A look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…
Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.
IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (2011): The heroes of the long running anime series find themselves embroiled in a rebellion. This is being released in the original Japanese with English subtitles to please purists. It’s playing all over the U.S. and Canada, but for one day only in some locales, so schedule accordingly if you want to catch it. Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos official Facebook page.
FILM FESTIVALS – SUNDANCE (Park City, Utah, Jan 19-29):
It’s that time again: time for Sundance, the make-or-break festival for American indies. If last year’s slate is a predictor, about a third of the movies listed here will fail to find a distributor and virtually disappear, another third will struggle hard to earn only a limited release, and of the remainder one or two will become minor hits. Nonetheless, it’s still our earliest indicator for what we’ll be anointing as “weird” in 2012. Sundance festival home page.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild – A six-year old girl named Hushpuppy contracts a fever, which seems to usher in the apocalypse and a plague of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. Screening Jan 20-24, 26.
- Bobby Yeah – We don’t usual spotlight shorts, but this 23-minute film by the talented and macabre Robert Morgan is an exception. Watch the trailer to see why. Jan 20, 21, 24 & 27.
- Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared – We’re breaking our rule of not mentioning short films for a second time, but this time it’s because we scooped Sundance by featuring this creepy kids song about creativity gone too far way back in August. If you must see it on the big screen, then you can catch it screening before the indie drama Kid-Thing Jan 23-24 or 26-28.
- Elena – Modern Russian class-struggle drama about an aging woman maneuvering to secure her husband’s inheritance. Yawn, Sundance, we already reviewed this one. Give us something new. Jan 21-22, 24, 27-28.
- Excision – Horror film about a spooky, morbid teen girl who decides to lose her virginity and then, per the synopsis, “the weirdness really begins.” Not much is known about this one except that it’s playing in the “Midnight” category and it features both Traci Lords and the man who gave disgraced Traci her “big” break— John Waters. Jan 21, 25, 27-28.
- Grabbers – Irish monster movie where potential victims discover they can dissuade alien invaders from snacking on them by raising their blood alcohol levels. A “Midnight” feature. Jan 23, 25-27.
- It’s Such a Beautiful Day – Once again, we don’t focus on festival shorts, but we’ll make a third exception for Don Hertzfeldt‘s latest, since it’s the third installment of the stick-figure psychodrama Everything Will Be OK, which we first embedded way back in May. See it Jan. 21, 23, or 27-28, screened in the animated shorts program.
- John Dies in the End – Cult director Don Coscarelli adapts a popular webseries about two losers saving the world from a psychedelic drug being used by aliens to take over the planet. In the “Midnight” category, natch. Jan 23, 25-26, 28.
- L – A man lives in his car and delivers honey to a narcoleptic for a living in this “willfully bizarre,” bear-obsessed Greek feature. Co-written by the co-writer of Dogtooth, so it starts with weird Hellenic cred. Jan 23-25, 27-28.
- Oversimplification of Her Beauty – An impressionistic, experimental, partially animated portrait of a young artist and his desire for a beautiful woman. Part of the “New Frontier” series. Jan 21, 23-24, 28.
- Room 237 – Documentary about a phenomenon I didn’t realize existed, but am not at all surprised by: people who believe that Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining contains hidden messages revealing vast international conspiracies. One loony theorizes that the entire movie is Kubrick’s coded confession that he helped fake the footage of Americans landing on the moon. Jan 23-24, 26, 28.
- This Must Be the Place – Here’s a truly odd premise for a comedy: a retired goth-rock star hunts the Nazi who persecuted his father at Auschwitz. Starring Sean Penn, of all people, as the laconic, androgynous angel of vengeance. Jan. 21-22, 25, 28.
- Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie – The Cartoon Network cult comics get their own billion dollar extravaganza, but blow the entire budget on celebrity cameos by Jeff Goldblum, Zach Galifianakis, and Will Ferrell, among others. The plot has something to do with shrim [sic]. Jan 20-21, 24, 27-28.
- V/H/S – A horror anthology wherein burglars are hired to break in to a home to steal a rare VHS tape, but find that every cassette they watch is stranger and more disturbing than the last one. Playing at Midnight. Jan 22-24, 28.
- whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir – Here’s something you’ll probably never see on home video. If I’ve understood the synopsis correctly, this black and white dystopian noir selects, semi-randomly and in real time, a combination of film clips, voiceover dialogue, and background music to create an experience that’s different with every showing. Catch it Jan. 22, 24-25.
- Wrong – A man looking for his lost dog encounters bizarre characters and risks losing his sanity. This is director Quentin Dupieux ‘s followup to his weird hit Rubber, and per the synopsis this one is “equally bizarre.” Jan 21-22, 24, 26-27.
NEW ON DVD:
Belle de Jour (1967): Catherine Deneuve is a housewife by day, hooker by night in this masochistic, surrealistic erotic fantasy from Luis Buñuel. At one point she’s tied up and splattered with shovelfuls of mud while workers insult her; strong stuff for a 1967 art film. The Criterion disc comes with 30 minutes of supplemental material. Buy Belle de Jour (Criterion Collection).
Bombay Beach (2011): Footage of three residents of the decaying Salton Sea region—a bipolar boy, a high school athlete fleeing gang violence, and a retired oil-rig worker—is mixed with musical montages from Beirut and Bob Dylan to create what the makers describe as a “slightly surreal documentary experience.” Buy Bombay Beach.
Caterpillar (2010): The Japanese emperor declares a deaf-mute quadruple amputee a Sino-Japanese war hero and orders his wife to take care of him—including sexually. Not so surreal, but certainly unusual, and the scenario recalls the weird anti-war classic Johnny Got His Gun. Buy Caterpillar.
Cold Sweat (2010): An elderly couple abduct women, strip them to their underwear, and douse them in liquid nitroglycerin to force their obedience in this odd low-budget Argentinian horror-thriller. The consensus seems to be its utterly ludicrous but shamelessly fun. Buy Cold Sweat.
The Overcoat [Il Cappotto] (1952): A lowly bureaucrat buys, then loses, a fancy overcoat, then returns from the dead to look for it. No idea how strange this seldom-seen Italian adaptation of Nicolai Gogol’s short story is, but the original tale was odd enough that Vladmir Nabokov gave a famous lecture on it in which he concluded “great literature skirts the irrational.” Buy The Overcoat [Il Cappotto].
The Platinum Pussycat (1968)/The Sexploiters (1965): We mention this Retro-Seduction Cinema double-feature release for Pussycat [AKA The Losers]; it’s a gangster sexploitation/action feature, and simultaneously a silent film with tinted footage. It may not be good, but at least it’s sure to be bad in a different way. Less is known about The Sexploiters. Buy Platinum Pussycat/The Sexploiters.
Redline (2009): An anime about a futuristic race, and a rebel who tries to win it while foregoing the customary arsenal of weaponry. It sounds like an animated Japanese version of Death Race 2000, from a director who worked as an animator on Ninja Scroll and Funky Forest. Buy Redline.
Simon (1980): A psychology professor is brainwashed into thinking he’s a space alien, and winds up living with a hippie cult who worship TV Guide. Starring Alan Arkin and Madelaine Kahn, we had to mention this long-forgotten satire based on the plot synopsis. On DVD-R from Warner Archive. Buy Simon.
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Belle de Jour (1967): See description in DVD above. Buy Belle de Jour (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray].
Redline (2009): See description in DVD above. Buy Redline [Blu-ray].
NEW ON VIDEO ON DEMAND:
The Oregonian (2011): Read our capsule review. Many readers have asked about the availability of this movie (which debuted at Sundance last year). Here’s your chance to see what the fuss is about. We’ll keep an eye out for a DVD release. Rent The Oregonian on Video on Demand.
FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:
Flatliners (1990): Medical students experiment with inducing near-death experiences by deliberately stopping their own hearts; they have postmortem hallucinations. The cast features then up-and-comers Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kevin Bacon; it’s somewhat mainstream, but hey, it’s free. Watch Flatliners free on YouTube.
What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.