With Amazon Prime rolling out a Watch Party feature, it’s time to see if we should maybe we should expand our watch parties from Netflix-only. This poll is simply to see whether readers have the ability, and interest, in group screenings on 1) Amazon Prime, 2) Netflix, or 3) Hulu. Vote accordingly! (And if you have not RSVP’ed for our Netflix Party potentially scheduled for this Saturday July 11, please do so! We’re still looking for one more attendee.)
WEBWURLD is an accompanying online video for WHOL WHY WURLD, a five-screen video installation from Jess Johnson and Simon Ward. Through symbolism, it depicts the digital world behind the screen that simultaneously is and is not our own. Jess has commented elsewhere that for an alternative reality, such as this, it is better not to work with language as we know it.
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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 DEVELOPMENT (pre-release):
Psychomagic: A Healing Art (2019): Psychomagic: A Healing Art official site (in French).‘s long-simmering documentary about his own brand of ritual psychotherapy final arrives in America. We have our doubts about the clinical efficacy of psychomagic, but little doubt that the documentary will be worth a look. Set to debut on Alamo Drafthouse’s on-demand service in early August; it will likely expand distribution channels soon after.
NEW ON HOME VIDEO:
Come and See (1985): Read the Canonically Weird entry. What may be the most intense war movie ever made joins the Criterion Collection in a new restoration, on 2 DVDs or a single Blu-ray. Criterion extras include an appreciation by ace cinematographer Roger Deakins, a vintage interview with late director Elem Klimov and a more recent one with his brother, a Soviet-era documentary on the Belorussian atrocities depicted in the film, 2001 interviews with with actor Alexei Kravchenko and production designer Viktor Petrov, a short “making of” featurette, the theatrical trailer, and of course a supplementary booklet. Buy Come and See.
Spindrift’s Haunted West (2020): A feature-length visual album from the cowboy-themed psychedelic band Spindrift. Described as a “mix of acid western and musical odyssey.” VOD only. Watch Spindrift’s Haunted West.
Sukiyaki Western Django (2007): Looking for treasure, a lone gunfighter rides into a town ruled by two rival gangs. One of Buy Sukiyaki Western Django.‘s last truly weird movies, this is a samurai/spaghetti western mashup with a Japanese cast speaking badly accented English and in a small role. MVD Marquee releases it on Blu-ray for the first time in a “collector’s edition” extended cut that’s almost an hour longer than the version previously on DVD.
“Wild Palms” (1993): Mysterious corporations scheme to take over America in the “near future” with virtual reality tricks. This Buy “Wild Palms”.-produced miniseries was greenlit due to the popularity of “ ” during the 90s brief “weird is cool” phase. Now on Blu-ray with multiple commentary tracks.
CANONICALLY WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:
Independent theaters are cautiously starting to reopen across the country at diminished capacity, although the big chains (and Alamo Drafthouses) remain shuttered for another week or two. That said, we have a couple of screenings to announce this week. We expect this section to continue to grow slowly throughout the summer, although we wouldn’t expect things to return to anywhere near normal until the fall, at the earliest. You’ll have to use your own judgment as to whether it’s safe to go to movie theaters at this time.
- Chicago, IL
- Vancouver, BC
“Funny Parents”: Our own Shane Wilson and wife Clair Clairmont were recent guests on the “Funny Parents” podcast. Listen to this episode to get his suspect (though not especially weird) parenting advice. (Shane may also be debuting his own podcast soon, so check this space regularly). “Funny Parents” Episode 10: TV Wins & Beforeskin and After.
WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: First up, we’re looking for one more person to publicly express interest in attending a Netflix Party scheduled for next Saturday, July 11 at 10:15 PM EST. You may also nominate a movie for us to watch. Please show your support here. And next week we’ll also try to see if Amazon Prime watch parties might become a thing (perhaps alternating with the Netflix ones).
In terms of reviews, Giles Edwards opines on My Hindu Friend, Hector “Kiss of the Spider Woman” Babenco’s final movie; and Jake Fredel tackles the Criterion Collection’s “The Short Films of ,” with an emphasis on the reader-suggested Vietnam allegory “The Big Shave.” And Happy Independence Day to the USA (although it will be celebrated under truly weird circumstances). Onward and weirdward!will bring you your first look at the unclassifiable Japanese Sundance hit We Are Little Zombies, about four orphans who form a pop band;
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.
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The Salvador Dalí, even at his most posthumous, can also do no wrong. The premise of Josh Frank’s adaptation is simple: to bring to life a rejected film treatment by one of Surrealism’s most famous practitioners intended to feature one of cinema’s most famous comedy troupes. The execution is straightforward, but took some years and considerable R&D before coming to life as a movie-length graphic novel. “Giraffes on Horseback Salad” is an impossible movie premise translated into a vibrant and often hilarious comic., even at their most mediocre, can do no wrong;
Two obvious difficulties presented themselves to Frank, Heidecker, & Pertega (a team that could have been a Marxist law firm): doing justice to two differently towering cultural icons. In the mid- to late-1930s, young Salvador was a political and artistic refugee. This quirky Spaniard developed a major “bro-crush” on Harpo Marx–going so far as to send him a full-scale harp made of cellophane-wrapped silverware and strung with barbed wire. Dalí regarded Harpo as a living, breathing Surrealist—not a member of the movement, but rather an actual Surrealist objet d’art, someone who would always subvert the norm, and who would always have the best, most illogical solution in his raggedy coat pocket.
How the two met (more than once) is explored in “Giraffes on Horseback Salad.” Suffice it to say, they got along famously, and hashed out a movie premise. That premise? “Giraffes” is actually more plot-heavy than most Marx Brothers movies, involving a wunderkind Spanish businessman (“Jimmy”), recently moved to New York City, who falls in love with the “Surrealist Woman.” In her employ are two chauffeurs/henchmen: Groucho and Chico Marx. As Jimmy pursues the Surrealist Woman’s affections, Groucho and Chico help him out. Silliness, subversion, and Surrealism ensue.
The challenge behind Josh Frank’s foray into theoretical cinema (to woefully misuse that term) is daunting, but he delivers, with screen-writing assistance from “Tim & Eric”‘s soundtrack to accompany the story., and the wild visual stylings of Manuela Pertega. The “movie” plays like a bit of fan-fiction, admittedly, but it is skillfully wrought. Groucho’s and Chico’s exchanges may not be their best work (that, as far as I’m concerned, will always be found in Animal Crackers), but it isn’t their worst, and they always sound on paper they way they sounded in their movies. That is no small feat: Frank and Heidecker deliver the Marx goods; in parallel, dead Dalí and Pertega deliver the Surrealist goods. With so many goods delivered, it’s no surprise that the final result is… well, good. They even created a swinging period
In the interests of full disclosure, this wild ride of lines and lingo has virtually no Harpo in it—his identity is a “secret” slowly revealed as another character melts from a high-strung, but yearning-to-be-free [redacted]. I personally found this to be no problem: he was always my least favorite brother. However, I am not one to second-guess one of the 20th-century’s greatest artists, so hurrah for Harpo, hurrah for Salvador, and three chairs for the law firm of Frank, Heidecker, & Pertega.
As a great many companies have realized by now, the marketing potential of internet memes is tremendous. Incorporate your brand or product into a successful meme, and internet users will happily spread it across the world of their own volition, every one of them organically developing a positive association with it.
And as video artistrecently discovered, the effectiveness of marketing through memes is hardly limited to mainstream brands.
You’ve likely come across Condit’s 1983 short film “Possibly in Michigan” (possibly on this site). The abstract narrative follows a pair of young women as they are pursued by a masked cannibal; the anarchic editing; Casio-backed musical numbers; and the strange, lilting tone with which the actresses deliver their lines give it a distinctively surreal tone. It feels like a bizarre combination of a B-movie, an acid trip, a lighthearted musical, and a feminist statement on the nature of toxic relationships all mixed together.
It’s a wonderfully witty and dreamlike piece of work, but it could hardly be called widely accessible; and it is, moreover, infused with a heavily 80s tone and aesthetic. In brief, it’s hardly the sort of thing that one would expect to resonate with the internet generation. So needless to say, it surprised a great many people when songs from the short began showing up on videos posted to the social media website TikTok.
“Possibly in Michigan” had received some internet attention in the past, beginning in mid-2015, when a clip of the film was posted to the popular subreddit /r/creepy, subsequently appearing on the front page of Reddit. But it was through its use in TikTok videos that it attained what could be called widespread notice. A sixteen-year-old TikTok user named Vris Dillard started the trend by posting a video of herself lip-synching a portion of the film’s melodic dialogue. The absurd nature of the source material clearly resonated with the app’s young users, many of whom started making their own videos using “Possibly“’s audio. The result was a burst of mainstream interest in Condit’s work that, given its abstract nature, would be unusual at any point in time. In the weeks following the TikTok trend, Condit’s official YouTube channel received around 4,000 new subscribers, and her weekly view count temporarily shot up more than tenfold.
TikTok, a social media app primarily featuring videos of users lip-synching to popular songs, has a user base consisting primarily of teenagers and twenty-somethings. For better or for worse, it’s a brand with inextricable ties to Generation Z . To see a piece of weird cinema crafted in the early 80s—especially one so deeply steeped in then-contemporary aesthetics and social concerns— gain popularity on such a platform makes it clear that cinematic weirdness, done properly, has an inter-generational appeal that we’ve yet to properly tap into.
“Possibly in Michigan” is hardly the only example of this phenomenon. Weirdness and absurdism are recurring features in meme culture and viral phenomena, and surrealism is probably one of the most prominent features of internet-based humor (right behind self-awareness and self-deprecation). As a result, many millennials and Gen Z’ers raised on the internet have come across some of the 20th century’s finest examples of weird cinema in piecemeal form: stills and clips that caught other users’ fancy.
My personal first encounter with Begotten was in the late 2000s, through a still frame of the opening scene. It had been posted, without context (along with a litany of other, far more underwhelming “scary” images), to a webpage of “creepypasta”, the digital age’s own iteration of horror literature.
At around the same time, a video appeared on YouTube, claiming to be an authentic version of “The Grifter”, an urban legend begun on 4chan about a supposedly “cursed” video that could drive viewers insane. In actuality, the video consisted mostly of heavily edited clips from Jan Svankmajer’s Little Otik.
Virality has proved a boon for weird movie trailers, as well—many of which, in the past, would likely have only been seen at specialized screenings and art film festivals. Such was the case with the infamous After Last Season. Prior to the internet, it’s unlikely that this painfully amateur-looking trailer would have been screened anywhere. When enthusiasts uploaded to freely accessible video sites like Apple’s trailer page, however, it quickly found its audience: morbidly fascinated internet users befuddled by the surreal ineptitude of what they were seeing. It was pretty much everything that internet users of the time adored: completely absurd, and laughably amateurish (“cringey,” in the argot). The result, of course, was a surge of interest in a disastrous film that could never have come from any community of “serious” cinephiles. Reviled though the movie was, and still is, After Last Season would likely never have found an audience of any kind were it not for internet culture’s fascination with bile.
The implications are clear: if weird cinema is to survive in our tumultuous modern age, it might do best to market itself through memes, viral phenomena, and other mediums that catch the attention of the internet’s youngsters. They may not be familiar with names likeor , but they share an appreciation for the absurd and the irreverent that, properly tapped in to, could help raise a whole new generation of weird-cinema auteurs.
Last week’s Netflix Party #12 was a success, so we’re going to stick with the bi-weekly schedule for the time being (unless there’s an outcry to return to weekly screenings). Next Saturday would be the July 4 holiday, anyway. Therefore, our next party will be scheduled for Saturday, July 11 at 10:15 PM.
We’ll be looking for five movie screening nominations from people who plan to attend. After we get the minimum five nominations and likely attendees, we’ll put up a poll.
You can nominate something you nominated before, but not something we watched in a previous party: so no 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, or The Aerial [La Antena]. Only films in Netflix’s U.S. catalog are eligible. We don’t have to watch a Canonically Weird movie together, but just for your convenience, we’re reasonably sure these are all the (previously unscreened by us) ones available on the service at the moment: Kung Fu Hustle (2004), The Lobster (2015), Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), A Serious Man (2009), Sin City (2005), Swiss Army Man (2016), The Wicker Man (1973), and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Feel free to nominate any of these, or ignore them in favor of other selections.
To join, you’ll need a U.S. Netflix account, a Chrome-based browser, and the Netflix Party extension.
Make your nominations in the comments below.
As the title states, our latest Netflix Party—The Aerial——starts in fifteen minutes.
Please install the Netflix Party extension if you haven’t already. You must have a U.S. Nextflix account (we think) and a Chrome-based browser (including Brave) 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://www.netflix.com/watch/70084328?npSessionId=93d76c3ce250d6c4&npServerId=s79
Be sure to click on the red Netflix Party icon to sync up and join the chat room.