The monos are a bunch of commando kids entrusted by a larger organization with the care of kidnapped English native speaker “La Doctora” (Julianne Nicholson of Blonde). The monos are armed, with military training, but they’re also horny fuckup kids, who immediately/accidentally kill the cow they’ve borrowed from the townsfolk, and repeatedly let the Doctora escape. She kills one of them, one suicides, one manages to escape. Movie opens promisingly with a blindfolded soccer game and some Beau Travail moves, and stays watchable throughout, even if it never really goes anywhere. The music is nuts, in a good way, from Under the Skin composer Mica Levi. A Sundance premiere, which makes sense, since it reminded me (but in a kinda good way?) of Mayday.
Beautiful right from the start, every scene a marvel. Gorgeous lighting, precise framing, the real deal This kind of discovery is the whole point of Rotterdance… oh, did I mention that it’s Rotterdance? I started it kinda late and am writing it up even later, but we spent a week or two watching movies that played recent editions of Sundance and Rotterdam fests. The Cathedral played both after premiering in Venice, and this one came to Rotterdam after Cannes.
“A gangster on the run sacrifices everything for his family and a woman he meets while on the lam,” sure, let’s leave it at that. He’ll (probably) star in Wong’s Blossoms movie/series/whatever. The girl helping him and the cop chasing him costarred in Diao’s Black Coal, Thin Ice.
Failed folk musician goes decades without realizing his records became a bootleg sensation in South Africa, flies there for massive concerts then returns to his humble Detroit life. “It remains too strange to be true.” Archive footage, some of it just vintage mood stuff, bit of rotoscoping, some fun jump cuts. Repetition or rambling in the interviews is preferable to the dodgy dialogue editing we usually get in these things. This won an oscar (vs. three govt/military stories and an AIDS activism doc) and Rodriguez has now played a bunch of live shows, for which he hopefully got paid, since he’s getting nothing from the oscars or those album sales.
Opening with Birth of a Nation seems cool – I’ve been uninterested in ever watching that film, but watching it as a horror would be an idea. Higher priority, I should watch the Blacula movies… less so Def by Temptation.
A real podcast-hangout kind of doc, and not usually in a good way. Contains a blatant promo for Tales from the Hood 2. The doc is leading up to Get Out as the culmination of Black horror art, allowing Jordan Peele to talk about that and the original Candyman (which was problematic, has room for improvement, possibly with a remake?). This could be a blu extra on the Get Out disc, easy.
Ken Foree and Keith David:
General Enrique and his rich family hide inside their mansion from the sidewalk protestors after he’s exonerated for genocide, and go on trying to act normal, though the servants flee and the General roams the house with a gun and the chanting continues. New maid Alma is teaching the kids how to hold their breath, because ghostly flashback reveals the General personally ordered her own kids to be drowned. Not that we ever suspected he was a nice guy, but at least his family’s eyes are opened before he inevitably dies.
Alma’s reward for starring in a well-liked foreign film is to be 30th billed in the new Black Panther sequel. A more popular Llorona movie came out the same year (per Indiewire a “schlocky jump-scare machine”) but this one is about real-life horrors in Guatemala, so it got lots of award nominations.
daughter little sister is getting married and it’s up to the eldest to find an uncle willing to attend the wedding, while the bride-to-be acts moody and annoyed. Iman is also dealing with early menopause symptoms, and has a pet turtle who only exists to fulfill an on-its-back helplessness visual metaphor. Plodding 66-minute movie containing powerfully condensed disappointment.
Ensemble movie of intersecting characters around NYC, packs plenty into under 90 minutes. I might’ve mixed up a couple of actors, but… Buddy Duress gets beaten up for attempting to scam record collector Bene Coopersmith… whose roommate George Sample III is in trouble for instructing his computer guy Benny Safdie to publish revenge porn of his recently-ex-girlfriend Marsha Stephanie Blake. Clockmaker Philip Baker Hall unwittingly holds material evidence that widow Michaela Watkins murdered her husband, and cub reporter Abbi Jacobson embarrassedly tries to get the dirt on that case, egged on by her slimy metalhead boss Michael Cera. Short-haired teen Tavi Gevinson hangs out with best friend Olivia Luccardi (who has a boyfriend) speaking pretentiously and acting like she definitely doesn’t want a boyfriend. Movie ends with a dance party, as all movies should.
Also: Isiah Whitlock Jr.:
Hell yeah, Unwound:
The filmmaker likes light and shadow, and inserting grainy digital stills between scenes. I only would’ve made it 20 minutes in I was watching fest screeners, but then I would’ve missed the scuba photography.
A lot of pissing and sleeping in this movie! Breaking into derelict apartments? Building a useful neighborhood from the remnants of the abandoned city. The hushed, hypnotized narrator shows up irregularly, telling us stuff related to the sleepy, casual goings-on. Sometimes we see the filmmaking equipment. Sounds carry on from previous scenes. Some philosophical content made me chuckle, the movie not worth taking seriously.
On Letterboxd: In the City in the Rain by The 6ths feat. Lou Barlow
Self-consciously arty/stagey flick, part of the Brisseau canon of horny old frenchmen filming in their apartments. Cut from a sleeping couple to their “dreams” on 4:3 b/w lo-gauge film, my second movie in a row to do that. Shots and setups take their time, but there’s no apparent story so it’s not like we have anywhere else to be. Opens with a camera roaming a film set peeping through a keyhole-shaped mask, and easily tops that in the scene where an electric train-mounted camera drives beneath a nude woman. Seems to devolve at the end, with a break for a misogyny mass murder montage, getting really into being eaten by gators and strangling blondes. Overall more engaging than my previous Bressane, seems to bode well.