Friday, June 28, 2019

Vacation, Meant To Be Spent Alone

Charles Manson is often credited with being the violent punctuation mark at the end of the hippie movement -- he revealed the sour intestinal underbelly of free love and poisoned the sippy cups that the Jonestown folks would drink from nine years later, with that near-decade in between being nothing but the death knells of idealism, one fly dropping after the next. The bright pop futurism of 60s design turned into matted rugs the color of snot, crocheted plant holders like clumps of rotted flesh dangling from the rafters, Cronenbergian slabs of pus-hued formica closing in on all sides. 

Somewhere in the middle of that John Waters squeezed suburbia like a fetid zit, happily popping hot goo in our faces, and Alejandro Jodorowsky blew up elaborately outfitted lizards lining religious shrines of his own making -- walls so candy-colored and tall they seemed without end or sanity or reason. You could feel the hallucinogens pulsing through your veins just by looking directly at it -- you were damp with sweat and viscous, seeing gods tumbling out of every crumbling orifice.

Every age has its own sways, its own ups and downs, and the art that comes to represent each new temporal form of madness, but I know I'm not the only one feeling a mid-70s vibe these days -- just turn on the news and hold your breath until you hear the name Richard Nixon, I promise you won't have to pass out for it. Manson's getting his own explicit revision soon from Quentin Tarantino, but Ari Aster's horrific day dream of Midsommar out this week is for my buck the blast of Jodorowskian psychosis this moment in present tense truly calls for. We're all mad these times, and here's just the movie for us.

Last year Aster staked his claim as the high priest of grief with Hereditary, tossing Toni Collette into the pits of hell and poking her with a stick for good measure -- this time around it's Florence Pugh, her bright round pink face beatific from her own bed of flames and flowers. When we first meet Dani (Pugh) she's in a panic that Things Aren't Right, a feeling I think we're all familiar with upon waking every day -- sure enough they ain't, and once again Aster knows well enough that leaning into our horrible suspicions about everything, absolutely everything, is the stuff of horror movie magic. Now I look upon the sun and the sun itself is corrupted.

There's been an earthy folksiness to a lot of pop culture for some time now -- childish drawings dot our advertisements and movie titles, ukulele Zooeys grin their sly grins in sitcom embellishment, hand-stitched dresses and Warby Parker onesies. The Brooklyn ethos of White People Shit, tied in pink ribbons and seriously overpriced. Midsommar is Ari Aster gutting Etsy like a fish, its cutesy cotton innards splatting on the sage dusted floor. Curlicued doodles of creatures and their lopsided genitals engulfed, undone; the obscenity of A-frames. 

Midsommar feels like what would happen if you or I -- you know, relatively normal people, all things considered -- suddenly and accidentally by no fault of our own wandered into a Jodorowsky picture at its drug-bent nastiest. Dani finds herself on a bad trip, a bad trip indeed, as she heads off to the middle of nowhere, specifically Somewhere Scandinavia, with her asshole boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his asshole friends in tow to where the sun never sets and the plant-life pulses, inhales, wheezes, coughs up a lung or two. And there in the center of this anti-Eden stands one of those A-frames, its unholy black heart, yellow as a Caution Sign, a school-bus skidding right off a cliff. 

Hereditary was rich with this form too -- Aster loves an attic, a spiked trinity shape of symbolic strength and fortitude, closed to outsiders and self-fulfilling, self-sustaining, feeding itself forever; a three-tiered commune without start or finish. The word "family" written in severed fingers pointing in every direction. That film ends with one defiled attic space, clotted with flies and naked sagging flesh, replaced by another -- the outside playhouse where little Charlie took refuge from the world; a peak-roofed miniature poised upon stilts. A ghost face hovering over the lack of a house. It was nothing but attic, the heat-blackened brain of a home, severed and floating just underneath the blank blot of outer space -- the middle-placed absence, thick with fate, where we all end up.

With Midsommar Aster again drags us kicking and screaming towards that everything and nothing of intrepid triangular architecture -- human beings perverting the lines of the divine, father and son and the pretend holy spirit, in wood mud and always bone, singed and soft singing turned to sacrificial screams. The bright sun, our best reminder of utter godlessness and contempt, sits at its upper most point, never blinking, burning down our eyeballs to ashen pits of their own. Wailing I woke up with a fright the morning after seeing this movie, and might well greet each day after with a knowing smile of reinvigorated madness -- freshly pleased with my punch-drunkenness, perchance to dream again of an insane Ever After tucked softly, warmly, away from it all.

5 Off My Head: The Other Side of Pride

I've never been much of a rainbow warrior but I have talked about "Gay Pride" this year more than I probably ever have in my entire life, and it's due to two factors -- the 50th anniversary of Stonewall certainly feels like a great big deal, especially here in New York; for one there have been museum exhibits at every museum in town on the subject of gay history and it's infected my brain. Everywhere I look it's gay gay gay, and that's been kinda awesome. Being old enough to remember a time when corporations and the mainstream pretended I didn't exist I find it tough to work up outrage at them trying to make money off of recognizing my existence now -- I know all about the problems with capitalism, believe me, but I have things to be angry about besides a rainbow getting slapped on a can of Budweiser for one month a year. 

Which brings me to the other reason I've been more into Pride this year than most -- our goddamned piece of shit President and Vice President, their families and friends, and every single member of the Republican Party. This is the time to rally with my people -- you can feel it, this call home to do the hand in hand united front thing, as long as you're even halfway decent... or even just short of halfway, which is probably my range. And it's not that I've ever been anything short of aggressively gay, as this site attests to -- I've gotten my fair share of homophobic bullshit for the going on fifteen years I've been writing MNPP, and it's only made me ornerier (and hornier, prolly) and more determined to be here, queer, and an obnoxious asshole about it. I've just never felt like I fit in exactly with most of gay culture -- I like rock music and horror movies and rain. You've never met a person more horrified by Fire Island Living in your life, believe me.

That said, I'm here and I'm queer and in the words of Quiz Kid Donnie Smith "I've got love to give," and today I am giving it. I'm gonna do Pride my way dammit, so I've made a list for a weekend's binge worth of Anti-Pride movies -- movies where LGBT characters wrestle violently the world they inhabit and find fresh red ways to make their marks. Cuz getting angry and throwing bricks, or hives of hornets, is Pride too y'all...

5 of my Favorite Anti-Pride Movies

Cruising (1980)
"Hips or lips?"

Knife+Heart (2019)
"When you lose control it's a form of love."

Rope (1948)
"I never strangled a chicken in my life!"

"Don't make me be a bad girl again!"

"Eat shit and live, Bill."

Don't Be Sorry, My Angels

I plan on doing one of my own lists of "My Favorite 2019 Things So Far" fairly soon but you can get a taste of some stuff I loved over at The Film Experience today, where all of us who write for TFE gave lip (and tongue) service to five of our favorites -- happy to see that I wasn't alone in my love for Christophe Honoré's grandly romantic and sad Sorry Angel, pictured here. If you never got a chance to read my review of that film you can do so at this link. The film is available for streaming too! I recommend you get on it, like Pierre Deladonchamps and Vincent Lacoste got on each other.

David Harbour Four Times


Well here is a photo-shoot that our Stranger Things daddy man did a couple of weeks ago for Esquire magazine that I just caught up with last evening -- I tweeted and tumblr'd it but that first shot really deserved to take up all the room I can give it, I think. Even here on a day where I shouldn't be blogging! As hesitantly mentioned last night (who knows if I might change my mind at the last minute, I'm a whimmer) I'm taking advantage of my Summer Friday this week to play some catch up. So there will be a few posts today! What a marvel. Stay tuned for more bonus nonsense coming yer way...

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Jack, Me Off

Normally this is the moment where I'd be telling you people, you wonderful people, that this is it for the week -- it's the summer and I have Summer Fridays. But I'm actually planning on being online for a wee bit this weekend (probably tomorrow, actually) so I can finish up and post my several-day-gestating review of Ari Aster's film Midsommar, a horror film of some note that is out next week and which stars Florence Pugh and the young gentleman you see here Mr. Jack Reynor. (Sidenote: see our recent post on Jack's cinephilia right here.) So what I am saying is you should probably check back in here tomorrow and you might find a happy surprise. Of course I'll heartily trumpet all of this on Twitter when the moment arrives, but it don't hurt to double down, especially since it gives us these shots of Jack to glare at. Hi, Jack. Good to see you, Jack. (I'm a little bit obsessed with Jack right now, you guys, in case you couldn't tell.)

Bridesmaids II: Spring Breakin'

Wow back to back stories about Jamie Dornan and Henry Cavill -- if only I could mash them up and tell y'all these two were remaking Brad & Angelina's 2005 movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith as Mr. & Mr. Smith about married gay super spies... but I can't. I can't tell you that. You can now think about it. But I can't actually tell you that. But Jamie is actually playing a super spy, so that's something, and the more something to this news story is even more something -- he's playing a super spy opposite Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, aka the duo that wrote Bridesmaids, in their "oh my god we have been waiting for this forever" follow-up to that movie! 

It's called Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (god I love silly long titles like that) and the ladies are playing Miswestern gal pals who go on vacation to the titular town in Florida, where they get caught up in a hilarious plot of mass murder. Jamie's somebody's love interest, as well he should be -- if you were able to cast your own love interest wouldn't you? The film's being directed by a dude named Josh Greenbaum, who's directed a lot of TV and some documentaries; I think this is his feature fiction first? But he's good people for sure cuz he once directed this video of Daniel Craig with a bunch of puppies:

The Mysterious Mister Cavill

If I was Stranger Things star Millie Bobbie Brown I'd be insisting they rewrite the script to make him my daddy, but Henry Cavill is set to play Millie's older brother in Enola Holmes, an adaptation of a YA book series of the same title. That this "older brother" happens to be the legendary super sleuth Sherlock Holmes is a point I've taken the long route to -- my guess is his role is supporting, so as to not outshine the little lady who leads the series? Anybody read them? Anyway I hope that Henry grows his Mission Impossible mustache back for the role, because it somehow makes him look both smarter and filthier -- it's a delightful combination, that magic stache. Oh and I feel as if I should add that Helena Bonham Carter is playing their mother? HBC is 17 years older than Henry so technically this is a possible thing I suppose, but it still seems off and I'm not sure why. Anyway in summation here is a photo that Henry recently shared on his Instagram, bless his beefcakey heart:

Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...

... hanging eleven with Chris Hemsworth.

Can't believe it's taken me a week to get around to posting these pap-snaps (via) of Chris slipping out of his wetsuit and getting into something more comfortable -- for the rest of us, anyway. I personally feel downright cozy, warm and happily moist, tucked in there. Hit the jump for several more shots...

Idris Elba Seven Times

And speaking of our dirty boy Idris is on the cover of the new issue of Vanity Fair -- you can read the entire interview over on their site but we're not so interested in the words (you can go read it and then tell us if he admits to staring at Jason Statham's abs a lot of the set of their new movie and maybe then I'll bother to read it) so I'm just going to share the really very fine photos of our righteouslt christened Sexiest Man Alive right here after the jump...

Do Dump or Marry: Dirty Boys Edition

I have never seen a Fast Slash Furious film and I'm heck no not about to start now with this Hobbs and Shaw movie out later this summer, but hey this new photo of its stars Dwayne Johnson and Idris Elba and Jason Statham (via) is good enough for one of our "Do Dump or Marry" queries, I think! Go on and tell me in the comments who you do, who you dump, and who you marry...

Thursday's Ways Not To Die


I think it's probably for the best if I don't go into detail about what's happening in this scene, as it represents a fairly big spoiler for this film -- I don't feel guilty sharing it since the movie is turning fifty in August and that's way past the expiration date on such things, but I'll also grant y'all some latitude since not everybody's seen all of the obscure giallo films there are -- sad for you!
Perversion Story (alternately titled One on Top of the Other in the grand tradition of making it impossible to keep track of giallo films because they all have twenty different ridiculous titles) is basically Lucio Fulci's spin on Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (with some Blow Up sprinkled liberally on top for good measure) -- an innocentish man (Jean Sorel, pretty pretty Jean Sorel) gets embroiled in the twinning scheming of bad folks -- but since it's Fulci there's way more naked ladies and leather gloves and red red red blood.

Like Brian de Palma after him Fulci took Hitchcock's tale of obsession and ramped it up to eleven twelve and thirteen for the times. Fulci even shot this movie in Vertigo's hometown of San Francisco, although it's admittedly just a bit disconcerting when all of the characters walking around in that city start speaking in Italian.

But the film's a great looking time capsule of that swinging time and that swinging place and the loosening mores that'd taken hold less than a decade after Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak swanned around letting bouquets of flowers stand in for their private parts. No such symbolism this time...

... cough cough. Who needs romantic cascades of flower petals tossed into the bay when you can get plastic stems shoved up an uncomfortable looking lady's hoo-ha? Romance will find a way. Anyway this flick is one of the several remastered giallo I told you are playing at the Quad here in NYC next month -- see that post right here. And if you'd like links to all of our previous "Ways Not To Die" posts you can see them after the jump...

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Snowpiercer (2014)

Wilford: I believe it is easier for people to survive on this train if they have some level of insanity. As Gilliam well understood, you need to maintain a proper balance of anxiety and fear and chaos and horror in order to keep life going. And if we don't have that, we need to invent it.

A happy 5 to Bong Joon-ho's prescient dystopian masterpiece, which feels more on point every passing day... a really fucking depressing realization, that. And now we just sit and wait to see what Bong has to tell us about ourselves five years from now with his new much-lauded film Parasite...

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?

Good Morning, World

This isn't the sort of thing I would usually open the day with -- nobody's brushing their teeth or in the shower... unfortunately -- but these the first pictures of all of Roland Emmerich's boyfriends in his WWII picture Midway, fetishized up in the crispest coded outfits you ever did see, well they woke me up this morning. Are we sure this isn't the Tom of Finland biopic? We're supposedly getting the trailer soon and no doubt I'll share that... ETA oh wait here it is:
... there are a couple more photos at that link above but I grabbed the ones that really matter (as in Patrick Wilson and Ed Skrein and Darren Criss and Aaron Eckhart and so forth) and have them for you after the jump...

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bring Me The Axe

Finally some new news on what director Steve McQueen is up to next -- we knew he's making a six-part miniseries for Amazon but now I'm seeing the title for the first time, which is Small Axe, and it's got a bunch of cast to boot. Star Wars star John Boyega and Black Panther star Letitia Wright have joined, as well as several other names you can see at the link... including current ginger boyfriend Jack Lowden, of Mary Queen of Scots. Of course McQueen hiring a ginger not named "Michael Fassbender" always raises the question why they're not working together anymore after making a trilogy of smashing successes that cemented both of their careers, but I'll try to set that aside for the moment since Jack is so goddamn cute.