/weirdness, and the perceived prestige in the weird movie community based on buzz and reader feedback, then I rank them in whatever arbitrary order I momentarily feel like without regard to any of that. As always, films are listed in random Continue reading TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2018

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2018 – MAINSTREAM EDITION

Here is my annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed in this list, but I attempt to rank 2018 releases according to their general merit, intended for people who don’t specialize in the genre. Provocative cults film like Sorry to Bother You and Mandy can (and did!) make this list, but they will not automatically be catapulted to the top, and when ranked by mainstream standards they may even show up in a different order. Stay tuned for the top 10 weird movies of 2018 at a later hour.

2018 Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): BlackKklasman, Black Panther, Border [Gräns], Double Lover [L’amant double], Eighth Grade, Game Night, Madeline’s Madeline, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Night is Short, Walk on Girl, November, Paddington 2, A Quiet Place, Science Fair, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Suspiria, Thoroughbreds, Widows, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, You Were Never Really Here

10. Free Solo: This documentary follows rock climbing legend Alex Honnold as he attempts to become the first person in history to climb Yosemite’s 3,000 foot tall El Capitan using nothing but his limbs and his wits. A fellow climber compares the feat to an Olympic competition, except that if the athlete gives anything less than a gold medal performance, he dies. My pick for doc of the year; breathtaking views, drama, and a good reminder that excellence is abnormal.

9. Incredibles 2: Mr. Incredible takes a turn as a house-husband when his wife Elastic Girl is chosen as the spokeswoman in a campaign to rehabilitate the image of surperheroes; an evil plan is afoot, and the Incredibles’ newest arrival reveals his superpowers. Superior fluff that benefits greatly from its sleek, James Bond-inspired retrofuturist design. Nice baby/raccoon battle, too. Brad Bird made this sequel an incredible(s) 14 years after the original. Don’t worry if you don’t remember the first one too well; I never even saw it, and I loved this one.

8. Mandy: Read the Certified Weird entry! A lumberjack takes revenge on the Manson-like hippie cult that killed his true love, Mandy. The prophesied Nic-Cage-kills-bikers-and-hippies-while-tripping-on-acid fantasia you’ve been waiting on is here. Somehow, the 92% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes translated into 0% consideration during awards season; horror movies are starting to break out of the critical ghetto, but sadly, midnight movies probably never will.

7. First Reformed: Counseling a troubled environmentalist parishioner slowly leads a minister at a “tourist church” (an intense Ethan Hawke) into the very depths of despair he preaches against. Challenging and thought-provoking character study aimed at cinephiles.  still has it. God’s lonely man, indeed.

Ad for First Reformed

6. Sorry to Bother You: Read the Certified Weird entry! When telemarketer Cassius Green learns to use his “white voice,” he shoots up the corporate ranks, becomes a “power caller,” and is asked to compromise his principles in a shocking way. Seemingly coming out of Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2018 – MAINSTREAM EDITION

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 12/28/2018

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

We are now in the movie industry post-Christmas doldrums, with almost no new releases either in theaters or home video. Things will pick up soon as a new season begins with Sundance debuts in late January. But here’s a few items for you…

IN DEVELOPMENT:

The Caring Only Cry at Night (2019?): A company transports the unwanted elderly to remote locations to die. The filmmakers cite Dogtooth and Stalker as inspirations for the tone. We discovered the project in a Teleflim Canada funding application, where they identify one of their target demographics as “Absurdist Dark Comedy fans” and write “Through our research we have found where these communities live on the internet. They include websites such as 366 Weird Movies…” In other words, they are making this movie (at least partly) for you guys. According to their proposed production schedule the film should be in post-production now, although we don’t know for sure. No official site (yet), but the Telefilm application is publicly available.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON TUBI.TV:

Dogtooth (2009): Read the Certified Weird entry! The Favourite might be headed for an Oscar, but we’ll always treasure our first encounter with the weird world of , this story of three children secluded by the parents in a chateau and taught bizarre, purposeless untruths about the outside world. Watch Dogtooth free on Tubi.tv.

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.

364. NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: THE END OF EVANGELION (1997)

“…for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallowed up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated Night,
Devoid of sense and motion?”–John Milton, Paradise Lost

Weirdest!

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Voices of , , ; , , (English dub)

PLOT: Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion picks up where Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth ended, with NERV under attack by the JSSDF and Asuka unconscious in the hospital. NERV mastermind Gendo frees a Rei clone which merges with the body of Adam. The resulting entity then initiates the “Third Impact,” which might bring about the end of the world, but leaves the final decision to angsty teen Shenji.

Still from Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion (1997)

BACKGROUND:

  • The “Neon Genesis Evangelion” franchise began as a television series (and concurrent manga) in 1995. The final two episodes of the series were abrupt, abstract, psychological, and generally impenetrable and unsatisfactory to many fans. Creator Hideaki Anno received a stream of hate mail from fans after this polarizing ending, including at least one death threat. In response, The End of Evangelion was conceived as an alternate ending. Before it was released, the studio produced the feature Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth, which recapped the series and began the new ending which concludes in End of Evangelion.
  • Anno was severely depressed when he conceived the “Evangelion” series, and some interpretations often suggest the entire work is a form of self-psychoanalysis.
  • In 2007 Anno began a complete feature film reboot of the series, beginning with Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone in 2007. To date the reboot has produced three movies, with the conclusion to the planned tetralogy due in 2020.
  • “Time Out” ranked The End of Evangelion #65 on its 2016 list of the best animated movies.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The poster features a picture of goddess Rei’s giant white head rising from a blank landscape. That glowing face, with its sharp anime nose, is indeed iconic, but we’ll go instead for the moment when Rei’s head is floating in the upper atmosphere, a vagina-shaped third eye suddenly opens in the middle of her forehead, and a phallic cross drops into it, suturing it shut. But yeah, just about anything from the movie’s last half hour could qualify.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Shenji the strangler; 1,000 permutations of a giant Rei head; sandbox stagelights

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: End of Evangelion is like a Jungian treatment of the Kabbalah performed by giant anime robots. You need to just float along on the occult imagery of the last half. Don’t try to understand it; like its Western cousin “Revelation,” it becomes disappointing when reduced to a literal meaning.


DVD release trailer for Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion

COMMENTS: You can’t possibly understand anything in The End of Continue reading 364. NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: THE END OF EVANGELION (1997)

363. MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE (1983)

AKA The Meaning of Life

“The task I’ve been given seems absurd: to wait here on earth until I no longer exist.”–Ashleigh Brilliant

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: , Terry Gilliam (“The Crimson Permanent Assurance” and animated sequences)

FEATURING: , , , Terry Jones, , Terry Gilliam

PLOT: An introductory short appended to the main feature describes a mutiny among older workers at an accountant firm. Then the feature begins as a tank of fish with human faces ponder the meaning of life. The movie promises to explain that mystery in a series of comic sketches beginning with birth and ending with death (and the afterlife).

Still from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)

BACKGROUND:

  • The Monty Python comedy troupe began its life in 1969 in the BBC TV show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” The show lasted three seasons, ending in 1974, after which the Pythons embarked on a series of three feature films, of which Meaning of Life was the last.
  • The Pythons refused to show distributor Universal Studios a script, instead providing a poem summarizing the film. Knowing the crew had a built-in audience, the studio approved the project.
  • Terry Gilliam’s segment, “The Crimson Permanent Assurance,” was originally supposed to be a sketch in the film, but it grew to such length that it was eventually included as a separate short film introducing the feature.
  • The Meaning of Life won the Grand Prix (a prize second only to the Palm d’Or) at Cannes.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Well, it’s obvious what the average person will remember most about this movie: that nauseating mountain of gluttony, Mr. Creosote, vomiting gallons of minestrone onto the waitstaff at a swanky French restaurant to make room for his evening meal (including one final “waffer-thin mint”). Due to our particular biases, however, we picked a shot from the “Find the Fish” sequence instead: an elephant in a tuxedo, a man with extended arms, and a punk transvestite with water faucets attached to his/her nipples.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Fishy Python chorus; nipple spout punk; Christmas in Heaven

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Monty Python were the pioneers of modern surreal comedy; without the groundwork they laid, there would be nothing to show on . Python is too important to weird culture to go unrecognized on a list like this, and The Meaning of Life is their weirdest big screen work, the equivalent of an R-rated “Flying Circus” episode with nudity, blasphemy, grossout humor, absurdity, and, of course, fish.


Original trailer for Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

COMMENTS: Their rambunctiously silly and absurd style of comedy Continue reading 363. MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE (1983)