Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma (2021, Topaz Jones & Rubberband)

Alphabet of sketches, like The ABCs of Death, but of Black culture in Montclair NJ. Each letter-sketch is a different approach, from wordless avant one-shots to interviews about reframing slavery, food apartheid, code switching, therapy or owning your own work, with home movies and music videos in between letter segments.

The Driver Is Red (2017, Randall Christopher)

Animated thriller about spy stuff in 1960 Argentina, self-drawing sketches upon papery background with unstable color, covered in faux film grain. Our narrator/hero has tracked and identified Adolf Eichmann, then takes the time to explain some details of the holocaust, in case we haven’t heard. Back to 1960, he calls in his mates and they successfully abduct the guy and bring him to trial, back when Isr**l had a sense of proportion.

A Short Story (2022, Bi Gan)

This whimsical fantasy AFX-composited sci-fi short incongruously proves that the director of An Elephant Sitting Still had a shot of helming a marvel movie. I guess a cat dresses as a scarecrow and visits three “weirdo” beings who might have some precious thing he can give a girl for her birthday.

The Rifleman (2021, Sierra Pettengill)

The guy who shot Ramon Casiano later became head of the NRA, mutating the group’s mission from hobbyist sports towards political lobbying. The Drive-By Truckers song is better than this movie (archival footage with strange music), but both are enlightening.

Rubber Coated Steel (2016, Lawrence Abu Hamdan)

An Isr**li bodyguard killed two kids in the W*st B*nk, and a forensic audio analyst (the director himself, if I didn’t misunderstand the credits) explains in court how it was done. Visual is a long take, roving around a shooting range, the mechanical target holders bringing forth pictoral representations of bullet sounds. For a movie about sound, the audio track is pretty useless – words from the trial are subtitled, including lines stricken from the official record, then the end credits are spoken.

Goodbye Jerome! (2022, Farr/Selnet/Sillard)

Jerome goes to heaven to find his true love, she breaks up with him, so he suicides and is rebuilt by ants. Really nice animation.

A found-footage film (oh no) but improved by the sci-fi aspect. Thomasina “Tom” and Martha “Mars” are happy with their time-television, dancing to David Bowie in 1940. Military agent Sebastian locates and joins them after they start broadcasting warnings about near-future nazi bombings, and inevitably one girl (Mars) falls for him. Some cute multiverse moments: they sing “You Really Got Me” and a ragtime version becomes the theme song and slogan of the war effort. But the girls aren’t great war strategists and botch a couple important things leading to (in order of increasing horror): the USA dropping support for Britain, the nazis winning the war, and erasure of David Bowie’s career. No longer trusted by anyone, the back half of the movie is all running around spy/escape scenes. Mars shooting nazis while hanging from a noose isn’t the movie’s strong suit, the early cross-timeline TV stuff is. Finally they leave messages from their alt-present to their unspoiled past selves and manage to undo the damage.

Tom (the serious, dark-haired sister, whose large eyes get put to good use) is also in a netflix fantasy show, Mars in that horrorish movie Make Up, and Seb in that movie about the Bronte sisters.

Minimal story, all vibes – and they’re mid-90’s post-Pulp Fiction hitman-in-sunglasses fisheye-lens trip-hop vibes. Stories spun off from Chungking: crazy dude Takeshi Kaneshiro meets crazy chick Charlie Yeung (a Tsui Hark regular), and hitman Leon Lai (A Hero Never Dies) wants to quit the business so his lovestruck partner Michelle Reis (Flowers of Shanghai) sends him on a fatal job. Stephen Chow costar Karen Mok shows up in both sections as man-thieving Blondie.

Two decades into the Blog Era and probably a decade since Katy turned a Fallen Angels poster-turned-giftwrapped-box into a permanent decoration in our house, I’m finally rewatching this (in the re-colored, re-framed Criterion edition). Sadly for my loyal fans I got nothing in the way of analysis or screenshots today, just happy I got around to it before the 20+ hour Blossoms Shanghai comes out in English.

My first time rewatching since becoming a Paul WS Anderson convert from the Resident Evil series and Monster Hunter. Funny to learn that the studio cut a half-hour of footage, then tried to restore it for the DVD release but couldn’t find it. Also very nice to see Sam Neill going mad in space so soon after I rewatched In the Mouth of Madness.

Before the hellship Solaris-es Neill into blinding himself and murdering the crew, he was the ship’s designer, brought along on a rescue mission by Captain Laurence Fishburne. Their fellow astronauts have all done other sci-fi/horror work: Quinlan in the Joe Dante segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, Richardson as the mom of Color Out of Space, Jones in the bad 2014 Godzilla, Noseworthy in Bruce Willis virtual thriller Surrogates, Pertwee in Doomsday and Dog Soldiers, and Isaacs in A Cure for Wellness and Don’t.

I guess after luring women onto her pirate ship, X kills them one by one with her artificial hand-knife.

Notes I sent to TB:
– Call chinese orlando, stop.
– “Ottinger” must mean “one-take” in German
– I feel like Bertrand Mandico has watched this movie more than once.
– This fits in nicely with the avant-garde traditions, in that some things (color, music, costumes, visual concept, counterculture vibes) are really good, and others (pacing, sound sync, pacing, mst3k-ass acting, pacing) are unbearable.
– But is the pacing unbearable because we are brainwashed by commercial cinema… would I rather be watching Mission: Impossible 5 because that’s the style of movie the capitalist system taught me to enjoy… I dunno, it’s worth questioning, but when I break free from hollywood pacing I like to break really decisively free (ahem Stray Dogs), while this feels more like a really slow John Waters movie. Fails to cast a spell, and if you only pay half attention it dissipates entirely.
– Feminism, tho. I guess.
– And a macaw if you make it to the end

After reading Beatrice Loayza’s essay for the new box set, I had to watch an Akerman movie. But I cannot tolerate silence in a home screening, so, per the artist’s original intent, I made a playlist with Colleen then Titan to Tachyons then Tomeka Reid Quartet.

Static camera, hanging around in the hotel lobby and hallways and especially elevators, even getting into a couple rooms. Then back to the hallways… long static takes of hallways. Then movement! Dolly up a hallway, looking out the window at NYC, impressive jump cut from night to day, back up and down the hallway. Movie ends on the roof, slow rotation looking out at the city, the movement reminding of La Chambre. Akerman had moved to NYC and made these films with DP Babette Mangolte, both artists influenced by Michael Snow, then Mangolte shot Snow’s Rameau’s Nephew the following year.

Franz breaks up his marriage to Ben because he’s fallen for Adele. Ben starts going with Erwan, Franz wants to get to get Ben back while keeping Adele. Everyone gets sick of Franz’s shit and he ends up alone. A typical love triangle story, only set apart by the unusually hot leads and strong use of Franz’s nude thrusting ass and his ridiculous wardrobe.

The only screenshot I took was the music credits… which song was I looking for? Brendanowicz says it’s “the best designed/lit/composed/colored film I’ve seen all year, but I didn’t find it very interesting,” so maybe Laura Citarella should write a movie for Ira Sachs to shoot.

AMC Theaters 1200 AD (2023, Damon Packard)

Heavily AI-assisted parody of the Nicole Kidman AMC ads, a grudgingly multiplex-supporting voiceover with face-melting visuals.

The Man Who Couldn’t Miss Screenings (2023, Damon Packard)

Both better and worse than AMC Theaters. It’s mainly a slo-mo “Comfortably Numb” music video, toggling between a laptop dude arguing with his angry wife about the importance of screenings and a a street scene where an electric car has burst into flames, with an Albert Pyun tribute postscript. For me, who has not overdosed on 2023 AI imagery, the mutant characters and text, everything looking like a botched render, it’s all aesthetically interesting.

Pool Sharks (1915, Edwin Middleton)

Two absurd men fight at a picnic, Proto-WC-Fields vs Checkered Suit Guy, leading to a game of stop-motion pool. Checkered Suit Guy might’ve been Billy West sideman Bud Ross.

The Golf Specialist (1930, Monte Brice)

A house detective’s hotwife flirts with every guy then her husband beats them up. She goes to watch WCF golf – he never hits the ball, being upstaged by his idiot caddy. WCF with his worst mustache yet, thriving from here out in the sound era, drawing laughs by being mean to children and dogs. Hotwife Shirley Grey went on to costar with Lugosi in Hammer’s first horror film, The Mystery of the Mary Celeste.

The Barber Shop (1933, Arthur Ripley)

Fields in his element, muttering comic insults at people. He encourages his pun-loving young son, and collects two upright basses as setup for some late prop humor. A wanted bank robber (Cocoanuts flimflam man Cyril Ring) comes in to crank up the drama, not that we needed suspense when we’re getting lines like “I belong to the bare-hand wolf-chokers association.”

The Pharmacist (1933, Arthur Ripley)

Sound is awful on this one, and rude things are done to a cockatoo. Another crime story / police chase into the shop, whole place gets shot up. Unsatisfying ending involving the daughter’s boyfriend. Maybe I watched one too many of these in a row. Daughter’s boyfriend Grady Sutton is maybe the only person to appear in both My Man Godfrey and Rock & Roll High School, the daughter would go on to play “Saloon Floozie” in a Marlene Dietrich movie.

Will Sloan in Screen Slate:

As with the Marx Brothers, Fields’s work enjoyed a revival in the ‘60s and ‘70s among college kids who took him as an anti-authoritarian hero. He has been less visible in recent years, but he would have been well known to the writers of shows like Saturday Night Live, SCTV, Late Night with David Letterman, and The Simpsons in their most important years. If his contemporary presence is indirect, it is still prevalent.

Also watched in January: