We’re in structural a-g territory here, a tennis player woking on his serve, over and over with precise editing. But then it’s twin true-crime re-enactments, actors playing murderers in interrogation.

A California teen girl is stabbed to death in 1984. The sound of typing throughout, cuts to black between her responses, ties to the novel Devil House, landscapes and artifacts. We have to listen to an entire song from Cats while watching a girl with perfect 80s hair talk on the phone. I don’t wanna have to think about the cost of music royalties when watching a movie, but putting a song from Thriller in your experimental documentary is okay?

Another girl is found dead at a Wisconsin farm in 1957. Static composition takes from around town, same as we just did in other town, listening to a radio preacher. Woman dancing alone to the worst version I’ve ever heard of “Tennessee Waltz.” This time no typing on the interview scenes, some ambient industrial sound.

It’s some pretty cool work by Benning, but I feel like I was tricked into watching a serial-killer movie, and I should’ve put on that four-hour George Harrison documentary instead. As far as my relative interest in musicians/murders go, I’ve skimmed the wiki on Ed Gein and though “oh no, that pretty much sucks” then moved on and never thought about him again. But I’ve considered George Harrison every day this year, and maybe that’s because I think I could pretty easily be a serial killer, but could never play guitar in a good group.

This movie must work, because even though I moaned about the family, and at the end wished their house would sink into the sea with all of them inside it, I also made a note to catch up with Pialat’s other 1980’s movies: Loulou / Police / Under the Sun of Satan. Sandrine Bonnaire is very pretty in this – talks about suicide over a Klaus Nomi song, leaves all the boys brokenhearted.

For not having seen this in 20 years, I recalled some scenes very well. Funny to watch a 4k restoration of a movie with so many SD-video elements (three long TV newscasts, Robo’s POV screen). Not so many people in the theater on a weeknight, which bodes well for tomorrow’s screening of The Conversation.

Since I’ve recently rewatched Peter Weller in Naked Lunch, it’s time to complete the trilogy and rewatch Screamers. Our other cop hero is Brian De Palma muse Nancy Allen, whose rocket attack on Ray Wise is a comic highlight. Robert DoQui of Coffy gets a good role as the sarge; other cops are incidental, disgruntled and trigger-happy.

As the invincible druglord crimewave baddies, That 70’s Dad and Laura Palmer’s Dad are joined by a Shawshank guard, a Greatest American Hero regular, and a doctor in The Day After.

At the Company that controls the cops, RoboCop project lead Miguel Ferrer is killed by corrupt ED-209 project lead Ronny Cox (he’d play another evil authority figure in Total Recall), who is fired to death by bossman Dan O’Herlihy (Twin Peaks sawmill owner who dies twice).

So many Chinese traditions I didn’t know, like virgin boob-sweat tea.

Blunt ghost movie, no tiptoeing around – very good, sharp and funny with some wicked dialogue.

After Drunken Master, why not play some more Jackie Chan? This is even more of a corny goofball movie than the first one, idiot characters and extended fart jokes, but it comes alive when the action hits. In fact the best part is the opening montage of all the action from part one without the comedy.

Baddie Chu is out of jail already after faking an illness, and Jackie’s busted down to traffic cop. Maggie is threatened personally, and the entire city is threatened generally by a group of mad bombers. Jackie defies authority to save the day. Good product placement for Canon and Mitsubishi. All the actors playing bombers and cops are in a hundred other Jackie Chan movies. Watched on the fourth of July, not knowing it ends in a fireworks factory.

Frances leaves surly asshole bar owner for stoic cowboy bartender, bar owner hires sleazy private eye to spy and then murder them but he kills bar owner instead. Bartender discovers owner and thinks Frances did it, so buries the guy himself, then the private eye comes after both of them.

Cowboy Bartender was later notable as the only actor to bridge Cronenberg’s The Fly and its little-loved sequel. I feel like I should know Private Eye M. Emmet Walsh better than I do – time for a rewatch of Critters.

Mike D’Angelo:

It’s uniquely structured in that the audience always knows exactly what’s happening, but none of the characters have the slightest clue, even though they’re all convinced they’re on top of it. The movie ends with a dying man laughing his head off as he finally realizes the mistake someone else has made—as cogent a summary of the Coens’ personal philosophy as can be found in any of their films.

Cool movie by Unsubtle Paul, opening with a spider on a crucifix. Writer Jeroen Krabbé (in a couple Soderberghs before going hollywood) is an absolute mess and an asshole to everybody. He’s haunted by his imagination, scenes tripping in and out of fantasies. He meets Spetters star Renée Soutendijk at a speaking engagement, and things get obsessive and weird. She brings home hunky new fella Thom Hoffman (who starred in Paul’s Black Book a couple decades later) and Jeroen suspects they’re both trapped in a murderous plot.

The writer is a religious nut hooking up with a killer widow, this is the Paul Career Template Film, following standard procedure of making you go “wowowowow” every ten minutes. Shot by Jan “Speed” de Bont. I am amused to realize that this week I also watched The 4th Man’s rhyming film The Northman. A letterboxd reviewer notes this “doesn’t work as a sequel to The Third Man.”

I just sat back and took this one in. Took no notes, no screenshots.

Good movie, can’t remember much except that Sammo Hung plays one of the rival soldiers at the beginning, then reappears later as the powerful wizard LONG BROWS.

Celia’s beloved grandma just died, but she’s got the new neighbors next door to play with, and the eternal hope that she’ll get a pet rabbit. Unfortunately the neighbors are communists, and it’s Australia in the 1950’s during a myxomatosis outbreak (I’ve had the Radiohead song’s bassline in my head all week), so she’s constantly being warned against rabbits and commies.

Rabidly anti-commie dad (Nicholas Eadie of pre-fame Nicole Kidman miniseries Vietnam) chooses sides, and buys her a rabbit if she won’t play with the neighbors anymore, tells her they’re bad people. Cruelty abounds: the other kids hurt her rabbit, dad gets the neighbor fired. Her family’s cop friend John (Bill Zappa of The Road Warrior) straight-up kidnaps the rabbit, and after it dies in quarantine, Celia becomes the Joker. She shoots John to death while seeing visions of storybook monsters (major Heavenly Creatures parallels) and gets away with it, then fortunately doesn’t kill his daughter while staging mock gallows executions.

Harmless ritual:

Not so harmless:

Celia was Rebecca Smart, who debuted in Dusan Makavejev’s The Coca-Cola Kid. Turner later directed Sam Neill and pre-fame Russell Crowe, and remade Teorema starring Sandra Bernhard in the Stamp role(!!)