Wedding photographer John and bartender Levi discover supernatural phenomenon in Levi’s apartment and shoot a documentary about it. Maybe his closet is a gateway to another dimension. Finding symbols and coincidences in Los Angeles, like Silver Lake or Lodge 49, but this time it’s not just one conspiracy/coincidence, it’s ALL of them.

“Why did you play yourselves in the recreations?” Feels pandemicky, the writers/directors playing the lead roles, set in an apartment. As they start to mistrust each other, doc interviewees cast doubts on the histories and findings, and the movie we’re watching itself, speaking of visual effects tests to create the floating crystals and stuff. But it ends – in typical Benson/Moorhead fashion – with a possible callback to a previous film (someone falling inexplicably from a great height).

Weirder and more pathological than expected. Yes I’ve seen In Bruges, but that starts out in a violent context while this is about gentle island people in 1923. We get a hell of a character from Brendan Gleeson, who abruptly wants to be left alone to write fiddle tunes, showing he’s serious by psychotically mutilating himself until he can’t play anymore. We get a sick payoff to Barry Keoghan finding a stick with a hook (“What would you use it for, I wonder… to hook things that were the length of a stick away?”), the loss of a great donkey, a shitty cop, some terrible loneliness, and a nearby civil war nobody seems to comprehend.

Mostly set in Berlin. Lydia’s former protege Krista has killed herself and “grooming” accusations have been made, wife Sharon is leaving and taking their kid, new cellist Olga might live in a crumbling ghetto or be a ghost. This joins Nope as a movie less satisfying in the moment than thinking about afterwards (and I’ll bet Nope would be more fun to rewatch). Really enjoyed the Dan Kois article in Slate. Shout out to Caroline Shaw!

Fascinating alternate take on the Krafft legacy, with the same footage but a different focus from Fire of Love. That one’s story goes that their volcano research and publicity saved lives, while Herzog opens by saying they’ve been criticized for convincing others to move closer to the same eruption that caused their deaths. FoL tries to get inside their relationship, Herzog compliments the technical excellence of their filmmaking and photography while showcasing the destructive forces of nature. The Ernst Reijseger requiem music perhaps goes too big, but Herzog’s fourth(?) volcano movie is predictably great.

“There are radicalized Muslims in my living room.” Jean-Charles Clichet is a dumpy jogger who convinces a prostitute to sleep with him for free, and also delicately balances helping out a homeless kid with trying to get him arrested. Clichet’s secret power: he’s a Linux Guy. Not as warmhearted as Le Havre, but it’s another French movie about community circling around an immigrant visitor, feeling somewhat like a state-of-the-nation film – with wonderful and bizarre moments, as would be expected from the follow-up to Staying Vertical.

Vincent Lindon was in prison, his son Marcus is maybe in trouble, but Vincent doesn’t like to talk about personal matters ever. Juliette Binoche has somehow been with this short-tempered cipher for years, and now she starts getting weird about her ex Gregoire Colin, who offers Vincent a job. Also with Bulle Ogier as one of their moms and Mati Diop as a pharmacist, this should all be great based on cast and crew, but it feels unfinished, full of long vague conversations.

I didn’t mean to watch another crazy movie involving pedophilia so soon after The Scary of Sixty-First, but that’s what I get for not reading plot descriptions. It’s more of a twist ending in this movie, anyway. Jose Manuel is apparently helping out his sister whose daughter has been abducted, but really J.M. has helped abduct the girl and is now working on her twin sister. This is because he’s joined a minor UFO cult (half of whose members are named Raúl) whose leader asks for spiritual child sacrifices but is actually a child pornographer, illegal organ harvester, and probable murderer.

Made in Spain, played Locarno’s main section with Zeros and Ones and After Blue. It’s a likable, low-key absurdist movie with fun visual design and cool music, and you think you’re following a group of harmless kooks until the ending revelation. I take this as a critique on so-called harmless cults in general, that escape into conspiracy theory leads to ignorance of a darker reality. The Cinema Scope review isn’t online and I’ve misplaced half my issues in the move, damn, but in Cineuropa, Ibarra talks of working with nonprofessionals: “I look for that kind of natural spontaneity: I try to avoid them memorizing the text and have them read it only a few times … Nacho Fernández, the protagonist, is a guy from Alicante who works as a night watchman in a car park.”

A sorry follow-up to Shin Godzilla – the editing and camera angles all wacky, dialogue too overtalky. SG was talky too, but it felt like a developing story, while this is more a season of television condensed into a feature. Ultraman saves the day, disappears, turns evil, fights himself… the girl who likes him disappears, turns giant… undersea kaiju are joined by two different scheming extraterrestrials… despite all this, the movie and its kaiju-defense-team characters are mainly concerned with Kaminaga, the handsome guy who uses a wiimote to transform into Ultraman. Can’t say I wasn’t entertained, though.

Unlike in the Godzilla movie, the human team does nothing useful here:

Higuchi is a Hideaki Anno associate, who directed the Attack on Titan movies and did effects for the 1990’s Gamera series. Anno wrote this as the start of a trilogy, is also working on a Shin Kamen Rider, and I didn’t realize the Evangelion theatrical reboot is part of the Shin project. Kaminaga played the rival lawyer in Ace Attorney, his coworker/love interest starred in Before We Vanish and Our Little Sister, and the Drive My Car dude is their boss.

Just a couple of aliens on the swings:

There’s a literal glass onion, and the Mona Lisa, and a revolutionary new source of fuel, and they all explode at the end. Good 2-part structure (and 2-part Monae), nice how it starts over zoom chats then wriggles out of covid restrictions using movie-logic. Katy’s first time at Movieland.