Here’s the poll to vote in our latest Amazon Prime watch party, scheduled for Saturday, Sep. 26, at 10:15 PM ET. If you plan on virtually attending, please vote for the movie we’ll be watching below. We’ll screen the movie that gets the most votes. Management will break any ties. Note that unlike our other polls, you can only vote once. Poll closes at midnight EST on Wednesday, Sep. 23. You may vote for multiple movies, but not for every movie (because that would be pointless). Now, vote!
We didn’t get the required five RSVPs for our Saturday, September 9 party, so we canceled it. However we have received an RSVP for next week, so we’re starting a new announcement poll.
As stated, we have one RSVP so we’re looking for four more. If you RSVP’ed for the canceled party, you’ll need to do so again (and re-nominated a movies for screening). We will carry over two nominations from the previous post: Capone (2020) and The Forbidden Room (2015).
If we get four more RSVPs (and, optionally, screening nominations), our next party will be scheduled for September 26 at 10:15 PM. After we get the minimum number of nominees and likely attendees, we’ll put up a poll. Management will break any ties.
Amazon Prime’s catalog of movies is larger (and less exclusive) than Netflix’s. Ed Dykhuizen’s availability spreadsheet is a good resource to check for Canonically Weird movies (look for ones marked “free w/ Prime” in the “Amazon” column). Or, do your own research and come up with a title from Amazon. Eligible movies will have a “watch party” button on their Amazon page. You must be a Prime subscriber; you don’t have to download an extension or additional software.
We will not provide tech support; you’re on your own. Help each other.
When the party is set to begin we’ll announce it in three places:
On this site (if you’ve signed up for regular email alerts via the sidebar you’ll also get a notice that way)
This notice came in too late to make the regular column, but we thought we’d add it.
FILM FESTIVALS – Beyond Fest (Montclair, CA, 10/2-10/8):
Films are being screened exclusively at the Mission Tiki Drive-in. Please note that many of these showings are already sold out. At this writing, there are still tickets for one film we’ll be keeping track of in the near future: Justin Benson andAaron Moorhead‘s latest head trip, Synchronic.
“The Third Day” (2020): Told in two halves, “Summer” and “Winter,” describing two separate characters visits to an barely-accessible British island where villagers practice their own peculiar form of paganism. This HBO miniseries is Wicker Man-inspired, obviously, but we assume it finds it’s own spin on the subject. “The Third Day” HBO page.
FILM FESTIVALS – Fantastic Fest (Austin, TX and online, 9/24-10/1):
The bad news: due to the pandemic, this year’s edition of Fantastic Fest has a dramatically slimmed down slate. The very good news: the offerings they do have will (with a few exceptions) be screened online for free for U.S. residents. The Old Man Movie (on 9/26) is one free offering. Also of note:
Daughters of Darkness (1971) – Harry Kümel‘s classic, strange lesbian vampire movie in a new restoration—with Kümel on hand for a Q&A afterwards. Sep. 27.
Possessor (2020) – Eight years after his weird debut Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg is back with another feature film about future assassins who possess the bodies of innocents to carry out their kills. Sorry, in-theater only on Sep. 23 (though it will be in theaters and on VOD screens worldwide soon enough).
Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island (2012) – For anyone who fondly remembers the Amy Fisher scandal of the 1990s, here is Dan Kapelovitz’s experimental trash film that edits all three (!) made-for-TV movies exploiting the underage sex and violence scandal into one mind-numbing Fisher farrago. Sep. 28.
Reflections of Evil 2: The Same Day (202?): A sequel to Damon Packard‘s uncategorizable experimental DIY magnum opus about an obese watch salesman, his dead sister, and Steven Spielberg? According to IMDB, it’s been announced, complete with a tagline: “Bobby is back and he’s fatter than ever.” One problem: we couldn’t find any updates since the project was announced back in 2016 (and Packard’s completed two features, the thriller Fatal Pulse and the horror anthology Tales Beyond Madness, since). Still, we can hope. Reflections of Evil 2: The Same Day listing on IMDB.
Tommaso (2019): Willem Dafoe stars as a stand-in for director Abel Ferrara: an expatriate, ex-alcoholic director struggling with issues both artistic and personal. Mainly an introspective drama, but with surreal touches. Buy Tommaso.
Independent theaters are cautiously starting to reopen across North America at diminished capacity, and we’re seeing a trickle of new screenings. As predicted, this section is slowly growing as fall arrives. You’ll have to use your own judgment as to whether it’s safe to go to movie theaters at this time.
WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Due to lack of response, there will be no Amazon Prime watch party next week. We’ll try again for a September 26th party, but we may stick to the better-attended Netflix Parties once or twice a month from here on out.
We’ll continue presenting online reviews (while working in the background on the 2020 Yearbook and our “Big Book” project). So next week you can read Giles Edwards take on Coma (2019), (the Russian Inception) and Gregory J. Smalley on Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) (the Japanese Django Unchained, or something like that). Onward and weirdward!
What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that we have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.
PLOT: A young woman goes on a trip to meet her new boyfriend’s parents at their farmhouse on a night when a blizzard is brewing; the night grows increasingly strange and unsettling as it becomes unclear what is real and what is imaginary.
WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHA: By the time the pig shows up at Jake’s old high school, it becomes apparent that this maze of awkward interactions, faulty memories, and uncertain identities may just be Charlie Kaufman’s most surreal film.
COMMENTS: The first inkling that something is not quite right in I’m Thinking of Ending Things comes when the young woman (who is first introduced as “Lucy,” although it turns out that may not be her real name) thinks to herself, “I’m thinking of ending things.” “Huh?,” says Jake (that is his real name), from the driver’s seat. Can he hear her thoughts? She denies speaking. “Weird,” says Jake. “Yeah,” she answers.
Things will get weirder. She’s unsure why she wants to break up with him. Her backstory doesn’t add up. And she’s getting a lot of phone calls, which she’s not answering. When they arrive to meet Jake’s parents at their remote farmhouse, things get even stranger. As it turns out, Jake’s parents would creep out Henry Spencer‘s in-laws. Dinner is uncomfortable, full of small talk that often sounds like hidden accusations, and—once more—competing backstories that contradict each other. Jake’s parents age, almost before her eyes… Nothing explicitly supernatural or menacing happens, but the creaky farmhouse emanates a horror movie vibe, intensified by Jake’s passive-aggressive insistence that his girlfriend stay out of the basement. Meanwhile, Lucy—or whatever her name is—anxiously suggests that Jake take her home before the coming blizzard snows them in and traps her there.
Charlie Kaufman‘s latest mind-massager is another intensely subjective and literate tour of the lonely corridors of the mind, where nothing is as it seems. It’s one of his strangest offerings— particularly when it reaches an irrational finale that departs from the source novel—but perhaps what distinguishes it the most is the exceptional ensemble acting, best seen in the four-way sparring at the dinner table. Their expressions are priceless: Collette smiling to herself at private jokes only she can hear, Thewlis aggressively incredulous at the idea that a landscape could appear sad, Plemmons understandably embarrassed by his parent’s odd behavior, and trying to coax his girlfriend into revealing the correct details about how they met. We expect accomplished performances from those three celebrated actors, but relative newcomer Jessie Buckley is a revelation. She mutates throughout the film, portraying everything from a nervous recalcitrant girlfriend to an angry feminist to an apparent victim of very early-onset Alzheimer’s. She even slips into a Pauline Kael impression. Remarkable.
As with all the best trips, it’s the journey that’s most memorable, not the destination. There is a reveal at the end, but the twist, while satisfying, is hardly the point. Each scene is structured as an individually confounding moment: on the long ride there and back, Jake and his girlfriend discuss everything from the human experience of time, bad movies as viruses, with citations to Wordsworth, David Foster Wallace, Guy Debord, and musical theater (familiarity with “Oklahoma!” will enrich your experience). Jake says he like road trips because “it’s good to remind yourself that the world’s larger than the inside of your own head”—but does the movie believe this thesis? As they travel, the couple learn less about each other, and more about the slipperiness of human memory, fantasy, and identity. It’s Kaufman’s favorite theme: the loneliness of our inherent interiority. The paradox is that our inescapable subjectivity is the one thing we all share and bond over.
Reader recommendation (of sorts) by Daniel Ableev. Begins in medias res.
Apparently not, because Frank Heibert’s worm-building classic is somewhat of an epic, at least judging by the number of the pages involved (I haven’t actually read the scan template in question). Therefore it does not seem beneficial to wish for a reduction of such an extensive, grandiose, downright monstrous larger-than narrative to a three-minute flick. Of course this is a rather original artistic approach, but whether Villeneuve will be able to convince die-hard fans, as opposed to Davin Lynch‘s infamous attempt, remains to be seen (or doubted). In any case, there is not much room for strong storytelling or relationships in Dennis’s new work. After his already remarkably short thrillers “The Prisoner” and “The Sicario”, the undoubtedly talented Frenchman has now finally penetrated the heart of the avant-garde. Hectic cuts and cryptic off-screen dialogues turn the badly fragmented Deconstructor into an intensely dense deity in dire need of getting used to. Guest appearances by Dave Bautista and Jason Mamoa, both of whom seem to have stiffened their “-a”, and the fact that Oscar Isaacs is unwilling to leave the sci-fi genre would be even more commendable if he didn’t keep forgetting something (cf. shaving). As for the main character, the naive linnet’s Canadian-sounding surname provides a valuable clue—but what for? Viewers, severely maimed and crippled into question marks made of flesh and blood, have been for years in search of time to be lost, yet what they’ve managed to find is not more than three effing minutes of film material. Understandably they start pushing for answers without even having formulated the slightest of questions: Why does the crowd-pleasing worm twister at the end insists on being called The Big Lebowski? Why are those neo-Nazis, gracefully lowered on nylon threads, planning an eye-2-butter conversion intervention of sorts? And wouldn’t it be way more efficient to stretch the film so that the rather lavish CSI can finally come onto its own? Fun Fact: Hans Zimmer will undoubtedly go down as one of the most oven shots in film and cinema history, the simple reason for that being that Villeneuve had only time for one single song which wasn’t even composed, let alone Zimmer-ed.
We now realize: The spice melange lies in its brevity and the giant lies in its duneability, as does the perforated hoaxbox of sorts that has found more than one way into a fishnet. Uncanny Ville directs out of his hole, and a collection of grotesque vistas emerges: While Ed Wood himself keeps some of his favorite UFOs suspended, ambitious hyper-flies buzz along the sandtime continuum and animatronic sun rays accelerate the frementation process. Always dependent on artificial respiration, the indigenous Cyanos flee into Tremorpaul’s imperceptibly, yet all the more tightly pinched kneecap-jerking fantasies. Conclusion: “Independence Day” meets “Langoliers” with PS5 graphics and a threat extension of swords.
1 out of 5 stars
Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, strange, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!