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.
It’s feast or famine in the weird movie world; last week a feast, this week, the opposite. The only good part about the drought onscreen and on DVD is it gives us a chance to talk about TIFF and some upcoming projects.
FILM FESTIVALS: TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Toronto, Canada, Sep. 8-18)
The Toronto International festival (official website) has become one of the world’s biggest cinema celebrations. Coming at the end of the yearly festival season, it’s a place to debut a few important movies that were finished too late for Cannes; it’s also a place to showcase Oscar contenders. Here’s some films of note screening there:
- Alps: The story involves people who fill in as doubles for departed loved ones to help with the grieving (or denial) process. Director Giorgos Lanthimos is on record calling it “darker and funnier” than his last film, the Certified Weird Dogtooth . Sep. 13 & 14.
- Behold the Lamb: Irish black comedy about an unlikely pair taking a “long, strange and highly illegal road trip” en route to the “weirdest score of their lives.” Sep. 11, 12 & 16.
- Carré blanc: A young man works for a nameless corporation putting fellow employees through bizarre performance tests in this surreal dystopian fantasy. The press release suggests a blend of Kafka and Tarkovsky. Sep 12, 14 & 16.
- Damsels in Distress: Comedy/satire about a clique of women at a chic East Coast university who make it a point to “improve” the lives of their fellow students, sometimes through musical numbers. From Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Bareclona), whose previous work was defiantly unweird; the press release describes this one as “distinctly offbeat, even manic,” “often-surreal,” and “delightfully weird.” Sep. 13 & 14.
- A Dangerous Method: Historical drama about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. We only mention it because it’s the latest from David Cronenberg. Sep 10 & 12.
- Doppelgänger Paul: Absurdist comedy about a delusional man who comes to believe a random stranger is his exact double; another plot strand involves possible plagiarism of his 20,000 page opus, A Book About How Much I Hate Myself. Sep. 12, 14 & 17.
- Fable of the Fish: A homeless woman becomes a celebrity when she gives birth to a fish. Magical realism from the Philippines. Sep. 10, 11 & 18.
- Generation P: A Russian poet turned adman takes a cocktail of hallucinogenic drugs; later, he meets the ghost of Che Guevara and a conspiracy involving a cult worshiping the ancient goddess Ishtar. Definitely a weird one; sounds a little bit like a Thomas Pynchon screenplay. Sep. 14, 15, & 16.
- Invasion: A rediscovered Argentinian movie from 1969 about an alternate reality Buenos Aires preparing against an invasion by unknown forces. Jorge Luis Borges co-wrote the script. Sep. 12 & 15.
- Keyhole: You heard it here first (possibly): a new Guy Maddin film. This one stars Jason Patric as Ulysses, a gangster on the run, journeying through his labyrinthine house trying to find his wife (Isabella Rossellini). Sep. 9 & 11.
- Melancholia: Lars von Trier‘s latest is apocalyptic sci-fi; a planet (called Melancholia) is set to collide with Earth on a woman’s wedding day. Kirsten Dunst walked away from the Cannes with Best Actress honors; Charlotte Gainsbourg, Keifer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling and John Hurt round out the fine cast. Sep 10 & 17.
- Monster’s Club: An anarchist hermit who lives in a cabin and sends mail bombs to CEOs is visited by a mythical monster. Inspired by the writings of the Unabomber (seriously!) Sep. 10, 11 & 18.
- Hors Satan [Outside Satan] – Nearly silent movie about a French hermit who may be Satan. Variety called it “Another ‘WTF?’ film from Gallic writer-director Bruno Dumont.” Sep. 9, 10 & 16.
- The Skin I Live In: Pedro Almodovar (who has never gone fully weird, but is always off-center) delivers a mad scientist revenge movie with significant superficial similarities to Eyes Without a Face. Sep. 11 & 17.
- Sleeping Beauty – From Australia comes this modern folktale that sounds like it has more to do with The House of Sleeping Beauties than with the classic fairy tale. We like writer/director Julia Leigh’s quote: “I’m interested in Wonder Cinema…” Sep. 14 & 18.
- Take Shelter – Michael Shannon plays a crazy guy (daring casting, that) whose dreams of impending tempests storms are so lifelike that he’s convinced to build a storm shelter in real life. Sep. 15 & 16.
- Twilight Portrait: Not too much info on this Russian debut, but the premise is that a woman is transformed into “a bizarre twilight version of herself” after a brutal sexual assault by a cop. Sep. 9, 10 & 16.
- Twixt: Puffy Val Kilmer stars as a horror novelist who dreams about a ghost girl and gets drawn into real-life case involving a small town serial-killer. From Francis Ford Coppola. Sep. 11, 12 & 18.
- UFO in her Eyes: Chinese authorities try to turn their backwater town into a tourist magnet after a possibly crazy woman reports having seen a UFO. It’s described as “surrealist and ironic.” Sep. 11, 12 & 17.
Gallino (est 2012?): Carlos Atanes has released a trailer for his upcoming project Gallino, which he promises will be even weirder than his previous film Maximum Shame (an absurdist S&M musical). Here’s all we know so far: it’s subtitled “the chicken system” and described as “a pornophilosophical film.” Gallino official site.
The Rum Diary (2011): Bruce Robinson‘s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s semi-autobiographical novel about the boozy adventures of hard-drinking expatriate journalists in Puerto Rico in the 1960s will be appearing in theaters in mid-October. We’re not expecting it to be anywhere near as hallucinatory as Fear and Loathing, but there is a wealth of talent involved and Johnny Depp looks like he will be doing his spot-on Thompson impression all over again. No official site yet.
NEW ON DVD:
Carmel (2009): Highly personal, autobiographical impressionistic film by Israeli director Amos Gitai. Apparently a fragmented and incoherent series of scenes dealing with Israeli history, it’s no crowd-pleaser, but Gitai was able to recruit Jean Moreau to help out with the narration. Buy Carmel.
Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988): The killer tomatoes return, disguised as humans; features the song “”Big Breasted Girls Go to the Beach and Take Their Tops Off” and a young George Clooney. You know it’s a light week for weird movie releases when we’re mentioning a Killer Tomatoes flick to fill up space. Buy Return of the Killer Tomatoes.
FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:
Kabluey (2007): A slacker takes a job as a blue-clad corporate mascot to help his sister-in-law take care of his rowdy nephews when his brother is sent to fight in Iraq. We wouldn’t have paid much attention to this black comedy if John Anderson of Newsday hadn’t complained that “an excess of pure weirdness won’t lead to an excess of laughs.” If you were trying to keep us away from Kabluey with that comment, John, you failed miserably. Watch Kabluey free 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.