"If you think you're free, there's no escape possible" - Ram Dass

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Acidemic Table of Contents


The way things are going, man, who knows... so I wanted to present the entirety of links and posts thus far in a handy page rather than just the usual link sidebar (many of which disappeared in the great blogger.com code break of 2016). So Behold, a decade plus of 'sporadically brilliant babble.' (Please Note - this is currently incomplete, workin' on it, as the sane goes. so check back!)
For the Horror and Sci-Fi Index, gehen sie hier.

BEST OF 2015
BEST OF 2014
BEST OF 2013
Best EK Writing of 2011
Best EK Writing of 2015


MID-LIFE CRISIS COLLECTION
Forgotten Men with Steam
The Narcissistic Male Gaze: It's not you it's Me because I am You
"You have my word as inveterate cheat" - WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT?
The Sorrows of Softcore are the Joys of Art: L'IMPORTANTE C'EST D'AMIER
Beards of Bleak: THE ROAD, WINTER'S BONE
Mid-Life Crisis Superstar: Humbert, LOLITA and the Bait/Switch Cycle
Lyon in Winters: LOLITA
Mendacity A-Go-Go: Liz vs. the Little Monsters (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF)
In the Oui, Paul Hours: SOME CAME RUNNING, CONTEMPT
From Russia with Hell (Bright Lights)


COOLEST COUPLES:
#1. Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman
#2. Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart
#3. Richard Burton and Liz Taylor
#4. Dinah Shore and Burt Reynolds


LISTS for STREAM:
(as titles come in and go on these sites, I've included the dates these were compiled,
I'm sure you can still find most of them up, where I left them)

10/16: 13 Best or Weirdest Occult/Witch movies on the Amazon Prime
10/16: Taste the Blood of Dracula's Prime: 12 Psychotronic Vampire Films on Amazon Prime
12/16: I never said it wasn't terrible: 10 Sci-Fi Curious worth streaming on Amazon Prime
04/16: Prepare for the Coming of the Hillary Matriarchy with these 5 Films on Hulu Plus

10/15 Summer of My Netflix Streaming III: Deadpan Comic Horror International

6/15 Summer of My Netflix Streaming I: A Psychedelic Odyssey
10/14: 24 Hours of Curated Netflix Horror: 16 Weird and Spooky Numbers
Halloween Special Edition: 10 Quintessential Horror Films and 13 More on Bright Lights

THE CLASSICS
PSYCHO-Poetics: HITCHCOCK
Notes from the Class and Alcoholic Struggle of a THIN MAN Marathon (1/1/16)
Blocked by the Belle: BELLE DU JOUR
An Acidemic Godard Reader
Vandal in the Wind: OVER THE EDGE
Hell's Angels vs. the Flower Child Dead: GIMME SHELTER
Wes Anderson vs. the Trust Fund Marxists: GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


HOWARD HAWKS and the other WWI Fliers:

(as always bold signifies a current personal favorite)
Psychedelic Canon:

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1933)
ALTERED STATES (1980)
AMER (2009)
ANGEL, ANGEL, DOWN WE GO (1969)
ANTICHRIST (2009)
APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (2010)
BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1970)
BIG CUBE, THE (1969)
BLACK SWAN, THE (2009)
BLOW-UP (1966)
BLUE SUNSHINE (1978)
BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON (1972)
CALIGULA (1979)
CUL-DE-SAC (1966)
CIAO! MANHATTAN (1972)
CULT OF THE DAMNED (1969)
DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993)
DAWN PATROL (1938)
DMT: THE SPIRIT MOLECULE (2012)
ENTER THE VOID (2009)
EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (1977)
EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
FANTASIA (1940)
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1998)
FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41 (1972)
FIELD IN ENGLAND (2012)
FLATLINERS (1991)
FOUNTAIN, THE (2006)
GIMME SHELTER (1970)
GO ASK ALICE (1973)
GODFATHER 2 (1974)
GREAT ZIEGELD, THE (1936)
GREEN PASTURES, THE (1938)
HAMLET (1990)
HEAD (1968)
INCEPTION (2010)
INTERNATIONAL HOUSE (1933)
JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977)
JOHN DIES AT THE END (2012)
L'BRAQUE (1985)
LIMITLESS (2011)
MAGIC TRIP (2011)
MATANGO ("Attack of the Mushroom People"- 1963)
MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS (2010)
MOBY DICK (1956)
MONTEREY POP (1968)
MYRA BRECKINRIDGE (1970)
MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE? (2010)
NAKED LUNCH (1991)
NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1994)
NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (1941)
NIGHT FLIGHT (1933)
NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (1964)
OREGONIAN, THE (2011)
OVER THE EDGE (1979)
PEOPLE NEXT DOOR, THE (1970)
PERFORMANCE (1968)
POSSESSION (1981)
PSYCH-OUT (1968)
QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY (1968)
REVOLUTION (1968)
ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979)
SANDPIPER, THE (1965)
SATURN 3 (1980)
SCORE (1974)
SHINING, THE (1980)
SKIDOO (1968)
SHOOTING, THE (1966)
SONG REMAINS THE SAME, THE (1976)
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (1958)
SWIMMER, THE (1968)
TREE OF LIFE (2011)


TRIP, THE (1967)
TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934)
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971)

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
WALL, THE (1982)
WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT (1965)
WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1964)
WILD IN THE STREETS (1968)
WONDERWALL (1968)
X- THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES (1963)
YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968)


SHORTS:
BLACK and TAN FANTASY (Duke Ellington - 1929)
SNOW WHITE (1933 - Betty Boop short)
SOFT SELF-PORTRAIT OF SALVADOR DALI (1970)
SUNSHINE MAKERS, THE (1935)
WAIKIKI WABBIT (Bugs Bunny -1943)



LEGACY OF WOOD (The Accidental Brecht)
NIGHT OF THE GHOULS (1959)
ED WOOD: PATRON SAINT OF UHF
PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE (1959)
CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON (1953)
LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA (2001)
DEMENTIA (1955)
LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1902)
MESA OF LOST WOMEN (1953)
SUSANA (1951) (Bright Lights)
MOTHER OF TEARS (Bright Lights)


10 REASONS
10 Reasons THE CAR (1977)
10 Reasons BATTLESHIP (2012)
10 Reasons DOOMSDAY (2008)
10 Reasons THE LEGACY (1978)

PSYCHEDELIC SPECIALS:
Bad Acid's Greatest: 70s Paranoid Feminism Edition
Acid and Giallo: Drive-In Dream Logic III, Italian-style
Acid Cinema Special Edition: The VIETNAM Experience
Why don't we just Go Ask Alice? 
Alice 2.2 - The Looking Glass Dolls
The Ancient She-Shaman and her Shrooming Exhumer: SZAMANKA 
A Star-Spangled Salute to America's most Acidemic-Cinematic Women (7/4/10)
Ich liebe dich so, Anita Pallenberg
The Primal Sceneseters: TWIN PEAKS
The Slashological Strata of Fate: HALLOWEEN to THE TERMINATOR (1978-1984)


Mid-Life Crisis Superstar: Humbert, LOLITA and the Bait/Switch Cycle
Lyon in Winters: LOLITA
Choose Death: Revisiting TWILIGHT's Junky Delirium
Lolita Nation: TEETH, HARD CANDY (9/06)
Lindsay Lohan will have her revenge on Seattle
Columbine Queen: PJ Soles in ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL
A Jet-Lagged Hayride with Dracula: LOST IN TRANSLATION, THIS GUN FOR HIRE
Bella's Big Bounce: TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART II
TWILIGHTs Cinematic Ancestors
OBVIOUS CHILD, GINGER SNAPS and Your Reproductive Lunar Cycle
Radium Girls Vs. the 1%: Eva Green in DARK SHADOWS, NOTHING SACRED
Antichrist in Translation: UNDER THE SKIN, HABIT
Cinema's Naughtiest Germans
Cinema's Naughtiest Germans, Part 2
Sex, the Insoluble Deutschmark: 3-PENNY OPERA, MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN, THE BLUE ANGEL
The Drowned Phoenician Sailor and the Mermaid Muse: HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951)
Pineal Express: FROM BEYOND, THE MAGICIANS, SPECTRE, LUCY
Thanks / for the Lucky Strikes (Big Broadcast of 1938)
13 WOMEN + Peg Entwistle, the Ghost under the Hollywood Sign
The Mothering Instinct: Frank Sinatra and his Matrons
Let the Darioni Nuovo Entrain your Dissonance: AMER (2009)
Druggie Vampire Women of B&W City: NADJA, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, THE ADDICTION

MUSIC


Praises and Obits:
"I'm not afraid to die" - Tony Scott + Dangerous Women (8/12)
"This Sweet Cesspool" - PSYCHOMANIA and George Sanders' Suicide Note 
Andrzej Zulawski Tribute Round-Up (2/16)
Dino Di Laurentiis: Warrior, Poet, Profit (11/12/10)
Long Live Liz (3/23/11)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman b. 1967-d. Today (2/14)


THE SIMULACRUM AND THIS DIRTY TOWN
Dec. 18th, 2014: The Jong who Stole X-mas: The RING around the ROSEWATER (or I'm dreaming in a BLACK MIRROR)
How am I not Myself: INVASIONS OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956, 1978, 1993)
Just Whoa! Stories: Guy Maddin, Canadian Amnesiac: THE FORBIDDEN ROOM 
Silence of the Uploaded Monekey: TRANSCENDENCE, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, TERMINATOR: GENYSIS; 
American Grievers Part 1: INCEPTION
Tales from the Benway Pharmacy: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, THE MACHINE


Bellamy, the Deflowerer: THE WEDDING NIGHT (1935)
Troopers of the World, There is one bug you cannot beat...
Let England Take: Natalie Portman vs. the KING'S SPEECH (2/11)
Great Performances, Dubious Haircuts
God Bless the Orgiast / who's brought his Own: THE SIGN AND THE CROSS (1932)
Getting to Own You: RUGGLES OF RED GAP, CLOUD ATLAS
William Powell's Retrograde Psychedelic Amnesia: I LOVE YOU AGAIN, CROSSROADS


TV
--
CHARLIE'S ANGELS 
Episode Guide







CinemArchetypes

1. The Trickster
2. The Anima
3. The Animus
4. The Hanged Man
5. The Human Sacrifice
6. The Nymph / Cougar
7. The Shadow
8. The Dark Father
9. The Devouring Mother
10. The Wild Man
11. The Wild-Wise Woman
12. The Sage / Senex
13. The Skeevy Boyfriend
14. The Nymph / Cougar
15. The Animal Familiar
16. Automaton / Ariel
17. The Devil
18. The Aesthete 
19. The Holy Madman
20. The 3 Sisters
21. The Ego
22. The Outlaw Pair
23. The Wild Child
24. Death
25. The Fisher King
26. The Stoner
27. Androgyne / Alien
The Red Queen

PRE-CODE GOLD
---
ACE OF ACES (1933)
BEHIND THE MASK (1932)
BLESSED EVENT (1932)
BLUE ANGEL, THE (1930)
CROWD ROARS, THE (1932)
DAWN PATROL (1930)
DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933)
EAGLE AND THE HAWK (1933)
FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE (1934)
HEADLINE SHOOTER (1933)
LAST FLIGHT, THE (1931)
MOUTHPIECE, THE (1932)
NARROW CORNER, THE (1933)
RAIN (1932)
RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934)
SECRET BRIDE, THE (1934)
SIGN AND THE CROSS (1932)
SKYSCRAPER SOULS (1933)
STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE (1933)
THREE ON A MATCH (1932)
TOP SPEED (1931)
TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932)
WEST OF BROADWAY (1931)


BELOVED:

FOG, THE (1980)
GHOSTS OF MARS (2000)
JAMAICA INN (1939)
I LOVE YOU AGAIN (1940)
MOBY DICK (1956)
NIGHT FLIGHT (1933)
ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939)
RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1934)
SATAN MET A LADY (1936)
SPIDER BABY (1968)
THE THIN MAN (and sequels)
TREASURE ISLAND (1934)


OLD DARK HOUSES
BEFORE DAWN (1933)
THE GORILLA (1939)
WHITE COCKATOO
, THE (1935)
BULLDOG JACK (1933)
INTRUDER, THE (1933)
LURED (1947)
SECRET OF THE BLUE ROOM (1933)
SHADOW OF DOUBT (1935)
SUPERNATURAL (1933)
TOMORROW AT SEVEN (1933),
WHILE THE PATIENT SLEPT (1935)


DIRTBAG CAVALCADE:

Now bleed for Me: THE WRESTLER (2008)
Chop Wood, Carry Sponsors - The MAD MEN - Finale
Snap went the dragon! THE SANDPIPER (1965)
The Case of the Disappearing Accent: THE COMEDIANS (1967)
AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE (2010)
The Dirtbag Menace: AMY (2015)
The Bulls Fighter: BRONSON (2008)
Mad Mannish Boy: CARPETBAGGERS, THE (1964)
You can't be coughing on a moving Train: CONTAGION (2011)
Manson Poppins: DEATHMASTER (1971)
Poverty and Spit! DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION (1981)
Guide to Cable TV Paranormal/Ghost Hunting Shows. GHOST ADVENTURES, etc.
She was some kind of a mushroom: GO ASK ALICE (1973)
Hope vs. the Scandanivian Svengalis: THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE, I'LL TAKE SWEDEN,
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978)
The Gummo Marx Way: INHERENT VICE (2015)
Bride of Bogartstein: IN A LONELY PLACE (1950)
Exit the Navel: DICE, MARON 
Butler of Orbs: THE MASTER, THE (2012)
A Travis for our Times; OBSERVE AND REPORT (2009)
OREGONIAN, THE (2011)
One pill makes you Corporate: LIMITLESS (2011)
PAUL (2011)
RED LINE 7000 (1965) 
Towards a new cinema of castration: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
Fantasy Phallus Fallacy: SATURN 3 (1980)
Medusae of Asia vs. Old Testament Houston: SHANGHAI GESTURE (1941)
Bitches be Trippin: TOAD ROAD, A FIELD IN ENGLAND
Manhattan sinking like a Rock: THE WARRIORS, THE (1978)
White Women Waterloo: JAMAICA INN, WEST OF SHANGHAI, SKYSCAPER SOULS 
Unironic Ventriloquist Radio: YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1938)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Post-American Pride: DEATH RACE 2050 (Roger Corman Lives!)


Brought Gulliver-low through Lilliputian micro-managerial fascism on the one side and kamikaze cabinet-casting by a rabid right on the other, America--by which I mean me, the ghost of Woody Guthrie, and maybe you--are in serious trouble, maybe. To the left I say don't take it on me if I seem too slack for your food co-op committee; and to the right I say at least do dystopia right, as in public executions, televised death games for condemned prisoners, and cross-country road rage races with points awarded for pedestrians killed. Roger Corman can help you with that. And DEATH RACE 2050 is here - on Netflix, and perfect for an angry beer-and-rage-soaked wochenende. 

I confess, reader, I been blocked. I been brought low by horrific panic in all my usual sources of solace (even Facebook) I couldn't read another step, either from work or the news, or the terrifying cascade of perceived injustice not to mention my own aging face in the black mirror, but then DEATH RACE 2050 came and saved me. For not only does it satirize the Idiocracy of the Post-Trump America so trenchantly it feels pulled from tomorrow's headlines, it does so without making me get so angry I start to shake. It's overall jovial tone is its own tool fro coping. I came to it in despair, and afterwards I was ready to rejoin the race, the nation, the madness with sails newly ripped by fertile breezes.

After all, when the world drowns in its own tears, we'd be fools not to jump in after it, like Ahab with a harpoon in hand.

In case you don't know, the original DEATH RACE 2000 (1975) was a huge hit for Roger Corman, with the terrific hook of a dystopian future where a national cross-country race includes drives raking up points by running over pedestrians. The celebrity maniac drivers included a young Sylvester Stallone as Joe Peturbo, David Carradine as Frankenstein (the hero), Mary Woronov as a cowgirl bull rider, and Roberta Collins as the Nazi-ed up Matilda the Hun. Directed by Paul Bartel, who left this world too soon or could have been another, slightly darker John Waters, It's a gem that's held up over the years remarkably well. Not only was I inspired to re-watch it after 2050, but its hilarious sequel DEATHSPORT, the Shout DVD of which includes a great Allan Arkush commentary track.

None of these have much in common with the Jason Statham remake and its sequels, on which Corman had no part, and which I tried to watch but are too dark, literally and figuratively. In the words of Tony Camonte's secretary, I like a show with jokes. Either way, the Bartel 1975 version is so good it shouldn't be sullied with comparison to anything except this new one, which stands up very well.

This version/update, produced by Roger  and Julie Corman and directed by G.J. Echternkamp, brings in Oculus Rift-stlyle headset and projection technology added to a grim and very plausible future in which 95% of the population are unemployed but don't care because their headset goggle things make their surroundings BLACK MIRROR bright (an artificiality that perfectly fits the film's copious use of green screen) Everyone lives in a state of besotted numbness, waking up only to clamor for blood at the big race. Malcolm McDowell is the fey president, a cross between Donald Trump (hair jokes), and a straight Elton John (he sits at his office flanked by broads feeding him grapes ala his stretch as CALIGULA and his CLOCKWORK ORANGE prison bible vision. He's the big name star here, of course, but his performance is kind of broad and too familiar to past dictators he's played, and brother he's played his share. Not that he's bad, at all. He's Malcolm. But the rest of the cast, holy shit!


First props in the great over-acting school of classic drive-in fare goes to foam-at-the-mouth Burt Grinstead, channeling the spirit of Dick Rude in REPO MAN as a closeted 'perfect male' and Anessa Ramsey as the fundamentalist Christian maniac Tammy ("All hail Saint Elvis Presley!"). She  plays her deranged cult leader like a true force of crazy nature she'd be right at home in FASTER PUSSSYCAT, KILL KILL, as would Yancy Butler as the leader of the resistance. Folake Olowofoyeku as an African American woman driver who pedals her vaporwave single (Drive! Drive! Kill! Kill!") while racing across redneck stretches of this post-Trump wasteland of a nation by day, and by night quietly confessing her dad is a history chair at Columbia; another car is driven by an AI computer (who promptly has an identity crisis) with the navigator a Ballard-CRASH style hedonist (Shanna Olsen); there's also sweet Marci Miller as Frankenstein's right hand woman (and a rebel assassin) and as Frankenstein himself is played by New Zealand male Manu Bennett. Shizz yeah, as April Wolfe points out "Roger Corman's 'Death Race 2050' is the only movie that matters in 2017" - girls is always right.


If you doubt it's got everything this year will need, just note, closely, the fine print on yonder device (above right) while bearing in mind the director's previously best-known feature was HARD CANDY over a decade ago--where he copped out at the big ball break. Here he's makin' up for it, even if the device is never successfully triggered or explained or even given its own ominous suspense cue. Marci Miller just whips it out and puts it in after the projection of rebel leader Yancy Butler berates her in the shower for not killing Frankenstein yet "as a symbol" (and Miller answers in song so Frankenstein in the next room doesn't hear her talking). It's just there for those of us who still can't figure the big castrati cop-out of HC. It don't matter, for here it fits like a glove in a layered free-for-all of metatextual green screen savagery so rife with piled-up details it never needs to explain its few confusing glitches. Evoking great Corman slap-dash jobs like Corman's underrated CREATURE FROMT THE HAUNTED SEA, DEATH RACE 2050 puts the man back into in the big leagues of the emerging realms of low-budget green-screen hipster sci-fi genre pastiche, ala JOHN DIES AT THE END, BOUNTY KILLER, KUNG FURY and IRON SKY. Don't even try to question why this kind of crunch car smash surreal green screen zip feels more real than most of Hollywood's gritty drama. That's just 'the future' and  you're already in it. I bet even now, there's a difference between how you see yourself in your mind's eye (and the mirror with good lighting), and in a selfie. Don't listen to that selfie, son or daughter. Just floor it on through, jump that uncanny valley and fear no hard landing future. Even if the next crunch you hear is your own hard candy cracking, thou wert only ever pixels.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Best of 2016


A dirty super dude/mutant lying back in a speeding garbage truck: is there a more apt image for 2016? Only one: Harley Quinn, a sexy blonde with rocket popsicle-colored hair, a bat slung over her shoulder (the bat has replaced the bow for woman's weapon of choice). Gone gonzo loco at the hands of the Joker, she--like Deadpool--demonstrates a fathomless tolerance for madness, pain, frustration, and garbage,  the requirements for anyone hoping to survive 2017. One must either join it, slam that whiskey shot and grab a blackjack and dive into the melee, or just stand on the sidelines in aghast horror, your threats of moving to Canada or Europe as empty as they were 12 years ago. Maybe instead you should think about moving to Germany, being an expatriate artist and letting the circle be complete. I know that's what I'm thinking about. But I've been thinking about it for 120 years.


Madness. Considering all the other BLACK MIRROR stuff going on, America shouldn't be too surprised it's having a "Waldo Moment." In fact, we should have seen it coming. The surer we are about something, the more likely it is to surprise us and be something else. For example, the one movie I was sure I'd love, THE NEON DEMON, well, I did not. The one Marvel comic villain I was sure I'd dislike, Oscar Isaac in X-MEN APOCALYPSE, turned out to be the best part of that woeful step backwards for Bryan 'just another Ratner" Singer.

Nothing makes sense. We need to go back over the facts and see where we veered from them. We drove around that signpost up ahead / through the looking glass / above the clouds, beyond the rain, and we can either hang around the munchkins like a bad penny or throw apples at flying monkeys like a local and trust we'll find our way back when our back is good and ready cuz we never lost it to begin the beguine with. Hell, even the Satanists are worried for humanity now, as fake news fuels "won't someone think of the children?!" hysteria to levels not seen in this country since the red scare of 1954, or Salem 1693.

Whatever. This is a place for wolves now. Very. drunk. wolves


It's still 2016 as I write this, a year where little moments made the big horrible picture more easily avoidable and just as it did in the early 80s when my generation was STRANGER THINGS age, comic books stepped in like a whole new kind of truth, far more urgent and vivid than anything as ridden with petty agendas as the actual 'true' news. Money doesn't fill the seats and stuff so carefully calibrated for class and awards import makes not a bit of sense or weight either. I can imagine JACKIE being sooo great, but who really cares, unless it's to perhaps make the point that our martyring of JFK and horror over Trump the next are really just two reflections of the same eddy in the same empty icon swamp. Coming back from the holidays with our red-blue state divides drawn along the dinner centerpiece, things should be coming very clear.... we're not fooling anyone by thinking we're above the shit line. We're all crazy Americans looking for an image to follow around like a red flag waving an empty bull.


1. DEADPOOL
Dir. Tim Miller

If Terry Southern were writing superhero movies they would certainly reflect the cheeky youth of today's unique PC-hipster vulgarity instead of his own sex-obsessed, patriarchally presumptive, eternal anti-authoritarian (political) satire on male vanity--which seems archaic if allowed to linger too long (i.e. after the first brilliant half of CANDY). That shit wouldn't fly today, but the kind of humor in DEADPOOL on the other hand is so pop culture-obsessed, it will never date, anymore than TWENTIETH CENTURY has dated with all its CAMILLE and RAIN references. The frenzied control of GOODFELLAS runs headlong into a Marx Bros. under the knife saga that's one part Billy Eichner, one part Wolverine when he was still a badass (the first two X-MEN films), Robert Downey Jr. in IRON MAN if he was less of a tech geek playboy and more of a sarcastic mercenary who'd rather slow jam to Wham!, play skeeball, start fights at his merc watering hole and beat up stalkers--and all of the EXPENDABLES flame-circumcised down into a helium and mocha jave whippet. Reynolds whose voice indicates he's never smoked a cigarette or even been near an open flame is another of the great macho fey icons to come prancing down the pike, fearlessly flouting his mastery of all the pffft-sounds in the Ikea catalogue.

The right kind of deep voice is important to me (since both I and my father have one) but if a straight brother's gonna own his girliness I can totally get behind that. With Mr. Pool here, you can call him a girl and we wont be offended, but with that PC innateness comes an unwillingness to turn one's back on the merely puerile and with a confidence in this one franchise at least it's okay to shoot the villain point blank in the head after you have him at your mercy. Finally, and thank god.

For these myriad other reasons my artsier reader might bemoan this choice for #1, might think I'm slipping, a further slide that began back when I declared DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES superior to Lars von Trier's MELANCHOLIA, but this film is a great big messy obscene masterpiece of the sort that's so voraciously outside the box and fresh you can smell the dirt - the filthy dust that box has been buried in nigh under 540 years. See it as I did,  while waiting for CRT scan test results after being initially diagnosed with COPD, and barely able to breathe, wondering if your clock is now speeding up, death looming fast, and then suffering the horrible withdrawal from smoking that accompanies such fear like an electric amp, so stretches of being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and then subjected to a horrific airless vacuum tube torture chamber where you slowly suffocate but the machine keeps giving you just enough to keep you from passing out or falling asleep. I knew Mr. Pool understood, and that helped.

Also there was someone finally aggressive enough to slice off a bad guy's head then drop kick the head into another guy right behind camera, one of the coolest moves in fight history. As the girlfriend, Moreena Baccarin rocks so hard, bro. Impossibly hot yet hilarious, she seems born into this kind of rattatat tat Hawksian hipster wry humor; TJ Miller is terrific as the bartender buddy --way funnier than just that gross 'avocado had sex with another avocado' soundbyte they mark him in; Gina Carano is the henchmen! When the Brit bad guy has a girl doing his heavy duty ass kicking for him, well, we really are making social progress. There's even two X-Men, tying the franchise to be in with that one, though hilariously there are only two (insert meta comment), one the giant Russian Colossus (kind of weakly animated and voiced, but so what? it works); and Teenage Dynamo Rocket or something, a girl too young to get DP's oblique Sinead O'Connor references re: her short crop hair, and who's wide ungainly girl frame matches well the wider stance of this post-UFC Carano, and reminding too of how Rothrock was in the old days- which is to say, they look like genuine, real brawlers, not dancers or models. And even the soundtrack is refreshing in its emphasis on 70s-80s lite FM, from Wham! to "Just call me Angel of the Morning" - rather than endless beatz and traxx. In short, it's a whole new realm of masculine crying, and undying, with fey men and brawler babes. There's not even an issue with proposing to a prostitute strip club bartender (Peckinpah would be so pleased), or telling your cab driver to kill his romantic rival and dump the corpse on his girlfriend's porch. 

2. HELL OR HIGH WATER
Dir David McKenzie

When people really are from the place their characters are, they don't need to make the characters 'normal' in the way privileged clueless screenwriters cloud their dialogue in sanctification of the common man, like Barton Fink or Sullivan (the characters, not the films), or any of the Commie rats in the below Coen film. When lesser writers do these chamber piece red state bank robber brother-bonding odysseys they get hung up on big messy Oscar-bait drinking scenes. They write not for themselves but their didactic Sundance teacher from that old workshop they attended: what's 'real,' man vs. the hardship blah blah. Here it's the way the bank robbing pair of brothers--specially the older, wilder jailbird one (Ben Foster), constantly surprise us with their natural, easygoing back and forth. We also have the laconic, near-retired sheriff, his Navajo (but half-Mexican and devout Christian!) deputy, and all the lawyers and bank tellers and waitresses in between. They don't need those artificial 'weathered' facial cracks big budget films give people in the Heartland to give off the feeling of being where they are. Here the the flat endless horizon-line is a kind of TV, everyone trains their eyes on it and they stare at each other the same way, waiting for one or the other to make a move for their gun. The acting matches the writing, each so good the other gets better because of it. Chris Pine more than lives up to the promise he showed in the STAR TREKs -- moving so deep into character you'd swear he was found by a roaming casting director hitchhiking through Arlington. I had lines of his and his brothers' ringing in my head for weeks afterwards.

3. OTHER PEOPLE 
Dir. Chris Kelly

As any story by David Sidaris illustrates, if you want to see a complex, cool, badass hilarious woman, look to the mom of an brilliant, gay humorist. Here, fusing genuinely transgressive hilarity with emotional gut-punch cancer mortality-facing, it's SNL writer Kelly's autobiographical tale of the last days with his. The performances have a lightning-in-the-bottle immediacy where you don't just see and hear him and his family members, but hear how each others' voice and style have influenced one another during formative pasts and the pokey but relentless way those traits re-manifest during stressful reunion. Molly Shannon's performance especially is so jaw-droppingly immense and complex you need to re-think all the other death bed scenes you've cried over, and there's a break-out WTF turn with child actor JJ Totah as a preteen fashion designer who leaves any visible distinction between male and female, masculine and feminine, clear in the dust. This is wrenching emotional comedy for people who hate all that manipulative twelve-hanky sentimental self-righteous bourgeois intellectual Tennenbaum bullshit. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be talking about it. But I am, brother.

 4. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
Dir. Joe and Anthony Russo

Sure it's awful prescient in its tale of a ruthless Communist ripping America in half and setting the two sides at each other's throats, but CIVIL WAR has hit home in ways even closer than that (for me), Working in higher academia but powerless to stop as it undergoes another of its groupthink overreach oversight micro-managing anal-retentive freak-outs (the last one being in the early 90s). Thank god I've got this Marvel entry to check myself from getting too far along in my righteous iconoclasm. Perhaps the first film ever--superhero or other--to really look at what's gained and lost when the submission of power to checks and balances/authority takes firm root. Now more than ever we may taste the bitter fruit of true democracy but seeing the utter impossibility of complete lateral fairness and pulling the trigger anyway might be the most badass thing a badass can do. Sure there's tremors on the horizon of trouble and back-watching, isn't that heroism? Either choice, we're miles away from the smarmy dialectic of authority as evil and compromised vs. a kind of saintly hot-rod confabulated conformist anticonformity. Both sides are right / both sides murder.

I'm firmly in the old iconoclast tradition--I hate being told I no longer have the ability to tell a hawk from a hacksaw because I didn't get a masters in Hacksaw-Hawk Differentiation--and yet I also respect the need others might have to try and hem me in, create some abiding set of rules and measurements for hacks who think they're hacksaw experts because they've got three different HAMLET adaptations on DVD. When both sides are working with respect to the other's import, the trailblazer doing what he's told can't be or shouldn't because he feels it's right, and taking the shit from higher up but getting 'er done (giving his upperlings 'plausible deniability') and the organizer of a common consensus doing the yelling and number crunching but sometimes to the point of quagmire stalemate buck-passing loop-de-loops, we have a functioning democracy. The old gunfighters can be either like Jason Robards in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, or Merlin in EXCALIBUR, helping ensure the conditions by which their particular set of skills becomes obsolescent, as the Taoist way of things, orWILD BUNCH blaze of glory it out in cathartic bloodbath. Democracy is always in peril, we've never been more than a swing state away from HANDMAID'S TALE-dystopia, when we forget that, the Russian dictator-du-jour divides and conquers us as easy as the grieving Sokovia ops villain does here.


The brilliant casting includes William Hurt as the general voted by the UN to helm 'the Sokovia Accords," and there's even, finally, a properly sarcastic and on-the-beam Peter Parker/Spiderman (Tom Holland --a Brit, naturally). Then there's the show-stopper fight at the airport--easily the funniest, best battle yet because really we root for both sides. There are no winners or victory dances this time, just declarations of fealty beyond borders or association. When the smoke clears, if it ever does, we'll be picking up our Deke Thornton and riding off into the laughing corner sunset of fuckit and Alvarado,

 5. HAIL, CEASAR!
by Joel and Ethan Coen

It might be the brothers' funniest, wryest most succinct thesis yet, triangulating some kind of common free zone between their pet themes. Through a bizarre chain of events, an up-and-coming cowboy actor manages to rescue a dunderheaded star (George Clooney), from a cabal of Jewish communists thanks to his unspoken fraternal rapport with studio head Josh Brolin who--in a rare moment of flummox--shares that he's got $150K in a suitcase. There's also Scarlett Johansen, rocking her Lawng Island accent as an Esther Williams-meets-Jean Harlow bathing beauty; Channing Tatum's Gene Kelly-cum-reverse-curtain-queer-Nuryev, various broad comedic bits ranging from the shrill and misguided (Tilda Swinton's identical twin gossip hounds) to letter perfect sublime (Jonah Hill as the studio's dedicated legal example of 'personhood'). Look fast for alarmingly perfect caricatures of John Ford, George Cukor, etc.


Throughout the brothers seem ever sidetracked by their musical number itch (lengthy, artsy approximations of everything from Busby Berkeley surrealism, Gene Kelly sailor suit gay rhumbas), and their elaborate progression of water symbolism (from the Scarlett water ballet to the Russian submarine escape, the sailor suit and hat, etc.) As a result it often doesn't always add up to anything more than a wave lapping up against a discarded satchel of money, but if you're a Godard fan who digs all the signifier-melting incongruities in PASSION or CONTEMPT, you will love seeing the silhouette of Josh Brolin's grey flannel suit against the Golgotha crucifixions, or the contrast of an assistant director checking the lunch choices of the extras on the cross. Not all of it makes sense or holds together on close reflection but it's a movie that's going places we've not seen a Coen go since BARTON FINK. But it spares us the Barton Fink feeling, and thanks to god. The Jewish one.https://youtu.be/VJBSSkn0Ldw

6. SUICIDE SQUAD
Dir. David Ayer


How long has it been Jack (Falstaff), since you saw your own knee? David Ayer's SS came out the same year Chimes at Midnight came out on Blu-ray, and it's easy to mix them up. With timely Falstaff's rousing his girth into conscription agent attire, letting the beasts out to fight bigger beasts,r using the debauched and breaking the phases --didn't Orson break his wind unto thee? Gravitas-king-treader gravy liver on the belied scroll of youth antiquity-blasted anthem-singing honest-penny-lender! Today we hang in half-aware heir apparent fake laugh sanity, helping able souls hop onto the madness like a runaway trolley with no track and no floor and no wall. Jared Leto, as a Joker, sprays on the "Witness Me" chrome mouth and the lime rickey green and electric pink frame shudders as if the whole film is breathing lysergic insanity along his serpent-handler's sway. Sir-John, the celluloid around thee us burst into flames in the Crispin Glover distance. Viola Davis gives one of the great gender-bent performances of the year, second only to JJ Totah (in Other People). The dozen superfluous simon shattter ayahuasca anima in the subway strangeness shine. Prick 'em, fifty teenth-es strong Northumberland my young hairy night-dripping fairy, for this film breathes like few others. Even if the story leaves the audience behind, so we feel like we're being held back from the fight a few blocks by some cops who don't know hacks from hawksaws. The cumulative effect is like the time-space shattering realization you've had wayyyy-y-y-y- to much ayahuasca-uasca-uasca and no longer understand what the guide is saying or where he is or was he ever there, or is he that crow over some dude's rucksack on closer inspection there, prick 'em.

Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, her rocket-pop shimmering hallucination with chemistry unto Leto's Joker--twisted and grand: Jai Courtney's Aussie accent; a reptilian; a flaming cholo; the Crazy 88s' surviving swordgrrl; Scott Eastwood; Will Smith's inescapable 'good dad' daughter issues (my big fear going in) are well-handled.  Heady swoons. Ayers did Training Day or Fury, if y'all but open your eyes and see the blood inside them, all the night-tripping fight-club fairies in the money, they're in the money, Jack. They've always been in the money. Seasons change their manners, the old folks dip their feet in tonic toner chronicles. Steep my senses in forgetfulness and call me shorty... Prick 'em!

7a. SICARIO
Dir Denis Villeneuve

Science says this movie came out last year - but it came to cable this year, bro. And that's where the fuckin' world saw it, bro. No one wanted to pay $15 to see yet another goddamned movie about border-crossing drug gangs and the gringo cops that scratch the surface, in rooms with no paintings on the walls, just picaresque cracks and layered bullet holes like tree rings. But on cable, if it springs up on you halfway through while idly surfing, then mister - what the fuck, shit's way better than we were led to believe by a defeatist talk show promo run. They should have instead of trying to shoehorn human interest played up the eerie enigmatic near-Apocalypse of the Lambs artistry at work, the refreshingly ominous and abstract use of sound, the way Jóhann Jóhannsson's droning ominous synthesizer casts an intoxicating pall over the proceedings, as if the bottom is slowly dropping out in an endless elevator to Hell that opens out onto the sky.

The plot's the old familiar girl idealist in a grim clear-eyed man's world. Fuckin' both del Toro and del Josh Brolin are so tight, I'll even forgive it the side thread with the good dad soccer-with-his-son corrupt cop who gets caught in the throw-down. The drive-thru into Mexico with the armored trucks to pick up a local drug higher-up on the chain, deep into the heart of the cartel beast, so to speak--bodies hanging off the overpass -- so chilling you expect (and almost get) the giddy weird 'you are there' vibe of, say, being 16 and going to your first major drug deal. As the moral compass Emily Blunt whispers through the whole movie like a lover trying not to wake her kids. Brolin and del Toro have such chemistry they're reminiscent of Clu and Lee in the '64 KILLERS.

7b. THE ARRIVAL
Dir Denis Villeneuve

Technically this is the Villeneuve film from 2016 though it seems older than SICARIO.  I know, I haven't shut up about my Amy Adams embargo all week, but how long, realistically, do you think that is? To avoid AA is to incur cinema withdrawal, for even now Superman is on TV behind me and there she is. Appearing in just about every movie ever made, maybe there's a reason beyond some shiksa-phobic royal blood line reptilian conspiracy that Adams is so ubiquitous. You always need a redhead chick in these movies (Chastain in INTERSTELLAR) but ARRIVAL deals specifically with aliens whose sense of time is more elliptical than hours, and Amy's wizened gnome crow's feet and upturned nose, even more interesting, small clear white facial hairs like an Irish peach, her gnome upturned nose all bespeak, what is the word, 'promise?' She's a thinker, an academic for whom adherence to some basic blueprint for eye-grabbing beauty hasn't even cracked her top ten list of things to do today. Cracking a complex alien code so that the movie can avoid being INDEPENDENCE DAY 3 and start being more like an INTERSTELLAR's TREE OF LIFE is #1 on that crack list. No worries though, we're safe with hectapods instead of Sean Penn. The alien pair look like two giant hands soaking in Palmolive and so forth (did the idea for this movie come during one of those 'stoned hand discoveries' where half-asleep after work you suddenly notice the miracle of your own hands? How alien they are, so attuned to our brain, so alive and dextrous. Walruses watch out typing speeds with mounting envy. As ever, a linguist shall be the first to take off her hazmat suit and trust in the ommm-moment. Forrest Whittaker gets riled but realizes she's right. Meanwhile we learn why they used to keep aliens a secret as civilization descends into looting and arson and sabotage in the wake of these funky hectapods. Why wouldn't it? Why not? Because evolution, man. Read a book, dude. Humins Rule! Do we get a do-over? 

8. THE FORBIDDEN ROOM
Dir. Guy Maddin

If you're in a Guy Maddin movie, the emulsion Ektachrome rust has happened ahead of time, two or three feet ahead --just enough for your nightmare third-eye fevered brain to hallucinate patterns upon the bubbling shower curtain into which your silhouette dissolves and merges. It's all just enough to distract you so so the skeleton insurance defrauders can lull you into a gentle trance, and thus procure your squirming signature on a contract. Just sign and they'll stop pestering you. You can sleep or gyrate in skeleton girl orgy if you just sign. SIGN. Sign here, Initial there and sleep. As I count down from 10--and on into the ever chugging night--9, the track culls you like a ticking clock scrubbing blackness from the pink skin of the sky by force of habit. 8 -What else does the world turn for, if not lack of other options? 7 -Has anyone convinced it to stop twirling like a mad idiot around the sun, stopped winding it?

Ektachrome moments, 'orbiting' like a moth desperate to burn back up in the mother light of an empty projector, to drink from the sun like a lunar mammary fountain. 6- Reborn as an angel. Every moth who made it past that shade has never told us they regretted it. Five-- Even if they're swept up with the dropped popcorn at the end of the night, they had that one cinematic moment... and they're still here, now, older than Berryman. They're gone now, 4 --but there's always another show. Another  bath - 3  - Goddamn it. 2 --There's always another 1 -- dirty show.... (full)

Dir. David Eggers

Shrouded in portentous gloom and ominous droning electric cello, THE WITCH (2015) is the first great woodsy pre-Salem devil film in 300 years, a SHINING for the ANTICHRIST x BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW subdivision of the HAXAN community (with a dash of the recent HONEYMOON if you're keeping track). Set in 1630s New England on a small tract of cleared woods, surrounded by deep (if leafless) trees and strange sudden houses, it's a character piece that delves into the same dark soul patches that many witch and devil movies make feints at but then run away from, i.e. the actual dark superstitions and folk tales, court records, and the twisted folk horror stories of zonked-out American mystics like Hawthorne, Poe and Ambrose Bierce. First time-writer/director Robert Eggers has a unique flair for the milieu--everything feels authentic including the natural lighting (candles and fires) and thin grey streaks of dusk at early evening's onset, the way the gray ambiguity of neither day nor night gives every living creature an unearthly nightmare aura. He makes the simplicity of the narrative work by being straightforward with both the paranoia and the reality; it's an historical look at repressed female psychic energy under dogmatic patriarchy and the validation of that patriarchy's overwrought fear of the dark. (cont)

10. HIGH-RISE
Dir. Ben Wheatley
There's some things that are seriously wrong with this film but hey. It's yet another future classic by the team behind FIELD IN ENGLAND and KILL-LIST, Ben Wheatley and producer/writer Amy Jump (his Debra Hill if you will).  It ain't perfect, the main antagonist, a louche, abusive drunk TV star played by Luke Evans (DRACULA UNTOLD) drowns an innocent dog for no real reason other than its owner is a rich snobn. It's one of the more (needlessly?) disturbing moments of the cinematic year, as upsetting as the drowning of the small child in last year's UNDER THE SKIN. Of course that's Ballard's style, loading in a rough trade rentboy getting away with murder in a society too polite and jaded to dispatch him Hellward. The metaphor (classes separated by floors) is a little left over from SNOWPIERCER and very British, but hey, Tom Hiddleston is a medical teacher not above convincing rich twits they have inoperable brain tumors just to watch 'em snuff it. Narrative incoherence succinctly conveys the author's viscous misanthropy. This in short makes Cronenberg's CRASH seem but a fender-drunken bender. That a massive skyscraping residential building might lose its elevator service and electrical power and then never get it back, that this even might lead to a reversion to savagery on the upper floors (since it take literally hours of stair climbing to get up and down from each floor) is very British indeed. America wouldn't stand for it! And if you've ever dealt with out elevators in a skyscraper, had to club 20 flights just to get some groceries, you know the pain. The overall impression makes it a nice fit between DREDD, SHIVERS, and ZARDOZ --tellingly, not one on that list is American. Heil, Britannia and her (Un)Commonwealth! 

11. KEANU
Dir. Peter Atencio
Key and Peele, man, they got it covered. WHAM!

TELEVISION
1. STRANGER THINGS
Dir. The Duffer Brothers

This a great moment near the end of this amazing mini-series, where four boys are excitedly recalling the events of the past eight episodes to a rescued friend whose smile is so heartrendingly open and thrilled and the kids so animated that it's hard not to well up in a kind of paternal glow far beyond the usual mawkish nostalgic treacle; as a kid who read Stephen King and played Dungeons and Dragons with lead figurines and lived in that murky weird world of preteen boys with big imaginations and artistic finesse (i.e. bad at sports), I can vouch that someone finally did it right- even if it is the porn sounding 'Duffer Brothers"

There's Winona Ryder--doing batshit very well as that rescued kid's driven-crazy mom--and even if things don't always resolve well or wherever it goes, the film / show/  miniseries / whatever - it still does the Stephen King miniseries better than any actual Stephen King miniseries. The big soaring climactic emotions are all earned and unlike other shows that seem to be just having shit happen to keep you watching--threads woven and then abandoned; more and more threads and nothing woven; sharks jumped and lectured--ST has a genuine catharsis. The hero doesn't always get the girl or the single dad and single mom get together to somehow form a family.... but between the ominous synths and VHS box cover-style mood and fonts, this is everything we ever wanted from the video store.

2. DIFFICULT PEOPLE (Hulu)
3. BLACK MIRROR (Netflix)
4. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK III (Netflix)
5. BILLY ON THE STREET (TruTV)
6. THE MAGICIANS (Syfy) 


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