Saturday, December 30, 2023

BEST OF 2023...

Even though I no longer do my annual end of the year wrap-up, I still contribute my list/thoughts to both Wrong Reel & Toronto Film Review.

Click the image below to watch/listen to the newly formatted Wrong Reel podcast (make sure to subscribe) where some of the the unofficial "wrong reel all-stars" tackle 2023...

And click below to see the many different best-of -2023 lists rounded up by David Davidson of Toronto Film Review...

Wednesday, December 20, 2023


I normally don’t like when filmmakers poke fun at critics. Their “clap-backs” at negative criticism are either really juvenile or just not very witty. To be clear - I have no problem with a filmmaker defending themselves or even (momentarily) stooping to the level of an immature critic that crosses the line. Just be good with your response. Don't be flat or generic. If you’re going to take a swing at the low-hanging fruit - at least make sure that you knock it out of the park. Filmmakers rarely do this.
Quentin Dupieux’s latest short feature is an exception. I haven't been to excited about the 2023 movie year but Dupieux's Yannick sort of restored my faith. This story is an interesting case because Dupieux takes on the perspective of not only the entitled critic, but he also takes the side of the disgruntled artist as well. In the film we see an audience member (“Yannick”) kidnap a theater troop at gunpoint mid-performance because he’s displeased with their play. The basic story sounds simple enough but this film is very absurd (if you’re familiar with Dupieux’s films then you know he works in absurdity). Yannick is the product of The Exterminating Angel (a group of folks are trapped in one place and can’t leave) and The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (the majority of Yannick plays out like a particular moment in Bunuel’s classic)...
The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie / Yannick

Any time someone makes a movie that’s considered “weird” there’s usually an impulse to compare it to either David Lynch or Bunuel. In this case the Bunuel comparison is fair. It’s also not the first time Dupieux has referenced Bunuel in his work…

He[Buñuel]’s some kind of master to me - Quentin Dupieux,

Un Chien Andalou / Lamb's Anger

Men fascinated with women's shoes...
Viridiana / Reality

Quentin Dupieux takes on that brand of modern critic that trashes art because it isn’t immediately deemed a masterpiece or doesn’t speak to their specific needs. In the film, Yannick heckles the play and expresses his frustration early on in the performance and demands that the actors do something else (he eventually uses force).
If you’re on twitter, Facebook, letterboxd, tiktok, YouTube etc - then you’re familiar with that brand of movie “critic” that either tweets in the middle of a film to their followers or has their heavily edited video review ready to go minutes after walking out of the theater. When did you even have time to digest the film? Sometimes you read a letterboxd review and you can tell the person doesn’t even care about the movie they’re writing about. They just want to get a bunch of cheap (unfunny) jokes off.
There’s also that brand of critic that can only process a film through their own unique super personal life experiences and if they don’t see a character or scenario that relates directly to them, then the movie is considered a failure. I have yet to see a movie about a large Black, left-handed, kidney transplant recipient but I still manage to enjoy movies most of the time. I think more so-called marginalized critics might want to follow suit. You might appreciate movies a little more.

This is very much a "Marcus" movie so I guess it isn't for everyone. But with a running time of only 67minutes, I'd recommend anyone give this a shot. If you aren't familiar with the work of Quentin Dupieux, this is the perfect gateway.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023


I couldn’t not think of Persona when I first read Samy’s script, in the clear way that it’s such a unique example of a film that pairs these two women and where likenesses are being exchanged, or that one character is learning about the likeness of the other and trying to incorporate her into her process as an actor - Todd Haynes, Letterboxd
Persona / May December

I caught a handful of Persona-esque shots in Todd Haynes May December only to discover afterwards that it was intentional (click here to learn about Haynes' influences on his latest film). Normally, a filmmaker being influenced by one of Bergman's most recognizable films seems like low-hanging fruit but this is the first time Haynes has been so open about Bergman's influence (he usually draws from the likes of Chantal Akerman, Douglas Sirk, etc).

Below are all of the worthwhile references/similarities I caught (some super obvious and others not so obvious).

And in Persona, Liv Ullmann plays an actress who’s been stricken with stage fright and has stopped speaking. Bibi Andersson is a nurse and a caretaker, called in to look after her - Todd Haynes, Letterboxd

Persona / May December

That shot figures into the film Persona, but it’s not necessarily the shot you think of when we all think of Persona. The ultimate shot is where these two are almost playing as if they’re in a mirror, and their gaze turns to the lens of the camera. It’s like a dream - Todd Haynes, Letterboxd

Persona / May December

Persona did influence that scene directly - Todd Haynes, Letterboxd

Persona / May December

Persona / May December

Persona / May December

Persona / May December

Persona / May December

Persona / May December

Persona / May December

Friday, December 1, 2023


The Firm / Ape

Joel Potrykus’ films have the unique distinction of being 100% his own while still being incredibly reference-heavy. Last year we delved in to his many homages & references (click here & here to read more). A handful of comparisons got left on the cutting room floor so I decided to post them before the year is over.

Some of these are straight from the director’s mouth while others are total reaches on my own part. Either way, enjoy…

Don't forget to check out Potrykus' own video montage of references over on vimeo (click here)

I consider myself lucky to have been so moved by Jarmusch's early films, because I'd be living a disappointing existence if I were trying to copy Star Wars - Joel Potrykus, Criterion

Permanent Vacation / Ape

Permanent Vacation / Ape

Permanent Vacation / Buzzard

Permanent Vacation / Gordon

We thought, if this Richard Linklater guy living in Texas can do it, we can do it in Michigan. We filmed ourselves hanging out and talking about nothing - Joel Potrykus, Criterion 

Slacker / Buzzard

Slacker / Coyote

Gummo– this is great, I love it, I can make that movie - Joel Potrykus,

Gummo / Ape

I was still trying to emulate Sam Raimi. Raimi is a Michigan filmmaker, and he was the guy that first made me feel I could be a filmmaker - Joel Potrykus,

Evil Dead 2 / Buzzard

Last year we looked at a parallel between Ape and Cassavetes’ Killing Of A Chinese Bookie (click here to read). Hear are a few more…

As Cassavetes says ‘The face is the best landscape’ - Joel Potrykus, Bomb Magazine

The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie / Ape

The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie / Ape

Alan Clarke is one of my biggest influences, because his work feels more raw and real - Joel Potrykus, Bomb Magazine

Christine / Ape

Yeah, The Road Warrior. He's just eating that dog food out of the can. Ever since I was a little kid, I was like, "Wow, if the world goes to shit, you can find dog food or cat food and you'll be fine." I was always obsessed with that. Especially since in the first Mad Max, he's out in a field eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich or something like that. He's gone from the domestic bliss of peanut butter to the wasteland version of dog food out of the can. I loved that. - Joel Potrykus, avclub 

Mad Max 2 / Alchemist Cookbook

Mad Max 2 / Buzzard

Here are some more (non-confirmed) visual similarities that stuck out to me…

Mean Streets / Ape

A Clockwork Orange / Alchemist Cookbook


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