Friday, July 19, 2019

Fantasia 2019: Black Magic For White Boys

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The oeuvre of Onur Tukel is an acquired taste -- his movies are low-rent and abrasive and even though I can't stand the term "politically incorrect" because people who brand themselves it always seem like they want a gold star for their smugness, he definitely fits the bill. He spins and wallows in black humor about race and sex and such and so forth, and he's always thrusting his own big sweaty bearded whining self in there as the biggest meanest crassest one of all. 

Watching his films -- like his hipster vampire evisceration Summer of Blood (reviewed here), and his bloody paranoid relationship dramedy Applesauce (reviewed here), and most recently his surreal dalliance with name actresses and slapping called Catfight that starred Anne Heche and Sandra Oh (reviewed here), I always feel like there's somebody out there who must be getting pissed off at this stuff. Right? They all play like episodes of Seinfeld meets The Twlight Zone directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis -- surely there's an Iowan somewhere aghast at this nonsense. But I think those thoughts while I'm laughing my big ass off, despite myself and besides human decency. Tukel is totally exasperating, but I'm pretty sure at this point I am endeared. I'm a fan. It's in the stars.

His latest slapdash crime against respectability is called Black Magic For White Boys (man that's a terrific title), which has his typical cast of neurotic New York assholes confronted by a French magician (sure why not) who can make people disappear, really disappear. Naturally all anybody in this city can immediately think of is real estate -- it's the gentrification tool of a developer's dreams! And also there's lots of abortion? Sure, abortion. Tukel gleefully smashes his meaty paws on every hot button he can get them to, and dear reader, I laughed. I laughed so very hard. And I hope this weirdo keeps making movies that feel this much like home, this cramped funny and obscene city that I love, forever.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Crawl in 150 Words or Less

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Sleek as an alligator hand-purse on a high fashion runway Crawl is fat-less and smells great flying by -- goes down quick as a model's mint lunch and comes back up just as fast and fine and slick with delicious belly slime. Establishing bullshit is elbowed out of the way, a Wal-mart shopper on overdrive with the sales-rack clean before her -- she knows what she wants, she gon' git it, even if she has to shove a baby stroller down the steps on her way to that empty caloric bliss. You know the shot of the T-Rex gulping full goat, Jurassic appetizer? Crawl's all that and a bag of chips in a bloody underwater bodega. I licked my fat lips after, chip dust be damned.
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Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...
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... Glen Powell's wingman anytime.

The first teaser trailer has arrived for Top Gun: Maverick with Tom Cruise revisiting the role that made him a big-toothed superstar alongside Miles Teller and our boy Glen here filling in as the beefcake youngster roles that'll get all the kiddie butts in the movie seats; watch it here:
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This movie isn't out until June of next year so I'm not sure why they're teasing it at this point, but I'm not gonna argue with Glen Powell's nipples, not ever, so I'll shut my mouth. Oh fine except for one thing...
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Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Hollow Man (2000)

Sebastian: Did you ever hear the one about 
Superman and Wonder Woman?
Matt: Stop clowning around.
Sebastian: No come on this is a good one. Superman's flying around metropolis and he's horny as hell. He's checking out the rooftops and all of a sudden he sees Wonder Woman sunning herself on the roof of the Justice League. I mean she is lying there buck naked and spread eagle. Looks like she wants to get fucked right? So Superman starts thinking to himself, "Man I gotta get myself some of that wonderpussy." And then he realizes that he can fly down, do a little fast pumping and be gone before she even sees him. Because he's Superman. He's faster than a speeding bullet, right? So Superman, he swoops down, he fucks her so quick, she doesn't even see him. Wonder Woman sits up and says, "What the fuck was that?" and The Invisible Man says "I don't know but my asshole is killing me."

Ever since the new Invisible Man movie was announced I've been thinking about Paul Veroeven's Hollow Man and how they need to give this speech a shout-out, but now that they went and cast Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the Invisible Man, well, I'm gonna need more than the speech. I'm gonna need a reenactment. Henry Cavill could play Superman one more time, dammit! Ahem. Anyway a very happy 81st  birthday to Paul Verhoeven, legend and genius and pervert.


Who They Are In Who We Are

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Back in February I told you of We Are Who We Are, Luca Guadagnino's limited series for HBO that'll have him tackling another tale of teenage-dom in Italy -- it supposedly focuses in on an American teen boy and an American teen girl who become besties at an Army base, so much so that everybody thinks they're a couple but it's far more complicated than that since the boy is, it sounds like, not sure if he likes girls or boys, and the boy's confusion is only exacerbated by the friendship he makes with an older male soldier there on the base. Anyway today a slew of actors have become attached to the project, which is going to start filming this month -- we don't know who is playing who, but the names are Chloë Sevigny, Alice Braga, Timothée Chalamet's fave rapper Kid Cudi (seen above), Jack Dylan Grazer, and Tom Mercier...

... who made a big splash with the film Synonymes when it screened in Berlin this past February, and who is by all accounts about to become A Thing. That said if I had to guess who's playing the lead teenage boy I'd guess it's Grazer, who played Eddie in the first It film and was the head boy in Shazam! and is the biggest name young actor they've announced...

... but we don't know that for sure yet. No guess on who's playing the soldier, or the teen girl character, or anybody really! There are even more names that the announcement included, such as "Jordan Kristine Seamon, Spence Moore II, Corey Knight, Francesca Scorsese, Sebastiano Pigazzi, and Ben Taylor, who are all young U.S. artists, [and] British stage actress Faith Alabi." All of them will be somebody, presumably...
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Fassy Has Insta

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View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Michael Fassbender (@michael.fassbender) on
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If a Michael Fassbender joins Instagram and nobody notices, does a Michael Fassbender Instagram still exist? Seeing as how this is a Verified account yes, this is him, and yet he posted that single picture back in May and as of this minute he only has 553 followers! WTF come on, folks! Let's get this man taking shirtless selfies already, goddamn. Go follow! (news via)
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Slap That Ben in Some Fur Booties

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Terrific news today as our boy Ben Whishaw has been added to the cast of the fourth season of Fargo, Noah Hawley's ace update on the Coen Brothers snowbound brand -- if there's word on who he's playing I'm skipping it for the time being, I'd rather be surprised.  (Especially after we never got the Ewan twins to make out like I'd been hoping for last time around.) Besides Ben other actors added to the previously announced Chris Rock in the lead are Jessie Buckley, Jack Huston, Jason Schwartzman, and the musician Andrew Bird. But Ben! Ben is big enough for me, yo.
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On a sidenote this reminds me that I haven't watched a single episode of Hawley's Legion yet this year -- is anybody watching it? I swear I haven't heard a single word spoken anywhere from anyone. You'd think I'd see people tweeting or something? What is happening? I'm not the show's biggest fan (I far prefer Fargo) but I'm still invested enough to finish it up...


Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Lola (1981)

Esslin: Would you want to live in a world
that has lost all morality? Where there's only
evil and depravity and corruption?
Lola: Gladly.

I really wish that some of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's films didn't speak directly to our current miserable moment, but man alive did he see who we are and who we were and who we would keep becoming with the clarity of a single tear smudged on crystal. Anyway I didn't realize this had dropped already but RWF's "BRD Trilogy," consisting of this film and The Marriage of Maria Braun and Veronika Voss, was released on Criterion blu-ray last week and man alive do you need to own these movies, they're among his most gorgeous and Criterion per usual put out all the stops on remastering 'em so they're peak gorgeous. 

Seriously they look so good they're making me cry. When Criterion announced these discs in April I ranked the three films -- see that here -- and I stand by that ranking still, but there's not a dud here, these are three of the most important films ever made, says me. I say that and I mean that but they're not even Top 5 Fassbinders for me either! That's how fucking important Rainer is. Devote a year of your lives to watching all of his movies like I did about a decade ago, you won't regret it.

Anyway in related news Criterion has announced their next four titles today, see all of them here -- the highlight for me is Benjamin Christensen's legendary 1922 horror flick Häxan, which I've actually never actually seen in full if you can believe it. I've seen most of it, in pieces, but never from start to finish. Well this seems like the right time to remedy that, for sure! I've been thinking about Häxan a lot over the past several months though because even though I've only seen clips I knew enough to recognize that Luca Guadagnino was referencing the film explicitly in his Suspiria remake (especially its explosive finale). Good timing, Criterion -- we're all going to hell anyway!


Oliver Jackson-Cohen Three Times

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It's been a bit of a slow week, new photo-shoot-wise -- I guess we're in the dull period in between magazine drops -- and so I've been reduced to sharing outtakes from Olly's shoot for Flaunt, what a horror. Poor us! If you missed the first batch see that here

It's funny that the interview attached to that shoot is already at just one week old literally last week's news, since he announced two big projects -- the Invisible Man movie with Elisabeth Moss and Blumhouse, and the second series of The Haunting series for Netflix -- since then. The world just keeps spinning.


Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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I should probably save this for Antonio Banderas' 59th birthday in a just a couple of weeks, but what the hay, I'm thinking of him this morning so we'll celebrate early -- why am I thinking of him, you ask? Besides the fact that he's Antonio Banderas, you mean? Well because there's a very fine article on Film Comment this week about Brian De Palma's terrific trash noir Femme Fatale from 2002, talking about BDP's under-acknowledged queer gaze, that's why, and I recommend you read it.

It's just the latest part of a whole series that FC's been doing called "Queer and Now and Then" which I recommend the entirety of -- even if writer Michael Koresky has gotten a couple of digs in at Call Me By Your Name here and there, which wounds, he's still a marvelous writer doing a fine job widening the queer canon. Anyway I liked this passage about Banderas in Femme Fatale:

"Despite his leather-jacket cool and sensitive-guy confidence, Banderas wonderfully essays a favorite De Palma type, the cuckolded patsy (see also Craig Wasson in Body Double). In the film’s most lurid, and grungily gorgeous scene, Laure (Rebecca Romijn) humiliates Nicolas (Banderas) in a dingy, red-drenched bar via a pool-table striptease, using her scantily clad body to arouse a room full of men and possibly incite jealous violence amongst them... Yet Laure’s not the only one play-acting; in order to gain her confidence, Nicolas, thinking that he’s the one setting the rules of the game, initially poses as a gay man, which he tries to make legible via an unmistakable, effeminate swishiness. Recalling Banderas’s early-career roles for Almodóvar, actor and director are here having a little intertextual fun, though there’s something even more delightful and complicated about this brief passage, calling into question our perception of Laure’s own relationship to her sexuality; was she also posing as gay to get what she wanted?"

Anyway if you've never seen Femme Fatale I recommend it, it's one of De Palma's most fun films, total trash (what's new) but smart trash (what else is new) with a lot to say about our trashy ass culture. Speaking of trash I suppose I should add at this point that these pictures here of Banderas in and out of a shower aren't even from Femme Fatale, they're from that 1995 piece of absolute irredeemable garbage Never Talk To Strangers, which unlike FF is without redeeming quality... save Antonio's bum, of course.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

He's Got Whozits and Whatzits Galore

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I haven't had anything to say about Disney's upcoming live-actioning of their Little Mermaid cartoon because I don't exactly have a seahorse in this race -- I actually like the original a lot but I'm kinda past caring about these things post Aladdin and Lion King, they're all so uninspired and grubby seeming now. THAT SAID. Them (possibly) hiring Javier Bardem to play Ariel's already fuckable fish father King Triton is the sort of thing that will probably force me to watch it at some point. Thingamabobs indeed
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Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


Elizabeth: So what's wrong with the Blueberry Pie?
Jeremy: There's nothing wrong with the Blueberry Pie,
just people make other choices. You can't blame
the Blueberry Pie, it's just... no one wants it.

Has anybody watched this film lately? I only saw it the once when it came out but all of a sudden I want to watch it again, even though it left not much of an impression at the time. Perhaps it's a forgotten under-appreciated gem? I have the sense though that it was generally seen as a slight misstep from Wong Kar-wai (who's celebrating his 63rd birthday today, by the way) and that's why he hasn't make any more English language movies since (not to mention Norah Jones hasn't really tried acting again). Thoughts? In summation here are a couple of shots of Jude on set with WCW that I'd posted way back when during filming:


Let Us Come To the End of the Century

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Incredibly happy to see that one of the best movies I've seen this year that I didn't include on my list of this year's best movies so far because I didn't know if it was getting a release is in fact getting a release, in New York and L.A. at least, and it's not too long a wait either -- according to The Film Stage it looks like Lucio Castro's "marvelously elliptical art-house romance" End of the Century is hitting the IFC Center here in NYC on August 16th, and then heading to LA in September. Get ready for Juan Barberini, you guys... 

That quote, the "marvelously elliptical" thing, is from my own review which you can read right here -- I went fairly head over heels for this gay love story that spans decades in a deeply unexpected fashion when I saw it at MoMA's "New Directors New Films" series in April, and I'm hyped I'll now be able to push it more vocally through the end of the year and awards season. Anyway on top of this thrilling release news The Film Stage also shared the poster and the trailer today, and here's the latter:
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Who Were We When We Were Who We Were

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Like a Memento about identity itself, Luz is the sort of film you need to rework backwards through memory in order to unlock its secrets and quirks. In the straightforward sense it tells the story of a young woman named Luz (Luana Velis) who drives a taxi and who is, in the way of the movies, being hunted by a shape-shifting demon across a single night. It all starts with a meeting in a bar, a car accident, and a trip to the police station to make sense of it all...

That's just a starting off point though, and an ultra-simplified one at that -- tremendously promising first-time filmmaker Tilman Singer stretches forwards and backwards from that moment, acting and reenacting scenes bluntly in front of us with characters possessed and repossessed, the fabric of reality unspooling around them a little bit more each go. Sets become stages, actors play characters flatly acting out scenarios on repeat, their mouths stretching occasionally opening up unnaturally as if somebody's going to stuff fistfuls of dialogue down their throats. Eyes flash silver and smoke floats. Nightmares by Brecht.

The fact that the film is in German probably aided with the Fassbinder vibe I kept getting too (besides the obvious 70s hospital green and houseplant Cronenbergian parallels) but I think that's actually even moreso on the acting style, which presents itself as Acting, aliens getting used to their skins and mannerisms, unnerving every small moment in a spectacle of falseness. Is everything we're witnessing just a game the devil is having with us? Is this all a ruse, a trick, a way to maneuver inside of us and corrupt? Luz is relentless in its quest to unsettle these ways -- it might be a short movie (only running 70 minutes) but it digs out a ragged little mark of flesh, the sort of scar you won't forget soon. I felt corrupted.
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Luz is opening theatrically this Friday in New York (at the IFC Center, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema City Point, and the Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg) and in Los Angeles (Laemmle Monica, Laemmle Playhouse 7), with a national roll-out to follow. Keep your eyes peeled for this gem!
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Fantasia 2019: Porno

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I can vividly recall the first time I said the word "fuck" out loud. I was sixteen years old and my best (and only) friend was doing her damndest to snap me out of my ultra-religious upbringing and scoot me on into the sweet filth-mindedness of the secular 90s, from which I'd remained somewhat cloistered. The word felt like sawdust in my throat, dry, I coughed it out unsure how it would sound. My friend laughed violently at me. It felt like the beginning of my life.

I thought a lot about that time in my life while watching Porno, the deliriously crass and devilish first feature from filmmaker Keola Racela that's just screened at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival -- those tentative first toe-dips towards personhood through a curious poking around in what'd moments before been deemed poisonous. Sex and violence and foul language, oh my. It felt warm, so I jammed my whole fist in and went nuts.

Funny enough Porno drops us down in the exact same time period I was learning to whisper the word "fuck" and giddily feeling out its sharp contours -- it's 1992 and our cast of characters are a group of Christian teenagers who work at a small-town single-screen movie theater, and if you think that's weird then I will tell you how I could only play G-rated movies on the TV screens at the video store I worked at through High School. It's a thing, and Porno nods often at the bridge between these sacreds among the profane -- the oldest member of the group is a Christian Rocker, commence giggling.

Racela does laugh at the innocence and naïveté of these kids, but it's the good-natured sort that only could come from somebody who's been there and cringed thinking back upon it. He's also fluent in the way our kinky thoughts get twisted up into even kinkier ones thanks to that great old sexual steam engine called Repression, which this horror flick externalizes a la an on point Buffy episode into a saucy succubus set to feast upon their tasty unspoilt loins, naturally born out of the reels of a dirty movie the kids find buried in the theater's basement. 

The cast is a ton of fun and imbue Porno with a lot of actual character and heart -- it's goofy and gooey and happily a little bit gay, and it's a lot good-natured, even when a scene of indescribable body horror is being played out in the sort of close up that'll have every man in the audience screaming, "BACK! PULL THE CAMERA BACK!!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!" The love of god, Porno says, isn't itself the problem -- it's loving him so hard that your genitals explode. Don't do that, and you'll probably be okay, kiddos. 


Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Miguel Ángel Silvestre Three Times

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Lots of Miguel this week (see also from yesterday this) which we're very much one hundred and thirty five point seven percent fine with. These photos were taken by Alvaro Beamud Cortes, via his Instagram -- let's hope there are more coming!
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Good Morning, World

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Much thanks to openly gay German actor Clemens Schick for starting our day off on the right foot (actually I guess that's his left foot?) via his Instagram -- if you happened to miss the big gratuitous post we did on him a couple of years ago I highly recommend it, as it is both big and gratuitous as promised.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Woe is Whoa is Me

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This is really going to merit more of a lifestyle change than asking a feeble query on my website will muster, but do any of you fine folks have advice on focusing techniques? I've spent much of the past two days in a mental spiral, unable to get anything properly done that needs to be done. And now that I vocalize this it strikes me it's not an accident this has coincided with my birthday -- this happens pretty much every year. But I've got about ten movie reviews to write, I have to buckle down, and yet my brain's been pulling every trick in the book this week to spazz in every direction but straightforward. No good! No good at all. Helpful tips or good cookie recipes appreciated.
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