Thursday, July 09, 2020

Because We Could Not Stop For Death

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I am, as the saying goes, currently in the throes of grief. My cousin died two weeks ago from cancer. I, like many other gay people, have family issues, ones which keep many of those blood relationships strained, but that was not the case with this cousin -- we'd been close since children and remained so for my, her, our entire life. She was four years older than me and lived several hundred miles away for most of our time together so that tempered the closeness, but she was one of the good few, the family members I could always count on. I am fairly, to put it mildly, devastated. 

We lost her mother, my aunt and another one of the good ones, a few years earlier from the same sort of cancer in the brain. My cousin found out she was sick literally the same month her mother died, a terrifying passing of some genetic baton which I can't imagine, I cannot imagine, the weight of. I have watched stunned from a distance the ups and downs of it, a valiant fight wearing down, year by year, an inherently decent, kind, and happy person. It is one of the most inexplicably cruel things I have ever witnessed, amid a period of so much cruelty all around. Just one more stick of kindling for the world's burn.

The word inadequate feels inadequate for how inadequate I feel including all of this real-world scalding sadness inside a review of a horror movie, and yet there's no way for me to talk about Relic without it, because watching Relic as I did, a couple of weeks back and in the middle of my cousin dying, it's all that there was there in the room with me. It's a film about loss so huge it singes the walls and ceilings -- about generations of grief folding in on themselves, simultaneously warm and smothering; the particular comfort of suffering together. Of holding hands even as they scratch back.

Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) have traveled a long distance to check in on how Edna (Robyn Nevin), Kay's mother and Sam's grandmother, is doing in her old age. There is estrangement between Kay and Edna, between Kay and Sam -- Kay is everybody's bad cop, sitting in the middle and feeling resentments from both sides. And Edna is not well at all -- she goes missing, her memory and personality dissolving into the ether around her, flakes of skin floating off. She is, before our eyes, disassembling, becoming something else altogether.

Relic situates itself against the very real horror of every one of us disintegrating at our end, and the people who are forced to sit and watch it happen. This is, as the saying goes, the scariest horror for all of us -- Death itself. Pure and pitiful and epic in a single swoop. It's all there is. It's what all horror movies are about in one way or another but Relic has less outlandish metaphor in its way -- it  shuffles off the slasher-beasts and confronts the nightmares head on, making direct metaphor of the very act itself. Edna's transformation into monstrousness is every human being's tragedy -- it's the fate awaiting us all, and that's if we're lucky. 

And the film bless the film understands just how lucky it is, to have someone there to go through it with you. To hold you down as you shake and vomit and scream, to wipe your face and your shit clean. The delicacy and precision with which writer-director Natalie Erika James and her actors approach all of this, keeping us inside of a Horror Movie and giving us enough of a Jump Scare release valve for these exquisitely painful, personal circumstances, is fine-toothed and somewhat delirium-inducing. Relic is so smart and simple about its purpose, its aim, it seems dumbfounding in its wake nobody managed to make it before. The second it was over I could feel it sitting beside me, holding my hand -- Relic's a haunting for life.


Andy Samberg Eleven Times

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Somehow, in the middle of the world's nonsense, there are actually a lot of good new movies "out" this weekend! A whole lot! This week I already reviewed the horror flicks Relic (here) and The Beach House (here); and then tonight at the stroke o' midnight The Old Guard with Charlize Theron & Matthias Schoenaerts hits Netflix and I had a smidge to say on Twitter about that...


But there's still more! Kelly Reichardt's First Cow is opening in FLC's "Virtual Cinema" in a couple of hours, a movie I reviewed during NYFF and which is another notch on Kelly's masterpiece bedpost. And then, to bring us home, there's the film which we're staring at Andy Samberg for right now...

... Palm Springs is a hipster-spin on Groundhog Day that's hitting Hulu tomorrow and... it's very cute! Do I like it as much as a lot of critics seem to be liking it? I do not. But it's funny and cute enough, and it's the movie that finally convinced me that Andy Samberg is sexy, so that's something. (For those keeping track he is both naked and a little bisexual in the film.) And on that note hit the jump for more pictures of the SNL star turned total Bear Top...

A Song of 4K Fire

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I, like a lot of you, was pretty disappointed with the final season of A Game of Thrones. So much that I haven't really even been able to think about the show since it ended -- it's hurt too much. Too painful! But today's news that the entire series is being collected onto an ultra-suave 4K blu-ray set just in time for the holidays -- it's hitting shelves on November 3rd -- has, well, got me thinking about Game of Thrones again. I loved the show for most of the time! Almost all of it! It doesn't seem right to write it off entirely, not when there was so much to love over the years...

... you wouldn't know it by the pictures I'm providing but I even mean stuff besides Kit Harington taking his clothes off. There was Richard Madden taking his clothes off, Pedro Pascal taking his clothes off, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau taking his clothes off, Alfie Allen taking his clothes off, Jacob Anderson taking his clothes off, Michiel Huisman taking his clothes off... 

... and now we can have all of these scenes in 4K? Sign me 
the hell up! Hit the jump for the full press release...

Pic of the Day

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This picture was actually the first picture I saw of Garrett Hedlund and Kelly Macdonald in Dirt Music, the upcoming romantic-drama -- last year somebody'd caught a snap of it at Cannes, but the copy was off-center and low-quality. But no longer! Now we've got a proper copy, huzzah for us all. I've already posted the trailer for this movie right here -- twice actually! Here's another one! It's hitting VOD on July 17th, and I recommend you scribble that down in your calendars. (click the pic to embiggen)


Make Some Scenes

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Oscar Isaac and Michelle Williams are serious enough actors that I think we can at first glance try and take seriously the big news today that they are going to do an HBO limited series that will attempt to adapt Ingmar Bergman's seminal marital-despair classic Scenes From a Marriage for the here and now. Bergman's original 1973 six-episode series starred Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson and for six episodes rooted around in a long-term couple's secrets and lies in typical Bergman-ian clinical close-up; it is, as the kids say, a tough hard sit, but worth it because these are smart adults examining smart adult things.

Oscar & Michelle are also, I think smart adults, and its coming from the writer-director of Gabriel Byrne's series In Treatment which I didn't watch but have only heard stellar smart-adult things about, so hey maybe this will be riveting! I don't mistrust that these are two actors who understand the seriousness of adapting Bergman, at least -- it's not like this is set to star Archie and Veronica from Riverdale. (Although raise your hand if you would totally watch an episode of Riverdale set in the Bergman Extended Universe, lol.)


Caption This!

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"If somebody held a blacklight up right 
now the story these shirts would tell!"

I feel as if I should give you all a Safe Space where you can write your captions for the above photo, like how Tom Holland is asking for, but maybe you have ones you don't want to attach your name publicly to. Ones that might force Tom Holland and/or Jake Gyllenhaal to alert the authorities. The comments here at MNPP are totally that Safe Space.
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Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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No One's Dick is as Incredibly Thick as Gaston's!

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Good Morning, World

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Today we'd like to wish a happy 38th birthday to the actor Toby Kebbell, with some gifs I can't believe I've never posted before -- Toby starred in what I think might be my favorite episode of Black Mirror, or at least it's the one I remember freaking me out the most, the one called "The Entire History of You" from the show's very first season, when the hot first-person sex-scene with Hot Toby Kebbell...

... was revealed to be this weird computer simulation. 
and they smash cut from the above to this horror:

Jinkies! Terrifying. Anyway that's when I really knew I loved Black Mirror, the end. Are there new Black Mirror episodes coming any time soon? The show hasn't been nearly as good since it switched over to Netflix but here and there you get something that still shocks and surprises. And of course "San Junipero" is really The Best, if not actually The Scariest. Hit the jump for a couple more Kebbell gifs...

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Now Neon Apocalypse

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You know how Horror Cinema seems to come and go in waves? Waves that end up saying tons about the anxieties of their age? There are the Atomic Age giant monster movies of the 1950s, or the Slashers of the 80s, the J-Horror and Torture Porn of the 2000s. Well I think we need to come up with a new name for the ongoing wave of horror movies we're smack dab in the center of that are attempting to capture the apocalyptic madness of our current moment in time. A little while ago I reviewed The Beach House, which is out this weekend, and briefly compared it to Color Out of Space from earlier this year, and those are two terrific examples of what I'm talking about. And you could toss the creature-feature Underwater with Kristen Stewart onto that pile for a full Lovecraftian trilogy.

Then you should see also Cam, and Daniel Isn't Real, and The Lodge, and Platform, and Gretel & Hansel, and from last year The Girl on the Second Floor and even Midsommar and The Lighthouse -- hell go back even further to something like It Follows, The Neon Demon, The Invitation.

My point is there seems to be a concerted effort at meeting the unholy inexplicability  of our modern moment via a Phantasmagoria of reality-crumbling means in Horror Cinema. Surrealism, neon-saturated hallucinations, the concept of Doubles and oodles of Cronenbergian body-horror... ooh just wait until Brandon Cronenberg's film Possessor (which should hopefully come out later this year) -- that's yet another big one. 

My point is there is most definitely a Major Theme to the Horror Cinema of this period that we'll need to step back and digest in full when we're not, you know, on fire in the middle of this real-life nightmare, and the just-released poster and trailer for what appears to be another one of this ilk, called She Dies Tomorrow, is what got me realizing it today. Written and directed by the modern scream queen Amy Seimetz (actress in flicks like The Sacrament, You're Next, Alien Covenant, the Pet Sematary remake, and many more) She Dies Tomorrow is described thusly:

"After waking up convinced that she is going to die tomorrow, Amy’s carefully mended life begins to unravel. As her delusions of certain death become contagious to those around her, Amy and her friends’ lives spiral out of control in a tantalizing descent into madness."

Kate Lyn Sheil (who acted opposite Seimetz in several of those movies I listed above) plays the lead character of Amy, and she's surrounded by an amazing cast including Jane Adams (!!!) and Chris Messina (!!!) -- also supposedly Seimetz used her paycheck from the Pet Sematary remake to fund this movie of hers, which means something good came out of that truly forgettable thing. The film's playing drive-in theaters on July 31st and then it'l hit VOD on August 7th, and here's that first trailer!

The Shadow Over Hyannis Port

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The light is orange, red, a swarthy foam of pink and fire engine, floating in the twinkling night-time sky -- you know nothing good can ever come of spectral icicle lights riding in with the tide, papa John Carpenter told us so. There is an evening in Jeffrey A. Brown's unsettling new horror film The Beach House, hitting Shudder this Thursday (watch the trailer here), that feels piped straight in from The Fog (with a bit of the recent HP Lovecraft adaptation Color Out of Space dredged about to boot), where the ocean's hallucinogenic bottom-thingies open up, fold their iridescent angel wings over a coastal place, terrible and beautiful and bad, dissolving space and time beneath them. It is, for its moment, both horrible and grand.

But before you get to the big scary stuff there is a first act of relatively awkward character-building chatter to wade through, with none of these folks registering quite as fondly as any of those 1980 Antonio Bay residents once did -- there's no Stevie Wayne in this bunch, that's for certain; hell even a Mrs. Kobritz is hard to come by. That said Emily (Liana Liberato) and her lousy beau Randall (Noah Le Gros), who've come to sit in the sand and talk out their relationship problems, become less irritating as the film churns on; they benefit from the "less talk, more actively barfing up maggots" school of storytelling. It's a small school, but one worth your steeled stomach, I promise.

So when Emily & Randall get to Randall's parent's beach house in the desolate off-season for their alone-time they find that the house comes with a surprise -- two immediately weirdo-seeming older folks who call themselves Mitch (Jake Weber) and Jane (Maryanne Nagel). They are suspicious from the get-go, and The Beach House nicely dangles a dozen intriguing possibilities for where it's going from here -- Mitch & Jane say they're friends of Randall's father but it's all so sketchy even they seem unconvinced as they speak it -- before deciding on, well, not just one. One of the things I like about The Beach House is several possibilites teased for its second half's wild explanations all end up seeming the answer -- in this kind of celebration of insanity who wants solid ground? The film's as slippery as sand, as the surf sucking at your toes.

But back to the plot, I suppose. In an act of bonding our half-fresh foursome do what all new folks commingling must, they break out the booze and in fast succession spills forth the recreational marijuana -- sure we've seen droopy-eyed Jane fisting handfuls of pills just a little earlier, but what could possibly go wrong, right? 

Plenty, the answer's plenty, and once things do start going wrong The Beach House goes very right -- its last act had me screaming my fool head off several times, quite to my surprise. I'm not a screamer (contrary to popular belief) but Brown & Co goosed a couple of my more sensitive sensibilities; it's very smart about aiming for the maximum emotional squidge, backing your brain into a corner. I felt things oozing out of me at one point and I have no idea where they came from. I liked that! It's a mystery, a wet spot on the carpet in the morning-after sun -- you should stick your face in deep and sniff, sniff real hard.


Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


Dorothea: I guess we’re more Art Fag types.

A happy 52 to Billy Crudup, one of the perfect pieces
of the perfect movie that is 20th Century Women, today.

Quote of the Day

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“I had met with Derek [Simonds, creator of The Sinner TV series) years ago when he was involved in Call Me by Your Name, and we’d hit it off creatively and had a great conversation..." Simonds and Bomer discussed the possibility of the actor playing Oliver. “I obviously loved the material; I loved talking with him about it. I thought it had real potential. Then he went on to do other things and I went on to do other things.”

That there is the openly gay actor Matthew Bomer saying on Variety's podcast this week that he'd once been considered for the role of "Oliver" in CMBYN way back in the day, pre-Luca. Considering there were ten years between when Andre Aciman's book was published in 2007 and when the film was released I imagine there are plenty of people who were in the mix over the years -- we know that Shia LaBeouf was real close to playing Oliver too. 

Anyway I think things worked out great the way they worked out -- uhh obviously -- so I'm not too torn up about Bomer not playing the role; having one or hell both of the actors in the movie actually be gay might have added something -- not that I think it needs anything added, mind you! -- sort of intangible, we'll never know. 

But also keep in mind that when the book was released in 2007 Matt Bomer was already 30 years old and still in the closet (he didn't come out until 2012) so depending on when his version would've been made he probably would've been even older than Armie was (Armie was 30 when they filmed the movie, which is a sticking point for some people) and as far as we knew through 2012 Bomer was still heterosexual. But yes, Matt Bomer would've looked real good in Oliver's short-shorts as well, that's true. 

Which is Hotter?

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Last night came word that director David Lowery -- who made one of my favorite movies of the decade with A Ghost Story, although his remake of Pete's Dragon (which I still haven't seen) is probably more apt to the conversation at hand -- is going to tackle Disney's live-action Peter Pan movie, following in the footsteps of blah blah all of their other live-action remakes of their animated features which I have totally stopped watching at this point. But I might see this one? David Lowery is very talented, and Peter Pan exists as an idea outside of the Disney movie more than say The Lion King, which i think gives him more room to wiggle. They're also titling it Peter Pan and Wendy so I imagine they'll maybe recognize that Peter Pan is actually a girl's story this time out? Imagine that! Anyway I'll also probably watch it because Jude Law is probably going to play Captain Hook, and as Colin O'Donoghue attests I love me a Hot Hook. On that note I ask y'all...

panel management

Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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Plowing through the current, third season of Search Party last night the boyfriend and I seemed to reach an impasse where it comes to the actor John Reynolds, who plays Drew -- a recurring gag has become girls throwing themselves at him and the bf was like, "Straight women have such weird taste." He turned to me, expecting agreement, and instead I sheepishly averted my eyes... I love John Reynolds! And Boyfriend clearly wasn't paying attention the several times I previously admitted such! I mean clearly the high chest hair is doing a lot of heavy lifting here but I love me a good tall dweeb in top siders, I can't help it. We all have our things. Anyway we will work through this, don't worry about us, and watch the remaining three episodes of Search Party tonight I imagine. Until then hit the jump, I made some JR gifs from the season so far...

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Hypnotizing Fishermen Isn't Acumen!

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What, you thought I'd let Eva Green's 40th birthday slide by with nary a mention? Well... technically I did, since it was yesterday. But I was working on it! I went above and beyond y'all, and forced myself to suffer in the name of Eva.


Yup I was speaking there of Tim Burton's terrible 2012 Dark Shadows movie, which she's nevertheless one hundred percent fab in, and which I just wrote up today over at The Film Experience for this week's "Great Moments in Horror Actressing" post. Who could have guessed? I mean who would have wanted to think of this terrible movie again long enough to guess it? Somebody send me in the direction of a supercut of just her scenes, please...


Listen, I Know Charlton Heston Sucked...

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... but I am still tickled by these photos of him beefcaking it up for Gary Cooper's benefit on the set of their 1959 sea-faring drama The Wreck of the Mary Deare. I am only human. This was Coop's second-to-last film -- anybody seen it? I have not. I do know that Alfred Hitchcock almost directed it but decided to do North By Northwest instead and... that was probably a good choice for Hitch to make. Although who knows what Hitch might have turned it into? I doubt he'd have wanted to work with Charlton Heston...

... but it's well-documented that Hitch really wanted to work with Coop -- he tried to get him to star in both Foreign Correspondent and Saboteur in the early 40s but Coop turned him down both times! (Coop later said he regretted those decisions.) Anyway Mary Deare ended up being directed by Michael Anderson, whose best known film is probably Logan's Run seventeen years later. Or perhaps it's Around the World in 80s Days, which somehow won Best Picture in 1956, but who the hell ever thinks about Around the World in 80s Days anymore? (Enter the world's biggest ATWI80D fan.)


They Are What We Who

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The first (extremely brief) teaser for Luca Guadagnino's upcoming HBO series We Are What We Are has arrived! (via) I have told you about this series a few times (obviously) but what you need to know you can know by clicking right here -- it stars Jack Dylan Grazer (from the It movies) as an American teenager coming of age on an Army base in Italy -- although I don't think it'll be the focus of the series he supposedly develops a crush on a soldier played by Tom Mercier from Synonyms...

... and who wouldn't? Especially after all these many months of quarantine entertainment he's gifted us with on his Instagram? Anyway the big information out of this is HBO's site for the show says it's officially coming in September, so that's exciting! Here's the video: