Friday, January 18, 2019

THE SCHOOL OF MAYA DEREN PART THREE

HAPY NEW YEAR!


On this latest entry we step away from Deren's direct influence on David Lynch and take look at her general influence & visual similarities on various films & filmmakers over the years.

Make sure to let me know if you think I'm reaching.

Enjoy...


At Land / Inception

Meshes Of The Afternoon / Ida

Meshes Of The Afternoon / The Tree Of Life

Meshes Of The Afternoon / Wild Strawberries / Only God Forgives

At Land / Knight Of Cups

At Land / Ghost Dog

At Land / Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'

Meshes Of The Afternoon / D a Mystery Of Chessboxin'

At Land / The Night Comes For Us

At Land / Man Bites Dog

At Land /
Drunken Angel /
The 400 Blows

At Land / Maxhumain

Monday, January 7, 2019

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER / CACHE

Confrontation in Cache (L) & The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (R)

Much has already been said about The Killing Of Sacred Deer so there’s really no reason to put another “review” of it out in to the universe. We get it. We all know it’s one of – if not the – best films of 2017. What I’d like to delve in to are the strong similarities it shares with another great film in the form of Cache (probably the best film of 2005 as far as I’m concerned)…

In my opinion, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer is essentially Haneke’s Cache without the socially conscious/historical/racial angle. Plus, it’s darkly comical whereas Cache isn’t funny at all. But even with those differences – the films are still similar in the same way that Passolini’s Teorema is to Ozon’s Sitcom. Sitcom is a  loose remake of Teorema. Ozon made quite a few obvious changes like using a rat as the Trojan horse instead of Terrence Stamp (Teorema), but the basic story remains the same in Sitcom.
Actually, all four films (Teorema, Sitcom, Cache & The Killing Of A Sacred Deer) are cut from the same cloth in that they’re all about an outside entity bringing a family’s skeletons & dirty secrets out in to the open. 

In Sacred Deer, Yorgos Lanthimos focused on the part of the story that involves the loss of a father. Fatherhood is a huge part of both Cache & Sacred Deer (there’s also a sub-plot involving class as the two opposing families in each movie are on opposite ends of the class spectrum). For those of you that haven’t seen Sacred Deer – Martin (Barry Keoghan)’s father died on the operating table at the hands of Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell), and is seeking revenge because he feels Steven is responsible for his father’s death. In Cache, Majid's son (this character isn’t given a name in the credits) is seeking a similar form of revenge. Majid's son blames George - his father’s former foster brother - for his father’s hard life. True – Majid's son (Cache) grew up with his father, while Martin’s father died prior to the events in Sacred Deer, but midway in to Cache *SPOILER* Majid takes his own life (something that is also hung over George’s head).

From a visual/thematic standpoint - the similarities are un-debatable...

Both film have a very similar father/son relationship (the sons in both films even look alike)
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

There’s an underlying theme of; “attack on the upper class”. Early on in both movies we get the happy families sitting around the dinner table. This is the last time we see both families happy & undisturbed...
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

As we've already established - both Martin (Sacred Deer) and Majid's son (Cache) are motivated by revenge...
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

The “antagonist” son characters use the protagonist’s children as pawns to put their plans in to play…
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

The “protagonist” keeps important secrets from his wife that comes back to bite him in the ass…
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

There's a weird relationship between the protagonist’s wife and his close (male) friend…
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Similar spurts of self-inflicted violence…
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Throughout the film you question the morality of the main character/"protagonist"
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer


Both films end somewhat open & unresolved…
Cache / The Killing Of A Sacred Deer


There are also indescribable comparisons that can be made in that the overall tone/ambiance in both films are incredibly similar (the exception being that Cache doesn't have any funny moments). It should be noted that when Yorgos Lanthimos exploded on the scene with Dogtooth, he was compared to Haneke quite a bit.


Perhaps I have too much time on my hands or perhaps I'm on to something with this comparison. What do you all think?

Friday, January 4, 2019

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 83



With the passing of the legendary Mean Gene Okerlund, we decided to talk wrestling-related movies.

Enjoy...

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

DIE-NER (GET IT?)

Die-Ner (Get It?) / The House That Jack Built

Say what you will about The House That Jack Built (I might be inclined to agree with you depending on what the issue is) but it didn’t do the typical serial killer movie “thing” by showing shades of sympathy. There’s no childhood flashback where the protagonist serial killer character is being tortured by his crazy mother or something like that. There were flashbacks in the film but nothing traumatic happened to him. Lars Von Trier was just trying to show us that Jack was wired evil from birth. Now...Lars certainly teetered that Oliver Stone/Natural Born Killers line of having the audience side with/root for the killer in a kind of disasterously comical way but that could be up for debate. While it’s evident to me that Lars is bored with filmmaking (I feel like his last couple of movies were made strictly to provoke first and be good films second), he still took a somewhat unique & original approach to the serial killer genre. You could also go back a few decades and site stuff like Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, Maniac, Angst, etc. Lars definitely traveled down the path that those films carved, but, even in all his boredom, he still brought something unique to the table.

I say all this to say that some of the things that happened in The House That Hack Built reminded me of another semi-recent dark comedy centered around a serial killer in the form of Die-Ner: Get It?. THTJB isn’t the only new-ish serial killer movie to do something new. If you’re familiar with Horvath (and his directing partner Dallas Hallam) then you would know he isn’t a novice at taking an original/abstract approach to the horror genre (read my thoughts on the masterful Entrance for further examples of how Horvath & Hallam’s brains are wired). While Die-Ner may be rough around the edges according to Horvath himself (this was his first feature film), it still planted the seeds for all his work that followed. He considered his debut a huge (positive) learning experience that he still remains proud of...

I took all those lessons learned and used the knowledge to help give Entrance a fighting chance at making it into the world after we shot it - Patrick Horvath


Like THTJB, Patrick Horvath found a loophole in getting the audience to side with/root for an unforgivably terrible person. You’re also allowed to laugh when a murder takes place in both films because they’re true dark comidies (although THTJB has a few more ethical issues to deal with).
In Die-Ner (Get it?) we follow a group of folks trying to fight their way out of a zombie attack at a local a diner. (Hence the title. Get it?) and the de facto leader/main character is a serial killer named (Ken). Instead of the convenient former marine who knows how to use every weapon and is also versed in hand-to-to hand combat, Horvath gives us a sociapathic serial killer.  
Now...in any normal circumstance I’d want nothing to do with a serial killer. But in the case of a zombie apocalypse where you can kill at will (in an effort to survive) that’s the kind of guy/gal I’d want on my side. And when you look at it from the serial killer’s perspective, he’s like a kid in a candy store. Instead of killing innocent civilians, he gets a free pass to kill people (who aren’t even really people anymore so it’s fine). This movie brings up the debate as to whether or not someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time, or, the wrong place at the right time. Or perhaps Ken is in the right place at the right time?

Although Horvath saw things differently than I did. To him, this film was a bit of an existential dilemma for the serial killer in that there's no payoff for committing all the murders he does.

for the serial killer I thought it would be hilarious to give the person a situation where their dead wouldn’t stay dead - Patrick Horvath

So in a sense, you’re free to root for anyone in the film (Ken is still a terrible person even if we caught him at a unique moment in his life) or just watch it from a morally indifferent standpoint and be entertained. 

Die-Ner does what The House That Jack Built tried to do, only slightly better. It also bypasses/sidesteps a lot of the problems that many people had with THTJB.
The only issue is Die-Ner is a little difficult to watch online. There’s a crappy quality/slightly sped-up version up on a certain popular video site, but besides that’s it’s a little tough to come by.
There are DVD’s on Amazon. Given the rise of physical media amongst cinephiles these days, perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to put some money up for the DVD version.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA: EPISODE 82 (BEST OF 2018)




On the last episode of 2018 we take a look back at the solid movie year that was 2018.

Enjoy...

Friday, December 14, 2018

THE BEST OF 2018!!

Artwork courtesy of Patrick Horvath


This year was is a little strange. Not bad, just strange...
While there were certainly lots of good/solid/entertaining films (Black Panther, Upgrade, The Green Fog, etc), there were only a handful of exceptional releases that truly stood out to me (Zama, Shoplifters, The Rider, etc) along with a few pleasant surprises (Game Night, Lowlife, etc).
The rest of my Top 10 is made up of slightly flawed works with head-scratching endings (First Reformed) or movies from the early 1980’s that didn’t get a theatrical run until this year (Personal Problems).

I admit that my excitement for 2018 died a little when I discovered films like High Life, Our Time & American Dharma wouldn’t be released until 2019 (who knows when American Dharma will get a proper release). But I guess the positive is that 2019 is already shaping up to be a good year (all the aforementioned films are already in my top 10 for next year).

I still had fun documenting, podcasting & writing about the 2018 movie year (make sure to go back and explore both PINNLAND EMPIRE & Zebras In America as I’ve given my thoughts on every film on this list in either written form or podcast form).


Enjoy...



TOP 10

1-4: ALL AROUND GREAT 
(films that I felt were just all around great. Essentially the 1st tier of great 2018 films)
Zama/ Shoplifters
The Rider / You Were Never Really Here


5-6: SOLID 
(the 2nd tier of all-around great films from 2018)
Burning / The Favourite


7-8: UNDER THE RADAR 
(films I loved from 2018 that may not have had the same exposure or platform as the larger releases, but are still great)
Lowlife / Monrovia, Indiana


9: FRUSTRATING BUT REWARDING 
(all around great but one major flaw or weird aspect that really bugged me)
First Reformed


10: BEST NEW OLD MOVIE 
(an old film that didn't get a proper release until this year which, in my opinion, makes it a 2018 movie)
Personal Problems





JURY PRIZE
These are movies that I genuinely loved but I also have some kind of personal connection to either the film or the filmmaker. In this year's case, I happen to know Kurt Vincent & Irene Chin (Friends Of Wonder) and I have a very biased love towards Bruno Dumont and his work as he's slowly becoming one of my all-time personal favorite filmmakers (Jeanette...)
Jeanette: The Childhood Of Joan Of Arc / Friends Of Wonder / 24 Frames





HONORABLE MENTION
It wouldn't be right to define an entire year with just a handful of movies. Below are some more solid releases from 2018 worth your time...

TOP TIER:
The Taste Of Cement / Blue / Cold War


THESE MOVIES HAD NO BUSINESS BEING THIS GOOD:
Game Night / Upgrade / Equalizer 2


SOLID:
Black Panther / Marlina: The Murderer In Four Parts


FRUSTRATING BUT REWARDING:
Vox Lux / The Green Fog / Widows





HONORABLE HONORABLE MENTION
A few more movies from 2018 worth your time...

Suspiria / Three Identical Strangers
Claire's Camera / Mandy
Hereditary / The Night Comes For Us
Avengers: Infinity Wars / Roma





OTHER MOVIES POSSIBLY WORTH YOUR TIME
These aren't exactly the best films from 2018 but they all had something that earned them a mention on this year's list...
Deadpool / Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami
The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs / If Beale Street Could Talk
Death To Stalin / Ant & Wasp
Sorry To Bother You / 8th Grade




UNDECIDED...
(I need more time to process these)
Madeline's Madeline / The House That Jack Built






(PERSONAL) FAVORITE PERFORMANCES OF 2018
Matheus Nachtergaele - Zama*
Shaye Ogbonna - Lowlife*
Topher grace - Blackkklansman
Ryan Reynolds - Deadpool 2
Joaquin Phoenix - You Were Never Really Here*
Rachel Mcadams - Game Night*
Millicent Simmons - A Quiet Place
Stacy Martin - Vox Lux
Steve Yeun - Burning
Regina King - If Beale Street Could Talk
Nicholas Cage - Mandy
Sam Elliot - A Star Is Born
Emma Stone/Rachel Weisz/Coleman - The Favourite*
Ethan Hawke - First Reformed*
Matt Dillon - The House That Jack Built
Daniel Kaluuya - Widows
Mia Goth - Suspiria
Toni Colette - Hereditary





PERSONAL FAVORITE IMAGES FROM 2018
Mandy

Burning

Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami

Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami

Blue

First Reformed

The Rider

Zama

Zama

Zama

You Were Never Really Here
24 Frames

24 Frames





HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & OTHER RANDOM MOVIE MOMENTS FROM 2018...

Hold The Dark

Y’all really liked this? (Hold The Dark)*

So this is becoming a genre now? (Blindspotting, The Hate You Give, First Purge, Monsters & Men)

It really was that bad (Venom)

Venom

Jesus christ - stop waisting Michelle Williams' time! (Venom)*

If you actually liked this movie I honestly hate you (The First Purge)

Grace Jones being an unbelievable diva in Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami

Hereditary

the clicking noise in Hereditary*

Meh: Blackkklansman, Unsane , Annihilation, Thoroughbreds , Roxanne Roxanne, Fahrenheit 451, Let The Sunshine In 

Mission Impossible: Fallout
ok, I guess: Creed 2, Isle Of Dogs, Mission Impossible Fallout* & A Quiet Place

The lama scene in Zama

chasing after the bus at the end of Shoplifters

All the estrogen in Suspiria

Lowlife
El Monstro going in to rage mode in Lowlife*

The respect Ryan Prows showed Lucha wrestling in Lowlife

mad that I missed: Paddington 2, The World Before Your Feet & Bisbee 17

indifferent about missing: The Green Book, First Man & Vice

completely fine with missing: Tyrel & Bohemian Rhapsody 

The Rider

the hospital visits in The Rider*

the overall ambiance of The Rider

The overall ambiance of Mandy

Uma Thurman’s scene in The House That Jack Built

The OCD scene in The House That Jack Built 

Climax

the first 20 minutes of Climax*

Bill Duke's cameo in Mandy

Chainsaw fight in Mandy

Joaquin Phoenix staying with the agent (that he murdered) in his final moments (You Were Never Really Here)

The sex scene in Burning

The headbanging in Jeanette: The Childhood Of Joan Of Arc

O Lucky Man /
Sorry To Bother You

Boots Riley paying homage to O Lucky Man in Sorry To Bother You*

The freemason meeting in Monrovia, Indiana

Game Night
Lamorne Morris' Denzel Washington impression in Game Night*

Danny Huston's appearance in Game Night

Game Night

"How can that be profitable for Frito Lay?" (Game Night)*

"I'm sorry I called you bald...you little bitch!" (Game Night)

Seeing Michael Beach in a major theatrical release (If Beale Street Could Talk)

The heist scene in Widows

A final talk between Colin Farrell & Robert Duvall in Widows

That shit was not necessary (Marcus’ death in Widows)

Upgrade's underrated ambient score

Upgrade

The dorky main villain in Upgrade*

Clancy Brown's death in The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

The title cards in The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

Special shoutout to Wes Anderson for the Kidney Transplant angle in Isle Of Dogs

can we see more of you in 2019?: Betty Gabriel, Alex Descas, Sam Elliot, Juliette Binoche, Angeliki Pappoulia & Gregg Turkington/Neil Hamburger

can we see just as much of you in 2019 as we did in 2018?: Rachel Mcadams, Colin Farrell & Daniel Kaluuya

can we see less of you in  2019?: Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell, Mel Gibson, Mark Wahlberg & Bradley Cooper


Reasons to look forward to 2019: High Life, Us, Our Time, American Dharma, The Mountain & Peterloo


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