Monday, July 31, 2017

How To Stage A Coup

I'm going to try to be honest for a minute, which is something I try to avoid. I'm tired. I've been sitting here blinking at this review, and I've got nothin'. I'm sleep deprived, physically exhausted, and that isn't going to change for the next several days. The news fills me with existential dread. I'm bored, but that doesn't mean I want anything exciting to happen, although I was out late last night at a rock show. I bought a bag of Fritos yesterday, and a jar of cookie dough meant to be eaten raw from the container with a spoon, and I'm not sure why I did it. My thoughts are disjointed from fatigue, and I seem to have run out of words. I think I really just need a nap.

So I guess I'll just continue in my fashion of late of alluding to the current state of the world through the review without really saying anything substantial, and let that be it. I want to get this one out of the drafts before the end of the month. Pardon me if I trail off.

The history of autocracy is examined in this fascinating, informative, and chilling documentary program. Examining the mechanisms that cause a society to fall into fascism and the history of the societies that have succumbed to it, How To Stage A Coup looks at autocratic leaders through history and the charisma, propaganda, self-promotion, and mythology they utilize to take control of their populace. More often than not, the people found the dictator to be more palatable than chaos. Fear caused the people to run into the arms of the fascist. Persuasion, and the facade of legitimacy, cemented the autocrat in place. Something something something, dictator.

#1 Rule: Never march on Moscow. That's pretty good advice, I think.

I can't seem to find a trailer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Packed In A Trunk

An artist is committed to an asylum in 1924, her paintings locked away in trunks in an attic. Decades later, the artist's great-niece tries to right a wrong by bringing her work back to Provincetown.

Examining the mystery of what happened to a forgotten, influential artist, Packed In A Trunk often dips into overt sentimentality, but the questions surrounding her aunt's disappearance are quite compelling. After visiting her family's ancestral home, the asylum where her aunt was committed, and the graveyard she's buried in, her niece gathers oil pastel works and carved woodblocks for a showing in a gallery in Provincetown that was once featured in one of her aunt's paintings. The discovery of a woodcut painting makes the art world reconsider the original invention of the medium. Packed In A Trunk is an interesting look at an imprisoned artist whose influence is now finally being reevaluated.

ICYMI, I said a lot of stuff about the horror film The Disappointments Room over at Cultured Vultures.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Florence Foster Jenkins

Obviously, someone who has reviewed so many terrible movies is going to have a soft spot for outsider music.

Wait a second, is that obvious? Do the two go hand in hand? Now I'm unsure.

Nevertheless, it's true. I love the music some might say is unlistenable, and I love it with the same gusto that I love terrible films. Someone driven by an unknown force is compelled to create art, regardless of any training, regardless of the proper tools, and regardless of the quality of the finished product. What's not to love about that?

Frank Zappa once said The Shaggs were 'better than the Beatles, even today', and are you going to argue with him?

I once saw Jandek perform live. In fact, I'm wearing a Jandek shirt right now.
(photo not available)

On to the film. Socialite and patron of the arts Florence Foster Jenkins precariously swings down from the alcoves of a theatre, portraying the Angel Of Inspiration. Later, she averts a potato salad crisis at one of her functions. Overly fond of sandwiches, abhorring pointed objects, and collecting chairs in which notable people have reportedly died in, (For heaven's sake, don't try to sit in one), Madam Foster Jenkins is a complex, noble, and pitiable creature, one who is courageous, sympathetic, and profoundly untalented. Serving her famous potato salad from her bathtub and carrying around a mysterious briefcase, she is encouraged and protected, usually for continued patronage, as she ascends to infamy at a sold out show at Carnegie Hall.

Bittersweet and funny, the film Florence Foster Jenkins examines the life of the tone-deaf opera singer. Sadness lurks about, with hints of war, death, illness, and fear, but these specters don't hang around long. Knowing looks and glances abound, as the supporting characters desperately try to insulate Jenkins from a world that doesn't understand her genius at interpretation.

Florence Foster Jenkins is at turns both broadly and slyly comedic. Meryl Streep nearly submerges completely in her role. Oscar occasionally glints from behind her performance, which is understandable. Meryl seems to relish the part, and Hugh Grant cuts a mean jitterbug. I was particularly moved by a standout scene near the end of the film as Streep drags one of the New York Posts from the garbage placed there by her doting quasi-husband Grant, as the orchestration swells, the crane pivots, and Streep staggers slightly as she reads the review of her performance.

ICYMI, I said some stuff about the horror film The Disappointments Room at Cultured Vultures. You should check it out.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Release The Hounds

Contestants attempt to finish tepidly gory challenges at an allegedly haunted country estate surrounded by fencing and razor wire, and after finishing their obstacles and collecting the cash, get chased by dogs, which catch them and tear them apart.

The contestants must climb a fence to enter the estate, find a key within a haunted attraction style physical challenge, fill their backpack with cash, then escape by climbing over another fence while being chased by dogs.

I only watched one episode. Here's what transpired:

First obstacle: After searching the woods, the trio finds crucified scarecrows which projectile vomit fake blood upon them.

Second obstacle: Enter a blood spattered cabin filled with skulls, raw meat, and jars filled with anatomical specimens. In a crawlspace under the house filled with bloody rags, the key is within a medical cooler for organ transplants sewn within a gooey animal heart.

Third obstacle: Read a story to a haunted doll.

Release The Hounds is an unexpectedly alarming television program. It appears the planet has descended to the depths of the Most Dangerous Game, where people are now hunted for sport on television after being conditioned to burgle.

Resembling a far less interesting Battle Royale or Running Man, Release The Hounds is transparently scripted, and has the feel of a not-especially terrifying haunted attraction, only you're unconvincingly torn apart by animals if you fail to finish.

Watching Release The Hounds caused me to yearn for the witty, pre-dystopian days of Match Game and Hollywood Squares.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return: Episode 8 "Gotta Light"

I know I'm a few weeks late on this, but oh well.

I want you all to stop what you are doing and immediately watch Twin Peaks: Episode 8 "Gotta Light?".
To be properly prepared, I'll need you to watch the following films first:

Un Chien Andalou
L'Age d'Or
The Blood Of A Poet
The Old Dark House
Citizen Kane
Meshes Of The Afternoon
8 1/2
Scorpio Rising
2001: A Space Odyssey
Plan 9 From Outer Space
The Creeping Terror
The Exterminating Angel
The Exorcist
Zero For Conduct
The 400 Blows
Night Of The Hunter
The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari
El Topo
A Zed And Two Noughts
The Last Of England
Ichi The Killer
The Wages Of Fear
Carnival Of Souls
The Innocents
Tales From The Gimli Hospital
Night Of The Living Dead
This is an incomplete list, and still may not get you up to speed. Between screenings, listen to Krzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima" and the collected works of Nine Inch Nails, and stare intently at Francis Bacon's "Figure With Meat". 

I can't really say it'll help, but it certainly couldn't hurt. 
Twin Peaks: The Return: Episode 8 "Gotta Light" is one of the most astonishing episodes of television, heck, CINEMA, I've ever seen, reminding me of the joy, confusion, and terror of seeing Eraserhead for the first time many decades ago, where I feared that exposure to that particular film could possibly have forever mutated my genes.
If you're confused, watch it again.
Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Japanese Style Originator

A panel of celebrity judges are quizzed on their knowledge of Japanese culture in this quirky, informative television program. Broken up by odd vignettes of kimono-wearing children jokingly discussing the program and strange video game-like footage; tofu preparation, candle making, the harvesting of tea leaves, the proper techniques for tempura cooking, the manners required while wearing a kimono, and the aesthetics of Japanese gardens are examined in a QVC meets The View talk show format.

What's happening here? What's going on? I don't know. What's with the odd gestures, the strange rituals, the bizarre machines, the extravagant costumes? It's quite impenetrable. I'm assuming someone is selling something, but it's all so vague.

Speaking of odd gestures, strange rituals, bizarre machines, and extravagant costumes, sports often inconvenience me. I don't understand it, and what little I seem to grasp disturbs me. I never cared for math that much, and that's what sports seems to be; people amassing in large crowds wearing absurd sports apparel representing their chosen warring city-state, drinking beer, eating nachos, and arguing about numbers. Here's an unpopular opinion: Maybe one could drink beer and eat nachos without the math, crowds, sports, and bickering? They both taste just as good sitting at home wearing a kimono.

I'm often perplexed by what passes for entertainment with people sometimes, and I'm sure the feeling is mutual. Speaking of sports, here's a clip from Calamari Wrestler.

Anyway, Japanese Style Originator is informative, and touched with a humorous sense of the uncanny.

I'm still working on my review of The Disappointments Room for Cultured Vultures, which you voted on, so you have no one to blame but yourselves. Meanwhile, here's this, where I ramble on about more odd gestures, strange rituals, bizarre machines, and extravagant costumes: