Tag Archives: Peter Stormare

APOCRAPHYA CANDIDATE: THE MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL (2000)

DIRECTED BY: Wim Wenders

FEATURING: , , , Jimmy Smits,

PLOT: Following the death of a trust-fund kid at a downtown Los Angeles transient hotel, an unorthodox FBI agent arrives to interrogate the residents, enlisting the help of a mentally challenged man-child who holds a candle for a disaffected prostitute.

Still fromThe Million Dollar Hotel (2000)

WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHA: The dream collaboration of a notoriously iconoclastic film director and a rock star whose imagination always skirts with pretension, The Million Dollar Hotel thumbs its nose at convention even as it dives into classic genres and tropes. The result is a film that rarely makes sense and borders on incompetence, but revels in its absurdities and comes out happier for all its quirks.

COMMENTS: Wenders’ 1991 film Until the End of the World was, among other things, a piece of near-future science fiction in which he tried to envision a world almost like ours, but with just a touch of futurism. This approach extended to the soundtrack, for which the director solicited a murderer’s row of music legends—Talking Heads, R.E.M., Lou Reed, Patti Smith, among many—to envision their own sound at the turn of the millennium and contribute a song in that style. Included in that company was U2, a band for whom Wenders had recently directed a video, and which he enlisted to compose the title song. Clearly, Wenders and lead singer Bono hit it off. Which might explain why, when the real year 2000 finally arrived, Wenders would draw upon a story directly from Bono’s mind for the subject of his next film.

What they concocted together is almost a simulacrum of a detective movie. There is ostensibly a plot about the mysterious death of a powerful billionaire’s son (an uncredited ) who has tossed aside his wealth to slum it in an L.A. flophouse. There is a detective who comes into a tight-knit community to expose its secrets, and there are the members of that community who attempt to unite against the outside world while still profiting individually. But all this amounts to something leagues beyond a MacGuffin, becoming a hook so irrelevant that it’s hard to imagine there was any real goal other than to give each actor a chance to shape themselves into the weirdest character they could imagine. Their motivations and the excitement with which they pursue them are universally disproportionate and baroque. It’s as if Bono’s entire story treatment read, “Think ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, but everyone in it is cr-A-zeeee!”

To call the performances mannered is to indulge in breathtaking understatement. Wenders seems to have told the actors to “go bigger,” and each answers the call. Davies leads the way with a performance that skirts dangerously close to Tropic Thunder’s warning about filmed portrayals of the mentally challenged. Smits is given free Continue reading APOCRAPHYA CANDIDATE: THE MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL (2000)

CAPSULE: RUPTURE (2016)

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: , Michael Chiklis, Kerry Bishe, Lesley Manville, Andrew Moodie, Ari Millen, Jean Yoon, Jonathan Potts,

PLOT: Young mother Renee Morgan (Rapace) is abducted by a strange group and endures tests and tortures designed to elicit some response they refer to as a “rupture”- but what exactly is that?

Still from Rupture (2016)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s not that weird, though there are some aspects here and there. But it’s certainly odd—those expecting a straightforward piece of “capture/torture porn” will not be pleased. There’s a lot to be intrigued by, if you can run with a variation on the genre.

COMMENTS: Looking at most of the reviews, and the current mainstream arbiter of good and bad films, Rotten Tomatoes, Rupture doesn’t fare well. Fair enough. For this type of thriller, it doesn’t truly deliver in terms of shocks, it’s not nearly as gory as most of its brethren, and most of the events are standard tropes in its genre niche. That said, I think that most of those negative reviewers overlook the interesting aspects of this film, which tips its hand fairly early that it’s not going to be the usual capture/torture story.

For one thing, there’s a subtle humor running throughout the film in the lighting and art direction. There’s Suspiria-style lighting throughout the facility, and one room referencing Kubrick’s The Shining. In the performances, Renee’s captors/tormentors are surprisingly polite and deferential, if extremely focused. There’s also the lack of over-the-top graphicness and the growing realization that despite the fearful goings on, very little of the film orients towards horror. It’s not quite a subversion of the torture/capture scenario, but it’s certainly a side path.

Rupture is a much less graphic Martyrs, with a touch of Invasion of the Body Snatchers as things play out. You can call it a social satire, if you consider current events as having some influence in interpreting and enjoying the arts. Those factors, plus an ending which leaves things open to continue the story, makes it understandable why audiences expecting a taut thriller would be slightly disappointed.

Rupture can currently be viewed on the Cinemax networks and on DVD.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…Rupture is worth persevering with as it turns into a tense, claustrophobic and strange experience.”–Katherine McLaughlin, SciFiNow (contemporaneous)

CAPSULE: BAD MILO (2013)

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DIRECTED BY: Jacob Vaughan

FEATURING: , , Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Patrick Warburton, , Toby Huss

PLOT: An accountant finds that his searing intestinal pains come from a monster that lives in his lower digestive tract, who emerges from his bowels to kill whatever is causing him undue stress in his life.

Still from Bad Milo (2013)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Playing like a cross between a  splatter goof and The Brood remade as a comedy, Milo has minor midnight movie aspirations, but lacks the gut impact to become one of the top weird movies of all time.

COMMENTS: For a movie about a demon that lives in an accountant’s colon and emerges to slay his enemies, Bad Milo isn’t nearly as much of an exercise in bad taste as you might think. There’s only one scene of spraying fecal matter, and it’s rather light, almost a mist. There’s more blood than poop, but Milo isn’t a gorefest by horror movie standards, either. The movie’s grossest moments are all left up to your imagination, suggested only by Ken Marino’s labored grunts. Whether this modicum of restraint constitutes a relief or a disappointment is up to you, but the odd fact is that Milo the movie ends as surprisingly good-natured as Milo the killer puppet is disarmingly cute. Ray Romano-lookalike Marino plays accountant Duncan as a put-upon pushover who gradually grows a pair when forced to defend his family from his own intestinal impulses. Marino is ably supported by a familiar cast of character actors whose presence give the movie a polished and professional feel (again, whether “polished and professional” is what you want from your butt-monster movie may be a matter of personal taste). Peter Stormare, as a disheveled, New Age-y hypnotherapist (“witch doctor!,” accuses his parrot) is the movie’s quirkiest creation. Mary Kay Place amuses as Duncan’s cradle-robbing mom who gives her son T.M.I. about her S&M lifestyle. Stephen Root plays a pothead whose laid back attitude proves a constant struggle for him, while Patrick Warburton proves a natural as a genially sociopathic middle manager. For the most part, the script’s humor emerges easily from the absurd premise and capable performances, and rarely feels strained.

Milo‘s unexpectedly layered psychology involves learning to cope with buried neuroses rather than letting them become impacted, paternal abandonment issues, and, most importantly, a fear of parenthood angle. Duncan may explicitly deny that the monster up his butt is a metaphor, but the movie begs to differ. And that very fact may hurt Milo with its target audience: by being more thoughtful and probing than the usual movie about butt-monsters, it passes up a lot of scatological opportunities, which may explain why it failed to wow the midnight movie crowds. This is a case where the movie might benefit from a less tasteful approach.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…its creators usually know when to let their inherently insane ideas speak for themselves.”–Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com (contemporaneous)

READER RECOMMENDATION: BRUISER (2000)

Reader Recommendation by Jason Steadmon

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Jason Flemyng, , Nina Garbiras, Leslie Hope, Tom Atkins

PLOT: Henry Creedlow works to provide for and please his cheating, social-climbing wife. An event from a masquerade party takes on a real world tangibility, signifying his nobody existence but also allowing him to take forceful and violent control of an out-of-control life.

Still from Bruiser (2000)

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: George Romero’s filmography has never shied away from the strange, but the lack of an explicit reason for Continue reading READER RECOMMENDATION: BRUISER (2000)