Grandma Joan remembers performing in a TV special back in her choir days, and meeting Don, who wanted to marry her back then, when she was already engaged. Joan wonders if Audrey can find the TV recording. She doesn’t ask if Audrey can find Don, but she does that too.

Writing and reading letters, phone calls, google searches… ill-lit video with humming appliances. Half the movie is these three characters eating alone. Catching up on my Bohdanowicz & Campbell, since MS Slavic 7 is out now.

I think I sorta remember watching this. Anyway I gave it 2 1/2 stars on letterboxd, which feels right, in between four-star stan Ehrlich and 1.5-star stan-hater Kenny.

Post-2007-financial-crash, Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) returns to her strip club job to find that old friend Jennifer Lopez has a new scam, drugging rich guys and charging huge tabs on their cards, with buddies Lili Reinhart (the latest Charlie’s Angels) and Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee). This is recounted in the form of interviews with reporter Julia Stiles (lately of It’s a Disaster, which I recently read would be a good quarantine movie).

The MFG pays the bills, does all the cooking and cleaning for her mom and stepdad, but they still kick her out when she gets knocked up by hateful Aarne. Then she buys some rat poison and takes care of her tormentors. For such an unrelentingly dark premise, the movie itself is very fun, with good music of course (accordion and surf guitar).

AK’s 7th feature… played Berlin in some sidebar I don’t understand, same year as Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and The Asthenic Syndrome. Opened in the USA belatedly, where it had the misfortune to be up against Raise The Red Lantern in the critics’ awards. MFG Kati Outinen has been in everything, was the sick wife in Le Havre, costarred with her mom again in Drifting Clouds. Her brother is a Leningrad Cowboy, and her dad is Polonius.

Her brother’s apartment is sweet:

The first twenty minutes of this alternates documentary segments about a shipyard with scenes about murder hornets, then in a reference to the last very long movie I watched this year, the film director runs away (“because I’m stupid and abstraction gives me vertigo”). I remember reading that this project was full of criticisms of Portugal’s economic policies, and that it’s divided into three movies in order to get triple the funding. It has its moments (the rooster legal drama, love triangle portrayed by kids and told through text messages, a naked slap party, a tribute to Ghost Dog, some very good birds), but it’s less fun than the Pasolini – there’s one movie’s worth of stories here stretched over six hours.

The film crew, in trouble:

Rooster on trial for crowing too early:

Text Triangle:

No-Bowels, a woman murderer who becomes a local hero for fooling the cops:

Outdoor trial is crashed by a genie:

The dog Dixie sees its shadow-self:

Pretty finches:

It [was] Cannes Month… but after Bacurau I got distracted and thought I might watch the Miguel Gomes epic Arabian Nights… but first, since I’ve seen the other two features in my Pasolini “Trilogy of Life” boxed set, I guess I’ll watch his Arabian Nights. It turns out both the Pasolini and the Gomes played Cannes, so Cannes Month continues!

Zumurrud is a slave allowed to choose her own master – she chooses poor boy Nureddin, gives him the money to buy her and rent a house, but the boy immediately disobeys her and they spend the rest of the movie having adventures trying to reunite.

N, realizing he got lucky:

Z, king of the realm:

Some of those adventures: an older couple bring home a teenage boy and girl, for a bet, and watch as each kid fucks the other while they sleep. A Christian kidnaps Z and has her whipped, but she escapes and comes upon a city that makes her king, then she orders her tormentors crucified. N is kidnapped and fucked by nuns, is later told a story about Chaplin guy Ninetto Davoli who’s supposed to marry a lovely girl but falls for Crazy Budur who kidnap-marries him. A prince finds a girl locked up by a demon underneath the town and loses his shoes fucking her. A girl turns herself to fire, a prince shoots a statue, N encounters a lion in the desert, and so on.

It’s easily the best of the three, despite greenscreen effects as poor as the dubbing and losing a star for killing a pigeon onscreen. Or maybe my expectations had been lowered enough, and I knew what to expect, focusing on the authentic ancient settings and landscapes as much as the silly-ass sex comedy.

Cool sights, unrelated to the plot:

The Devil is Franco Citti, who was in all three movies along with Chaplin Guy – and they were in a fourth Pasolini-written anthology sex comedy at the same time: Bawdy Tales, directed by Canterbury/Decameron assistant director Sergio Citti. Nureddin is Franco Merli, his career launched by this movie, then ruined the next year by starring in Salo. Zumurrud is Ines Pellegrini, who also went on to Salo, but worked through the 70’s, mostly last-billed. And Crazy Budur is Claudia Rocchi, later of Yor, the Hunter from the Future.

Opens with a woman returning to town to a mixed welcome just in time for a funeral featuring some light hostility – but you can tell from the Star Wars scene wipes that this is picking up where Aquarius left off, and is gonna be a good time. Not TOO good of a time – I was disappointed when the flying saucer a half-hour in just turned out to be a drone… but the drone turned out to be operated by a group of American hunters descending on Bacurau because the mayor has sold out the townspeople as wild game.

The town pulls together pretty quickly, unlike the hunters, who turn on each other whenever things go wrong. You’d think the mayor would know this, but Bacurau features at least two notorious killers, a history of violent revolution, a museum full of vintage defensive weapons, and (I’m not sure how this is related) a love for psychedelic drugs.

When two hunters pause mid-action to fuck, I’m pretty sure it’s a Cannibal Holocaust reference. Movie’s logic has an Udo Kier-shaped hole in it. After insisting that he’s more American than the Americans, he acts like they’re going on a rescue mission for the missing advance couple, then shoots one of his own guys after taking random potshots at main street, then almost kills himself, then whines like a baby at the town mayor, then says something like “we’ve killed more people than you know”, but his group was acting like they just met for this mission, then some “you haven’t heard the last of us” line as he’s being buried alive under the city. Wonder if they didn’t give him a script, and just let him make any decision he chose. I’ve been bummed out lately by some overwritten movies with predictable story arcs, so I’m not sure this is a complaint. Cinema Scope on the movie’s weirdness, not specifically on Udo Kier:

If Bacurau is a genre film, it’s one whose tension relies most on the fact that genre can no longer be relied upon. The unpredictability of these genre shifts is only amplified by the same reversals in tone or perspective already discernible from the beginning, which become increasingly jarring as the film progresses, producing an off-kilter, anything-goes atmosphere that is still careful to stop just short of the incoherent or the arbitrary.

The town doctor is Sônia Braga, lead of Aquarius, and the woman returning to town in the beginning was also in Aquarius playing Sônia’s character in flashbacks. The hunter who gets shot by Udo for calling him a nazi was in Support the Girls. Udo Kier is of course best known for Puppet Master 12: The Littlest Reich.

I hadn’t seen this since opening weekend, almost thirty years ago. I don’t recall it being good, and it has a poor reputation, but now I’m a seasoned auteurist cinephile with the keen ability to recognize David Fincher’s brilliant work within this studio disaster… oh ha, no I’m not, if anything the flaws were more apparent than ever.

Great opening, showing brief flashes of alien chaos aboard the ship full of sleeping soldiers, intercut with the quiet opening titles. The escape ship from part 2 crash lands on a prison mining planet, where Ripley washes up onshore burned and maggoty while the other cast is killed off via text on a computer screen. I try not to knock myself out keeping track of characters and personalities in these movies until half of them have died off – it was pretty doable in the last movie, gonna be harder here with this bunch of shaved-head barcoded space monkeys. Let’s start with Roc, the only actor I recognize (besides Pete Postlethwaite in a minor role), a sort of unionist preacher who doesn’t want women on his planet.

Ripley and Roc:

In this case I got what I deserved by watching the extended cut – it’s baggy and talky. So much of the movie is people floridly trying to avoid telling each other important things. Charles Dance (of Space Truckers, appropriately) is the soft-voiced medical officer. One of the other officials and also the scar-eyed psycho who teams up with the aliens against humanity are played by Withnail & I actors – lots of British accents in space jail. I forgot the scene where Ripley med-scans herself, proof that there were no new ideas in the prequels.

Spoiler alert:

It’s almost a really well-made movie, full of no-name actors who turned out to be really good at their roles, but it’s got some fundamental problems that good acting couldn’t overcome. It opens by squandering the goodwill of the second movie by killing off Newt and the others… it’s no fun for long stretches, and the last half hour is all aliens running full-tilt down long corridors, which is a visual effect they couldn’t manage. They followed up a great James Cameron movie with a film whose climax involves liquid metal… and the studio couldn’t pull off the effects… the year after Cameron’s Terminator 2 came out. They must have been so embarrassed.

Hundreds of years in the future, video cameras will look like this again:

In these uncertain times, sometimes I wanna watch some action movies I remember from cable TV. Rewatched the first movie (and Prometheus) five years ago, so it’s time to move this nostalgia trip along. It’s fine that the theatrical version still exists, for historical reference, but the auto-guns are neato, and more Aliens is a good thing, so I’m sticking with the extended cut.

da whole crew:

After drifting in cryo for fifty-some years, Ripley has outlived her daughter, as well as all the colonist families on the planet where she landed last movie. The company thinks she’s lying about the aliens, fires her, then wants to send her back as an advisor, along with droid Lance Henriksen (she doesn’t trust those things anymore, after last time) and a short-haired lieutenant who says he can guarantee her safety (didn’t catch his name, I think he died immediately).

Lots of science-nonsense and military-nonsense in the dialogue for the first hour, but the 80’s movie version of future-tech (which is supposed to be fifty-some years more advanced than the 70’s movie’s version of future-tech) feels so convincing that you have to keep reminding yourself that none of this stuff exists. They discover lone survivor Newt, lose some guys, bossman Paul Reiser starts to undermine their mission, calling the aliens “an important species” and saying “there’s a dollar amount attached.” By now, Lincoln NE’s own Michael Biehn (also of Terminator and Abyss) has taken charge of the soldiers, and seems competent. But it’s Weaver who takes the movie to new levels of badassery – I forgot the scene at the end where she duct tapes a machine gun to a flamethrower.

Strangely Ordinary This Devotion (2017)

Stones in someone’s mouth, stones on someone’s back, then without warning, HEAD SURGERY.

Graphic sex, flossing, more stones, vomiting blood, reading an interview with Cosey from Throbbing Gristle, references to children born without the need for water, movie clips taped off the TV. All starring Sheila and Dani and a kid

Higher amount of blood-red than in an Argento film. Not the highest caliber camerawork, but the description includes the term “the domestic as site of radicality,” so it’s academic art. Words are subtitled and sometimes unspoken. Usually camera sound but sometimes for good measure there’s your avant-noise-drone, once it’s kung-fu sfx, and once a deafening Prince song. Filmed in four states, apparently.

In the great Cinema Scope story that got me watching this in the first place, Michael Sicinski points out Leventhal’s “assertive editing matrices driven by colour, gesture, and shape.”

Wilson: “I was wondering what it is to be devoted to a practice at the same time that you’re devoted to a child, while you’re also devoted to being a lover …”

“I like making the argument that we could refuse to accept the domestic as a place of stasis and instead make it unknowable or unpredictable at least. While also recognizing that it has to be functional, and Rose has to get to school on time”


Fisted (2017)

The visuals of this play like SOTD outtakes (with far less blood, but still some). The sound design is much more enjoyable than the longer piece, music and loops with fun stereo panning, the closing sounds the same as the opening so this could play as a loop – ah yes, it was an installation piece.


Hearts Are Trump Again (2010, Dani Leventhal)

Card game, spider web, accordion, hair, pigeons, harvesting chard.
Dani behind the camera, talking with a German woman waiting for her sperm donor