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WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE FOR NEXT WEEK

Tune in tomorrow for a review of Bad Boy Bubby and later in the week for Funky Forest: The First Contact.  Also this week: sharpen your pencils as we announce our first review writing contest (with a prize!).  Tune in Tuesday for details.

In coming weeks, we’ll continue to do at least one reader-suggested review per week, sprinkling in some choices of our own along the way.  For reference, here’s the queue of movies we’ll be reviewing in the upcoming weeks and months:  Dr. Caligari (1989), Nekromantic, Stalker, UHF, Delicatessen, Pi, Angel’s Egg, Institute Benjamenta, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ex Drummer, Waking Life, Survive Style 5+, and The Dark Backward.

Weirdest Google search term used to find 366weirdmovies last week: “Film amanda virgin having sex with crosses snake.”

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/31/09

A 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):

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2009):  This documentary on Australian exploitation films of the 1970s and 1980s—the sleaze that was even madder than Mad Max—is unexpectedly getting rave reviews from mainstream critics.  Definitely wacky stuff that probably plays better as a compendium of clips of the “good bits.”  Currently showing in New York and L.A. only, and seems unlikely to move to screens in the center of the country.  Not Quite Hollywood Official Site (trailer is Not Safe For Work!).

Thirst [Bakjwi] (2009):  Chan-wook Park sinking his stylistic fangs into a vampire film?  If you’re not salivating at the possibilities, you may be reading the wrong site.  It tied for the Jury Prize at Cannes (impressive, even though “Jury Prize” translates into “Third Place”).  Thirst Official site.

Clip from Thirst

SCREENINGS (NEW YORK CITY: FILM FORUM)

You, The Living [Du levande] (2007):  Swede Roy Andersson’s episodic 2007 film is universally described as “absurdist,” although it’s also universally described as “brilliant” and “funny.”  New Yorkers are lucky people, to be able to see reputed hidden masterpieces on the big screen, while the rest of us have to wait and wait for a Region 1 DVD release that may never come.  You, the Living Official Site.

NEW ON DVD:

Bad Lieutenant (1992) (Special Edition):  Always over-the-top auteur Abel Ferrara gives us a blast of NC-17 nastiness and overwrought Catholicism that is unexpectedly real and powerful.  Only borderline weird, but a naked, strung-out Harvey Keitel simpering on a deserted cathedral floor as he hallucinates a visit from Jesus Christ is definitely a sight you don’t see everyday (and wouldn’t want to). Is this Special Edition being released now in anticipation of Herzog’s version (see below)?  Buy from Amazon.

Combat Shock (1985) (Special Edition) : A 2-disc (!) special treatment edition of this low-budget flick about a Vietnam veteran suffering from terrible flashbacks is rumored to be one of the most demented exploitation films ever made, often described as a cross between Taxi Driver and Eraserhead.  Distributed by, but not originally produced by, Troma.  Based on the underground buzz from folks I trust, this is a movie that must at least get consideration for inclusion on the List. Buy from Amazon.

Repulsion (1965):  Roman Polanski’s peek inside Catherine Deneuve’s disintegrating mind is a five-star classic has already been certified as one of the 366 weirdest movies of all time (read our full review).  Joy of joys!  Now the Criterion Collection has given the film, previously available in inferior versions, a proper 2-disc release.  Buy from Amazon. Also available on Blu-ray (buy).

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (2007):  To quote our 3/13/09 notice: “This micro-budget, DIY film about two Vikings stranded in North America in 1007 AD has been savaged by critics who are unimpressed by its ‘independent spirit.’  With a black metal soundtrack, amateur production values, dialogue in Old Norse, rape and defecation, this appears to be a genuine el cheapo oddity of the sort that in years past might have played at the bottom third of a drive-in triple bill.”  Watch at your own risk, but if you do, be sure to tell us what you think.  Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

12 Monkeys (1995):  Terry Gilliam‘s remake of the time-travel classic 1962 short La Jetée is as visionary and disorienting as anything the master fantasist has ever done. With big-time movie stars Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. Buy from Amazon.

IN PRODUCTION:

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009):  A remake of the inimitable 1992 cult classic?   With the action moved from New York to New Orleans?  Starring Nic Cage as the Bad Lieutenant?  With Val Kilmer as a sidekick?  Directed by Werner Herzog?  With a leaked trailer that makes it look like a standard cop action comedy?  There’s no telling what this is going to be—but there’s an excellent chance that, whatever it is, it’s going to be weird.

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.

REPRINT: STANLEY KUBRICK, CULTURAL OMNIVORE

Fringe Cinema, normally published on Thursdays, will not appear this week. In it’s place is this guest essay is by Alfred Eaker, originally published Mar. 26, 2009, which offers some additional insights on Stanley Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange.

“We must be cultural omnivores and raid all the art forms to enhance our own art”– Pierre Boulez; Modernist French composer.

Although, the meaning of postmodernism is replete with vagaries, one prominent characteristic of the so-called movement is that it abounds in eclecticism. Pierre Boulez’s advice for artists to mantle a mental state of being cultural omnivores seems tailor made for much that is pronounced in postmodernism. In that light, the movement had one of it’s most well-known, brilliantly driven, unofficial spokespersons in the late Stanley Kubrick.kubrick1

Kubrick, of course, patterned his body of film work after a Beethoven aesthetic. Each of Beethoven’s nine symphonies had an individual theme. The Eroica was Beethoven’s initial support, later renounced, bio-portrait of Napoleon. The 4th, according to Robert Schumann, was a Greek maiden between two Norse gods. The immortal fifth was THE anti-war statement. The 6th , a pastorale; the 7th, a series of rhythmic movements; the 8th, more abstract, is a favorite among modernist conductors; and, of course, the mighty Ode to Joy.

Kubrick wanted to create a work in each of the genres and it’s unfortunate he never got to make his western (Marlon Brando foolishly took over directing One Eyed Jacks, after having Kubrick sacked). Regardless of genre, each Kubrick film is filtered through his own unique sensibilities (i.e., the dehumanization of man), thus rendering the idea of applying something as superfluous as a genre akin to hopelessly trivial labeling. When it comes to Kubrick, the genre/subject is almost incidental. Kubrick defiantly stamped his personal vision onto everything he approached (as author Stephen King would discover, to his complete dismay, when Kubrick took on The Shining. Kubrick was no assignment director).

Volumes have been written about Kubrick’s body of work with wildly varying and opposing opinions, but the almost unanimous conclusion that can be drawn is that Kubrick’s films are not designed for casual viewing.

Indeed, upon repeated absorption, Kubrick’s films reveal the degree to which Kubrick was a cultural omnivore.

Kubrick’s rep as being a “supremely controlled” artist is a misnomer. He was just as apt for experimentation, improvisation, and utilizing ideas from actors, etc. Hence, Kubrick’s reason for disallowing the publishing of his scripts (which he often deviated from) and ordering the destruction of all unused footage. In it’s rough cut, Clockwork Orange was originally a four hour film.

One of Kubrick’s most compelling scenes in Clockwork Orange was, by turns, supremely controlled and experimental, yet gives compelling insight into Kubrick’s multi-hued layering and eclectic aesthetics.

Alex and the droogs appear at an ultra modernist home, which welcomes visitors with a lit sign, marked simply “Home.” Kubrick’s customary symbolic red and white design work is as heavy laden here as it is throughout the rest of the film.

Husband Patrick Magee types away at his typewrite when the doorbell rings. The doorbell sounds of the overly familiar first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth: Fate knocking at the door. However, those four notes sound deceptively innocuous here, almost tinkling.

The camera pans across the room revealing Magee’s redhead wife, Adrienne Corri, dressed in red pajamas, sitting comfortably in a white, plastic chair in the next room. Husband and wife are detached from one another, echoing the barrenness of the house. Corri answers the door to hear Alex proclaim “there has been an accident outside” and his request to use the telephone. Corri is reluctant, but Magee instructs her to let the visitors in. With the unlocking of door, Fate enters in like a Beethovenian storm.

The “Singing in the Rain” beating/dance was not scripted and was improvised, worked, and re-worked until Kubrick was satisfied with the flowing tone. Adding this element was a brilliant instinct on Kubrick’s part. Without it, the breaking-in would have felt more like a tempest than a storm.

After Magee is tied up and beaten, Alex and the droogs turn to Corri. They take her in front of painting on the wall and begin to rape her. The visuals in this vignette reveal a homage narrative, akin to developing patterns in an unfolding puzzle. The design of the painting on the wall has a pronounced familiarity. In it’s colors and forms, it is a homage to Gustav Klimt and bears striking resemblance to Klimt works like “Farmhouse with Birch Trees”. Corri appears as a Klimt model personified. She is Klimt’s mysterious red head, pale and thin (i.e., “Hope 1”). She and the scene call to mind imagery from Klimt’s “The Beethoven Frieze” (especially in the sections, “The Longing for Happiness Finds Repose in Poetryand “Hostile Powers”). In essence, Kubrick is paying homage to Klimt paying homage to Beethoven.

Continue reading REPRINT: STANLEY KUBRICK, CULTURAL OMNIVORE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/24/09

A 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):

Loren Cass (2006):  Merely going off the film’s own press release, it’s difficult to discern what this movie is, although we learn a lot about how difficult it was to bring to the screen.  More research reveals it to be an experimental angry teen drama about the 1996 race riots in St. Petersburg, Florida, with poetry interludes (featuring spoken word contributions by Charles Bukowski and other underground figures) and mondo-style documentary footage of a televised suicide added for shock value.  Jacob Reynolds (the “weird-looking kid” from Gummo) has a role as “The Suicide Kid”.  The few reviews are good, describing it basically as raw but intense.  Opening this week in New York, with a short limited release across the rest of the U.S. to follow before it seeks out its core audience on DVD.  Loren Cass official site.

NEW ON DVD:

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1966):  A movie about a middle-class housewife prostituting herself on the side; but director Jean-Luc Godard breaks the fourth wall and philosophizes about consumerism and the Vietnam war while telling his story.  The movie was shot at the same time as Made in U.S.A. (see below) and both films are receiving Criterion Collection editions this week. Buy from Amazon.

Coraline (2009):  From our March review: “a welcome dark fantasy for children, although its themes of evil Doppelgänger moms, frightening buttons, and implied eye-gouging are too scary for very little ones… Though there’s nothing really weird to be found here, Coraline, in the best children’s movie tradition, is worth a trip even for adult fans of fantasy and pure escapism.”  Available in a single disc version including 2D and 3D versions (with 4 pairs of glasses) (buy), a two disc collector’s edition (buy), and Blu-ray (buy).

Made in U.S.A. (1966): Jean-Luc Godard’s avant-garde, Pop Art remake 0f Howard Hawk’s The Big Sleep, with a female detective and an even more convoluted plot, gets the Criterion Collection treatment.  Shot at the same time as 2 or 3 Things I Know About HerBuy from Amazon.

Visioneers (2008): An absurdist black comedy about a mysterious epidemic that is causing people to explode.  It sounds promising; hopefully the presence of Zach Galifianakis (who scored a mainstream hit with his role as the slob in Hangover) will help this independent corporate satire do well in the rental market. Buy from Amazon.

Watchmen (2009): From our April review: ‘The setting is so original that the film has the power to relocate you into it’s own peculiar universe, which is what escapist entertainment is supposed to do.”   Available in a single disc theatrical cut DVD (buy), a dual disc special edition director’s cut with an extra 25 minutes of footage (buy), and on Blu-ray (buy).  Fans might want to save their money, since word on the street is there will be a 5 disc (!) set released in December.

IN PRODUCTION:

Alice in Wonderland (2010):  Alice in Wonderland has long been a source of weird movie inspirations, and offbeat fantasist Tim Burton has the pitch-perfect voice to make a live-action Alice.  Despite the fact that it’s way too soon to get excited about this, Disney released a teaser trailer today: enjoy!

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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/17/09

A 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.

Once again, there’s nothing of weird interest debuting in theaters this week.  However, Moon (the “intelligent” science fiction movie mentioned in the Weird Horizon for 6/12/09), is coming to town here and is likely to get a capsule review next week.

NEW ON DVD:

Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales from Hans Christian Andersen (1982): Fairy tales are perhaps the oldest form of weird literature, so we always perk up our ears when a fairy tale title is released. This disc collects four episodes from the short-lived but critically acclaimed children’s television show hosted by Shelly Duvall. Included in this set are the episodes “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Nightingale”, “The Snow Queen” and “Thumbelina.” The show always attracted major acting talent: Alan Arkin, Art Carney, Mick Jagger, Edward James Olmos, Lee Remick, and Carrie Fisher star on this disc. Buy from Amazon.

For All Mankind (1989): OK, this impressive documentary about the moon landing probably isn’t technically weird, but it is a noteworthy release from the Criterion Collection.  The visuals are said to be spectacular, and images of takeoff and landing on the moon from the astronaut’s perspective certainly aren’t run of the mill; it’s also told in a non-linear, collage-like fashion and features an ambient soundtrack by Brian Eno. Buy from Amazon.

Grey Gardens (2009):  The original Grey Gardens was a 1975 documentary about two eccentric female relations of Jackie Onassis who became recluses and lost touch with the outside world (and with reality) at the decaying titular estate.  This version is a dramatic recreation of that documentary, produced by HBO and starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore.   Adapting a documentary into a dramatic film seems pointless, but reviews were actually very good. Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)/Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)/House of Flying Daggers (2004): The recent run of Chinese epics tend to be colorful, magical, and fantastical, even when they’re not full-on weird (and even when they’re directed by Chinese-Americans rather than natives). If you’re a fan of the genre, and you probably should be, here’s your chance to snag a triple-featurenotable titles on Blu-ray at a bargain price. Also, Crouching Tiger is currently only available on Blu-ray in this bundle (a fact that has frankly pissed off many fans who already own the other two titles). Buy from Amazon.

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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/10/09

A 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.

Sadly, there’s nothing new of weird interest opening in theaters this week.

NEW ON DVD:

A Day in the Life (2009): I have no idea if this direct-to-DVD release from rapper-director Sticky Fingaz is any good, but it’s a novelty, at least: all the dialogue in this gangsta-action flick is rapped, even lines delivered by elderly white women or the detective played by the fortuitously named Michael Rapaport. Buy from Amazon.

Knowing (2009):  This apocalyptic fable from sometimes weird director Alex (Dark City) Proyas about a a little girl who predicted natural disasters in a mathematical code has some nice visuals and exciting action sequences.  Not weird, but strange “X Files” like visitors provide an uncanny thrill, and it may be worth a rental for sci-fi fans.  Starring Nick Cage. Buy from Amazon.

The Unborn (2009): Horror movie about a woman who may be haunted by the malevolent spirit of her own born twin; reviews were poor overall, but reportedly the nightmare imagery (drawn from Jewish mythology) is memorably bizarre. Buy from Amazon.

NEW (OFFICIALLY LICENSED) ON YOUTUBE:

The Doom Generation (1995): A trio of teen killers drift through a stylized America in this second entry in Gregg (Nowhere) Araki’s  “Teen Apocalypse” trilogy.  With Rose McGowan, James Duval, and numerous pop culture cameos.  This is the R-rated cut, not the unrated cut.   Watch on YouTube.

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.

APPROPRIATION AND MUTILATION: THE WEIRDEST FORM OF FLATTERY?

If you search for “366 Weird Movies” on Google, you may discover this odd tribute: an unauthorized, uncredited, unlinked “remix” of our review of The Toxic Avenger, Part II on an anonymous blog.

This new version contains a few insights that I missed in my initial review.  For example, we learn that the movie is a “moral jocose spoof” with “politically false noxiousness,” one which “should pay fans of absurdist murderousness< a harm” (all true enough statements, I suppose).

Richard Harrington’s Washington Post review, cited in our article, has been similarly reworked to produce even more profound insights.  He finds that the original Toxic Avenger had ” a dope, surreal vim” and ponders the eternal question, “What happens when you disparage a cinema that’s considerate simple derision and disparage out cold the considerate on the unharmed derision?”  Smoke a joint and try to wrap your mind around that one; it’s even better than “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”

What’s going on here?  Has 366 Weird Movies become grist for some elaborate Internet Dada mill? Looking at the reworked text, it looks like someone has taken the original article and used an automated program like Babblefish to translate the review into a foreign language, and then translated it back into English to mangle the grammar and vocabulary.  They’ve also inserted the nonsense phrase “on the unharmed demeaning” randomly at several points in the text, and helpfully highlighted arbitrary words and inserted links to two unrelated blogs: one from a mom in Australia, and the other to a young Arab journalist in Kuwait. The blog itself contains page after page of similarly stolen and transformed posts from all over the Web, including columns giving relationship advice (“A functional relationship can contrariwise indeed befall when both partners are advantageous with themselves enlighten and then with each other and scoff at a oodles.”)

The blog calls itself “humorous” (the title, not a description), and the posts are Continue reading APPROPRIATION AND MUTILATION: THE WEIRDEST FORM OF FLATTERY?

WHAT WAS THAT WEIRD MOVIE?

Here’s the latest request:

“Impossible request here. When I was 4 or 5, I got up from bed and walked into the living room where my parents were watching a late night movie. It was a horror sci-fi piece of some sort. All I remember is a dog walking towards the camera and when it got near I realized it had a human head. That scene must have made quite an impression because I still remember it today. So… pre-1984 sci-fi/horror, mutant dog with human head. It’s not much of a description, but do you have any clues?”

At first I thought it might be John Carpenter’s THE THING, but the helpful folks at badmovies.org came up with a better idea–the 1978 remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS:

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/4/09

A 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):

Tony Manero (2008):  A Chilean black comedy, set during the Pinochet dictatorship, about a lowlife thug and murderer who’s obsessed with the Manero character from John Tavolta’s Saturday Night FeverThe London Times calls it “wonderfully bizarre.”  Tony Manero official site (Spanish).

NEW ON DVD:

Dark Streets (2008): A noirish musical fantasy set in 1930s New Orleans. With a soundtrack featuring Natalie Cole, Etta James, Dr. John, Richie Sambora, and co-star Bijou Phillips, it’s almost certain to sound good, if nothing else. Buy from Amazon.

Hide (2008): Described by the producers as “Tarantino meets Bonnie and Clyde,” this indie action flick apparently has a twist ending that has baffled many viewers. Starring Rachel Miner and Christian Kane. Buy from Amazon.

Tokyo! (2008):  A suite of three fantastic, surreal short stories directed by three different international directors (Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Joon-Ho Bong), all set in Tokyo.  Not surprisingly, the stories appear to focus on the theme of urban alienation.  Buy from Amazon.

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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/26/09

A 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):

Surveillance (2008):  Psychological thriller from Jennifer (Boxing Helena, daughter of David) Lynch in which FBI agents try to solve a string of grisly killings with the help of three witnesses who tell conflicting stories.  Has divided critics over its brutality and perversity, as well as its twist ending.  With Bill Pullman and Julia Ormand.  Playing New York and L.A. only, with future dates throughout California and Denver, Co. Surveillance Official Site.

NEW ON DVD:

Diary of a Suicide [Le journal d’un suicidé] (1973): There’s little information available on this (perhaps justifiably) overlooked French anthology movie about a man on a cruise challenged to tell tall tales by a mysterious translator. It’s likely being released now to coincide with Last Year at Marienbad (see below), because Suicide also stars Delphine Seyrig.  Buy from Amazon.

Karl May (1974): Hans-Jürgen Syberberg picture with an intriguing Kafkaesque premise: in Nazi Germany, Karl May (a real-life writer of potboiler Westerns for German audiences) is put on trial on suspicion that he is a character from one of his novels.  Seldom seen.   Buy from Amazon.

Last Year at Marienbad [L’année dernière à Marienbad] (1961):  Alain Resnais dreamlike classic (written with Alain Robbe-Grillet) about a nameless Man who waits for a year to run away with a nameless Woman–only to find out that she does not remember meeting him when the time comes to reunite–has been shamefully out of print for what seems like forever.  The Criterion collection again rides to the rescue with a two disc edition.  A major, major event in weirdness.   Buy from Amazon.  Also available on Blu-Ray.

Phoebe in Wonderland (2008): This well-acted, tearjerking indie drama about an obsessive/compulsive little girl isn’t exactly weird, although it does contain a several fantasy sequences inspired by Alice in Wonderland.  Most importantly, it’s been reviewed in these pages.   Buy from Amazon.

Waltz with Bashir (2008):  Genre-crossing, partially fictionalized Israeli animated documentary on the 1982 Shabra and Shatila massacres and the amnesia of states contains some wonderfully surreal passages on the absurdity of war.  This was one of the best films of 2008, and damn weird to boot; it should be reviewed on these pages in the future. Buy from Amazon.

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.