My God, it’s Full of STARS…

What if every club in the cinematic multiverse intersected at one, single point?

BEHOLD. The greatest action/sci-fi/crime thriller/horror film mashup in the history of EVER!

Seriously, I could not stop laughing and clapping and grooving. Every time a new face popped up I was like ‘NO WAY BUT YES!’

Made by this genius: ANTONIO MARIA DA SILVA AMDSFILMS

A Night at the Thee-Ah-Tah – Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior At the Enzian

In Which The Author Leaves The House in the Company of Friends, Good Food, and Post-Apocalyptic Cannibal Cults.

[The Enzian did not pay me to write this entry, I just love going there and have for years, and wanted to spread the word!]

Last night I scurried forth from my bolthole for a special occasion: Orlando’s own local independent theater The Enzian was showing Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Rejoice!

Exterior 5

The Enzian’s been around since 1985. I saw my first film there in 1997, Ma Vie En Rose, so right away you can see it has quite a variety. It’s the kind of place for people who just flat out love movies and good stories, like the Alamo Drafthouse. During the Florida FiIm Festival (yes, Florida has a film festival and it’s not just police dash cam vids of drunk people falling down or setting things on fire) the Enzian becomes a nerve center of activities: they show a lot of films there, and they have discussions with filmmakers and actors. Gabriel Byrne and Helen Mirren have attended, and I believe my former Creative Writing teacher Pat Rushin did an appearance as well.

Eden bar

The Enzian has a sweet bar outside with all kinds of drinks from domestic beers to cocktails containing absinthe, flavored whiskey, and moonshine. Inside, they offer a full menu of oodles of goodies, like sandwiches, tomato cream soup, and/or truffle parmesan fries. They also do free movies on the lawn sometimes, or other film events around town. The bar/patio is shaded by gigantic live oaks and has a fountain, so it’s a nice place to unwind.

Films I’ve seen at the Enzian:

  • Ma Vie En Rose
  • The Dinner Game (French)
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • What We Do In The Shadows
  • So I Married an Axe Murderer
  • Aliens (on birthday last year- they do horror movies in October!)
  • Pumpkinhead
  • The Host (Korean horror/sci-fi, not the Twilight thing)
  • A Very Long Engagement
  • Let the Right One In (Swedish)
  • Micmacs
  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Babe: Pig in the City (I have no shame about crying in front of people during this movie)
  • Mirrormask
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
  • Oldboy (original)
  • Big Trouble in Little China
  • Primer (the science fiction one)
  • Film festival shorts
  • The Troll Hunter

And so many more! I can’t list them all!

As mentioned above, the Enzian does horror movies during the month of October – I’m already planning to see Shaun of the Dead and probably Beetlejuice, too.

I met up with a bunch of friends who are movie nerds like myself and we had a damn good time. I thought I saw Road Warrior like 20 years ago but apparently I was thinking of the first Mad Max, when he’s a cop. Ah well!

In lieu of a real review, here are my thoughts:

  • More in line with Fury Road than Thunderdome, although I still love all three
  • More feminist than I would have guessed (the female warrior was badass; there was also a chick who had the option to escape and did the honorable thing by staying with her people; women sat on the council and took up arms)
  • The Feral Kid was the best
  • Lord Humungus’s thighs needed their own credit. That dude was walking beef.
  • One complaint – I couldn’t get over the assless chaps the raiders wore. Hell, just wearing shorts in Central Florida summer can get you burned on a cloth carseat, so Australian post-apocalyptic desert-wear should offer more protection from leather motorcycle saddles baked by the sun. Just a thought. Also I imagined the actor playing Wez was having fun as he flashed his cheeks at the camera with joyful abandon. It was a full moon at noon over the Aussie desert, y’all
  • Jedidiah The Gyro Copter Pilot was also the best

SO! If you find yourself in Orlando, consider taking a day off from a theme park and hitting the Enzian for some REAL Central Florida flavor. I like roller coasters as much as the next person, but sometimes need a break from the sweaty throngs.

[EDIT: It only hit me this morning, the delicious irony of going to a high art movie theater to watch nitro-cannibals ride around on flaming motorcycles in assless chaps. But whatev-  they wouldn’t show it if they didn’t love movies!]

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Never: Horror Movie Ice Cream Flavors!

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Never: Horror Movie Ice Cream Flavors

I found this delightful link in a forum I frequent and it gave me many hearty chuckles!

Cool Down With Ben And Jerry’s Horror Movie Ice Cream Flavors

I would NOT be able to pick just one! And so many delightful horror movie memories!

Some examples:

never

ice22

ice8

And THE BEST:

ice14

“Come get some.”

Gonna skip the Human Centi-Peach though. Gross.

(All content belongs to the wonderful artists who created them – well done!)

More Britishiest Brits Entry: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Based on a John Le Carre novel, TTSS is that kind of old-school film that challenges without being obnoxious. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of thought-provoking political thrillers, taut, reserved performances, and distressingly accurate fashion reproductions. Seriously, Gary Oldman looks like he walked out of somebody’s 70’s era family photos. Put a goofy party hat on him or a kid in his lap and he’s there.

I don't smoke but this movie damn near got me started. People smoke constantly and make it look GOOD.
I don’t smoke but this movie damn near got me started. People smoke constantly and make it look GOOD.

A few months ago, Simon Pegg stepped in it by opining that current trends in science fiction and fantasy are possibly infantilizing its audience; that a love of cartoons, comics, and other escapist media are contributing to an immature mindset.

Naturally the internet landed on him with both feet and he clarified his comments later. Personally I can see both sides of the argument, but I’m not really exploring that in today’s post; and as a  shy person, I can only imagine how challenging it must be to have to do promotional stuff 25 hours a day and have to “switch on” the moment there’s a microphone in your face. I have days where I can barely order in restaurants and I already know what I want. 

Anyway, that social gaff occurred to me during the opening of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy because it is the exact kind of film Pegg was talking about. I was cruising around my queueueueueu and decided to take a break from Stephen Chow movies (4 this week so far!) and hit play.

This film is just amazing. It’s the kind of old-school thriller that I love and secretly fetishize: dudes walk around in sharp suits, smoking, drinking whiskey during their meetings and talking big game while their personal relationships crumble from within, and I would SWEAR that the cast were chosen for their beautiful voices as much as their acting or appearance. John Hurt, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, and (gasps) TOM HARDY basically turn every scene into choral conversations. I wish I knew how to do sound mixing – I’d do dance mixes of them just TALKING.

And talking is what this movie is. I love seeing a spy movie that really captures how deeply boring and uncool government work IS – and yet still captures the enormous tensions its employees labor under at all times. The setting was another twist; I admit my impression of London in the early 70s comes from Laugh-In, James Bond, and (embarrassingly) the Austin Powers movies, so seeing a “Swinging London” that looked about as festive as the inside of a government-issued filing cabinet was a novelty. I loved how drained of color the world of this film was; and even the moments where color should be bright seemed tired and faded. Everything is taking place in offices and the flats of people who have negated all personal interests and personality in service of their country, so of course it would appear drained and drab.

SASS!
I am pleased to report that while everything else was gray, Colin Firth’s sass game was on point.

The plot is intricate, and carried by the aforementioned conversations. Often something the viewer is shown is deconstructed later on, so we can’t always trust our eyes. Some things occur offscreen, or are so subtle as to be barely noticeable.

At times I just accepted that I had no idea what was happening and let my impressions be carried by the music score, which must be how a puppy feels on the way to the vet. I had no idea where we were going or why, but was just thrilled to be along for the ride. That’s kind of the point – you need to accept that you know nothing before you can reach enlightenment, and by the end of the film everything was cleared up, plotwise.

*SWOON*
IKEA needs to make fainting couches so I can buy one,  look at this picture, and faint onto it. Over and over. For days. 

As I mentioned before the cast was perfectly chosen. I never would have imagined I’d dig Tom Hardy with feathered 70s hair but today I learned something about myself. His character is part of a romantic subplot, and there’s a scene where he playfully teases his girlfriend by shining a mirror on her face. I am here to tell you that if people could bottle and sell his quiet manly radiance there would be a lot more love in the world. And babies. Probably. Or just sex.

Another facet to the film is the treatment of closeted gay men in 70s London. One character is closeted gay and another is revealed to be bisexual, adding another layer to an already magnificently nuanced film. Characters sacrifice a great deal for their country as I mentioned before, including relationships – and when one character (I won’t say who) has to break up with his partner or risk being outed, his pain is palpable; his was one of the few happy, functional relationships of the film and he has to end it. Other characters relationships are falling apart around them and the one who has managed to cultivate something must set it alight and walk away.

Based on a John Le Carre novel, TTSS is that kind of old-school film that challenges without being obnoxious. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of thought-provoking political thrillers, taut, reserved performances, and distressingly accurate fashion reproductions. Seriously, Gary Oldman looks like he walked out of somebody’s 70’s era family photos. Put a goofy party hat on him or a kid in his lap and he’s there.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is available on Instant Watch.

Horror Movies: I grew up, they didn’t.

I hear young filmmakers say things like ‘Why should I study someone that everyone else thinks is so great? I’m trying to do something new!’ Guess what, precious, people were doing this before you were born and some of them ACTUALLY knew what the hell they were doing. There is a wealth of human knowledge for the taking, all you have to do is want to learn.

In short, Welcome To Earth, it was here before you were born.

Of late, my love affair with horror movies has been on the rocks.

In the summer of 1998, I watched every horror movie I could get my hands on. I went through all the Friday the 13ths, all the Nightmare on Elm Streets, all the Halloweens. I saw Hills Have Eyes, The Shining, the Fright Nights, The Howlings, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Psycho, The Birds, The Amityville Horrors, the Exorcists, the Puppet Masters, the Subspecies, Castle Freak, and a LOT more I can’t even remember. I’m not telling you this for bragging rights, I’m telling you this because I want you to know HOW MUCH I love horror movies.

But recently, my love has soured.

Yes, I know I am not making movies and at least they tried. But did they? Really?

They just don’t please me anymore–I’ve grown up, matured, and see the world differently: political corruption, panpidemics, ecological disasters, economic hardship, the aging of my friends and family, all are things that affect me directly and indirectly. I don’t watch FOX News and shit my pants every time they use the scary voice, but there are bigger things in the world than me and I’m aware of it.  ‘Growing up,’ it’s called, and the darkness under the bed or in the closet isn’t scary anymore because there might be a monster in it, but because my fears have become larger, more abstract than just monsters. My fears have grown with me.

Horror movies, by and large, haven’t.

There’ve been a few in recent years that scare me, certainly. The Ring (US and Japanese version), a few Asian horror movies, El Orfanato, The Devil’s Backbone, The Audition, Pan’s Labyrinth (not overtly a horror movie but still has its moments) and a moment or two in the Silent Hill movie (which has nothing on the games for scares–or if you’re REALLY into frightening games, check out the Fatal Frame series, if you can find it), British submarine movie Below.

This is a Cheap Shot--I'm sure this is hilarious in the right context. But still, my point is valid.

The point is, there are still good horror movies being made, it’s just a slog to find them sometimes. Especially since I have such a weird viewpoint of what makes a horror movie good. I don’t expect filmmakers to please me–I’m just one internet critic with a lot of time and a lot of opinions. But instead of seeing films and bitching about them, I’ve made my own little list of what takes a horror movie from something that makes you wonder if it’s a money laundering operation for the mob to something watchable. It”s a somewhat subjective list since I am very snobby about the horror movies I watch, but at least I know what I like.

1. Likeable, or at least compelling characters

Recently, I started watching ‘Incident On and Off a Mountain Road,’ Don Coscarelli’s entry to Showtime’s Masters of Horror series. It opens on a woman driving on a secluded road, who crashes into another car. She gets out to check on the other person, and sees blood.  Then we flash back to a date the woman went on with a man. The man is talking about economic hardships faced by children in other countries, (I think it was Thailand or India). The woman responded ‘Do I look like the kind of girl who cares about kids in 3rd world countries?’

I turned it off.

Being an entitled bitch doesn’t make her an interesting character, and we still don’t know what kind of person she is, so this is her introduction, not the scene in the car. I read the summary of the rest of the movie, and she has a lot of horrible shit happen to her, which makes me suspect that the whole movie is just a punishment fantasy.

Even if your character isn’t likable, they can still be compelling. And even if not, then having bad stuff happen to them should be HARD for you to write.

2. Understand your Limitations

If you want to make a huge effects-driven film with lots of monsters and elaborate sets and production pieces and it needs to take place in a series of four-star hotels, and your budget is somewhere around that of a used Honda, then guess what kind of movie you probably aren’t making.

Can it be done? Most Certainly. Necessity is the mother of invention, and more has been achieved cinematically in the last 35 years with less. Some of the biggest, most evocative horror movies were shot on a fairly low budget. Being creative, and flexible, makes things happen. I like watching a movie that isn’t afraid to make do with what they’ve got–Gothic, the film about scary things happening the night Shelley, Byron, Polidori and Shelley got together to write their horror stories, got a RIDICULOUS amount of mileage out of a ghilly suit and a rubber mask. It Can Be Done.

3. Broaden Your Worldview

Challenging yourself makes you a better person, which makes you a better artist, which makes your art better. If you grew up in an upper-middle class white neighborhood, then do something outside of your comfort zone. Go to a shitty flea market in a rough part of town. Hang around an ER waiting room and watch the people going in. Read non-fiction books dealing with social and political upheaval that take place in a country you’ve never been to. See documentaries, talk to people you have nothing in common with.

The point to this exercise is learning that what scares you probably isn’t what scares other people. True, vampires might pale in comparison to genocide in Rwanda, but understand that in the right context, a good metaphor can scare the shit out of people. There’s a reason District 9 was so good–it was about something real. I like movies that take me not just out of my life, but puts me somewhere else that’s interesting, that I want to explore more. Session 9, a new horror cult classic followed a HAZMAT crew as they removed asbestos from a haunted insane asylum. No bullshit, just some blue collar guys doing their jobs.

4. Learn From Others

Study the Masters–not just people you admire, but EVERYONE. If someone is a great filmmaker, find out why.  Read books that AREN’T about film, see movies in languages you don’t speak.

I hear young filmmakers say things like ‘Why should I study someone that everyone else thinks is so great? I’m trying to do something new!’ Guess what, precious, people were doing this before you were born and some of them ACTUALLY knew what the hell they were doing. There is a wealth of human knowledge for the taking, all you have to do is want to learn.

In short, Welcome To Earth, it was here before you were born.

You’ll notice that nowhere in my list did I include guts, blood, torture porn, or teenagers in their underwear. That just isn’t what I’m looking for. Also, it’s stupid–horror movies in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were known for also functioning as softcore porn delivery devices, since real porn was kind of hard to get hold of. In this day and age, when you can get porn on your phone, it seems quaint to include gratuitous sex in movies. It says of the filmmakers ‘God! These people are paying to see our movie instead of jerking off for free at home! We have to include lots of sex scenes otherwise we’re wasting valuable wank time!’  The logic is lost on me.

True horror is at best a suggestion rather than an insistance.

Anyhoodle, there’ve been a few horror movies in recent years that really caught my eye and I thought were worth mentioning. I’ll be doing reviews of them as I can, starting with Session 9.

Every time I see a good horror movie I want more, I want to overdose on them as I did that one glorious summer–alas, there’s only enough to go around for a really good hit now and then.