Tag Archives: April 1

CAPSULE: MUSHY VEGETABLES (2006)

DIRECTED BY: Ivan Tabifulinyu (as Charlie White)

FEATURING: Svetlana Avrora (as Lindsay Linton), Lazar Sukhorukov, Ray Romano (as Andrei Romanov)

April Fool's Day movie

PLOT: This film has not been translated into English, and in fact I suspect the dialogue is delivered in a made-up language (the alien “speaks” in a voice that sounds like out-of-pitch alto saxophone with a broken reed fed through a vocoder), so the plot is somewhat difficult to figure out, to say the least. It appears to involve an alien ad executive living in Tallinn who accidentally causes a woman at a cocktail party to miscarry by touching her swollen belly, and is then kidnapped and put through various psychological tortures by a gang before escaping to an orgy where he is eventually ripped limb from limb.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: I never thought I would say this, but this thing is actually too weird and incomprehensible to even be considered for the List. There is a reason this movie has never been picked up by a distributor, and it’s not just because Ray Romano’s agent reportedly asked to have all the negatives burned. This is pure weird-for-the-sake-of-weird nonsense, and we refuse to have any part in promoting it by placing it on the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies of All Time.

COMMENTS: Nobody will love Raymond anymore after seeing him cheer on the dairy-based psychological torture of an innocent lifeform in Mushy Vegetables, an irritating Estonian exercise in arthouse provocation. What was family-friendly comedian Ray Romano (working under the obvious pseudonym Andrei Romanov) thinking when he agreed to take a small part as an alien-terrorizing sadist in this Baltic bowel movement? My theory is that it was a short-sighted tax dodge, a way to write off a vacation in Tallinn as a work expense. At any rate, I lend no credence to the rumor that his people are responsible for Mushy Vegetables‘ unavailability; the movie is quite capable of being ignored on its own lack of merit. Crisp cinematography and clever creature design on the genitalia-free E.T. are the only positives in this utterly pretentious science-fiction experiment from conceptual artist Tabifulinyu, who should have stuck to his original enterprise of creating a line of women’s lingerie fashioned from his toenail clippings held together by hot glue. Film making is not in the artist’s blood, as evidenced by his decision to forgo an intelligible story for a series of tableaux designed to shock and irritate the viewer. Key moments include an grotesque miscarriage scored to an avant-garde jazz rendition of “Pop Goes the Weasel,” an alien whose digestive process is reversed (he sits on a recently-used toilet and suctions up the deposit, pooping eggs from his mouth), and a final (explicitly pornographic) orgy sequence where the alien is torn limb from limb (the blood that spatters on the naked revelers looks like beef gravy). All of this is far more nauseating to watch than it reads on the page, and the sickening feeling isn’t helped any by the screetchy soundtrack which mixes incessant nonsense blabber with wailing horns. Many of our readers will doubtlessly take the description above as a dare to watch the film, but trust me: you can’t sit through this one.

I received a DVD-R of this film personally mailed to me from Estonia by the director, with postage due. Thanks a lot, Estonian jerkface. Although the still reprinted above has circulated in the Internet for years, there’s hasn’t been any interest in pirating or bootlegging this impenetrable and grotesque movie. You won’t find Mushy Vegetables available for download on any torrent site. For all I know, the copy previously in my possession (I threw it out with this morning’s trash) was the last copy of the film in existence, other than the director’s master. The Cremaster series is readily available by comparison.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Absolute crap, like what would come out of the other end of Harmony Korine if he’d eaten an expired Christ allegory for dinner.”–Lou Ebert (Roger Ebert’s less well-known, less successful, estranged half-brother), “Lou’s Views” (private communication)

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

This is a very special edition of “What’s in the Pipeline” (you’ll see why as you get to the big announcement at the bottom), so we’ll be altering our usual format. First, however, we have to remind you to vote in the championship round of the March Mad Movie Madness contest, as two weird titans slug it out for the title of Most Popular Weird Movie Ever: it’s Eraserhead vs. The Holy Mountain in an epic smackdown of the bizarre. WARNING: Do not watch these films back-to-back. Your head will likely explode. Voting closes tomorrow (Mon., Apr. 2) at midnight, so be sure to vote here immediately.

 

We are sad to report a dearth of deranged searches this week for our Weirdest Search Term of the Week contest. Queries were so normal this week that we are mentioning “post nuclear skeleton” as one of the stranger terms we encountered. Not very weird, is it? We hesitate to even mention the search for “huge surrealistic breasts”: that’s exactly the type of thing you’d expect to find here. A little odder is someone’s quest for information on a certain “dead vaginal movie.” But if we have to select one search as our Weirdest Search Term of the Week—and we do—we’ll settle on “movie berates homsexual rape telephone what are you doing.” We always like search strings submitted by schizophrenics who start questioning themselves in type while querying Google.

Now for the big news, which will come as a blow to some of you, a relief to others. After careful consideration, I have decided that identifying 366 Weird Movies was too lofty a goal. I am sad to announce that due to time constraints I am abandoning the review project at our current count of 107. Thank you for your indulgence over the years, but weird movies are just no fun for me anymore.

I will not totally leave you hanging, however; I am listing, without comment or commentary, the remaining movies I feel should constitute the 366 Weirdest of All Time, numbers 108 to 366. I thank all of you for your suggestions over the years; however, I am discarding 99% of them as totally misguided. Instead, I give you these greatly superior selections:

108. Bad Boy Bubby
109. Labyrinth
110. My Joy
111. Jesus Christ Superstar
112. Un Chien Andalou
113. Reality Ends Here
114. The Day the Clown Cried
115. The Story of the Eye
116. Scared Sh*tless
117. The Wizard of Oz
118. Sons of El Topo
119. Cremaster 7
120. Turkish Citizen Kane
121. Tranny Zombies: A Tromantic Comedy
122. Two Girls One Cup
Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

SHORT: THE DARK SIDE OF FRIDAY (2011)

DIRECTED BY:  Matt Mulholland

FEATURING:  Matt Mulholland

PLOT: A depressed cabaret singer and sometime mime, overwhelmed by the pressures of

Still from The Dark Side of Friday (2011)

life and loneliness, contemplates suicide and drifts off into a symbolic abyss of despair.

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST:  As devastating a portrait of human despair as has ever been painted, on a canvass black as velvet, this  poison break-up letter to a cruel world from an embittered heart compresses into a mere three minutes an agony that  it would take a lesser artist four minutes or even more to convey.   

COMMENTS: The nameless singer, dressed in black, observes the camera from a skewed angle, indicating his unwillingness to face the world head on anymore.  Alone, he sings of the pressures of ordinary life, but as the tension and anxiety build, a doppelgänger (who will later moph into a trippelgänger) appears.  The ghastly mirror image both harmonizes with, and mocks, the protagonist as he agonizes over paralyzing alternatives, eternally unable to choose (“which one can I take?”).  The minimalist set dissolves into a series of melancholy reminiscences; the dateless singer hanging his head in front of the mirror (the recurrence of the doppelgänger motif); he stands trapped in on a traffic island, his black garb blending into the surrounding darkness as unheeding humanity rushes by him in both directions (more dualities); he holds his head in his hands as, utterly alone, he kills off a bottle of Ballantine’s; he hangs his head in dejection as he stares hopelessly at the wall.  Mysterious images are interspersed into these reveries: running water (shades of Tarkovsky here, with an urban update); the bright lights of the teeming city intruding on his solitude, taunting him; a clock ticking down to an unstated but ominous deadline; glass shattering like a broken will (the deadline arives—the time for reflection is over).  In the finale the singer, now a mime, poses in front of the Void itself, trapped in an invisible box before Eternity.  Flakes of white drift through the Stygian abyss like fragments of exploded angels.  As masterfully affecting as these images are, without the searingly aware lyrics—written by a young postfeminist poetess to explore the ironic dualities of spirited youth versus weary wisdom, and of abandoned Dionysian collectivism versus painful Apollonian self-reflection—without such sure, knowing narration, the project would have come off as corny, weepy and bathetic.  Instead, it is a spiritually acute and devastating portrait of how having nowhere to go on Friday night inevitably leads to a loss of faith in life itself.   

The Dark Side of Friday is currently available to watch on YouTube.

A COUPLE OF EARLY OSCAR FAVORITES?

We don’t usually like to pimp mainstream movies here, but we’ve recently learned of two upcoming films that we predict are going to dominate the Oscar buzz next season, and decided we just had to share them with our readers.

The two movies occupy opposite hemispheres of the cinema world. The first (still untitled) movie, from a director who shall remain nameless, is an inspiring drama/romance/comedy/thriller packed full of catch phrases that hip people are sure to be quoting on their Facebook profiles.

The second movie could not be more different, but is just as likely to find favor with the Academy. From visionary director James Ngyuen, master of the romantic thriller, this is a beautifully imagined, CGI-heavy (in the tradition of Avatar), an environmentally conscious thrill-ride that brings to mind Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds:

SHORT: やった (2001)

fivestar

DIRECTED BY: Unknown

FEATURING:  Greenl

PLOT:  Six bouncy naked men (whose genitals are tasteful disguised by fig

leaves) experience love and loss in modern Japan, eventually achieving artistic and financial success through music. 

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: やった is a hallucinogenic barrage of bizarre imagery.  A peppy musical score contrasts ironically with the magical mystery tour taken by the six naked men, whose travels through impossible landscapes consisting of fields of ostriches and giant sushi platters are shown in brief, almost subliminal flashbacks.  The six scantily clad principals appear delusional, and its is possible that the director intended this short film to be an expressionist depiction of a state of paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, with each member representing a separate Jungian archetype.

COMMENTS:

On the surface the やった seems to be nothing more than shock cinema, weirdness for weirdness’ sake.  Closer examination will reveal it to be one of the saddest stories ever told, an entire universe of bereavement and nihilism encased in a devilishly hummable 4 minute disco montage.  The scene where a fig leaf wearing man brushes past a beautiful woman on a busy Tokyo street, looks back wistfully as she passes, and is immediately consoled by his five naked brothers (who magically emerge from a nearby alley), is perhaps the most melancholy romantic scene put to film since Bernstein told his tale of the girl with the white parasol in Citizen Kane.

Some have claimed that this short film is actually a satirical skit by a comedy troupe meant to poke fun at Japan’s eternal optimism in the face of economic and political woes.  Such reductionist interpretations miss the larger point, however.  やった tells a tale of the existential struggle to survive, forge an identity, and promote a boy band made up of naked middle aged men in an uncaring, absurd universe.  In a shot that seems almost to be a throwaway sequence, but actually is the key to interpreting  やった’s deeper meaning, a fig life springs to life from the crotch of one of the singers and rises in the air, finally transforming into the word “hope.”  American directors would do well to take heed of their Japanese counterparts willingness to express such deep emotional truths without the fear of looking silly.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
“Irrational Exuberance gains its genius from the fact that it effectively translates the concepts in Yatta! to an American audience, who wouldn’t get the Snore! Snore! Pass! Pass! part, but can appreciate the way that commercialism dumbs down their society. Hey, as long as we’re happy, who cares if we’re dancing in our skivvies?”–Sekicho, Everything2.com