My first Plazadrome movie! Very sorry that it’s taken so long, but this was fun. Apparently a teen-energy youth-in-revolt movie where striking-looking high-energy kids take the city by storm, but it’s got more serious problems on its mind and finally everyone ends up dead or missing. I only knew Fruit Chan from Dumplings, though we considered a screening of Three Husbands while we were visiting HK.

It was instructive to watch a perfect 35mm print of a 1970’s movie at the Plaza the night after watching a 4k DCP restoration of a 1980’s movie from the same seat. The 35mm cost more to attend, since screenings are increasingly rare – this is probably my first time seeing a movie on film since The Grand Bizarre 3.5 years ago. I forget who it was who said digital projection is just watching television in public but… I couldn’t really tell the difference?

I remembered the very end of this – Hackman playing sax in his ruined apartment after failing to discover how he’s being surveilled – but not most of the rest, and especially not that his secretive rich client Robert Duvall is the one who gets murdered in the hotel – presumably by the client’s wife and bf whom Hackman’s group was recording in the park at the beginning.

Hackman’s character is especially memorable here – he’s catholic, lives by a strict code, appears to be a master of his craft, but keeps taking jobs that end in murders, getting tricked and betrayed and spied on. Nice spy-movie construction too – we never learn everything, like what the Director’s assistant Harrison Ford was up to. If this was influenced by Blowup, then Blow Out is kinda a remake of both movies.

Another great performance/film/discussion by Glover (he calls it “Vaudeville Distribution”), who is indeed weird, but also seems smart and dedicated to art in ways that very few commercially-recognized filmmakers are. And he’s not really a commercially-recognized filmmaker but a commercially-recognized actor who makes movies outside the system. Thankfully with his second feature he seems more comfortable with his position. What Is It? and its ensuing discussion focused so hard on breaking free from the commercial system, on purposely causing a disturbance, that sometimes Glover came across as one of those condescending IMDB reviewers commenting on black-and-white movies, “if you’re the type of brainwashed consumer who thinks the Transformers movies are pretty good, then you’ll have no use for this slow-moving masterpiece.”

This time Glover is celebrating his position as outsider artist by adapting a screenplay by Steven C. Stewart, who appeared incidentally in the previous film, and lived (Stewart died before the film’s completion) with severe cerebral palsy. Stewart wrote the screenplay as a dark sexual fantasy for himself to play lead. In a way, the content is worse than some of the commercial crap Glover considers himself above: a thriller in which a guy sleeps with and murders a string of beautiful women, complete with an “it was all a dream” ending. But since Stewart is the lead actor, speaking lines that are completely unintelligible to most audience members but perfectly understood by the women in the film, it brings new levels to the typically misogynistic murder-sex story – because here’s a guy with a lifetime of real frustration (Glover explains that Stewart, an intelligent guy who struggled his whole life to be understood, was locked up in a hospital and treated like an idiot/inmate for years), not just a hack screenwriter getting revenge on a college ex-girlfriend by murdering her repeatedly in his movies.

Stewart’s character is in an institution (filmed, painfully/coincidentally, in the same place where he’d been imprisoned), falls and smacks his head. Later, a lovely woman picks him up, takes him out a few times. Their relationship is evolving, he has stood up (so to speak) to her ex-husband (Bruce Glover) and one night in the car he proposes marriage but she turns him down. So he strangles her to death. Later he has (graphic) sex with her daughter and strangles her too. Moving on, he tries to get a date with a wheelchair-bound woman who doesn’t want to be with anyone like herself. He goes out with a condescending woman whom he drowns in her bathtub, then wanders next door (these scenes were shot in a grand, open set) to visit the girl with leg problems. Even more graphic sex, then he knocks her down and runs over her neck with his chair.

This could go on indefinitely, and Glover says that in the original script it did, for hours. But smack!, sad Stewart wakes up on the hallway floor of that first scene, goes into his room and talks to someone but they can’t understand him.

The color (esp. the reds) seemed gooey and gluey, like the film would have to be scrubbed off the Plaza’s screen the next morning. Crispin seemed pleased to get a question that deviated from his prepared speeches on the films, about the use of music, and answered it more knowledgably and completely than anyone would have expected – and he again alluded to his Czech castle where he hopes to shoot another trilogy (partly involving his father) before making It Is Mine. I hope if he continues with the vaudeville distribution model, he brings them all back here – if not, I’m willing to travel.

The trailer and the IMDB plot summary are both slightly misleading – one gives the movie a narrator, an explicit theme of rebirth and the other gives it a human lead character and a story setup. The movie itself has none of these things, and requires none. The advertising was all for naught anyway – it was just me and one other guy on opening night at the plaza.

The trailer narration is useful – explains that the movie is illustrating the reincarnation theory of Pythagoras (a native of the area where the film was shot) which claims that each person has lived before as a mineral, a plant, an animal. The film is full of births and deaths – quiet, no dialogue or narration at all, but I found it beautiful and interesting, and meditative without being boring.

In order, as far as I remember it. Guy is on a steaming rock pile, slapping it with a shovel. A shepherd is taking his goats out to pasture, seems to have trouble walking home. That night he mixes some powder with water and drinks it before bed. Next day, collects snails in a pail, tries to fashion a lid so they won’t escape. Goes to church where he trades a bottle of milk to a woman for a packet of dust, which she has swept up from the floor. That day in the field he loses the packet, and is distressed about it when he gets home, goes to church but nobody answers. Next morning is the most impressive long-take I’ve seen all year. The camera is across the street from the man’s house, facing it, above the fenced-in pen where the goats are kept. A passion play is coming down the street, and some late-arriving centurions park across the street, propping their car tire with a rock. After the parade goes by, a boy lagging behind is threatened by the shepherd’s dog, distracts the dog by throwing rocks, dog grabs the one under the car, car rolls into the fence freeing all the goats. I can’t imagine wanting to coordinate a ten-minute shot with a cast of sixty townspeople in which the lead actors are a young child and a dog. Anyway, the shepherd is discovered dead, the goats rampaging through his house. A couple of new guys are taking care of the goats, but the movie doesn’t linger on them, takes the goats’ point of view for a while. We see a goat give birth (this is why Katy didn’t want to see the movie), the small goats play inside while the grown ones go to pasture, and finally when they’re old enough the small ones tag along – but one gets lost, presumably freezes to death under a tree. The tree is cut down, dragged into town and lifted up for some kind of festival, then taken down, chopped to bits and given to the coal man. He arranges the wood in a very orderly pile, covers it and sets alight, tamping it down from above to make coal. And that’s where we came in.

“The only professional used in the film, claims Frammartino, was the dog.”

Frammartino also made a movie called The Gift, which I must find sometime.

One of my most beloved 80’s horror movies, possibly because it’s never been very popular, nor has it been spoiled by sequels (part 2 wasn’t so bad) or remakes (though Bill S. Preston, Esq. has his eyes on one). I watched it again and again on TV, and since it’s not rated R, I probably didn’t miss much. Thanks much to the Plaza and Splatter Cinema, I have now seen it in an actual cinema on actual film. It’s kind of a kids movie, and I still take issue with a giant earth-conquering demon from hell being defeated by a kid with a model rocket, but otherwise perfectly enjoyable.

I’d forgotten some details: a couple of valuable geodes pulled from the hole early on, friend Terry’s dead-mother issues and his collection of moths in a jar. Also didn’t realize how kids’ toys are woven into the movie. There’s the rocket of course – I’d misremembered the devil-thwarting “pure love and light” being a marketing slogan on the rocket’s box, but the shabby, dollar-bin-design box just has a rainbow on it. I guess it’s Dorff’s belief in the rocket as a symbol of love/light that wins out, like the kid in Stephen King’s It spraying monsters with his inhaler while shouting “this is acid!” More child’s play: the hole is initially opened far enough to let those awesome ankle-biting micro-demons out when the kids read words formed by the geode on a toy writing tablet, evil demon-Terry is stabbed with a barbie doll, and the secret of demon banishment is discovered by playing a record backwards. That one is especially fun in a subversive way – parents used to worry that kids would pick up secret satanic messages from metal albums, and this one teaches them how to fight evil, not how to summon it.

Director Tibor, as has been discussed here already, made the pretty cool I, Madman, then Gate II, and went slowly downhill towards the truly stinky Christian Slater movie Lies & Illusions. Writer Michael Nankin is directing respectable TV shows (and CSI) these days. Dorff’s big sister Christa Denton never made it out of the eighties, acting-wise (although one of her slumber-party friends later starred in Candyman 2), and tragically, neither did Louis Tripp, who played Terry, except for a rumored cameo in a late-90’s Edward Furlong comedy.

WonderRoot’s Generally Local, Mostly Independent Filmmakers’ Night

Atlanta, Day One (John Duke and Kris Valeriano)
I liked. KV wears a three-dollar suit, tours picturesque ruins of Atlanta before he starts breaking down. I dig the editing at the end, as it cuts between scenes where he’s in the same physical pose, giving the impression of one movement transporting across locations.

Mouth 2 Mouth (Patrick Coll and Chris Chambers)
Hilarious, very short animation.

Until Dust (Nathan Honnold)
I remember saying to Jimmy afterwards that it’s good to know I’m not the only Guy Maddin fan in Atlanta, but I don’t remember much else. Oh wait, here it is on Vimeo! Blurry-focus titles, one of which says “hairdressing school,” yep, I stand by my Maddin comparison. Too bad it’s one of the only pieces projected interlaced, since it was shot originally on super8 film.

Rex (Jackson McDonald)
A guy picks up girls to feed to his hungry dragon. Shot decently and colorfully, complete with flashbacks.

Breathe (Fletcher Holmes)
Clever special-effects demo, shot underwater and somehow keyed, breathing SFX added later prompting a “how’d you DO that?” from the crowd.

17 Degrees Ain’t Nothing (Carlton Mackey and Dane Jefferson)
Two dudes got a camera, but what to film? They chose to interview some homeless people for an hour – and that hour changed their lives (the lives of the two dudes, not of the homeless people). A year later, footage is edited, theme songs are written, still photos are panned and zoomed, and lessons are learned.

The Charm and Rant of Charlotte Pomerate (Beth Malone)
The filmmaker has, what was it, a grandfather involved in “very far left” politics? And his wife wrote children’s books. And she was interviewed by her granddaughter, then the interview was turned into a claymation video… but it’s more “clay” than “mation”. Clay-still-life. Combines two styles I don’t like (documentaries about one’s relatives + animating audio conversations) but it was cute so I couldn’t stay mad.

Passion Seeker (Chris Chamber)
Video for a song by Little Tybee and Adron edited from 1930’s-90’s film clips. Played at around 2fps, and it’d be important to know whether that was intentional. If so, I’m not a big fan. If not, hey WonderRoot, I can give you advice on how to fix that. The song was nice.

Christmas and Hanukkah (Garry Bowden)
“Love is coming for us all,” says the description. A straight-faced romance soap-opera that inspired derisive laughter from the audience. Could Bowden be the Tommy Wiseau of Atlanta? Could he even be of Atlanta? I didn’t recognize any of the scenery, and it’s mostly shot outdoors. Story follows two people who find each other after sour breakups, shot by a man with a handicam but without a plan.

Heaven (Chris Sailor)
Heaven is a parking lot where echoes both precede and follow your words. You should be quiet, according to the man behind you in a creepy mask, but you are not. Also, you’d like a cigarette.

One Minute Fluid Toons on Paper (Brett W. Thompson)
Finally, the long-awaited return of Fluid Toons! Less narrative (and without the awesome sound effects) than the last installment, but any Fluid Toons is good Fluid Toons.

Godamsterdam: Yellow Fever (Ben Cohen)
Part of a web series celebrating political incorrectness. It’s no Sarah Silverman Program but it made me chuckle. Probably the most ambitious project here, setting up a regular cast of characters and a whole series of shorts, with higher than usual production values.