Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Pusher (1996)
dir: Nicolas Winding Refn

It's been a disheartening cinematic week for me. I regrettably kicked things off the other morning by having my nose rubbed in someone else's poop by Michael Haneke's The Seventh Continent (1989), a film I've seen 3 times now. Directed by a guy who I might kind of hate but have an unreasonable amount of artistic respect for, I'm still having difficulty getting behind that one. Peep it yourself and I'm sure you'll understand the basis for my disavowal. Just make sure you're in a fairly positive emotional place. One that you don't mind being rudely commanded to leave by a manipulative Austrian asshole cinematic scientist. And then just yesterday I had a big French fart laid directly in my face by Alain Resnais's obnoxiously quirky and pointlessly confounding Wild Grass (2009). There wasn't a single frame throughout that entire film where I almost forgot that I was watching A FRENCH FILM directed by A FRENCH DUDE who was "masterfully playing with the art form." For the record, fuck "playing." Especially when it's just one old dude in a sandbox pissing all over his own plastic shovels and laughing to himself while everybody else just stands around and scratches their heads like whhhaaaaaaa. So thank fuck for Nicolas Winding Refn, an unstoppable Danish juggernaut of a director, who single-handedly saved my week with this balls-out portrait of one mid-level drug dealer and fulltime fuck-up in a perpetually dreary Copenhagen. Refn is a bit of a beast, as should be obvious to anyone whose seen this year's borderline-surrealist biopic Bronson or gloriously violent parable Valhalla Rising. The Pusher trilogy, and this first entry in particular, are how the dude initially made a name for himself. Refn made this film on a baby budget just after being denied entry into Danish film school, using only handheld cameras and an odd mix of professional actors, amateur friends and genuine street people. The result is an extremely naturalistic portrait of one man's struggle with his own steamrolling incompetence, a surprising feat of sympathetic character study that has you feeling genuinely bad for this guy despite the fact that he's kind of a piece of shit, not unlike Kim Ki-duk's mad underrated Bad Guy (2002), but with less blatant misogyny and much more thinly-veiled homoeroticism. This is no-holds-barred filmmaking in the most blunt and thus cliched sense of the phrase, but there is the undeniable presence throughout the proceedings of a young and passionate creative mind that is in complete control of the chaos that we witness unfolding. And the dude uses music in his films with the exact amount of aesthetic precision and ostensibly random genius that you hope you would use it in your films, if you made films. Nothing washes the mental palette clean of joyless scolding or pretentious poppycock quite like a well-done and undeniably unique gangster flick. Peep this one, then peep the sequels.
In other news, my final semester of school meanders on and the weather is gradually shifting into some chilly-ass bullshit. So hook yourself up with some Salem on your ipod and maybe that new reissue of the Chromatics' "Night Drive," spread some shrooms on a peanut butter sandwich and prepare yourself for a 3 month rainstorm.... of the mind.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Flavia the Heretic (1974)
dir: Gianfranco Mingozzi

Haha. I'm still chuckling from just typing that name. Italy, LOL. This was a pretty perfect movie for me to watch right now, as its very existence and the experience of viewing it sort of mirrors the late-20's end-of-college personality crisis in which I seem to be currently stuck. I'm about to hammer the final proverbial nail into the shitty proverbial coffin that is the "college experience," albeit my own has been very different from that of most young Americans because I'm kind of old and I hate pretty much all young Americans, but nonetheless I find myself in a rut that is very common, I'm sure, to what most of them go through at this exact moment in their educational timeline. I'm sort of like "fuck school" right now (senioritis) but I'm also kind of "fuck everything else, too" (angeritis). For the past few years I've dedicated the majority of my time and sanity to the historical and analytical study of international cinema, with the occasional segue into the realms of that ubiquitous language of beggars and thieves (jk) Espanol and the surprisingly inclusive fart-cloud that is known as "Religious Studies." Here enters Flavia, itself an obvious example of said international cinema that, unlike the majority of its nunsploitation brethren, actually offers up some analysis of its own both in regards to the art form of cinema and the perpetual dialogue between all of man's religions. Far from just another titillating exercise in religious-inspired sexual depravity, this film actually has a lot of interesting things going on in it that don't revolve around the supple flesh of long-repressed (read: horny) nuns or the erotic torture they receive at the hands of other totally hot naked nuns. In fact, there isn't much here in terms of thoughtless titillation. I dare even say that as a nunsploitation title it sorely disappoints. What we do have is a borderline successful observation on the interplay of multiple religions (primarily Catholicism and Islam) in the historical context of female repression, mostly successful because of the fantastic performance by Florinda Bolkan, who you may (should) remember from Lucio Fulci's unheralded and best film, Don't Torture a Duckling. It certainly never reaches the point of a reasonably well-researched term paper on the topic, but it does at least inject its dreary proceedings with some degree of genuine insight. Of course, I barely remember a fucking second of it. For all of the film's best efforts to engage me in a compelling discourse on these topics the only thing I really remember is some woman having her nipple sliced off and some other lady crawling nude into the hollowed out chest cavity of a dead cow (see above, holy shit). And therein lies the problem: I don't give a shit. About film analysis. About religious study. Even about Spanish (it's hard). Here I am about to graduate with what is supposedly a successful education in three different areas and I barely remember shit about what I was taught, nor do I really care all that much. I certainly have no idea what I plan to do with any of it. Teach other people a bunch of shit about the German New-Wave that doesn't really matter all that much in the grand scheme of the universe? Mediate arguments between interfaith couples? Hang out in El Salvador? I don't know anything about El Salvador! I don't know anything about myself! Was school just a huge waste of time and money, just like I decided it was when I was 21 years old and dropped out the first time? I seriously hope not. But in the meantime I will continue to enjoy movies like Piranha 3-D despite the best efforts of my film professor to turn me into a snobby, joyless connoisseur. I just had to look up how to spell that word. I might be dumb. And I think I'm pretty alright with that. This December I will end up with a BA in International Studies, but my brain has had a PhD in Weird for as long as I can remember. We'll see which one I use more.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I apologize for the lack of updates, but it's been a rough week for ya boy. On Monday my weirdo parents were in a pretty bad motorcycle accident when a deer straight up just jumped right into them. My mom is remarkably UNSCARRED (queue the mental image of Phil Anselmo's stomach tat with that imaginative experiment in spelling), but my dad is fairly thrashed. He's doing alright considering that it was a motorcycle accident and dude is in his 60's, but he'll probably be posted up in ICU for at least another week while his NINE BROKEN RIBS (queue the mental image of Phil Anselmo's anguished facial expressions during any given Pantera video) and the bruise on his brain heal. So I've been spending a lot of time at Roanoke Memorial Hospital this week, hanging out with my family and reminding my drugged-up father that he's in a hospital, not a prison. Other than that I've been sweating buckets over VCU's nonsensical graduation application process, smoking too much weed and watching shitloads of films that I haven't gotten around to writing about. So in the grand spirit of remembrance that surely permeated every red-blooded American's thoughts throughout all of yesterday, here is a short review (imma be late for work) of the most enjoyable and shamelessly violent movie I checked out this week.

Machete (2010)
dir: Robert Rodriguez

Famously based on its own fake trailer, Robert Rodriquez finally got around to fleshing out this pulpy homage to "classic" grindhouse cinema by giving Danny Trejo all of maybe 13 lines, throwing together an admittedly fantastic and perfectly cheesy story about the intertwining worlds of Mexican druglords who inexplicably carry around Samurai swords and are Steven Seagal, racist U.S. politicians and the current hot-button issue of illegal immigration, somewhere along the line also convincing Lindsay Lohan to kind of show her boobs. The result is actually a lot better than I expected, injecting the genre with a much-needed dose of self-aware parody and casual humor that doesn't ever go too far or distract too much from the seemingly nonstop array of decapitations, naked breasts and shocking visual moments where you realize that Trejo is like four fucking feet tall! Extra points for Jessica Alba kind of being naked and also being surprisingly good at this kind of thing. Between this and The Killer Inside Me, she might be growing on me as opposed to simply making my pants grow (sorry).

I also checked out:

Crank: High Voltage - very effective in terms of what it promised and what I rightfully expected. Don't cheat yourself by pretending you're a high-brow pussy; this movie is absolutely worth a rental. Fun and vulgar with a genuinely good sense of humor about both itself and all of the racial/sexual/etc. stereotypes that make life worth living.

The Marriage of Maria Braun - sneakily subversive period drama from Fassbinder. I'd go into boring academic detail but that's what school is for. If you're a fan of Fassbinder then you've already seen it, and if you've always been curious about him but kind of terrified by his coke-fueled madness and brain-rapes like The Third Generation, then this is a great place to start. Accessible but intelligent, like the world's finest women (huh?).

Frantic - just after doing some pretty weird things and getting into trouble over it, Roman Polanski took off on a self-imposed (and self-preserving) exile from the U.S. This was, I believe, the first film he made during this period, but it's very possible that I don't know what I'm talking about. Oddly enough I don't really know what this movie is talking about either because I fell asleep twice while trying to watch it. It's not bad or even all that slow, I just smoke too much weed and get off of work way too fucking late. Harrison Ford was pretty cool in the 80's but I saw an interview with him recently where he seemed like kind of a prick and had a pretty shitty earring. Oh well, I guess we can't all age as well as "Siamese Dream."

There were some more, but I'm having a hard time remembering what they were. Fuck you guys anyway, go do something cool outside.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Twentynine Palms (2003)
dir: Bruno Dumont

Yikes. I don't really know where to start with this one. I suppose a warning is in order: I don't recommend that you watch this film. I'll probably never watch it again, and I've sat through The Spirit of the Beehive like three times now. This is some tedious shit. It's also some deeply pretentious shit. And some misanthropic French-people-never-actually-laugh shit. But it's also some really, really good shit. As a movie-going experience this could fit pretty comfortably within the Michael Haneke "disgust for/punishment towards my audience" school of hopelessly high-brow pedantic hijinks. Certain segments (alright... most of the film) is iiiinsaaanely draaawn oooouuuut (read: boring) and the ultimate "payoff" is so jarring that you'll probably end up more angry than anything else. Angry at Dumont for putting you through such an ordeal; angry at the characters for simultaneously representing and subverting everything you thought you knew about human behaviour; and angry at yourself for completely missing the point. Despite the often breathtaking landscapes and mathematically-tight shot composition, this is not the cinema of escapism. It's a painting, sure, but a painting with a metric shit-ton of carefully held-back pathos seething within its framed borders. As an experiment in cinema itself, I can't think of much that could make it more successful than it already is. I've read some reviews that compare it to the Adam & Eve yarn about original sin and some totally expected write-offs as just another long-winded meditation on the banal and omnipresent nature of human evil. But personally I think it works better as an unsettling, realistic portrait of a certain stage that most ultimately doomed romantic relationships settle into before the inevitable, messy split. We've all reached that point where communication has crumbled and the only real expressions of emotion towards our so-called better half are fighting and fucking. The two characters in Twentynine Palms are believable because of their painful awkwardness. They barely speak one anothers' language (literally and metaphorically), their physical encounters are random and bizarrely personal: during the (many) graphic sex scenes--which are themselves somewhat refreshing, existing as they do in a touchingly honest series of naturally-lit, non-glamorous encounters--both characters seem completely enveloped within themselves. Sex is not a shared, transcendent experience between these two lovers anymore; it is a violent cry against the inevitable truth of the relationship's futility, an ironically impotent attempt to practice control over the situation, and a selfish final act of stress relief. When the film finally erupts into an unexpected melee of brutality, we as viewers should not actually be all that surprised. Our supposed Adam & Eve have been tenuously perched atop this well-spring of violence throughout the entire film, and several sequences have obviously hinted towards the impending, omnipotent-seeming danger that has surrounded them the whole time. The interesting thing is that we never quite know where the eventual attack will come from. Much like many romantic relationships, our two characters seem to exist within a world where they are the only actual living inhabitants. We can feel the undercurrent of tension between them, hinting at an eventual confrontation that will not be easily solved by the most obnoxious and awkward pool-sex since that hilarious scene from Showgirls. And we can also sense their discomfort within and distrust of the surrounding world, which is itself framed as an undeniably impressive but nevertheless desolate landscape of unseen spaces and unknown motivations. Dumont's film is unnerving as all fuck, especially because anyone who has ever been in a relationship that failed will initially relate far too easily with the barely-likable protagonists. And yes, it does meditate on the nature of evil. It also subverts nearly every road-romance film that came before it by focusing solely on the negative moments of its central relationship as opposed to the adventurous sense of discovery and rebirth that usually shows up in such films. Nothing is fixed in this film, and you'll most likely walk away with many more questions than you are comfortable with, the very least of which being "did they ever even pay for those ice cream cones?"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I realize that a few months ago (!!!) I made a promise that I would update this blog something as ridiculously often as once every evening. Clearly I was bluffing and by this point that promise must seem as empty to the two of you as my balls after watching this fucking video. But the truth is that I have actually been busy. I went to Mexico, and it was a beautiful, fascinating and wildly entertaining country full of friendly people, incredible food and cheap-ass beer. But it also happens to be a country that is held together by bubble-gum and magic. If you've been there you know what I mean. Aside from that I've just been "mastering some skills." If you've ever had some skills to master then you know what I mean. Fortunately for my own motivational reasons I have now begun my final semester of school (fingers crossed, butthole puckered), I have made an executive decision on my own life: for the entirity of this semester I will somehow find the time to watch one movie per day and post something about it up on this blog every evening. Grand ambition meets Great big bags of weed. I'll start that shit on Thursday. In the meantime I've been fucking around with this band called REAL TALK, (all caps to enhance shameless self-promotion). In honor of my impending graduation I'd like to share the best song that I've ever written:
Jungle Bungle
take some pills
have a thrill
don't forget to write your will
eating fungus
beasts among us
beware the stares that night has brung us
bungle in the jungle
accidental death
psilocybin visions
ravaged by savage breath
lions, tigers, bears oh shit
nothing's sticking to the script
pupils dilate, vomit, sick
panic, clutching sharpened stick
this isn't fucking happening, man
yes it is
wife and kids
never see them after this
now it's through
nothing new
the stains in the grass
used to be you
That song is about a drug vacation in the jungle gone wrong. Anyway, stay tuned for an actual movie review this Thursday. Probably that sexy interracial saucepot pictured above. In the meantime, if you is high: