Last 10

Oct 4 – 23 

Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) – The notion that nothing is real goes down a deep, dark well in this movie. The questioning of one’s own reality gets a meta-stamp in the form of a super-hero movies that leans heavily on computer generated surroundings and action set-pieces shot against green screens. It feels like Marvel flexing a bit. All this controversy over whether these movies are art or not. Or even films. It’s as if Marvel wants to remind you of all the artists behind the scenes clicking away twenty hours a day. It’s a keen flex and those people deserve more than their credit. I dig it.  

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) – The thought of a woman, or a memory of a woman is forever trapped in a lonely man’s mind. His life could be thought of in this movie as flashing before his eyes, but it’s more of a slow digression into the back rooms of a shared familial psyche. A janitor rummaging through the halls of his forgotten memories comes upon something that got away, or something or someone who is still alive within him. We never stop loving someone. We never end things as we may think of ending things. Maybe our whole concept of endings is all out of whack. What happens to a memory when we die? Does it live on as some strange energy in the ether? But what a horror it is on the other side if it is true that memories are alive. To be trapped in a cave of ever shifting miasmas and phantoms, wondering just what you are doing here. Must be what it’s like to be a woman in this world. Trapped inside a photo in a man’s mind. Is that the modern, malaise of a woman’s strife? Possibly. Either way its’s rather horrific.  

The Death of Dick Long (2018) – Disarming comedy leads to a heartbreaking nuanced look at love and sexuality in pent-up Alabama. Sheinert uses the dirty, degenerative decadence of the Deep South to almost ape everything Jody Hill and Danny McBride have built. But his own uniqueness is there in the Zoo-like revelation. His ability to find a way to not so much to balance comedy and heartfelt-drama but find quirks and turn them into a whole movie is worth noting. Filmmakers like Hill, Hess and Wes Anderson have made similar livings on such skills. But where he had Paul Dano in Swiss Army Man to sell the quirks, here there are some relatively unknowns that do their down-home best and the world is at times David Gordon Greenish, there’s a lacking in the finality to every scene. Making it feel caught in some land of in-between.  

Without Name (2016) – Becoming one with nature isn’t all hugging trees and smoking weed and tripping on shrooms. Although, that’s where it starts for a land surveyor gets more than he bargains for. Because underneath all that lushness we call nature, is a black void. Just the nothingness before the Big-Bang. Kierkegaard is roaming these Irish woods. That may be him as that black silhouette the main character can’t quite get a word with. But if you stick with this till the end, you’ll find that bottomless void lies hidden in all of us.  

#Alive (2020) – When you discover that possibly the last man on earth is an idiot. You may want to stay quarantined in your cute little South Korean apartment while the zombies while away outside. But the thing, the virus, is not going away and fatigue sets in and little by little you start taking chances, until your feet finally hit the ground and you find that here are more sinister things than zombies out there.  

Christine (1983) – Another subversion of masculinity. This time it hits way below the belt and takes away a man’s car and makes it into a feminist icon. It’s an indictment on the patriarchal revolution of industry. The subversion comes in the form of the willful nerd we know so well, Keith Gordon. Who starts off as a bumbling geek who charges through puddles of water in his driveway like a four-year old and just happens to have the coolest friend in the world. So, the supernatural car from Motor City turns our nerd into James Dean in a week’s time. But that’s when the teardown begins. The subversion works because that James Dean persona is nothing but pomp and empty caricature. It’s just a role men have played out through the ages and gets imbued in the things they build. Extensions of a fading male virility. It all comes crashing down in a neat little metal box in the end.  

The Legacy of the Whitetail Deerhunter (2018) – The kid and McBride make a great foil for Big Head Josh and the white-male doldrums. It’s satire, sure, and we don’t know if he shoots that deer at the end, but I guess there’s something to be said for a man in nature. Escaping the long fingers of cell-phone technology. Which is a constant struggle here. The wish to get back to analog and VHS wrinkliness. But there’s something else here besides technology pushing us toward the wilderness. People do it too each other as well. We push each other toward aloneness and the wilds of our selfish minds. Hunting animals is surely barbaric, but do we look at male bonding as something archaic and in need of cancelation? Maybe. But maybe it just needs a readjustment.  

Bacurau (2019) – Colonialism is too nice a word. It rolls off the tongue too smoothly. The world needs a darker sounding idiom for this foul shit the white man has perfected and infected the planet with. An evil that had invaded every little corner on the planet. White folks think the world is one big Most Dangerous Game. We view things as if it’s an issue of National Geographic. We like to go in knowing of our prey. Show us a documentary about what it’s like in a small Brazilian village. What are all the little soap operas going on amongst the villagers? Because this makes the pillaging and death all the sweeter. We’re sadistic people, us white folks. We get bored easily and need newer, more complex things to conquer. But technology has worked against us. When in the past it was the metal we forged and the animals we’d tamed that gave us our edge, but now we have to go about shutting off people’s tech. Make them disappear off the map before truly vanishing our foes. We really didn’t think that one through here. This little village had no play in them. They go to a well long valued as inalienable human right; the right to bear arms. And it’s beautiful to behold.  

The Berlin File (2013) – North Korea as the axis for international intrigue. This is a zip-line of forward movement. At times it seems to share a likeness to Infernal Affairs with its riffing of Woo-like camera-work. But it’s way less maudlin when dealing with the emotional motivations of its characters. There’s a marriage at the center of all this intrigue and betrayal that shines through before dropping to sadness. It’s heartfelt because everything is earned in this movie. A begrudging friendship emerges towards the end that reminds one of another Korean film dealing with people who find themselves on opposite sides of a demarcation line. JSA. Both end enigmatically, with just a whisper of hope that things will change.  

In a Valley of Violence (2016) – John Wick on the range. Okay, that’s too easy. But revenge for the death of one’s dog is a newer sub-genre. Ethan Hawke is no John Wick here, though. He’s much more agitated and mottled by his past transgressions in violence. And Ti West is much more into vague tonal shifts that exist in the Noodle Westerns he’s paying homage to. The actors often seemed loss. Maybe he should’ve dubbed them. West even seems to lose focus on his own film acumen. The actors are lost because he is lost. And the whole movie tip-toes along that line. There’s a hysteria at work here that seems intended but unsupported. It never seems to want to take itself over the edge. It just sits in this place of uncertainty and we the viewer is left wanting. 

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