The first ten minutes are in extreme closeup, making up for the wide shots in Social Hygiene. Côté’s longest movie is a quiet character piece about a summer camp for sex addicts (it surely would’ve sold more tickets with the title Sex Addict Summer Camp). Between therapy sessions the three girls and their three counselors maintain a delicate balance of trust and spend some solo time dealing with their own issues. Come for the bondage and the girl having sex with an entire soccer team, stay for the CG tarantula, the Diabolique reference, a lovely owl, and the climactic dance party to “Across 110th Street”. Counselor Octavia is from Undine, Sami from A Christmas Tale, and two others were in Ghost Town Anthology.

My fourth by Côté and I’m not seeing much that connects this to the people yelling in fields or the kinda-thriller or the zoo doc, but fortunately we have Katherine Connell in Cinema Scope:

Across Côté’s varied career is a recurrent fascination with isolated characters who act in perplexing, unexplained ways and resist being known … These cryptic if subtly rebellious protagonists form the connective tissue of a filmography that probes the dynamics that erupt from the refusal of normative social structures like marriage, domesticity, wellness, and community.

One of Strickland’s insular alternate-reality weirdo movies, about an artistic residency by a group of “sonic caterers,” is secretly a comedy about bandmate relationships. “I’d say misunderstanding between us is probably the key to our sound.” Of course it looks excellent.

Fatma X2:

On the residency side of things, Gwendoline Christie (returning from In Fabric) is famed Director Jan. Beardy journalist Stones, documenting the musicians, is a Greek guy from Chevalier whose digestive issues are more fascinating to the group than to hilariously snipey Dr. Glock. After music performances, the invited audience “pays tribute” (sexually), which Stones also documents. And another music group was rejected from the institute, is now threatening violence. In a tie-in to Crimes of the Future, everyone in this movie wants to be in a culinary art collective.

Stones vs. the Doctor:

The band is led by Strickland muse Fatma Mohamed, who says within earshot of the others that they’re not a collective – she’s the leader and the others are replaceable. Ariane Labed and Asa Butterfield (Hugo himself) make up the rest of the trio. Asa is especially cute in this – his emo haircut sticking out through the eyeholes of his crime-catsuit is a nice touch.

On Letterboxd: “Some Might Say” by Oasis

Toxic Roxy is young and blonde, frees buried criminal Kate Bush, who murders all Roxy’s friends then escapes, leaving the whole community angry at Roxy and her hairdresser mom. This all takes place on another planet, populated entirely by women who shun electronics and chemistry, after the earth became uninhabitable… well, only shunning these things to a point, since they have guns and androids (both named after fashion brands). While waiting for Kate, Roxy and her mom (Elina Löwensohn of course) bond with Kate’s fancy rich neighbor Sternberg, with her male android Olgar 2 and weirdo bounty-hunter bots Keifer and Climax.

Extremely horny sci-fi, Roxy masturbating at every opportunity, with dreamy visuals. We got zombie horses, geode-faced creatures, energy weapons, a pubic third eye, hats and fur coats everywhere, and everything is slimy or dripping and cross-faded onto everything else. I felt bad about not liking The Northman last night, then today I double-featured this with Mad God at the Plaza, and now I am feeling much better.

Washed up porn star Mikey returns home defeated to his estranged wife Lexi and hangs at her mom Lil’s house in Texas while going on “job interviews.” He ends up selling weed for family friend Judy Hill (World’s on Fire), befriending next door neighbor Lonnie for his car and hanging at a donut shop to sell drugs to customers. Then he hits on the idea of getting the donut shop girl into the porn business – “she’s my way back in.”

The whole thing sounds dour and desperate, but as noted in the reviews, Mikey (Simon Rex of Bodied) is a real treat to watch, a gloriously charismatic car wreck who eventually helps cause an actual car wreck – Lonnie going to jail for fleeing a 22-car pileup was an unexpected twist. Mikey’s plan almost works, but in the end he’s robbed and kicked out of town, for the greater good.

Baker drops a key to Mikey’s character in an InsideHook interview, having spoken with suitcase pimps with “a toxic effect on other people that they cross paths with … We’d heard a lot of stories from these guys, and they always felt like they were being sabotaged.”

Lonnie:

Baker in Filmmaker:

Right now in the US, we’re leaning towards virtue-signaling way too much. There’s a place for that in mainstream cinema. Like, if you’re making an Avengers film, hitting all the checkmarks and making it as diverse and inclusionary as possible, that’s important because that’s mainstream popcorn-cinema meant for children. That’s different. This is made for adults.

I was reading “At the Existentialist Café” on the train…

Sartre put this principle into a three-word slogan, which for him defined existentialism: ‘Existence precedes essence’. What this formula gains in brevity it loses in comprehensibility. But roughly it means that, having found myself thrown into the world, I go on to create my own definition (or nature, or essence), in a way that never happens with other objects or life forms. You might think you have defined me by some label, but you are wrong, for I am always a work in progress. I create myself constantly through action, and this is so fundamental to my human condition that, for Sartre, it is the human condition, from the moment of first consciousness to the moment when death wipes it out. I am my own freedom: no more, no less.

So I thought from the title and poster that this would be a grand existentialist movie, and anyway it’s always a good time watching something with Franz Rogowski, but wrong on both counts. In 1945 Franz goes straight from the concentration camp into jail for being gay, bunks with Haneke regular Georg Friedrich. In 1957 Franz’s boyfriend Thomas Prenn dies, and the other prisoners can almost find it in their hearts to feel bad about it. In the late 60’s Franz keeps breaking rules in order to get thrown outside with young gay teacher Anton von Lucke (Frantz). Finally the law is overturned, Franz visits a jazz club and its subterranean Irreversible sex club, goes straight outside and smashes a jewelry store window to get thrown back into prison.

Franz with the teacher:

AKA Let The Devil Take Us Away

Young stranger Suzy meets blonde Camille who lives with Clara, not home yet, while the first two have a frank sex conversation one minute after meeting. This is Brisseau’s familiar apartment from Girl From Nowhere, his media collection on full display near a nice tube TV with a DVD player. Clara comes home and after their inevitable threesome, they open the door for a guy who is threatening them with a gun. This is Suzy’s ex Olivier, and Clara decides to rescue him from the cops and have sex with him until he completes his novel, living in another apartment with Tonton, an uncle who “causes hallucinations.”

Everyone opens up about their pasts and their feelings – it gets philosophical about family and relationships and sex and acting. Camille demonstrates her greenscreen photoshop art, winking within Brisseau’s homebound prosumer-grade cinema which uses the same effects for Tonton’s astral projections.

One of those everyone-is-connected dramas, but with birds. Most of the birds are either fake/decorative, or an offscreen plot device (smuggled hyacinth macaw eggs) but it’s still appreciated.

Egg-smuggler Don McKellar runs a pet shop that is being audited by tormented beardo Bruce Greenwood (Meek, of the Cutoff) who is obsessed with stripper Mia Kirshner who works at the titular nightclub with her ex Elias Koteas and boss Arsinée Khanjian. Victor Garber is in here, in a wheelchair, with daughter Sarah Polley, and they both spend uncomfortable time with the beardo, knowing that he’s erratic and messed up ever since his daughter’s murder. Koteas and Kirshner had just met when they discovered her body years earlier. And the pet shop boy is seduced by an egg-thieving customs agent and blackmailed by his auditor into spying on the strip club.

Elias one-way-mirroring Bruce:

Don is intimidated by Mia:

What is wrong with Egoyan that he makes such sad movies? The revenge trip turning into a sad reconciliation was a motherfucker – it’s hard to write good people who get fucked up by misfortune and still hold onto some goodness – but for me the knife in the heart is the final two seconds, after a movie full of birds a cat walks into frame.

Victor and real bird:

Arsinée and fake bird:

Practically double-featured this with Exotica, another mid-90’s Canadian Elias Koteas sex thriller. James Spader is a commercial producer banging his camera girl, while his wife Deborah Kara Unger (great in this) gets with some guy in an aircraft hangar – 3 sexual encounters in the movie’s first 6 minutes. After Spader kills Holly Hunter’s husband in a head-on collision, she’s pretty cool about it, making out with him when he gives her a ride, leading to another crash. All this sexual/mechanical energy attracts primo perv Vaughan (Koteas). “Vaughn makes everything look like a crime, doesn’t he?”

Thank god there were enough degenerates in Canada to bring this project to life. A movie where everyone limps, and I’m struggling to think of any two characters who didn’t end up fucking each other. As in Naked Lunch, Cronenberg took scenes from another book (The Atrocity Exhibition) and used the author’s real name as a character. It won a prize at Cannes at least, and I just recently watched Crash’s cannesmate Three Lives.

Cronenberg on political correctness: “I think as soon as you allow politics of any kind into your movie, you’re doomed as an artist.”

Never Like the First Time (2006, Jonas Odell)

First-time sex stories. The participants seem youngish until the last guy tells a story set in the 1920’s. He and the first guy tell joyous stories of satisfaction, while for the women in the middle it was either disappointing or traumatic. The animation is a confusing mix of 2D photos and images composited into a 3D environment. Shared Golden Bears in Berlin that year with Sandra Hüller, Michael Winterbottom, and Andrzej Wajda. Ten years later Odell made a short called I Was a Winner, presumably not a reference to his Berlin prize, a short doc about video gamers as told by their game avatars, which sounds better than the new Rodney Ascher.


The Tale of How (2006, The Blackheart Gang)

Extremely trippy story involving tentacle creatures and seagulls with teeth – a musical, set to an elaborate song, one suicide pact short of a Decemberists number. A South African movie, it doesn’t appear the Gang has remained in the movie business, except the composer with the great name of Markus Wormstorm. From the same omnibus as the previous film, but somehow I only found these two of the nine.


Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936, Dave Fleischer)

Sindbad is just Bluto, lording over an isle of monsters and calling himself a most extraordinary fellow (is that from a Harold Lloyd film?). Highlights: each sailor introduces himself with his own theme song, and Wimpy tries to catch a duck with a meat grinder. There were a million Popeye shorts, so why is this one famous? Lost the oscar to The Country Cousin, not a great year.


Quimby The Mouse (2009, Chris Ware)

Quimby is a domestic abuser who marries a severed head, makes it cry until sea levels rise, then uses it as bait to catch sea fishes, all set to a jaunty Andrew Bird song. Fun!


Invention of Love (2010, Andrey Shushkov)

Beautiful shadow animation. Boy takes Girl to the steampunk towers where all plants and animals are machine replicants, and when she gets sick, he replicates her.


Rowing Across the Atlantic (1978, Jean-Francois Laguionie)

Young adventurers attempt to cross the ocean in a rowboat, witness the Titanic sinking, fight and hallucinate and live their whole lives together on the boat. Some unexpected imagery, really nice. Laguionie made a couple of features last decade РI hear good things. This won best-short awards at the C̩sars (which also honored D̩gustation maison) and at Cannes (which gave prizes to The Tree of Wooden Clogs, The Shout, and A Doonesbury Special).


At the Ends of the World (1999, Konstantin Bronzit)

Delicate balance of comings and goings in a house perched on a mountaintop. Single-take until post-credits when disaster has relocated the house to a valley. Zagreb is a big fest for animated shorts, eh? This won its category, and The Old Man and the Sea took another.


Fist Fight (1964, Robert Breer)

His most full-of-things film that i can recall, flickering edits of clippings and photos and drawings, musique concrète soundtrack involving bird sounds. Mice, cigar tricks, and eye-bending patterns. Proper figure animation, some Klahr-ish stuff, some Rejected paper manipulation – every technique Breer had at his disposal, like an itunes library of animation with their frames set on shuffle. Internet says it’s autobiographical, and Stockhausen-related.


What Goes Up… (2003, Robert Breer)

Rotoscope-looking Jeff Scher-ish animation with flickering photograph injections. I attended a Breer program at Anthology Film Archives in the early 2000s, later discovered Scher, then Jodie Mack, and now I’ve forgotten all the original Breers. They are short and delightful and I should be watching them on the regular.