I have never posted about a series before, but this one is just too good to not share. Dark Place might be my all-time favorite comedy series. It’s essentially an ‘80s horror parody co-starring The IT Crowd’s Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade. Watch first few minutes. If you enjoy the opening theme song / credits montage, you’ll love this one-season series.
Not available on domestic Blu-ray.
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Yes, the original is an untouchable masterpiece. Yes, this sequel is goofy. Yes, Gunnar Hansen is conspicuously missing, and Tobe Hooper really should have pushed for him to be in the film. That should all mean that this movie is garbage, just like every TCM property made after. Fortunately that is not the case. This is an insanely fast paced, gory, funny horror film. Dennis Hopper is fantastic, and the “Namland” sets are awesome works of art. You will need to endure a lot of overacting, but damn I love this movie. Oh and that corpse puppet is made from the remains of The Hitchhiker.
CRITERION CHANNEL?!?! Yep. This is a one-off, special recommendation that was intended for the book version of Anomalous Cinema. The Criterion Channel just added this film to their lineup for July, so I figured I might as well just share what I wrote. I have a feeling that Criterion will be releasing it on disc very soon. The streaming version looks MUCH better than any previous edition of the film I’ve seen before.
Mark Borchardt is a struggling filmmaker, and a documentary crew follows him as he completes his first fully-realized short feature. When this movie was initially released, it was an independent hit, but it fell into obscurity for the last ten years. Director Chris Smith has gone on to direct the very good Netflix documentary Fyre, and produce the massively over-hyped series Tiger King. I have seen American Movie multiple times, and it never gets old. It’s funny as hell, touching, thought-provoking, and a serious statement about someone fighting to make their art. I am also partial to it because it reminds me of the days helping my friend Isaac Williams make his first feature The Mind in 2006-7. I was a part-time boom operator, PA, and did the original score. If a shooting day went by without a quote from this documentary, followed by much laughter, I would be shocked. This documentary is must-see Anomalous Cinema.
Not available on Blu-ray.
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I believe this is the most recent Takashi Miike movie that is currently streaming in the USA. It has a unique look, no fake grain but all the detail. I’d call it video crafted with care. The sets look amazing. The production designer is a genius. Every interior scene looks almost like an art installation. As you’d expect, there are some very entertaining action sequences amid the strange comedy / drama too. First Love also features one particularly freaky knob turn. In the end I was very happy to have watched this weird, but modest movie. Miike keeps being Miike, and I love it.
I am a bit biased about this film, as my first experience was in at a revival screening just a few years ago. Seeing a previously missed, good older movie, on celluloid is one of favorite things in life. That means that I like this silly horror movie a little more than I should. I found it to be very amusing from start to finish. I laughed out loud multiple times, and not at unintentionally funny scenes. The Video Dead also has some effective makeup FX and low-budget set pieces. Give it a try, but keep your expectations low.
I am super picky about anime. Something about the genre usually turns me off, with the exception of films like Barefoot Gen, Ninja Scroll, Perfect Blue and a small handful of others. I just added Memories to that short list. It’s an anthology of Katsuhiro Otomo stories directed by three anime heavyweights: Kōji Morimoto (The Animatrix), Tensai Okamura (Ninja Scroll / Ghost in a Shell), and Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira). The whole film is very cohesive and filled with detailed, and psychedelic sci-fi animation. Do you happen to live where weed is legal? Bonus for you.
I’m picky about horror comedies, but this is a good one. Nicholas Cage does his thing as dad without slipping into Wicker Man level ridiculousness, and Selma Blair is the perfect choice as mom. The pace is pretty relentless, and the end ramps up the crazy even further. The filmmakers have done an admirable job at keeping the movie effective, and not as silly as it could have easily become in lesser hands.
This is one of the least-typical films by David Cronenberg, but it’s a solid one for sure. Maps to the Stars is an entertaining dark comedy / satire of Hollywood that spins off in an unpredictable direction. I admire the originality here, and Mia Wasikowska is excellent. The only blemish is the use of some unnecessary CG. That is unfortunate but forgivable. Maybe you won’t even notice.
I wish Hulu was showing an HD version of Julien Donkey-Boy, but this will do in the meantime. Harmony Korine sells enough paintings to never have to make a film again. That means he made this his way, and couldn’t care less what we think. I respect that. This movie is dumb, but I laughed a lot. Harmony was smart enough to hire a kick ass cinematographer, so while I was laughing I was marveling at the saturated colors and composition. Yep. I liked The Beach Bum.
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