LAST FEW MOVIES L: The Movie-ing

I watch many movies. Here are the last few.

Steppenwolf (1974) - IMDb

23. Based on a novel by Herman Hesse, starring Max Von Sydow, and advertised as having some innovative special effects for the time, I was ultimately bored and disappointed with the dour high-school existential pontifications of Steppenwolf (1974). It’s a damn shame really, because there’s a good movie somewhere in there, I think. It has pieces, but just a hollow presentation. No momentum. Stale direction.

Apocalypse Later Film Reviews: United Trash (1996)

22. My first foray into the films of Christoph Schlingensief has left me unsure as to whether or not I will indulge further into this anarchic German director’s oeuvre. United Trash (1996), starring Udo Kier and Kitten Navidad, chronicles the exploits of a mad German UN soldier in Africa and a possibly Messianic birth. The whole affair was wildly gross. There is clear satire at play, but ultimately I found it too abrasive for my tastes, despite my initial intrigue, and abandoned the movie before it finished.

Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton in Brain Dead. | Psychological horror, 90s  horror movies, Horror movies

21. Get a load of this. Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton in a movie together. Also Bud Cort with half his skull removed (and yes, that is George Kennedy in the photo, Naked Gun fans). It’s Brain Dead (1990) (not to be confused with Peter Jackson’s far more interesting Braindead from 1992), a weird sci-fi about brain science, evil corporations, and jam-packed with surreal dream logic. It’s loosey-goosey with logic, but enjoyable enough. It feels small and cheap at times, but that’s just part of its charm.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, or How I Flew from London  to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes | Forgotten Films

20. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines; Or, How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes (1965) is one of those old classic comedies from the 1960s about a wacky race loaded with a who’s-who of celebrities-of-the-day in the cast (think The Great Race, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Those Daring Young Men and Their Jaunty Jalopies, or even Around the World in 80 Days). English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, and American pilots show up at a green field in England in 1910 to race across the English Channel in biplanes and glorified kites. I remember seeing this on TV as a kid and forgot everything. Revisiting it hasn’t made much of it stick either. But it’s an interesting time capsule of a film that features some fun, eye-catching turn-of-the-century vehicles, as well as Terry-Thomas. The theme song ain’t bad either.

Page Hannah

19. I dug the original Creepshow anthology and while its sequel, Creepshow 2 (1987), isn’t anywhere near as good, it still offers up some decent, light-weight Halloween-flavored yarns – and an epilogue with a plea to take comic books seriously and remind people of the struggle horror comics historically have had through the years. A vengeful wooden cigar store Indian, an oil slick that eats teenaged swimmers, a ghostly hitch-hiker, and a little boy trying to evade some bullies all feature in this passable horror anthology. Honestly, the oil slick was the best one. The animated bits are wonky.

Vampire Hookers (1978) directed by Cirio H. Santiago • Reviews, film + cast  • Letterboxd

18. John Carradine looks to be about 100 years old in this sleazy, cheesy sexploitation horror flick. Vampire Hookers (1978) doesn’t try to hide what it is. It’s right there in the title. Some American navy boys are looking for prostitutes in Manila and get lured to a cemetery where a bevy of vampire ladies lurk. There are a few laughs to be had (both unintentional and not), but the real star of the film is the hilariously long sex scene about 2/3’s the way through and and the accompanying ridiculously unsexy musical track. I love John Carradine, but the real MVP here is Vic Diaz (a mainstay of cheap Filipino flicks of the time).

Rosamund Pike latest role has shades of 'Gone Girl' - Los Angeles Times

17. Rosamund Pike is Marla Grayson, a slimy legal guardian who uses the courts to prey upon the elderly to steal their money in I Care a Lot (2020). She essentially abducts an able-bodied old lady (Diane Wiest), lies to the court about her mental status, moves into her house, sells all her stuff, steals her savings and diamonds, and abuses her mercilessly in a nursing home. These facts do make it extremely hard to root for her as a protagonist. Even after she finds herself in hot water when it’s revealed the woman she has had the state kidnap is actually the mother of a deadly Russian gangster (Peter Dinklage), it’s hard not to be somewhat more sympathetic to the gangster’s side. It’s a bit derivative and has a few plot contrivances that may be hard to take seriously, but the cast is good and the twists and turns are well-executed. I love a good hustle or an antihero, but Marla is so unlikable from the start and her con so nasty, that it was very hard to want her to succeed in the end. But maybe that’s the point? But this isn’t exactly a Wolf of Wall Street style satire.

Toshio Matsumoto: FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (1969) - YouTube

16. If you ever wanted a glimpse into the dramatic world of the Japanese queer and trans underground in the 1960s, then Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) is the movie for you. Loosely based on Oedipus Rex, it’s a bit documentary, a bit arthouse, and wholly its own thing. This is probably the earliest cinematic example I’ve seen of portraying trans people in a human light.

Space Is the Place (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

15. Enigmatic jazz composer and musician, Sun Ra made a movie. It incorporated a lot of his cosmic and pseudo-Egyptian themes and aesthetic, and not nearly enough of his music. Space is the Place (1974) features Sun Ra as a mysterious being returning to Earth to recruit Black people to go back with him to populate a strange, mystical planet. This movie is an interesting product of its time (and artist). I just wished it had leaned a bit more into its musical side.

Endless Poetry (2016) - IMDb

14. I am a dirty slut for Alejandro Jodorowsky. Endless Poetry (2016), his last narrative film and a sequel to his autobiographical Dance of Reality, is more of what you come to expect from this surreal Chilean mystic as he looks back on and re-examines his life, casting his own family as younger incarnations of himself. Self-indulgent doesn’t even begin to describe it. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? While not my favorite Jodorowsky film by any means, I think these two last films are a kind of miracle. We have here a truly unique artistic voice utilizing one of his favorite mediums to visualize his own insane autobiography on his own surreal terms; reliving past traumas and rebuilding lost fragments of times and places that have long since moved on. Like all telling autobiographies, they sometimes inadvertently reveal the shortcomings and blind-spots of their subjects in a way that is more honest than a retrospective could do. Perhaps more compelling than Jodorowsky’s evolving philosophies themselves, are the ways these two movies attempt to touch the past.

The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit - Worthwhile Recut or Empty Purism? | Cultured  Vultures

13. We were all let down to different degrees when it came to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. One of the biggest missteps from the start, many agree, was the choice to turn the lighthearted children’s book into a grandiose, bombastic epic stretched across multiple 3+ hour movies. Many have made their own edits so I decided to check one out. The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition (2015) is still a 4 hour epic, but it trims the fat a great deal in service of remaining more faithful to the book and focusing on the real protagonist: the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (played just as endearingly as ever, by Martin Freeman). Azog is mostly gone. So is Legolas. No Radagast, Sauron, Tauriel, Galadriel, Alfrid, barrel chase, and a whole lot more. With these omissions, the construction of the story feels sturdier, more streamlined, and never off focus for too long from its chief protagonist and his journey. It works! Mostly. Better than the theatrical and director’s cuts anyway. It’s still too long. And things begin to crack under the weight of the lofty task by the time we get to the Battle of the Five Armies stuff. Some cuts, in their efforts keep it pure, get a little abrupt. All in all, however, this is a marvelous exercise. We all knew there was good stuff in the original movies. This edit does an excellent job of highlighting what it got right.

Blanche (1971) | MUBI

12. Everyone wants to bang the castle master’s wife in Walerian Borowczyk’s Blanche (1971). A clever little love triangle (only there’s like 5 people so…pentagon??) loaded with clammy castle textures and atmosphere. Admittedly, I found it slow, but the last act got me hooked.

Air Force One (1997) directed by Wolfgang Petersen • Reviews, film + cast •  Letterboxd

11. The ultimate 90s American action movie features Harrison Ford as the President of the United States and the only thing that can stop Kazakh terrorists (led by Gary Oldman) and save his family in Wolfgang Petersen’s Air Force One (1997). I must have seen this a bunch of times on TV as a kid, so this was a total guilty pleasure hot dose of nostalgia. It’s over-the-top and ridiculous, but that’s exactly why it works. Great cast, high stakes, and plenty of suspense. It’s superb blunt force trauma action movie directing. Would make a great double-feature with Con Air.

Review: I'm So Excited (2013) | Next Projection

10. Speaking of planes, Spanish auteur, Pedro Almodóvar, made a somewhat overlooked sex comedy about a flight that can’t land called I’m So Excited! (2013). While not my favorite Almodóvar flick, it’s breezy, funny, and oh so very gay. If you want something light, fun, and offbeat, I recommend this little film.

13 Assassins (2010-Japanese Movie) - AsianWiki

9. Takashi Miike may be a mad genius. 13 Assassins (2010) is a great samurai action movie that I will forever be unable to unfavorably compare to Kurosaw’s Seven Samurai. I’m just happy somebody is trying to keep the samurai genre alive. It’s so rich with mythology and tropes.

One Perfect Shot on Twitter: "EIGHTH GRADE (2018) Cinematography by Andrew  Wehde Directed by Bo Burnham Explore more shots in our database:  https://t.co/z8qbeAhwjA… https://t.co/uNlEOOjrsr"

8. Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade (2018) follows a girl (Elsie Fisher) on the cusp of going to middle-school. And boy does this movie capture the anxieties of middle school. And it understands the digital age and how images on social media impact our lives. Very clever and much softer than Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse.

DVD: Boy review - Taika Waititi's second feature is a big-hearted  coming-of-age comedy

7. A young boy (James Rolleston) idolizes his itinerant (absent) father (Taika Waititi) until he returns and the cracks in his fabled imaginary version of the man begin to show. Boy (2010) is another deadbeat dad and coming-of-age movie, but with Waititi’s trademark humor and gentle humanism. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it.

Gerardo Naranjo's 'Miss Bala' Depicts Drug War - Review - The New York Times

6. A young woman (Stephanie Sigman) enters a beauty pageant and gets sucked into the dangerous world of the Mexican drug cartels in Gerardo Naranjo’s Miss Bala (2011). Inspired by real events, it’s a tight suspense thriller that pulls you into this seedy underworld.

La moustache (2005) | Motion State Review

5. A man who has had a mustache for decades suddenly, on a whim, shaves it off. When no one – not even his wife – notices or even believes he ever had a mustache, it causes him to question the fabric of reality and anything even is. La Moustache (2005) could be about a lot of things or it could just be a bit of French absurdist comedy. Either way, it’s an enjoyably weird little drama.

The Symmetry of Buster Keaton's The General | by Tristan Ettleman | Medium

4. I am a diehard silent cinema stan. Like many, my gateway into early cinema was through the comedies. Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton are still recognizable names even after over 100 years have passed since their screen debuts. It is a resounding testament to their cinematic impact, iconic images, and well crafted gags. The Great Buster: A Celebration (2018), directed by Peter Bogdanovich, touches upon most of the common knowledge stuff surrounding the life of the amazing stuntman and stone-faced comic performer, Buster Keaton. This documentary delves into his early life as a child Vaudevillian, his filmography, his relationship with Fatty Arbuckle, his writing process, his risks, his hits, his injuries, his flops, his wives, his alcoholism, his connection to Charlie Chaplin, his renaissance, and his legacy. And all of it is set to glorious footage of his most daring stunts and most hilarious gags.

Chained for Life' review: A tart commentary on how we see the other - Los  Angeles Times

3. This is not the 1952 crime melodrama starring the conjoined Hilton Twins who also were featured in Tod Browning’s 1932 Freaks. That is a different Chained for Life. Although, I suspect a movie this in tune with how the film industry (and generally life itself) fetishizes and exploits people who are different, is aware of that other film. Chained for Life (2019) is an offbeat, satirical drama about making a movie with people that have physical abnormalities. It cleverly teases about the fact that many films that seek to humanize these people, ultimately cannot avoid being disingenuous to their proposed cause. One of their performers, played by Adam Pearson (Under the Skin), leads a group of different extras and bit players to make their own short films at night that better reflect the stories they themselves would tell. Chained for Life is astute, funny, and unique, and if any of that intrigues you, go check it out.

Dead Pigs (海上浮城, Cathy Yan, 2018) – Windows on Worlds

2. China is changing. It, like many countries, is an unwieldy mélange of ancient traditions and hyper-modernization. Dead Pigs (2018), directed by Cathy Yan, presents a comedic collision of the old world and the new as it follows several characters all trying to make it by in a quickly evolving and ever alienating Shanghai that seems to be leaving them behind. The events of the film begin in the wake of a mysterious occurrence; an unknown plague is killing off farm pigs whose bodies are found floating down the river. Heartfelt, honest, and humorous, Dead Pigs is one of the most enjoyable films I saw recently. It is perhaps also notable for being the first movie (I’ve seen anyway) that touches upon the weird topic of “white monkey jobs”.

Bo Burnham: Inside' to Hit Theaters for One Night Only - Variety

1. Perhaps the film(?) that best captures this present moment of pandemic burnout, quarantine malaise, and social media induced existential dread is the one-man-show, Bo Burnham: Inside (2021), written, directed, lit, composed, performed, and edited by Bo Burnham. Oftentimes it takes a singular creative vision to distill the zeitgeist and subsequently lampoon it while also taking it very seriously. Inside is a musical meta-commentary on the collective nightmare we all seem to be experiencing…or, at least our performance of it. Who better to tap into our narcissistic, performative (and yet also real) depression and our destructive connection to the digital realm than an artist who started out as a YouTube sensation? Brilliant musical arrangements and piercing lyrics seeking to call everyone out, not least of all Burnham himself. The whole performance and execution is quite a feat. Compelling, very funny, and deep.

BONUS SHORTS

Suite lacustre | IFFR

Fabrice Aragno’s Lakeside Suite (2019) is a visual meditation on clouds and water. This short puts the viewer in a quiet, peaceful, and contemplative state, if you let it. Just enjoy and respect the power and calm of nature without frills.

The Sky Is on Fire | IFFR

Emmanuel van der Auwera’s The Sky Is on Fire (2020) reiterates that our impermanence causes us to imagine the world is ending at every turn, because how could there be anything after we are gone? It reiterates this over and over as the camera takes us through a computer generated dystopic world that seems familiar yet eerily empty and fading away.

Last Few Movies XLIX: Bonkerser and Bonkerser

All these movies only make me stronger.

Movie reviews: 'Army of the Dead' advances the zombie genre, but its story  isn't as evolved | CTV News

22. Army of the Dead (2021) is a zombie heist action movie directed by Zack Snyder. Dawn of the Dead meets Escape from New York. But it sucks somehow. Aliens meets Ocean’s Eleven. But it’s an empty and joyless slog. It may not be satirical, smart, funny, scary, gory, exciting, or original, but it is incredibly dumb, overly color saturated, weirdly tedious, and out of focus most of the time. This was hard, because I love heists and I love zombies when they’re done right (they do feel a little empty and played out at this point, but I’m sure a talented writer can reanimate the genre with some fresh ideas) and I got suckered in because I saw comedian Tig Notaro in a teaser and thought she might bring a unique energy to what was maybe a fun action thriller. She does bring the energy (that seems to be from a different movie), but the writing doesn’t give her much to work with. Turns out she was added in post-production after the film dropped comedian Chris D’Elia. Army of the Dead is, perhaps, an intentional mixture of tired action tropes and weightless video game violence, but why do that with such a potentially fun concept? I haven’t seen much of his stuff, but maybe I’m not much of a Zack Snyder fan. Sorry.

Critters (1986) Review |BasementRejects

21. A gang of small, furry aliens called Crites crash land on Earth and terrorize a small town farmhouse. The more I delve into this franchise, the clearer it becomes just how Gremlins completely eclipsed it. Critters (1986) is a wacky sci-fi creature-feature that boasts some fun practical effects and designs, but lacks the necessary humor, peril, or compelling characters (not you, M. Emmett Walsh, you’re great) to make it truly memorable. Now I can forgive a goofy monster movie for not being scary or funny, but the critters themselves better deliver and rack up the body count. Alas, despite some moments of fun mayhem and a good premise, I weirdly prefer Critters II: The Main Course more…which also isn’t great, but it does feel a bit schlockier.

We're Still the Lunatics: A Special Edition of The 'Burbs | TV/Streaming |  Roger Ebert

20. People may hate me, but I do not love The Burbs (1989). At this point, I think I like more of who Joe Dante is and what he represents than most of his filmography. The structure is there, and there are some clever beats, but, for whatever reason, the manic, obnoxious, cartoony comedy did not work for me. Plus 2 points for Bruce Dern, but minus 4 points for criminally underusing Carrie Fisher and minus 2 more for making Tom Hanks annoying.

Alien: Covenant (2017) and Frankenstein (1931) | by Dimitri Ng | Cinemania  | Medium

19. Ridley Scott’s best movie, in my humble opinion, remains 1979’s Alien. While both Prometheus and Alien: Covenant (2017) fail to deliver the punches they promise, they do have some great ideas, amazing visuals, and Michael Fassbender. I love that Scott has been allowed to return to this world and explore it more, even if they don’t quite measure up. On a story level, Alien: Covenant functions better than Prometheus, but I weirdly liked Prometheus better simply for being a bit more weird and novel. Stick with the originals to get your xenomorph fix. Watch on to observe how the franchise changed over the years. The Alien franchise, both at its best and its worst, is a fascinating exploration into different filmmaking approaches. And the H. R. Giger designs still kick ass.

Poulet au vinaigre (1985) de Claude Chabrol – L'Oeil sur l'écran

18. I love a good small town mystery with a fun detective character. I am uninitiated into the world of Inspector Jean Lavardin (played by Jean Poiret) and didn’t realize he had made other appearances when I watched Claude Chabrol’s Poulet au Vinaigre (1985). The first half of the movie is a bit slow, taking it’s time establishing the characters within the town and the details surrounding the murder and coverup. When the inspector arrives, the story becomes a bit more engaging. All in all, a decent little mystery (especially when the unorthodox detective roughs up his suspects). He’s not exactly as charismatic as Columbo or Poirot, but he’s not without his charm.

Funny Ha Ha

17. Awkward young adult stammering mumblecore, here we go. Andrew Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha (2002) follows the trivial interactions between a recent graduate named Marnie (Kate Dollenmayer) and her college friends in the summer. Not much happens and it’s pretty aimless, but that’s sort of the point. Marnie herself doesn’t know what she wants or what she’s about. For fans of early indie mumblecore, this should probably be on your list. For the average movie goer, this won’t be for everyone.

SUPERGIRL (1984) • Frame Rated

16. I remember this being on television a lot and always being confused. Sitting down to watch it as an adult has elucidated precious little of the convoluted meanderings of what one might attempt to describe as a plot. Supergirl (1984) is an absolutely bonkers train-wreck of a superhero movie. Just watch this to scream at the TV screen. Don’t try to make sense of it. Credit where it’s due: Faye Dunaway chewing the scenery as an evil witch is so enjoyable. Peter O’Toole, in his brief screen time, hams it up pretty good. And Helen Slater as Supergirl herself looks great in the outfit…even if her story, powers, and character don’t make a lick of sense.

The Silent Partnter | Screen Slate

15. The Silent Partner (1978), directed by Anders Bodelson, is a gritty Canadian crime thriller with some fanciful pulpy flourishes. Elliott Gould plays a bank teller who gets wise to a would-be robber’s plan and winds up stealing the money himself and getting the criminal busted for it. But when the bank robber (Christopher Plummer) figures out what happened, he begins stalking and haunting the teller to get his share of the money.

14. Ever wonder where that image of Jackie Chan playing a coquettish Chun Li from Street Fighter comes from? It’s City Hunter (1993), a Hong Kong action comedy based on a manga. And while the non-stop stunt-work is as impressive as ever, the physics-defying broad slapstick, zany double-takes, and cartoon-sound-effects-laden onslaught wears thin and represents, to me, the absolute worst instincts of Chinese comedy. That said, City Hunter is unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s fast, frantic, frenetic, and pure lunacy that gleefully mows down copious amounts of innocuous henchman and innocent hostages alike (tone consistency be damned!). In addition to Jackie Chan and the usual Australian baddies, this movie also boasts a bevy of fun female characters that range from badass to big-bosomed. An altogether exhausting affair, City Hunter is like a Chinese Looney Tunes interpretation of James Bond. If you’re a Jackie Chan aficionado, or just curious as to just how bonkers a kung-fu movie can get, check this weird puppy out.

SOLD OUT: GETEVEN (aka ROAD TO REVENGE) (1993): 16th June, Bristol  Bierkeller | Bristol Bad Film Club

13. Road to Revenge (aka GetEven) (1993) is exactly the kind of vanity project we wait for. An inept, humorless man with negative charisma helms a film project that insists he’s the baddest action hero that ever sang karaoke and made love to the American flag. It’s an embarrassing, sexist, cringeworthy mess and deserves to be recognized alongside other so-bad-it’s-good fair. If you are someone who enjoys psychoanalyzing the misguided artistic endeavors of the narcissistic and talentless, you must check this flick out. We done cackled with this one.

Wiener-Dog (2016) | I Draw on My Wall

12. Todd Solondz wants to hurt people with his unforgivingly depressing brand of comedy. From Welcome to the Dollhouse to Happiness, he’s a director that wants to paint a picture so devoid of hope or joy, that one’s psyche is compelled to laugh lest we succumb to the void. Weiner Dog (2016) is no exception. Don’t get me wrong. I like Todd Solondz. But I also know what I’m getting into when I watch one of his films. Weiner Dog follows the adventures of a dachshund that bounces from sad owner to sadder owner. Like Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar, the animal in question is merely a vehicle to propel us into the private dramas of the individuals that become peripherally entwined with it. Featuring Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Julie Delpy, and Kieran Culkin.

The Reflecting Skin is "not Little House On The Prairie!" - SciFiNow - The  World's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Magazine

11. There has not been a deficit of off-the-wall WTF movies on today’s list, and Philip Ridley’s The Reflecting Skin (1990) lands squarely within the parameters of the precedent set by some of the wackier films mentioned above. It’s a full on surreal descent into depression on the prairie as we follow a young boy named Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) and his strange adventures in an isolated 1950s America nowhere town. The local foreign lady outcast might be a vampire. There’s some greaser guys who cruise around abducting kids. You got self-immolations. And Seth ends up custodian of an ossified fetus that he keeps in the barn. Words can’t really do justice for just how insane this movie gets, and I’m not even sure that I’d call it “good”. All’s I can say is that when 8-year-old Seth screams for minutes on end into the dispassionate setting sun, lifeless chunks of dry earth crumbling betwixt his fingers, I felt it. Co-starring Viggo Mortensen!

Film Feasts: Movie Meals to Give Thanks for (Mostly) | Tilda swinton,  Movies, Pretty table settings

10. Tilda Swinton plays a Russian woman married into an aristocratic Italian family who falls in love with her son’s friend who is an amazing chef in Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love (2009). It’s a glorified soap opera that feels weirdly cold and distant, and it moves very slowly. But when it’s not being boring, there is plenty of sumptuous cinematography showing off Italy’s fields, mountains, and architecture. And there’s Tilda. The last act has the most going on, and that’s when the score picks up and animates the drama a bit more.

Elio Petri – A Quiet Place in the Country | Jewish Museum Berlin

9. Horny Italian arthouse psychodrama doesn’t get much artier or hornier than Elio Petri’s A Quiet Place in the Country (1968). The piercingly blue-eyed Franco Nero stars as a manic modern artists on the verge of a mental breakdown and so retires to an abandoned estate to get some work done. But something draws him to this place. There was a tragedy long ago, and perhaps the spirit of young countess haunts the place still. This film dares to ask, “what if a crazy Italian guy desperately wanted to bang a ghost?” The Ennio Morricone score and frantic style make this one weird experience. This one definitely won’t be for everybody, and I found it maddening at times, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Or Vanessa Redgrave.

DVD Talk

8. Michael Cera plays an obnoxious American effete on a quest to do psychedelic drugs in Chile. His performance is quite the indictment of the average obtuse American abroad. The Chileans put up with their self-absorbed foreign friend – even accommodating his hasty invite (and ignoring his subsequent rude renege) of another American weirdo: a free-spirited hippie girl played by Gaby Hoffman. Sebastián Silva’s Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus (2013) is a funny and sweet road movie loaded with hallucinogenics and burgeoning maturity (in the form of realizing that other people have feelings and that maybe – just maybe – so do you).

The Event (2015) | MUBI

7. In 1991, in an attempt to fight back against the growing democratization of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, communists within the government attempted a coup d’etat that resulted in a media blackout. Protestors in St. Petersburg listened to the radio and handed out flyers to keep appraised of the events unfolding. Ultimately, the military refused to betray the angry citizenry, and only a few months later the Soviet Union was dissolved. Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary, The Event (2015), utilizes wonderfully restored archival footage that places you in the thick of the confusion and mounting concern among the people in the square. The footage is punctuated by Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake which the detained Gorbachev had play over the airwaves during the coup.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Ending, Explained

6. I’m late to the party, but Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) is fun. It’s a meandering plot about a fading TV cowboy (Leonardo DiCaprio) trying to get back in the game and his aimless stunt double (Brad Pitt) that is just filmed so well and so enjoyable to watch. Love him or hate him, Tarantino simply knows how to entertain, and his love letter to Hollywood on the cusp of the 1970s just encapsulates some of what American filmmaking does right. It mixes Hollywood history with a touch of revisionist fantasy in the same way that Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained did. It’s a bit of historical revisionism saving actress Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) and thusly un-cancelling Roman Polanski. The film, apropos of nothing, asks, “but what if the Manson family went to the house next door instead and there was a stunt man on acid in there?” Perhaps it runs afoul of trivializing Tate’s tragic death and retroactively exonerating Polanski’s later pedophilic rape charges. And maybe all that’s insensitive and bad (maybe not nearly as insensitive and bad *and cringeworthy* as Zack Snyder using the song “Zombie” by The Cranberries), but it does make for one hell of a B-storyline for the main action to intersect with.

Inside Job - Movie Review : Alternate Ending

5. It’s worse than you think. Charles Ferguson’s documentary on the banking crisis and ensuing financial recession in America, Inside Job (2010), is a masterful chronicling of the powerful negative impacts of deregulation, political conflicts of interest, the mounting wealth gap, and just how and why these things keep happening. I wasn’t a fan of Adam McKay’s The Big Short. I dug J. C. Chandor’s Margin Call. But this is the best film to watch to get a fuller portrait of the scope and reverberations of the corruption within the American corporate and political spheres. Honestly, understanding this stuff is as important as knowing history and being familiar with the Abrahamic religions if you want to have a proper grasp on the western world and the current state of things.

To Sleep with Anger: You Never Know What's in the Heart | The Current | The  Criterion Collection

4. Director, Charles Burnett, paints a unique South Central LA fairytale in To Sleep with Anger (1990). A good, God-fearing family extends their kindness and hospitality to a Southern drifter and old friend, Harry (fantastically acted by Danny Glover). Though they insist he is not an imposition, Harry’s weird superstitions, overbearing manners, and greasy friends soon implant something like a slow-burn voodoo virus (yet with the insidious veneer of plausible deniability) throughout the house, affecting the family’s health and testing their resolve. A delicious, atmospheric film with some great performances.

The Art of Film — Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

3. A young taciturn girl eventually called “Shula” (Maggie Mulubwa) randomly pops up in a small village and is immediately accused of being a witch – a claim she neither confirms nor denies at first – and is sent to a witch camp where she is the only child. I Am Not a Witch (2017), directed by Rungano Nyoni, is a brilliant Zambian satire on politics, superstition, gender roles, slavery, the media, and even the vacuousness of poverty tourism. Equal parts funny and tragic, I Am Not a Witch presents a harsh and familiar Kafkaesque world that left reason and humanity long behind.

Nothing is Written: The Last Detail

2. Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1973) is the story of two foul-mouthed navy guys (Jack Nicholson and Otis Young) assigned to escort a young simple seaman charged with theft (Randy Quaid) to Portsmouth Naval Prison. What follows is a gritty road trip where the power dynamics gradually lessen and the men connect more as men than as military personnel transporting a criminal. Their shared adventures bond them; all the while with the sad reality of their mission looming over their heads. Jack Nicholson gives an absolute masterclass in character acting. He feels so much a part of that dreary, cold world in which they are doomed to traverse. You simply can’t take your eyes off him. It’s also shot well and has a lot of personality and humor.

Brother (1997) - IMDb

1. An unyieldingly bleak portrait of post-Soviet Russia, Aleksei Balabanov’s Brother (1997) is a low budget dark crime drama with a great contemporary rock soundtrack by Nautilus Pompilius. After serving military duty, aimless Danila Bagrov (Sergei Bodrov, Jr.) winds up in St. Petersburg to meet his successful big brother who, it turns out, is actually a hitman on increasingly thin ice with his frequent employer. Danila gets pulled into the seedy crime world and, with not much else going on, adapts rather quickly to his new deadly line of work. While Danila does become a violent force, his connections to the people in his new neighborhood lend his character added layers of humanity that make his journey all the more harsh. The film seemed to have captured the zeitgeist of the cultural mood at that time (I’ve had it recommended to me by multiple Russians who grew up in the 90s, and I’m glad I finally watched it). Produced on a tiny $10,000 budget, Brother became a cult hit and even got a sequel in 2000.

BONUS SHORTS

The Hoff Twins - YouTube

Keep your eyes on Andrew “All Gas No Brakes” Callaghan. He’s a true gonzo journalist, unafraid to penetrate into the heart of the overlooked parts of American culture. He’s Hunter S. Thompson meets Harmoney Korine and his latest effort, The Hoff Twins (2021), showcases his knack for lo-fi aesthetics and affection for captivating oddballs living life out on the fringes of society and presenting them for what they are, without commentary (just some editing). Subscribe to his YouTube channels. Watch his stuff.

The Fall Review: Jonathan Glazer's New Short Is a 6-Minute Nightmare |  IndieWire

Director Jonathan Glazer gets real weird in The Fall (2019). A strange mob of masked figures catches a man caught up a tree and sentences him to the well. It’s surreal, eerie, and fascinating. Fantastic sound design.

Katrina Inagaki – Movies, Bio and Lists on MUBI

A little pirate girl and her faithful Teddy bear sail to New York City in Josephine Decker’s Me the Terrible (2012). Mischief is had and hijinks ensue. But too many shenanigans lead to loss. New York City is a dangerous place, after all. Childish and stylish, it’s a breezy little adventure complete with tricycle chases.

Spectrum Shorts | IFFR

A bear hunter accidentally stumbles upon a portal to the afterlife in Helen Haig-Brown’s ?E?anx (The Cave) (2009). An interesting mix of First Nations mythology and science-fiction.

The Heart of the World (2000) Guy Maddin's short tribute to cinema on its  100th anniversary is supremely beautiful. I am a … | Title card, Guys,  Interactive media

Two men love the same woman, but that woman, whilst studying the Earth’s core, learns that the planet is about to suffer a fatal heart attack in Guy Maddin’s Heart of the World (2000). It’s everything you come to expect from a Guy Maddin flick. Weird, funny, tragic, clever, creative, and looks like it was filmed a hundred years ago.

Suzan Pitt — Asparagus

Animator and surrealist Suzan Pitt creates a spellbinding, psychosexual, hallucinatory, stream-of-conscious art-piece and if none of that scares you away, then Asparagus (1979) is the animated short for you.

Last Few Movies XLVIII: still rough around the edges

My love of film knows no end. Once again, presented for your pleasure and curiosity, the last few movies I saw in order of how much I liked them. Rock on.

Bad Movie Tuesday: The Dungeonmaster (1984; aka Ragewar), another sword and  sorcery fantasy B-movie with a laser-shooting techno-anthology spin. |  Movies, Films & Flix

21. A jock/nerd inventor man gets so good at science that Satan kidnaps his girlfriend and challenges him to complete several video game style trials to get her back (each segment directed by a different filmmaker). This is Rage War (aka The Dungeonmaster) (1984). A strong start with some great 80s music, but an absolutely squandered premise. I had high hopes up until the games actually begin. The rules, tech, solutions to problems, and the Devil’s weirdly self-imposed limitations never make sense. It’s got some funny WTF things in it, but it runs out of steam by the halfway marker. Sadly, much like Highway to Hell (where a demon sheriff kidnaps a dude’s girlfriend and he has to rescue her from Hell), it doesn’t quite deliver what it promises. This movie could do with a remake because I absolutely love a lot about its concept.

A Talking Cat!?! (2013) - Cinema Cats

20. Objectively A Talking Cat!?! (2013) is a worse film, but I laughed a lot more and, let’s face it, I went in with the appropriate expectations. This cynically inept trash-fire, which somehow roped Eric Roberts into recording the cat’s voice into an old tin can at the bottom of the sea, aggressively oscillates between Christian movie and porno movie energy. Every single facet of production is lazy, putrid, empty garbage, indicating it was a cash grab relying on its cliched but kid-friendly talking animal bait. Anyways, it’s a great time if you’re in the mood to laugh at some embarrassing cinematic garbage.

Day the World Ended (1955) YIFY - Download Movie TORRENT - YTS

19. I saw this on TV as a kid and it was perhaps my first encounter with a movie that dealt with the end of the world. It scared me good, I tells ya. Re-watching Roger Corman’s Day the World Ended (1955) I still dig the hell out of its first act. This is another one where the premise is great – possibly the last disparate survivors of a nuclear fallout hunker down in a house with a deficit of resources and an abundance of tension. The drama between the straight-laced survivalist patriarch with his pure daughter and the skeezy gangbanger with his stripper girlfriend is the best part of this film. There is a radioactive monster prowling around outside, but that kind of sucks. Another strong start that gets tedious before it finishes, but worth it for folks interested in early low-budget examples of atomic age horror.

Swamp Thing (1982) Review |BasementRejects

18. Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing (1982) boasts a beautiful looking swamp location and a couple somewhat tender scenes between the scientist (Ray Wise)-turned-monster (Dick Durock) and Adrienne Barbeau that show why this movie was even made, but ultimately it gets held back by its inconsistently goofy tone and truly bad rubber costume (it looks better in the flat-out campy sequel, Return of Swamp Thing). I wanted more stuff with Barbeau and the gas station kid (Reggie Batts). Louis Jourdan is also fun and hammy as the villain.

Watch TCM - The Professionals (1966)

17. What a cast! Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Woody Strode, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance, and Ralph Bellamy star in the gritty western rescue adventure, The Professionals (1966). Kind of forgettable film, but if you dig the cast (and I do, even though no one ever gives Woody Strode enough to do in these movies, sadly), it’s a fine time.

Chinese Film 'The Wandering Earth' Imagines a Journey to a New Sun | Space

16. A colossal Chinese sci-fi adventure about the end of the world where the sun fizzles out so all of humanity lives in subterranean cities on one half of the planet and the other half is covered in rocket thrusters pushing the Earth through the cold vacuum of space in search of a new habitable zone? Why not? The Wandering Earth (2019) is dumb, big budget, bombastic nonsense of the highest order. It is huge on spectacle and melodrama and the preposterousness of the premise left me pondering how many people in China actually relate to the dogged desire to preserve the human race at such insane costs. My god. Have I become that cynical?

Ronin (1998) | OSN

15. I’m gonna say it. Robert De Niro never looked better than in Ronin (1998), directed by John Frankenheimer. It’s not amazing, but it’s kind of what you want in a slick Euro-flavored action thriller about guns-for-hire unraveling a cockamamie MacGuffin-chasing plot. My main beef with it is that it’s never better than its first act. But the cast (featuring Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean, and Michael Lonsdale) keeps it going even if it ultimately goes nowhere. Maybe I’m too forgiving, but I look for the things to enjoy in a less than perfect product.

AoM: Movies et al.: The Nutty Professor (1996)

14. Randomly revisited the remake of The Nutty Professor (1996) and…the script is pretty blah, but, man, does Eddie Murphy’s high octane performance(s) propel this wacky 90s comedy into something memorable. The weirdly somber moments where Professor Klump wrestles with his weight were actually more effective than a lot of the jokes. Ultimately, though, in 1996 we were there for the silly special effects and insane Murphy characters (playing Klump, his alter-ego Buddy Love, and the entire Klump family to great effect). Jada Pinkett Smith, Dave Chappelle, and Larry Miller are also nice to see onscreen.

Love and Monsters Joel vs Crab Monster Final fight 2 | HD clip - YouTube

13. I love monsters so a movie called Love and Monsters (2020) was always going to at least be a little bit interesting to me. But this apocalyptic survival horror comedy for the whole family, directed by Michael Matthews, was a breath of fresh air. Brilliant creature designs and effects (with some nods to stop-motion master, Ray Harryhausen) elevate this by-the-numbers hero’s journey into something worth checking out. Streamlined monster adventure with humor and some grade-A digital wizardry.

Violence Voyager • New Zealand International Film Festival

12. Violence Voyager (2018) directed by Ujicha, is probably the most messed-up movie I’ve seen in awhile, and that’s saying something. It’s a surreal sci-fi adventure about some thrill-seeking kids getting suckered into a mysterious theme park that turns into a hellish body horror nightmare. And it is a genuinely disturbing film, made all the more eerie due to its unique illustrated cut-out presentation. I’m actually on the fence about who to recommend this one too.

The Croods 2 Voice Cast: Who's Voicing Each Character In The Croods: A New  Age - CINEMABLEND

11. I never saw the first film, but I thought The Croods: a New Age (2020) was pretty creative, clever, and funny. It just struck the right tone for me and the animation was pretty to look at. I liked the family dynamic between the cavepeople family and the yuppie Bettermans. It was just sweet and nice.

Tonight is what it means to be young - Streets of Fire.ost - YouTube

10. I promise you, you will never see wetter, steamier, grimier 80s city streets than in Walter Hill’s alternate universe rock musical neo-noir, Streets of Fire (1984), featuring music by Ry Cooder. Diane Lane plays Ellen Aim, a fiery rock starlet who’s in a truly surprising relationship with Rick Moranis playing the most tough-as-nails nerdy dweeb-boy you ever did see. Enter a no-good, biker gang ringleader, shirtless Willem Dafoe in leather overalls and a greasy Flock of Seagulls hairdo (he looks like a cartoon weasel and it is magnificent) to kidnap the singer. But then there’s more terminally sarcastic and stone-cold characters to cock shotguns and ride in classic cars (Michael Paré as a gun-toting, dead-inside hero type who’s still not over Aim, and then there’s Amy Madigan as the coolest lesbian to fire a pistol square into a bad hombre’s chest. Also you got Bill Paxton in there somewhere). This movie is marvelous trash that never quite achieves greatness, mainly because the tone feels like it’s supposed to be a straight musical, but it skimps on the songs and just has the weird theater-y melodrama. A few more songs would have made this, even if my brain roundly rejects Moranis being a bad-ass. After awhile you may begin to wonder if it’s supposed to be the 80s or the 50s and why everyone is 32 years old, but just go with it. While not official, I feel Streets of Fire is in the same universe as the animated rock musical Rock and Rule.

Eating Raoul – IFC Center

9. You either vibe with Paul Bartel’s oddball understated humor sensibilities or you don’t. He’s not quite John Waters, but he’s got something interesting going on. Eating Raoul (1982) is a low-budget dark comedy about a milquetoast couple who decide to use the sex appeal of their female half to bait would-be Johns to their apartment so they can kill them, rob them, and sell their bodies to Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager. It’s silly and pretty casual about murder, rape, and cannibalism, but that’s the aesthetic. The film works for me mainly because I love Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel’s chemistry and laid back performances. They later had a super weird cameo in another personal favorite: Chopping Mall.

Bone (1972)

8. OK, if Eating Raoul was too flippant with sexual assault for you, then Larry Cohen’s even more esoteric dark satire, Bone (1972), might not be your cup of tea. Yaphet Kotto stars as a rapist and burglar who invades a rich car salesman’s (Andrew Duggan) home and threatens to do unspeakable things to his wife (Joyce Van Patten). Not gonna sugarcoat it. This movie is weird. The characters feel like cartoon chess pieces. The chain of events meanders and feels distant, yet the (dated?) commentary on race relations, sex, marriage, and white tears is fascinating. Kotto, Van Patten, and Duggan are all great to watch. It’s rough around the edges and maybe a hard one to recommend, but there’s something about it that just struck me in a weird way.

Toys in the Attic (2009 film) - Alchetron, the free social encyclopedia

7. Czech stop-motion maestro, Jiří Barta, returned to his craft in 2009 to make Toys in the Attic, a cute but grim, tatterdemalion tale of a doll, her friends, and the evil Head of state. It’s like an Eastern European flavored Toy Story that’s just brimming with inventive details and imagination. I saw this years ago and was happy to revisit this cleverly realized realm again but with a younger audience. Entertaining for kids and adults. Toys in the Attic may be his most accessible work, but if you’re into Svankmajer, Norshteyn, or the Quays, investigate Barta’s shorts and his other feature (The Pied Piper) too.

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

6. Michael Caine and Sean Connery star in John Huston’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King (1975). It’s an adventure story about two entitled Masonic Englishmen scallywags in 1880s India who concoct a dangerous scheme to traverse the perilous northern mountain glaciers, ingratiate themselves into the tribal societies of Kafiristan, train their armies with British guns, depose their rulers, and become kings…until things go awry. It’s all pure colonialism, but hey, that’s Kipling. Sort of Cobra Verde meets The Road to El Dorado. It’s a fun adventure from a bygone era about friendship and cultural insensitivity. And Christopher Plummer plays Kipling.

Vertigo Productions | Ten Canoes

5. I love it when film shows me a world I don’t know. Ten Canoes (2006) is an Australian Aboriginal morality folk tale that feels as old as the cheeky narrator (David Gulpilil) claims. And it’s directed by Rolf de Heer who did Bad Boy Bubby. Framed as a story within a story, it demonstrates why coveting thy brother’s wife is a big no-no. And it gives a peek into what ancient Aboriginal society was like, retaining a unique sense of humor and reverence for ceremonial rituals.

Carnage movie review & film summary (2012) | Roger Ebert

4. Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, and John C. Reilly star in Roman Polanski’s Carnage (2011) based on the play by Yasmina Reza, a grimly comedic drama about parents of fighting children meeting to resolve the dispute and the deluge of judgement, insecurity, and vileness that bubbles to the surface just beneath the festering facade of civilized placability. It is only four characters talking in one location, but folks, shit. is. taut.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986) – Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

3. Apparently, they restored Frank Oz’s big-screen adaptation of the 1982 off-Broadway musical which was based on Roger Corman’s 1960 B-monster movie about a dork in a flower shop who grows a mysterious plant that requires human sacrifices. Up until now I had only seen the happy ending cut of Little Shop of Horrors (1986) that was shown in theaters after bad test screenings forced reshoots. But what I saw this time was the darker – and far more thematically consistent – ending with one of the biggest, craziest, most expensive finales of all time. This movie goes so hard with everything it does. The puppetry and animatronic effects to bring the carnivorous plant to life look spectacular. The comedy is savage (especially from Steve Martin’s sadistic dentist and a cameo from Bill Murray). The horror is grisly and darkly comedic. And every song is a lung-busting showstopper. It is quite the achievement. With the restored dark ending, this easily tops Rocky Horror Picture Show for subversive 80s musicals that wink at classic fright flicks. And it stars Rick Moranis, if you didn’t know. Find the recut darker original ending if you can.

North by Northwest | film by Hitchcock [1959] | Britannica

2. I’ve seen North by Northwest (1959) dozens of times, but it’s a great movie. Ernest Lehman wanted to write “the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures” and I daresay he succeeded. Cary Grant has never been more Cary Grant and James Mason has never been more seductively diabolical. This mistaken identity thriller truly is the ultimate Alfred Hitchcock film, invoking all of his best tropes and then some. A New York ad executive is mistaken by some nefarious goons for a government agent and gets yoinked into a whole Cold War espionage plot. Start to finish, it’s great. He insists he is not the man they’re looking for, George Kaplan. Then he becomes an amateur sleuth to find the real Kaplan. He gets framed for murder. He goes on the run. He falls in love with the gorgeous Eva Marie Saint. He gets roped into the actual CIA and basically becomes Kaplan, only he’s not doing it for God and country; he’s only risking life and limb to bang that girl again, and that, I think, is the most relatable American action hero motivation that has ever been written. And Cary Grant just wears the absolute hell out of that suit. Way cooler than James Bond and trains have never been sexier. Cue the smashing Bernard Herrmann score!

Review: Embrace of the Serpent | Ciro Guerra

1. An Amazonian shaman in early 1900s Columbia re-examines himself and his changing jungle under the growing shadow of colonialism in Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent (2015). Karamakate (played by Nilbio Torres as a young man and Antonio Bolívar as an old man) helps two white foreigners at two different stages of his life navigate through the jungle after a mystical plant, feeling like an echo of who he was. It is a haunting, beautifully shot drama with touches of the surreal. Herzogian in the best way. It doesn’t offer easy answers, instead favoring a more pensive, spiritual recontextualization of the clash of cultures and loss of a mysterious way of life that was more connected to the natural world. Truly transcendental cinema that would not leave my mind.

BONUS SHORT:

The Moon's Milk: Animated Short and Making Of

Ri Crawford’s handmade stop-motion fairytale voyage to a strange time when the moon was close enough to touch titled The Moon’s Milk (2018) is exactly my cup of tea. Beautiful lighting, wonderfully weird, and creakingly narrated by the gravelly voiced Tom Waits. It’s on YouTube. Give it a look.

LAST FEW MOVIES XLVII: True Colors

I love bad movies, but even I have my limits.

Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001) | Bomb Report

22. The Antichrist rises to power in this truly awful Christsploitation flick starring Michael York. Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001) takes classic American Evangelical fixations and fears surrounding their beliefs about the End Times and makes it inconceivably boring. There are a few things so poorly executed that they elicit laughter, but the acting isn’t that bad and the filming itself (directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith) is competent enough, so what we’re left with is just a very bad script that doesn’t know who the main the characters are or what the actual themes are – there aren’t any themes; it’s literally just supposed to be Evangelical paranoid eschatology committed to film. One thing’s for sure: they have a hard on for America and some vague notion of freedom. Somehow they also managed to rope in Franco Nero, R. Lee Ermey, and Udo Kier.

Image result for prophecy 1979

21. I think director John Frankenheimer got the script and saw it was a cheesy eco-horror about an evil lumber mill inadvertently creating a giant mutant bear and just gave up before he started. Most of the choices in Prophecy (1979) are lazy and tedious, and that’s sad because I really think, had this been filmed with some love and care, it could have been a fun mutant bear movie. Not much is set up and even less is paid off. It’s a meandering bramble through the woods of Maine with Talia Shire, Richard Dysart, and Armand Assante… and then a mutant bear. The bear is fun and cheesy, but he’s not in it much. (We expected that going in.) The highlight was when the bear attacks a family of campers and launches a boy in a down sleeping bag into a boulder where he explodes into a plume of goose feathers. See? *chef’s kiss* More of that and less of everything else this was doing.

Image result for return of the musketeers

20. I am such a hopeless fan of Richard Lester’s Three Musketeers (1973) and Four Musketeers (1974). They are a funny, star-studded, irreverent, swashbuckling extravaganzas that stay extremely close to the source material. The third entry in Lester’s adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ work is decidedly… less good. The Return of the Musketeers (1989) reunites all of the original cast (even bringing Christopher Lee’s Rochefort back from the dead and giving him a revenge-obsessed daughter played by Kim Cattrall). However, whatever wisps of steam this period saga had left quickly evaporated with the tragic on-set death of Roy Kinnear (who wonderfully played D’Artagnon’s comic valet, Planchet). Sadly, not much magic or fun to be salvaged here.

A giant crawling eye wants his ball back in THE TROLLENBERG TERROR aka THE  CRAWLING EYE (1958) | Movie monsters, Horror films, Life form

19. The Trollenberg Terror (aka The Crawling Eye) (1958) is a classic British sci-fi flick featuring a psychic girl, Forrest Tucker, and a popular Swiss mountain shrouded in a mysterious cloud. Just what could this cloud be hiding? Well, if you didn’t guess murder and aliens then you need to brush up on this genre. I had seen this as a really little kid on TV and remembered it being mostly slow and very boring, but with kind of a creepy hook, decent ending, and an interesting monster design. Not great, but not the worst. Even the movie has a character mutter the phrase, “cute little things”, at the sight of the adorably cheesy aliens. The animated 90s show Freakazoid! even parodied this movie. Any movie that makes me remember Freakazoid! can’t be all bad.

Image result for cabin boy 1994

18. Apparently Cabin Boy (1994) sunk Chris Elliott’s film career. Here he plays an obnoxious fop who winds up on a salty fishermen’s boat. This movie is pretty bad from the start. The jokes are so broad and cartoony and it just doesn’t work. But then it did something I’ve never seen before. It kept getting weirder and weirder until it goes full Spongebob and actually won me over in the end. Will I watch Cabin Boy again or recommend it? Probably not, but I gotta say, if you can stick it out until the last act, you may find yourself actually having some fun. Wish it had worked all the way through. When it tries to be funny, it usually falls flat. But when it goes for weird fantasy/fever dream, it actually works.

072 – I Heart Huckabees – This Had Oscar Buzz

17. On paper, David O. Russell’s I Heart Huckabees (2004) should be something I absolutely love. I love the all-star cast and making a screwball comedy about existentialism sounds utterly tantalizing to me. Maybe I’ve just been in the wrong headspace every time I’ve seen it, but I find the proceedings rather tedious. Anyways, an idealistic conservationist and activist (played by Jason Schwartzman) hires existential detectives and lovers, Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman, to solve a coincidence for him, but gets sucked into a deeper exploration into the meaning of existence. I love the idea. I just don’t think I love what they did with existentialism. It’s all just so blunt and literal. And everything is just so brightly lit. For whatever reason, I cannot get on this film’s wavelength. Which is not to say that people like Isabelle Huppert, Mark Wahlberg, Naomi Watts, and Jude Law aren’t doing great work here. It’s one of those movies where I’m convinced it’s better than my experiences of it.

Image result for Robot Jox

16. Schlockmeister, Stuart Gordon, delivers a rare straight-up sci-fi action flick without any horror, sexual assault, or gore. Robot Jox (1989) is a low-budget mech-suit flick where war is fought in the fighting arena. Athletes representing their countries battle in giant robot suits for control of key territories. Even the movie knows how low stakes Alaska is and kind of drops that by the end. Because this match is personal! Look, it’s dumb. It’s cheap looking. It’s a shoestring Pacific Rim without the monsters. But for what it is, Robot Jox delivers everything it sets out to do.

Mortal Engines movie review & film summary (2018) | Roger Ebert

15. Look, this movie was big and dumb and overstuffed and ridiculous, but somewhere inside me is a little British girl who loves steampunk YA novels, and Mortal Engines (2018), for all its nonsense, weirdly scratched an itch I didn’t know I had. I cannot defend enjoying this. I didn’t even like it most of the time. But something about marrying Howl’s Moving Castle with Mad Max: Fury Road and giving it some inelegantly blunt political commentary about imperialism simplified for an audience too young for Snowpiercer, somehow helped me overcome most of its shortcomings. It feels like pulpy fan-fiction that just gets a little too boring and schmaltzy (but again, this was made for an 11 year old nerdy white preteen and not exactly me). At the end of the day, I admired the special effects and craft that went into building this obnoxious world. And I liked the zombie guy. It’s only been a day and I’ve already forgotten most of the characters and plot, but I could say the same for Robot Jox.

Image result for Gentlemen Broncos

14. Quirk marches on. Jared Hess made a cult classic with Napoleon Dynamite and nobody would let him succeed ever again. Gentlemen Broncos (2009) was universally panned, and, while not perfect and perhaps a bit too reliant on barf, balls, and characters just looking weird or ugly for most of its comedy, the story of a boy who wants to write science-fiction novels and gets plagiarized by his idol is itself clever and sweet (in that awkward Mormon/Christian/Midwestern sort of way), and the sci-fi/fantasy segments have such a powerful, assured kitsch style that I did find myself smiling and laughing more than I expected to. Germaine Clement and Sam Rockwell absolutely steal the show in spectacularly absurd fashion. Like Cabin Boy, Gentlemen Broncos is best when it’s just being weird.

Image result for psycho goreman

13. This next one is hacked for me. I’m a sucker for creative monsters and goopy makeup. Steven Kostanski’s Pyscho Goreman (2020) is a comedy that uses the tropes of sci-fi horror to skewer Power Rangers, E.T., and half a dozen other nostalgia properties and gimmicks. Two kids find a glowing space thingy that allows them to control the most evil space lord in the universe. They name him Psycho Goreman, or PG for short. Everything is a joke in this bad boy. And most of those jokes work.

Image result for gangs of new york 2002 still

12. I re-watched Gangs of New York (2002) and I feel just about the same about it as when I first saw it. Amazing bits of NYC history, beautifully realized sets and historical detail that simply transports you to the past, and Daniel Day Lewis is smashing it up as top hatted villain, Bill the Butcher. But, like a lot of later Scorsese films, something feels off. I think most of it can be attributed to me and my inability to give a shit about Leonardo DiCaprio. People keep telling me he’s great. And maybe he is. But his presence, for whatever reason, hurts my movie experience. I’m sorry, Leo. I know you work hard. Anyway, when the movie’s about New York, it’s awesome. When it’s about Amsterdam Vallon, it’s pretty meh.

Cannon Fodder: 'Invaders From Mars' And Tobe Hooper's 1980s Woes

11. The 80s seemed to perfect the remake. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (technically 1978), The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986), and The Blob (1988) are all remakes that arguably surpass their source material. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the 1953 original, but Cannon’s Invaders from Mars (1986) is like the perfect scary alien movie for kids (not exactly in the same class as the other remakes listed, but solid nonetheless). Little David Garner sees a UFO land in his backyard, but when his dad goes over the hill to investigate he returns…changed. Fun, slimy creatures and classic extraterrestrial assimilation paranoia. It gets a little sloppy towards the end, but really likable overall. With Tobe Hooper, Dan O’Bannon, Stan Winston, and John Dykstra behind the scenes, you’re gonna get something fun.

Family Movie - Muppet Treasure Island - Altoona Area Public Library

10. Nostalgia watch. I remember seeing Muppet Treasure Island (1996) in the theaters. After Jim Henson’s death in 1990, Henson Studios headed in a different stylistic direction and began adapting classic novels. While not nearly as strong as Muppet Christmas Carol, this Brian Henson film gets a lot of comic mileage just out of casting Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate yarn with frogs and pigs and bears and monsters. The songs are good and Tim Curry chews the scenery deliciously as Long John Silver. The tone does shift a little awkwardly between wacky Muppet shenanigans and the more serious story of cabin boy Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop), but it maintains its own breezy air of whimsical adventure on the high seas.

Image result for the advocate 1993

9. Colin Firth has to defend a literal swine accused of murder in a podunk 15th century French town in The Hour of the Pig (1993). It’s not a dour period drama. It’s actually pretty funny, and sexy too. And it grapples with the ludicrousness of clerical law, hypocrisy, power, and Dark Age belief in a refreshingly sober – if a bit cheeky – way. It’s no The Devils (but perhaps far more nuanced than The Name of the Rose), but it’s doing its thing. Ian Holm, Nicol Williamson (that voice!), and Michael Gough stand out as memorable characters, and Donald Pleasence, in one of his last roles, shines as a lead prosecutor. Lysette Anthony and Sophie Dix take their thankless roles as sex objects and add some welcome comedy to the parts. And Amina Annabi makes one hot gypsy.

Image result for best in show 2000 film

8. I also re-watched Christopher Guest’s classic Best in Show (2000) and it holds up. This might the first one I saw of his. I definitely saw it before I ever saw This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. This mockumentary tussles the hair of self-important show dog owners and is so funny because you believe all of these characters. The cast (comprised of Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard, John Michael Higgins, Michael Hitchcock, and so many more) is pitch perfect. They deftly straddle that line between grating and endearing.

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7. Finally. A weird horror take on the classic fairytale. This Czech adaptation of Beauty and the Beast (1978), directed by Juraj Herz, is a bit more like a cold, European nightmare than a nice, cute Disney cartoon. This time, Beast is a bird man (this cannot be stressed enough: he is a bird) who lives with a demon who tells him to embrace his animal side and just kill people already. The familiar story beats are there, but what I really like here is that the beast’s castle is decrepit and gross and that the Beast’s self-loathing and struggle with literally being overcome with animal instincts is at the forefront. Most versions focus on Beauty’s story and her Stockholm Syndrome and kind of forget that the Beast is literally losing his humanity to some kind of Cronenbergian body horror witch magic. While it lacks the charm and whimsy of Jean Cocteau’s 1946 French version, this movie looks great, and, by underscoring the horrific elements, it really makes it its own thing.

Image result for some kind of heaven 2020

6. Some Kind of Heaven (2020) is a documentary that takes a peek behind the gates of a Floridian retirement community. It shows us a bizarro elderly utopia we all sort of suspected always was going on, and it takes us into the lives of some of its less-than-enthused denizens. Beautifully shot, funny, and human. Highly recommended.

Image result for butt boy 2019

5. It’s honestly probably best if you don’t know too much about Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy (2019) going in. It’s a police procedural. It’s about addiction. It’s a movie that plays its absolutely wackadoo premise so stone-cold straight-faced that it actually becomes one of the more brilliant comedies of the absurd. It creeps up on you and, if you let it, will take you to where you’ve never gone before.

What to Stream This Weekend: Agnès Varda's Chronicle of a Parisian Pop  Star's Dread-Filled Afternoon in “Cleo from 5 to 7” | The New Yorker

4. Agnès Varda is one of those filmmakers whose work I need to experience more. Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962) is the story of a French popstar (Corinne Marchand) who is waiting for the results of a biopsy. The film starts with her at a psychic showing her some bad cards about her future and follows her as she kills two hours until her doctor can tell her what’s what. What makes this nontraditional narrative so captivating is the freestyle direction from Varda and how she uses any excuse possible to showcase the beauty, whimsy, and daily life of Paris. Perhaps it deals in existentialism in a way I just found more appealing and less literally than I Heart Huckabees. It’s a film I found myself thinking about and appreciating more the following day.

Image result for friday 1995

3. I had never seen Friday (1995) and it was good to be back in the 90s for a bit. Ice Cube and Chris Tucker are two slacker buddies in South Central LA who spend the day checking out girls, smoking weed, and trying to find $200 to pay a local bully so they don’t get killed. Tiny Lister, Jr. is a scary bruiser on a comically small stolen bicycle, Nia Long is the unbelievably perfect girl next door, and John Witherspoon is a grumbly dad who knows when to drop some wisdom and when to pass gas. Ice Cube and DJ Pooh wrote the very funny slice-of-life script.

Image result for matewan movie

2. Learning about the Labor Movement in America? Or perhaps just looking for a quality drama with tension and historical detail? Might I suggest watching Matewan (1987), directed by John Sayles and starring Chris Cooper, David Strathairn, Mary McDonell, and James Earl Jones? Based on the true events of the 1920 West Virginia coal miner strike and Matewan Massacre, the film follows a labor union organizer (Cooper) who tries to unite the miners while the company thugs employ any tactics they can to divide and intimidate. Matewan is a masterful film about an important – and oft times overlooked – part of American history. You should definitely watch it.

On Location: Chloé Zhao's 'Nomadland' Is a Love Letter to America's Wide  Open Spaces | Condé Nast Traveler
  1. Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland (2020) is one of the most beautiful American films of recent memory. It captures the independent spirit and the hardness of life with poetry and humanity. Frances McDormand gives another fantastically understated performance as Fern, a woman who has lost her husband, her job, and her town, and so sets out onto the open roads of Middle America. She meets many other fascinating characters – many of whom are played by real life nomad non-actors, giving the film a deep richness that is hard to duplicate. David Strathairn shows up again in this movie as well. Sometimes what drives people to become roving van-bound nomads is economic uncertainty, sometimes it feels like they’re being chased by sorrows of the past, but for many others it is the idea of freedom and independence and community at its purest. Gorgeously shot and incredibly intimate. Nomadland is hauntingly beautiful that I definitely recommend.

BONUS SHORT:

Chad VanGaalen's "TARBOZ (translated log of inhabitants)" - YouTube

I’ve been a casual fan of Canadian indie musician, Chad Vangaalen, for awhile, but I hadn’t seen his concept album short film, Tarboz (Translated Log of Inhabitants) (2015). Vangaalen’s electronic folk music frequently narrates bizarre ballads that seem plucked from another realm, and his sci-fi animated music videos (which he also does himself) generally recall the surreal illustrated worlds of Moebius, Jesse Jacobs, and Bwana Spoons (all of whom you should also most definitely acquaint yourself with if you are not already familiar). I may be a sucker for this particular brand of grimly whimsical creativity, but I thought this was sublime. It just hit me right.

LAST FEW MOVIES XLVI: Soul Searching

I watched movies again. I know I promised I would stop. But I can’t help myself.

Instinct (1999) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

20. Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding, Jr. star in the rather tedious and hokey Instinct (1999). Hopkins plays a mysterious primatologist who refuses to speak after being arrested for murder. Enter the good therapist (Gooding, Jr.) to spit some inane psychobabble to try to reach him. There’s a couple decent ideas at work here, but ultimately too cheesy, slow, and misdirected.

Horror Movie Review: Alligator (1980) - Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging  Life

19. Robert Forster stars as a tough police chief trying to solve the mystery of who keeps eating everybody in Chicago’s sewers in Alligator (1980). I love Robert Forster and I love a good creature feature, but this one is pretty ho-hum.

Bowfinger - Movie Review - The Austin Chronicle

18. Steve Martin plays an aging failed producer who sets out to make the greatest movie of all time. It will be called “Chubby Rain” and will star the greatest action star ever, Kitt Ramsey (Eddie Murphy) …only he won’t know he’s making a movie. This is the Hollywood comedy, Bowfinger (1999). There’s usually a certain level of indulgence that comes through when attempting to lampoon Hollywood. Eddie Murphy is funny in his dual roles, but Bowfinger ain’t no Ed Wood.

7 Ways Highlander 2 is the Most Ultimately Awful Action Movie of All Time |  Ultimate Action Movie Club

17. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Christopher Lambert or the original Highlander movie. That said, Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) is ridiculously overproduced lunacy. This movie is so broken on structural and thematic levels. Apparently Connor MacLeod (Lambert) and Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez (the Spanish-named immortal Egyptian played by famously Scottish Sean Connery) were actually from another planet and MacLeod was sent to Earth as punishment. But he helped build a giant shield that covers the entire planet to protect it from stuff, but now everything is fine but bad corporation guys don’t want to tell anybody because they get money to keep the shield up so MacLeod has to team up with a resistance activist (Virginia Madsen) to fix it, but the bad guy from space, General Katana, who sent him to Earth keeps sending henchman to kill Connor …for some reason. But they suck. So Katana (Michael Ironside) comes to Earth to kill him. But MacLeod summons Juan Sánchez. But Juan Sánchez materializes on the wrong continent so he has to find MacLeod. But then he can’t really help him. So MacLeod must face Katana alone. But then so and but so but and but but so then.

John Blyth Barrymore in 07/27/1978 Costume | Carbon Costume | DIY Dress-Up  Guides for Cosplay & Halloween

16. Lasagna Cat does a one shot mockumentary about a singular Garfield comic strip in 07/27/1978 (2017). It effectively mocks the banality of the joke and the tendency of some documentaries to hyper-fixate on a trivial detail to the point of insane conspiracy theory, even if the gag runs a little long.

♂️ - Coub - The Biggest Video Meme Platform

15. This one’s been making the rounds on the internet. This one is too dense to unpack in a single burb. Surviving Edged Weapons (1988) features interviews with cops who have been stabbed, brutal photos of actual stab wounds, and occasionally unintentionally hilarious staged scenes of hypothetical knife encounters. So how does one survive an edged weapon attack? According to this police training video, shoot first. Says a lot, really. The video is more geared to instilling fear and promoting quick use of deadly force rather than defense or de-escalation.

Retro Review: The Mummy Returns (2001) ∞ Infinispace

14. I hadn’t seen The Mummy Returns (2001) in 20 years. I remember enjoying Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy. Despite it being mostly hokey, it has an amiably fun and consistent tone of dusty swashbuckling adventure that weirdly works. And I remember the sequel was not as a good. Upon re-watch, I could have gone off of memory. The first third is a lot of fun, but about halfway through it’s got no more worthwhile tricks up its sleeve; just an onslaught of bad CG pygmies, dog-men, dirigibles, and Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s cartoon head and torso on a giant scorpion body for some reason. Watch it for the first act and then fall asleep.

Castle Freak (Video 1995) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

13. Stuart Gordon. The man behind such schlock treasures as Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids gets back to basics with Castle Freak (1995). Back to basics means it has monsters, gross makeup, and Jeffrey Combs. It’s weird, upsetting, and has Italians. Jeffrey Combs inherits a castle, but PLOT TWIST FROM THE VERY TITLE: this castle has a freak in it. And he’s a real tortured soul. But that won’t excuse any of the stuff he does in this nasty little horror.

Jason Hurst on Twitter: "RIP Max Von Sydow. From my childhood I'll always  remember him as Emperor Ming from Flash Gordon and also from the soccer  movie Victory.… https://t.co/V75R938l5W"

12. I gave the marvelously campy Flash Gordon (1980) a re-watch and it was every bit as silly and ludicrous as I remembered. It’s a set designer’s dream! It’s a flamboyant fashion spectacle! Queen phones in a gloriously dumb theme song! It bears some resemblance to the 1930s serials. Watch it for the colors and magnificently over-the-top performances of classic actors like Brian Blessed, Topol, and Max von Sydow. Also for appearances by Ornella Muti, Richard O’Brien, and Timothy Dalton. Then watch Barbarella and Starcrash to keep the crazy campy space train going.

Godzilla vs Biollante Dissected Part 1 - YouTube

11. I grew up watching Godzilla marathons. Most of the ones I remember seeing on TV were from the Shōwa era (1954-1975). So the Heisei era Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) was one I missed. Look, if you like Godzilla, you’ll dig it. If not, it’s probably a tough sell. But the suitmation and puppetry is some of the best in the series I’ve seen. Godzilla fights a giant flower monster that is a chimera between a rose and Godzilla’s own DNA. Big monsters and smashing. It’s all it needs to be.

She Done Him Wrong Review | Movie - Empire

10. Mae West lays it on thick in She Done Him Wrong (1933). The classic dame of dirty one-liners is a bowery showgirl chasing tail and avoiding bullets and jail time between her foxy song numbers. Admittedly, I’m more acquainted with the curvy empress of entendre’s reputation than her actual film canon (although I dug her in My Little Chickadee with W.C. Fields), so I figured I’d start here. It’s very much a product of its time and not a whole lot really happens in it, but West is so fun to watch that it’s hard not to enjoy. Also enjoy a very young Carey Grant as one of the objects of her affection.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Trailer: The Whole World Is Watching – /Film

9. Clashes between Chicago police and anti-war protesters mad about Hubert Humphrey’s nomination lead to violence in 1968. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) does a good job of explaining the various positions and circumstances surrounding the key players while also reminding us how very often things can be very stacked against reason and peace. All-star cast courtroom drama.

Wisconsin Death Trip (1999) — Contains Moderate Peril

8. Wisconsin Death Trip (1999) is an odd and rather macabre bit of Americana. Directed by James Marsh and narrated by Iam Holm, it presents a series of historical reenactments of suicide, murder, insanity, and general misery from the late 19th century in Black River Falls. It’s a curious documentary with a detached atmosphere of gallows humor. With echoes of the Coen Brothers or perhaps if Guy Maddin had done Faces of Death.

Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds | Movie review – The Upcoming

7. Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog turns his attention to the heavens and, more specifically, the strange messages it sends to us in the form of space rocks. Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds (2020) is a documentary about meteorites, how they have been historically understood, mythologized in religions, and, perhaps more intriguingly, how they continue to fascinate and drive the most interesting people to dedicating their lives to collecting and studying them.

WOLFWALKERS (TIFF20) – Review by Pam Grady – ALLIANCE OF WOMEN FILM  JOURNALISTS

6. Fans of the Irish animated films Secret of the Kells and Song of the Sea will not be disappointed with Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s Wolfwalkers (2020). An English girl moves to a small Irish village with her father and winds up getting mixed up with a feral child who becomes a wolf whenever she’s asleep. Irish mythology, history, and social commentary combine to deliver a story about finding who you are and what you believe in. Wolfwalkers is a beautifully animated and empowering journey.

Deerskin Review: A Man's Obsession With His Jacket [TIFF 2019] – /Film

5. A man buys a coat that becomes the object of his obsession in Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin (2019). It’s a weird dark comedy (typical of Dupieux, but I liked this much better than Rubber). I quite liked the mileage they got out of the quirky premise.

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4. I am actually quite surprised that a film with this much depth was produced by Disney. Pixar’s Soul (2020), directed by Pete Docter, is the story of a music teacher and aspiring jazz musician named Joe (Jamie Foxx) who gets the break of a lifetime and then unexpectedly dies. With so much to live for an prove, Joe’s soul will do anything to escape the afterlife. A series of mix-ups leads him to be the accidental mentor to a baby soul (Tina Fey) that simply doesn’t want to get born and doesn’t see the point of existence. This backdrop gives the film carte blanche to explore the meaning and value of life. And surprisingly, this animated adventure is very much up to that lofty task. Perhaps too complex and subtle for very young audience members, Soul might resonate much more with adults and animation aficionados (the design, lighting, and animation are some of the very best I have ever seen). Great voice cast too.

A Taxi Driver: Korea Cab - Fort Worth Weekly

3. The great Song Kang-ho stars as a struggling Seoul cabbie who gets picks up a German reporter (Thomas Kretschmann) and gets sucked into the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, an historic tragedy where the Korean military and paratroopers mowed down hundreds of protestors. A Taxi Driver (2017), directed by Jang Hoon, is an excellent character study and examination of real world events, effectively dramatized with humor, heroism, and heart. Despite whatever liberties were taken with the film itself, this is an important reminder that democracy is something that needs to be fought for and maintained. The aspirations of authoritarianism and influence of propaganda are still with us and the good journalism, organized protest, and a global conscience are some of our best defenses against these evils.

Bacurau (2019) Película - PLAY Cine

2. Nothing more beautiful than a whole town coming together to something awesome. Bacurau (2019), directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, is the story of an isolated Brazilian village that appears is being targeted for something strange and possibly nefarious. When a teacher can’t find them on Google Earth during a geography lesson, it seems odd. When bizarre UFO-like drones start spying on folks, there is some concern. When the internet stops working, the villagers are not sure what is going on. They are being cut off. But why? Bacarau is a fantastic slow-burn thriller that keeps you guessing and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I won’t reveal anything more because I went into this film completely cold and was treated to a series of twists and unexpected revelations that I would never want to spoil. There is much to be read into the story socio-politically as well.

Seven Samurai | film|captures | 映画

1. OK, so this one is maybe a cheat. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) has long been one of my absolute favorite movies and I have seen it many times. I recently re-watched it with someone who had never seen it. I was initially unsure how a nearly 70-year-old, three-and-a-half hour long, black-and-white Japanese film would hold up to the uninitiated. Perhaps unshockingly, this legendary masterpiece is still a hugely engrossing, entertaining, and emotional adventure. Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Seiji Miyaguchi, Bokuzen Hidari, and Yoshio Kimura star in the classic tale of a small village in 17th century Japan that hires rogue samurai to defend their land from bandits. I’m a sucker for samurai movies anyway, and this one may be long, but it’s very accessible and remains one of the best. The characters are compelling and well drawn. The stakes are clear and omnipresent. And the action is built up well and wonderfully choreographed. You can’t say you love movies if you haven’t seen any Kurosawa, and this is one of the best places to start with his impressive catalog.

Last Few Movies XLV: Merry XXXmas

More movies! Some Christmas ones peppered throughout.

Robert's Review: Jack Frost (1997) – The Scariest Things

21. Bad horror is great. Bad comedy is cringe-worthy. Jack Frost (1997) is the latter. The budget is small, but that’s no excuse for lazy writing. The whole thing is just kind of witless and joyless with a deficit of imaginative kills and a glut of bad post-murder catchphrases. Not near as fun as Santa’s Slay.

EPIX | Hit Movies, TV Series and More

20. I hope you like parables of hood-life and the letter Z. Bloodz vs Wolvez (2006), directed by Z. Winston Brown, is the tale of inner-city werewolf hoods and upscale vampire realtors testing a new truce. Some of the actors are bringing it despite the terrible script, worse cinematography, and disorienting editing. Funniest thing about this flick is how every location is just a vacant room with no furniture or anything.

Action U.S.A. (1989) directed by Alan Stewart, John Stewart • Reviews, film  + cast • Letterboxd

19. Admittedly, we were only able to find the supercut, so I feel like I need to find the full copy of Action U.S.A. (1989) and give it a real watch one day. Clearly made by stunt-people with a passion for explosions, car chases, dangling out of helicopters, and full body burns, this was incomprehensible (at least in the unfortunate format we experienced it) but had some fun and ridiculous moments. Maybe no Miami Connection or Samurai Cop, but then what is?

Watch Year One Unrated | Prime Video

18. Harold Ramis’s final directorial effort was lambasted by critics for being juvenile, stupid, and pointless. And yeah, Year One (2009) starring Jack Black and Michael Cera (and a bevy of comedic actors in various bit parts), is all of those things, but honestly I didn’t hate it. It’s got cavepeople and episodically bounces around through various Old Testament stories with gleeful sacrilege. For an historically hated comedy, I expected worse. Maybe I’m an idiot or maybe my religious upbringing and biblical literacy made it something of a softball catharsis.

The Devil's Sword (1984), a bonkers Indonesian martial arts fantasy  B-movie. | Movies, Films & Flix

17. The Devil’s Sword (1983) is an Indonesian fantasy epic with magic, monsters, and kung-fu. Maybe not as streamlined and polished as some Hollywood fare, but it’s got some wacky fights and a sexy underground crocodile queen who kidnaps men on their wedding day to bang.

A Love Letter to The Long Kiss Goodnight's Acerbic Heroine on Ice – In  Their Own League

16. Shane Black almost can’t not write action movies set at Christmas. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), directed by Renny Harlin, has a great premise (a sleeper cell amnesiac rediscovering her previous killer identity like Jason Bourne), a solid cast (Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson), and a plot that’s just an excuse to lead into new implausible action set pieces. Not great, but worth it for Davis and Jackson.

Plum (2013) - IMDb

15. After Diamond Cobra vs White Fox, we had to see more Deaundra T. Brown. Like the other film, Plum (2013) is an incomprehensible mess of narcissism, aliens, and awkward special effects. We loved it, but perhaps a little bit of Deaundra goes a long way and after Diamond Cobra and a buttload of her music videos, Plum didn’t possess the novelty factor of when we first encountered her unique cinematic vision. Still, it was a lot of fun and enjoyed it. The female Neil Breen rides again.

Five things you never knew about The Warriors | Dazed

14. The Warriors (1979) are on the lam from a series of implausibly flamboyant gangs through a particularly seedy New York City. The plot is put into motion quickly and clearly and then we’re just running the whole movie. I dig modern takes on older stories. There’s just something unique and yet timeless about it. The Warriors was inspired by the ancient Greek saga Anabasis by Xenophon.

Film 8: Night of the Demon (1957) | BFI

13. This movie is worth it just for that monster. British horror flick, Curse of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur, is a fun bit of supernatural versus skepticism mystery. An American (Dana Andrews) investigating a weird cult leader (Niall MacGinnis) confronts the possibility that his materialist attitude may need some adjusting. My only complaint is it needed more of that monster.

Donald Glover's Guava Island is Gorgeous Tropical Musical

12. Childish Gambino and Rihanna star in the musical Guava Island (2019), directed by Hiro Murai. On a little tropical paradise, the machinery of the industrialized world must never stop – not even for a little party. The beautiful locations and great tunes (although not nearly enough) make this, although I would have liked to see it developed a bit more. The politics and stakes are made clear, but I wanted more out of the characters. At 55-minutes it’s an interesting and pretty film that just feels a little unfinished. Its best bits reminded me of Black Orpheus.

Pin on Gunfights

11. Ended up re-watching Michael Crichton’s original Westworld (1973). Yul Brynner is great as a killer robot cowboy hunting down the park visitor who shot him, but I still prefer Jurassic Park for a Crichton fever dream about an amusement park that murders its patrons. A little cheesy, but fun the whole ride.

The Film Sufi: “Kapurush” - Satyajit Ray (1965)

10. Satyajit Ray’s The Coward (1965) is the frustrating tale of a young scriptwriter named Amitabha (Soumitra Chatterjee) who was too afraid to be with the woman he loved. When fate has him stuck and staying with a sloppy tea estate owner (Haradhan Bandopadhyay), he is reunited with Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee), his old flame. But Karuna is married to the fat, bald tea man. Convinced she would leave this slob, he tries to rekindle what he left behind.

Stone – A wait-and-see approach to politics – Lucca Film Festival

9. It’s about time I saw Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987). A young stockbroker named Bud (Charlie Sheen) wants to study the ways of the master, Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas), and dominate the world of trade. But Gordon is perhaps even more shrewd and cutthroat than Bud could have imagined, challenging him to re-evaluate all he has pursued and what he has already become. Co-stars Darryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, John C. McGinley, Terence Stamp, Hal Holbrook, and Sean Young.

American Genre Film Archive BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE

8. Teruo Ishii’s Blind Woman’s Curse (1970) is the story of warring yakuza gangs and a series of mysterious murders. Meiko Kaji plays the leader of the Tachibana clan who is haunted by cats, she suspects in response to her blinding a woman in a battle with her katana as she struck down the woman’s husband. Mystery, murder, and intrigue with the highlights being the fights, creepy circus, and one badass blind woman back from the grave.

Rare Exports, A Christmas Tale— a Delight for Any Christmas Cynic | Tilt  Magazine

7. Finland. What a country. Rare Exports (2010), directed by Jalmari Helander, is the Christmas folk horror you’ve been dreaming of (especially if you liked Norway’s Troll Hunter). Dry deadpan humor, terrific tension, and an awakening of yuletide monsters of ancient lore – drawing from darker legends of Santa Claus, Krampus, and Finland’s Christmas buck. Great acting, writing, cinematography, and marvelously horrific takes on classic Christmas creatures. This is how you export culture. It loses points for being a bit of a monster tease. Watch the short film it was based on too. Make this a new holiday classic.

THE FAVOURITE (2018) Clip: Hot Chocolate - YouTube

6. Yorgos Lanthimos presents a somewhat fictionalized love triangle between Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman), Lady Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), and ambitious social climber escaping destitution, Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) in The Favourite (2018). Sumptuously opulent abodes and regal chambers shot stiflingly through ubiquitous fisheye lenses capture the absurdity and the suffocation of the whole situation. The three ladies all give fantastic performances (perhaps most of all Olivia Coleman as the besotted and put upon royal out of her depths politically and haunted by tragedy emotionally). The tactics of manipulation employed to stay in or gain the Queen’s good graces is equal parts funny and despicable. A fantastic, devilish film all around.

AFRICAN KUNG-FU NAZIS - Busch Media Group

5. I like a film that can manage a good tone. African Kung-Fu Nazis (2019) strikes a fine balance between being a great kung-fu movie and being a cheeky, low-brow comedy. According to the movie, Hitler escaped Germany after WWII with Hideki Tojo and they started brainwashing the people of Ghana (turning them into white-faced Ghan-Aryans). When Hitler (Sebastian Stein) kills the leader of a peaceful martial arts school, surviving member Addae (Elisha Okyere) has to fight back and rescue his girlfriend. Cue the training montages. The fights are shot very well, and like a few other micro-budget genre films coming out of Africa, it is self-referential, winking, and plunges you into a whole new world of cinematic possibilities. Oh, and the music is great too.

A drifting cowboy: Best Chatsworth Movies -- The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

4. The more things change, the more they stay the same. John Ford’s famous adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Dust Bowl novel might seem shockingly prescient despite documenting a real chapter of American history. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is the story of the Joad family. When the banks kick countless Oklahoma families off their land, all that’s left is to make the long trek to California in the hopes of getting work as fruit pickers. Along the way, the family endures much hardship together and frequently gets abused and lowballed by greedy big farms. It’s human and bleak, but not quite as grim as the book. Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, and a host of other craggy faces and character actors round out the cast.

Blood Simple: Director's Cut to screen in UK cinemas for first time with 4K  restoration overseen by Coen brothers | The Independent | The Independent

3. How have I gone this long without seeing the Coen Brothers first film? Blood Simple (1984) is a perfect film. A gritty neo-noir where every piece that is set up remains in play until the end of the game. Like many a classic Coen Brothers movie, much of the plot is instigated by an unfortunate murder gone awry. I went in knowing very little about it and maybe you should too. You’ll figure it out. Stars Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, and John Getz, but it’s M. Emmett Walsh that steals the show.

Modern Times | Remai Modern

2. I must have watched Modern Times (1936) at least a dozen times, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t due for a re-watch (and Chaplin double feature). Widely regarded as one of his very best, it certainly is the Tramp’s most political work (well, at least on par with The Great Dictator). The dehumanization wrought by the advent of cold industrialization and the plight of those living in abject poverty during the height of the Depression are on full display, so you may forgive its maudlin overtures. And 84 years later it’s still expert filmmaking, laugh-out-loud comedy, and a piercingly prescient social commentary. Paulette Godard is also probably the very best Chaplin girl, playing a spunky barefoot vagabond. Chaplin, despite his age at the time of making this film, still proves to me an absolute master of physical comedy.

1. Modern Times may be more socially significant, but The Gold Rush (1925) is my favorite. We ended up re-watching the 1942 re-release that cuts out a few elements for narrative expediency and adds a robust Chaplin voiceover narration that is alternately poetically compelling and just a tad in the way. The Gold Rush is a perfect movie, adroitly mining the humor out of snowbound starvation and desperation. Visually, it is Chaplin’s finest and every gag fits into the plot snugly and propels it while upping the stakes. No matter how many times I see it, The Gold Rush never disappoints. Honestly, the Tramp Cinematic Universe might be my favorite. 95 years on and it is still an undeniable masterpiece of the medium.

BONUS: TV

Primal: Genndy Tartakovsky on His Adult Swim Caveman Show

Legendary animator, Genndy Tartakovsky, turns his creative team towards something I was genetically engineered to love. Primal (2019-2021) is a wordless Frazetta-inspired adventure about a caveman and a t-rex trying to survive in a prehistoric hell world populated by bloodthirsty monsters and weird cultures. It is a work of art. A glorious, gory work of art.

Last Few Movies: Comfort Re-Watches for Dark Times

I watch a lot of new movies, but this pandemic lockdown has me seeking some familiarity. So I’ve been revisiting a few more movies I know (and introducing them to my roommates) to stay sane. Some new ones to me too though.

Enemy At The Gates: Poor Reviews & A Lack of Star Power | Bomb Report

23. I found Jean-Jacques Annaud’s WWII epic about snipers during the Battle of Stalingrad, Enemy at the Gates (2001), to be kind of tedious despite some solid production value.

The Amazing Bulk - movie: watch stream online

22. The Amazing Bulk (2012) feels like a superhero origin story made entirely on 20 square feet of green screen and just chock full of free animated elements. It’s shockingly lazy, ugly, and stupid, but I did laugh at the title character’s adorable little trot.

The Protector (1985) – Mike's Take On the Movies ………. Rediscovering  Cinema's Past

21. The Protector (1985) might be my least favorite Jackie Chan movie. First action scene Jackie is gunning down people while their blood paints the walls. There’s a lot of nudity in it too. Jackie is cursing a lot more than usual. His partner (Danny Aiello) is kind of a gross creep. And not much actual hand-to-hand combat. Feels like American filmmakers had no idea how to use their talented star.

Blast from the Past: Layer Cake | Movies | San Luis Obispo | New Times San  Luis Obispo

20. What if a Guy Ritchie movie had less charm and style? Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake (2004) is a bit of a convoluted British crime drama with a great cast, but not enough character.

My favourite film aged 12: Young Sherlock Holmes | Film | The Guardian

19. I used to love this movie. Gave it a re-watch. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) is so dumbed down it’s like Sherlock Holmes for children. Oh, I get the title. At least the special effects are still fun and scary and I dig the theme song.

president-hot-shots-part-deux | Movies, Films & Flix

18. More wacky sight gags and sendups of movies like Rambo in Jim Abraham’s Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993). Fun cast and most of the silliness lands, although it’s no Airplane.

American Genre Film Archive THE NAVIGATOR: A MEDIEVAL ODYSSEY

17. This is one weird time travel adventure. The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988) directed by Vincent Ward. The Plague has come to a small village and one boy has a vision of them placing a cross on a steeple. Arty and atmospheric Australian flick.

Sherlock Holmes – fxguide

16. Guy Ritchie adapts Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth into a rough-and-tumble action flick in Sherlock Holmes (2009). We had to see this again after the Young Sherlock Holmes debacle and, although it is a bit more fun, it’s too long and messy to be a true classic. Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. are fun and it has a few exciting scenes. The convoluted mystery’s intrigue takes a backseat to the spectacle, probably because they knew it wasn’t that interesting.

Who Did The Visual Effects For 'Animal World,' The Chinese Action Film  Coming Soon To Netflix

15. Visually, Animal World (2018) is speaking a whole other movie language. A desperate nobody is caught up in a secret underground game of rock-paper-scissors. I don’t know what the aliens and clown fight scenes have to do with anything, but they are fun to look at. It ends on kind of an anti-climactic note, but it functions as set up for a sequel that, frankly, I’d be down to watch.

Dr. No (1962) Review | Movie Moore

14. In honor of Sir Sean Connery’s passing, we gave Dr. No (1962) another go. Originating a lot of the 007 tropes we’d come to know and love and roll our eyes at, this British spy flick set in Jamaica gives its suave star plenty of time to shine amidst all the campy silliness of the plot. It gets really dumb by the final act, but it’s never boring and Ursula Andress is a pleasure to behold.

Fantastic Fest Interview: Jim Cummings Hunts The Wolf of Snow Hollow: The  actor and director talks bloody myths and drive-in premieres - Screens -  The Austin Chronicle

13. An alcoholic cop is trying to solve a string of grisly murders townsfolk are attributing to a werewolf in Jim Cummings’ The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020). The great cast and well-balanced levity throughout make this chilly police investigation an engrossing tale from start to finish.

johnlink ranks BRONSON (2008) | johnlinkmovies

12. Nicolas Winding Refn gives Tom Hardy space to flex his acting muscles in the prison biopic, Bronson (2008). I am always interested to see what newcomers have to say about it, because structurally it can be a bit frustrating and unpredictable. It’s on its own wavelength. But it works because its subject, Britain’s most famous prisoner, is an erratic and strange beast on his own sort of evolving quest for meaning.

Name of the Rose, The Review | Movie - Empire

11. Jean-Jacques Annaud gets to make up for Enemy at the Gates with The Name of the Rose (1986) starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. I recalled this 14th century monastic mystery fondly, and it does hold up. The gritty atmosphere, grotesque clergy, and paternal Connery performance make this a memorable film experience. Ron Perlman also shines as a crazed hunchback.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) YIFY - Download Movie TORRENT - YTS

10. I revisited Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) and, while it wasn’t my viewing partners’ favorite, the slow lyricism resonated with me more than it had in past viewings. There is no glamor here. Sweaty conquistadors are lost in the jungle, drifting aimlessly down the Amazon as their numbers dwindle and their hope and sanity wanes. Send in the monkeys. Klaus Kinski, with his craggy, maniacal face, is perfectly cast as the greedy author of their misfortunes.

The Gentlemen' Review | Movies | Santa Fe Reporter

9. The Gentlemen (2019) plays like Guy Ritchie’s greatest hits. All of the sharp action, folding plot, and tough-guy dialogue you’d expect from Lock, Stock, and Two-Smokin’ Barrels, Snatch, RocknRolla, and the rest, but distilled here to perfection, aided by a fantastic cast. If you love quick-witted British gangsters guided by their own sort of rigid principles then you’ll definitely enjoy this slick caper.

Punishment Park - movie: watch streaming online

8. Peter Watkins faux-documentary Punishment Park (1971) paints an America where political dissidents (artists, civil rights activists, pacifists, etc.) are tried in a tented kangaroo court and released into a fatal desert hell. The thing that struck me most was how literally every single issue the prisoners are confronting are things that haven’t gone away. This movie is as applicable now as it was in the early 70s.

Life Between Frames: Panos Cosmatos's Mandy

7. Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy (2018) exudes a cosmic darkness. A truly psychedelic cinema experience. It’s a revenge thriller that feels like a surreal horror. I’ve seen it a couple times now and it is never less than captivating. Brutal, but captivating.

Hausu (1977) by Nobuhiko Obayashi | Japanese horror, Japanese film,  Japanese horror movies

6. I have loved Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Hausu (1977) since I first stumbled upon it over a decade ago. This gleeful, candy-coated nonsense is exactly my speed and its unabashed zaniness makes it my all time favorite haunted house movie.

The NeverEnding Story (1984) | THE CINEMATIC FRONTIER

5. Watching NeverEnding Story (1984) again as adult is like confronting some serious demons. Beneath the special effects and AMAZING music is a deeply existentially heavy journey through depression and the horror of identity. This movie has more layers than Layer Cake. It holds up. The bleakness is matched only by its imagination. This is a movie that respects kids and wants to scare them. Of course, it’s a German production.

The Grand Budapest Hotel's Humane Comedy About Tragedy - The Atlantic

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) remains my favorite Wes Anderson film. He achieves maximum style, symmetry, and comedy in this gorgeous living cartoon that pits the lavish excesses of pre-war mentality (embodied wonderfully by Ralph Fiennes’ foppish and promiscuous concierge) against the onset of fascism and its eventual decay. The story celebrates how goodness, even if ultimately short-lived, can echo throughout the passage of time. Worth a re-watch these days.

14 Unknown Facts About Kung Fu Hustle

3. Comfort food doesn’t get tastier for me than Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle (2004). The music, the action, and the comedy are all perfection. Brilliant writing and emotional impact if you let it take you away. Honestly, this and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon might be favorite kung fu movies. And yes, I put them on the same level.

The Thing (theatrical release vs network television broadcast cut) (John  Carpenter, 1982) – Offscreen

2. The perfect film for a snowbound quarantine doesn’t exi— John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) has been written about to death. It’s brilliant. Just watch it if you haven’t or watch it again if you have.

David Warner: Evil Genius - Time Bandits | Terry gilliam, Bandit, Evil  geniuses

1. Always a favorite, Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981) gets deeper with every viewing. On its surface, it’s a silly time travel adventure with wacky situations and funny characters (also another great appearance by Sean Connery), but it was the nihilistic depictions of God (Sir Ralph Richardson as a stuffy, aloof schoolmaster) and the Devil (David Warner as an insecure pseudo-intellectual) that I found most revealing this time around. Gilliam appears to be wrestling with some deeply ingrained religious ideas and reducing them to parody was perhaps therapeutic. Lord knows I can relate. John Cleese as Robin Hood is laugh out loud funny, as are the Shelley Duvall/Michael Palin bits. Like NeverEnding Story, it’s a movie for kids that doesn’t really care if it traumatizes them.

From Aliens to Zombies

Vampires, witches, and ghosts. Old hat. Let’s get some solid scary alien and zombie flicks on the TV tonight.

Aliens

The Thing from Another World (1951) - The Stalking Moon
The vegetable man cometh.

This Howard Hawks production is a great example of 1950s sci-fi sensibilities. The Thing from Another World (1951) comes from the golden age of sci-fi and perfectly blends elements of horror. An alien is thawed out in a remote polar research facility and proceeds to pick the personnel off. Classic American science versus military narrative (but science is the villain here). Crackling, witty dialogue and some spooky snow terror mayhem.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) — Science on Screen
Don’t look now. It’s communism! Or maybe nationalism.

Embrace the paranoia of everyone you know being replaced by an alien pod copy. It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)! An absolute classic that feels straight out of the Twilight Zone. The terror of conformity surges through our button-down protagonist’s veins.

Film Reviews: Village of the Damned (1960) & Children of the Damned (1964)  | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews
There’s a Visine for that.

Evil kid movies feel like their cheating a bit. Kids are already pretty weird and creepy and Village of the Damned (1960) casts them as demonic alien entities invading a small town and causing trouble by controlling people’s minds. And only George Sanders can save the day!

Now See This, Ep. 2: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) - Ampersand
Donald Sutherland holds Brooke Adams.

I enjoy this Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) more than the original. It dials up the grit and goo and the horror, while still remaining classy. Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Goldblum co-star in this masterful invasion flick.

What 'Memory: The Origins of Alien' Reveals About the Sexual Metaphors in  the 1979 Film [Interview] - Bloody Disgusting
H.R. Giger creature designs put to good use.

Ridley Scott’s best movie, for my money, will always be Alien (1979). Sigourney Weaver kicks ass on board the spaceship Nostromo as we follow the horrific life cycle of a xenomorph. Absolutely brilliant film.

Review: The Thing (1982) — 3 Brothers Film
Kurt Russell is perfection.

I do love the original, but John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing (1982) is something wholly unique. This time the alien is a changeling. It becomes the snowbound men it kills, ratcheting up the paranoia and terror. Great practical effects from Rob Bottin make this a truly memorable sci-fi horror flick.

COMMUNION (1989) • Frame Rated
Let’s simulate a probing. I’ll use my index finger.

I still haven’t seen Fire in the Sky, but I will recommend Communion (1989). Christopher Walken plays a man who has been having weird dreams that are hard to remember. Is he going insane or is he the victim of recurring alien abductions? The scenes with the aliens are the stuff of nightmares. They don’t make sense. The logic becomes muddled and the images are confounding. And that’s part of the point. We are perhaps not meant to understand.

The Quarantine Stream: 'Attack the Block' is an Underrated Gem of a Genre  Movie – /Film
Forget Star Wars. This is the John Boyega sci-fi flick to watch.

Part action movie and part crime drama, Attack the Block (2011) is an explosive bit of British sci-fi filmmaking. Inventive monsters and plenty of cockney hip-hop swagger.

The Classics – “The Cornetto Trilogy” – donttalkaboutmovies
What a cast.

Edgar Wright closes his Cornetto Trilogy with some biting satire and robotic aliens full of blue goo in The World’s End (2013). A midlife crisis pub crawl reminds us all that “you can’t go home again.”

What To Watch: Who's The Monster In Scarlett Johansson's 'Under The Skin' |  That Moment In
Who am I?

Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2013) may be a bit slow and arty, but for those with patience, it is an elegantly tragic slow-burn horror. Scarlet Johansson is an alien on a mission to lure young, horny Scotsmen to their nightmarish deaths. It may not be for everyone, but I absolutely loved it.

Color Out of Space (2019)
This movie needed more Tommy Chong.

Richard Stanley enlists Nicolas Cage for his adaptation of Color Out of Space (2019). A meteorite lands on Earth and starts to change everything around it. Imagine a brainless, schlocky version of Annihilation with a touch of The Thing and you’re probably on the right track.

Zombies

White Zombie. 1932. Directed by Victor Halperin | MoMA
I think Bela’s widow’s peak is giving Dracula’s a run for its money.

While White Zombie (1932) may not be a spectacularly great film, it does have a couple things I like: Bela Lugosi and a creepy sugar plantation operated by zombies. Believed to be the first zombie movie, its monsters are more of a conceptual horror. The idea that your body can be controlled by voodoo magic rather than flesh eating monsters is the real threat.

10 great breakthrough American indie films | BFI
“They’re coming to get you, Barbara…”

George A. Romero invents a new kind of monster in Night of the Living Dead (1968), a prescient and frightening bit of American horror with some added social commentary. The dead rise and trap several strangers in a house.

When It's Darkest: George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead as an Indictment of  Consumerism — Moviejawn
There’s a sale on.

Romero dials up the satire and the gore for Dawn of the Dead (1978). Zombies have taken over and a small gang of survivors try to get supplies from a shopping mall that has been abandoned by all but the walking dead. Night may have invented the genre, but Dawn perfected it.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985) – Is there a monkey in it?
The 80s belonged to the punks.

Dan O’Bannon took zombies in a slightly different direction. Tonally, Return of the Living Dead (1985) is goofier, but no less bleak. This time, you can’t kill the zombies…presenting a bit of an obvious problem for our heroes. Maybe not as insightful as the Romero movies, but Return is still one of my favorite examples of the genre.

Night of the Creeps Original Rubber Static "Slug" original movie prop
I love these little slug guys.

Space aliens jettison a pod of some unknown pest off their ship. Turns out they’re brain eating slugs that turn their hosts into the undead. And they’re loose on Earth! And on prom night!! Night of the Creeps (1986), directed by Fred Dekker, boasts some creepy crawlies and maybe Tom Atkins most fun performance.

Nothing | 1+1=3. Everything is true.
Caption this.

Romero can make the list twice, so can Carpenter. They Live (1988) is classic 80s American anti-consumerist satire starring Rowdy Roddy Piper. When a drifter discovers a box of mysterious sunglasses that allow the wearer to see the world as it truly is (a corporate zombified hellscape of propaganda and conformity), it becomes his mission to tell the world. Or at least have a comically extended alley fight with Keith David.

Film Review: Bio-Zombie (1998) | HNN
Zombies just want some love.

Hon Kong horror-comedy, Bio Zombie (1998), puts a pair of two-bit hoodlums, Woody and Buzz (and their girlfriends, Jelly and Rolls), in an underground mall that is becoming infected with a zombie virus that might just end the world. Fun, funny, and as grim as any of the films on this list.

28 Days Later Review | Movie - Empire
Cillian Murphy wanders the empty streets of London.

I generally don’t like my zombie movies super serious and literal, but 28 Days Later (2000), directed by Danny Boyle, is the exception. It actually treats its undead threat with a seriousness that usually doesn’t work, but the characters are so compelling that it does become a solid suspense thriller.

Review: Shaun of the Dead (2004) — 3 Brothers Film
I realize Zombieland is not on the list. I saw it. I just don’t remember much about it.

Edgar Wright again. Shaun of the Dead (2004) was the first time a lot of North Americans saw Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. And we fell in love. This survivalist horror-comedy is soaked in gore, but for all the slick and quick wit, it always treats its threat with tragedy and terror.

Exclusive] 'Pontypool' Spinoff Coming Soon and Direct Sequel in the Works!  - Bloody Disgusting
Be careful what you say.

Pontypool (2008) is a brilliant Canadian horror movie set in a church basement radio studio. Stephen McHattie shines as the shock jock who keeps getting ominous calls and reports from the outside world until the scares are breaking in. This zombie virus is spread through a clever twist.

Stop-motion is an undead art.

Why not? Laika Studios’ ParaNorman (2012) gives kids a solid zombie flick they can call their own. Norman can see and talk to ghosts, but zombie pilgrims rising from the grave is a whole other story. Great animation, humor, and heart.

Last Few Movies XLIII: Oof

Not my best haul.

Mortal Kombat Annihilation: 38 Kool Movie Easter Eggs, References, And  Things You Didn't Know About The Fighting Game Se - GameSpot

29. My roommates and I decided to watch the Mortal Kombat movies. Whether you love the games or have no idea what they are, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) is hilariously juvenile garbage. The original feels like it was written by a 10 year old. This sequel feels like it was written by a 6 year old. Who knew the true meaning of a violent fight videogame was friendship?

Contamination (aka, Alien Contamination) (Luigi Cozzi, 1980) – Offscreen

28. Italian schlock master Luigi Cozzi gives us Contamination (1980). It’s a bit murky and slow, but the uniqueness here is that alien eggs are being smuggled into the US from the South America like cocaine. It’s an alien egg cartel. It’s an odd move, but kind of funny and fascinating. Also, people’s guts explode out of their bodies if the egg goo gets on them.

Octopus scientists love 'My Octopus Teacher' just as much as you do -  Australian Geographic

27. A man anthropomorphizes an oblivious cephalopod to assemble a narrative and justify his family abandonment in the lackluster documentary My Octopus Teacher (2020).

Is 'Da 5 Bloods' a True Story? A Guide to the Film's History

26. Da 5 Bloods (2020) is one of the Spike Lee movies that, for me, is tonally inconsistent and completely forgettable. Delroy Lindo is pretty good though.

De Palma Daydreams: On Hello Mary Lou Prom Night II - ComingSoon.net

25. I never saw the first movie, but somehow I don’t think that would have helped make much sense of Hello, Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987). It’s got some classic prom slasher bits, but it’s arguably more unhinged and harder to follow.

1990: The Bronx Warriors (Enzo Castellari, 1982) – Offscreen

24. Italian filmmakers imagine a distant future where comically ridiculous gangs have overrun New York City in The Bronx Warriors (1982). It’s dumb and dopey and kind of what you want from this sort of thing. Fred Williamson is the best part as the gang leader, Ogre.

Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa as Video Game Villains

23. Mortal Kombat (1995) is schlock for children, but it has a decent set up, some nice set design, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is absolutely owning every scene he is in as Shang Tsung. Recast Christopher Lambert and a few of the other characters, give the plot a bit more shape, and establish the tournament rules and the stakes a bit better, and this could have been pretty good.

Anna Falchi News Articles, Images, Videos & Clips and Reports

22. Cemetery Man (1994) is maybe five movies at once? Rupert Everett is a cemetery groundskeeper who must battle the undead when they emerge from the grave. If this was the whole movie that would have been enough. But then he keeps falling in love with women who look alike. The zombies plot kind of goes away. We follow his oafish sidekick being in a relationshio with a dismembered teen zombie head and then somehow we were in a snow-globe the whole time? Also, this is visibly Italy and everyone’s name is very Italian and yet everyone involved in intensely British. Does any of it work? Hard to tell. Cemetery Man is something else.

Foxcatcher: True Story Behind the Channing Tatum Movie | Time

21. Foxcatcher (2014) is everything I don’t want in a based-on-true-events movie. It has a distractingly famous actor cast against type in weird makeup doing a funny voice. It is slow and mostly uneventful. And it doesn’t shed any light on the actual events. But it is well shot and decently acted, so there is some craft here. Just wish it had been more.

New Year's Evil (1980) – The Goug' Blog

20. Finally. A slasher flick about New Year’s. New Years Evil (1980) is a laughably bad thriller that misguidedly makes the killer the protagonist (even if the movie doesn’t seem to think so). A maniac decides to kill someone at midnight in every American time zone, leading up to his confrontation with a punky radio hostess in California. Had the hostess or the detective been given more character, it could have elevated the plot and the stakes.

American Genre Film Archive SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY

19. You have to really like sleazy schlock to get behind Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987), a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi retelling of The Most Dangerous Game but with scantily clad buxom bimbos.

Laurel and Hardy biopic 'love story of two friends at end of their careers'  - AOL

18. I grew up loving Laurel and Hardy. They were a truly legendary comedy duo. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly do amazing jobs at portraying them in Stan and Ollie (2018), even if the film may falter in showcasing why they were so great.

The Social Dilemma | Netflix Official Site

17. Facebook is bad. Our data is harvested for nefarious purposes. We are mentally and emotionally killing ourselves. It’s The Social Dilemma (2020), a documentary that confirms all of your deepest held suspicions just like the algorithms have ordained.

Oz Perkins on 'Gretel & Hansel' and feminist fairy tales | Fortune

16. Gretel & Hansel (2020) looks amazing. Fantastic visuals and atmosphere. It also needed a few rewrites to bring the characters to life. Worth checking out for Alice Krige as the witch and the sumptuous cinematography.

Filmiliarity: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

15. I’m a stranger to the Jason movies. I’ve seen the original and Jason X. So watching Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) was a confusing endeavor. Cartoonier than I was expecting, not scary or gory, and the twists were admittedly surprising, but don’t all seem to add up. But it’s Halloween and it’s a breezy, fun slasher flick with a high body count. Have at it.

Gothic (1986) | Nostalgia Central

14. Ken Russell tells the tale of the night Mary Shelley stayed at Lord Byron’s house and was inspired to write Frankenstein. Gothic (1986) may not go down easy or make much sense, but it’s a wild, sweaty, frenetic, haunted sex house with enough movement to keep you entertained.

Red Sun (1971) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

13. I’m a sucker for samurai movies and putting Toshio Mifune in the wild west is just about perfect (even if the film foolishly makes Charles Bronson the main focus). Red Sun (1971) is a typical cowboy movie with buried treasure, quests for revenge, uneasy alliances, and lots of brothels. Ursula Andress co-stars.

Maniac Cop (1988)

12. Robert Z’Dar, Tom Atkins, and Bruce Campbell star in Maniac Cop (1988), a cheesy slasher flick that asks the adorably dated question: “What if a cop was bad?”

Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2020) - Rotten Tomatoes

11. Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2019) is a documentary that traces the generational journey of wealth and power. It’s both a good history lesson and an prescient warning. Pair this with some Noam Chomsky interviews for a real uplifting time.

Borat 2 Review: Audaciously and Raucously Hilarious with a Surprisingly  Tender Heart – /Film

10. Sacha Baron Cohen grows his mustache back for another look at aspects of American culture in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020). While not as barbed and piercing as the original 2006 film, it makes up for a dearth of incriminating gotchas with the inclusion of Maria Bakalova as his daughter discovering herself. The narrative is stronger and the written jokes are solid, even if the raw interviews don’t hit as hard as they did in Da Ali G Show or Who Is America? This was a welcome dose of comedy at just the right time

Diamond.Cobra.vs.the.White.Fox.2015.1080p.WEBRip.x264-RARBG Torrent download

9. Deaundra T. Brown may be the female Neil Breen. And if that sounds interesting to you then watch Diamond Cobra vs. White Fox (2015) immediately. We went down a rabbit hole and watched most of her music videos and discovered she has a glut of other movies she made.

Ginger Snaps: Essential Feminist Horror - Wicked Horror

8. Werewolfism is a metaphor for female puberty in the edgy teen body horror, Ginger Snaps (2000). It’s funny, spooky, and Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle are fantastic as the leads.

Carts of Darkness - YouTube

7. Life can be hard when you’re homeless. Fortunately, you can always race shopping carts down mountains in Vancouver. The documentary Carts of Darkness (2008) gives us a peek into the lives of several down-on-their-luck men and the one, crazy thing that gives them joy.

BlacKkKlansman — Spike Lee's film has style, wit and inventiveness |  Financial Times

6. Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman (2018) is a superb crime drama based on a true story. Two cops (John David Washington and Adam Driver) go undercover to spy on the Klan. Heartfelt, harrowing, and prescient filmmaking.

The Changeling

5. George C. Scott moves into a haunted house after losing his wife and daughter in a freak car accident in The Changeling (1980). This is how you do a haunted house movie. The house itself has character, the mystery twists and turns, and the séance scene is wonderfully creepy.

A Brand New David Attenborough Documentary Is Coming To Netflix Next Week -  Secret Manchester

4. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020) might be the 94 year old broadcaster’s last testimony. In this documentary, he reveals the depletion of the natural world he has witnessed just within his lifetime. This is an important film for our times. I just hope we can implement some of the solutions in time.

The Quiet Earth – film review | mossfilm

3. The Quiet Earth (1985) may just be the best last-man-on-earth apocalyptic movie I’ve seen. Brilliantly acted and appropriately weird. The score is great.

Faust (Restored Version) - Kino Lorber Repertory

2. F. W. Murnau’s Faust (1926) is a visual feast to behold. Malevolent, humorous, and moralizing. Fans of silent film cannot skip this telling of the tale of the man who made a deal with the Devil.

Nordling's Samurai Sunday - Nordling Commits HARAKIRI (1962)!
  1. I said I’m a sucker for samurai films. And, biases aside, Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri (1962) is a goddamn perfect movie. A noble house is beset by beggars threatening to commit seppuku at their gates in the hope that the samurai will give them some money. It’s a simple set up, but this drama’s plot is tight as a drum and raises the stakes quickly and employs such delicious twists and turns that I’d find it hard for a cinephile not to love.

Ghosts

It’s October. Time to get spooky.

THE 80s!

Dick Hallorann and the Tragical Negro | by Christopher Paicely | Medium
Scatman Crothers up at night worrying about the Overlook Hotel.

Steven King may hate what Stanley Kubrick did to his story, but The Shining (1980) holds up as one of the all time great horror movies. A writer (Jack Nicholson) takes his wife (Shelley Winters) and son to a remote mountain hotel where they are to be caretakers and he is to write his novel. It soon becomes a nightmare as they descend into haunted insanity.

The Changeling (1980) Film Review - flickfeast
Melvyn Douglas ascends a fiery staircase.

George C. Scott plays a man who has recently lost his wife and daughter and ends up moving into an old, giant house that is haunted as all hell in The Changeling (1980). It’s got some good creepy scenes and the mystery is fun to unravel.

First Person Monster Blog: May 2011 | John carpenter the fog, John  carpenter, Scary movies
No relation to The Mist.

John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) is kind of a schlocky ghost pirate yarn with a fun seaside town location. It’s not my favorite Carpenter movie, but it’s still pretty fun.

Thirty years of horror: Poltergeist (1982) - Quarter to Three
OK. Now THAT’S a ghost.

Poltergeist (1982) puts its special effects department to work. A family slowly realizes that their home is chock full of angry ghosts. And they’ve taken their daughter into the phantom zone or whatever. Luckily, creepy, little Zelda Rubenstein is there to help.

Original 'Ghostbusters' will appear with the new cast on Kimmel next week –  BGR
Who you gonna call?

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, and lots of weird Lovecraftian ghosts. Ghostbusters (1984), directed by Ivan Reitman, has all the right moves for a perfect ghost comedy. I don’t think there’s been a more sarcastic movie.

23 'Beetlejuice' Quotes For Instagram Captions, Because "It's Showtime"
Now that’s a ghost.

Possibly the weirdest and most novel take on the haunted house genre is Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988). When a couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) dies in a car crash, they learn just how bureaucratic and confusing the afterlife really is. Enter Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), a ghoul-for-hire to scare the living family out of their house. Visually wild and inventive. Also stars Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder, Jeffrey Jones, and more.

Funny Phantasms

Abbott and Costello: Hold That Ghost (1941) Joan Davis, Lou Costello and  the Ghost! (He's behind YOU!) | Abbott and costello, Ghost scene, Comedy  duos
Classic comedy and haunted house hijinks

Classic comedy duo, Abbott and Costello get stuck in a spooky old house in Hold That Ghost (1941). Classic haunted house elements alongside the goofy slapstick and wordplay of the comic actors. It’s one of my favorite movies featuring these guys. Maybe also check out The Time of Their Lives for a story where Costello and a lady (Jess Baker) get murdered and framed for treason during the Revolutionary War, come back as ghosts, and have to get Abbott and a modern day crew of folks to solve the mystery and clear their names so they can get to heaven.

The Frighteners (1996)
A recently ghosted Michael J. Fox guns down the Soul Collector.

Michael J. Fox can see ghosts in Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996), but uses his powers to con people. Until he has to battle a serial killer’s ghost and the Grim Reaper himself. Watch this one for the fun special effects and most especially for Jeffrey Combs absolutely owning every scene he’s in.

Prequel Comic Series 'Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers' Arriving  in 2018 - Bloody Disgusting
Ossie Davis plays a man who believes he is JFK with a birdseed brain.

Mummies are ghosts. Deal with it. Bruce Campbell stars as a bound geriatric Elvis impersonator (or perhaps someone who only thinks he’s Elvis) who protects a nursing home from an ancient butt-sucking mummy in Don Coscarelli’s Bubba Ho-Tep (2002). And if you need more than that to hook you, you’re on the wrong website.

31 Days of Halloween: Day 28 — MONSTER HOUSE (2006) | by Matt Penny | Medium
Kathleen Turner’s voice was a nice surprise.

Something’s up with the creaky, dilapidated house across the street. Monster House (2006), directed by Gil Kenan, is a fun animated haunted house movie with humor and delicious Halloween atmosphere.

Vintage ghosts from Japan

Ugetsu Monogatari | NYFF54
A moody and heartbreaking romance.

Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatori (1953) is a tragic period drama of war, family, and seduction. Two peasants leave their wives during the war. One winds up in a strange relationship with a spirit. It’s a beautiful and complex morality tale.

Onibaba | Electric Sheep – reviews
This may be the best mother-in-law from hell story ever told.

I absolutely love Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba (1964). Set in feudal Japan, a woman awaiting her husband to return from the war. Her mother-in-law awaits her son with her. Both strongly suspect he is dead. Together they kill lost samurai to sell their armor. When the woman falls in love with another man, the mother-in-law panics about losing her only companion and dons a haunted mask to keep her from escaping their life. It’s spooky, sexy horror-drama at its best.

KWAIDAN (1964) • Frame Rated
An eerie snow spirit tucks a man in for the night.

Why settle for one ghost story when you could have a whole bunch? Kwaidan (1965) is a beautiful anthology of Japanese ghost stories and folklore. Some stunningly colorful sets. I need to watch this one again.

The Forgotten: A Halloween Bestiary on Notebook | MUBI
A parasol ghost? Why yes.

Ghouls, ghosts, spirits, and sprites all feature heavily in Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters (1968). When nobles threaten to destroy some poor villagers’ homes, a host of angry monsters is unleashed. It’s more wacky than scary, but it has an abundance of different creatures to enjoy.

Introducing Kuroneko | The Current | The Criterion Collection
A ghost leads a samurai through a gorgeous bamboo forest.

Kaneto Shindo makes the list again with Kuroneko (1968), a rich folk tale full of wicked samurai and vengeful, lustful ghosts. Sumptuous cinematography and classic Japanese melodrama.

HAUSU!! aka House 1977 Free screening @ The Revue
She may never play the piano again.

Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Hausu (1977) is legit one of my all time favorite movies. Visually, thematically, stylistically, whatever — the whole shebang is balls to the walls bonkers. A group of teenage girls spend the night in spooky Auntie’s house…which proceeds to bump them off in cartoonishly creative ways. Put on the popcorn, enjoy the music, and strap in for the wild ride this aggressively weird flick is.

Miscellaneous

SFMOMA
Deborah Ker tries to maintain some decorum amidst all the spooky goings on.

Deborah Ker plays a governess in charge of two mischievous children in The Innocents (1961). It’s classic and atmospheric and reminds me that I need to see the 1963 version of The Haunting.

Jersey City Desk: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow | Sleepy hollow headless  horseman, Sleepy hollow, Headless horseman
Christopher Walken doesn’t even need a head to be awesome.

Turning the Washington Irving tale of Ichabod Crane into a supernatural steampunk detective thriller was maybe a weird move, but what Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999) lacks in a clean story, it more than makes up for with its rich Halloweeny art direction. Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, and a whole mess of classic faces.

The Devil's Backbone 2001, directed by Guillermo del Toro | Film review
An orphan boy makes friends with a dead child.

Few filmmakers seems to love monsters more than Guillermo del Toro. The Devil’s Backbone (2001) puts sympathies squarely on the ghost who haunts the orphanage. Like Pan’s Labyrinth, the story takes place during the Spanish Civil War.

Ghost Stories movie review & film summary (2018) | Roger Ebert
A horror movie for the skeptic.

A paranormal debunker (Andy Nyman) investigates a series of alleged supernatural encounters in Ghost Stories (2017). Some humor, some tragedy, some twists, and just some good, clean ghost scares lurking in this modern horror movie. Martin Freeman co-stars.