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DON’T POST HERE: WE’RE BACK AT 366WEIRDMOVIES.COM November 21, 2010

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The main site is restored! Please direct your browsers to 366weirdmovies.com for the best weird movie coverage in all conceivable universes.

I’m certainly happy I kept this space open, but you’ll understand if I hope I never have to use it again!

SATURDAY SHORT: ITALIAN SPIDERMAN TRAILER November 20, 2010

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Since extended to feature length through ten mini-episodes broadcast on YouTube, the “Italian Spiderman” trailer was originally shot as a film school project by Dario Russo. If you’re one of the few who hasn’t experienced the “actione,” “velocita” and “romanza” of “Italian Spiderman” yet, get ready for a treat.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 11/19/2010 November 19, 2010

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A look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Heartless: Philip Ridley (writer/director of the Certified Weird The Reflecting Skin) is back after a fourteen year hiatus from filmmaking with this arthouse horror starring Jim (Across the Universe) Sturgess as a photographer with a disfiguring birthmark who makes a Faustian bargain in a hellish modern London.  Ridley’s return would be notable even if the film wasn’t being well-reviewed; as it is, it won “Best Independent Feature” at the Toronto After Dark festival.  Heartless official site.

NEW ON DVD:

Best Worst Movie (2010):  This documentary on an unlikely subject—the making of the laughably inept 1980s horror Troll 2, a movie featuring vegetarian goblins—became an even more improbable critical favorite.

The Complete Metropolis (1927/restored 2010): Kino’s restoration of the mystical, visionary science-fiction masterpiece finally arrives on DVD!  From our own Alex Kittle’s review of the theatrical version: “While its story is standard allegorical fare and the performances are often melodramatic, the sheer inventiveness and visual splendor of Metropolis warrants its status as quintessential science fiction.  It set the standard for a host of weird films that came after it and has several iconically bizarre scenes and characters.” 

Don’t Look Back [Ne te pas] (2009): French psychological thriller starring two beauties—Sophie Marceau and Monica Belluci—and a confusion of their identities.  From weirdstress Marina de Van (In My Skin).

The Extra Man (2010): Eccentric tale of an aspiring playwright and cross-dresser who rents a room an educated, aging gigolo (played by Kevin Kline).  This didn’t get more than a token theatrical release; the reason may be that it was too literary for cineplexes, or it may be because it just wasn’t very good.

Night of the Hunter (1955) [Criterion Collection]: Robert Mitchum gives an unforgettable performance as the deranged, misogynistic preacher who marries widows and kills them for their money; darker than the blackest film noir and expressionistic to the point of being dreamlike, this  movie was way too much for 1955 audiences to handle, but has since been acknowledged as a classic.  This is already in our reader-suggested review queue, so this Criterion Collection release can only speed it along.

Sherlock Jr. (1924)/Three Ages (1923): Also from Kino this week comes this restoration of two Buster Keaton silent comedies: Sherlock Jr., a fantasy about a projectionist who enters into the film he’s watching, is the weirder one; Three Ages tells the tale of romance in the Stone Age, Roman times, and the modern era.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

The Complete Metropolis (1927/restored 2010): See entry in DVD above.

Crowley [AKA Chemical Wedding]: Read our capsule review. This occult/science ficition/fantasy hybrid about Aleister Crowley in modern times is from Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson; our staff agreed on its weirdness, but disagreed on the quality of the filmmaking displayed.

Night of the Hunter (1955) [Criterion Collection]: See entry in DVD above.

Sherlock Jr. (1924)/Three Ages (1923): See entry in DVD above.

366WEIRDMOVIES.COM BACK UP (SORT OF) November 18, 2010

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Our home, 366weirdmovies.com, is back up… sort of. While I’m trying to restore 2 years worth of posts, right now there’s actually more content available here than there. I will keep you updated on the progress of the restoration on both sites.

UPDATE 11/19: Still working on restoring the old posts. I’ll be posting some new content here (i.e. this week’s WEIRD HORIZON), just in case the data gets overwritten there. Hopefully everything will be fixed before the weekend starts.

CAPSULE: NINJA SCROLL [JÛBÊ NINPÛCHÔ] (1993) November 15, 2010

Posted by 366weirdmovies in Capsules, Uncategorized.
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DIRECTED BY: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

FEATURING: Voice actors

PLOT: Masterless samurai Jubei joins with an ancient spy and a cursed female

Still from Ninja Scroll (1993)

ninja to thwart a plot by an old enemy to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate with the assistance of the eight Devils of Kimon.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s not truly weird, though the Devils of Kimon are novel and bizarre to Western eyes.  Ninja Scroll is, rather, a well-made fantasy adventure set in a magical feudal Japan, with gratuitous sex and violence that make it inappropriate for the age group most likely to be entranced by it. 

COMMENTS: There’s no scroll, and the main character, Jubei, is a ronin (former samurai now for hire as a mercenary) rather than a ninja; but, accuracy of title aside, Ninja Scroll is an average fantasy adventure with some shocking scenes and startling artwork.  Jubei is an archetypal wandering folk hero, helping out the less fortunate out of a sense of duty to mankind rather than avarice.  His eventual companions are a more interesting lot: a withered, gnomelike spy from the court of Tokugawa who’s willing to go to any lengths to trap others into working for him, and a virginal ninja woman under a sexual curse who’s even more of a loner than the ronin.  The story, often the red-headed stepchild of anime, is a strong point here.  The intrigues between the various feudal factions and the character’s backstories are richly detailed, yet free of plot holes and surprisingly easy to follow (although Jubei’s code of honor can be difficult to penetrate at times).  Even if you don’t catch all the intricacies of the plot on a single viewing, the basic strands—a quest for vengeance on a wicked old enemy, a succession of monstrous antagonists to defeat, reluctant companions with crossed agendas, dilemmas of honor and loyalty—create a familiar heroic context for the tale that makes it easy to pick up the gist of things.  The animation style is naturalistic rather than stylized (that is to say, the characters don’t have huge round eyes and bizarre hair hues).  As is frequently the case in amime, which tends to be cheaply produced, the animation is not fluid— most of the time, it’s almost a series of stills, with characters standing stock-still, moving only their lips.  But the frame rate picks up dramatically for fight sequences, and excellent editing creates a sense of movement that makes the fight scenes thrilling.  There are points where the animation overcomes its budgetary limits and becomes magical, as when Kagero stands in the eye of a swirling cyclone of bees and rose petals.  The Devils, partly drawn from Japanese mythology, are as grotesque a gallery of rogues as you could hope to find outside of the Mos Eisley cantina, and a good deal nastier.  There’s a giant with stone skin and a taste for rape, a snake-woman who stashes a spare serpent in an unusual hiding place, a dwarf who births wasps from the hump hive on his back, and one Devil is even a homosexual with the hots for the archvillian.  The frequent sexual content is sometimes erotic—the nude tattooed snake woman—but mostly gratuitous, as when one clan master delivers his directives while delighting himself inside a village geisha.  The violence is also extreme; monster rape, daggers in eyeballs, showers of blood, limbs torn off, and a man whose head is repeatedly bashed into a bloody pulp.  The strong (falling just short of ‘extreme’) content adds some cachet to the fantasy film for a certain age group (evidence that this ninjas vs. monster tale isn’t just “kid’s stuff”), but it serves little other purpose.  The truth is that the younger, and more male, you are, the more likely you are to groove to Ninja Scroll’s beat. It starts out as a five-star spectacle of awesomeness in your teens and early twenties, but you can expect to subtract a full star for every decade of life that passes until it flattens out and reveals itself as nothing more special than a darn good adventure yarn.  And the world could certainly use a few more of those.

Animator/director Yoshiaki Kawajiri was also responsible for the anime standout Wicked City (1987) among others.  The British censors understandably cut some of the rape scene for the original UK DVD release, but unexpectedly also removed two scenes with shurikens (throwing stars), apparently believing they constituted “imitable weaponry.”  The cuts were restored for the 2004 release and the movie is now uncensored.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“For those more accustomed to Anime or Japanese cinema in general you really won’t find anything new or ground breaking here… Yet it remains a solid entry essentially on all counts.”–Nakadai, Infin-tropolis

TEMPORARILY BACK AT WORDPRESS.COM November 15, 2010

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Due to a server issue which has renedered 366weirdmovies.com temporarily inaccesible, we will be using wordpress to post new content again: hopefully for just a few days until the site gets back on its feet.

CHECK OUT OUR NEW DIGS! April 8, 2009

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We’ve moved!  Please check out the newly designed site at http://366weirdmovies.com/, and update your bookmarks.  All of the content on this blog is duplicated there.

We even have a new logo:

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This free wordpress blog will be left up for archival purposes, but all future content will be posted at http://366weirdmovies.com/.  If you comment on a post here, it may not be responded to. 

We hope you like the new look and some of the new features.   We’re still working out some of the bugs, but bear with us.  And yes, there’s advertising.  We think we deserve a little beer money now and then.

We’d like to thank the great  folks at WordPress for creating this great free resource.

CAPSULE: EDMOND (2005) April 7, 2009

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We’ve moved to a new domain: 366weirdmovies.com!  Since April 8, 2009, this page is no longer being updated and has been left here for archival purposes.  Feel free to read, but if you’d like to comment on this post, read our new content, or see the design improvements, please check out this post at the new site.

twostar

DIRECTED BY: Stuart Gordon

FEATURING: William H. Macy

PLOT:  A latently racist and mentally addled accountant leaves his wife, spends

edmond (2005)

an impossibly long night touring the NYC commercial sex trade and meeting lost souls, and finally ends up in prison.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LISTEdmond isn’t so much weird as terminally confused.  It’s true Tarot cards keep popping up in impossible places as shorthand foreshadowing, that Macy’s wild night out seems unnaturally long solely to enable it to fit in all the necessary episodes, and that it’s extremely odd that the prison wardens would march new meat in the buff past inmates’ cells.  Still, even with these departures from reality, the movie still doesn’t seem in-your-bones weird so much as it feels like the author (playwright David Mamet) is trying to force events into a meaningful symbolic line, but failing to communicate his meaning to his audience. 

COMMENTSEdmond is only for William H. Macy fans and for those who think vagueness is the equivalent of profundity.  Macy manages to create some interest, though no sympathy, through his performance as a sad sack salaryman who thinks he’s found a temporary fix for existential bafflement by tapping into his tribal bloodlust.  After whoremongering, assaulting women and minorities, and threatening old churchgoing ladies, he finds himself under arrest.  In prison he’s forcibly stripped of his macho facade, and spends his time in stammering attempts to articulate some profound philosophy of life (“every fear hides a wish”).   Unfortunately, Macy wanders through a script that doesn’t know what to make of Edmond any more than Edmond himself does.  Those recurring Tarot cards and the closing monologue suggest that it was all just fate anyway, and Edmond’s search for meaning and the choices he made never made a difference.  In the end, all that happens is we passively witness some inexplicable tragedy happen to an unlikeable man.

Although Edmond‘s angry white male sociopath seems like a faded nth-generation variation of Joel Schumacker’s silly Falling Down (1993), the original play was actually written during the first term of the Reagan administration.  The concept of the angry white male (who Democrats theorized jumped the fence to get Reagan elected) would have had more resonance in that era.  That theory may also explain why Edmond is named after Edmund  Burke, the Irish philosopher/statesman who is looked upon as the father of modern conservatism.  Maybe that explains why both the character Edmond and the movie Edmond seem strange and unmotivated to us today, viewing the film in a different political context.  It also demonstrates why writers should not write to their times (or, at least, should not resurrect old pieces without revising them).

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a surreal spiritual fable that riffs on a notion voiced by Edmond that every fear hides a wish. Mr. Mamet shows no interest in offering a tidy psychological explanation for Edmond’s behavior. Hurled at you like a knife, the movie is as reasonable as a panic attack.”–Stephen Holden, The New York Times (contemporaneous)

17. TIDELAND (2005) April 6, 2009

Posted by 366weirdmovies in Weird Movies.
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We’ve moved to a new domain: 366weirdmovies.com!  Since April 8, 2009, this page is no longer being updated and has been left here for archival purposes.  Feel free to read, but if you’d like to comment on this post, read our new content, or see the design improvements, please check out this post at the new site.

“[Producer] Jeremy [Thomas] knew [raising money to make Tideland] would be difficult, particularly because the film is very, very weird. “–Terry Gilliam

threehalfstar

DIRECTED BY: Terry Gilliam

FEATURING: Jodelle Ferland, Brendan Fletcher, Jeff Bridges

PLOT:  Jeliza-Rose is a nine year old girl with an active imagination who is being raised by a pair of junkies.  When her father spirits her away to a lonely, dilapidated farmhouse, then takes an extended “vacation” on heroin, Jeliza-Rose is left to her own devices.  She retreats into an intricate fantasy world where her four doll’s heads are her closest companions, but reality is scarcely less bizarre than her imagination: her neighbors are a witch-like one-eyed woman with an unhealthy interest in taxidermy and her childlike, mentally retarded brother who lives in a fantasy world of his own, spending his days hunting a shark from his homemade submarine.    

tideland

BACKGROUND:

  • Tideland was adapted from a critically praised novel by Mitch Cullin; ironically, this faithful movie adaptation was critically panned.
  • Gilliam made Tideland while on a six month hiatus from directing the big-budget commercial fantasy, The Brothers Grimm (2005). 
  • Tideland was a commercial disaster, earning less than $100,000 in its initial domestic run.   
  • According to Gilliam, the French distributor did not want to screen this film at Cannes because there is a scene involving farting, which the French find objectionable. 

INDELIBLE IMAGE:  Many will remember Jeliza-Rose’s doll’s heads, who make memorably fantastic appearances in an underwater house and flying about inside a man’s ribcage.  But the more indelible image, because it’s repeated so many times, is the view of the broken down farmhouse in front of amber waves of grain.  The look was inspired by the Andrew Wyeth paining “Christina’s World.”  Gilliam often emphasizes the tall gold grass towering over tiny Jeliza-Rose’s head, as if it were surf and she was living in an undersea world.  This ubiquitous aquatic imagery helps to explain the title “Tideland“.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD:  Gilliam has described the movie as a cross

(more…)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 4/2/09 April 3, 2009

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A look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Alien Trespass:  A stylized spoof of 1950s drive-in sci-fi fare.  Reviewers have been unkind (only 27% positive at Rotten Tomatoes).  Alien Trespass official site.

C Me Dance:  Story of a teenage dancer who develops the ability to convert people to Christianity, which cheeses off the Devil and brings him to suburbia.  It seems sincere, which is the necessary substrate for camp.  It’s highly unlikely anyone will ever release a good movie that contains textspeak within the title.  C Me Dance official site.

Gigantic:  Self-described ” funny, surreal love story” about a mattress salesman who dreams of adopting a Chinese baby and finds true love when a customer falls asleep on one of the mattresses.  This indie comedy looks more “quirky” than “weird,” but no one can know for sure without watching it.   With Zooey Deschanel and John Goodman.  Gigantic official site.

NEW ON DVD:

A Cat in the Brian (1990):  Everyday life is causing an Italian grindhouse director (director Lucio Fulci, playing himself) to flashback to scenes of cannibal orgies from his own movies.  He sees a psychiatrist who may be even nuttier and more depraved than the director.  Unapologetically ultraviolent. 

Cthulu (2007):  If you always wondered, “what eons-forgotten actress has the eerie, alien look which best evokes the Old Ones of H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos?” and came up with the answer “Tori Spelling,” then this just might be the movie for you.  Based on the Lovecraft story “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”    

Tehilim (2007):  Allegorical tale told in documentary style about an Israeli family who use various methods of coping when the father inexplicably disappears.  Nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes in 2007.

Tokyo Zombie (2005):  It’s been called a Japanese Shaun of the Dead, which suggests something gorier and more extreme in the violence department, and wackier and more unhinged in the comedy department.  Directed by Sakicho Sato, who scripted Ichi the Killer, so it has a weird pedigree. 

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Ghosts of Mars (2001):  From borderline weird cult director John Carpenter (Big Trouble in Little China) comes this unofficial remake of his earlier action classic Assault on Precinct 13, this time with the action happening on Mars.  This movie had few defenders even among Carpenter fans, and almost none elsewhere.  With Ice Cube.

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

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