Category Archives: Miscellanea

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 3/20/09

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 (WIDE RELEASE)

Knowing (2009):  Alex Proyas (Dark City) brings us this “Twilight Zone” style tale with Nicolas Cage about a time capsule that contains coded prophecies for the future.  Generally panned, but curiosity rises with descriptions of a conclusion described as “ridiculous” and “ludicrous” that dropped critics jaws.  It may be unintentional comedy in the vein of Cage’s recent The Wicker Man remake flop.  Knowing Official Site.

FILM FESTIVALS:

The New York International Film and Video Festival begins tonight in Manhattan and runs through Thursday, March 27th, showcasing underground and experimental shorts along with documentaries and feature films.  Movies of potential weird interest include the Indian comedy I Am a Love Addict,  W the MovieThe Gingerbread House (an Italian retelling of Hansel and Gretel), Let Me Out, Heaven Earth (an “experimental documentary” about hallucinogenic South American plants),  Sacred Game, and the violent Malaysian comedy The Dogs.

NEW ON DVD:

The Murnau Collection:  From the archivists at Kino comes this essential set of restored classics, containing Nosferatu (1922), the weirdest and scariest Dracula adaptation, and the expressionist masterpiece The Last Laugh (1924), along with the essential historical films The Haunted Castle (1921), The Finances of the Grand Duke (1924), Tartuffe (1925), and Faust (1926).  Each disc comes with extensive extras, and The Haunted Castle,  The Finances of the Grand Duke and Faust also receive separate special edition releases.  A nice catch for lovers of early cinema, although four of these six films were already available, along with the documentary Tabu (1931), on Kino’s earlier box set, “The F.W. Murnau Collection”.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Sleepy Hollow (1999)/Sweeny Todd (2007):  A double feature release of two Gothic Tim Burton/Johhny Depp collaborations is always worth a mention.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 3/13/09

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 (WIDE RELEASE):

Race to Witch Mountain (2009):  This remake of Disney’s popular 1975 fantasy Escape to Witch Mountain, about two orphan kids with supernatural powers and unknown origins, has been getting hammered by critics who think it’s shallow but action-packed.  With The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), whose presence provides another reason to be skeptical.   Escape to Witch Mountain Official Site.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

The Perfect Sleep (2009):  An existential film noir tribute about a retired assassin who returns to a nameless city to protect the only woman he has ever loved.  Sounds intriguing.  The Perfect Sleep Official Site.

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (2009):  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.   Severed Ways Official Site 

UPCOMING NEXT WEEK:

W the Movie (2008):  Politically charged, psychedelic assault on the presidency of George W. Bush.  From the trailer, it seems to have that NYC underground film spirit that has gone AWOL of late.  Premiering at the New York International Film Festival on March 20th, 10:00 PM, at the Village East Cinema.  Future dates to be decided.   W the Movie Official Site.

NEW ON DVD:

Ben X (2007): Under-the-radar Belgian fest-favorite about a mildly autistic boy who blurs the line between video game reality and high school reality.  Variety says it’s “a potential crowd-pleaser that could appeal to auds predisposed toward the likes of ‘Donnie Darko.'”

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) (Special Edition): Disney is re-releasing the 70s children’s fantasy to coincide with the remake (see above).  Also receiving special edition treatment this week is the 1978  sequel, Return from Witch Mountain.

Groom Lake (2002):  All you need to know is that it’s a cheap “UFOs are out there!” movie written by, directed by, and starring the inimitable William Shatner. 

Howard the Duck (1986) (Special Edition):  This notorious George Lucas produced 80s kiddie fantasy bomb about a cigar-smoking duck from an alternate universe who winds up saving the universe from evil aliens in Cleveland is finally getting a long-awaited video release.  It’s your chance to judge for yourself whether it deserves its reputation as one of the worst big-budget pictures ever, or if its an underacknowleged masterpiece.

Let the Right One In (2008): Innovative Swedish movie about a 12 year old boy who falls in love with a neighbor girl who is a vampire.  A presumedly inferior Hollywood remake is already in the works for those too lazy to read subtitles.

Synecdoche, New York (2008):  The directorial debut by weird scriptwriter Charles Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is a typically twisty tale of a director who seeks to recreate a miniature New York City inside a giant warehouse. 

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Se7en (1995):  The visually innovative debut film from David (Fight Club) Fincher about a serial killer who models his crimes on the seven deadly sins became both a box-office and cult success despite its morbid and depressing nature.  The presence of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman certainly helped. 

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 3/6/09

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 (WIDE RELEASE):

Watchmen (2009):  The big-budget adaptation of the cult comic book series set in the late Cold War era, in an America where comic book superheroes are part of the normal fabric of society.  Visually impressive and violent, it looks headed to be a small blockbuster.  Watchmen Official Site

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

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.  Tokyo! Official Site (in Japanese)

NEW ON DVD:

Ashes of Time Redux [Dung che sai duk redux] (2008):  Wong Kar Wai’s re-edit of his 1994 martial arts epic finally gets a proper DVD release, after a very limited (in the US, at least) theatrical run.  May not be strictly weird, but it’s a classic entry from an oft-weird genre (the wuxia film) by an occasionally weird director, and it’s something of a milestone in recent world cinema.

Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986:  This 2 disc, 5 hour collection of avant-garde shorts (live action, documentary and animated) is a must for serious students of the subject.   Includes a film from the prolific and provocative George Kuchar (I, an Actress) and Andy Warhol (Mario Banana (No. 1)) alongside the work of many more obscure experimental filmmakers.

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 2/27/09

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

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Birdsong [El Cant dels Ocells] (2008):  Nearly silent, nearly plotless tale about the Three Kings journey to visit the newborn Jesus.  This minimalist approach won’t bring in the punters, but the critics believe it to be a work of high visual art.  No official site.  Birdsong IMDB link

Dillinger is Dead [Dillinger è Morto] (1969):  A sixties absurdist/existentialist/leftist drama about an engineer who discovers a gun that may have belonged to John Dillinger.   Art film archivists Janus films have given this film a belated American release, to play at very select theaters throughout the country this spring and summer, beginning this week in Brooklyn. Dillinger is Dead press release from Janus Films

NEW ON DVD:

Four Flies on Grey Velvet [4 mosche di velluto grigio] (1971): From Dario Argento, the master of stylish grue, comes this twisty early giallo about a rock musician who is blackmailed for killing a stalker. It’s described as one of Argento’s odder films. A very belated and highly anticipated (by Argento fans) DVD release.

Requiem for a Vampire (1971):  Another of Jean Rollins surreal, cheap, and unabashedly exploitative vampire sex films. 

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Akira (1988):  This mindblowing cyberpunk feature about a mystical apocalypse in Neo-Tokyo helped launch the anime cult in America.  Definitely weird stuff.

The Bird with Crystal Plumage (1969): Another early giallo by Argento (see the Four Flies on Grey Velvet entry). Many consider this straightforward thriller debut to be one of Argento’s best, although it’s not weird.

Vanishing Point (1971):  Another in the short-lived cycle of Western existentialist road movies (see also Two-Lane Blacktop) inspired by Antonini’s Zabriske Point (1970).

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 2/20/09

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

NEW ON DVD: 

Choke (2008): Black comedy about a sex-addict and his demented dying mom (Angelica Huston) doesn’t sound especially strange, but in a slow week for the weird the fact that it’s another adaptation from cult novelist Chuck (Fight Club) Palahniuk makes it worth mention. Also, this may be the most heavily advertised movie on IMDB ever, and the first I’ve seen to come with its own MySpace-style layout–an unwelcome marketing trend.

Dead Like Me: Life After Death (2009): A feature length film revival of the short-running Showtime comedy about ordinary folks who become Grim Reapers.  Seems squarely aimed at fans of the now cancelled TV series. 

The Outrage (1964): This is a remake of the classic Japanese film Rashomon, with a screenplay by Kurosawa himself, set in the old West.  Four witnesses give vastly different, incompatible accounts of a rape.  The intriguing cast includes Paul Newman, Claire Bloom, Edward G. Robinson, and William Shatner!

Rachel, Rachel (1968):  This low-key drama with some fantasy interludes was the directorial debut of Paul Newman, who gave the lead role of the melancholy middle-aged spinster to wife Joanne Woodward.

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 2/13/09

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

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Polanski [Polanski Unauthorized]:  The controversial director of Repulsion (and other weird flicks) gets his own limited-release biopic.  The trailer makes it look like a hatchet job focusing on Polanski’s sex scandal… not that that’s necessarily an unfair tack to take on the subject.  Polanski Official Site

NEW ON DVD:

Blindness: An English language film with Julianne Moore by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, this fable about a town where (almost) everyone is suddenly struck blind escaped notice in its theatrical run.  A long, brutal rape scene in this otherwise philosophical picture seems to have alienated mainstream critics.

The Exterminating Angel (1962):  Cause for celebration: The Criterion Collection has released a 2-disc special edition of the 1962 Luis Buñuel surrealist classic about guests who can’t seem to leave an opulent dinner party.

My Name is Bruce: Directed by cult star Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead series), starring Bruce Campbell as Bruce Campbell, this horror-comedy about Bruce Campbell saving a Bruce Campbell fan from an ancient Chinese demon is like a Valentine from Bruce Campbell to Bruce Campbell.  Needless to say, it’s by a Bruce Campbell fan, and squarely aimed at Bruce Campbell fans.

Simon of the Desert (1965):  Not content with bestowing The Exterminating Angel on the weird masses (see above), The Criterion Collection also gives Buñuel’s bizarre pseudo-religious short feature the special edition treatment, and adds a 50 minute documentary on Buñuel in Mexico as an extra.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Donnie Darko (2001):  This lovably fascinating mess of a movie (see review) gets its Blu-Ray debut.  The good news is that both the Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut are on the disc!

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 2/6/09

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

IN THEATERS (WIDE RELEASE):

Coraline:  An animated fantasy film about a little girl who discovers a parallel universe in which her childish desires are satisfied, but at a price.  Previews look “visually stunning.”  Also showing in 3-D in some venues.  From Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, with the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher.  Coraline Official Site 

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

2008 Academy Nominated Animated Shorts:  Ten of the Academy-Award nominated shorts will be shown as a program in a limited number of theaters (probably on the coasts),  an interesting concept that I don’t remember happening in other years.  Directors often have far more latitude to be as weird as they want with shorts, which are often self-produced and not subject to studio demands to normalize things for a mass audience.   The slate includes 5 animated films and 5 live actioners.  The British This Way Up, a macabre stop-motion animated film about two funeral home workers, may be the biggest draw for fans of the unusual.  No official site.

Memorial Day:  Feature length film debut of experimental theater director Josh Fox.  Young revelers engage in shameful debauchery at a Spring Break style party, then are magically transported to the Iraqi battlefield where they continue in the same style.  Lambasted by critics for being morally and politically simpleminded and uninsightful.  No official site.

NEW ON DVD/BLU-RAY:

Being There (Deluxe Edition):  Hal Ashby’s enigmatic satire about a simple minded gardener (the great Peter Sellers) who becomes elected President.  A great weird movie, but there doesn’t seem to be much special about this special edition, which includes no commentary, only a 15 minute documentary and a few deleted scenes and outtakes.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XIV: The fourteenth box set release of the cult-TV phenomenon wherein a man marooned in space and his wisecracking robots make live-time jokes at the expense of some of the worst movies ever made.  The movies skewered are The Mad Monster (1942), Manhunt in Space (1956), Soultaker (1990), and Final Justice (1985).

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 1/30/09

A new feature looking at potentially weird films that are currently in theaters, coming to DVD soon or in production. Visit the official sites to see trailers.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

The Toe Tactic:  A card game played by dogs in an alternate dimension effects the fate of a grieving girl on earth.  The dogs are crude but whimsical animated creations which sometimes interact with the live cast. Scored by Yo La Tengo, with Eli Wallach providing one of the voices and independent film icon John Sayles in a small role.  A very limited release: it’s opening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, then touring selected venues throughout the US.  The Toe Tactic Official Site.

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 1/23/09

A new feature looking at potentially weird films that are currently in theaters, coming to DVD soon or in production. Visit the official sites to see trailers.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED REALEASE):

Growing Out: There’s not a lot of information or many early reviews about this low-budget independent horror (?) production, but the plot summary states that it’s about a songwriter who develops a strange relationship with a person that begins growing out of his basement floor sounds intriguing.  Growing Out Official Site

IN PRODUCTION:

9:  A dark, post-apocalyptic animated fantasy.  May be geared towards kids and mass audiences, but it’s produced by Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands), whose name always makes weird-film fans ears perk up.  9 is a remake of a 2005 Oscar winning short film.  Trailer is available from slashfilm.

NEW ON DVD:

Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008):  Announced in the very first Weird Horizon, Repo is already on DVD after its micro theatrical run.  Gory sci-fi musical comedy about a future where organs are bought on the open market, and occasionally have to be repossessed.  Adapted from am underground LA stage play.  Very poorly reviewed.  The initial entry forgot to note the presence of Paris Hilton in the cast; she’s already been nominated for a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie for her performance.    Repo: The Genetic Opera Official Site

Tokyo Gore Police (2008):  By all accounts this is another bizarre and perverse Japanese gore film, in the tradition of Ichi the Killer.  The name is certainly weird enough, but it remains to be seen whether Takashi Miike’s followers can make films with as much style as the master.   Tokyo Gore Police Official Site (Japanese Only)

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 1/16/09

A new feature looking at potentially weird films that are currently in theaters, coming to DVD soon or in production. Visit the official sites to see trailers.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

$9.99: A Claymation feature about a young unemployed man’s search for the Meaning of Life through the wisdom to be found in a booklet on the subject, priced at an affordable $9.99.  From an Etgar Keret short story, with voices provided by Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia.  $9.99 Official Site.

IN PRODUCTION

s. Darko (2009):  Post-production.  Yes, it’s Donnie Darko 2.  Yes, it’s a bad idea.  The plot picks up with Donnie’s now-teengaed younger sister Samantha (Daveigh Chase, reprising her role from the first movie).  Fans of the original are up in arms.  Writer/director Richard Kelly is not involved; undistinguished Chris Fisher (Dirty [2005]) will helm.  Expectations are so low the film probably can’t help but exceed them.  IMBD pageMovie Poster and Plot Summary at moviesonline.ca.

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.