366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.
The other day, I gave a fellow a cigarette, the favour returned with a compliment on my “overalls.” They’re called suspenders, people, and they hold up trousers. At least I can take comfort that later in the week I was offered a black-market bow tie.
7/27: The Becomers
This Easy-Going Sci/Fi Escapist Genre (“EGSFEGG,” as I suspect I may need this acronym further down the line) piece is appropriately narrated by Russ Mael, and is among the few earth invasion films I’ve seen whose story is told from the point of view of the alien. Zach Clark’s aliens have fled their home world, and have relocated on Earth. Sure, the bodies that the aliens “become” are disposed of via nasty disintegration liquids, but the imitators are endearing, and they mean well. Influenced by most of the alien movies from cinema’s golden age of that kind of thing, The Becomers is delightfully performed (the traveling “lead,” in particular, is impressively transferred through four or more actors), with humor both clever and silly (loved the cult who snuck into the action), and visual treats.
7/28: Hundreds of Beavers (A Personal Experience)
Hundreds of Beavers. Their feature film debut was at least a talkie, but now all dialogue has been stripped away to make room for the raw and masterful idiocy of the premise. We’ve covered this before, so I will just add here: they added a heckuva fun live-bit during the screening, and were just as delightful for the Q & A.& Co. have achieved a glorious devolution with
7/29: Empire V
It was impossible for me to watch this without bearing in mind the current war in Ukraine, and what deplorable scum Russia is governed by. That said, Victor Ginzburg’s film is banned in his homeland, which is probably to his credit. Empire V concerns vampires as a global (but Russo-centric) cabal of Earth’s true overlords, being parasitic vessels for some neat-o cosmic bat entity. Their modus operandi is very much like the Russian mafioso-style government: always punch down, always fight dirty, never apologize, and never add value. The world-building for this society was somewhat interesting, but by the time that was wrapped up, the film was nearly over. I was informed this is a satire based on a novel; but I found its condemnation of the appalling behavior insufficient for my liking, and an unfortunate remark about Ukraine (in Ginzburg’s defense, this was filmed before the war) left a bad taste in my mouth.
7/30: Mother Land
Park Jae-beom taps into an ancient, mystical culture’s clash with the grinding callousness of modernity in their feature, stop-motion debut. Siblings Krisha and Kolya sneak away from their parents and tribe in search of the Great Red Bear, whom they believe will cure their ill mother. The animation is apparent, but not jarring; within minutes I believed this world. The dangers and beauty of nomadic are on glorious display, grounded by believable and (evil Russian huntsman aside) charming characters. The camaraderie and (tiny, tiny) rivalry between sister Krisha, who has begun puberty, and younger Kolya, who matter-of-factly ribs her at one point, “Shut up. You’re just an idiot. Going through puberty.” The bear is red, the Western huntsman is evil, the children are fearless, and there is a cosmic “pop” in the climax. Good viewing for me, and I’d recommend it to anyone seeking something “a little different” for the kids in their lives.
Putting aside the delightful artistic style, the multitude of impressive anthropomorphized animals, and the exuberant physicality throughout, Yoshimi Itazu’s most impressive achievement in The Concierge is having made something so very nearly sickeningly cute without actually turning the corner into “sickening.” The Hokkyoku Department Store hearkens back to a more glamorous age of shopping: it is a massive, pastel edifice of good-spirited consumerism, patronized by a wide array of (mostly) extinct animal species. What humans are to found are exclusively in the realm of providing service to these creatures, focusing on Akino, a concierge-in-training, and how she learns the ins-and-outs of fully satisfying customers. Among her challenges are devising the perfect mutual gifts for a semi-estranged father and daughter, a love-struck tiger, and coordinating the the art display for Mr Woolly, a massive prehistoric elephantus with a real skill for delicate sculpture. All of this, and more, while under the watchful eye of floor manager Mr Todo, who can (and does) pop out of every drawer, nook, and corner imaginable.
What You Wish For
Little to say about this small-bore chef-helmed thriller except A) it takes a while to get into gear, but B) it does, at which time C) it becomes solidly entertaining; and D) the small town detective character is a magnificent Latin American spin on Columbo. Nicholas Tomnay has made a fun film here with a playful twist, featuring rather genial murderers.
7/31: Hundreds of Beavers (Redux)
Just as fun the second time around, I swanned in to the screening at the very last minute to follow through with Team Beaver. Caught some things I hadn’t caught before; unsurprising, as Cheslik & Co. never stopped to breathe when crafting this gag-filled beaver of a nonsense. (Brief moment now where I gloat about having caught this twice on the big screen…)
Satan Wants You
A stroke of good fortune left me familiar only with the echoes of the “Satanic Panic” that dominated the ’80s and early ’90s, but I am familiar enough with that idiotic (and damaging) phenomenon to appreciate Steve J. Adams’ and Sean Horlor’s documentary about Michelle Smith (a Canadian, thank you very much) and Larry Pazder (a second Canadian), and their co-authored book, “Michelle Remembers.” Fastidious pursuit of leads, archives, and a major boon from Pazder’s ex-wife, Marylyn, who taped countless hours of any TV Satan-nonsense as part of her crusade to debunk her errant husband, are all on display as Adams and Horlor entertain and terrify with their feature. Through interviews with Michelle’s sisters (alongside Pazder’s ex-wife), the focus falls squarely on this pair of families tied together by a massive scam, whose ripple effects compromised hundreds of lives across the North American continent. The next time you ponder about large-scale conspiracy idiocy that might be affecting your life, know that, at least in part, you can blame Canada.
8/1: “The Feast of Amrita” (Shorts Compendium)
Bloody Edward Hopper on a dark night filled intrigue, rape, evil spirits, and endless cigarettes. Animator/director Fish Wang unspools twenty distressing minutes, covering Agent 7’s infiltration of a purported communist cell in Chang Kai-Chek’s Taiwan during the “White Terror.” It sets a tone of both violence and mischief from the start, as our pain-wracked detective follows a globby trail of blood. He is ambushed by a swarm of white moths, one of which transforms into a tiny humanoid creature which is immediately yummed-up by a passing frog. Soon afterwards, a mystical sales-entity with a cart filled with jarred “delights” (including, somehow, the Agent’s firearm) taunts the protagonist with aerial zigs-and-zags. But this is a dark land, the earthly plane far more so than the netherworld the detective falls into. It speaks volumes that this criticism of early Taiwan’s government was not only created by a current citizen, it was funded by a public television channel in that country. The mainland would never have allowed this haunting, damning critique of its past.
This next long-short by Park Hey-min may well have completed my “Devil” bingo card for Fantasia this year. (Take a peak at the scheduled films to see what I mean). Titled, yes, “Devil,” it is an exploration of an ancient Korean story concerning a famed general who, in desperation, asks an obliging goblin to save him from an ignominious death-by-bramble (the soldier was hurrying home to witness the birth of his second child). Double-crosses, magical exorcism, strange machinations, and the hint of a gender-fluid demigod make for a compelling half hour, and the promise of further evil (er, adventure) to come has left me quite hopeful.
The titular short of the three (this showcase was listed under “The Feast of Amrita“) is from Sakamoto-san, whose feature Aragne: Sign of Vermillion I endured my first or second year of coverage. is back again, this time with a far more interesting evil-insectoid-haunted-building-time-loop-nasty-cool animation involving, well, those items I have just hyphen-listed, but also three girls on the cusp of high school graduation who mistakenly take an express train to the end of the line and investigate an abandoned apartment complex. On first viewing, a good many things did not make sense, but the pacing (and length) of the nightmarish outing this time around left me completely focused on the macabre musings onscreen. If you’ve got a yen for animated body horror, “The Feast of Amrita” should prove delicious.
8/2: The Night Owl
Until this evening, I had never seen a mid-17th-century Korean political thriller featuring a blind acupuncturist, but now, thanks to Fantasia, director An Tae-Jin, and the good people at Nong-Shim, I have. It’s straightforward, but interesting, with a perfect blend of period drama, court intrigue, suspense, and humor. The morning after viewing it, the only criticism that comes to mind is the film score, on occasion, drifts too much into overblown… er, “osity.” It was a pleasure to observe no romantic side story, which would almost certainly have reared its idiotic head in an American story of this kind (presuming such a thing could even be pondered considering the deepness of the history in question, the esoteric nature of the hero, and the fact that it’s set on the other side of the world). Anyhow, good fun had by all. Except the emperor who is poisoned (not a spoiler)… and that other guy. And members of the royal family…
Good fun had by all viewers.
Bwahahahah. This will probably stand out as the most fun South Korean diversion of the lot. Poor sap (and amateur boxer) Marco is down on his luck, with a bed-ridden mother and a habit of making idiotic bets. Out of the blue, various forces enter his life: a kind stranger who accidentally hits him with her car; the representatives of a mysterious benefactor claiming to be Marco’s Korean father; and an ever-smiling fellow in a three-piece suit who claims to both “a professional” and “the last friend” Marco will ever need.
Spiked with violence and black humor, Kopino” lad makes his way to the outskirts of Seoul allows for an alternatingly fast-slow-fast-slow chase sequence: in car, woods, on foot, on rooftops, and very narrow alleyway (to much amusement of the audience, if not the hitman whose new Mercedes gets horribly scraped up). There’s critique of racism alongside shotgun massacres; familial conspiracy and double- and triple-cross hijinks; and… really everything you could hope for in a wrong-man-vengeance thriller.‘s latest outing is simultaneously very bloody, and very cute. The Professional’s guardianship of Marco as the “
8/3: The Cabaret of Curiosities
Combination art installation, short film revue, and DJ cocktail party ambiance, I’m attending this because of Jakob Skrzypa, whose short film “Your Money’s No Good Here” plays therein. More on this, and him, later; perhaps.
Meanwhile, off to go and party through the rain and lightning.