Filtering by Tag: MOVIES

The House That Jack Built

I mean, is anybody a fan of Lars von Trier, really? I happen to be intrigued by him, because if you can say one thing about him is that he’s never boring. Or, at least, even when he’s boring, it’s because he’s doing something outrageous to death. Speaking of outrageous and death, LVT has a new flick out, and you don’t have to walk out of a theater at Cannes to see it. “The House That Jack Built” is available for streaming on Amazon. Convenient! Nothing like home delivered endless slaughter of women and others in scenarios in which the victim fairly makes the killer kill, I always say. The movie’s best kill, if you will, is the first one, when Matt Dillon, aka Jack, kills Uma Thurman, who plays a really annoying woman. Because this is LVT, you’re not sure if you’re supposed to laugh hysterically, feel grim, or just hold on for the duration of the ride. But, boy, can Uma take a jack to the head. In any case, you can look at the movie as a series of vignettes in which Jack murders people, or you can look at it as a meditative study on the creative process as told through the persona of someone who happens to use murder as his tool d’art. Frankly, the mutterings of Jack to a Virgil stand-in are the most interesting parts of the movie, particularly when Jack waxes philosophical about how matter dictates its form in art. Don’t search #thehousethatjackbuilt on Instagram, like I did, if you don’t want to have the penultimate shocker spoiled for you. It’s crude, but this is LVT, isn’t it? I won’t mention the part with the windshield wiper; I mean, that’s just ugly (or is it?). We have come to expect this sort of thing from the enfant terrible of Dogme 95. What I could never quite resolve with Jack is if LVT is trolling masculinity or wallowing in it. Toxic masculinity is a fair thing in which to flail. To attempt to redux The Inferno, the place to which the film devolves, is a mistake. Stay in your am-I-a-misogynist-or-not lane, LVT! Alighieri you ain’t.

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

I'm in a Library

I’ve fallen back in love with libraries, as of late. I used to think they were graveyards filled with tombstones. Now I see they’re immortal. All those stories between the covers. My favorite libraries have shelves so big you have to turn a wheel to pry them a part and walk between them.

Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

Operation Odessa

If you haven't seen it already, watch "Operation Odessa." It's on Showtime, and it's a fascinating, brilliant, hilarious, gorgeous, energetic documentary involving three guys, a lot of cocaine, and a Russian submarine. If you love hustlers, international intrigue, and strippers, you will love this movie. My favorite character is Nelson Yester, seen here and known as Tony. He's a man with global connections who's the brains behind the operations. He seems unable to resist engaging in whatever series of actions will result in the highest yield with the greatest risk. "Being a player was in my destiny," he pronounces as if to be a man-of-the-underworld is a higher calling.

Buy "The Tumor" -- a new digital short story that's been called "a masterpiece."

Sally

I bought this Sally doll at a comic book and collectibles store in Burbank. I suppose in theory I could've kept her in her packaging, but instead as soon as I could I ripped her out of it. If you don't know Sally, she's a "humanoid ragdoll" from Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "made of various pieces stitched together, with dead leaves used as stuffing." There's a great scene in the movie, where she comes apart, and she stitches herself back together again.

Song to Song to Wait, What?

In the last few years, I've seen several Terrence Malick movies: "The Tree of Life," "To the Wonder," "Knight of Cups." In order to enjoy them, one must be open-minded or at least in a Terrence Malick kind of mood. What are Malick's movies about? Everything and nothing. What is the plot? Good luck. How is the dialogue? Um. These movies are collagist, impressionistic, dreamscapes in which love/pain/desire/rejection/rebirth/death/ecstasy all coexist, interweave, and pulse with a curious kind of life that makes, well, the act of living seem more alive on the screen than in reality. His latest, "Song to Song," could be said to be about the Austin music scene, or a study of several men and several women whose love lives intersect, or a fucking mess. It all depends on you. Manohla Dargis has it right: Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman deliver the standout performances while Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara sometimes appear to be engaging in acting exercises. What does that mean? It's hard to say. Malick likes to linger on Mara's hip bones, pour over vignettes in which lovers' bodies intertwine in unmet longing, open wide to bear witness to grand landscapes in which the awesome beauty of the universe consumes the smallness of us attempting to find one another in it. There's a brief and tragically lovely appearance by Cate Blanchett. The homes in which these beautiful people wander are striking glass boxes that attempt to contain the fragility of their occupants. There's some hot lesbian groping. What does it all mean? I have no idea. The alternative is one more phony plot with stilted dialogue that's supposed to capture the human experience but does little more than package it into something that feels like Spam. 

I Am Not Beguiled

"The Beguiled." I am not a fan. Admission: I loved "Somewhere." I have watched it many times and will watch it many times again. I liked "The Virgin Suicides" when it came out, but I suppose it was a bit too twee for me. "Marie Antoinette" was interesting and ravishing but a bit cringey and awkward. "Lost in Translation" I like a lot. So, I suppose you could say I like Sofia Coppola's "floaters" -- the movies where nothing's happening, nothing's supposed to happen, nothing's going to happen. Sofia: Stay away from plot. Perhaps that is the problem she encountered with "The Beguiled," a remake. She got preoccupied with diaphanous dresses, moody shots under Spanish moss-hung trees, the brooding despair of the South. She forgot that if you start with something happening, people are going to think something else is going to happen, and you can't just expect us to stare at a group of women staring at Colin Farrell for 94 minutes and leave feeling satisfied. I wanted a lot because I had Nicole Kidman, and Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst. Instead, I got a shrug-off of slavery, a couple gruesome scenes, and a third act that was entirely MIA. At the end, when the final shot was happening, I was like, this isn't the end, is it? I mean, the conclusion landed like a queef in yoga class. Anyway, watch it if you want. I can't stop you. I might have to go watch "Somewhere" again to get the taste of this misfire out of my mouth.