Category Archives: Miscellanea

ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY 2017 AWARDS (WITH OUR VOTES AND COMMENTS)

The 2017 Online Film Critics Society awards awards are out. Weird films did surprisingly well this year, with mother! and A Ghost Story earning unexpected Best Picture nods (and although neither came close to winning, representation matters).

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

As always, despite the levity in my tone, I take my voting responsibility very seriously, and I do not put forward weird films at the expense of worthier mainstream candidates just because it’s “my thing.” Here is the list of this year’s winners, along with my choices and a touch of personal commentary.

BEST PICTURE

Still from Get Out (2017)Winner: Get Out

Also nominated: A Ghost Story; Call Me By Your Name; Dunkirk; Lady Bird; mother!; Phantom Thread; The Florida Project; The Shape Of Water; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My choice: Get Out

Comments: Get Out was both an unlikely, and a likely, winner. Unlikely because it’s essentially a genre horror movie (I’ve seen some even disparagingly call it a “B-movie”) that was released outside the late Fall/early Winter awards corridor. Likely, because it deals with timely racial issues in a subtle and entertaining manner. And because it’s damn good.

BEST ACTOR

Winner: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Also nominated: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out; James Franco, The Disaster Artist; Robert Pattinson, Good Time; Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

My choice: Vince Vaughn, Brawl in Cell Block 99 (not nominated)

Comments: I’m not a huge fan of “impersonation” performances, where an actor simply mimics the mannerisms of a well-known historical figure. (Franco’s performance as falls into the same category, though I liked it a little better than Oldman’s). I think it shows more craftsmanship to build a believable character from the ground up, and I thought Vaughn’s con-Vincing performance as a brutal but principled ex-boxer in prison lifted Brawl‘s implausible revenge-fantasy script into something unexpectedly artful. Oldman earned an Oscar nomination at the casting stage.

BEST ACTRESS

Winner: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Also nominated: Cynthia Nixon, A Quiet Passion; Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Margot Robbie, I, Tonya; Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

My choice: Cynthia Nixon, A Quiet Passion

Comments: All nominees of course gave good performances, but I would have ranked Hawkins turn as a mute in love with the Creature from the Black Lagoon as the least likely to win. Shows what I know. Eternally underrated Cynthia Nixon’s role as the sexually frustrated Continue reading ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY 2017 AWARDS (WITH OUR VOTES AND COMMENTS)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 12/29/2017

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

This is when the movies take the week off, ceding the field to the latest iteration of Star Wars. Many repertory theaters even take this opportunity to close for renovations). We should have more for you next week. The 2018 season kicks off in earnest in January at Sundance.

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.

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 12/22/2017

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.

NEW ON DVD:

Mother! (2017): Read our review. Audacious comes up with a brutally bloody allegory, and gets it into U.S. theaters. Buy Mother!.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Mother! (2017): See description in DVD above. No extras on the DVD, Blu-ray or even the 4K release. Buy Mother! [Blu-ray].

“A Town Called Panic: The Collection”: Crazy, smart kiddie animation from Belgium, featuring the surreal adventures of Cowboy, Indian and Horse. Please note: the feature film is not included in this 2+ hour collection of shorts, but it does have the specials “Christmas Panic” and “Back to School Panic.” Buy “A Town Called Panic: The Collection” [Blu-ray].

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.

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 12/15/2017

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):

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015): Read our festival capsule. We’re thrilled that this sad and surreal Spanish animated allegory about drug-abusing animal kids on an economically devastated island got a U.S. release. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children official U.S. site.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Donnie Darko (2001): Read the Certified Weird entry! A new collectible release of the bizzaro teen time-travel classic. We believe all the extras are recycled and the only draw is the collectible steelbook format and new artwork; at any rate, it’s limited to 2,000 copies. Buy Donnie Darko [Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray].

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.

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 12/8/2017

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):

Kaleidoscope (2016): Psychological thriller in which a recently-released prisoner finds his domineering mother is interfering with his ability to reintegrate into society. The second feature from Rupert Jones (brother of Kaleidoscope‘s star, veteran character actor Toby Jones); his first was an opera (2013’s The Answer to Everything) cast with homeless people. Kaleidoscope official site.

NEW ON DVD:

“Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series” (2017): The story of “Twin Peaks” picks up 25 years after the cult series’ cancellation.  Rather than just rebooting the soap opera, David Lynch confounded casual viewers by taking the series beyond the Black Lodge; review coming soon. Buy “Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series”

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

“Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series” (2017): See description in DVD above. Buy “Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series” [Blu-ray].

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.

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 12/1/2017

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 (WIDE RELEASE):

The Disaster Artist (2017): A fictional account of the making of the notorious disaster The Room, starring 2013 Weirdest Actor winner James Franco as . OK, it’s not quite the heights of bizarreness we aspire to here, but you know you want to see it. In major cities today, with a wider rollout coming next week. The Disaster Artist official site.

Psychopaths (2017):  brings us a “psychedelic fever dream” of four maniacs possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, let loose on a one-night rampage. Reviews have generally been of the “we’re glad they tried something different, but…” variety. Psychopaths official site.

The Shape of Water (2017):  ‘s adult fairy tale about a cleaning woman who falls in love with a merman. We suspect it will be marginal to our coverage (though we also expect it will be excellent); at least one reviewer used the “w”-word, however. Like Disaster Artist, it will go into wider release next week. The Shape of Water official site.

VIDEO-ON-DEMAND EXCLUSIVE RELEASES:

Somebody’s Darling (2016): A fraternity president becomes obsessed with a fellow student. Microbudget psychological horror with contemporary social relevance.  Rent Somebody’s Darling.

IN DEVELOPMENT (POST-PRODUCTION):

City of Pirates (2018): Not a version of 1983 classic of the same name, this is instead a politically-incorrect Brazilian cartoon. Or at least, that’s how it started, before the author of the original property, Laerte Coutinho, underwent gender-reassignment surgery and rejected her old work and characters. Her objections put the film on hold for almost two decades, but rather than abandon it, adapter Otto Guerra went the metafiction route and wrote Coutinho’s character into the script. No idea if this will create a magnificently weird movie, but the backstory is certainly a hit. Read about it at Variety.

Forbidden Zone 2 (20??): No firm update on ‘s planned sequel to his Certified Weird classic original set in the Sixth Dimension, in a recent Facebook post he gives a few updates and swears he’s still working on it (“it is my holy mission to share this film’s music and absurdity with posterity. THIS FILM WILL BE MY LEGACY!“) Stay tuned to the Forbidden Zone 2 Facebook page for future updates in the future.

NEW ON DVD:

Woodshock (2017): A grieving woman () smokes synthetic cannabinoids in the woods and hallucinates a lot. It’s savaging by critics makes it possibly A24’s first critical flop. Buy Woodshock.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Woodshock (2017): See description in DVD above. Buy Woodshock [Blu-ray].

BOOKS:

“The Usurper King”: Elevator Movie‘s hasn’t made another fictional film since his 2004 debut, but he has written a couple of absurdist novels in the meantime. His latest involves an alternate universe where Ted Bundy is never apprehended for his murders, and becomes President; the protagonist discovers a clue to the Chief Executive’s secret while competing on a game show that involves predicting the future by reading animal entrails. There may be some references to the current political climate. Buy “The Usurper King”.

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.

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 11/24/2017

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):

Antiporno (2017): A female artist/novelist degrades her submissive assistant, or at least that’s what seems to be going on… Nikkatsu studios revived their 1970s/80s “roman porno” (i.e. softcore erotic film) franchise recently, and 366-fave ‘s subversive, experimental take on the subgenre looks like a minor international breakout hit. Nikkatsu English-language page for Antiporno.

NEW ON DVD:

Jabberwocky (1977): A hapless medieval cooper is thrust into the role of knight to defend his town from the rampaging Jabberwocky. Though directed by  and starring , original ads warned it was “definitely NOT a Python film.” Buy Jabberwocky.

Lemon (2017): An unsuccessful, socially-inept jerk actor loses his blind girlfriend and finds a new interracial relationship in this indie comedy. Probably more in the quirky vein, but at least one critic called it “deeply weird.” Buy Lemon.

Liquid Sky (1982): Read our review! Vinegar Syndrome is making a big deal out of this long out-of-print cult classic about aliens who get high off hormones released during human orgasms. For now, a limited edition of 3000 DVD/Blu-ray units is only available for order via the Vinegar Syndrome website.

“Mystery Science Theater: Volume XXXIX”: What looks to be the final box set release of the original series includes Mamie van Doren in Girls Town, ‘s b-movie mistake The Amazing Transparent Man, and ‘s colorful (and not bad) spy thriller Danger: Diabolik, which served as the series finale. Since Shout! Factory could not obtain rights for a fourth film, they released the host segments from the eleven remaining unreleased episodes on a separate disk entitled “Satellite Dishes.” Buy “Mystery Science Theater: Volume XXXIX”.

Porco Rosso (1992): Read our review. Gkids continues with their Studio Ghibli re-releases with this tale of a pig pilot in an alternate WWI setting. Buy Porco Rosso.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017): Read our review. Our called Luc Besson‘s latest attempt to recapture the magic of The Fifth Element “all frosting, no cake.” Buy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

“Fritz Lang: The Silent Films“: Includes Die Nibelungen (1924), Spies (1928), Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922), Destiny (1921), The Spiders (1919), Woman in the Moon (1929), Four Around the Woman (1921), Harakiri (1919), The Wandering Shadow (1920), The Plague of Florence (1919), and of course the Certified Weird classic Metropolis (1927), with numerous documentaries spread across the 12 discs. An expensive way to own Metropolis, but a great Christmas present for the cinephile in your life. Buy “Fritz Lang The Silent Films”.

Jabberwocky (1977): See description in DVD above. Criterion Collection extras include a new documentary and interviews. Buy Jabberwocky [Blu-ray].

Liquid Sky (1982): See description in DVD above. Don’t worry, if you can’t afford a limited edition, there’s a regular release (which looks like it will be the same, but without the specially commissioned “dayglo” designer cover) scheduled for 2018. Vinegar Syndrome website.

Porco Rosso (1992): See description in DVD above. Buy Porco Rosso [Blu-ray].

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017): See description in DVD above. Buy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets [Blu-ray].

SPECIAL SCREENINGS (Nov. 26, 27 & 29):

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004): Read the Certified Weird entry! GKids celebrates their acquisition of the catalog with national screenings of this anime steampunk fairy tale. Dubbed on the 26th and 29th, subtitled on the 27th. Search for a screening near you.

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.

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 11/17/2017

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.

NEW ON DVD:

The Last Laugh (1924): An aging doorman is crushed when he’s demoted. A masterpiece of from the master, , out from Kino with supplements including a new score by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. Buy The Last Laugh.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969): A psychedelic portrait of drag queens in Tokyo’s gay underground in the late 1960s. Long officially unavailable in the U.S., this legendary experimental film (that’s been sitting in our reader-suggested queue) is now out on Blu-ray from Japanese resurrectionists Cinelicious Pics (who brought us the even rarer Belladonna of Sadness last year). Buy Funeral Parade of Roses [Blu-ray].

The Last Laugh (1924): See description in DVD above. Buy The Last Laugh [Blu-ray].

SPECIAL SCREENINGS (Nov. 18 & 19):

The Exterminating Angel: Not the Certified Weird classic, but rather Thomas Adès’ new opera based on the film. It’s being simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera to theaters around the country live on the 18th, with a recorded encore the following night. These live opera broadcasts get surprisingly broad distribution, so if you’re interested it’s worth checking Fathom Entertainment’s site to see if a theater near you is hosting a screening.

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.

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 11/10/2017

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.

FILM FESTIVALS – AFI Fest  (Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 9-16):

The American Film Institute’s official film festival is the last stop on the yearly festival circuit, so you’re unlikely to see many films debuting there (they do get some films technically making their first appearance in the U.S., but the Toronto Film Festival steals most of their first-release thunder). Some weird-ish festival hits are taking a final bow there: and ‘s UFO cult mindbender The Endless, and ‘s poliziotteschi tribute Let the Corpses Tan, and s soon-to-be merman hit The Shape of Water. In revivals, this year AFI celebrates  with a slate of twelve films (including the Certified Weird 3 Women). You can also catch a rare screening of the raw and controversial 1967 mental hospital exposé  Titicut Follies. Here are a few lesser arthouse-style titles of potential weird interest that we failed to highlight when they played the crowded TIFF slate:

  • Foxtrot – An Israeli father grieves for his dead soldier son in a film structured as an absurdist triptych. Screens Nov. 14 & 15.
  • On Body and Soul – Two slaughterhouse workers find that they share a common dream (literally—they each have the exact same dream night after night). Nov. 12 & 15.
  • Winter Brothers – Two brothers struggle with alternate perceptions of reality in a lonely Danish mining town.  Also Nov. 12 & 15.

AFI Fest homepage.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

Mandy (201?): stars as “a broken and haunted man [who] hunts an unhinged religious sect who slaughtered the love of his life” in what producers promise will be a “surrealist, heavy-metal-soaked story of battle axes and demon bikers.” That sounds cool, but the kicker is that it’s being directed by promising stylist , who hasn’t been seen sighted his 2010 Certified Weird debut Beyond the Black Rainbow. Deadline broke the story.

NEW ON DVD:

The Untamed (2016): Erotic Mexican horror about an unhappy marriage and some sort of creature in the woods. It made a minor splash, but we hope it’s not too tame. Buy The Untamed.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:`

The Untamed (2016): See description in DVD above. Buy The Untamed [Blu-ray].

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.

NEPOTISM CORNER:

PA Days: A ‘Guy with a Website’ Is Put to Work on the Film Set of ‘Pay Day’” –  Our own Gregory J. Smalley volunteered as a production assistant (and was pressed into duty as an extra) on the set of the upcoming (not weird) microbudget hostage drama Payday (2018), then wrote about the experience—which turned into a meditation on the relationship between critic and filmmaker. Please read it at PopMatters.

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 11/3/2017

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.

FILM FESTIVALS – Ithaka Fantastik Festival (Ithaka, NY 11/3-11/12):

For a film festival that’s held in the middle of nowhere—apologies to Cornell grads if that sounds like a slight—Ithaka Fantastik has assembled a fine slate of arty genre films. Most of them are second-runs (or, if you prefer, “best ofs”) from Fantasia or Fantastic Fest: we recognized The Endless, Vidar the Vampire (screening here as Vampyr Vidar), Let the Corpses Tan, November, Top Knot Detective, Lowlife, and Sequence Break. We did note one brand new title of interest:

  • Snowflake – Hired assassins in Berlin fight over a magical screenplay that allows them to rewrite the story as they go. Screens Nov. 10.

There will also be a screening of the restored Suspiria and, more impressively, a concert version of ‘s 1930 Surrealist experiment Blood of a Poet, with a new live score performed by Anna Coogan.

Ithaka Fantastik Festival home page.

NEW ON DVD:

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016): It sounds like a starting point for a  movie: 500 silent films are discovered in a vault under a hockey rink in a town near the Arctic Circle. This is more of a straight documentary than the cinematic poems is best known for, but it still promises to uncover amazing oeneric images from the past. Buy Dawson City: Frozen Time

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016): See description in DVD above. Buy Dawson City: Frozen Time [Blu-ray].

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.

YOU CITE US! YOU REALLY CITE US!:

Science Fiction Double Feature: The Science Fiction Film as Cult Text” – Students using this text to study science fiction films may note our Zardoz review is cited in support of the proposition that “some found the film’s subversive narrative an effective commentary on the culture of the time and a somewhat visionary, if ‘weird,’ sci-fi film that broke away from conventional morality…” Cool, but not as cool as the following citation in

Graph Embedding for Pattern Analysis” – Here, the List is used to identify “‘horizontal anomalies’ based on the list of weirdest movies…” The resulting HOAD score outperforms the baseline algorithm, just as we might have predicted, if we had the slightest idea what the authors were talking about. Still, we’re proud of our small role in refining new algorithms for pattern analysis. That’s why we started this project, after all.

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.