WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 12/13/2019

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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.

FILM FESTIVALS – Sundance Film Festival (Park City, UT, Jan 23-Feb 2):

The 2020 movie season will officially kick off with Sundance, where a hundred hopeful independent movies, including a few off-the-wall ones, come to vie for a handful of distribution contracts. In recent years, Sundance added the “Next” and “Midnight” screening sections to add some weirdness to the otherwise tame lineup of dramas about privileged white people and their problems. There is usually at least one memorably strange film that sneaks by the screeners: 2019 brought us the Groundhogian grief nightmare Koko-di, Koko-da. Of the recently announced titles (full list via Variety), here are the few we’ll be keeping our eyes on:

  • The Nowhere Inn – Singer St. Vincent creates a fictional documentary described as “distorted and bizarre” and slated for the Midnight category.
  • Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia – Portmanteau feature centered around a Miami speedboat; it counts Swiss Army Man directing team among the contributors.
  • Wendy ‘s second feature film comes 8 years after Beasts of the Southern Wild; it’s a retelling of Peter Pan set in Neverland and told from Wendy’s perspective.

Sundance Film Festival official site.

CROWDFUNDING:

“Sick ‘n’ Wrong Film Festival”: This is the first time we’ve ever seen a crowdfunding campaign for a film festival, but it’s a worthy one. This small Orlando festival “delirious celebration of cinematic weirdness” (mostly shorts) that’s been running for four years now and is looking for a fifth in May 2020. At the time of this writing the campaign had raised just over a thousand dollars; it runs for almost another three weeks. Perks include t-shirts, totes, hats, pins and ads. “Sick ‘n’ Wrong Film Festival” on indiegogo.

What is Sick ’n’ Wrong? from Stephen Stull on Vimeo

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

The Death of Dick Long (2019): Bandmates try to cover up the demise of the title character in this offering from Swiss Army Man‘s . Beware spoilers for this bizarre black comedy. DVD, Blu-ray or VOD. Buy The Death of Dick Long.

Freaks (2018): Read Giles Edwards’ review. “A thinking man’s X-Men movie,” now out on DVD, Blu-ray or VOD. Buy Freaks.

The Limits of Control (2009): Read our review. Arrow Academy gathers together new and archival material for this Blu-ray Special Edition of ‘s odd, inconclusive anti-thriller. Buy The Limits of Control.

Millennium Actress (2001): Read the Certified Weird entry! This DVD/Blu-ray combo pack from Shout! Factory surprisingly marks the first time ‘s retrospective of Japanese cinema seen through the eyes of a dying actress has been released to Blu-ray. It’s also a new restoration. Buy Millennium Actress.

Monos (2019): Enigmatic Colombian film about a purposeless group of soldiers camped in a fog-shrouded jungle, often compared to Apocalypse Now. Neon releases it to VOD (the Blu-ray has been delayed for a couple of weeks) with little fanfare, but we’re excited to finally see it. Buy or rent Monos.

The Peanut Butter Solution (1985): Read our review. This bizarro Canadian kiddie flick about a boy who loses his hair after being frightened by ghosts finally makes it to DVD, Blu-ray and VOD, thanks to the good folks at Severin Films. (Per Amazon’s delivery times, Blu-rays ordered today may not arrive by Christmas, though DVDs might make it.) Buy The Peanut Butter Solution.

The Sore Losers (1997): An alien sent to the American south to complete a killing spree hooks up with some delinquents and inadvertently messes up his kill count. Unclassifiable punk/rockablilly/trash/surrealism feature from Memphis’ own Mike McCarthy, in a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/soundtrack CD set. Only available directly from the director. Get your ordering instructions at the Sore Losers official Facebook page.

“Twin Peaks: From Z to A”: There have been a lot of repackagings of “” over the years, but this may be the ultimate set. The original series, Fire Walk with Me (1992) (with deleted scenes), “The Return,” and new behind-the-scenes featurettes, spread across twenty-one Blu-rays, in an innovative box that turns into a “red room display.” Buy “Twin Peaks: from Z to A”.

Until the End of the World (1991): ‘ apocalyptic road movie includes a subplot about a machine that can make the blind see and bring dreams to life; too bad the world’s about to end. The movie flopped in the two-and-a-half hour cut released to cinemas, but here it is in all of its almost five-hour long glory, courtesy of Criterion on two Blu-rays or three DVDs. Buy Until the End of the World.

Viy (1967): Read our review. The masterpiece of Soviet horror, from a Gogol story about a seminarian who must pray over a witch’s corpse, finally gets a decent DVD and Blu-ray release, courtesy of Severin. Buy Viy.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We’ll only list irregularly scheduled one-time screenings of this audience-participation classic below. You can use this page to find a regular weekly screening near you.

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:

The Teenage Tasteless Tourist Tape (2019): Got an hour to spend on some no-budget experimental cinema? The director of The Teenage Tasteless Tourist Tape (below) explains this one is “supposed to be watched alone in the middle of the night, not knowing what the hell this is.” I bet he wouldn’t be upset if you watched it during the day.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Have you bought your copy of the 2019 Yearbook yet? No? Just here for the free content? That’s fine. Next week we’ll alert you to a couple more pieces of odd culture you may not be aware of: Canada’s “Paul Anthony’s Talent Time” (at least, the episodes that are available to Americans via Amazon Prime) and Chinese mystic ‘s latest technical marvel, Long Day’s Journey into Night. But if you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, there’s still time to order a copy of that Yearbook… 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.

CAPSULE: REDOUBT (2019)

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DIRECTED BY: Matthew Barney

FEATURING: Anette Wachter, Matthew Barney, Eleanor Bauer, Laura Stokes, K.J. Holmes

PLOT: In remote Idaho, Diana and her two assistants hunt, observed by an Engraver.

Still from Redoubt (2019)

COMMENTS: A dialogue-free exploration of the myth of Diana the Huntress set in Idaho’s ridiculously beautiful Sawtooth Mountains, Redoubt is a level beyond art-house; it’s art installation. Diana (played by U.S. National Rifle Team member Anette Wachter) is a mysterious sharpshooter camping in a tent in the wilderness. She’s accompanied by two female assistants, contortionists who sleep together in a hammock tied high in the pines and who express themselves solely through interpretive dance. Meanwhile, an Engraver (Barney himself: the character seems to be both a forest ranger and an artist) ventures into the mountains and etches landscapes. At night, he returns to his trailer, where a woman (presumably his wife) electroplates the day’s metal engravings; she’s also working on an abstract sculpture based on a constellation. We observe every step in the creative process. At one point the Engraver watches a Native American woman perform a hoop dance at an American Legion building in an otherwise deserted town. The “action” is divided into a series of “hunts,” although there is little story development. Eventually, Diana catches the Engraver spying on her, shoots one of his engravings, and finally sets a pack of wolves loose in his trailer. Unlike the mythological Acateon, who was transformed into a stag and killed by his own hunting dogs after catching a glimpse of the goddess bathing nude, the Engraver merits divine wrath simply by the act of creating his art, as if act of trying to capture nature is itself a transgression.

There is some fantastic imagery here, capped by the National Geographic-style mountain cinematography (at one point, it captures an avalanche) and the finale which shows the artist’s lair chewed over by lupine chaos. If you enjoy the kinesthetics of the human body in motion, the limber dancing (by professionals who are often clad in long johns) will have an additional appeal. The austerity of the glacially-paced, low-narrative presentation, accompanied only by minimalistic music and the sounds of footsteps in snow and occasional bird calls, is as cold as an Idaho morning, however, and will limit Redoubt‘s appeal. Nonetheless, this is Matthew Barney’s version of an accessible art-house film.

At this point, you might be wondering, “where have I heard the name Matthew Barney?” Barney is the sculptor/filmmaker responsible for the celebrated/infamous films that comprise the Cremaster cycle (which featured hermetic symbolism, bizarre costuming, and such provocative imagery as a bee flying out of a man’s penis). He followed that performance up with the 330-minute scatological film opera River of Fundament. His films incorporate his sculptures and other multimedia (a book accompanies each), and are typically screened only at museums. Only once1 has Barney allowed his work to appear outside of a museum setting: The Order, a 30-minute re-edit of Cremaster 3, which was printed in limited quantities and commands a premium on the secondary market. Redoubt represents, to my knowledge, the first time he has worked with an actual film distributor (Grasshopper). It’s being released this winter to a few select art-house cinemas as well as the usual museums, which is a welcome development. (You can check out the screening schedule at Grasshopper’s website). The scarcity of Barney’s work contributes greatly to its legendary status, but let’s hope that the increased distribution of Redoubt represents a loosening of the artist’s strictures. Maybe as he ages and mellows he’ll break his vow to never release the Cremasters commercially. Or at least let us poor schlubs see River of Fundament on Blu-ray. Probably not, but hope springs eternal.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…an eminently accessible version of the avant-garde.”–Pat Brown, Slant (contemporaneous)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 12/6/2019

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 (LIMITED RELEASE):

Daniel Isn’t Real (2019): Read Giles Edwards’ review. We also have an audio interview with director Adam Egypt Mortimer about this psychological horror about a grown man and his evil imaginary friend. Daniel Isn’t Real official site.

In Fabric (2018): s latest is a surreal horror about a haunted dress. We’ve been waiting for this one to debut in theaters for quite a while; the fact that it was picked up by A24 only stokes our enthusiasm. In Fabric official site.

Knives and Skin (2019): Read Giles Edwards’ festival note. A -ey tale about “emotional idiots” (Giles’ words) in the aftermath of a student’s disappearance. Knives and Skin official site.

The Wolf Hour (2019): An agoraphobic writer () suffers in her apartment while the Son of Sam terrorizes the city outside. Mixed reviews, but Jeannette Catsoulis did call it a “punishingly theatrical experiment that teeters on the verge of surreality.” The Wolf Hour official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT (pre-publication):

“Antkind”: Not a movie (at least, not yet) but a novel: ‘s fiction debut (yes, he’d never written a novel) will be published in May 2020 by Random House. It’s about a failed film critic (not based on anyone here, to our knowledge) who discovers a lost masterpiece that might make his career—the problem being, he’s the only living person who’s seen it and, except for a single surviving still, the print has been destroyed. Kaufman’s editor described it as a “mind-bending opus.” We’re sure it will be viewed as a masterpiece on whatever planet it was written. Visit Penguin/Random House for more info on “Antkind.”

IN DEVELOPMENT (pre-production):

Twilight Park (202?): We can’t really tell you too much about this upcoming project from stop-motion animator , except that the concept art looks fascinating and surreal. The footage below is to be incorporated into the finished production; that might get you excited. Twilight Park official Facebook page.

Little Band of Sailors from Eric Leiser on Vimeo.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

She (1984): Goofy post-Conan post-apocalyptic b-movie starring Sandahl Bergman as leader of a band of wasteland Amazons. Features a giant in a tutu and other vintage 80s nuttiness. A “special edition” DVD or Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. Buy She.

Slaughterhouse Five (1972): Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time… Adaptations of novels have seldom fared well either with critics or audiences, but this may be the exception. A typically packed Blu-ray from Arrow Video. Buy Slaughterhouse-Five.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We’ll only list irregularly scheduled one-time screenings of this audience-participation classic below. You can use this page to find a regular weekly screening near you.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: In the unlikely case you missed the news, we just got the 366 Weird Movies 2019 Yearbook out onto the shelves. Proofing and formatting that tome—along with fitting in late 2019 releases at the last minute—has taken up most of our time and energy this month, which has left us with little in the tank. For that reason, we’re only promising one review for you next week: a report on Matthew Barney’s Redoubt, now touring select locations. We may slip something else in, of course, but no promises. We should be returning to a normal schedule of two or three reviews per week, but in the meantime we encourage you to buy a copy of that Yearbook to stave off any weird movie review withdrawal symptoms.

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.

CAPSULE: KNIFE + HEART (2018)

Un couteau dans le coeur

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

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Vanessa Paradis, , , Jonathan Genet

PLOT: A troubled director tries to figure out who’s killing off the actors in her gay porn troupe.

Still from knife + heart (2018)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Although there are a few odd touches, Knife + Heart essentially rehashes familiar old giallo territory, but with a new queer slant.

COMMENTS: Knife + Heart (the French title translates to the more euphonious A Knife in the Heart) is basically a modern, queer giallo that plays out in the unique setting of the 1970s French gay porn industry. Gruesomely, it features a killer who strikes with a knife sheathed in a dildo. The protagonist is Anne, an alcoholic lesbian still hopelessly in love with Lois, her film editor, long after the latter has rejected her for her wine-sodden unpredictability. When the cast and crew of her latest pornographic opus start turning up dead, Anne develops a new obsession. She makes a tasteless porno adaptation of the real life crimes, including an interrogation scene that echoes her actual interview with the police, but this time with typewriter boffing. (After considering a couple of titles, she settles on Homocidal.) An accidentally discovered clue leads her to a remote French village where a mysterious bird is said to live, and then indirectly to the actual killer.

Knife + Heart stays true to the giallo form, with fetishistic shots of phallic knives in black-gloved hands and an obvious tribute to Suspiria’s colorful rainstorm driving scene. Ultimately, the solution to the mystery isn’t particularly convincing,—which is also true to the genre. Although there are a few mildly surreal bits—including a surprise bird claw you won’t forget—the main novelty here is the transposition of the erotic locus from the hetero- to the homo-sexual world. The sex is graphic, but not actually hardcore (although it comes close enough to rate this as an 18+ production).

Although Knife + Heart is a stylish and more-than-competent homage, I wondered about the purpose of the whole experiment. It’s an entertaining throwback, but besides queer inclusiveness, it doesn’t add much to the genre. The film has a superficial artiness—check out that post-credits Roman orgy!—that primes you for something deeper than a mere thriller; yet, disappointingly, it never really dives beneath its pretty surface.

This is Yann Gonzalez’s second feature film after 2013’s even more explicitly erotic (and even more surreal) You and the Night [Les Rencontres d’après minuit]. Both films screened at Cannes to generally positive receptions. Americans can catch them on physical media or streaming services (both are on Kanopy). Both are also scored by Yann’s brother Anthony, a popular electronic musician with the band M83.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“It feels like a giallo take on ‘Phantom of the Paradise,’ with heavy influences from ‘Peeping Tom’ and Todd Haynes’ 1991 feature debut, ‘Poison.’ This magical, erotic, disco-tinged horror-thriller is like cinematic candy.”–Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times (contemporaneous)

THE 2019 YEARBOOK IS HERE!

Every year we promise to get the previous year’s Yearbook out sooner, and every year it ends up debuting sometime in the middle of the following year.

This year, we actually did it. Here it is, fresh and weird and ready to strangen up your Xmas:

Cover for 366 Weird Movies 2019 YearbookBesides being out on time, there are a few format changes to this edition of the Yearbook that will hopefully increase the already inestimable pleasure you take from each annual:

  • An advance peek at the top 10 weird movies of 2019, before the year is even over!
  • 80 reviews of 2019 releases and re-releases, plus coverage of innumerable (that means we didn’t bother to count them, right?) film festival favorites (and less-than-favorites).
  • Reworked and improved reviews and features.
  • Exclusive interview with and production designer Dario Mendez (Luz) (not available online).
  • A brand new availability grid showing where the streamable films are streaming (not available online).

As always, the book is available either in trade paperback or Kindle versions. The print version has a few more images; the Kindle version has an expanded availability grid that also shows you if a movie is streaming on Tubi or Kanopy. (It also has the advantage of coming free if you have Kindle Unlimited subscription).

All profits derived from your kind purchase will go towards paying our hosting costs. As always, any leftover monies will be wasted on G. Smalley’s relentless and desperate pursuit of hedonistic excess: an ocean of hazelnut-infused bourbon, a parade of cheap floozies, and impulsive weird movie purchases that leave him feeling physically spent, but empty and soulless. Good times!

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