Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Riz Ahmed Six Times

I know it's only Wednesday but I am This Close (that is very very close) to calling this entire week a wash -- I just can't wrap my brain around anything longer than a millisecond and there's just a voluminous womp womp sound when I try. And I mean I am incredibly sure you care about the state of my brain right now and aren't here just for the Riz Ahmed pictures. Let me keep talking! Ha, not. Hit the jump for the rest...

Pics of the Day

I was going to call these, the first photos of Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen in Michael Bay's forthcoming action-thriller Ambulance, my gift to you for it being quiet in here all day... but I'd have posted these photos no matter what. If this had been the busiest day in the history of MNPP I would have still found time for these. Obviously! Anyway I hear we'll be getting the first trailer for this movie, which is about an ambulance, tomorrow -- see some photos from the shooting of the film in our archives. This is out some time next year -- if I had to guess I'd guess the first part of the year since they're already throwing a trailer at us! And I am skeptical of this movie obviously since Michael Bay does not make movies I enjoy (to put it mildly) but I'll follow Jake anywhere so let's buckle in...

13 Needles of Halloween #2

Although I have made this clear on any and every occasion when the Saw films have come up I do want to again reiterate here -- I fucking hate the Saw movies. And it's not because they're gruesome -- I can deal with gruesome. It's not because they're mean-spirited -- I can deal with mean-spirited. And it's not because they are cheap trash -- I love plenty my share of cheap trash. But the combination of those three things added to their incoherent moralism, well this is a recipe I cannot stomach. When movies think they have things to say, and present themselves as such, but the things they're saying are at complete odss with one another, a jumble of preachy hypocrisy, I get fed up real fast. 

I suppose that's part of my problem with the just-released Halloween Kills (my review here) -- David Gordon Green's film seems to think it has a message about mob mentalities and vigilantism and trauma but when it's not being so basic it's stating its intentions in the blandest form of text ("We are all the monster now.") it's actually making a movie that undercuts its own half-baked thoughts at every turn, until nothing it's doing means anything, and yet you can sense the filmmaker leaning back in their chair, smug, expecting my mind to be blown, brah. Oh my mind is blown, David, but for not the reasons you think!

Sorry I don't know why I am talking about HK again -- besides the fact that I have spent all week seeing people who should know better trying to defend it, and yet all of their defenses are "Well there have been worse Halloween movies," or "You like some shitty movies, lighten up," and yet their defenses of the movie are all like, "Yeah it's a mess but it like thinks things... but when it doesn't it's like killing and stuff." People really want to have it both ways and yet I've not seen a single case made that states why Halloween Kills presents a coherent case for anything it's flailing around at wildly. I'm supposed to wait for he next movie, apparently. Y'all do that then, and I'm gonna talk about the movie that's here right now if that's alright.

Okay so Saw! Saw 2, in particular. I don't know why I saw the second Saw movie in the theater when I thought, and continue to think, that the first Saw film is one of the steamiest piles of shit that's ever gotten big success in the history of movies, but I did. I believe I stopped seeing the films altogether after the third one -- what can I say, I was young and would go see any horror film to be part of the conversation. Then again I did see the also godawful Spiral: From the Book of Saw last year, so clearly I have learned nothing. Anyway I saw Saw 2 in the theater and the infamous "Needle Pit" sequence did admittedly stick (heh) in my brain, and when I thought of this year's "Needle" theme I knew I had to include this one, even though it's typical of the repulsive pablum that this franchise deals in, which mistakes sadism for profundity. "Get it, man? She's a recovering addict, man! Now she's on a bed of needles, and shit! Gnarly!" It's so deep, I know, I just can't possibly wrap my head around it.

Click here for all of the "13 Needles of Halloween"

Five Frames From ?

What movie is this?

Good Morning, World

I guess it's the current Daniel Craig banner up top -- along with the fact that I got the blu-ray boxed set of James Bond movies when it was on sale last week, as well as the recent release of No Time To Die (reviewed here) I suppose -- but I've had Sean Connery as 007 floating around on my mind all this week, so here's a photo I'd never seen until this morning. It's Sir Sean on the set of Dr. No in 1962 or so. Looking, as he did in that film, especially stellar.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

You Talkin' To Me

Getting lots of comments about Penn Badgley's series You on my Scott Speedman post from this morning because apparently Scott, without me knowing it, shows up on the new season of that series -- anyway this offers me a terrific excuse to also share these new photos of Penn (via, thx Mac) as I leave the building a smidge early for yet another press screening. I really should watch You at some point, I know, it checks off so many of my boxes. And is there any way for me to use the word "box" again in reference to what Penn Badgley still does for me without it sounding seriously filthy? Probably not. I am okay with that. Hit the jump for more Penn...

Peter the Great, II

The trailer for the second season of The Great (which drops on Hulu on November 19th) arrived this morning, and I dare say "Huzzah!" for the ten billionth time with respect to this show -- Nicholas Hoult (playing Russian emperor Peter II) and Elle Fanning (as his feisty still relatively new wife Catherine the Great) look as ridiculously costumed and hilarious as ever here, in this two minutes or so of preparatory highlights. Watch, my friends!

And yes yes Elle Fanning is the lead of this show even if you wouldn't know it by the way I cover it, focusing in on All Things Nicky as ever, but it should be said, and by me specifically, that I think she's every bit his comic equal on the series and should probably get more love. But not today! Today I made gifs of Nicky from the trailer, because durr. Hit the jump for them...

A Taste of Sassoon

We still don't have a trailer or a U.S. release date for Terence Davies' forthcoming flick Benediction with a lovely Jack Lowden in the lead (playing the real-life WWI-era gay poet Siegfried Sassoon), but we've got a poster now so it can only be a matter of moments until we have those other things I think. I reviewed the film right here when it screened at TIFF -- I love love loved it. So stay tuned for more whenever they decide to give us more...

Lee Pace Eleven Times

We have the fine folks at L’Officiel Fashion Book Hommes to thank for today's bounty of Lee Pace photos, so click on over and thank them. With clicks, I mean. Maybe you could find out their corporate offices and send them a bouquet of edible arrangements though. Has anybody ever had one of those? They seem strange to me but I think I'd probably like them. I like a chocolate covered anything, and you can quote me on that. Hit the jump for all the Lee (and bonus pup) pictures, anyway...

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

Scott Carey: I was continuing to shrink, to become... what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close - the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet - like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God's silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man's own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends is man's conception, not nature's. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!

Two movies are out on Criterion blu-ray today and this 1957 science-fiction classic, which sees a man exposed to a cloud of radiation that makes him shrivel up like nuts in the ocean, is one of them. I haven't had the chance to watch my copy of the disc yet what with all my festival busy-ness but I hope to in time for Halloween. It seems horror-adjacent enough right? The concept is scary, the book was written by Richard Matheson (he is legend), and there's the infamous tarantula fight. Sounds horror enough for me! Also star Grant Williams looks pretty cute in images from the film...

... and that is reason enough. Anyway the other film out on Criterion today is Lynee Ramsey's debut feature, a Glasgow-set coming-of-age pic called Ratcatcher, which I also haven't yet seen. Any fans? My reactions to Ramsey's other movies have been complicated, but I think having complicated reactions to complicated films like Movern Callar, We Need To Talk About Kevin, and You Were Never Really Here, is really the only right way to react to them. 

13 Needles of Halloween #1

I have this whole series here on MNPP I call "Life Lessons" which is about all of the things the movies have taught me, but until I watched the 2014 found-footage horror film The Taking of Deborah Logan last night the movies had not yet taught me that I should definitely not sneak up on elderly dementia patients who might also be possessed by the ghost of A child-murdering serial-killer after they have kidnapped a little girl with cancer from the hospital and dragged her into an elaborate system of caves, and doubly so to all of that if you are also wielding a needle full of sedatives. It turns out they don't like that?

Who knew? And here I've been sneaking up on elderly possessed people in caves with needles all this time. I guess it's best to find out sooner rather than later! Anyway that said hello and welcome to this year's Halloween theme! In honor of the super-fun international traumatic  pandemic event we've all just experienced, we are all still experiencing, and the heroic vaccine (GET VACCINATED) that's currently saving our lives left right and center (less Right than most others though, it must be said), this year's theme is "needles" in horror. Previous themes have been Mustaches and Cakes, Rats and Phones and Snakes oh my. Oh and the original duo -- Whores and Virgins, of course. So stay tuned over the next thirteen days as we ramble about thirteen of our favorite needles scenes in horror movies! Now take your medicine and be a good little girl...

Five Frames From ?

What movie is this?

Good Morning, World

Been awhile since I checked in on Scott Speedman -- been so long I didn't even know he had started an Instagram account, but he did, and yesterday he shared this photo (under the auspices that Drew Barrymore shared that photo with her audience on her talk show -- way to deflect the need-for-thirst, Scott), and for this we are grateful no matter the circuitous route. Anyway I was about to be like, "What the hell's Scott been up to?" but thankfully I run a movie-blog and I have posted myself what he's up to, but just forgot. He's in the next David Cronenberg movie! A new version of one of DC's earliest films Crimes of the Future -- I actually think all it might share will be a title, but we'll find out soon enough since IMDb has it listed as being in "post-production" when I don't know if I even knew it had shot. Anyway other names in the cast are Cronenberg regular Viggo Mortensen alongside Kristen Stewart and Léa Seydoux -- this is one sexy cool cast y'all.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Glen Powell Busts Out the Big Guns

I have completely lost track of when the Top Gun sequel is supposed to come out -- I posted its first trailer in July of 2019 for god's sake -- but Vanity Fair was kind enough to give us this semi-update slash reminder-this-movie-exists in the form of a portfolio of its younger stars, i.e. the Not Tom Cruises of the bunch. Oh and I guess the Not Miles Tellers as well, but fuck that anti-vaxxer Miles Teller -- I don't even like speaking his name now. Anyway that does mean that we get a lot of Glen Powell and Jay Ellis being real comfy with each other and also lots of brah-goofing-about, and I'm good with that. Hit the jump for all the photos...

Jonathan Majors One Time


Pics of the Day

Hey everybody sorry for the blackout this morning -- I forgot I had a Monday morning press screening when I left you on Friday and am just now catching back up. (I'm also feeling burned-out as hell and am not certain how much my brain has to offer at all today, but we'll see.) Anyway in case you didn't see on my socials I did want to share a glorious gift I received this weekend -- my very own Good Guy doll! And he wants to be my friend! I know because he whispered it in my ear in the middle of the night last night! Everything is coming up me!

Five Frames From ?

What movie is this?

Friday, October 15, 2021

Do Anything But Kills

Mia Hansen-Løve's new film Bergman Island, the first of Norwegian actor Anders Danielsen Lie's tremendous 2021 two-some -- the other one being the even better reunion between Lie and Joachim Trier called The Worst Person in the World, which you should be very excited about -- is out here in NYC this weekend, and if you're around to see it, do! It's great. Indeed there are several very good movies out this weekend that you can watch instead of the shit-tornado that is Halloween Kills (my review of that here) -- there's NewFest happening! And the Brooklyn Horror Fest happening! Metrograph has the new 4K remaster of Possession streaming online! Or there's the movie Luzzu about the hot Maltese fisherman playing at the Quad, and at Film Forum there's Ryusuke Hamaguchi's marvel of a movie Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, which is also one of a 2021 two-fer with his movie Drive My Car, also excellent, coming later this year. These damn overachievers! Anyway treat yourselves and watch a good movie, please.

Celebration (In the Tune of "Celebration")

Happy Criterion Announcement Day! This one sneaked up on me as I'm so super distracted with ballyhooed Other Things, but we've got to take a quick glance at the just-dropped slate of January 2022 releases from our favorite movie-nerd house of home-releasing. First up is the one we already knew was coming because they mentioned it when they announced in August that they were going to finally start releasing discs on 4K, and that's Jane Campion's 1993 masterpiece The Piano, with that lovely artwork seen up top. You can check out all of the extra features on their site but looks like they (to borrow a line from a different "Sam Neill in 1993" movie) spared no expense on this sucker. It streets, as the kids say, on January 25th. Next up...

... is Thomas Vinterberg's 1998 flick The Celebration, which has some of the most delightful Criterion artwork I have ever seen with that stripped-down visage seen above -- I feel like somebody thought up that case first and realized they had to do it. Genius. This movie kicked off the Dogme 95 movement, which was all about stripping movies of their "movie-ness" -- this is where I admit I still insanely have never seen this movie! I have been meaning to for 20 years -- I guess this will finally make that happen. This one hits on January 11th. Then the other three titles that they're releasing are the Beatles' flick A Hard Day's Night, and the two terrific recent documentaries Dick Johnson is Dead from Kirsten Johnson and the prison-family heartbreaker called Time from visual artist Garrett Bradley. This is one stacked month!

Brooklyn Horror: Good Madam (Mlungu Wam)

We don't quite have a handle on the strained relationships and creeptastic traumas that form the tangled heart of Good Madam (Mlungu Wam) until well into its runtime. When we first meet Tsidi (Chumisa Cosa) she seems strong, smart, and capable, hefting a mighty bullshit-detector around with her -- all the better to say "Peace, out" with when a storm cloud of smiling hypocrite relatives descend on the home she's lived in with her just-deceased grandmother since childhood. She doesn't have the power in the situation and they all but force her out -- leaving is her way of seizing some control. She also seizes her grandmother's favorite coat on the way out the door, because fuck them.

Tsidi grabs her adolescent daughter Winnie (Kamvalethu Jonas Raziya) and reluctantly heads off to stay with her own estranged mother Mavis (Nosipho Mtebe), who's been the life-long live-in housekeeper for a rich white lady (the good madam of the title). And here's where Good Madam introduces the historical and political space that it's about to be keen on dissecting -- post-Apartheid South Africa, where the generational change between the experience of a child and that of their parent is as wide as ocean itself. Mavis is tied to the past, not exactly a slave but entirely subservient and dependent on her madam's bedridden graces, while her daughter, flailing about the way free people do, is living the uncertain life of modernity, with its inherent trade-offs. 

And these tensions will inevitably come to a big ol' boil as Good Madam tippy-toes toward its climax -- the free generations smashing up sugar bowls while the older one scrub the floors and get buried in the backyard under some overgrown trees as eternal payment for services rendered. Tsidi, far more heartbroken than we realize at first glance, becomes somewhat of an unreliable narrator as the film courses along -- this fancy house brings with it bad memories of her own childhood; when her daughter asks her why she doesn't like this place she replies that this place doesn't like her. Enter an estranged half-brother who Tsidi's mother gave away to be raised by the white folks and slowly you get the picture of how claustrophobic and strangling this beautiful beige suburban home is under its surface, and that's even before Tsidi digs up what she calls a curse about eternal servitude from the middle of a set-aside book.

Indeed the cloistered air of this house of dying -- where the madam reigns half-glimpsed from her bed, heaving every breath a la original Suspiria's spittle-choked Mother Marcos -- begins to infect all those who enter. Winnie, seen early on as a good girl, becomes petulant and demanding, the white privilege of the place seemingly coating her person like a poisonous film. Tsidi's even worse though, paranoia leaking into her imaginings, hallucinations and dreams of dead white dogs and bloody teeth winding her too tight to breath. I think some of Good Madam's finale might have gotten lost in translation -- I was more confused by a couple of its revelations than I think I should have been, and I'm not sure if it's just my own unfamiliarity with the spiritual and supernatural customs of this place and people or if the film is being vague on purpose, or by accident -- but its riddles are unsettling nevertheless, its performances acute and sharply drawn; this is a good movie about bad madams and how the horrors of the past echo across the present flesh. Very much recommended.


Good Madam screen last night as the Opening Night film of this year's Brooklyn Horror Fest, which is running -- both virtually and with in-person events -- until October 21st. Check out the full line-up here!