Intense cops-and-robbers movie bouncing between long Tarantino hangout scenes and grossly brutal action, connected by a plot that throws typical movie morals out the window. Zahler’s Haneke-like trolling of his audience is revealed when the climactic bank robbery begins and a new mother who just returned to work is graphically murdered. But most of the movie is spent sympathizing with cops Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, suspended for being caught taunting and brutalizing a suspect, slowly justifying their turn to crime. These guys are underpaid and oversupervised by paper-pushing weenies, and they’re just stealing from other criminals, so what’s the problem? At least Zahler doesn’t let them get away with it, instead rewarding a younger criminal (Tory Kittles of True Detective and Colony) with a family in need, who is maybe less evil than his compatriots.

“I don’t politic, and I don’t change with the times, and it turns out that shit’s more important than good, honest work.” I still can’t believe they made a racist-cop film and cast Mel Gibson. For all the bad morals and outrage, it’s a hell of a good movie, with better suspense and action than the last two, and at least as good dialogue as Puppet Master 12.

Michael Jai White (above, being dragged across concrete) is Tory’s partner, Udo Kier hooks up the cops with info on the heist crew, Vaughn’s wife from Brawl in Cell Block 99 plays the banker, Fred Melamed her boss, Tattiawna Jones (Keyhole) as Vince’s girl, and Mel’s wife is Laurie Holden, the mom in Pyewacket.

Asger is a bad cop – we don’t know this yet, but can assume from context – forced, along with his supervisor, to a desk job working emergency phones until a little matter gets cleared up. He catches a kidnapping case (which nobody else on the overnight shift seems as excited about) and does a bunch of things wrong (some also illegal) trying in earnest to help the woman caller who has been abducted by her ex husband, leaving their two kids home alone.

The whole movie is confined to a call center, the second half in a private room after Asger decides he doesn’t want coworkers listening in, so it’s a one-man show with little visual flair. Asger eventually discovers she’s being taken to a psych hospital because she just stabbed one of their children to death, but she escapes and is gonna jump off a bridge, and it’s his fault, so he monologues about his own crime, essentially confessing to murder in front of a bunch of cops. Mostly I bought the kidnapping twists, but I’m not sure about this ending.

Won the audience award at Sundance last year in the world drama competition along with Pity, Rust, and a bunch I still haven’t heard anything about. This is Möller’s feature debut, after a short which was also about a woman in a psych hospital. The movie is Danish, but Asger is Swede Jakob Cedergren. The day after watching, I learned about the Jodie Foster remake starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Reliably a month behind on the blog, this was the first movie we watched in 2019. I maybe shouldn’t have read a (different) James Baldwin book right before watching this, since his language is never going to come through in a movie, but Jenkins tries hard to replace it with rich visuals. He gave the movie a “happy ending” which is that Fonny sees his family on weekends while doing years in prison on a trumped-up rape charge, so I wonder how he ends up in the book.

Our young couple is KiKi Layne and Stephan James (of the new series Homecoming). Her parents are Regina King (voiced both brothers in the Boondocks cartoon, played wives of Ice Cube, Will Smith and Cuba Gooding in the 90’s) and Colman Domingo (the Bishop’s accuser in Red Hook Summer), with sister Teyonah Parris (star of Chi-Raq, Coco in Dear White People). Fonny’s parents come over for the big announcement and get in a major fight – the movie has some surprisingly badass insult dialogue. Fonny’s restaurant bud is Diego Luna, Dave Franco plays a decent white(ish) landlord, and on the day of the crime they are hanging out with Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), who presumably betrays them in exchange for a deal on his own arrest. Cops do not come across well in this movie, nor in most movies. Despite the cops, the prison, the rape, the uncooperative witness, the systemic abuses – the movie is pure loveliness.

Lightweight absurd comedy about a group of not-good cops. It’s self-consciously weird about the Mr. Oizo songs this time – one cop (eyepatched Eric Judor, a main guy in Steak) is a bedroom dance-pop producer, and other characters are playing similar instrumental grooves in headphones and car stereos. I can’t tell if I like it more or less than the other Dupieux movie I’ve seen because it’s been too long, but this one has more actors I recognize: Eric Wareheim (using his uniform to harass yoga women in the park) and Steve Little (a drug dealer trying to hide his gay-porn history from his family). Best of all, and I never thought I’d say this, playing a teenager (?) with the absolute most hilarious line deliveries: Marilyn Manson.

Yoga woman strikes back:

Little delivers drug packages duct taped inside a dead rat. Eric’s partner is MADtv regular Arden Myrin, and the main cop harassing Manson is Mark Burnham. I think he shoots a guy watering the lawn (Daniel Quinn), who ends up riding around in Little’s trunk for half the movie before making a valuable contribution to Eric Judor’s music composition. Both of Laura Palmer’s parents appear (separately). At least one person dies at the end (Little stabs himself in the neck with a gardening tool). It’s a silly bit of fun which would be forgotten tomorrow if not for the fact that it features Marilyn Manson, and – I cannot stress this enough – he is great.

After Whose Streets and Kinshasa Makambo and so many others, it was hard to get used to the police being the good guys again. Fortunately, the majority of them are still portrayed as racist villains destroying the lives of poor people, which is very in-character, but our heroes are the NYPD 12, whistleblowers calling out the force for continuing to require arrest quotas after the practice had been banned. At the same time we’re following an ex-cop, a loud, personable P.I. fighting to free Pedro Hernandez, who was arrested on sketchy evidence. It’s easy to undervalue an issues doc with slick visuals following a big news story in the boundary-pushing environment of True/False, but this is a great primer on the issues the NYPD 12 raise, well-paced and informative without ever resorting to narration or interview footage, which seems hard to pull off. It covers why good policing matters, how retaliation silences other cops and keeps the stinking system running (featuring damning hidden-camera footage of the retaliation), and who it benefits: $1 billion of the city budget comes from arrests. The NYPD 12 case is still unresolved at the end, but Pedro was released from Rikers (and in attendance at the festival). This and one of the secret screenings were both about fighting within the system to stand up for the oppressed, both maybe more “useful” than artistic, but important.

Wacky creature-buddy movie that gets dark fast and stays that way, with some bizarre character choices and a variety of clashing tones. I never got on board with the unreal look of the superpigs or the horrible overacting of Jake Gyllenhaal, and it’s the second time in a year that I’ve wondered why Tilda Swinton needed to be playing identical twins. Enjoyable movie when it focuses on the lead girl and her dumbfounding meetings with Paul Dano’s Animal Liberation Front (was ALF supposed to be a joke, or did nobody tell Bong about the cat-eating comedy connection?), and the mixture of Korean and English languages works well, including a good mistranslation plot point. I guess most importantly, the emotional heart of the thing, Mija and Okja rescuing a baby from the superpig death camp, is extremely strong.

Some points that are applicable to these times we live in: the company led by Two Tildas is tricking the public into eating genetically modified superpigs by claiming they’re “all natural” (and the public mightn’t care much either way, cuz they taste so good). The company is using city police as a private security force to brutally beat the law-breaking but nonviolent activists. And we get the plot device where the good guys expose the corporation’s misdeeds by broadcasting their hidden-camera recordings to the horrified public at the end, but in this movie it’s not clear that it makes any difference – the company changes leadership from one looney CEO to another, and the superpig-slaughtering machinery continues uninterrupted.

Cowriter Jon Ronson made Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes, is British, so I suppose he might also have been unaware of Alf.

A Shocktober Postscript Screening, since I found out this was available on netflix at the start of November and couldn’t wait until next season to watch. Kidnapping survivor Pollyanna McIntosh (the woman in The Woman) arrives at her new job at a small-town police station, collaring a reckless driver on the way in (no direct Hot Fuzz references I could detect, sadly). She’s in for a rough night. Turns out the driver, the arriving doctor, everyone in the cells, all her fellow cops, and the Flying Irishman of her crow-feathered dreams are all murderers.

Or maybe the unnamed Irishman (named Six for his cell number) isn’t directly a murderer but a witness, but he appears to be the one orchestrating the night of mayhem by bringing all these people together, along with new witness Pollyanna, who accepts the chance to join him at the end. Snappy dialogue throughout, cowritten by my favorite film writer (David Cairns of Natan) and Fiona Watson, who intended a different title (Cell 6) and ending. The movie looks wonderful, one of those small-scale confined-space stories that still manages to be stylishly and inventively shot (see also: Pontypool) and I dig the trendy use of a strong synth score. Nobody has written about this movie yet without saying it’s indebted to John Carpenter, and I won’t be the first.

It’s not just the Sarge who’s crazy, but the crossword writers. Check out yesterday’s solution, including SADISM, PLAGUE, SUCCUMB, ROUGHLY:

At first I thought the Flying Irishman was an evil hypnotist (see: Stuart Gordon’s Eater), but once it’s revealed that every character (except Pollyanna and possibly the Irishman) is a huge creep or worse, the bloody (and fiery) mayhem becomes more fun than horrific – awful people butchering each other to cover up other murders, or just for the heck of it, or in the sergeant’s case because he fancies himself a biblical destroyer. Sarge is Douglas Russell of the upcoming The Survivalist (Doug prefers his films apocalyptic), the mad doctor is Niall Fulton, a cop in Cry For Bobo, and the Irishman is Liam Cunningham of Wind That Shakes The Barley and Dog Soldiers.

Nosferatu Hand comes after schoolteacher Jon Watson:

The Black Dynamite of trashy 80’s action/revenge flicks. Gets all the details right, but skips the boring parts – a trick House of the Devil could have learned.

Our hero Rutger Hauer rides the rails to the worst town in the world, which is controlled by super baddie Drake (Brian Downey of the show Lexx) and sons Slick and Ivan. He tries to stay out of trouble, meets a friendly prostitute named Abby. But one day they push him too far, and Rutger grabs a shotgun and cleans up this town. The dialogue could’ve been better but otherwise it’s a hella fun flick.

Been enjoying this show. After reading a heated online fight between auteurists over whether a single episode of the show can be judged as “a film by” the episode’s director apart from the rest of the series, I gave the idea two seconds’ worth of thought before ruling it total bunk.

But out of curiosity, the episodes were directed by: Clark Johnson (former Cronenberg effects artist, dir. SWAT with Sam L. Jackson), Clement Virgo (movie Rude which played Cannes & starred Clark Johnson), our old friend Peter Medak (The Washingtonians, The Ruling Class), Ed Bianchi (Deadwood), Joe Chappelle (Hellraiser 4, Halloween 6 and Hackers 2), Gloria Muzio (20+ different TV shows), Milcho Manchevski (Criterion-anointed classic Before The Rain), Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Session 9, Sounds Like), Steve Shill (Knight Rider relaunch pilot, upcoming Beyonce movie) and Timothy Van Patten (star of Master Ninja).

I’d love to say that everyone mumbled in the Van Patten episode, screamed in the Medak episode, and lost 50 pounds to appear in the Anderson episode, but it don’t work like that. The true heroes: Written and produced by ex-Baltimore-PD Ed Burns (also Generation Kill and The Corner) and David Simon (those two plus Homicide: Life on the Street).

Too many actors to go through… I mean, they were all in movies I’ve seen in roles I don’t remember, so I’ll catch them next time. Noticed a few of ’em came up in the same movie though, one called Perfume (not the Tom Tykwer) written and produced by David Holzman himself. Also notably, McNulty was third-billed in 300. Of the dead, club owner Orlando has since appeared in a TV movie starring Alan Rickman and Mos Def, and young Wallace moved on to All My Children and is co-starring in an Atlanta-shot movie with Keith David and Ernie Hudson this year.