The opener was… Nerenai? That’s what I wrote down, though it’s not listed on the fest schedule… two women with two guitars, mic and drum machine.

You Can’t Stop Spirit (Vashni Korin)
Portrait of the Mardi Gras “Baby Dolls” shot like a Beyoncé video with dialogue loops and callbacks, fun. This came to mind again during the Big Ears festivities.

In Flow of Words (Eliane Esther Bots)
My fave of the bunch, though I remember it the least well now. Widescreen stories of translators who work on genocide trials.

The Last Days of August (Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck)
I knew the Killing of Two Lovers guy was going to be in this program, and recognized his style from the first frame… portrait of dying Nebraskan towns.

Our Ark (Deniz Tortum & Kathryn Hamilton)
3D models and simulationism. Our second Deniz collaborative short.

Nuisance Bear (Jack Weisman & Gabriela Osio Vanden)
Katy gave this a thumbs-down. Widescreen gliding camera discovers creatures on the outskirts of Canadian towns: snow rabbit, dogs, foxes, and the bears, who are caged and deported when they dare to involve themselves in the human civilization that has encroached on their territory and now comes out to gape at them as they migrate.

We showed up for the feature Dos Estaciones (Juan Pablo González), a re-enactment about an extremely buttoned-up woman running a failing tequila factory, but we ditched to get food and rest – it’s a lot of movies to watch over a long weekend.

Newly unemployed, middle-aged Nebraskans (!) take a rejuvenating vacation at the same time a would-be supervillain plans to destroy Vista Del Mar as revenge for a childhood humiliation. Barb and Star take turns seducing the villain’s henchman Jamie Dornan and end up saving the town. Probably more than half the jokes hit (Damon Wayans Jr.’s self-defeating spy was in the other half), so we had fun. I would tentatively agree to watch Barb and Star go on further adventures, or maybe just Bridesmaids, also created by Mumolo and Wiig.

The Coyote Shorts Program:

Department of Injustice (Travis Wood & Chloe Gbai)

Didactic anti-racist dialogue in an ironic-jokey automated phone tree framework. Looks like street and news photography mapped into a 3D gaming engine, which is neat at least.


Spirits and Rocks: An Azorean Myth (Aylin Gökmen)

Opens with b/w volcanic rock photography, so a good pairing with last night’s Rock Bottom Riser. The stock footage scenes announce themselves when the widescreen frame goes square. Smoke and trees and rock, textures and landscapes, really great looking.


VO (Nicolas Gourault)

Former Uber self-driving test riders tell all, circling around an accident that killed a bicyclist in Arizona while the human operator was watching TV episodes on a cellphone instead of looking at the road. Along with news footage and camera views inside and outside the car, we get repeated radar-view driving scenes, what the car “sees” of its environment.


Maat Means Land (Fox Maxy)

Takes the game-engine mashups of the first short to the next level… also this and the second short featured lizards, and there has been a theme of image manipulation – overall a well assembled shorts program. This film has everything at once, too many to start listing, all kinds of distorted music and styles and presentations, returning to scenes involving indigenous people and land. A sign about killing the colonizer in your head cuts straight to Tupac, extremely reminiscent of the latest Adam Curtis.


The Truth About Hastings (Dan Schneidkraut)

And finally the Adam Curtis connection brings us to a Nebraska-set numerology-obsessed conspiracy-theory voiceover over shots of a conference-room family gathering full of meats and Husker games, the picture gradually shimmering and smearing to reveal the alien intelligence underneath. “A Runza restaurant exactly nine minutes away – think about it.”


Plus some non-Coyote shorts we watched over the course of the week…

The I and S of Lives (Kevin Jerome Everson)

Simply a guy rollerskating around the Lives in DC’s Black Lives Matter Plaza… Sicinski compares Everson’s films to Lumiere actualités, I dunno, I find them especially pleasant to watch and hope they become regular, comforting presences in T/F programs. I’m even leaning towards checking out Park Lanes, or at least the shorter Tonsler Park.


Brontosaurus (Jack Dunphy)

This guy’s name kept coming up – I think he was in the online game show with the Beasts of the Southern Wild director and an especially good MC, and this made us decide to check out his film. I was pretty sure I’d remember an eight-minute short i watched late at night (which somehow offended Katy so we watched the Everson afterwards as a palate cleanser) but now it’s a month later and I’m afraid I do not… the only letterboxd review just says “Raw,” which is no help. I can see I rated it 3.5 stars, that ain’t bad!


Homage to the Work of Philip Henry Gosse (Pablo Martín Weber)

Another forgotten short, but apparently well loved and referenced in my All Light, Everywhere notes. Fossils vs. creationism, artificial images and Syrian war.


O Arrais do Mar (Elisa Celda)

The one where we could barely see anything happening, filmed late at night on a Portuguese beach. Some fishing was involved, some hanging out – a long and sleepy movie.

Extremely sharply written movie, maybe his best of the three I’ve seen. 75 minutes of watching Kaley Wheless looking disappointed apparently doesn’t get old, since a few nights later, looking for something to play while falling asleep, I watched the first half of this again. Follows all the steps (labeled: trial, incarceration, probation, etc) after substitute teacher Frances gets caught sleeping with her hot dumb student in North Platte, NE.

Stupid Matt Damon has money problems (you can tell because he stays up late at a cluttered desk frowning at an adding machine) so he decides to get small. His wife Kristen Wiig decides against the idea at the last minute, then he loses his palacial house in the divorce, moves into an apartment below hard-partying Christoph Waltz whose housecleaner is Vietnamese dissident Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau of Treme, Inherent Vice). These three hitch a ride with Udo Kier to the original small colony led by Dr. Rolf Lassgård (A Man Called Ove), which is retreating into a mountain to wait out the impending human-caused global catastrophes. Stupid Matt Damon decides to go with them, then decides not to, then convinces Ngoc Lan he’s in love with her.

Katy says it’s like they asked each actor what they’d like to play (“a sea captain!” “a hard-partying smuggler” “a one-legged humanitarian”) then wrote a script around it. It tries to be a bunch of things at once, not so successfully, and there are awkward and obvious bits, but I appreciate the ambition, and Christoph Waltz looks like he’s having the best time. Second movie we watched theatrically in a row to feature Laura Dern.

I’d planned to fill this out post-SHOCKtober with some Netflix originals or Star Wars spinoff sequels but never got around to it, so this is a short one.


1922 (2017, Zak Hilditch)

New movies of Stephen King’s It and The Dark Tower and Gerald’s Game came out this year, and if it was 1993 I would be so excited. Two new Kings went straight to streaming, so I’m starting with the one I’ve never heard of. Slingblader Thomas Jane (The Mist, The Punisher, The Predator) is trying to unload some land on Neal McDonough (Minority Report, Ravenous), who is complaining that their children have died, says the land is cursed. Then Jane shoots his dying horse and the voiceover tells us “that was the end of 1922,” but not of 1922, since there’s an epilogue where Jane loses the farm, drinks heavily and is haunted by rats. “I went to Omaha, city of fools,” then in the final seconds the ghosts of his dead family arrive to murder him. Zak is following up two apocalyptic movies in a row: a short and a last-day-on-earth redemption drama.


Gerald’s Game (2017, Mike Flanagan)

Carla Gugino (Watchmen, the Spy Kids trilogy) is out of bed and driving under a red eclipse sky, being haunted by Moonlight Man, (Carel “it is happening again” Struycken) then slams into a tree. I remember about a quarter of this book, but don’t recall the ending at all. Months later she’s had surgery to fix the hand she messed up while escaping, and she gives a long, terribly explainy voiceover telling us Moonlight Man was a real person and not a supernatural dream figure, then she busts into the courtroom where he’s being sentenced to deliver a pithy kissoff line. Flanagan also made Hush, which I watched the last ten minutes of earlier this year.


Children of the Corn (1984, Fritz Kiersch)

“I think we’re safe in here for now,” says a man in a dilapidated barn being battered by a supernatural evil. Holy shit, Linda Hamilton plays the mom. The man enunciates very clearly, which is handy when shouting orders at your family while under attack by He Who Walks Behind The Rows. He runs outside like an idiot and gets attacked by sentient corn, then a fake-looking red cloud rolls in as he sprinklers the corn field with gasoline and lights that sucka up. Mostly it’s members of an overly large family shouting each other’s names, which is consistent with my experience of living in Nebraska. Our man Peter Horton worked on Amazon Women on the Moon, which I was just thinking about, and the local kid who helps him start fires was one of the Monster Squad. Sadly, I didn’t see the main kid with the big black hat, but there was a jump-scare scythe-girl in the final scene, at least. Kiersch went on to greater successes, directing an Armand Assante film and a couple episodes of Swamp Thing.


The Reaping (2007, Stephen Hopkins)

Yesss, a Christian-apocalypse thriller. Lincoln, Nebraska’s own Hilary Swank is about to re-murder her resurrected daughter in a field of burning trees while having major culty flashbacks. Bleeding white guy David Morrissey (The Walking Dead, Red Riding) shows up, is revealed to have killed Idris Elba, then 200 people are destroyed by God in a hail of videogame fire effects. This movie actually seems better than the previous two. Swank realizes she might be pregnant with the antichrist, then cut to credits, nice.

I’ve already given up on the ratings system I established in the previous entry. Just can’t start giving number ratings to movies on the blog. I have another, less specific idea, that I’ll unveil soon.


The Color of Noise (2015, Eric Robel)

Been listening to Boss Hog and Melvins lately, so here I am checking out another record label doc right after hating the K Records one. This is two hours on Amphetamine Reptile Records and its founder Tom Hazelmyer, which sounded like it’d be punishing, so I planned to watch it in pieces. But it turned out to be everything I’ve been looking for in a rock doc, full of great music and stories, giving valuable info on AmRep bands I’ve never listened to (and making me wish used CD stores still existed so I could go on a shopping spree). And it’s great looking – slickly designed, with a ton of great visual material (oh, those posters!) from the defunct label’s history. Watched on streaming then immediately bought the blu-ray to check out extra features. This is the movie I’ll be recommending as the apex rock doc. Bonus: the director is from Nebraska.

The guy from God Bullies, I think:

Boss Hog:

Hazelmyer:


Sabbath In Paradise (1998, Claudia Heuermann)

I guess I’ve given rock docs a bad rap, because this was great also. Another John Zorn-and-gang doc, talking about their unique methods of making Jewish music. Got me thinking about how many of the musicians I love the most – Robbie Fulks, Ted Leo, Yo La Tengo, lately Zorn – are enthusiastic, omnivorous music fans themselves, curating specific music histories through their own performances (and references, collaborators, cover songs), but this thought feels like it requires a book-length exploration, so I’ll stop there.

This guy sits in a movie theater, reading from a holy book as if to narrate the action.


Shield Around The K (2000, Heather Rose Dominic)

Pretty amateur-looking… for a while I pretended that this was on purpose, intended to be charmingly lo-fi-looking to match the spirit of the music, but nah. Not as informative as I’d hoped either, spending the entire first hour discussing the origins and career of flagship band Beat Happening, which I’ve already covered in Our Band Could Be Your Life and the Crashing Through box set.

Halo Benders are seen but not mentioned. Dub Narcotic and the Disco Plate series: not mentioned. Cassette culture is covered, but there’s little about the twee-pop vs. riot-grrl mini-scenes. I look at a list of K artists and wonder who ARE these groups… and there are an interesting few that I’ve heard (The Make-Up, Microphones, Lync, that one Beck album) which seem to have little in common, so I was hoping for some kinda artistic overview of the roster, but maybe that’s not possible in 90 minutes. At least we got significant attention paid to the great Mecca Normal.

Mecca Normal:

Lois:

Musically decent, with some good concert footage and songs (usually music videos) played all the way through.

IMDB says the director played a crackhead in Schrader’s Light Sleeper.


Jammin’ the Blues (1944, Gjon Mili)

“This… is a jam session.”
Beautifully lit, with singer Marie Bryant.
Oscar-nominated, but a comedy short about talking animals took the prize.


JATP (1950, Gjon Mili)

This appears to be the movie called Improvisation on imdb. Lackadaisically spoken cast credits come five minutes in. Overall tinnier, compressed-sounding audio on my copy, and far less slickly produced than the 1944 short. On the other hand, this one I’d actually believe is a documentary of a jam session, simply recorded, gradually adding more players until Ella Fitzgerald caps it off. Not being a jazz follower I’m not getting the chills from seeing all these big names in person – Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Buddy Rich – just a pleasant 15 minutes of music.


Burn to Shine – Atlanta, GA – 7.29.2007

I remember reading in Stomp & Stammer that this was being filmed, and have been waiting the past decade to finally see it. A very nice time capsule of the Atlanta rock scene, from approx. the year I was paying the most attention, taping local bands and buying all their 7″ singles.

The Selmanaires:

Delia Gartrell:

Coathangers:


Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane – Santiago, Chile 2011

I love how sometimes, when Mike smiles, you can tell that he’s the devil.
Had to re-sync the audio a few times, but otherwise this show is the greatest.


Deerhunter at Coachella 2016


Tortoise at Primavera Sound 2016


Wolf Parade at Best Kept Secret Fest 2016


Animal Collective on KCRW 2016