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.
There’s nothing debuting in theaters this week to pique the interest of fans of weird cinema. We’re truly in the winter doldrums. We’re so bummed out by the cold temps and long nights, in fact, that we totally forgot about Sundance this year—I mean, it completely slipped our minds. We’re late enough to report the winners, but we won’t: just rest assured that the typical slate of coming-of-age dramas and earnest, liberal minded documentaries swept the major prizes. The big news is that Sundance has instituted a new category, “Park City at Midnight,” that aims to give would-be cult and horror films a fair shake by keeping them away from the normal Sundance crowd. We don’t sense any must-catches in the lineup, though; still, we report on several interesting possibilities to look out for in the coming year below.
FILM FESTIVALS – SUNDANCE (Park City, Utah, Jan 20-30):
- All Your Dead Ones – Colombian political allegory about a pile of bodies discovered in a cornfield on election day; it’s “tinged with mordant surrealism.”
- The Catechism Cataclysm – A priest who’s recently quit the Church takes a canoe trip with an old high school buddy and things start to get “weird” (in unspecified ways). A “Park City at Midnight” film.
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same – We hate to stereotype, but cool weird b-movie title usually equals lame predictable parody. “Park City at Midnight.”
Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel – A documentary on Roger Corman is not in itself weird, but a portrait of a film outsider who’s had his fingers in some weird pies is worth noting. “Park City at Midnight.”
The Future – narrated by a stray cat, there are elements of magical realism in this speculative indie drama. Reviews were mixed, though it did get picked up for distribution. The name “Miranda July” is naggingly familiar.
- Hobo With a Shotgun – not weird but worth a mention: like last year’s Machete, it’s a feature movie expanded from one of the fake trailers in Grindhouse. “Park City at Midnight.”
- Lost Kisses – a satire about a Sicilian girl who claims the Virgin Mary has told her where a missing Madonna head has disappeared to, with “fabulist flourishes.” Extra-worthy of note because it comes from Roberta Torre (To Die for Tano).
- Magic Trip – A documentary about Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters” that promises to show the viewer “what it’s like to drop acid.” With actual Merry Prankster footage.
- The Oregonian – This horror flick was probably the most disliked film to play Sundance—which could be a good sign, but is probably a bad one. “Park City at Midnight.”
- Prairie Love – Dakota-set story of a man who sneaks into the place of another guy going to meet his prison-bound paramour for the first time is self-described as “wonderfully bizarre” and “brazenly idiosyncratic.”
- Red State – Another “not weird but notable” entry—Kevin Smith (Clerks) tries his hand at a horror movie (with religious fundamentalists as the psychokiller villains). With Melissa Leo, John Goodman, and politicial baggage.
- Septien – This story of an ex-high school athlete returning to live with his two eccentric brothers sounds oddball at the very least. Sundance thought it was weird enough to place in the “Park City at Midnight” category. It’s also contemporaneously available on Video-on-Demand on many US cable systems.
- Silent House – Another “young woman descends into madness” movie; it’s all done in one take. Weirdness uncertain. “Park City at Midnight.”
- Take Shelter – Michael Shannon plays a crazy guy (daring casting, that) whose dreams of impending tempests storms are so lifelike that he’s convinced to build a storm shelter in real life.
- The Troll Hunter [Trolljegeren] – Norwegian “found footage” film about a man who literally hunts trolls, for the government. It’s weirdness is questionable, but it appears to be a crowd-pleaser. “Park City at Midnight.”
- The Woman – Horror from Lucky McKee (May) about a feral woman raised, and forcibly civilized, by a family. Another questionably weird one we thought worth a mention. “Park City at Midnight.”
“Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda”: There have been a lot of books dedicated to kaiju (Japanese monsters), but to our knowledge this is the first book-length treatment of director Honda, who made the original Godzilla [Gojira], the fairly surreal Attack of the Mushroom People, and the campy Destroy All Monsters, among other fondly remembered fantasy treats. Peter H. Brothers, 296 pages, paperback. Buy “Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda”.
NEW ON DVD:
Cold Dog Soup (1990): A black-comedy in the vein of After Hours: the scenario involves Randy Quaid as a taxi driver who drives NYC all night meeting bizarre characters as he tries to rid himself of a dog’s corpse. For whatever reason, a Blu-ray version was released two weeks ago and the DVD follows this week. Buy Cold Dog Soup.
Never Let Me Go (2010): Read our capsule review. Strange mix of speculative fiction and English boardinghouse drama, from Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel. Not that weird but worth a look. Buy Never Let Me Go.
A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop (2009): Maybe not “weird” per se, but definitely a bit out there and strange as hell by mainstream standards: its a remake of the Coen Brothers Blood Simple made by visual stylist Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers, Raise the Red Lantern). Buy A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Alice in Wonderland (1951): Read our review. Disney’s quite decent version of Alice in Wonderland gets a further upgrade, with a few additional Blu-ray only features that weren’t on the 2-disc special edition released a few months ago. Buy Alice In Wonderland (Two-Disc 60th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD Combo).
The Double Life of Veronique (1991): Criterion upgrades this mysterious Krzysztof Kieslowski arthouse parable about two women on opposite sides of Europe who seemingly share a single soul to Blu-ray. Buy The Double Life of Veronique (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray].
Never Let Me Go (2010): See description in DVD above. Buy Never Let Me Go [Blu-ray].
FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:
The Adventures of Baron Muchausen (1943): Yes, it’s the Terry Gilliam fantasy about the old man who tells tall tales, including the one about visiting Robin Williams’ rolling head on the moon. Watch The Adventures of Baron Muchausen free on YouTube.
The Hunter and the Swan Discuss Their Meeting (2010): Speaking of Sundance, they have graciously put many of the shorts playing at this year’s festival up on YouTube for the pleasure of those who can’t make it to Park City, Utah. This one mixes relationship comedy with fairy tales as a swan-woman and a hunter describe how they met to another couple over dinner. Watch The Hunter and the Swan Discuss Their Meeting free on Youtube.
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006): Read our review. Pleasant, quirky, mildly weird comedy about a romance in a purgatorial afterlife reserved for suicides. Watch Wristcutters: A Love Story free on YouYube.
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.