Monday, January 17, 2022

Video Nasty

Films: Censor
Format: Streaming video from Hulu Plus on Fire!

I got a lot of suggestions of 2021 movies to watch since I am constantly 18 months or so behind on new stuff. I figured that now, pre-Oscar nominations, I would get through some of them just for fun. A movie like Censor isn’t going to raise a lot of eyebrows or get a lot of votes come Oscar time, but it looked interesting, so I figured I’d give it a shot. While I won’t be watching 2021 movies exclusively, a couple a week seems like a pretty good goal.

Censor is a horror movie about horror movies, kind of. Specifically, it concerns Enid (Niamh Algar), who works as a censor. To really understand this, you need to know about the Video Nasties. Essentially, during the 1980s, the UK had censor who would restrict or ban movies that were particularly nasty or violent. Enid is one of the censors. She spends her days watching the worst and most horrifying of mid-80s movies, suggesting cuts or simply deciding that something needs to be banned.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Fashion Forward

Films: The Neon Demon
Format: DVD from Ella Johnson Memorial Public Library through interlibrary loan on rockin’ flatscreen

I’ve had The Neon Demon checked out from the library before but I’ve never gotten around to it until now. I’ve heard a good deal about it, though, and I’ve liked at least some of Nicolas Winding Refn’s films in the past. That said, I’m not sure I was prepared for where this goes. What starts as a sort of Day-Glo fashion-based Suspiria ends up touching on some very upsetting topics. It seems cliché to call this film transgressive, and yet that is absolutely the best word for it.

While visually this does have a lot in common with the original Suspiria (and should come with an epilepsy warning), in terms of story, it reminded me a lot more of the underrated and underseen Starry Eyes. That’s not just based on the overall story, but on the way the story works. Both films dip into disturbing ideas through the running time, but take a very hard left into upsetting territory in the third act. And for as disturbing as the conclusion of Starry Eyes turned out to be, The Neon Demon goes further, darker, and harder. Aside from that, the biggest difference is that Starry Eyes is about an upcoming actress while The Neon Demon is about someone who wants to be a model.

Monday, January 10, 2022

The Inebriati

Films: Another Round (Druk)
Format: Streaming video from Hulu Plus on rockin’ flatscreen

If you’re at all a fan of British sketch comedy, you’re likely to be familiar with David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Mitchell and Webb have had a series of shows on British television, my favorite being “That Mitchell and Webb Look.” One of their better sketches involves a group of people who vaguely control the world behind the scenes, mostly by being mildly drunk all of the time. Known colloquially as “The Inebriati” but preferring to go by “The Knights Tipler,” they seek to influence the world based on the fact that everything seems nicer when you’ve had just short of two drinks. This is a roundabout way of saying that I watched Another Round (known in the Danish as Druk, which translates roughly as “binge drinking”).

We’re going to spend most of our time with Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), a history teacher at a Copenhagen gymnasium. He’s an uninspired and uninspiring teacher to the point that his students and their parents aren’t sure they want him to be in charge of their upcoming exams. At the 40th birthday dinner of his colleague Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), Martin breaks down. He is bored with his life and feels like he is losing touch with his wife and children. It turns out that Nikolaj is in much the same place—his children dominate his life and his wife treats him with contempt.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Every Letter Gets Its Own Monster

Films: Q The Winged Serpent
Format: Streaming video from Pluto TV on Fire!

What can I honestly say about Q The Winged Serpent (also known sometimes as just Q)? This very much feels like a movie where someone had a notion that it would be fun to make a movie based on an ancient Aztec deity but had no ability to actually figure out how to make it work. The basic idea of it—a neo Aztec priest commits human sacrifices around New York to cause the rise of a gigantic winged serpent that begins preying on the people of the city—is a lot of fun. The problem is that nothing about this movie actually works in any real way.

As often seems to be the case, we’re going to have multiple plots working at the same time. The first involves the police dealing with a series of weird ritual killings. Detective Shepard (David Carradine) and Sergeant Powell (Richard Roundtree) are baffled by the killings as well as a series of other deaths that seem somehow related even though there is no thread connecting them. We assume they are connected because this is a movie and red herrings like that just don’t happen in movies. They have to be connected. The flayed body found in a room in one part of the city must be connected to the headless window washer.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Flight Club

Films: Nomadland
Format: Streaming video from Hulu+ on Fire!

My original plan was to complete the Oscar movies from last year before the end of December, and while I got close, I didn’t quite get there. The original plan involved watching Nomadland, as the winner of three Oscars that I care about including Best Picture, last. But at this point, leaving it to last would genuinely affect the rest of what I’m doing in the next couple of months.

I knew a little about Nomadland going in, but only that Frances McDormand lives out of her van and drives around the country. There honestly didn’t seem like a lot of movie in that, but it is more than just her driving in a van. Nomadland is a film that has a story, but it feels much more like a year-long slice out of someone’s life. There is a sense of conclusion here, but not a complete conclusion. It has an end, but it isn’t “the” end.