Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Holy Mountain: Jodorowsky, Armless Midget Lover? I Think So

Well, it finally happened. I threw away my tax forms from when I was 15. And also, I found a film that is weirder than Hausu. I didn't believe it either at first, after all what purpose does a tax return filed in 2001 really serve, but there you have it. By the way, The Holy Mountain? What the fuck? This is The Cremaster Cycle times infinity. This is a film that should be banned because it might cause your face to be stuck in the "I'm so confused it hurts" position forever. I'm serious. I literally have a headache from squinting, shaking my head and saying "WOW" out loud for 1 hour and 50 something minutes. The wow is in capitals because it's a Tuesday.

Hopefully it goes without saying that all this craziness, and weirdness, all this nakedness and all these oddities are in fact what make The Holy Mountain a must see. I must warn you though---The Holy Mountain requires you to mostly submit to pure aesthetic.

The understanding will come later (Although in most of our cases it is doubtful that it will ever come), but there's no point in avoiding the fact that what we have here is art. Of course this "must see" status applies only to those of you that are enthralled by weirdness and massively cool and bizarre images on screen. It is not a horror movie, but that doesn't mean that it won't completely mess you up--in either a good or bad way depending on your age and race. (That's a joke!)

While my last experience with an Alejandro Jodorowsky film filled me with immense inspiration and divine awesomeness, The Holy Mountain fills me mostly with a sense of despair. The kind of despair that is only achieved by seeing a man poop in a glass jar and having that poop turn into gold before your very eyes. What is The Holy Mountain about? I have no idea and I'm pretty sure that nobody knows (By the way, if you tell me that you know and understand what this film is about, I will assume that you are a liar and that you cannot be trusted. I will also eat your baby should you ever have one).

As far as I can tell, The Holy Mountain is about a guy who looks like Jesus, that rides a big fishing hook up to a tower where Alejandro Jodorowsky lives. Jesus becomes his apprentice and meets several important people that represent planets and weird things. These people and Jesus then journey to The Holy Mountain to find out something important. That's all I got. Read a summary if you feel cheated and believe me, you'll still be confused.

Although the story is I assume important in some way, for me the main draw of The Holy Mountain is the imagery. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I wanted to take a screen grab of everything. As you look at these screen grabs that I have captured, I think you will get an understanding of the kind of film The Holy Mountain is. A fucking weird and awesome one. It's important to note here also that I would classify The Holy Mountain as a disturbing film. Remember the true definition of "disturbed" and you'll understand why. The things that you see in The Holy Mountain are things that you will probably never see again in your life--but you will never forget them. These things, sometimes flashes, sometimes long drawn out shots of colors and exact meticulous positioning, will stick with you as you're trying to fall asleep. They'll stick with you during times of sadness and happiness. Times of agony and times of fear.

But why should I tell you about these things when you can find them out for yourself? JUST LIKE THE HOLY MOUNTAIN. It's true though. Why would you listen to someone tell you about how a monkey shows up at one point wearing a sweatshirt taken from the closet of A.C Slater, when you could see it for yourself?

Why listen to someone try to explain the genius of a full spectrum rainbow

or a room filled with testicles in little glass jars,

or a penis ice sculpture,

or a woman bleeding strawberries,

or a really tall toilet,

or a frog circus that turns into a terrifying frog massacre/volcano explosion? Exactly.

I could go on and on and on about what I just saw and how it's the most fucked up and crazy thing I've ever seen, but you won't care. You'll laugh and say, "Oh ha ha yes Andre that is very funny....BUT SHOULD I WATCH IT?"

I have no answer for you. Should you feel compelled to someday watch The Holy Mountain, then I will shake your hand. The Holy Mountain is not for everyone, that much is proven---but those of us who can appreciate the fine art of well....art, it just might be for us. Jodorowsky is a filmmaker that continues to mess with my head. My creative juices continue to be depleted after watching his films because I simply cannot turn my brain off.

I have no fucking clue what The Holy Mountain is about nor do I care. And that my friends, is awesome. But don't blame me if you watch it and then can't look at a chicken, a frog, wax, flies, a tiger, gumballs, poop, or a green penis for years.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some Things About Mars Attacks!

Damn it, I don't have time anymore! I'm assuming I'm still just getting used to my new lifestyle and that someday, one day, I will wake up from this busy coma. I better at least. I think a lack of blogging makes me feel depressed. Is that normal? Anyways, a few nights ago I decided to watch Mars Attacks! For no particular reason other than the fact that I hadn't seen it in a long time and that one particular scene always used to give me nightmares (I kid you not). Then when I started watching it I realized a few things and here are those things. Things that I'm going to talk about right now.


When I saw this when I was younger, I had no clue about old Sci-Fi films. I think I thought Star Wars was the first, last and only Sci-Fi film ever made because I have no memory of ever thinking about or watching anything else. Mars Attacks just seemed like a weird bad movie to me. It was over the top and ridiculous and the aliens wore little red speedos?

I mean what the hell was going on there?

Now however as I find myself to be semi-well versed in the art of horror and Sci-Fi movies....I get Mars Attacks! It's a homage, a spoof, and it contains so many little nods of joy that it's almost challenging to keep track of them. My favorite aspect is how the alien spaceships are so classic in their ultra retro saucer shape.

It gives them that eerie characteristic of floating as if by a string although this time they're floating thanks to poorly orchestrated CGI. No matter though, these alien spaceships are nice little throwbacks to a time when this design was the only one that we knew. Neat isn't it?

2. Who isn't in Mars Attacks?

Again, when you are young and impressionable---any actors that are older than 30 (or who are not Jack Nicholson) mean nothing to you. Due to this, I had no clue that Mars Attacks had such a fantastically star studded cast. Annette Benning was the loopy, hippie, woman?!

Say what?!

Natalie Portman is the presidents daughter? JACK BLACK is the douche head bro?

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE is the trailer slut next door? PAM GRIER?



This movie hurts my head. Plus, Tom Jones, Sarah Jessica Parker, Marty McFly, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Short, Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito.....the list forges on and on and on and on.

3. The Martian Girl Haunts My Dreams

If you aren't a total whiz at Tim Burton and his trademarks and style (Or if you do not read the "Trivia" section of IMDB), then presumably you do not know who Lisa Marie is. Lisa Marie by the way is NOT the same person as Lisa Marie Presley, however much myself of the past would like to believe it to be true. Nope, Lisa Marie is actually an ex of Burton himself which therefore equals face time in a few of his films. Like Ed Wood where she played Vampira, or in Sleepy Hollow where she played Lady Crane. Here in Mars Attacks, Lisa Marie plays the Martian Girl also known as one of the main reasons I have an irrational fear of people floating.

One of these days I will form of a collection of scary people floating moments, and certainly this one may take the top spot. I dreaded this scene so much when I was little, that I would change the channel when it was happening. I hate the way that the Martian Girl floats as she walks with her arms doing that weird thing and the scary Danny Elfman in the background. It really gives me the willies.

4. Shit Is Serious (Only Not)

I couldn't help but notice as I re-watched Mars Attacks last night, that shit is serious. If you take away the fact that film is a comedy and a spoof then you're left with one brutal and depressing film. I read (In the trivia section yes) that the studio objected to Jack Nicholson being killed off in the film and proclaimed that he simply could not be killed. This of course prompted Burton to place Nicholson in two roles....and kill both of them. The point is. Jack Nicholson? That's all we care about?

In case you've forgotten, pretty much anyone who is anyone dies in Mars Attacks. This is a case of the Janet Leigh syndrome multiplied by 30 and shoved up your butt. Not only that, but entire branches of the government are wiped out in mere seconds---and cute golden retrievers get fried as a mere afterthought. There's a lot of carnage in Mars Attacks, and when you're 10 years old--that whole "Oh this is a comedy so it's okay" thing does NOT apply. I was horrified to see Marty McFly's skeleton roasting in the desert sun.

Horrified to see Glenn Close get crushed by a falling chandelier. Horrified to see that cute golden golden retriever get fried. Which reminds me...

5. Dark and Loving It

Mars Attacks is dark yo. And believe it or not--much of it was supposed to be even darker. Several scenes or ideas for scenes were cut out of the final project that would have tipped the scales indefinitely towards the dark side. Scenes like Mr. Lee in the beginning being trampled to death by the herd of burning cows,

Byron actually dying and just more and more frying of people by the martians. Looking at Mars Attacks is one of those situations that confuses my head. I know it's supposed to be funny and a spoof, but watching all these seemingly innocent people get killed in 2 seconds for no good reason---has always left me with a bit of a sad face.

It terrified me as a child, seeing all these well known landmarks being wiped off the face of the earth.

I kept picturing myself watching my own family get killed by the martians, my own dog, my neighbors and friends. In fact, I'm about 90% sure that at this point in my life, I feared an alien attack more than a shark attack. And it was definitely Mars Attacks that kept me more afraid than a film like Independence Day. Can you believe it? Me neither. Suffice to say, Mars Attacks holds more weight than a lot of people give it credit for. Let's have a moment of silence for all those lost in the martian attacks of 1996 shall we?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Oldboy: Revenge Is Good For Your Health, But Pain Will Find You Again

Oldboy has been on my must see list for years. Ever since I saw a clip somewhere that showed a man cutting off his own tongue with a pair of scissors. I should note that that scene may have actually been what prevented me from seeing it in the long run. I think at that time I was convinced that showing a man cutting off his tongue with scissors was pretty fucked up and not something that I wanted to see anytime soon.

This was obviously a time before seeing people eat poop, and watching women get fucked with sharp rocks. In any case, I avoided watching Oldboy for no good reason at all. Even after I conquered some of the most vile films known to man, Oldboy remained patiently on my list of films I needed to see. Why? Probably because it's 2 hours long and 2 hour long movies give me hives.Then, a few weeks ago, Oldboy turned up on Netflix Instant Watch. And we all know what happened with that. If you don't, I'll tell you. Netflix uses the dubbed version on Instant Watch. Yes. DUBBED. Fuck dubbing. Seriously, fuck it a lot. It's so racist!

Okay it's not racist but it does kind of completely cut out that whole thing called acting doesn't it? And now after seeing Oldboy and that utterly mind blowing display of acting at its conclusion, I can tell you that I am so glad I threw caution to the wind and got Oldboy on DVD instead. Even if it took me an extra 20 minutes to figure out how to turn the dubbing off and not have the subtitles be in Korean 3 whatever that is, and apparently it's different than Korean 1 and 2 so don't even bother trying to explain it to me.

MY POINT IS. I have finally seen Oldboy. And now my friend who always demands that I see Oldboy (Hi Ben!) will be appeased. Although probably angry that I didn't see it with him, but really can you blame me? Watching old Korean men violently masturbating with friends is always going to be awkward...best to keep it to yourself. Wait did that sound like an old Korean man was masturbating WITH my friends? Yikes. Well, you know what I mean. I hope.

Oldboy is about a man named Oh Dae-su who gets locked up for 15 years without explanation. After 15 years he is released and embarks on a crazy adventure to find out who imprisoned him and why. The trouble is, once he finds out why and what the real punishment is--he may be wishing that he was kept locked up after all.

The thing about Oldboy is that it was not what I was expecting at all. I expected a lot of violence, and some stomach turning effects. I did not expect a complicated mystery that only got weirder and harder to swallow as time went on. I did not expect there to be minimal violence and cut away shots of gore.

Unless of course this was an edited version, in which case I'll feel like a loser, so just don't tell me. At any rate--Oldboy is one of those films that is not a horror film--but just a really good film. If that makes sense.

Here's one thing I regret though. I regret not setting aside ample time for me to watch the film in one sitting. You know me and my short attention span when it comes to long movies, but for whatever reason I thought a good idea would be to start watching the film at 9PM. This turned out to be a bad idea and I got sleepy and decided to finish it the next day. But the next day, I did too many things and only got another 30 minutes of watching in. So needless to say my viewing experience was a bit fragmented. This doesn't mean I didn't take anything away from the film but I imagine the impact of the film and its events would have hit me harder had I watched it all at once.

Much of the film is beautiful and I completely dig that. Much of it is also mysterious and I completely dig that too. In fact, I dig this combination so much that I want to marry it after I have a stable job and am financially secure. I was truly surprised by how awesome almost all of Oldboy was and I was also surprised and horrified at the two revelations at the end. I had no idea and definitely did not see that one coming. Even during the first "surprise" I went, "What? Who is that? They're WHAT!?" It was gross, but nothing compared to the second blow. Which reminds me....Foreign films seem to be really free on discussing this topic don't they? I feel like we, the conservative assholes of America would immediately burn any film that even mentioned some of what ends up happening in Old Boy.

I had been told several times that Oldboy was a fantastic film and that it would blow my mind away. I'm not sure I can really say at this point that it blew my mind away. I enjoyed it and found it to be a great film, but did it really blow my mind? It made me think about a lot of things, and really hit me hard--but will I be fixated on it for weeks to come? I'll let you know in a few weeks. I will say that I can't stop thinking about one scene in particular....

Yup. That one. Granted, I'm no stranger to large bugs doing people-like things. I did see Naked Lunch not too long ago, but still....what is going on up there? OH WAIT. I think I might know, but I'll keep it to myself for now. Which reminds me. Hallucinations in this are terrifying. Why would anyone willingly submit to possibly hallucinating a million ants covering your body? Or riding on a train with a big bug? Bugs are the worst. The worst.

Overall, Oldboy is a spectacular film. It has meat on its bones and it's quite tender. It's a film that you can actually follow for a change and a film that will keep even you on your toes. Or hopefully it will. I can't be the only one who didn't see the end coming right? Right??! Ugh. I probably was. I do have a knack for being really slow on the uptake sometimes. Regardless, don't pull a me and avoid seeing this. See it as soon as you can and appreciate its seemingly effortless portrayal of a twisted cycle of revenge. It's revenge yes, but perhaps not in the way we think. And hopefully that IS surprising.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Super 8: An Open Letter to the World

As I came out of the theater after seeing Super 8, I couldn't help but ask the world a question. Technically I asked the sky, but it was really addressed to the world and so I assume that Morgan Freeman (God) passed the question along to the rest of you. The question was: when did we stop simply watching a film? When did we start analyzing and picking apart the movie instead of turning off our minds and getting absorbed into it? My friend once asked me if I found that I had a hard time watching movies and NOT writing about them. At the time the answer was yes. I was in my prime stride of horror blogging, and everything I watched was no longer a movie--it was an opportunity. Even if you are not a film blogger, I find that more and more these days people are exiting movie theaters and blabbing away about how a movie is like another movie. Or how a director is a hack. Or how the themes and the tone of the film did not match up with the story.

Granted, I do talk about those things but technically I am a part of this world and therefore my own question was also posed to me. The point is. Why do people hate Super 8? At some point during the movie I did start thinking about "things". I started questioning things and trying to figure out why other people did not enjoy the film. Before long however, I snapped out of it and from that moment on dismissed any real deep thoughts. I wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to always remember that feeling of being completely absorbed into a film. That moment where you aren't even aware that people are sitting around you. I had heard people talk about that moment and realized tonight that I have never truly felt it until now. Naturally, if you need a definitive answer on whether or not you should see Super 8 the answer is yes. And after some ranting, I'll tell you why.

I really wish people would stop comparing movies to other movies based on central themes or characters. I ranted about this once before and now I'm bringing it back. Super 8 is nothing like E.T., Alien, or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, so stop comparing them on a base level. Also, stop accusing Steven Spielberg of A. sucking and B. making the same movies. Why? Because Super 8 is not Steven Spielberg's movie. Sure, there are subtle smells of the Spielberg creeping in here and there, but as an avid L.O.S.T fan, I'm pretty confident in asserting that Super 8 reeks overwhelmingly of J.J. Abrams.

The thing that sets J.J.Abrams apart from just about everyone else is what he puts at stake. Thanks to whatever strange super powers the man possesses, his films and TV shows always end up putting something at stake for the audience rather than the characters. Think about it. If Steven Spielberg's strengths are his characters and his ability to make even the strongest man or woman cry, then J.J. Abrams' is his ability to deeply involve the audience. His mysteries and the idea that something is hidden beneath that film that WE need to figure out before the characters do, is always something that I feel very strongly. It's like I can't get to sleep that night until I crack the code myself. I remember once staying up all night reading a summary of "Our Mutual Friend" because Desmond had a copy of it in the hatch. I was positive that no one but me had thought to do that and that I would be the one to find out some earth shattering clue about the island.

The mysteries in Super 8 are condensed a bit to the point where the window that you have to solve it before the characters is disappointingly small---but luckily it doesn't take anything away from the film. These strange happenings, these mysteries are always presented as trees, with giant roots spanning for miles. Little things seem like nothing then quickly evolve into highly important and life changing details. I love this. I cannot get enough of it in fact and luckily for me Super 8 is crawling with it.

What am I even talking about anymore? Is this even a review? Probably not and I realize I'm not making the situation any better. Whatever. I'm also coming off a two week high of having a real job and actual things to do doing the work day. It blows my mind and I'm not adjusting properly, which is probably why I can't even form coherent sentences and interesting things to talk about. In case you wanted to know by the way, the best way to tell if I'm having writer's block is when I start talking about hookers.

Ummmm what were we talking about? Oh yeah. Super 8 is a great fucking film. I don't care if you have all these important things to say about it or why you think it sucks. You are wrong (according to me and Kurt Russell) (I don't even know if he's seen it, but he usually agrees with me so I think we're safe) and I am right. Go see Super 8 and have a good time doing it. Enjoy it for its entertainment and its mysteries. Enjoy it for its blatant displays of cheesiness or its hearty doses of Daddy issues. Enjoy it for how it reminds you of your childhood or when people still suspected that the Russians were behind everything. Enjoy it for its laughs, for its thrills---but most importantly---enjoy it because it's a movie. Simple as that.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crawlspace: False Advertising

Crawlspace is an odd film. There's really no other way of saying it. When I first read the synopsis (Yes, I read one for a change, aren't you proud?) I thought to myself, "YES". In case you're curious, this is the synopsis:

Klaus Kinski is at his creepy best as Karl Gunther, whose boarding house for young women hides some sinister secrets. He spends his downtime stalking his tenants from hidden passages and carrying out kinky, sadistic experiments. The son of a psychotic SS doctor, Gunther is being tracked by a famed Nazi hunter. But until he's caught, more unassuming women will fall victim to his depravity.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that does warrant a full standing, "YES", am I right? I mean, a creepy old man who runs a boarding house solely for women AND carries out "kinky" experiments!? Sign me up! After all, how can one really go wrong with a film where so much awesome is supposed to happen?

Before everyone gets all excited and goes out and buys Crawlspace t-shirts and mouse pads however, I feel it my duty to warn you of something quite important. Crawlspace? Not that cool. Mostly, because half of what that description says never happens. I know, I know, I may as well have just peed in your potato chips, but we'll all just have to deal with it.

The good thing about the film however is that it does contain some solid bits of creepiness. The opening scene is superb in its ability to combine horror cliches and random what the fuck moments. Like, a door closing by itself behind our first victim and then a bald woman in a cage for instance

....excellent stuff and completely what I envision when I hear the term Nazi wannabe and kinky experiments. After this moment of brilliance however, we are led to watch the film with open eyes hoping that something kinky does end up happening. But it doesn't!

The kinkiest thing that happens is that some slut cuts holes in her red bra exposing her nipples while her boyfriend plays the "I'm going to pretend to be a rapist" game with her. Super kinky. But no Nazis. Therein lies the great dilemma.

Here's the thing about Crawlspace: all the good stuff happens without us. It's like arriving late to a birthday party and finding out that the magician already left. Thanks a lot Mom for driving so slowly. But honestly, if Crawlspace boasts kinky, sadistic experiments, then I want to see some fucking kinky, sadistic experiments! I figured that slowly each girl in the boarding house would fall victim to Gunther's sadistic ways but instead, he just looked at them from behind a grate and made noises with his switchblade. Borrrring. Even the beginning feeling of Klaus Kinski being the creepiest old man in the history of the world wears off pretty quickly and that is depressing.

The film also doesn't make any sense. Gunther writes in his journals about how after reading his father's journals and finding out about euthanasia, it prompted him also to seek out the process. But we never get a clear idea of what the hell is going on inside the man's head. Every night he plays Russian Roulette by himself and writes in his journals.

He seems oddly grounded for a man that is supposed to carry out kinky and sadistic experiments on unsuspecting young women. Then it happens. About an hour and 10 minutes into the hour and 20 minute running time, Gunther snaps. He plays his old Nazi videos, and puts on makeup and really kicks things into high gear.

Or we assume he does. We never know because we missed the fucking magician.

Our leading lady only finally realizes that Gunther is creepy after finding a dead man floating in her bathtub and goes off to warn the other girls. Unfortunately, all the other girls were killed in kinky and sadistic ways behind our backs! When did all this go down? How? That is exactly what I'd like to know but unfortunately, we'll never find out.

By the way, this rubbish about a Nazi hunter on Gunther's tail? Rubbish. If by Nazi hunter you mean, guy who is angry that Gunther killed his brother when Gunther used to work in a hospital, then yes......Nazi hunter. Other than that though? Useless. The only good thing about Crawlspace is the unveiling of all the dead bodies at the end. Which I'll post for you, so that you don't have to waste your time watching the whole movie.

There's also a lot of rat trauma going on in this. For some reason the rats are a big deal in this and I haven't quite figured it out yet. There's also an insanely grueling chase sequence through the crawlspace at the end. If you've ever wondered how grueling a chase sequence through a crawlspace can be then let me show you.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

That is until Gunther magically gets whisked away by a strange rolling contraption allowing him to catch up with the leading lady.


Honestly though, try not to be fooled by the majestic powers of Crawlspace and its neat synopsis. See? This is why I don't read synopses. They only create disappointment and heartburn. Seriously though, despite the fact that there are several moment of unintentional hilarity running rampant--resist the urge to put this on your queue or suffer the consequences of sadness. Also a kitten dies...NOT COOL.