Thursday, April 26, 2018


I'm back on The Shining 2:37 podcast to talk more about Kubrick's horror masterpiece. 

On this episode we breakdown a section of the bar scene with Lloyd and slowly delve in to our subconscious... 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


This week we are joined by our friend (and PINNLAND EMPIRE contributor) Leanne Kubicz to talk about everything from Unsane & the realistic side of stalkers, to Hard To Be A God & Wojciech Has.

Enjoy and make sure to check out Leanne's blog LMK Film Picks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


A Quiet Place. Andre The Giant doc. Lowlife and a whole lot more.


Monday, April 16, 2018


I was sitting on a few more Tarkovsky comparisons that I thought I'd share with you all...

Ivan's Childhood / Biutiful

Ivan's Childhood / Loves Of A Blonde

I'm not going to even debate Andrei Tarkovsky's influence on Nuri Bilge Ceylan. I dedicated a whole series to his films (click here to read).

Here are a few comparisons that fell through the cracks...
Ivan's Childhood / Clouds Of May

Solaris / Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

The Mirror / Clouds Of May
Ivan's Childhood / Small Town

Ivan's Childhood / A Small Town

In addition to the comparisons above, I see pieces of Ivan's Childhood in quite a few modern films arthouse films...
Ivan's Childhood / Days Of Heaven
Ivan's Childhood / Life On Earth

Krivina is one of those random yet quietly brilliant films from the Toronto Film festival that most folks will probably never see. This is a shame because not only is Krivina really great, but it is undoubtedly a product of Tarkovsky's cinema from the slow contemplative pacing to the overall droning ambiance...
The Mirror / Krivina

I know Martin Scorsese is a cinephile (he practically grew up in movie theaters). He's openly referenced older films in his work before so it isn't out of line to think Tarkovsky left an impression on him. I'm skeptical that this comparison below is intentional but the similarities are pretty interesting...
The Mirror / Taxi Driver

Lodge Kerrigan (Claire Dolan) is from the school of Polanski & Akerman (his films are nothing like Tarkovsky)  But this shot from his film below is quite reminiscent of Tarkovsky's work...
Nostalghia /
Claire Dolan

Saturday, April 14, 2018


I'm back on wrong reel discussing the cinema of Lynne Ramsay on the heels of her latest release; You Were Never Really Here.

Click the image above to go to the episode. Enjoy...

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


50 episodes is a milestone as far as we're concerned. To celebrate, we decided to hang & record with our (talented) personal friends; Shaka King (Mulignans & Newlyweeds) & Mtume Gant (White Face & S.P.I.T.)
Listen as we talk about everything from influence in cinema to deep cut hip-hop.


Saturday, April 7, 2018


It’s easy to compare You Were Never Really Here to Taxi Driver. It does make sense. Besides the fact that both films deal with characters saving young girls from prostitution/sex-trafficking, there are some strong visual similarities between the two films...

Taxi Driver / You Were Never Really Here

My good friend/podcast partner Scott Thorough put it perfectly in a recent tweet... 

Lynne Ramsay's latest also shares some of the same DNA as Drive which also comes from the school of Scorsese (the plots to Drive & You Were Never Really Here are similar in that both protagonist use hammers as weapons and they also get caught up in convoluted crimes that are way above their pay grade). 

Drive / You Were Never Really Here

The emphasis on the hammer (along with one scene in particular) also brings Oldboy & Pulp Fiction to mind...
Oldboy / You Were Never Really Here
Pulp Fiction / You Were Never Really Here

If the Taxi Driver/Drive comparison doesn’t do it for you - imagine a gritty episode of Law & Order: SVU where Elliot Stabler's PTSD takes control over him and he goes batshit crazy killing pedophiles with a hammer. 

And before some of you get bent out of shape over some of these comparison (which are valid) Lynne Ramsay’s cinematic universe is full of references that she herself has acknowledged. From using the theme from Terrence Malick’s Badlands in Ratcatcher to her recreation of “The Lovers” at the beginning of the same film - she is an influenced filmmaker (an influenced filmmaker that has a style all her own). 
"The Lovers" / Ratcatcher

A few more visual similarities between older cinema and You Were Never Really Here...

Battleship Potemkin /
You Were Never Really Here

Apocalypse NowYou Were Never Really Here

The Night Of The HunterYou Were Never Really Here

Now...the trailer for You Were Never Really Here is a bit deceiving. It’s certainly brutal and somewhat grimey but a lot of the brutality & griminess is either implied or takes place just off camera. This is common for Lynne Ramsay. In her sophomore feature; Morvern Callar, we see the aftermath of a suicide instead of the suicide itself (we also see the dismemberment of the dead body just off camera). In Ratcatcher she shows us Ryan Quinn’s dead body right after he drowns rather than seeing the actual drowning itself. In the very beginning of You Were Never Really Here, you see Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joe” cleaning off a bloody hammer that he clearly used to kill someone minutes before. The cinema of Lynne Ramsay’s rests on the idea of hints & implications. 

You Were Never Really Here isn’t as violent as one might expect and it is, my personal opinion, that it has to do with the female direction. And that’s not a criticism. Quite the opposite. Movies with action & violence are often relegated to male directors because film directing is kind of a boys club and we all know boys love their action & violence. I don’t mean to make this about gender but I think there’s a tenderness that some male directors just don’t have. You don’t always have to be tender when directing a film but in the case of this specific film I think you do. Our main character Joe is suffering from multiple forms of PTSD. Through quick flashbacks we’re given pieces of a rather large puzzle that indicates he was raised by violent/abusive father, was traumatized from his time in the military, and was scarred from his time as an FBI agent that presumably worked in sex crimes. 
In the present day - Joe moonlights as a rescuer of young girls caught up in sex trafficking rinks. On his latest assignment, he gets in way over his head and discovers that the child he is supposed to rescue has ties to local New York City government. 

Instead of making Joe out to be this unbelievably badass tough guy (which he kind of is on some level), he’s a broken man barely holding on. This is that tenderness I was speaking of earlier. I know I’m generalizing but it is true that some men have problems showing certain emotions whereas women don’t. I think that’s why this film is a success because Ramsay adds a personal/touching layer to a film that would have been nothing more than a kickass action film in the hands of some run-of-the mill male filmmaker. That’s not to say male directors aren’t good at mixing violence & tenderness (Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher 2 comes to mind). But it is my personal opinion that women have a better balance/grasp on mixing the two elements (Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day & I Can’t Sleep, Lucrecia Martel’s Zama & Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution are a few more examples of women successfully mixing beauty & violence).
Joe has a soul. Not only does his line of work have to do with saving young girls, but he also takes care of his mother and isn’t afraid to cry when it’s time to cry (it makes perfect sense as to why Phoenix won best actor for his performance at last year's Cannes film festival).

Like I said earlier - the fast-paced hammer wielding trailer might be a little deceiving to some, but if you’re interested in semi-non conventional cinema (the music is strange, the editing is jarring, a couple of hilariously random things occur, and there are long stretches of minimal dialogue) this might just be the film for you. 

It’s always a treat when Lynne Ramsay delivers (in two decades she’s only made four features). Hopefully You Were Never Really Here will be a success making Ramsay more active behind the camera in the near future.

Friday, April 6, 2018


We're back! This week we get in to the new Lynne Ramsay, Hard Target, hip-hop biopics and much more. 


Sunday, April 1, 2018


I’m a big Steven Soderbergh fan. I know his heart was in the right place when crafting his latest film (Unsane), but I had more than a few problems with it. That’s kind of a good thing because the older I get the more difficult it has become to talk about films I absolutely love. How much can be said about a great film until it turns in to pointless/embarrassing gushing? Problematic films that came from a good place are the most interesting to talk/write about in my opinion. And Unsane is certainly problematic.

Right out of the gate we get the (not-so) hidden message behind the film: being a women (in this case a lone/single woman) can be shitty mostly in part to certain gross entitled men who don’t get how intimidating & threatening they can sometimes be (or who don’t have the capacity to handle rejection). Long before we get to the meat of the story involving a young woman ("Sawyer") being stalked by a crafty yet mentally unstable “admirer”, Soderbergh gives us a scene of our female protagonist being hit on by her older male boss. Actually – before that scene we’re put in to the position of the stalker’s perspective as we watch Sawyer through the bushes making her way to work (*SPOILER ALERT* while the trailer to the movie tries hint that there is the possibility of the stalker being a figment of Sawyer's imagination, he is in fact very real *SPOILER END*).

Visual similarities: The Matrix / Unsane

Being a large male myself, I often don’t think about the kinds of threats that Sawyer has to think about. What’s funny is that - due to unfortunate societal stereotypes – I may very well fit the description of someone that she may have to keep her guard up around. That sucks because I would never pose a threat to a woman but I don’t want to make this about me and the bullshit racist stereotypes that I have to deal with. This is about Unsane and the social commentary behind the harassment & assault on women.

Unsane sometimes comes off from a pandering/overly apologist (male) point of view to the point where I want to roll my eyes ever so slightly which is even dangerous to admit because I don't want people to think I'm rolling my eyes at the very real dangers women face on a day to day basis. I’m rolling eyes at how it was executed. Had I not known the intelligent Soderbergh directed this, I would have thought this was made by a young film student who would describe himself as “woke”. Unsane is absolutely for woke Indiewire readers and I find that a little disappointing because I think Soderbergh can do better than that.

It's difficult to discuss Unsane without bringing up Patrick Horvath & Dallas Hallam’s Entrance, which, in my opinion, is a much better version of what Unsane tried to be. Entrance is obviously not the first film to do what it did, but it is the first film in a long time to show the realistic horror that comes along with being stalked when you’re a woman. On the surface, one might not catch a lot of the comparisons between Entrance & Unsane so allow me to break it down...

The stalker's gaze in Entrance (top) & Unsane (bottom)

Both movies are shot from a male gaze both behind the camera (both films are directed by men) and in front of the camera (the majority of both films are shot from a threatening male gaze). Both films center around women who are unhappy in life outside of/in addition to their current stalker situations. The budgets to both films are modest (although not visible, obvious, or distracting) and they both rely on modern/digital technology.

men potentially invading personal space in Entrance (L) & Unsane (R)
men standing close in Entrance (L) & Unsane (R)
the antagonist attacking their victims in Entrance (L) & Unsane (R) in similar ways...

Now…I am not trying to say that Steven Soderbergh tried to plagiarize or copy Horvath & Hallam, but given Soderbergh’s insane movie consumption along with the type of lane that Entrance falls in, I find it hard to believe that Steven Soderebrgh didn’t see the 2012 horror film. Perhaps some unintentional residue was left in his subconscious.
If you watch a lot of movies, things are going to rub off even if you don’t intend them to. The sterile-yet-static world of working in an office cubicle seen at the beginning of Unsane is reminiscent of both Clockwatchers & season one of The Girlfriend Experience (two projects that Soderbergh has been attached to). Honestly, I almost feel like Unsane would have been better had it taken place inside of an office instead of a mental facility. If you scroll social media then I’m sure you’re aware of all the scientific studies that show how working in a sterile environment like an office (combined with a frustrating commute) can negativiley effect our psyche over time.

As a designer in the world of office furniture I must say that while cubicles may seem depressing & constricting (and they are), they are much better than these current open office solutions without any office cubicles or office panels. There’s this romanticized notion about how we shouldn't be closed in by tall office panels but they block out sound and do provide privacy. There’s no longer any sound absorption in the workplace and now you can hear every little thing which is enough to drive someone INsane. People think open/collaborative workspaces are the answer but in my personal opinion (the opinion of someone who draws office cubicles while sitting in one), I miss the privacy of office cubicles.
There’s your psychological horror right there. The horrors of working in an office. It would be a serious/scary flip on Office Space.

Entrance isn’t the only film that may have potentially influenced Unsane. There are unintentional nods to everything from One Flew Over The Cuckcoo’s Nest to all those psychological thrillers that came out in the early/mid-00’s (The Jacket, The Machinist, Fear X, etc).

paranoid schizophrenia in Seconds (l) & Unsane (r)

And speaking of residue from previous films, I wonder if Unsane is one of many films to follow Get Out's revitalization of the "social horror" genre (by social horror I mean horror films with an obvious social "message" behind them).

Soderbergh shot his latest project on an iPhone which seems to be what people care about more than anything else. At this point I don’t care what a movie is shot on. I’m kind of over the “one trick pony”/”gimmicky” films. You know what I mean; “this movie was made with a $100 budget” or “this movie only used non-professional actors” or “this movie was shot entirely in one room”. It’s as if by giving out that information in the promotion of the film that some type of leniency will be given because there were restrictions involved. While shooting a good/great film with various limitations can be impressive & commendable – I just care about if the movie is good or not. In this case I don’t think the film was good.

I guess the most positive aspect to come from Unsane (and Soderbergh’s recent filmography in general) are his female casting choices. I’m not sure if anyone notices this but his last few films feature a combination of veteran actresses who haven’t gotten much recent work alongside new up & coming actresses who may not have much of a “name” yet. True, Katie Holmes is a household name but Riley Keough (up & comer) & Hilary Swank (Veteran) shined in Logan Lucky. We see Sharon Stone star in Soderbergh's Mosaic. In Unsane, our two female leads are Claire Foy (Sawyer) & her mother played by veteran Amy Irving (I checked wikipedia and Amy Irving hadn’t acted in a film in almost a decade until Unsane while Hilary Swank hadn’t acted in anything in three years until Logan Lucky). I’m not sure if this is an intentional statement on Soderbergh’s part but I think we all know a lot of issues concerning gender equality have been brought to the forefront in recent years. I don’t know all the details but why doesnt a two-time academy award winning actress (Swank) show up in more films? Why is a veteran Depalma regular (Irving) barely working these days? This could very well be me making a potential fuss out of nothing but I do think it is worth mentioning.

Another positive thing to come from Unsane is that it makes me want to go deeper inside Soderbergh’s mind. He comes off as someone who gets easily bored yet needs to be creating all the time. If you’ve followed his career you know he’s experimented and tried different mediums, styles, cameras, etc since day one. He’s gone from movies to television and back to movies. When he isn’t writing or directing, his idea of fun is re-editing/remixing other people’s older films. I just wish he would control and sculpt all of that energy in to one solid project at a time instead of throwing stuff to the wall and seeing what sticks which seems to be what he's been doing for quite some time.


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