I'm just gonna leave this right here. We'll talk later.
One last thought - Boyega!!!!
Every year we marathon horror films during the month of October, with one big push the last week where every night without fail we watch a scary movie. I say we in the broadest sense possible. While the tradition started when Twincess and I were living in Los Angeles, it has grown and evolved to all who care to join. Many of the sisters Funkowitz have joined at various points, friends can come and go as they please. But perhaps most important of all, is the addition of RC as my consistent and most wide eyed companion on my voyage through the dark side.
He started showing interest last year, but this year throughout October he was the one asking for more and more. His insatiable love of monsters and the strange has only fueled his desire to learn more about this endless well that is horror cinema. And while I obviously couldn't share the entirety of my favorites with the young lad, his experience perfectly demonstrates what I love so much about film. That film as an art form or media style is something that brings people together, it's something that can cause discussion and bond people over similar experiences. Like an old family recipe there are films that are passed down through generations. My dad showed me Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein when I was about 10 years old, I immediately loved it and it was something we have shared since. I showed RC the film this year and it was amazing to see just how much he fell in love with it. He even requested we watch it again immediately following the film. An amazing experience to experience the same feeling my dad must've felt when he showed me the film, and we owe it all to cinema.
As for scary movies in general? Well to hear ore of my thoughts be sure to listen to the PORTEcast in which we talk about a few of our favorites as well as my thoughts on scary movies in general. The short version? Being scared is a good thing, and something that we shouldn't try and protect our children from.
So without further ado here are some of the highlights from this years marathon.
Beetlejuice - started with this one this year and RC fell in love with this too. Watching this film amazes me just how weird and dark and fucking brilliant Burton could be. This is such a unique story inhabited by characters you hate and love and goddamn Keaton is impeccable.
Sleepy Hollow - the start of Burton doing strange adaptations? Well here we still have his mean streak throughout as I challenge you to find a film with more decapitations. Beautiful looking film thanks to Lubezki and maybe the last time we've seen Burton show off his true talent.
Drag Me To Hell - Raimi going back to his roots. This is less gory and more gross, don't worry there's plenty of blood but plenty of cat sacrifice and other fluids too
Trick R Treat - wonderfully charming passion project from the writer of X-men. This film is in love with Halloween and explores the holiday and it's tropes. This is scary and fun and some nudity for good measure.
The American Scream - a documentary on three "haunters" and just how much love they out into decorating their homes for the holiday. The film is full of lovable weirdos and we see the toll it takes on their families as well. Not really scary but full of heart and you see just how much people love the holiday and how it brings people together.
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein - just perfect. Shame on you if you haven't seen it
Witchin and Bitchin - have you heard of Alex De La Iglesias? Cause if you haven't go watch everything possible, if you have, this is his newest film. I imagine then that you've stopped reading and gone to find this film. This man bleeds out exuberance on the screen as violence and humor and heart spill all over the screen. He perfectly blends insanity with great filmmaking. He inhabits a strange world and he invites you to join him on a journey through his psyche . Oh yah this film is about witches... And silver Jesus.
The Exorcist - do I really need to say anything?
Halloween - Carpenter is such a badass, this film has so much inventiveness and cinematic flourishes. So much of what we see now is because of this movie. Also casual nudity is missed.
Re-animator - campy perfection. No one is making films like this anymore. I love how over the top this film is, equal parts hilarious and grotesque, rising up in my favorites. Also, boobs.
The Shining - the closer...always.
One last thought - so what did you watch this year? Oh yah this little movie made an appearance too.
|Photo by Hudson Hawk|
Beautiful Melodies Telling You Terrible Things Vol. Now Everyone I know Knows the Replacements,
Though Now, If you Don't Know the Replacements...Then you're No one I know
|Photo by Lucky Man Concerts|
|Photo of Idiots by Hudson Hawk|
|Photo of Soon to be reported missing guards by Hud-Hawk|
|Photo by 93.3 AZAltRock|
|Photo by Instagram User Asstomouth|
|Photo by Hudson Hawk|
|Photo by Devon Adams|
|Photo by Hudson Hawk|
|After-Show Photo by Drummer Josh Freese, his son sleeping|
PORTEmaus Literature Society: To Kill A Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird
For most, To Kill a Mockingbird was required reading in Junior or High School. During these periods of my life, this book (for one reason or another) was never on my personal reading list. Curse the melancholy of being a twelve year nerd and the allure of the Russian masters. Regardless, Lady Funkowitz gave me a copy as a gift and honestly, I regret not reading this book sooner. Certainly, it is a simple book by its structure and accurately reflects the point of view of the main character. Yet, there is a power within that simplicity that offers the reader a glimpse into black mark in America's history and the reasons for why all individuals require dignity and respect.
While I have this in mind, is there a greater moral barometer in American fiction than Atticus Finch? In many ways, Finch is an oddity among virtually every character in this book. He is in a class of humanity by himself, whether this merely because of Scout's (or more specifically, Harper Lee's) reverence for her father is irrelevant. He is the embodiment of what a person be, someone whose does the right thing, not because should do or expected to but rather because it is the only choice a person has. What makes him different in Maycomb is that nobody else in that community is willing to rise to that challenge.
It is sad that it took thirty-one for me to read this classic of American literature. I do not know why Harper Lee never published a second literary work and frankly, I am not to concerned by that. She accomplished something that few authors achieve and I am not referring to the Pulitzer. Lee created a book that is a timeless and moral tale about the evils of discrimination. The fact that this book is still relevant from the perspective of its content, message and characters is a testament to the what Lee wrote. To merely write this book off as something to be read for a class is doing this book a disservice. So, put down that novel by one of the Russian master and give this bad boy a read, you might be pleasantly surprised as I was.
Is there a finer and more impassioned monologue than Atticus' closing argument for Tom Robinson? I suppose that is a loaded question but it mighty fine.
Also, you can bet that will be reviewing the film as well.
Hark! Does thou hearest that? I feel a slow clap coming on... John Boehner is suing the president of these United States. Bravo... Well done... Splendid. It seems that the esteemed representative from Ohio needs a lesson not only in "letting it go" but American Congressional politics as well. Boehner is seeking legal action against President Obama on the grounds that the President is bypassing the legislative branch with Executive Orders. Boehner was last seen screaming the following from a mountaintop: “The President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action.”
Gasp! The villain! He must have the nation pinned beneath the weight of his arm and the blade that is executive action. Boehner, my good chap, how do I join this legal campaign of yours to end his tyranny? I have to ask, how many times has this scoundrel used this secret weapon in the past sixty-five month? 300...? 700...? Over a thousand? Am I hot or cold? 182. Wait, what? Well, that doesn't sound so bad, Boehner be a lad and give a brother some context. Let's take a look at the previous five commanders in chief shall we: Reagan - 381, Bush I - 166, Clinton - 364, Bush II - 291 and Obama - 182.
It seems like Obama's usage is in line with the presidents that preceded him save for Bush I. Which if one thought about it logically, Obama's usage is not extreme and if it is, why is Boehner pursuing a reckless lawsuit with little chance of success? Elementary my dear Watson, he is simply engaging in political theater with the hopes of riling up the base. Nothing like engaging in a frivolous lawsuit that will be paid with taxpayer money. Sign me up! Let's all waste political capital and effort on suing the President... Yeah, that makes sense! I guess frothing at the mouth over the Affordable Care Act has become a little stale. It will be interesting to see how this plays out since a recent poll puts fifty-percent of the participants against this pointless lawsuit.
One last thought:
I hope they don't use this as evidence--
In DEFENSE of: Blindness
I recall seeing the preview for Blindness prior to seeing a film with Hawk and Bence that I will not to defend (The Happening) and I was intrigued. After all, Fernando Meirelles has directed some films that I enjoyed such as The Constant Gardener and City of God. If one takes the devastating reviews of Ebert, the percentages of Rotten Tomatoes and the rest of critics to heart than you might be steered away from a relatively solid two hours of film. Is Blindness a great film, not really, the question should be turn to the faithfulness of the adaptation to source material. If it cannot convey the allegory present in the text than it truly is a failure.
Outside of some minor deviations from the source material, Blindness is quite similar to its literary counterpart. The problem that led to the adaptation failing to break even on its low budget was the message was missed completely. Protests from organizations representing the blind condemned the film as portraying the community as animals. I will be the first to groan (loudly) when people fail to understand allegory (in this case), metaphor or a plot device. These organizations latched onto a literal interpretation of the behaviors being shown on screen. The film was not an indictment of the actions of afflicted blind individuals as animals, it was one of humanity in general.
Namely, if a person is in a dire enough situation and all measure of social structure and control, there will likely be chaos or to put it in the context of the film, they will behave in an animalistic nature. Such critical luminaries as Ebert referred to the film as 'unpleasant and unendurable' because of the content flashing across the screen. I tend to disagree with this sentiment since a vast majority of the review deals with complaints about aesthetics and the score (While completely missing the point of what he is seeing). True, Blindness will not be gracing the Criterion Collection anytime soon but it is a solid effort by Meirelles and co. that remains faithful to the source material.
I can't believe we're here. How are we halfway through 2014 already? Well like every other blogger on these inter webs I love any reason to tout my "listalism" abilities. So without any fanfare here are my top five films from the first half of the year. One bit of knowledge for all you out there, there are multiple films that I wish I could have seen but have not found the time, so please keep that in mind when screaming at me for not having Under the Skin or Only Lovers Left Alive on my list.
5. The Lego Movie
Unbridled unapologetic and sincere fun. This film is far better than it deserves to be. Leave to Lord and Miller, the masters of the oxymoronic idea of irrevent homage, to craft an incredibly heartfelt film out of one big giant commercial for Legos. This makes me think they should take over the reins of the Transformers franchise. Their story here is incredibly relatable, yet they imbue this ode to creativity with some of the best humor of the year and some jaw dropping animation. This is a world constructed entirely of Legos and you could spend the whole time marveling at the design present in each frame.
4. Cheap Thrills
I just wrote about this, which you can all read below. In short, this is a tightly made incredibly well written and executed film. This film caught me off guard from the moment it began. There's no twist or secret, but as the film unfolds it takes you down a dark path that you were not expecting. It does this with such confidence and subtlety that before you know it, you're strangling the neighbors dog without remorse. This is indie filmmaking at it's best.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Best Marvel film ever? Well I've only seen it once, but if this isn't better than the Avengers then it's right on par with it. Captain America comes into the modern age and brings along a 70s inspired spy thriller that is full of action and somehow one of the most comic book like films Marvel has made. Evans owns the film as Cap, never once becoming a boring Boy Scout, but rather you see his internal struggle as he fights for his ideals even if it means questioning authority. Black Widow and Fury finally have a significant amount to do, and again Falcon was never this cool in the comics.
Aronofsky's incredibly ambitious bible epic turned super hero enviromentalist fable is unlike anything you're likely to see in the multiplex. As such I had easily my most divided response to this undeniably beautiful film. As time goes on, and I revisit my thoughts on the film, I find it growing in esteem. His imagery is unmatched, this film is full of some of the most cinematic and original frames of film I've seen. Aronofsky isn't likely to win any awards with this one, but I imagine in a few years time people will begin to realize the brilliance on display here. From the almost futuristic setting, to his gloriously bleak color palette, to his incredibly heroic framing of Noah even when he goes insane. This is a film that is overrun with layers. Easily one that could keep climbing the ladder.
1. Grand Budapest Hotel
At this point Anderson has perfected his particular brand of film. With each film he seems to fine tune and explore various interests of his, all the while staying within his own idiosyncratic stylistic choices. This is a director obsessed with perfection and attaining his own personal vision rather than pushing the limits of cinema. So while he may not be as dating as say Aronofsky or that other Anderson, he is still an impeccable craftsmen who engages with cinema in such a personal way it's impossible to not find his films whimsical and charming. This last film just might be his best, with all exuberance and wit of anything else he's done, there is a darkness and sinister undertone that slithers through the whole film. As fascists and murderers and thieves invade the film, it is up to our storyteller to keep the technicolor ideal of
the Grand Budapest Hotel alive.
Like I said there is still a ton of films I've missed, as well as the latter half of the year which I'm sure will bring us some amazing gems. Soooo what did YOU like this year?
One last thought - I would put this here, except I really feel like if you have no knowledge of this mans filmography the film will play little more than a fetish piece. Which I guess for him is par the course.
By all accounts Glazer has made one of the best films of the year with Under The Skin. A film that I, sadly, was unable to find time to catch in theaters. With the blu ray release quickly approaching I thought him a perfect candidate for this column. Having cut his teeth on music videos, Glazer's career has been defined by his incredibly unique approach to the medium. Reality is always slightly grim and incredibly cool. There is a calmness to everything he does, highlighted by moments of extreme energy or intensity. Beauty is ever present in each impeccably crafted frame with an undeniable darkness that slowly makes it's way to the foreground.
His work often has a subtle supernatural element that isn't necessarily explained. This Levi's commercial is a great example of this idea. Incredibly simple in concept, two people run through walls in jeans, but absurdly cool and well executed. He knows he doesn't have to tell you everything, but rather he lets the film speak for itself. Convention is nowhere near this guys work and cinema is better to have someone like him, continually engaging with the form at such a visceral level.
One last thought - dying to see this.
So this is what it takes to make good use of David Koechner? The man known for his crass, loud, overtly chauvinistic brand of comedy turns in a great performance as an exuberantly rich man who meets our two heroes as they both are drinking away their sorrows on one particularly sad night in Los Angeles. What starts off as playful bar hijinks, first man to get a girl to slap him, escalates as the film moves on. When we finally reach the home of Koechner's Colin, the depravity continues to slowly degrade until before we know it we are seeing some horrible acts as the theme of desperation takes our characters to unbelievable lows. Ladies and gentleman welcome to a film by E.L. Katz, Cheap Thrills.
The film follows Craig, a man facing eviction who has just lost his job, as he runs into Vince, an old high school friend who happens to be down on his luck as well. Pat Healy and Ethan Embry, yah that Ethan Embry, play the two sad sacks and give them each enough charm and darkness to keep us completely engaged. While the film is often played for laughs, at no time do we venture into the ridiculous. While the dares that Koechner's character delivers to our heroes reach extremes, the script is so well done that our journey to these horrible acts seems somehow logical. Koechner is a big part of this since his character is the catalyst to all of these events. He still plays a variation of his standard role, but this time there's restraint and a sinister edge that runs through the film. We believe that he's just desperately trying to impress his way too hot wife.
While it would be easy enough to devolve into torture porn, the film never glorifies or even revels in these acts of depravity. Rather the film is shot in a simplistic but efficient manner. The camera is never assumptive, it never lingers too long it never foreshadows the horrors that are to come. It presents us this story in clear and well lit scenes with proper coverage. It spends a lot of time across our actors faces showing us the subtle changes as we journey from fun pranks to the incredibly sinister finale. Once the gore comes it is extremely straightforward. It knows when to give audiences the gut shots and it knows when to ratchet up the tension. Again the slow burn on this film is so impressive and before you know it you're on the edge of your seat tense as could be.
This is refreshingly dark comedy. Incredibly brutal yet never over the top, there is raw nature to the film that is almost sincere in its melancholic depiction of this battle of class. This is indie film showing you just what is possible with some talented actors and a great script. So far this is the biggest surprise of the year and sure to make it's way into a standard rotation of movies to suggest when people ask for something different. Entertaining from start to finish, when the last frame drops you'll have no idea what hit you. And that dear readers is exciting.
One last thought - you all know I love spoilers, stay away from other stories on this film. Watch it and comment below if you wanna talk more about it.