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.


The Tree of Life: Terence Malick returns to the screen after a six year absence with this coming-of-age story starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn that’s being described with words like “impressionistic,” “abstract,” and other encouraging (but sub-weird) adjectives.  It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, which is encouraging; also encouraging is the fact that professional troll critic Armond White and professional yahoo critic Rex Reed hate it.  The Tree of Life official site.


You may have wondered why we didn’t provide you with a listing of the films playing Cannes this year last week, while the festival was still running. We want to assure you that we were just waiting to hear who the winners were before we weighed in with our weird picks. We didn’t forget about Cannes. We certainly weren’t only reminded of it when we heard about prankster Lars von Trier’s weird and ambiguous comments about his “Nazi heritage.” Without further ado, we rectify our planned oversight (cough) and cover what’s weird at Cannes:

  • Hors Satan [Outside Satan] – Nearly silent movie about a French hermit who may be Satan. Variety called it “Another ‘WTF?’ film from Gallic writer-director Bruno Dumont.” Un Certain Regard.
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene – Psychological thriller about the mental struggles of woman who has escaped from a cult trying to adjust to “real” society. Un Certain Regard.
  • MelancholiaLars von Trier‘s latest is apocalyptic sci-fi; a planet (called Melancholia) is set to collide with Earth on a woman’s wedding day. Played in comepetition, and Kirsten Dunst walked away from the fest with Best Actress honors.  Charlotte Gainsbourg, Keifer Sutherland, Charlotte (Zardoz) Rampling and John Hurt round out the fine cast.
  • The Skin I Live In – Pedro Almodovar (who has never gone fully weird, but is certainly always off-center) delivers a mad scientist revenge movie with significant superficial similarities to Eyes Without a Face. Played in competition.
  • Sleeping Beauty – From Australia comes this modern folktale that sounds like it has more to do with The House of Sleeping Beauties than with the classic fairy tale.  We like writer/director Julia Leigh’s quote: “I’m interested in Wonder Cinema…”  Played in competition.
  • Tatsumi – Animated, it combines a biography of Japanese comics artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi with adaptations of five of his dark, sad short stories.  Un Certain Regard.

Some previously weird directors have shown up at Cannes this year with more conventional fare: Nicholas Winding Refn trots out the action/character study Drive with Ryan Gosling, while Takashi Miike delivers a second straight samurai epic with Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai. Here’s hoping these gentlemen find their way back to weirdness soon…


The Big Bang (2011): Antonio Banderas stars as a hard-boiled private eye encountering seedy LA weirdos while searching for missing diamonds in a case that turns out to be more than it appears.  Critics branded it “Lynchian,” but also denounced director Tony Krantz (Sublime) as a surrealist hack. Buy The Big Bang.

The Great Dictator (1940): In the not-weird-but-notable category comes the Criterion Collection’s release of Charlie Chaplin’s satire of Adolph Hitler, in which a Jewish barber and Führer lookalike is mistaken for the great dictator.  It features the classic scene of Hitler dancing with an inflatable globe.  Buy The Great Dictator [The Criterion Collection].

Solaris (1972):  Considered the Soviet answer to 2001, Andrei Tarkovsky’s science fiction mindblower involves a cosmonaut’s trip to a planet (that may be alive) where his memories begin to materialize.  This re-release by Criterion corrects a mistake in their previous edition: some scenes were previously presented in black-and-white that were originally intended to be tinted blue. Buy Solaris [The Criterion Collection].


The Big Bang (2011): See description in DVD above. Buy The Big Bang [Blu-ray].

The Great Dictator (1940): See description in DVD above. Buy The Great Dictator [The Criterion Collection Blu-ray].

Solaris (1972): See description in DVD above. Buy Solaris [The Criterion Collection Blu-ray].


Sita Sings the Blues (2008):  An animated account of the Hindu epic “The Ramayana,” intertwined with director Nina Paley‘s autobiographical account of her relationship with her husband and set to the vintage jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw.  A very highly regarded debut, made on the director’s laptop and distributed for free.   Watch Sita Sings the Blues 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.

One thought on “WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/27/2011”

  1. For what it’s worth I watched Sita sings the Blues about a year ago, firstly online, and then ordered a DVD copy. The DVD transfer I have is a little less than stellar in one or two places, but hey it wasn’t expensive and I thought it was a hugely enjoyable film. Quirky animation and glorious songs from an artist I had never heard of. I would definitely recommend giving it a whirl on-line and seeing what you think.

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