I’ve seen lots of good movies lately. Would recommend all of these, in descending order of pretentiousness:
The Holy Mountain: Such levels of surreal imagery it makes Eraserhead look straight forward. Not for prudes or the squeamish. It’s about a bunch of weirdos seeking immortality by ascending to a higher plane of self awareness and leaving behind everything that weighs your soul down. Lots of religious and mystical overtones. The mindscrew train proudly derails, crashes into an orphanage and explodes in a shower of LSD. Favorite scenes include:
- the Spanish conquest of Mexico reenacted with frogs and lizards, complete with tiny costumes and weapons. So cute and oh my god the blood, why?
- “Rub your clitoris against the mountain!”
- A woman pleasing a giant robot vagina with the mother of all dildos.
- The sanctum of 1,000 testicles.
- The “fight” with the Alchemist. Every Alchemist speech is a Zen/10.
- “To save the economy we must eliminate four million citizens in the next four years.” Sounds like something from Dr. Strangelove.
- Fascist soldiers shooting protestors, birds flying from the wounds.
I kinda sorta feel like the ending is an eye rolling copout, but I don’t know what else it could do. And the audience did purge itself of all illusions, no false advertising there.
Synecdoche, New York: Probably the best film on this list. A surreal, densely symbolic piece that focuses on the purpose of life, art, and death. Philip Seymour Hoffman is awesome as usual. About a playwright trying to craft his magus opus while his life falls apart. Extremely depressing. Challenging to watch due to the subject matter and out of control recursive meta commentary. It was fun reading people’s interpretations of it; would definitely benefit from a second viewing. Lost me a bit when he subsumed his personality into the maid. The minister’s rant was the best sermon ever. Perfect ending.
All Quiet on the Western Front: I put off watching this for a long time because I thought a '30s movie of the book would be too sanitized and hokey. I was wrong. Some great battle sequences where people are mowed down like grass.
The best scenes are away from the trenches when Paul tries to rejoin society and explain his experiences to an ignorant, jingoistic society. That’s when he realizes how fucked he really is. I also like when the soldiers get together and try to figure out why the war is happening – a mix of subversive rhetoric and nationalism (the damned French started it!).
Kubrick’s Paths of Glory is a better commentary on humanity, but this is a better WWI movie…if that makes sense.
Under the Skin: Weakest movie on this list. It’s about a woman who’s actually an alien who seduces men, lures them back to her house, and kills them. Besides a rich bounty of full frontal Scarlett Johansson this offers arresting cinematography and a melancholic atmosphere and score. It’s slow paced with little dialogue, but didn’t feel boring to me (many disagree though). It didn’t do a whole lot story wise unfortunately. It’s just missing something to make it really great. That skin collapsing scene though…
Dear Zachary: A definitive “soul test” movie. Guaranteed to make you either incredibly angry, depressed, or both. Will stick with you for several days. Don’t watch it right before the weekend or bedtime. It’s a documentary about…well, it’s hard to say without spoiling the effect. It starts with the murder of the filmmaker’s best friend by a sociopathic girlfriend. But it turns out the best friend impregnated the girlfriend with the titular Zachary. The film is ostensibly about recording stories from far flung family members so the son can know his dad. But then it gets worse.
Chicken Run: Stop motion family fun animation. Formulaic to the core, but executed flawlessly. Tons of charm, or maybe it’s the accents. Basically The Great Escape except with farmers and chickens. Prison camp cliches are up ended by a ditzy, mostly female cast. Some meat is murder/feminist themes, but never explicit. Great soundtrack. Snappy slapstick, surprisingly quotable, love to hate them villains.
“My life flashed before me eyes! It was really boring.”
[Rec]: Spanish horror. Best found footage movie I’ve ever seen. That might not be saying much though since I find most of them stupid or dull (e.g. Paranormal Inactivity). Works well because everyone is trapped inside a cramped building. Pseudo-zombie movie, more like the rage virus. Avoid if you can’t stand women screaming at the top of their lungs. The main characters are dumb and refuse to fight back with weapons. Worth it for the last 20 minutes.
Killer Klowns from Outerspace: Saw it as a kid, had to see it again. If you like shlocky B-movies you’re probably familiar with this. Every klown scene is solid platinum. Love all their wacky gadgets and the makeup effects are impressive. But the mandatory human drama scenes weigh the whole thing down – you know, when the klowns aren’t turning people into cotton candy cocoons so they can drink their blood with silly straws. The ventriloquist scene was actually a little creepy. The short clown was adorable, would hug before being murdered. The theme song is a super catchy remix of the classic Entrance Of The Gladiators.
“Fuck you! Over.”
Sharknado 1 + 2: Millions of years of human evolution have led to these two masterpieces. A single tear rolls down my cheek. Such majesty.