Monday, July 24, 2017

Fantasia 2017: Sequence Break

.
At about the midway point into Sequence Break, which just screened at the Fantasia Festival, one of the characters (I should say one of the five characters in the entire film) says, "Don't just look into the void; let the void look into you."And there are times in actor Graham Skipper's directorial debut that you do actually feel the void looking off of the screen and right into you, the audience member, and not in an interminable bored Dunkirk kind of way - in a good way. In the "this movie is legitimately fucking with my brain" kind of way.

Sequence Break reunites actors Chase Williamson and Fabianne Therese who played the lovebirds in the 2012 film John Dies at the End - I wasn't that film's biggest fan (which had me sad-faced as a big fan of the book) but there's no denying Williamson and Therese had sparks, and Sequence Break recharges their chemistry in new and interesting ways. We might have a lo-fi pairing for the ages here - give these two another movie!
.
Williamson plays Oz, a too chillax by twelve dude who spends all his time in the video-game repair shop he works at - Therese plays Tess who shows up one day looking for a game to play. And what a game they find when the weird black machine in the corner starts whispering and pulsating and oozing creamy Cronenbergian fluids.

I mention up top that there are five characters in the film - Skipper keeps the focus tight on one location too, preferring to use his clearly limited budget where it counts, and where it counts is that ooze. What ooze! The film comes self-sold as a love letter to films like Videodrome and the practical effects of 80s horror, and if you've ever obsessed over anything of the sort then there's something here for you to love, and be grossed out by. (And if you've ever seen the Emilio Estevez portion of the 1983 anthology film Nightmares you're gonna light right up.)

But it's not just liquid television - Sequence Break futzes with time and logic in twisty ways that don't always stick but are still ambitious and strange; Skipper's somebody to keep an eye on. His influences might be worn bright on his Gameboy sleeves but they don't smother - they silky caress and squish.
.
.
Previously from Fantasia:
Animals reviewed here
Game of Death reviewed here
.

Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...

... whiling away the time with Oscar.

I keep checking every day for more shots from The Oscar Isaac Underwear Experience (or for that matter tickets of my own) and there keep not being any, but today we've got a close-enough treat - Oscar is in a short film called Lightningface that's been making the fest rounds and it's finally gotten online and there is plenty...


... to see. See!
.
.
And for a few more fun pictures hit the jump...

The Happy Handmaid

.
Although we suddenly remembered the worst thing about Elisabeth Moss the other day, that's not going to keep us from wishing her a happy 35 - she's brought us too much acting enjoyment for that. Just call it The Beck Conundrum - put on Modern Guilt or show me that gif of Peggy walking and smoking and I have to dance myself through the thoughts of all the people's lives that Scientology has ruined. Anyway so that's what we're doing today - we're dancing ourselves over to The Film Experience where this week's "Beauty vs Beast" is tackling Moss' current zeitgeister, The Handmaid's Tale, a series that knows a little something about cult behavior.
.

Jon Bernthal Eight Times

.
Jon Bernthal needs to hire whoever styled him for this GQ photo-shoot as his permanent stylist immediately, because this is far and away the best that Jon Bernthal has ever looked, anywhere, any time. Lord knows Jon and I have a real love-hate thing going on (we're the Sam and Diane will they or won't they of "bloggers and the celebrities who don't know they exist") but we have maybe entered the "they will" phase of the proceedings with these. As long as I don't have to listen to him doing one of his overly belabored accents, we might be okay. Hit the jump for the whole shoot...
.

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


The Countess: All of us are freaks in one way or another. Try being born a male Russian Countess into a white, middle class, Baptist family in Mississippi, and you'll see what I mean. 

Happy 65th birthday to director Gus Van Sant today.
.

Go West, Young Tuck

.
Casting has begun being announced for the second season of Westworld and this weekend we found out one of our favorites is heading to the sexy desert robot hellscape - Jonathan Tucker will play "Major Craddock, a commanding military officer." How a military man fits into the story I have no idea, but one assumes after the events of the finale (which I won't go into the spoilery specifics of, don't worry) the world of the show will be expanding a tad. Let's just make sure his uniform fit him well, and then get him in a lot of scenes with James Marsden!
.

Sink Sank Sunk

.
I want to come at Dunkirk from a practical standpoint, because many of my troubles with the film (psst I did not like it) are with the basics of its film-making, which I think it flunks spectacularly. Why Nolan gets celebrated as some wizard of precision I will never fathom when faced with such sloppiness.

So I want you to picture a beach. An empty one. From above. It's basically a rectangle, bisected by a line, right? Where the ocean meets the sand, cutting the whole thing into two smaller rectangles.

Simple, basic. Now picture a pier. A little line extending from the bottom rectangle, the sand, out into the top, the water.

These are simple mathematical structures. Easy science that should be easy for us to follow. Our mind can totally handle squares and lines. It's one plus one stuff - about as straightforward a setting as one can imagine for a movie.

And yet Dunkirk is set on a beach, and Christopher Nolan manages to render this space completely incomprehensible. We are led to the beach from a town overrun by Germans in the film's opening scene. Everything I described being there is there at that point. Sand, water, a pier. The film is entirely about taking all of the characters trapped in this space and evacuating them from it, along that pier, or just out through the water. 

Even if Nolan wants to eventually subvert this, you the viewer should still be able to step outside of what's happening and picture inside your brain the actions of the film as a military operation drawn on a chalkboard - a simple rectangle with a big arrow pointing up up and away basically. It should be, you know, comprehensible.

I literally never had a clue where Character A was in relation to Character B in Dunkirk. (Please don't ask me to remember any of those ciphers names.) Where even was that pier? Ships kept sinking (and sinking, and sinking, and sinking - Titanic times ten minus anybody worth caring a whit for) along the coast and yet they never seemed to be a problem or in anyone's way. Perhaps the beach was very long? I'll be damned if I have a clue watching this movie.

And then add Nolan's favorite crutch of the fractured timeline to the mix, and suddenly that simple rectangle up top becomes a triple decker ham sandwich.

Okay so here is where you say, "But War is Chaos! We're there with the boots on the ground, experiencing the chaos, being swept up in the blah blah blah of it!" Except... no. We're not really. Dunkirk, like all of Nolan's films, is manically structured, edited to hell and back. Just none of the structure means anything, or renders the experience any more interesting - all it does is wave its hands in your face frantically while the score (oof that relentless noise gets to be called a "score" I guess) screams at you that something is totally happening! Happening! Happening! Still happening, I guess...!

In order to break rules, you have to make some rules first. Take Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. With its grid-like lines and disrupting diagonals it's fitting. There are what, forty minutes of film before Marion Crane steps into the shower? In this instance Hitchcock establishes character for forty minutes (I know I daren't ask Nolan to establish character, gasp egads) but let's just think of that character-building as rule-building. Hitchcock guides us into this world via Marion, and then she steps into the shower and Hitch slashes the film (not to mention poor Marion) to pieces. The shower itself that she is standing in suddenly breaks in half as a comprehensible space - we are behind her through the wall! 

The world is on its head... but only because the world was established. Dunkirk is the shower scene in slow motion stretched over one hundred minutes. Some lady got stabbed, the end. 

There are some beautiful images, sure. Not as many beautiful images as people keep crowing about there being to justify the whole "see it on the biggest screen in the world" hysteria but sure. Let's say that it errs on the side of pretty. But it's also gibberish, smoke and childlike scribbles, masquerading as profundity. 

What precisely does Dunkirk tell us about War? I never really felt like I was there experiencing what these kids were experiencing because I never had any idea who these people were or where the hell they were even standing, or even what time it was in relation to anyone else's story. Pausing the cacophony for thirty seconds to let the strings swell while Kenneth Branagh's eyes moisten does not an emotional experience make. I felt no sense of loss or sacrifice because I had nothing in my hands to hold onto. The most pressing concern was whether that one kid ever got to shit or not, and I can tell you - spoiler alert - he did.
.

Five Frames From ?

.




What movie is this?
.

Good Morning, World

.
I overslept a wee bit this morning so I am running behind - to get us through this little snarled moment of time here is a delightful picture that Jack Kesy shared via his Instagram last night of himself and Jane Adams on the set of Claws! You are watching Claws, right? If you're not I hope that picture will be enough to convince you that you need to be watching Claws. It is turning out to be everything I wanted it to be and a whole bunch of things I never would have thought it being on top of that. And if you missed our gratuitous celebration of Jack Kesy click here.
.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dunkirk I Hardly Know Kirk

.
My favorite thing about Christopher Nolan (who is not by any stretch of the imagination a film-maker I'm super fond of) is his Tom Hardy addiction. So that's what I'll mainly be looking for when I go see Dunkirk... oh... right about now. I gotta go! We are off for the weekend after this, but we will actually be popping in with a couple more reviews from the Fantasia Film Festival before Monday so stay tuned for that! And if you want to share your own thoughts on Dunkirk this here is the place to do it. 
.

Idris Elba Five Times

.
I really thought we'd maybe seen all of Idris' super hot photo-shoot for Essence when we posted that big post last Tuesday (including video) but the issue's out on stands now and it turns out that it has more pictures inside of it and so here we are! And what a place to be! Hit the jump for the rest...

I Am Link

.
--- Jock Joe - Joe Manganiello is going to be filming a movie here in New York this summer! And it's set in the Bronx so I better start scouring the Bronx. It's called Stano and it's about a kid who was a baseball star who made a criminal mistake and got sent to prison for 17 years returning home et cetera et cetera you can probably write the script yourself already. It's from the director of City Island, which did give us this, so keep hope alive.
.
--- Killer Queen - Ever since Sacha Baron Cohen bailed on the Freddie Mercury movie because the living members of Queen were interfering with it I've worried that we might be getting a sanded-down version of Freddie's life that omits all the interesting train-wreck stuff about him in order to make the usual "Hey we're singing a song you like!" generic hits-parade thing, and this story here cements all my fears, saying it won't focus on Mercury's personal life at all. What a waste. Do Freddie better, Bryan Singer.
--- Now With Extra Tower - Apparently the folks behind the Dark Tower movie are still planning on making the TV series attached to the film(s), and now we know a little bit more about it - it will be a prequel focused on Idris Elba's gunslinger, and it will be based on the fourth book of Stephen King's series called Wizard and Glass. And yes their intention is for it to star Idris, who I guess will have to shave and moisturize or something. But hey the more Idris the better! And the less McConaughey the even more better!
.
--- Better Happy Than Late - Can you believe I've gone all week without posting - hell without even watching - the trailer for Michael Haneke's new film? You can see the trailer for Happy End right here, if you want to be more thorough than me. I think I'm going to not watch it myself - Haneke's films rely so hard on tone and an accumulation of images that if the trailer flashes anything I'm looking for when I actually watch the film in December I'll just be annoyed.

--- Greta Is Great - The greatest studio in town ("town" meaning "the world") these days is A24 and they just picked up the first movie from the greatest... well, person. The greatest person named Greta Gerwig. Her first directorial effort called Ladybird which stars Saoirse Ronan and that we told you about right... wait a second!! I just did a search and I've never mentioned this movie on here before! WTF. Well it's a thing, and A24 is releasing it. There, now that that's done...
--- Snow Balls - Listen, I am looking forward to The Snowman, even if I ragged a little bit on the trailer yesterday. (And not just because the lead is named Harry Hole, either.) Tomas Alfredson directed Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and those are terrific beautiful movies, and a cast including Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson and Charlotte Gainsbourg and Toby jones and on and on is a dream. But I am still a little worried that the ominous snow-people shown in the trailer will end up goofy instead of scary, and this ranking of them in The Guardian today is seconding my fears. We will see! I hope in context they work.
--- Divine Women - I haven't read this myself yet but I think it's a safe bet that as soon as I am done typing this endless post I will be doing just that - Interview Magazine had Laura Dern interview Holly Hunter. A million exclamation points! (thanks Mac) There's also a lovely photo-shoot of Holly there too. I'm super excited to see Holly get lots of love this year after a too long absence from movie screens. We need her!

--- Snatch Again - A fifth movie version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is in the works - the dude who wrote The Conjuring 2 just got the writing gig. The Conjuring 2 was decent, so sure, okay. What's your favorite of the movie versions? If you said anything other than the 1978 one, you're wrong. Actually more accurately if you said anything besides the 2007 one, you're right? But I maintain this mostly:
.

--- Does The Carpet Match - I've been forgetting to correct this information all week - that hot guy that I told y'all was gonna play Aladdin? Yeah he's not the one. Never listen to a damnw ord I say, people. Disney announced the cast and it's a dude named Mena Massoud who is playing the street rat turned prince. You can read more about it here. Mena is a real looker though! (pic via, thanks Mac)

--- And Finally the trailer for Todd Haynes' new film Wonderstruck (which reunites him with his eternal muse Julianne Moore - don't go getting any ideas, Blanchett!) has arrived and it's lovely. This movie is the Centerpiece film at the New York Film Festival in October, so I guess I will be seeing it then. I am aware that the reactions in Cannes were mixed but Todd's had all year to rework it, and it looks gorgeous...
.
.

Joe Bang For Your Buck

.
Here's a pair of new pictures of Daniel Craig as "Joe Bang" (nope still not over that name - he should get together with Michael Fassbender's Harry Hole!) in Steven Soderbergh's film Logan Lucky that are amusing me this afternoon. I won't name names but a friend of mine saw a screening of LL yesterday and sent me a nudity report - there is none. Boo, Soderbergh, boo! Oh well it still looks fun, and I suppose we can just watch Magic Mike again if we need Steven Soderbergh's lens shoved inside Channing Tatum's shorts.

In related news you should check out these shots of Daniel either going to or coming from the gym that I just posted on the Tumblr. They are worth your time and effort.
.

People Can't Stop Grabbing Matt Bomer

.
Back in May I posted a couple shots from behind-the-scenes of an Out magazine shoot of Matt that showed both the photographer and the stylist getting full on handsy with the man, and now comes that shot above (click to embiggen) of another photographer (Brian Bowen Smith for Modern Luxury magazine) just sweeping him right the fuck up into his arms. I guess there's just something about Matt Bomer we all want to grab. I totally get it.


Which is Hotter?

.
Two things keep happening every day that are making me crazy. One, I keep trying to win tickets to see Oscar Isaac play Hamlet here in NYC, and I keep losing. And two, I keep checking to see if at the very least the Public Theater will be nice enough to release more than just the one picture of Oscar in his underwear in the show. And they don't. Damn them! Well at least I've still got six more weeks to keep trying for either of things - unfortunately I'll never see Jai Courtney's Macbeth, because that just ended its run in Australia. But since we can ask...

.

Do Dump or Marry: The Kingsman Crew

.
JJ just shared a few snaps of the Kingsman crew hitting up the first day of Comic-Con in San Diego for their Brit spy sequel, which officially hits screens in September, and seeing the fine gentlemen called Channing Tatum & Pedro Pascal & Colin Firth & Taron Egerton all lined up like pretty dolls in a row, well, it only made Do Dump or Marrying them an inevitability. So tell me in the comments and since there are four, I don't know, be creative. Oh and here's the new trailer for the film!
.
.

Great Moments In Movie Shelves #108

.


Just a little gratuitous violence and  gorgeous shelvery from Mario Bava's classic 1964 giallo Blood and Black Lace because 1) we just used this movie for today's Five Frames and 2) that Bava retrospective here in NYC that I told you about is still going on and 3) good lord the color, the color!!! So nice on the eyes.
.

Pics of the Day

.
Well we knew that Jack O'Connell was about to tackle the legendary gay role of Brick (once played by Paul Newman) in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite Sienna Miller in London. What we didn't know what he'd be taking a shower right there on stage! But no worries cuz the people making the show clearly want everybody to know, since that's the first image they released. 

Smart people! (via, thanks Mac) Promisingly it appears that Jack also spends a good chunk of the show in a soaking wet see-through pajamas. so you know go buy your tickets now, folks. There are four more pictures after the jump... 

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


Wilma Dean: Didn't you ever feel that way about Dad? 
Mrs. Loomis: Your father never laid a hand on me until we were married. Then I... I just gave in because a wife has to. A woman doesn't enjoy those things the way a man does. She just lets her husband come near her in order to have children. 

The insane sexual politics of Splendor in the Grass never fail to amuse me - the utter hysteria that Natalie Wood spirals off into over Warren Beatty's hot cock is the most understandable emotional experience I have ever had in a movie theater. 

This is probably my favorite Wood performance, although I'm not by any means an expert on her - I've seen the seminal roles, the Miracle on 34th Streets and the Searchers and the Rebel Without a Causes, but there are plenty that've slipped by. So here on the 79th anniversary of her birth I ask...

What's your favorite Natalie Wood performance?
.