Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What Time Circumstance History Made of Me

"Luce," the name of the lead character (played to marvelous effect by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) that his adopted parents have given him because they couldn't pronounce his original African name, means "light." It's pronounced "loose" but he's anything but. When we first meet Luce in the film Luce he's by himself in an auditorium rehearsing a speech, and (in a moment reminiscent of Betty Gabriel blithely ignoring tears as her programming gives way in Get Out) we watch his outside swerve violently off of his words -- the frisson of disconnect informing every moment that comes thereafter.

Luce is a model student, practically perfect in every way -- everybody keeps saying and saying, anyway. Rescued at age seven from a life of child soldiering, carried off the wealthy middle-class American Suburbia and dropped into the woke laps of two smiling white folks (played by Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, whose last venture into wealthy middle-class American Suburbia was smilingly dissected by no less than Michael Haneke himself), Luce has got to be perfect. Or else. To sow doubt in the Obama-esque dream boy would be to spill acid into our stories and our guts -- the polished veneer of respectability politics is razor thin and unforgiving; quotas don't have spillover.

Luce's most challenging teacher Mrs. Wilson, first name Harriet, played by Oscar winner and goddamned national treasure Octavia Spencer, knows how thin the gap is that Luce gets to get through in this white man's world, and is relentless in whittling down him and all of her charges for this harsh world. She's the first cop on the beat if any of them step off the right path, ready to kneecap them herself if it comes to it -- like Luce she's got to be good, hard, right every time out. Her space, as a woman, carries its own prickly edges, and Luce has eyes on everybody.

And so the movie Luce throws down a big bag of fireworks into this combustible situation, and watches 'em pop, singing everybody a bit black at the edges. Luce builds a thriller around our assumptions -- every sound cue and scene is constructed around turning its audience into detectives where we can't help but follow our prejudices towards conclusions that the evidence itself doesn't fully support. It's a trap, in other words, of the best sort -- it involves us and makes us culpable; its characters can feel the sting of our eyes forming narratives around them at every moment. We are the world pushing in, closing off the avenues, choking off communication -- our very need to be thrilled, to be told a tale in a certain way, perverts their story. 

The observer effect -- the scientific concept that the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon itself. Luce means light -- so is he light himself, illuminating us, or is he a projection, unknown underneath? The light going through the projector, showing us what we will, what we want -- an amusement built upon backs and bodies? If we snap a lever, what's left? Soot and ash and dark insinuations, piles of corpses used as stages, steps, and props. Trophies on a shelf. Luce, an excellent slap across the face, smashes it all up breathlessly, thrillingly, and righteous with accusation enough for all.

Pic of the Day

Oh I guess Kung Fury 2 is really happening! That there is a picture of Michael Fassbender on the set of the film, which was announced ages and ages ago, so long ago it was practically even before the rumors that Fassy might be tossing acting aside altogether to concentrate on being a race-car driver, husband to Oscar winners, and one private hot piece. (He's announced a couple of films over the past couple of months, thankfully vaporizing those rumors to dust.) The photo was posted to Instagram by an actor named Ventsislav "Vincent" Sariev right here; I'm not sure if Vincent himself is in the movie or not as IMDb hasn't been updated in awhile for the film, but one assumes, given he's there on the set. (He's also real cute himself, if you scan through his Instagram -- he just gained one follower!) Anyway Michael is supposed to be playing the bad guy in Kung Fury 2, which is a sequel to the mini cult hit -- and bad guy equals mustache, ya know. (Also I hope those ugly jeans are a part of his costume, cuz yikes.)

Simu Liu One Time

Our newest Marvel superhero just reminded me with this photo 
on his Twitter that I'm really overdue on doing a post on him. 

Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...

... learning the true meaning of life
 from Thomas Jane's Asshole.

Hung actor Thomas Jane has just gifted the world with a short film called "The World's Biggest Asshole" for an organ donation campaign, and can I just say... Thomas Jane, you can have my organ any time. Just ask and it's yours! Watch the amusing video below, and donate your organs today!

A Red Sea Reminder

Red alert, or whatever -- Netflix's Red Sea Diving Resort movie, starring Chris Evans and Michiel Huisman and Alessandro Nivola as a group of Israeli agents trying to smuggle Somali refugees to safety, is out on Netflix today. Watch it here. And for lots more from me on the subject of this film, i.e. lots of pictures and screaming about these actors being spectacular visions of manliness...

... well you can go right ahead and click through our archives. I haven't been able to watch it myself yet, and I probably won't be able to until this weekend, but uhh....

Fantasia 2019: Culture Shock

Director Gigi Saul Guerrero's film Culture Shock, the latest feature-length movie-episode of Blumhouse's "Into the Dark" horror anthology (which also included Sofia Takal's terrific New Year, New You, which I reviewed here) was written specifically to bait those of us reviewing it into writing the sentence, "The American Dream has become The American Nightmare!!!" With three, yes exactly three, exclamation points, just like that. But you know what? The American Dream has become the American Nightmare (for some of us it always was), it's earned every one of those exclamation points, and so have at it, Culture Shock -- bait us towards the truth.

Marisol (a very fine Martha Higareda) is trapped in a dreary and desperate life in Mexico. She's about to give birth to the baby of a man she'd trusted who'd raped and abandoned her in the wilderness as they'd tried to cross the border illegally -- Marisol has set her mind on crossing again though, both for a better life for her baby and to possibly maybe catch up with that asshole and get herself some revenge. Crossing the border in her state though, it's a matter of will over sanity, and Culture Shock delights in showing us this woman's steelier than any of these men thought possible.

Everything goes wrong, as it must, and the land of milk and honey America promises turns to, as the great Kristen Dunst once put it, ashes in her mouth -- if Guerrero's vision of the pastel candyland north of the border that's way too good to be true sometimes feels cribbed from other sources (I kept thinking of the similarly terrifying "Harmony Hut" in Addams Family Values) it remains unsettling, and Guerrero's satire of American Values (gamely met by the crazed glare of the always welcome Barbara Crampton, pushing blonde can-do to its surreal extreme) Gone Uncanny Valley is thrillingly lensed; the perfect antidote to the dystopian Iñárrituan vérité of the opening scenes.

I also kept thinking of Joe Dante's knife-sharp 2005 zombie war satire Homecoming, which was part of (and a real highlight from) the Masters of Horror anthology series, which is a real compliment to Culture Shock if you ask me -- both can be described as defiantly political Twilight Zone episodes, where the small stature of the platform has given smart storytellers the means to get a message out that would've been ground up otherwise, using genre to its best potential. Culture Shock is a necessarily unflattering snapshot of our shit-show times, vital as the fluids it leaves sprayed across the floor.

PS Culture Shock is already streaming on Hulu, 

Happy 10 to Thirst

I was really hoping I'd get around to re-watching Park Chan-wook's fantastic 2009 vampire priest flick Thirst before it hit its 10th anniversary today, but that thirst, it goes unquenched, I let time slide away. But that doesn't mean I don't have things to say! I can always find things to say, as, you know, displayed by this massive monument to be my verbal ego called This Website. Anyway, Thirst! Here is my really far too brief review from 2009 at this link, which isn't even really a review -- all I said was I liked it the least of his films so far, which seems insane to my eyes here 10 years later. It's grown so far in my estimation in the decade since that I called it one of my 13 favorite movies of 2009 just a few months ago. 

Lead actress Kim Ok-bin seems to have done mostly TV work in South Korea ever since, which is a shame as she should've become a great big movie star -- I never did get around to seeing the 2017 flick The Villainess, which she was in (that's her above), did any of you? Thirst's leading man Song Kang-ho was of course already a huge star in SK when Thirst happened but he's done some killer work after it too, especially with director Bong Joon-ho in Snowpiercer and the upcoming supposedly revelatory Parasite (see that trailer here). 

In related news Kino Lorber has a massive sale going on right now on their website and you can get the blu-ray for Thirst for just 14 bucks at this link. That's six bucks less than Amazon! If you'd like to check through our archives on the film there're are a surprising lot of other things we've written over the years -- that's how a movie goes from a tepid review to becoming a favorite. It got stuck in my brain!

Good Morning, World

Alright, which one of you's seen Papi Chulo by now? Somebody must've right? The movie starring Matt Bomer (seen above and below, oh how he's seen above and below) and Alejandro Patiño as "unlikely friends" (lord that phrase) who "learn from each other's differences" (somebody stop me) played some theaters earlier this year -- I thought it'd struck streaming but weirdly I can't seem to find it this morning? So maybe not. Either way I heard mostly good things about it even though I can't help but roll my eyes some at that plot -- here is the trailer if you missed that when we posted it. 

In related news (meaning more Matt Bomer) they're currently filming Ryan Murphy's Netflix adaptation of The Boys in the Band off his Broadway take, starring the entire cast from there -- Bomer and Andrew Rannells and Jim Parsons and so forth -- and JJ posted some shots of the dudes seen swaying on the set (thx Mac) if you're curious. I will watch the shit out of this but I don't know if I'll like it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Taron's Still Standing

This news broke last week when I was sick so this is catch-up -- the Elton John bio-pic Rocketman with Taron Egerton and Richard Madden has gotten its home release date! It's hitting the streaming platforms next week on August 6th, and then it hits blu-ray on August 27th. If you missed my review way back when click here for that -- I liked the film quite a lot, which was a bit of surprise given the whispers of straight-washing and, you know, me generally not being a musicals kinda guy. Turned out the first point wasn't true and the second wasn't either. Lies, all lies! Anyway pre-order your copies at the link above but if you need further convincing I'll share all of the disc's special features right on here after the jump...

Good Afternoon, Gratuitous Cillian Murphy

Do you watch Peaky Blinders? I do not watch Peaky Blinders but sometimes I think I should. My boyfriend likes it, and everybody looks like they wear tweed and suspenders while having hot haircuts on it, and I miss looking at Cillian Murphy. Those are all good reasons, right? Taboo with Tom Hardy scratched some of those itches but that show is taking forever to come back so my itches, they're unscratched for too long, too long. 

Anyway the trailer for the latest season o' Peaky dropped today and I already had Cillian on my mind thanks to a random photo of him plus Hardy plus JGL circa Inception that I stumbled upon and tweeted yesterday, so here after the jump are a couple dozen photos via several Cillian shoots of recent years that I've never posted, for a late afternoon delight...

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Easy A (2010)

Olive: I could have chlamydia. I have
been... whoring around a lot.
Mrs. Griffith: No, honey. No, you haven't.
Because a real whore can't even admit it
to herself, let alone another person.

A happy birthday to Lisa Kudrow today!
I don't know about y'all but I'm ready for a 
third season of The Comeback right about now.

Never Say Nevers

The wait on Joss Whedon's new one has been so stretched out that I keep forgetting it's even there -- called The Nevers it's about "a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world," so basically a Steampunk Buffy of sorts, is my guess. Dr. Who meets Charlie's Angels! I'm just spitballing. Anyway EW has revealed the majority of the show's cast all of a sudden, so the wait time has snapped back -- read them all here, but the highlights for me are the perfect specimen James Norton as "a pansexual posh boy" (seems about right) and Olivia Williams as whatever the hell she's playing, she's Olivia fucking Williams. Joss already gave her a killer part once with Dollhouse; I'm glad he's bringing her back. Also in the cast of note is Edgar Wright regular Nick Frost, and then there's Tom Riley from Da Vinci's Demons, an actor who's caught my eye before...

Big Time Lust

We hear a lot about physical media being killed off but man, we live in a Golden Age of shit getting the fancy blu-ray treatment all the same -- today it's one of Hammer's most entertainingly awful vampire flicks, Lust for a Vampire from 1971, that is getting the deluxe treatment and really, I recommend. I did a big post on one of the goofy death scenes from the movie a couple of years ago -- see that here -- it's terrible, a totally terrible movie, but knowing it's on blu-ray right now I can barely hold myself off from watching it again immediately. I mean it's still hammer, it's still got the costumes and the sets and that vibe we all love. Just... hammier. Way hammier.

Marry Me, Adam Driver

More news from this year's New York Film Fest -- the Centerpiece Film for 2019 is going to be Noah Baumbach's latest called Marriage Story, which stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johannson as a couple going through a divorce and yes, I think it's fairly clear we're supposed to think about Baumbach's own divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh while reading this description...

"Noah Baumbach’s new film is about the rapid tangling and gradual untangling of impetuosity, resentment, and abiding love between a married couple negotiating their divorce and the custody of their son. Adam Driver is Charlie, a 100-percent New York experimental theater director; Scarlett Johansson is Nicole, his principal actress and soon-to-be L.A.-based ex-wife. Their “amicable” breakup devolves, one painful rash response and hostile counter-response at a time, into a legal battlefield, led on Nicole’s side by Laura Dern and on Charlie’s side by “nice” Alan Alda and “not-so-nice” Ray Liotta. What is so remarkable about Marriage Story is its frank understanding of the emotional fluctuations between Charlie and Nicole: they are both short-sighted, both occasionally petty, both vindictive, and both loving. The film is as harrowing as it is hilarious as it is deeply moving. With Merritt Wever and Julie Hagerty as Nicole’s sister and mom, and Azhy Robertson as their beloved son, Henry."

I read that and all I think is, "Well who's playing Greta Gerwig" and then I go to IMDb and I see that Greta's Frances Ha co-star Mickey Sumner is playing somebody called "Beth" and... well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Won't we?

Marriage Story is also playing at Toronto, I believe? Anyway this is NYFF's second announcement -- yesterday we told you how they're opening the fest with Martin Scorsese's film The Irishman. So far so good! Now they just need to announce that they're screening Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse, the trailer for which we just had a full-scale meltdown over earlier this very day, and we'll be well on our way to being very very excited for another year of NYFF. In summation, here's half-naked Adam Driver walking down a Brooklyn sidewalk on Girls a couple of years back:

Great Moments In Movie Shelves #188

As mentioned in yesterday's piece on Margot Kidder over at The Film Experience it was the 40th anniversary of The Amityville Horror this past weekend -- as also mentioned in that same piece I re-watched that movie this past weekend and it is dreadfully bad, piss poor, dreckitude. But even in the garbage you can find a treasure or two -- if that wasn't true where would we be as horror movie fans? -- and this movie has its few and far between moments.

Granted they mostly involve James Brolin walking around in tighty-whities or flashbulb eyeballs popping in the darkness, but I have to admit my own eyeballs popped amid the darkness when a frazzled half-possessed Jimmy wandered into the local library stacks -- you know me and my movie shelves. The prominently featured children's fly drawing is a hysterically on point touch...

... since by this point in the film we've already seen the extraordinary power of devil flies unleashed -- they attack a priest, they drive cars off they road, and they even speak!

But frazzled James Brolin isn't there for fly pictures, he's there for books and learnin' dammit, and before you know it he's shoving learnin' right down his tight pants.

On the topic of down the pants -- my main issue with Amityville is it never decides what kind of movie it wants to be. It lives (literally) in the gap between The Exorcist in 1974 and Poltergeist in 1982; it's not really about religion like the former or the suburban family like the latter. It's just sort of a collection of things that happen -- the walls bleed, the windows slam, the dog barks and Margot Kidder wears one leg warmer. 

It can't even be sexual properly, which is the movie it needed to be, what with the way it leers at Kidder and occasionally Brolin too -- these are Horny Hot Parents whose sex life keeps getting fucked up by their kids; that's your horror movie, movie! The Amityville Horror tiptoes towards that idea, but it never commits. The flies scream, but they should be fucking.

Twas Ye Darke An' Stormy Nighte

I can already tell that I'm angry at myself for going through this the first trailer for The Lighthouse -- that'd be director Robert Eggers' follow-up to The Witch that's got Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe going nutso on an isolated island in the 1800s -- frame by frame by frame; I have seen too much! But... well what am I supposed to do? Not look? Be patient? WAIT???

Often I'm able but this movie, this one I'm just too too hard up for; I had to feed the beast, or the beast was gonna grow big ass tentacles and then where'd we be?

Lovecraftian ghoulishness is one hundred percent my jam and I have been waiting for somebody with a lot of talent as well as access to modern technology to tackle it -- I mean I love Stuart Gordon's Dagon as much as the next nerd but it's  a little on the dated side. Since I've been denied Guillermo Del Toro's At the Mountains of Madness this movie looks like it will have to do...

... and by all accounts it's gonna do nicely. If I said right now "I cannot wait for this" I wouldn't even be coming close to what that sentence actually means, inside of my belly right now. I am living this trailer. I am breathing this trailer.

I am choking this trailer's air supply off with my excitement. 
We are all black and blue with true enthusiasm. 

The Lighthouse is out in 80 days exactly,
on October 18th. Praying it hits NYFF, I am.

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?

Good Morning, World

I still don't have any plans on paying for CBS All Access streaming service any time soon -- I am a poor person and I cannot afford all of these goddamned streaming services; something has got to give -- but that's sure as fuck not gonna keep me from posting the above shot of Veep stud Reid Scott in the shower in the trailer for Why Women Kill, the new series from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. The show, which premieres on the service on August 15th,  also stars Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin, Alexandra Daddario, and Sam Jaeger (who was one of the hot pieces on Tell Me a Story), and you can watch the trailer below. It looks kinda fun?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Okay Aaron I'll Bite

Thanks to Aaron Taylor Johnson and his director-wife Sam for posting this shot on her Insta and reminding me that over the long weekend (made longer by the lousy cold that sidelined me for two extra days) a poster and a release date had been dropped for their next collaboration, an adaptation of James Frey's controversially phony drug memoir A Million Little Pieces -- you can see the poster below (via); the film, which co-stars Charlie Hunnam and Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi, will be hitting theaters in the US on December 6th. We'll probably get a trailer some time soon too, if I had to guess -- maybe they can do us all a favor and just stick Aaron's rumored full frontal right into that so we don't have to wait? Pretty please?