Category Archives: Miscellanea

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 8/28/09

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):

Orgies and the Meaning of Life (2008):  The story of a man living inside his own head and fantasizing about orgies, all while writing a novel about a stick figure trying to find his way into the third dimension.  Beyond quirky, definitely verging on weird.  Also, not very popular with either audiences or critics.  Playing in Los Angeles—looks like a token theatrical release before it arrives on DVD in a couple weeks.  Orgies and the Meaning of Life official site.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Children of the Corn (1984):  Adapted from a Steven King novella (usually not a sign of weirdness, unless Kubrick‘s doing the adapting), this story concerns a small town of children who kill all the adults and start a cult worshiping “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”  In a slow week for weird, this horror movie with a small cult following may be worth a look, especially if you like the idea of seeing Linda Hamilton crucified. Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON YOUTUBE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE):

Black Sunday (1960):  Mario Bava’s black and white classic with bewitching Barbara Steele in dual roles.  Not weird, but full of great Gothic atmosphere that evokes the Universal horror cycle.  Watch Black Sunday on YouTube.

Track 29 (1988): Described as “bizarre black comedy about a love-starved woman, her nerdy husband who’s obsessed with model trains and a stranger who claims to be her long lost son.”  A very overlooked movie from the great Nicholas Roeg, with Gary Oldman, Theresa Russell, Christopher Lloyd, and Sandra Bernhard.  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.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Just a reminder of what’s going on with the site…

First, we hope you liked the first in what we hope will be a long-running feature… the Saturday Short, where we plan to feature a new short film (usually by an up and coming filmmaker) weekly! Please welcome Cameron Jorgensen, who has graciously agreed to watch short weird movies and select the best for your enjoyment, to the 366weirdmovies team!

Hopefully, with the addition of this column we can begin to update 7 days a week, so you no longer have to wait through the weekend to start getting your weird movie fix again on Monday.

As for what’s coming up next week… reviews of the softcore surrealist flick Dr. Caligari and Chan-wook Park’s ultraviolent psychological epic Oldboy are definitely on tap, with a surprise or two (read: we haven’t decided exactly what to publish just yet.)

Don’t forget that you could win an A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray by writing a review for the site. As of now, we only have two entries (both of which will be published in the future), so your chances of winning aren’t too bad. The contest is open until September 3, 2009. Get all the details here.

We love to look at server logs (who doesn’t?) and check out the oddest search terms used to locate the site. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen “Coraline phallic” (missed that connection in our review of the children’s film), “amateur defecation movies” (weird indeed, but you’re not going to find what you’re looking for here), along with such odd requests as “busty zombie,” and “deadphallus.” But our favorite search term had a touch of honest bemusement to it: “What’s with these weird Japanese movies?” I’m not sure we can answer the question, but if anyone finds out the answer, please post it.

The reader suggested review queue looks like this: Dr. Caligari (upcoming this week), Nekromantic, UHF, Delicatessen, Pi, Angel’s Egg, Institute Benjamenta, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ex Drummer, Waking Life, Survive Style 5+, The Dark Backward, The Short Films of David Lynch, and Santa Sangre. We hope to knock off at least one of these per week, two on a good week. Some of those are out-of-print and difficult to locate, so they may be tackled in a different order than they were submitted.

Enjoy the upcoming week!

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 8/21/09

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):

Inglourious Basterds:  Led by Brad Pitt, a group of Jewish soldier/vigilantes in World War II hunt and slaughter Nazis in this alternative history lesson from the irrepressible Quentin Tarantino.  Unlike to be more than mildly weird, but QT is always worth a gander.  Inglourious Basterds Official Site.

Shorts:  While Tarantino hogs the opening week spotlight, sometime collaborator and fellow offbeat auteur Robert (Sin City) Rodriguez quietly releases this kiddie fantasy about a rainbow-colored rock that grants wishes.  Critics describe it as hyperactive and unfocused: Toby Young of the Times goes so far as to say that it’s “[S]o structurally complicated that it almost qualifies as an experimental film.”  Shorts Official Site.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha:  If nothing else, now septuagenarian Melvin Van Peebles has given us the weirdest movie title since his own Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song with this semi-autobiographical, semi-allegorical piece of picaresque performance art adapted for the big screen.  Van Peebles plays a teenager and has a love scene with a gorilla: this one’s going to be weird (and self-indulgent), no doubt about it.  No official site (the work of the Man?)

The Headless Woman [La mujer sin cabeza] (2008): Argentinian film about a woman who experiences a mysterious form of amnesia after striking something—a dog, or a child?—with her car.  Described as head-scratching, slow and oblique.  The Headless Woman Official (?) site (French).

NEW ON DVD:

Absurdistan (2008): The title of this fantastic, magical-realist German about a mythical Muslim country where the women stage a “Lysistrata”-style sex strike until the men fix a broken water pipeline suggests that this movie is right up our alley. Buy from Amazon

Icons of Sci-Fi: The Toho Collection [Mothra (1961), The H-Man (1958), Battle in Outer Space (1959)]:  This three disc letterboxed (well, “Tohoscoped”) collection is big news for kaiju and Japanese sci-fi fans.  Mothra, featuring the giant moth-monster and his miniature princesses, is the chief draw;  The H-Man brings us radioactive slime creatures; and Battle in Outer Space is an “aliens attack the world” movie. All three features were directed by the talented Ishirô (Godzilla, Attack of the Mushroom People) Honda and have either been AWOL on DVD or available only in inferior full-frame versions until now. Buy from Amazon

Surveillance (2008): Jennifer (Boxing Helena, daughter of David) Lynch’s long delayed second feature is a psychological thriller about two FBI agents trying to solve a string of grisly killings with the help of three witnesses who tell conflicting stories. Brutal, perverse and likely (given her heritage) to be highly weird, Surveillance arrives on DVD after token theatrical release. But from Amazon

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Play Time (1967): This nearly plotless comedy on the absurdity of then-modern life involves clown M. Hulot (director Jacques Tati) lost in a bizarre, futurist re-creation of Paris as he tries to make an appointment. Considered by many to be Tati’s masterpiece. The Criterion Collection issued this on DVD in 2006 and is getting around to upgrading their Blu-Ray versions. Buy from Amazon.

Surveillance (2008): See the DVD section above for description. 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 8/14/09

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):

District 9 (2009):  South African science fiction story about refugee aliens on Earth that appears on the surface to be an  allegory of  apartheid.  “Presented” by formerly weird director Peter (Heavenly Creatures) Jackson, who’s seal of approval actually implies quality at this point in his career.  Word on the street is it’s original, but that’s unlikely to translate into weirdDistrict 9 official site.

Ponyo (2008):  Hayao (Spirited Away) Miyazaki’s Hans Christan Andersen inspired fairy tale about a goldfish trying to become human was a hit in Japan; now, Disney is releasing it on these shores, dubbed by big name Hollywood talent (Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and others).  With Disney’s name on it, it ain’t gonna be weird, but Miyazaki has his fans and the visuals have been described as “trippy.”   Ponyo official site (Disney).

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009):  Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams star in this romantic sci-fi/fantasy about a man born with a gene which causes him to become unstuck in time at random intervals.  Scripted by Bruce Joel Rubin of Jacob’s Ladder fame from a bestselling novel by Audrey Niffenegger.  Few critics think it’s too good, but at least one (Brandon Judell) thinks it’s “too weird,” which may come as an endorsement to readers looking for a date night movie that won’t bore them.   The Time Traveler’s Wife official site.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Grace (2009): This indie horror about a mother whose baby is born undead escaped from the festival circuit to a limited theatrical engagement. First time feature director Paul Solet expanded Grace to a full length movie from an award-winning short that Fangoria called “superbly bizarre.”  Love the poster with the infant’s bottle half full of blood! Grace official site.

Taxidermia (2006):  Three interwoven stories about three generations of Hungarian men: a WWII veteran grandfather, a would-be athlete father, and a taxidermist son—surrealy woven together by certified weird director György (Hukkle) Pálfi.  Clearly, the theatrical weird pick of the week, which is why it is only playing two theaters in the United States.  Rather than taking a road trip to L.A. or NYC, we’ll be waiting for a proper Region 1 DVD release (it’s already available to Europeans and others with machines that can play PAL DVDs), but we advise those who can to catch it on the big screen and report back to us. Taxidermia official site (US).

IN THEATERS (SPECIAL EVENTS): THURSDAY, AUGUST 20:

Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959): One night only!  Three stars from the cult TV hit  Mystery Science Theater will make snarky comments about the movie that is widely (and incorrectly) believed to be the worst ever made! Though we have our doubts about the project—what’s the added value of “riffing live?”  Why pick a movie that doesn’t need any commentary to be a laff riot? And why cater to the masses by screening the colorized print?—it’s an intriguing idea.  You can find a list of participating theaters here.

NEW ON DVD:

Alien Trespass (2008):  This 1950s-style, colorized alien invasion movie realizes that the ridiculousness inherent in the genre needs no exaggeration and spoofs its subject matter with a straight face, which makes it an enjoyably affectionate rather than a smug parody.  Not terribly weird, but an offbeat and worthwhile pickup, especially for fans of The Blob and other nostalgic nonsense.  Buy from Amazon.

Gigantic (2008): Self-described “surreal love story” (we’re skeptical, but maybe the trailer strategically de-emphasized the “surreal” elements) hits the DVD ranks after a minuscule theatrical run (despite the presence of Zooey Deschanel and John Goodman). Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Alien Trespass (2008):  See description in the DVD section above.  Buy from Amazon.

Ichi the Killer (2001): This perverted and extreme sadomasochistic classic from weird director Takajshi Miike gets the Blu-ray treatment.  No longer will viewers have to suffer the agonies of low-definition arterial spray!  Buy form Amazon

The Ninth Gate (1999):  Roman Polanski returns to the supernatural genre in this overlooked 1999 film about a rare book collector (Johnny Depp) stumbling onto a diabolical tome which leads his soul into peril.  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 8/7/2009

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):

Cold Souls: Described as “a surreal comedy in which souls can be extracted and traded as commodities,” starring indie icon Paul Giamatti. Well-reviewed film from first time director Sophie Barthes. Cold Souls official site.

SCREENINGS (LOS ANGELES): JOE DANTE’S “DANTE’S INFERNO”:

Director Joe Dante (Gremlins) won’t return my calls, and probably wouldn’t even if he had my number; to prove I’m not bitter, I’m going to plug a couple of weird titles from his adventurous “Dante’s Inferno” series now screening at the New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood (check here for the complete schedule).

The Movie Orgy (1968/2009): This is a pastiche of clips from a variety of pre-1968 movies, serials, newsreels, and TV shows, prominently featuring many B-movies such as Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, arranged into what Dante characterizes as “a crazy 16mm cinematic farrago.”  Originally over four hours in length, Dante has added footage to carry the film over the 5 hour mark.  This film is rarely screened, for obvious reasons.  Showing August 8 only, admission is free (!)

The President’s Analyst (1967):  A crazy, underseen paranoid satire—one that could only have come out of the 1960s—about the titular character, who finds himself at the center of a dastardly plot masterminded by an unlikely enemy.  On a double bill with the 1971 tobacco company satire Cold Turkey.  August 11 & 12 only.

ON DEMAND FREE MOVIES (SOME U.S. CABLE SYSTEMS):

Army of Darkness (1992):  The third movie in the Evil Dead trilogy.  In this campy horror/comedy entry, Ash (Bruce Campbell), chainsaw in hand,  finds that the vortex he was sucked into at the end of Evil Dead II leads to a medieval land teeming with yet more evil dead.  Available on Fearnet until August 31.

Dracula (1992): Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the Dracula legend was ruined for many by the terrible decision to cast Keanu Reeves and Wynona Ryder as Jonathan and Mina Harker, but there’s no doubt that it contains some great, hallucinatory visual sequences that make it worth catching.  Available on Fearnet until Spetember 2.

Evil Dead II (1987):  With money and experience under his belt, director Sam Raimi remade his own low-budget hit The Evil Dead (1981) as one of the greatest horror-comedies of all time, full of over-the-top weird touches.  Available on Fearnet until August 31.

Oldboy (2003): The middle entry in Chan-wook Park‘s Vengeance Trilogy, about a man who hunts a unknown enemy after he is imprisoned without explanation for years and just as mysteriously freed.  It’s Park’s most popular film, and probably his best, despite (or because of) it’s violent and stylistic excesses.  Available on the Sundance Channel until September 1st.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Big Trouble in Little China (1986): John Carpenter’s Americanized version of a zany Hong Kong action-kung fu-fantasy-comedy doesn’t seem quite as weird and wacky as it did when it flopped in theaters in the 1980s. Word of mouth turned it into a video hit.  Carpenter was ahead of the curve; Westerners would discover the delirious delights of Tsui Hark, Jackie Chan and John Woo on their own within a few years. Buy from Amazon.

AMAZON ARTHOUSE AND INTERNATIONAL SALE:

Through the month of August, Amazon is discounting titles in its international, indie and arthouse catagories, with DVD deals as low as $5.99.  Browse the sale items here: we noticed the 2-disc Criterion collection version of Fellini’s 8 1/2 for $16.49, more than half off list price, among other deals.

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.

REVIEW WRITING CONTEST #1: WIN AN “A CLOCKWORK ORANGE” BLU-RAY!

A Clockwor Orange Blu-RayWe’d love to get our readers more involved in the forum and to discover new contributors, so we’re offering an incentive: write a review of a weird movie, win an A Clockwork Orange Blu-Ray!  (This is the slightly used copy of the film used to compose the review on this site).

The rules of the contest are simple:

  1. Write a review of a movie that you think should be on the List of the 366 weirdest movies ever made, but that hasn’t been covered here yet (you can find the titles we have covered here). Including the following sections: DIRECTOR, FEATURING (listing the most important actors), PLOT (a one sentence synopsis), WHY IT DESERVES TO MAKE THE LIST (a one sentence to one paragraph description of why you think the movie is weird), COMMENTS (one to two paragraphs describing the movie in more detail).  If you have a suggestion for a still to represent the movie and/or a quote from a critic on the film, you can include those, but they are not required.
  2. Submit your work on our contact formBy submitting your entry on this form, you agree to allow 366weirdmovies.com to publish your work, either whole or in edited form, on this website. Your work may be selected for publication even if you are not chosen as the winner.
  3. The contest is open to anyone whose work has not previously been published on 366weirdmovies.com.
  4. You may not write a review promoting a film which you were involved in the production of, or in which you have a financial interest.
  5. This site strives to remain “PG” rated; do not use profanity in your review.
  6. The contest will remain open for one month, until September 3, 2009, at which time the editor will select the best entry.  The winner will be chosen on the basis of writing style, insight, and appropriateness of the movie chosen.  The deadline may be extended, depending on the number of entries received.
  7. In order to be eligible to receive the prize, you must supply a valid email address and a valid mailing address.  International addresses are acceptable.  If the winning entrant does not supply a valid mailing address, the Blu-Ray will be given to a randomly selected entry with a mailing address in the United States.  If no entries are from the United States, then the deadline to complete the contest will be extended.

TIPS: Avoid merely summarizing the plot in your comments.  Avoid giving away “spoilers” in your descriptions that might ruin the enjoyment of the film.  Obscure titles are fine—in  fact, they may be worth bonus points—but try to pick a film that is available on DVD, or is at least likely to be released.  If you write on a film no one will be able to view or locate, the movie may be judged as inappropriate.

One final tip: don’t be scared away by thinking you have to write something profoundly insightful.  Simply consider it as a chance to describe and recommend a film to that narrow audience people who are interested in the same kind of weird movies as you are.

Have fun!  The winner, and even the runners-up, may be invited to become regular contributors to the site!

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.