Jake Gyllenhaal makes very strange career choices, and I absolutely respect that. In this one he plays a creep like you wouldn’t believe. Nightcrawler is a none-more-black satire that starts slow but builds into insanity, and 100% solid Anomalous Cinema.
This is a beautifully photographed borderline-art film about teenage rebel fighters with an American hostage. It has several violent scenes, but is mostly a deliberately paced dark drama. The jungle locations are stunning, and seem so remote they’re from another planet. All the actors are excellent, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Julianne Nicholson (Law and Order / Boardwalk Empire) knock it out of the park as the hostage. This film also features a killer electronic soundtrack by Mica Levi who also did the music for Under the Skin. Monos is an almost perfect film that I strongly recommend to any patient film buff.
I am not a snob about remakes. I just approach them with a ton of caution (I refused to see Suspiria based on reviews). Sometimes remakes are amazing, like The Thing or The Hills Have Eyes. This one is a damn good “reimagining” of the original 1974 film. I love that movie, but this Pelham is enough of it’s own story to complement the original. When director Tony Scott (RIP) was good, he was better than most big-budget directors, and this is among his better films. Give this a shot when you’re in the mood for a fast-paced action thriller.
The following text is from a little art-slanted curated shelf I did at my beloved local video store Movie Madness a while back…
Lucio Fulci was a huge fan of Antonin Artaud and knew a thing or two about art. Sadly I believe he thought he was stuck grinding out crap cinema for a paycheck. Just watch this and imagine it with no music. You’d swear it’s some unholy mutant child of Luis Buñuel and The Chapman Brothers.
Note: Of course I don’t think Fulci’s work was crap. Critics and moralists did, maybe Lucio himself from time to time. I have featured Don’t Torture a Duckling here and also love his films The Beyond, Beatrice Cenci, A Cat in the Brain, Zombi, and Contraband, among others.
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Here we have a good overview of the career of influential Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. I thought this doc might be too fluffy as much of her work is bright and polka dot-strewn, but it does not shy away from the artists’ battle with mental illness and other dark corners of her life. Infinity also touches on the many lesser-known ways in which Kusama’s output has made an impact on the history of art. Recommended viewing for those interested in the creative struggle.
This is a solid, deliberately paced, creepy horror movie with an excellent soundtrack. The location is the star of the show though. That is the very real, very ominous, Danvers State Hospital (sadly it was demolished in 2006). The film was written for the location, and the crew did very little additional set dressing. It all works quite well. Session 9 is one to watch in the dark with popcorn. I’d add adult beverages into the mix too, but that’s me. You be you.
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Well, if this isn’t Anomalous Cinema, I don’t know what is. Here is one of the more art film-influenced giallos. Godard’s Weekend came out a year before, and there’s a definite influence. It is also one of the more bizarre entries in the subgenre. Bizarre in the sense it’s surrealistic, and a lot of the set decoration looks like strange contemporary art. Death Laid an Egg is also not as violent or graphic as later gialli, but don’t let that stop you from seeing this one. The cinematography is spot-on, the lead performances are great (I always love to see Jean-Louis Trintignant), and the weird plot will keep your eyes glued to the screen.
The version streaming on Prime looks good, but seems a tiny bit cropped, and is not 1080p. It is also a shorter version than is available on the most recent disc release (I believe the one on Prime is the approx 90 min. “Giallo Version” that Cult Epics released). That’s ok, it’s still definitely worth checking out this streaming version. If you really enjoy the film, you may want to invest in the 2018 UK import from Nucleus. You can read a very detailed review and breakdown of the various disc versions on Nathaniel Thompson’s excellent Mondo Digital website. His book series DVD Delirium was a big influence on my taste in movies.
You will need to see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly before you watch this, as fans restore the set from the climax of the film. Thankfully Netflix has Leone’s masterpiece streaming right now as well. I had my doubts that this would be interesting, especially since it opens with Metallica in concert. I’m a die hard fan of the Cliff Burton years and not into much of their output since, some of which is downright shameful. The band is included because they have used the featured scene as their live opening video for a long time. I saw the tour they first used it, and yes, it was very effective. James Hetfield actually does say some very thoughtful things in this movie too. Anyhow, I had forgotten how big and beautifully designed the Sad Hill set was, and this documentary goes into a lot of detail about it. None of it is dull, and by the end, it all gets surprisingly emotional. They also talk about the making of the movie in general, so if you’re a fan this is a must-see. I was psyched to see Sergio Salvati interviewed in this as well. He’s why the classic Lucio Fulci movies look so good. My only real complaint is that the filmmakers animated almost all of the still photographs. I despise that technique. Leave photos alone people! Ahem… In spite of a couple of blemishes, this is a damn good documentary.
In the ’70s many star-studded thrillers were made (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, etc). None of them really impressed me all that much except this one. The Cassandra Complex is a crazy pebble, that rolls into a crazy snowball, that eventually becomes an avalanche of crazy. This is NOT a five star film. It should be terrible actually, but it’s not. What you get is a very entertaining mess, with seemingly every known working actor of the time thrown in. Get ready for a fun ride on the Crazy Train.