CAPSULE: THE PLATFORM (2019)

Recommended

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

El hoyo

DIRECTED BY: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

FEATURING: Ivan Massagué, Alexandra Masangkay, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale

PLOT: To qualify for an “accredited diploma,” Goreng volunteers to spend six months on “the platform”: a vertical prison with one feeding tray that allows the inmates, from floor one down to the bottom, a mere two minutes to eat their daily sustenance before it moves on, emptier and emptier as it descends.

Still from The Platform (2019)

COMMENTS: As a social experiment, watching The Platform with like-minded 366ers was a real treat. But the social experiment explored by film itself is nothing but harrowing. Though he takes some visual (and, doubtless, budgetary) inspiration from another near-future tract about human nature, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia is making his own movie, telling a story whose scale and brutality can make you lose your appetite.

Like the titular conveyance, The Platform begins piled on high—but with intrigue, instead of food. The (literal) platform’s food, we learn, diminishes during each section of its downward journey. Concurrently, our insight into the film’s premise increases. Goreng (Ivan Massagué, looking a bit scrawny even before his ordeal) is the lens through which we watch the system, administered, of course, by “The Administration.” He is an academic, established not only by his demeanor, but also by his sole possession: a copy of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. His only companion is an older gentleman. He’s affable enough, to be sure, but also armed with a “SamuraiPlus”: a knife with the almost magical ability to self-sharpen with use (or so claims the advertisement). Goreng learns the hard way that an accredited diploma might not be worth this ordeal-by-privation.

Rarely have I ever seen “drab industrial” captured so well–and so simply. The Platform hinges wholly on the script and its characters, since we spend almost the entire film on a simple, concrete cell. Massagué and the rest are all top notch, imbuing a believability into what are effectively expositional conversations interspersed with some not-so-light-handed social commentary. Capitalism is skewered, then roasted to perfection by some of the top cooks in the business. Having such an obvious agenda often does a disservice to a film, but Gaztelu-Urrutia tempers the preachifying with humor, pathos, and some incredibly well maneuvered dei-ex-machina sleights-of-hand. The Platform is an impressive movie, though perhaps not best enjoyed with a good meal.

The special screening I had the good luck to attend in late March provided a much-needed change of pace. I typically approach each film in complete silence, frantically scribbling away in a notebook. I was reminded of the pleasure of viewing with friends, and the importance of cinema as a shared experience. It is only when there is a shared context that we can communicate effectively. And though The Platform couldn’t be described in any way as a “fun” movie, watching it with a gang was quite enjoyable. (Even if the food-based avatar icons most of us chose seemed a little hard-hearted by the end.)

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A gnarly mash-up of midnight movie and social commentary, the picture is overly overt but undeniably effective, delivering genre jolts and broad messaging in equal measure.”–Jason Bailey, The New York Times (contemporaneous)

WEEKLY WEIRD NETFLIX PARTY: IS THIS OFFICIALLY A THING?

Our second Netflix watch party (April and the Extraordinary World) was as well attended as the first. This might just be a quarantine thing, or it may turn into a regular feature of the site, but we’re going to go for number three.

We have had requests to move the time back to accommodate viewers who must put small children to bed, so we’re going to suggest starting next week’s showing at 10:30 PM EST, although we’ll consider different suggestions if mentioned in the comments.

Do note that next week’s April 11 showing will be the night before Easter and plan accordingly. (Maybe we can even find a weird Easter-themed movie to watch?)

Just like previous weeks, we’ll open it up to reader suggestions for a day, then put up a poll to vote on which movie to screen. Only films in Netflix’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 ones available on the service at the moment: Enemy (2013), 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), Skins [Pieles] (2017), Swiss Army Man (2016), Under the Skin (2013), and The Wicker Man (1973). Feel free to nominate any of these, or ignore them in favor of other selections.

Giles Edwards will host; G. Smalley is not 100% sure he’ll be able to attend this one.

To join, you’ll need a U.S. Netflix account, a Chrome-based browser (Brave works) and the Netflix Party extension.

Make your nominations in the comments below. You have 24 hours [ed. … from now!]

2020 MARCH MAD MOVIE MADNESS: THE WINNER IS…

And the winner is… not a surprise. Robert Eggers‘ salty historical horror The Lighthouse (2019) blew away the competition, winning each of its head-to-head match-ups handily. The runner-up was  ‘s kaiju mockumentary Big Man Japan (2007), which was valiant in defeat. The Lighthouse will now be officially added to our Apocryphally Weird list (although you may not see the write-up appear immediately, trust us, it’s lurking out there, waiting to strike…)

The Lighthouse (2019)

The results of the entire tournament can be seen here.

366’S NETFLIX PARTY, “APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD,” STARTS IN 10 MINUTES

As the title states, our second Netflix Party—April and the Extraordinary World—starts in 10 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/80062096?npSessionId=3c34811a5b818025&npServerId=s7

Be sure to click on the red Netflix Party icon to sync up and join the chat room.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 4/3/2020

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.

NEW RELEASE (STREAMING):

The Other Lamb (2019): A member of an all-female cult (led by a man, of course) begins having visions which lead her to question the only reality she has ever known. With no theaters open, many releases have been pushed back; distributors not overly anxious to debut their movies on VOD may be forced to do so anyway. Times are tough. Rent The Other Lamb.

FILM FESTIVALS – South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) (Online, April-May):

After floating the idea, South by Southwest has decided to go through with it: they’re holding their film festival (canceled in March) online. Amazon will host it for ten days. Filmmakers will be invited to participate and given compensation, but we don’t know which films will be available or even the exact dates yet (their aiming for April). The good news: it will be free to view. We weren’t extremely excited about this year’s lineup, with the possible exception of St. Vincent’s Nowhere Inn, but there always could be a surprise or two hiding there, and this format will allow all of us to search for those hidden gems together: no credentials or costly badge needed. More details when available; meanwhile, you can read the announcement on SWSX’s homepage.

In addition, all (we think) of the SWSX shorts have been made separately available free online through a partnership between e-mail marketer Mail Chimp and distributor Oscilloscope. If you spot anything cool in there, let us know in the comments. Watch SWSX shorts here.

IN DEVELOPMENT (pre-release):

She’s Allergic to Cats (2016): Read our festival review and listen to our interview. When G. Smalley’s opening line in his interview with the makers of this weird little video art comedy about an L.A. artist trying to recreate Carrie with cats and his improbable romance were: “please get this movie distribution.” Four years later, they finally heeded his advice. It will release on VOD next week, but we’re so excited we wanted to share the trailer with you now. We’ll pass along the rental link next week.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009): Read our review. The Soska Sister’s grindhouse-y, magical realist horror comedy was just re-released on DVD last year; now it’s on Blu-ray. Buy Dead Hooker in a Trunk.

CANONICALLY WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

With everything shut down for the pandemic, a few repertory theaters have opened up “virtual screening rooms.” The Alamo Drafthouse chain, Row House Cinemas, San Francisco’s Roxie, The Frida, The Loft, and AFI Silver are examples.  Not ideal, and not that much of a better end-user experience than just watching Netflix or renting something off Amazon, but you will be supporting the theater. Your ticket purchase could—theoretically—be the difference between the venue reopening or declaring bankruptcy when this is all over. We do have one canonically weird online screening to mention:

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:

The Voices (2014): Read our review (and ignore the bizarre comments). A serial killer () has a talking dog and cat who give him conflicting advice. Probably the best new weird arrival on YouTube’s free menu, which seems to be expanding lately in response to the pandemic. Watch The Voices free on YouTube.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: First off, you may notice a new logo, designed by . No offense to our old designer, Ubik Designs, who donated the old graphics at the beginning of his career and has since moved on to better things. We may even break it out again occasionally for nostalgia’s sake, especially if we can figure out how to do one of those “rotating banner” things. Anyway, if you like Joe’s art, more can be found at his Esty shop.

Also, we still have two user polls rolling along. Our poll for the movie to watch for our second Netflix Party closes tonight at midnight; at this time, it looks like April and the Extraordinary World is going to be the pick. The party starts at 9:30 PM EST tomorrow evening; watch this website, Facebook, or Twitter ten minutes before showtime for the link to join. Last time was a lot of fun.

And voting in the finals of our 2020 March Mad Movie Madness Official Apocrypha Candidate Tournament ends on Sunday at midnight. If you’ve been following it, you probably already know who the winner is going to be, although the challenger is giving the favorite a better run than any of the other contestants.

As far as next week’s reviews go, Giles Edwards will recap the sometimes nauseating Spanish capitalism allegory The Platform (the subject of our first Netflix Party). Pete Trbovich will take on the Exorcist rip-off Beyond the Door (1974) (and explains why he prefers it to its model). And G. Smalley is planning a trip into the long-neglected reader-suggested queue for a look at the anthropomorphic marsupial serial killer flick Executive Koala (2005), but reserves the option of substituting something more timely. With everyone stuck at home, we have nothing to do but order takeout, drink whiskey sours, and watch and write about weird movies. 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: BACURAU (2019)

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

Recommended

DIRECTED BY:  Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho

FEATURING: Bárbara Colen, , Sonia Braga, Thomas Aquino

PLOT: A group of killers isolate a small Brazilian village intending to massacre the residents for recreation, but find the peasants are more resourceful than they anticipated.

Still from Bacurau (2019)

COMMENTS: Seeing the word “weird” used to describe a movie like Bacurau reminds us just how jaded we here at 366 Weird Movies are. The only unusual features of this Brazilian export are its slightly unconventional blend of art-house drama with ballsy genre filmmaking, along with some mild psychotropic visions and one quirky flying-saucer shaped drone. It may be a weird brew for general American audiences—the ones who would never go see a foreign or independent film anyway—or to professional critics who prefer to stick to the realist side of the art-house scene… but this sociological-study-cum-shoot-em-up isn’t exactly Let the Corpses Tan.

With it’s magnificent landscapes, including some local cacti that could pass for Saguaro, Bacurau evokes the mythic West of Sergio Leone: it could be Once Upon a Time in Brazil. The opening scene includes a litter of coffins spilled onto the road leading into town, which sure reinforces that connection. By the end, when the resourceful tribe defends their eerily deserted town from the better-equipped invaders, the Bacurau takes on the shape of The Seven Samurai.

The first forty-five minutes paint a portrait of the hamlet of perhaps one hundred souls, planted in the middle of nowhere. A matriarch, the ancestor of a large percentage of the population, has just died, and nursing student Teresa returns, bearing a suitcase of vaccines, to attend her grandmother’s funeral. The town has a teacher, a doctor, a whore, a DJ who serves as the town crier and local news anchor when not pumping out the jams, and so forth; it also has a rather large library and a museum devoted to the town’s history. Things get strange when Bacurau suddenly disappears from Google Maps, a UFO is spotted, and bullet holes are found in the tanker truck that supplies them with fresh water. The nature of the trouble soon becomes apparent; a tour group of American thrill-killers have paid a small fortune to hunt these forgotten people for sport. The killing starts in the final act, but although squibs are not spared and plenty of red stuff splashes around, it’s not the action-packed bloodbath you might expect. Steering away from exploitative spectacle as much as possible (given the scenario), the killings are spread out, as the invaders are picked off one by one. You might guess that Udo Kier, the oldest, evilest, and most famous of the bad guys is the last one to go. I’ll never tell.

Many note that with the sympathetic portrayal of the villagers’ “degeneracy” (casual nudity and free love, acceptance of homosexuality, and liberal use of ethnobotonicals)—and the presence of crooked con-man mayor Tony Jr., representing provincial corruption—the film takes its shots at homophobic, right-wing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Capitalism itself also comes in for quite a thrashing. On the other hand, Bolsonaro might be pleased with the film’s xenophobia aimed at the stereotyped Western interlopers (Kier is not a Nazi, he insists, shooting a companion to prove his point). He might also approve of the derision heaped on the invaders’ big city Brazilian allies, traitorous globalist collaborators shamelessly manipulated by shadowy outsiders. The line between anti-colonialism and populist nationalism is thin indeed.

Pulled from American theaters early due to the Covid-19 crisis, Bacurau is currently streaming via Kino Now. They have thoughtfully set up a system whereby the independent theaters that were supposed to screen the film can share the streaming revenue (check here for the list of participating venues). Kino probably could have kept all the revenue to themselves, as Disney did with the digital release of Onward, so they deserve massive respect for this move. Bacurau is not only a quality film, it’s a good way to support small (and big) businesses in a dry season.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“’Bacurau’ is definitely weird, a quasi-Western mashed up with psychedelic sci-fi and political satire.”–Jeffrey Anderson, San Francisco Examiner (contemporaneous)

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