MAD GOD is a bizarre stop motion journey through the large intestine of a nightmare. It’s hard to describe (or know) what it’s about, but its version of the STAR WARS opening scroll is an actual scroll inked with a menacing threat from Leviticus. It ends, “I WILL MAKE THE LAND DESOLATE SO THAT YOUR ENEMIES WHO SETTLE IT SHALL BE APPALLED BY IT. AND YOU WILL SCATTER AMONG THE NATIONS AND I WILL UNSHEATH THE SWORD AGAINST YOU. YOUR LAND SHALL BECOME A DESOLATION AND YOUR CITIES A RUIN.”
Gee, thanks God!
The God of this movie may or may not be a weird priest played by REPO MAN director Alex Cox, one of a few live action characters seen briefly. He’s the one who sends a character I know from reading is called “The Assassin” – a man in a gas mask who is lowered in a diving bell past towers and rocks and layers of dinosaur bones and stone idols to a war-torn wasteland. He seems to be on a mission to set off a suitcase of dynamite deep in the earth, and most of the movie is a long journey downward, following an ever-crumbling map.
People who demand a strong narrative will melt into a puddle and be lapped up by weird crab monsters with human teeth. There’s a story here, but it’s all dream logic, told with mood, atmosphere and symbolism, not words. There’s virtually no human language that can be heard clearly – just some grunts like in those original Aeon Flux shorts. The score by Dan Wool of Pray For Rain (Cox’s guy since SID & NANCY) is crucial, but so is the sound design by Richard Beggs (TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM, CHILDREN OF MEN), which helps bring life to these inanimate objects. It’s all ticking clocks, whirring servos, tinkling music boxes, puttering engines, rattling cages, crackling flames, clicking gears, flittering wings, collapsing earth, air raid sirens, explosions, gunfire, gnomes chirping like Jawas, babies crying in the distance, and most of all the sounds of the Assassin’s thick coat shifting around, and his boots crunching into dirt. (read the rest of this shit…)
(warning: to the extent you can spoil a movie like CRIMES OF THE FUTURE, this review contains spoilers)
CRIMES OF THE FUTURE is your typical undercover story – a guy is working for The Man and thinks he’s doing the right thing, but through his investigation he starts to see a different perspective, rethinks his loyalties, and questions whether or not to narc these people out. In this case the guy is a performance artist famous for growing inexplicable new internal organs and having them removed in front of an audience by laying in a machine that looks like a chrysalis, with robotic bone arms cutting him open under the control of a partner sensually poking her fingers into a gooey bladder. And the people he may or may not bust are (spoiler) an underground movement of people surgically altering their digestive systems so that they can eat plastic. But you’ve seen that before too. Just a good old fashioned organ opera like the ones we all grew up on.
Okay, yeah, on second thought maybe it’s fair to say that this is a weird fuckin movie that could only be made by writer/director David Cronenberg (TOP GUN [offered but turned down]). When he did that trilogy of more reality-based Viggo Mortensen joints (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, EASTERN PROMISES and A DANGEROUS METHOD) people thought he’d moved beyond slimy mugwumps and uncharted glands and shit, and that this is a throwback. But he wrote and tried to make this before all those, so maybe he’s just getting back on track.
Either way, this has a scene where Mortensen (AMERICAN YAKUZA) has had a zipper installed on his belly and can open it up, and Léa Seydoux (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL) pleasures him by spreading it open and licking his innards. So it was cool to see at a multiplex on a giant screen with Minions ads and shit playing before it. The summer movie season has finally begun. (read the rest of this shit…)
mother! is the new movie! from Darren Aranofsky (THE WRESTLER) and it’s marketed as horror, because… I mean I don’t know what else you would call it either. It is in the business of exploiting our fears, but it’s not exactly a genre story, unless you count the occasional bloody wound festering in a wooden floor. Mostly it’s a heightened, surreal portrait of a marriage. And a house.
Jennifer Lawrence (AMERICAN HUSTLE) is the nameless female lead (credited as “mother”), married to an older man (Javier Bardem, PERDITA DURANGO, credited as “Him”) who’s a famous poet suffering from writer’s block while she looks after him and painstakingly rebuilds his house after it was destroyed in a fire. When some random doctor dude (Ed Harris, knightriders!) shows up at their door, the husband invites him to stay without taking her feelings into account, and this is the breeze that will become a tornado of escalation intrusions, insecurities and violations. By the end she’ll be (spoiler!) caught in the middle of huge riots and uprisings even though she will never leave the house. (read the rest of this shit…)
You know what they say about people who work in movies as some job other than director: they really want to direct. It happens to actors, it happens to writers, it happens to Mel Gibson’s hairdresser who directed PAPARAZZI. It also happens to special effects makeup artists. Tom Savini directed the quite good NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake. Stan Winston directed PUMPKINHEAD and A GNOME NAMED GNORM and Michael Jackson’s GHOSTS. John Carl Buechler directed TROLL and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII and a bunch of other stuff. Kevin Yagher (partially) directed HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE. Of all these, the weirdest is the one that Tom Burman did, MEET THE HOLLOWHEADS.
Maybe Burman isn’t as well known as some of those other guys. In recent years his work has been on hospital-set TV shows – Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Chicago Hope, Nip/Tuck. Good work if you can get it. But he’s been in the business since the ’70s, creating the titular heads of THE THING WITH TWO HEADS, doing makeup for FROGS, THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF, THE FOOD OF THE GODS, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and the Wookiees in The Star Wars Holiday Special. His work spans from classic gore moments (MY BLOODY VALENTINE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, HALLOWEEN III) to werewolves (TEEN WOLF) to fantasy (SCROOGED) to action movies (DIE HARD 2, THE LAST ACTION HERO, CON AIR). He worked on Sloth in THE GOONIES, the monster in HOWARD THE DUCK and the Supreme Leader in CAPTAIN EO.
But in the late ’80s he decided to make his own movie to exercise and showcase the skills of The Burman Studios, the company he ran with his sons Barney and Rob. I remember it was on the cover of Fangoria under the title LIFE ON THE EDGE, and that might be the only reason I was aware of it. (read the rest of this shit…)
These days it’s pretty common for people to say that SPEED RACER is an overlooked gem – or even a masterpiece – that was misunderstood at the time. So give credit to your old Uncle Vern for praising it from day 1. I didn’t misunderstand that shit! I understood the hell out of it. I am a real good understander in my opinion. Not to brag.
But this is the second time I’ve watched it and actually I liked it alot more this time. I didn’t have as many reservations about the aggressively shiny and video gamey pixelscapes it takes place in. It’s still not my favorite look, but my brain has adjusted. I don’t know, maybe the rainbow colored kaleidoscope spinning around the studio logos at the beginning hypnotizes you when you see it on Blu-Ray. It starts to look amazing.
What really impressed me is the next level filmatism within that artifical world. The camera (or “camera”) soars through, over and around these space age racers as they zoom, drift, bounce and fly through loopty-loops, giant pinball machines and monster-faced ice caves, and despite all the speed and freneticism I think this mayhem is really easy to follow. (Judging from my original review maybe the smaller screen helps.) Characters’ heads constantly float away, wiping into the next scene, a more evolved version of Ang Lee’s best moves in HULK and, now that I think about it, one of a long list of ways that this movie must’ve influenced the shit out of SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. There are fight scenes, Speed and Racer X vs. practicioners of nonjitsu, and you get a glimpse of the MATRIX era Wachowskis. Then it bounces into a more candy colored, silly-anime type of style with abstract backgrounds and even more exaggerated physics. (read the rest of this shit…)
What if there were like a book of maps, only it was made out of the sky? That would be weird.
Well, anyway. At a climactic point in CLOUD ATLAS a character talks righteously about freedom, and about refusing to accept boundaries. And that’s what Lana and Andy Wachowski (who directed this along with Tom Tykwer) have done with their lives, their careers and this movie in particular. If you haven’t heard what CLOUD ATLAS is, it’s a nearly 3-hour epic based on a supposedly unadaptable book. It takes place in a bunch of different time periods ranging from the age of slavery to a dystopian future to even a post-apocalyptic future after that. But not in order – it jumps around from story to story, like a bunch of unrelated movies edited together as a weird joke on Youtube. (read the rest of this shit…)
I don’t know if “good” is an adjective I would apply to Wes Craven’s little-seen latest horror movie (his first writing/directing joint since NEW NIGHTMARE). Other than the synonyms for “strange” there aren’t many adjectives that really do the job here. So it’s hard to explain what this movie is like, exactly, but I’ll try.
MY SOUL TO TAKE looks like a pretty typical glossy teen horror movie, with characters that could be in FREDDY VS. JASON or a FINAL DESTINATION, plus your standard Marco Beltrami score infused with an occasional rock song. Although it’s not a remake, a sequel, a prequel or a prequmake it does fit your modern mainstream horror mold by being released in last-minute-post-production-3D (LMPP3).
Like the opening of BLACK CHRISTMAS, HALLOWEEN or THE FUNHOUSE, ENTER THE VOID starts out in a first-person-POV. You are Oscar, a young English speaking gwailo living in Tokyo. Oscar’s out on a balcony talking to this girl who’s wearing not much more than a t-shirt. Oscar’s doing it, so I’m doing it, I’m in his perspective. I see everything he looks at, I even see his blinks. He seems to blink alot, too.
I noticed the girl (turns out it’s Paz de la Huerta, the girl in the see-through raincoat in LIMITS OF CONTROL) was kinda cute. Then I figured out from the conversation that this is actually Oscar’s sister, which means she’s my sister. Our sister. Oh shit, sorry about that, Oscar. Shouldn’t have thought about that while I was seeing through your eyes. I made you into a sicko.
After she leaves he digs out his drug stash, shoots up and looks up at the ceiling and starts hallucinating. This is a movie with alot of psychedelic imagery interludes, sometimes going on as long as the light show in 2001. Moving, pulsing crystalline fractals that shift and melt and fold and swirl and bubble into the shape of veins and slime and cell tissue and then turn out to be a light fixture or something.
And we as Oscar go about our white man in Japan business and go to a club and, I’m sorry to say, we get shot and die. And we have an out of body experience. We float up into the air and just stare at our dead Oscar body laying there on the filthy restroom floor. (spoiler)
In order to truly understand how OWL 300 is the talking bird movie for our times, one must also explore the quintessential talking bird movies of other eras. And the one that came to mind when I thought about that was the one from 1974, JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL. I don’t know if you guys remember this one, but it was a huge book at the time, but not a kids book like all movies are based on now. It was seen as this inspirational, philosophical type of deal. (read the rest of this shit…)
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is the buzzed about “dude it’s the most fucked up ever” horror movie of the moment. I had heard it mentioned about ten thousand times but honestly managed to never see a poster, a trailer or a still from it or even really know much about its plot or origins other than the fucked up thing that happens in it. I guess there’s probly not much overlap between people who haven’t heard of this yet and people who are into crazy fucked up shit, but if you somehow manage to be in both camps I say stop reading this, cover your ears and go watch it immediately, and you will be surprised. I kind of wish I could’ve done that, but of course if I hadn’t heard about this madness I wouldn’t have made the effort to see it. It’s like that old zen coan, does crazy fucked up shit really happen in a movie if nobody ever watches it? (read the rest of this shit…)
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