"When I'm around you, I kind of feel like I'm on drugs. Not that I do drugs. Unless you do drugs, in which case I do them all the time. All of them." - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
#428 | February 14, 2012
DVD OF THE WEEK: How to Die in Oregon
The opening of How to Die in Oregon is unadulterated documentation (minus a few unobtrusive cuts) of the final moments of Roger Sagner. He didn't just take advantage of the titular state's law, in place since 1994, that allows the terminally ill and suffering to kill themselves. Sagner wanted to ensure that the impact of watching someone die on camera could be used as an argument for others wishing to do the same. He thanks the voters of Oregon; his last words are "It was easy, folks." Read more >>
In This Dispatch:
  • What's New: Take Shelter, Modus Operandi, and more.  
  • What We're Watching: The Sons of Tennessee Williams, Human Centipede Part 2 (Full Sequence), Carve Her Name with Pride.
  • Explore: DVD of the Week - A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, Retro Active - The Ninth Configuration.
"Michael Shannon is mesmerizing. He has such depth as an actor that he nearly hypnotizes: he owns the screen...this is Michael Shannon’s film, period," writes Anne Brodie of his turn as a straight-edge husband and father who suffers from severe apocalyptic delusions. "The images of his apocalyptic dream life and waking nightmares are mesmerizing, and eventually all-embracing, as the boundaries between reality and dementia blur in what amounts to a psychological thriller," writes Joe Morgenstern at the WSJ. 
Take Shelter
"A handmade, endearingly disreputable valentine to no-budget, maximum-impact cinema, Modus Operandi is seriously seedy and truly inspired," writes Eric Hynes regarding  this film shot on Super 8, featuring Danny Trejo and executive produced by Sasha Grey. The plot involves a CIA detective and missing Presidential suitcases, but plot plays second fiddle to the film's taste for nostalgia, "spilling past 1970s midnight movies and into Russ Meyer stiletto stompers, cheapy '80s horror, French New Wave neo-noir, Richard Kern kink, camcorder porn, and beyond."
Modus Operandi
What We're Watching
The Sons of Tennessee Williams
Watching the extremely retro documentary The Sons of Tennessee Williams, directed, edited, written and produced by Tim Wolff, it's hard not to wonder at the rather shockingly old-fashioned attitudes, interests, and behavior of the gay denizens of New Orleans and its environs, as they reminisce and ready themselves for a relatively recent Mardi Gras ball. Read more >>
More like this  Beyond HatredMaking the Boys
Human Centipede Part 2 (Full Sequence)
Nothing if not inspirational, the original THC was classic exploitation. As much a brilliant, silly, transgressive marketing concept as a film, it quickly generated a porn parody and a South Park shout-out, DIY human centipede chains at pool parties, fan-made tattoos and art pieces, and endless viral meme-gasms and bad jokes. Yet, the actual movie was a sufficiently creepy exercise in biological freakout thanks to director Tom Six's focus on psychology and a chilling lead performance by German character actor Dieter Laser as the diabolical Dr. Heiter. Six's inevitable if implausible sequel takes off from another clever premise: what if one of the first film's obsessed fans took things to the next level? The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) starts there, going ass-to-meta with a new, startling found object as its focus... Read more >>
Carve Her Name with Pride
(Re-Released on DVD today): Among the dozen or so excellent reasons to watch Carve Her Name With Pride is the fact that this film--about a WWII hero who happened to be woman--holds up marvelously. From its romantic scenes to its suspense, from the surprise at seeing a classic British beauty being put through a set of karate moves, to the heartfelt moments that bring a sudden reminder about "duty to country" in what was arguably--screw it: what was clearly--the last war that needed to be fought for reasons of right, wrong and necessity, this movie works. And another reason is to acquaint, or for the older viewer, reacquaint oneself with a marvelous actress named Virginia McKenna. Best known for the international hit Born Free (about the Kenya couple Joy and George Adamson, who raised the famous lion sub Elsa to maturity), McKenna had much of the beauty, class, talent and breeding of our own Grace Kelly (but with more a spirited, natural, country-girl appeal... Read more >>
More like this  Born FreeBlack Book
Explore
DVD OF THE WEEK: A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz have written all three of the Harold and Kumar movies, maintaining an inexplicably inconsistent quality control throughout. Notwithstanding the really horrific/gross "Battleshits" sequence of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the first installment was largely smart post-racial comedy about minorities united by nothing other than white people’s inability to perceive them beyond a grossly stereotyped form. But the scatological jokes seemed to hypnotize Schlossburg and Hurwitz: given the chance to write and direct Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, their topical jokes were mere sound bites—George W. Bush! North Korea! The War on Terror!—and made less impact than the canned farting sounds heard every time someone got kicked in the stomach or groin. Read more >>
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
Retro ACTIVE: This week's edition is in honor of Liza Johnson's vet-home-from-duty drama Return. Infused with an atonality that's responsible for both its uneasy power as well as considerable pretentiousness, 1980's The Ninth Configuration finds Exorcist author William Peter Blatty following up his horror classic with something decidedly more "serious": an adaptation of his own novel "Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane," which he wrote in 1966 and then rewrote in 1978 under this film's title. Here directing as well as scripting, Blatty jaggedly melds atmospheres with his tale of a remote Pacific Northwest castle that secretly houses army vets who've gone insane due to combat (or combat-anticipation) stress, delivering a mood that's part Catch-22 farcical, part haunted-house spooky.  Read more >>
RETRO ACTIVE: The Ninth Configuration
 

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