Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Other Half of This Golden Amulet...

Any other Maria Bamford fans in the house? Every time I hear the word "amulet" her joke, abbreviated in this post's title, is all I can hear, but maybe that's about to change thanks to the forthcoming horror film titled Amulet. Written and directed by the actress turned first-time-director Romola Garai (probably best known as the middle-chapter Briony in Atonement, aka the one sandwiched between Saoirse Ronan and Vanessa Redgrave) Amulet got terrific buzzy notices out of Sundance, and is hitting theaters (whatever that means) and VOD in just a few weeks, on July 24th. More importantly, most importantly, the film stars God's Own Country's man of the red jumper Alec Secareanu...

... (!!!) as a voluptuously bearded ex-soldier turned homeless person who is taken in by a young woman (played by Carla Juri from the movie Wetlands, which I have never seen it but a friend of mine is a massive fan) and her dying mother (played by the great, always great, Imelda Staunton). We worship the Staunton round these parts! Anyway dreamy homeless Alec is taken in by these two mysterious sickly ladies into their big scary house and All, as the saying goes, Ain't What She Seems. Here's the trailer:


Pics o' the Day

It's been well over a year since I last told you about Andrew Haigh's forthcoming BBC miniseries adaptation of Ian McGuire's book The North Water and how it was set to star Jack O'Connell and Colin Farrell as rival harpooners on a doomed Arctic expedition and now, finally, some photos! Okay so "Rival Harpooners" is just a thing I wanted to say -- Jack is actually the ship's doctor while Colin is playing a murderer who finds his way onboard, so it's more complicated than just some crossing of the harpoons. I haven't read the book but it supposedly goes very dark -- I keep thinking of the first season of the series The Terror, but then I just like to think about The Terror. (God The Terror was so good.) Anyway not sure when BBC is airing this but it's supposed to come before the end of the year. You can see a few more shots of the cast over here.

More Midsommar Than Any Man Can Stomach

Urgh my wallet is taking a wallop today, what with the new Sufjan album getting announced this morning and now this this THISSSS -- A24 has just announced they're releasing a super fancy schmancy blu-ray edition of Ari Aster's director's cut of his most recent horror film Midsommar, which played some theaters late last year; I talked about it a little here. I don't hate the longer version! I know the film felt long to some people already but I was not one of them, and I found the extra footage fascinating. And when I say this edition is "fancy schmancy" I mean "fancy schmancy" -- here's how they describe it:

"The first Collector's Edition from A24, Ari Aster's 171-minute director's cut will look as crisp on your bookshelf as it does in 4K Ultra HD. Blu-ray disc comes enclosed in a clothbound, Hårga-yellow slipcase, accompanied by an illustrated 62-page booklet featuring original artworks from the film by Ragnar Persson and a foreword by Martin Scorsese."

See? Fancy schmancy. This sucker will run you fifty bucks, including shipping, but perhaps it will fill the hole in your heart where that Midsommar "Bear in a Cage" once would have fit. Sigh. Every time I think of the 50 people who scored one of those I get furious all over again. Fuck you people! I'm gonna go look at Jack Reynor's penis and make myself feel better. (Click here for my review of the film, if you never read that.)

His Acts For Humanity Are Awe-Inspiring

Elem Klimov's truly brutal anti-war film 1985's Come and See -- calling it a "film" even feels inadequate, it's more of an "experience" -- is out on Criterion blu-ray today, and if you've never seen it I... well I highly recommend you do. Here's my review of the recent and really spectacular restoration, which is what you'll see on this disc, along with all the usual Criterion special-feature bells-and-whistles. It's weird to recommend this movie since watching it once might be plenty for most people -- hell that might be more than plenty for most people. It will honestly and truly scar you. 

Although I will say there's an interview with famed cinematographer Roger Deakins on the disc where he says he watches the film all the time, and I get that too -- I think I will probably fall somewhere in between and be able to bring myself to watch Come and See a couple of times in my life, just because it's so intelligently made and visually striking that it demands one wrestle with it properly and not write it off or turn away from the truths it exposes about humanity and violence and or relationship with our own horror. Anyway. Come and See! Out on Criterion now! Surely there will be Quarantine Viewing Parties popping up all over the place! Have a lot of vodka.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen Nine Times

The Watchmen and Candyman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is featured in the new issue of GQ -- you can read the interview here, although it's the pretty standard "Oh shit I am starting to get famous all of a sudden" chat so I wouldn't go into it expecting to be riveted. (I did appreciate finding out he's 6'3" though.) But the pictures are riveting, in their way, so let's stare at those after the jump...

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?

Good Morning, Ascension

Good Morning & Happy Sufjan Stevens New Music Announcement Day!!! I got to my office and the first email that greeted me today was one from Sufjan's label Asthmatic Kitty announcing The Ascension, Sufjan's first album of new music (save some side-projects) since the beautiful and perfect Carrie & Lowell in 2016. Here's the cover:
That is a very Sufjan cover. Reminds me of The Age of Adz cover. Anyway click on over here for purchasing information -- the 15-track record will be out on September 25th. Here are the track titles:

1. Make Me An Offer I Cannot Refuse (5:19)
2. Run Away With Me (4:07)
3. Video Game (4:16)
4. Lamentations (3:42)
5. Tell Me You Love Me (4:22)
6. Die Happy (5:47)
7. Ativan (6:32)
8. Ursa Major (3:43)
9. Landslide (5:04)
10. Gilgamesh (3:50)
11. Death Star (4:04)
12. Goodbye To All That (3:48)
13. Sugar (7:37)
14. The Ascension (5:56)
15. America (12:30)

Seeing an over-12-minute-long Sufjan song always gets me hard -- if anybody knows how to structure a song to infinity and beyond it's our sensitive folk boy from Michigan here. Am I a little bit sad that we're still not getting an official release of my favorite song "Majesty Snowbird" -- of course I am. But I think we're going to have to wait until he gets to the place where he's dropping a live-album about the tour that song was a part of, at this point. That 12-minute song called "America" is hilariously the first single for the record though, and in two days it will premiere right here:

I'll make sure to remind y'all of that in two days. Anyway it's impossible to suss out a theme for the album at this point, and hey maybe this one doesn't have an over-arching theme -- I'm surprised there's no statement attached to the announcement, he usually has something (plenty) to say. But the music always speaks for itself. Anyway this is a very good thing to wake up to! Always! Now let's make it better by posting some pictures of Sufjan in summertimes past to set our spirits to rise after the jump...

Monday, June 29, 2020

6 Off My Head: Siri Says 1924

My attempt to reinvigorate my somewhat slumbering "Siri Says When" series continues apace with a brand new episode here only eleven days since the last! This time around Siri slapped us with a toughie, since the number between 1 and 100 that she gave me was "24" meaning today we're going to go picking our favorite films from the year 1924. It must be said I have not seen a lot of movies from the year 1924! I've seen a few -- enough to do a list, which is why we're here doing just that. But the percentage of 1924 films that have been lost either unto time or unto my not nearly Silent Film educated enough ass is high, I warn you. As far as I can scout out it seems I have seen six 1924 films in total? And these are all of them. So please don't take this list as gospel -- we work with what we've got when we glance this far into the way-back-machine... 

My 6 Favorite Movies of 1924

(dir. Erich von Stroheim)
-- released on January 26th 1924 --

(dir. Buster Keaton)
-- released on May 11th 1924 --

(dir. Raoul Walsh)
-- released on March 18th 1924 --

(dir. Robert Wiene)
-- released on June 4th 1924 --

(dir. Fred Newmeyer)
-- released on October 26th 1924 --

(dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer)
-- released on Novermber 17th 1924 --

(P.S. Dreyer's Michael, which is one of the earliest examples of homosexuality being depicted on-screen, has just recently gotten restored and Kino Marquee will be streaming the film online in July as part of their "Pioneers in Queer Cinema" series that also features Mädchen in Uniform and the original 1933 version of Victor & Victoria. See more about the series here.)


Never seen: The Last Laugh (dir. Murnau), He Who Gets Slapped (dir. Victor Sjöström), The Marriage Circle (dir. Ernst Lubitsch)...

... Monsieur Beaucaire (dir. Sidney Olcott) Waxworks (dir. Leo Brinsky), Beau Brummel (dir. Hary Beaumont), Happiness (dir. King Vidor), His Hour (dir. King Vidor), Three Women (dir. Lubitsch)


What are your favorite films from 1924?

Pics of the Day

A big batch of new photos from Netflix's forthcoming comic adaptation The Old Guard have dropped online today (via) -- the film stars Charlize Theron as the leader of a gang of sexy immortals who mercenary around the world... a gang of sexy immortals played by the Belgian Beefcake himself Matthias Schoenaerts plus Luca Marinelli (more here) and Marwen Kenzari (more here)...
 ... the latter two who're playing a couple. A homosexual couple! Also in the killer cast: KiKi Layne as a newcomer and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the bad guy. We already posted the trailer (here) a few weeks back -- the film drops on Netflix on July 10th. That's just eleven days away! Hit the jump for plenty more immortal sexiness to get us there by...

Miguel Ángel Silvestre Seven Times

Sometimes I think to myself that I could run a full-time blog simply just reposting the photos that Miguel here posts of himself on his Instagram and be perfectly satisfied with my contribution to the world -- just reposting these things feels like an accomplishment! I mean if nothing else you can click thru our archives and everything Miguel-related is in one place -- that's something. A lot of somethings. Somethings on top of sweet somethings. I mean when I posted those new photos of him just last week, which were a lot of something on their own, I didn't expect we'd get so much more somethings-wise so soon, but Miguel's something's seem to be bottomless. Hit the jump for some things...

Happy Riley Day

Did you know that the writer-director of last year's terrific toxic masculinity take-down The Art of Self-Defense, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Alessandro Nivola, looks like that? Well he does, and it seems like important information to share here on Riley Stearns (that's his name) 34th birthday. Very important! You can follow him on Instagram here -- he seems like a good enough chap from here; he hates on Trump at least. Oh and he was also married to Mary Elisabeth Winstead for a few years...

... which evinces excellent taste. You should all watch The Art of Self-Defense if you haven't yet -- unfortunately I never properly reviewed it but I found it really striking; it felt like he has a distinct voice anyway. (I still haven't seen Faults, his first film from 2014 starring Winstead, but it's streaming on Prime.) We'll see how much of that voice carries over to his next movie, which sounds promising -- it's called Dual and it's about a woman (the great Karen Gillan) who has a clone of herself manufactured when she finds out she's dying, only to miraculously recover and then have to face down, as in a battle to the death, that same clone. It will also star Aaron Paul and mark a re-team with Self-Defense star Jesse Eisenberg again. That's set to come out next year.

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Narrator: From the moment the invaders arrived, breathed our air, ate and drank, they were doomed. They were undone, destroyed, after all of man's weapons and devices had failed, by the tiniest creatures that God in his wisdom put upon this earth. By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet's infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challenges. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

Apologies if the conclusion of a 123-year-old story is a spoiler to you but it's true, the invading aliens in H.G. Wells original story and both of its movie versions are destroyed by germs, beautiful germs. It's a twist that has some poignancy here in 2020 in the middle of a global pandemic, right? Today is also the 15th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's film, which is why we're actually here. I know somebody's going to point at the film's weak "happy" ending (germs aside) and I don't not agree, but I still think this movie is powerful and terrifying for the majority of its runtime -- that first attack...

... still gives me the goose-pimples. I think Spielberg exploits the explicit 9/11 imagery smartly, and brings it all to a head with that Tim Robbins character who, it must be said, feels somewhat prescient now, wouldn't you say? Anyway I am a fan of this movie, even despite that ridiculous tacked-on Boston reunion.

I'm also a big fan of George Pal's original 1953 sci-fi classic, which gave me TREMENDOUS nightmares as a child -- that basement scene was the stuff of nightmares for me for months. Those Simon Says faced motherfuckers were total creeps! I'm pretty excited about the Criterion edition of the film, which is out this coming July 7th. What eerily on-point timing...

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?

Good Morning, World


Somebody somewhere last week mentioned the 1991 rom-com L.A. Story starring Steve Martin as the beleaguered weather-person Harris K. Telemacher and I realized, upon said mention, that it'd been ages since I'd seen the movie, which had been a favorite circa high school -- anyway over the three day weekend I gave the film a re-watch and lemme tell you what, L.A. Story holds up.

It's a shame the movie isn't available to stream anywhere, free-wise I mean -- t's about the same price to buy the whole DVD of the film as it is to rent it on Amazon. Even cheaper if you buy a used copy, which I recommend. This movie's a delight and I don't often say that about Straight People Romance. Steve Martin though, right? We love Steve Martin. I think I thought Steve directed this film but he only wrote it -- did you know this was directed by the same man who made Volcano? Volcano, The Bodyguard, and this. Oh and the Temple Grandin movie. You go Mick Jackson with your weird career.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Smothering One Day

File this sucker under Promising Sounding Future Project -- Graham Swift's 2016 novel Mothering Sunday (anybody read it?) is being turned into a romance film by director Eva Husson, and it will star Shirley actress Odessa Young (she is super in Shirley, reviewed here) opposite our favorite boy-of-the-ears Josh O'Connor, as well as Olivia Colman and Colin Firth. With costumes by Sandy Powell and a script by the Lady Macbeth screenwriter! Yes please! Here's how the plot is described:

"The film is set in 1924 at Beechwood, England. Jane Fairchild, a maid in the Niven household, has the day off to celebrate Mothering Sunday while Mr. and Mrs. Niven attend a lunch to celebrate the engagement of their neighbor’s only remaining son, Paul, to Emma Hobday. The Nivens have lost their own sons to the war and rejoice at the prospect of an engagement. Jane rejoices at her freedom on an unseasonably hot, beautiful spring day.
But, she has no mother to go to. For almost seven years she has – joyfully and without shame – been Paul’s lover. Like the Nivens, Paul belongs to England’s old money aristocracy, whereas Jane was orphaned at birth. With the house conveniently empty, they can finally meet in Paul’s bedroom for the first time. Today will be their last as lovers. It is also the day that will mark the beginning of Jane’s transformation as the story unfolds through the hours of clandestine passion."

First off imagining Josh O'Connor garbed in some 1920s men's costumes designed by the legend Sandy Powell has already got me going. Will somebody throw my beloved H.R. Leyendecker book at her, please? And the director while we're at it? Josh would make a killer Arrow Collar Man.

Of course that's where my head goes but I imagine that won't exactly be the film's focus -- thankfully Odessa Young was so terrific in Shirley I can be excited about the film's main character on her own. Sounds great! Now back to Josh. Hit the jump for more photos...

You Told Me It Would Last Forever

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you, and you, and you, the Cannes trailer for François Ozon's forthcoming homosexual romance called Summer of '85, which couldn't look more Call Me By Your Name to me if Timothée Chalamet crawled through the screen and stuck his face straight down my shorts. (Any time, Timmy. Any time.) I mean even that poster, with the yellow font against the blue sky and the boys' heads leaning on each other...

I say that not as any sort of insult -- if every movie was a remake of CMBYN I would be in heaven. Give me Call Me By Your Name on a box, Call Me By Your Name with a fox;  give me Call Me By Your Name in outer space! Fucking a peach in zero gravity! Anyway François Ozon is not exactly a derivative, safe filmmaker so I'm sure Summer of 85 will be its own thing...

Actually if I'm being honest I'm a little bit afraid that Ozon's film might angle itself as a critique or a response to Guadagnino's movie. If Ozon has his characters eat the damn peach (even just metaphorically) all the anti-CMBYN homosexuals are gonna be so fucking exhausting. I can't recall if I ever heard Ozon's opinion on Guadagnino's movie so who knows.

All I do know is that I want to love both the movies, all the movies, so I personally hope they can exist side by side, holding hands, happy and full of peach juice in perfect harmony. To get to the point -- Summer of 85 is getting released in France on July 14th and so a longer trailer for the film has just been released this week, and I will now share it with you fine people here today. Voila!