Category Archives: Movies

Recommended: I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore

A movie on Netflix you probably haven’t heard of.

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a pretty terrific piece of work.

Here’s the Netflix link.

If you want comps, Blood Simple and Blue Ruin come to mind, but this movie is sweeter than those. And no less hard.

It stars Melanie Lynskey, who is terrific. This is star making.

Directed by Macon Blair, his first film.

I could describe it, I guess, but really what you need to know is this movie is really well made. It combines genre stereotypes with stereotype breaking tropes. There is violence and very little dialogue, but it is more thoughtful than action-y.

It’s not perfect. Some of the characters are too broad. Some of the scenes don’t score perfectly.

But partly because of Melanie Lynskey and partly because of the craft of the production, it is highly recommended.

 

On The Road: The Movie

screenshot-2016-10-07-23-37-44Walter Sallas made a movie of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road a few years ago. On the Road was my favorite novel when I was in high school, it fired my interest in Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, and it introduced me to a form of truthseeking and mystical engagement with the world that changed my life.

In other words, for a while I was obsessed with UFOs and horoscopes, but I found a way to shift my imaginative engagement to something more human. That, at some point later, is what really matters.

I didn’t watch Sallas’s movie for years, I think because what I read about it was bad. Critics did not like the movie, and I wasn’t interested in engaging  with a bad movie about my favorite book. A favorite book that was problematic in the way it treated women.

In the many intervening years, I’d talked about On The Road with many women who had read the book and found that it failed the women in the story totally. I grew to understand that this was an important thing, and a failing of Kerouac’s book.

I watched Sallas’s movie tonight and, after a rough start, was surprised how well the movie told the story of Sal and Dean’s friendship and respected the women’s part in the story.

This is an adaptation that is also a critique of the original novel, exalting the romance of Kerouac’s writing, at its high points, but not overdoing that, and also treating the story with a modern brush. Woman are more than objects today, even if Kerouac didn’t always treat them that way.

In this way I came to admire the movie, though it is far from flawless. The Ginsberg  character is given due as a figure, but as a personality he’s irksome and pretentious and lacks charm. I’m not sure that’s inaccurate but it undermines the fact of all these character’s sexual fluidity. In fact, the movie goes out of its way to protect Kerouac’s hetero identity, when that wasn’t the case.

The bottom line is I think everyone should read the novel. It has deep and abiding meaning, especially in the context of it’s time. And I don’t think the movie screws that up much, except that it adds a layer of much-later critique, which I hope makes women feel more welcome.

 

The best video you’ll see today. Or tomorrow, but don’t put it off.

I’m not sure why it is. It seems to be a promotion for a band called the Avalanches, who have a new album coming out. It’s called Soda_Jerk vs. the Avalanches and was made by someone named The Was, I guess. But really, you should just watch it. Really, you have to block off 13 minutes and watch it. And don’t worry if you don’t know the Avalanches or don’t like the Avalanches. The film is the thing, as you’ll see (and hear, the soundtrack is great), and it’s amazing.

UPDATE: I hope you didn’t put it off, because the video seems to have been pulled. That’s a shame. Sure it was a copyright mess, images copped from scores of films, but they were reassembled in the most extraordinary way by The Was.

Here’s the screenshot Vice has illustrating its now linkless story. It doesn’t get close to showing how cool this video was (is). I dare call it the greatest video ever made. I hope we find a legal copy.

the-avalanches-avalanche-continues-with-this-13-minute-visual-mashup-body-image-1467797561

Molly Lowe’s Redwoods

Pioneer Works is an art space in Red Hook Brooklyn.

Discovered/Founded/Developed by an artist named Dustin Yellin, Pioneer Works is a building, artist studios, a public space, a gallery and a garden.

What I know of Yellin’s work, he’s taken cut outs of mostly Victorian imagery and layered them between sheets of glass, so they become 3-d collages. I won’t mince words. These sculptures are beautiful and mind-blowing.  And impossible to photograph. You have to be there.

Redwood’s is the installation of three on-site pieces in the Pioneer Works gallery. The photo only hints at their grandeur. The real payoff is the movie, which is an hour long, has no dialogue, and is about a young woman, presumably Lowe, finding a way to tell her family’s history through the fragmented memories of her  demented grandmother.

The movie uses face and hand masks and lots of plastic design to render the story in a really real way and really unrealistic way. With emotion, but also with the understanding that emotions and memories get confused. That’s part of the story.

A Saturday afternoon well spent.
2016-03-12 16.26.41

This Guy Tracks Presidential Movie Watching.

Movies are important, all over the world, and many presidents watch movies. It seems that no president watched more movies than Jimmy Carter. And the man who lusted in his heart brought the first x-rated film to the White House, at least officially. (Didn’t JFK live the x-rated life?)

And note that by the time Midnight Cowboy screened at the White House it had been rerated R.

The link here is to a story about a guy who uses FOIA requests to glean the movie watching schedules of the Presidents of the US. He’s extracted the publishable goods for Carter (and Nixon and Reagan). What the hell is Bill Clinton hiding?

Much less Jerry Ford?

I’m thinking about making a tumblr devoted to movies our leaders should watch. They’ll watch, right?

Screenshot 2015-10-09 07.08.34BTW perhaps the best filmic incursion into the Carter White House was Terry Southern’s Magic Christian. Not a great film, but an awesome provocation.

Gabriel Axel Made “Babette’s Feast”

Any discussion of the greatest movie about food includes Babette’s Feast, a Danish film starring the French woman Stephane Audran adapted and directed by Gabriel Axel based on a story by Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen).

Gabriel Axel died yesterday. He was 95.

This trailer evokes just a soupçon of the sly pleasure the movie, which won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 1987, delivers.

Other candidates for greatest movie about food? I like Tampopo, A Noodle Western a lot, but Stanley Tucci’s Big Night is a wonderful movie.

Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Our Daily Bread is a breathtaking documentary about harvesting and making food, as delightful and moving as a symphony.

There are many other examples of movies about food, but two of note because they are withering social satires that also celebrate the well-made dish are Marco Ferreri’s Le Grande Bouffe, in which four friends decide to gorge themselves to death, and Peter Greenaway ‘s The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover, a dazzlingly transgressive romance.

Movies: Philomena, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench

philomenaposterCoogan is the executive producer, co-star and co-writer of this adaptation of a true story. I had no expectations going in, but very much enjoyed Tristam Shandy and The Trip, both of which starred Coogan. Stephen Frears has made some excellent movies in his now long career. And Judi Dench is always powerful and charming.

The odd bit here, the story of an older woman’s search for the son she bore in a nunnery out of wedlock, who was given up for adoption 50 years earlier against her wishes, is Coogan’s decision to frame the story as a mashup of an odd couple road movie (think Rain Man) and an expose of the sordid workings of the Catholic Church (think The Magdalene Sisters). As such we bounce from fish out of water comedy to fervid religious angst, all of it nicely acted and perfectly presentable, all of it without any frisson at all until the actual facts of the case start coming a little clearer.

Then, it is our imaginations that are required to connect the dots. The movie does very little heavy lifting, it seems content to rest on the formidable talents of its stars, who pull if off if you don’t ask too much or think about it too hard.