UNDER THE TABLE WITH “MAN UNDER TABLE,” NOEL DAVID TAYLOR

On February 25th, Gregory J. Smalley and Giles Edwards chatted with via Zoom about his feature film debut, Man Under Table, which just debuted at the Slamdance Film Festival. Here is the transcript (lightly edited for clarity); the raw video is at the end of the post.

366: We’re here to interview Noel David Taylor about his debut film, which he wrote, directed, and starred in, called Man Under Table. It’s a surreal satire about a sarcastic young filmmaker trying to making his first script in the indie world where all his peers’ careers seem to be advancing a little bit faster than his. Mr. Taylor, as an introduction, would you care to give us some information on your own background and how this project came to be?

Noel David Taylor: I have been making short films pretty much as long as I can remember. I just moved to LA about six years ago, and just bounced around trying to find a place. I got kind of frustrated and embroiled in this “indie film” scene that I’m satirizing in this film, and I started writing about my little experiences and frustrations in that arena.

366: “No” is a perfectly reasonable answer to both parts of this two part question: can you explain why you named the movie Man Under Table, and the follow-up is, did you ever consider naming it “Guy Under Table”?

NDT: It’s funny, “Man Under Table” is the first part of this film. Me and a friend of mine were just joking around one day, sending fake movie titles back and forth, and we landed on that one, and for some reason, it just stuck with me. I think I was starting the script at the time, and I just thought it was funny. And yeah, there is that part of the movie where the character Gerald keeps saying “guy under table”, which is almost the titular line, but not quite. 

366: You are writer, director, producer, and star of this feature, so obviously a very personal film for you, and as you just mentioned, talking about a number of personal experiences hashed out in a semi-fictionalized way. Of these four, which was your favorite? Did you like to be acting more? Did you enjoy the direction? Or is this just one ball of output?

NDT: I think it’s a combination. Because I started messing around making short films when I was a kid, I always used each part of it to aid the other part. So for certain projects—my own projects—I feel like it’s really hard for me to separate those things. They kind of lend to each other. But more and more, especially starting with this project, I kind of just enjoy the writing. It’s the part where there’s slightly less stress. You can do it in your own time, no one’s around.

366: Except in the experience of the main character there, yeah.

NDT: [laughs]

366: He always introduces himself as, “I’m writing a movie”, and that reflects your thoughts there. A brief follow-up question in that vein: did you ever think to cast someone else as you?

NDT: Oh yeah. When I started building this project, I intended on doing a lot more outsourcing. I certainly didn’t want to shoot it. The people I had around me, I couldn’t really get on board. I had Continue reading UNDER THE TABLE WITH “MAN UNDER TABLE,” NOEL DAVID TAYLOR

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/26/2021

366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available at the official site links.

IN THEATERS (WIDE RELEASE):

The Father (2020): Sure, it’s Oscar Bait, but hear us out: The Father puts you inside the head of a man suffering from dementia, meaning you can’t be sure what’s real and what’s not. Basically, it’s a psychological thriller in sensitive drama garb.  Opening in New York and LA this week, going wider March 12. The Father official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT (pre-production):

Nocebo (202?): A fashion designer comes down with a mysterious illness, with symptoms that are recognized by her Filipino nanny. will star alongside Mark Strong and Chai Fonacier. This plot seems like it could just be a run-of-the-mill psychological horror film, but it is helmed by fresh off a weird one in Vivarium—and producer XYZ Films has been involved with both Mandy and the upcoming / feature Prisoners of the Ghostland, so there is serious weird potential there. No official site yet.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

The Attic Expeditions (2001): Read our review. ‘s baffling, schizophrenic psychohorror joins the Blu-ray ranks for the first time, with 20th reunion featurettes included. Buy The Attic Expeditions.

Castle of the Creeping Flesh (1968): Swingers stumble into the castle of a mad count who—what are the odds?—wants to use their body parts to revive his dead daughter. Another rarely-seen-and-probably-for-good-reasons Eurotrash curiosity from Severin Films, on Blu-ray. Buy Castle of the Creeping Flesh.

CANONICALLY WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

We could not find a single Canonically Weird screening in theaters this week. Still, some New York City venues will be reopening starting next week, so, believe it or not, things are beginning to look up. Keep your spirits up!

FREE ONLINE WEIRD MOVIES:

Getty (2021): An experimental film composed entirely out of public domain stock footage from Getty Images. It’s stitched together from three different directors, with a framing device of an artificial intelligence describing humanity to alien visitors in the distant future (“they liked breaking things… they liked it a lot”). Includes nudity (stock footage nudity? yes, it exists), so it may be slightly NSFW. Watch Getty free on Vimeo.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE:

Voting continues for one more day in our latest Weird Netflix Party poll. At this writing it is the closest contest ever, with three choices currently tied for number one and nothing out of the running. Go ahead and (maybe) cast the tiebreaking vote. Whatever we end up watching, the show starts Mar. 6 at 10:15 PM ET.

Next week’s reviews will include El Rob Hubbard‘s report on the newly-released “Cannes cut” of Southland Tales (with fifteen more minutes of madness!) and Gregory J. Smalley on ‘s latest comic absurdity to reach American screens, Keep an Eye Out. There will likely be at least one surprise review to accompany that fine duo, too.

Finally, the following screengrab doesn’t really fit in anywhere, but we had to include it anyway. It’s about time! for Best Actor!

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.

BOOK REVIEW: “THE WEIRD AND THE EERIE”

Since this piece is technically categorized as a review, let’s get this out of the way first: Mark Fisher’s short critical essay “The Weird and the Eerie” is insightful, unique, and well worth your time. Fisher is (almost) the only writer to attempt a critical analysis of the literary concept of the “weird” (which he considers a “mode” rather than a genre). That alone makes this slim volume (which could be finished in an evening) a worthwhile addition to your library.

With the praise out of the way, the remainder of this essay will be devoted to explaining why Fisher’s definition of the weird doesn’t quite harmonize with way we use the term on this site. Basically, Fisher’s usage is too restrictive for our purposes. Defining the weird, paradoxically, makes it into a rational category, whereas the essence of the weird is its irrationality. Like love or porn, the weird has an “I-know-it-when-I-feel-it” quality; it’s better intuited than analyzed. This observation, I must stress again, is not meant to take anything away from Fisher’s achievement. It’s just that rigid critical analysis, while a fun supplement to your journey into the weird, cannot substitute for that know-it-when-you-feel-it chill in your spine that you get when confronted with an oatmeal-cheeked girl stomping on spermatozoa inside a radiator theater.

Early in this site’s existence, I wrote a series of two articles on various “species” of the weird: the “uncanny” and the “surreal.” (A third planned article, on the “absurd,” remains uncompleted to this day.) So I’m not above bringing analytics into the weird game. But generally, we at 366 Weird Movies prefer the intuitive approach. To this day, the definition of the weird I rely on most is the “grandmother test”: I imagine my conservative grandmother watching a movie, and if she turns to me and mutters, “well, that was weird,” I know I’m onto something.

Still, I admire Fisher for attempting to nail down what, in essence, amounts to nothing more than a vague feeling. I think his test, as we will see, inevitably creates both false positives and false negatives. But the impulse is a noble one.

So how does Fisher define the weird? He gets it out of the way quickly in the introductory chapter, concluding that “the weird is that which does not belong” [emphasis in original]. To elaborate:

The weird brings to the familiar something which ordinarily lies beyond it, and which cannot be reconciled with the “homely”1 (even as its negation). The form that is perhaps most appropriate to the weird is montage—the conjoining of two or more things which do not belong together.

Of course, merely conjoining things that don’t belong together isn’t enough to make something weird. Centaurs, for example, combine men and horses in an impossible, wrong way, but whatever weirdness these beings may have once possessed has faded away through the centuries, as the concept of such fantastic beings has become familiar. The weird requires, in addition to mere incompatibility, a mysterious element, which Fisher describes as “a fascination for the outside, for that which lies beyond standard perception, cognition and Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: “THE WEIRD AND THE EERIE”

MARCH 6 NETFLIX PARTY POLL

Here’s the poll to vote in March’s Netflix Weird Watch Party, which will start on Mar. 6 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 get the most votes; your host, Gregory J. Smalley, will personally break any ties. Note that unlike our other polls, you can only vote once. Poll closes at midnight ET on Saturday, Feb. 27. You may vote for multiple movies, but not for every movie (because that would be pointless).

Now vote!


SLAMDANCE 2021: THE SHORT BIGS COMPENDIUM

The collection of short reviews for longer, less-weird films.

Slamdance’s entire slate, shorts and features, can be watched online through February 25 for a $10 pass, $5 for students.

Hurrah, We Are Still Alive! (Hura, wciaz zyjemy!; dir. Agnieszka Polska)—Troupe of film actors is adrift and its mysterious director is mysteriously missing and…yawnnnnn. Mm, excuse me. The only way I could potentially pitch this high mumble-drama as exciting would be to provide a couple of out of context remarks like, “Dirk picks up a cat and walks through a cowboy gauntlet”, or “Dirk threatens an exotic fish.” This is the kind of movie that gets a super-solid 5/10, because it is technically well made, technically tells a story, and was technically watchable all the way through. It features pseudo-mysterious plottings, a terrorist organization, an actress with a wig that’s more boyish than her slightly less-boyish actual hairstyle, a semi-charismatic hitman, and, exotic for a New York viewer, smoking inside a disco. (This club, however, is one of the saddest party places I’ve ever seen.) It probably didn’t help that the film burns out its only energy with the exclamation mark in the title.

The Little Broomstick Rider (dir. Matteo Bernardini)—For those of you who want to experience the simple-sophisticated joys of “gekkimation” but don’t want to endure the stomach-turning creativity of more graphic fare, I highly recommend Bernardini’s charming yarn about a 9-year-old boy accused of witchcraft in early 17th-century Bavaria. Darling and detailed drawings for characters and settings, snappy and silly signs for dialogue and exposition, and flute and fife for a rousing soundtrack. Unlike myself, Matteo Bernardini did something productive during his Covid quarantine. (Not to insult my profession, mind you; but one of the perks of being a reviewer is you get a front-row view of talented people. [Not that reviewers aren’t talented people, just… ah, to heck with it. Watch The Little Broomstick Rider!].)

Taipei Suicide Story (安眠旅舍; dir. KEFF)—Well, this was probably the saddest romantic comedy I’ve ever seen, though at least the title prepared me for it. In the greater Taipei area, sometime now-ish, is a discreet little hotel where the guests are allowed only one night’s stay. This typically isn’t problematic, as the facility specializes in giving people a place (and limited assistance) to kill themselves. Zhi-Hao is a young man, and world-weary, which is something to be expected of a concierge at a Continue reading SLAMDANCE 2021: THE SHORT BIGS COMPENDIUM

MARCH WEIRD NETFLIX PARTY NOMINATIONS THREAD

We’re sticking to our plan of one Netflix and one Amazon Prime watch party per month. It’s Netflix’s turn.

We’re open to suggestions for different starting times, dates, or methods of propagating the watch link.

Our next Netflix Party will be scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 6 at 10:15 PM. We’ll take nominations for movies to screen in the comments until we reach at least five entries (from five different attendees), then put up a voting poll.

The Canonically Weird movies on Netflix that we haven’t yet screened yet are A Clockwork Orange (1971), Kung Fu Hustle (2004)Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), and Swiss Army Man (2016). Feel free to nominate any of these, or ignore them in favor of other selections. Since we’ve rolled over into a new year, we could technically decide to watch something we’ve seen before (if it’s still on the platform). For reference, the movies we’ve already screened are The Platform, April and the Extraordinary World, The Bad Batch, Skins [Pieles], Under the Skin, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Enemy, A Ghost Story, Escape from the ‘Liberty’ Cinema, Between Worlds, Buster’s Mal Heart, The Aerial [La Antena], The Endless, The Wicker Man (1973)Murder Party (2007), I Lost My Body (2019), I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020), We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2018), Cadaver (2020), Being John Malkovich (1999), Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (2017), and My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (2016).

To participate, you’ll need a U.S. Netflix account, a Chrome-based browser, and the TeleParty (formerly “Netflix Party”) extension.

Make your nominations in the comments below.

FEBRUARY’S WEIRD AMAZON PRIME WATCH PARTY, “EVEN DWARFS STARTED SMALL,” STARTS IN 15 MINUTES

This month’s Amazon Prime Watch Party—Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)—starts in fifteen minutes.

You’ll need to be an Amazon Prime member in the US to participate.

There will be no pausing or rewinding except for technical reasons.

We are offering no technical support, so help each other out if needed.

Here is the link to join: https://amz.onl/hXap1cF

See you soon!

Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, strange, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!