Tuesday, November 13, 2012

LIE #64: The Far-From-Mellow Mid-November October 2012 Index

Hurricanes! Unemployment! Elections! My First Quiz! Insane Parents! Laziness! Halloween!

Those were some of the gremlins and hobgoblins that floated and glided through the month of October, aiding, abetting and often confusing the output of LERNER INTERNATIONAL.

More than anything else, there was a strand of “intensity” running through the majority of the movies screened in the 10th month—I never get around to watching as many horror movies as I’d like (I doubt I’ll ever complete a “31 Days of Shocktober”)—but the atmosphere of Samhain infuses the month, tainting the air with madness and the smell of blood…compounded by the weather and the whirling hall of knives that was the electoral process…

With that sort of mood running like an electrical current through the month, it was no wonder that practically none of the films watched could be considered “mellow.”
Not that I’d have it any other way…

Meanwhile, October saw LERNER INTERNATIONAL implement its first movie-related quiz—if you haven’t take the quiz yet, you simply must! Don’t worry, it’s fun!
(And my answers will be up soon…Promise!)

Enough editorializing! Onto the Films!

[Another note, and also a hint as to viewing habits: Many of these films came to LERNER INTERNATIONAL via “Library Roulette”—
a flick that I’d put a “hold” on has finally arrived at my local branch…a sort of “forced eclecticness.”]

[And no, the photos accompanying this post are not from any of the movies screened; they are more to provide mood and color to what is essentially a list…]

(in order screened, thank you very much)

George Carlin: It’s Bad For Ya! (2008; Rocco Urbisci) George, you were awesome and are missed. You spoke a truth better than any preacher could.

Darin Morgan Three Episode Special—via Millennium and The X-Files:
“Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense” (Millennium Season Two (1997); written and directed by Darin Morgan)
“Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me” (Millennium Season Two (1998); written and directed by Darin Morgan)
“Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” (The X-Files Season Three (1996); directed by Rob Bowman; written by Darin Morgan)

A desire to seek out something weird and humorous and anti-Scientology-like “religious”-systems, lead me to return to “Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense”—and that got this whole ball rolling one night…
Darin Morgan has, through his far-too-limited output, proven himself to be one of the finest “scenarists of the fantastic” that has worked in contemporary television.
That he’s seemingly done nothing since the start of the new century is a crying shame. Convoluted, highly intelligent storylines that play with expectations and motivations, grounded with a gnarly sense of humor, including many, many callbacks: Give Darin Morgan his own series—STAT!
Personally, my fave of his is “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me”—as if C.S. Lewis and William Peter Blatty collaborated: We see demons lamenting the state of the world, and in a sense, their own “existence.”
A brilliant, theologically inspired bit of satire that could be, with minor tweaks a completely perfect stand-alone film.

Superjail: Season One (11 episodes, including pilot; 2008; created by Christy Karacas, Stephen Warbrick and Ben Gruber) Watched again after pondering Season Two; and still wonderfully hilarious lysergic splatterpunk ultraviolent sick humor.

The Master (2012; Paul Thomas Anderson) commented about HERE.

Now, Forager (2012; Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin) A small, quiet, brilliant film—one of the year’s best: Food, love, life explored honestly, without “Hollywood” histrionics.
A pleasant, genuinely “indie” flick and one that needs a wider audience, beyond any sort of “mumblecore” pigeonhole. This film will also be fun for “foodies,” as both characters are chefs and the movie often uses cooking scenes as a backdrop/foreground for the drama.

Millennium: Season Two (23 episodes; 1997-1998; created by Chris Carter; executive produced by James Wong & Glen Morgan)
Grim apocalyptical demonic conspiracies! What’s not to love? Inspired to watch this by the gone-but-not-forgotten site The Secret Sun. One of my few concessions to Halloween…

Carnage (2011; Roman Polanski) reviewed HERE.

Wake In Fright (1971; Ted Kotcheff) reviewed HERE.

Lockout (2012; James Mather & Stephen St. Leger) reviewed HERE.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012; Drew Goddard) reviewed HERE.

Quadrophenia (1979; Franc Roddam) reviewed HERE.

Get the Gringo [a.k.a. How I Spent My Summer Vacation] (2011; Adrian Grunberg) reviewed HERE.

The Legend of Hell House (1973; John Hough, screenplay by Richard Matheson, based on his novel) reviewed HERE.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012; Joss Whedon) reviewed HERE.

Walkabout (1971; Nicolas Roeg) Brilliant, beautiful stuff! Still holds up, fantastic cinematography by Roeg, and because it seemed so new to me, I have to include this on my Best Old Films Discovered This Year list.

The Italian Connection (1972; Francesco Di Leo) Spaghetti gangsters?
A fun afternoon drinking SqDave’s beers and enjoying Euro-crime mayhem. A genuinely critical review is impossible, but this film is highly recommended to all—and film geeks need to see it for its obvious influences on Quentin Tarantino’s work.

Extreme Prejudice (1987; Walter Hill) Reviewed HERE.

[Around October 24, I started watching more and more horror—or related—movies…Films I only watch “portions of” tend to be flicks I own on DVD and watched segments of just for kicks (why not? If I own it, it’s probably a fave). FYI: When I put on a movie in the background while doing a dozen things, I don’t always list these—there’s just too many!]

[portions of] Godzilla: Final Wars (2004; Ryƻhei Kitamura) The Godzilla scenes are sweeeeet! The rest? Not so much. Only for kaiju-otaku!

[portions of] Phantom of the Paradise (1974; written & directed by Brian De Palma; music and songs by Paul Williams) A classic, with a strong and growing cult: if you haven’t seen this film, watch it now!

The Devil Doll (1936; Tod Browning) Old school madness with shrunken people, murder by telepathy and Lionel Barrymore in drag that unfortunately does not go far enough: The mayhem is enjoyable, but there is too much hand-wringing and convoluted moralizing. Thankfully, that is not the case with our next film…

Mad Love (1935; Karl Freund) is one of the best movies ever made, more of a twisted erotic fever dream than anything else, as deranged master-surgeon (almost an alchemist) Peter Lorre conspires to steal away a pianist’s actress-wife.
Gothic sets, outrageous plot-turns (“Give me back my hands!”) and macabre dialog help drive this giddy and morbid Pre-Code masterpiece of the fantastic.

Team America: World Police (2004; Trey Parker) is a fantastic satire, and an underseen spoof of American Super-Exceptionalism and how it is represented on-screen, as well as a goof on old Gerry Anderson “Supermarionation” shows of the late-1960s, like Thunderbirds, a fave of my childhood.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010; Tod Williams) very enjoyable; further comments forthcoming in a post about “found footage films”…

“The Horror in the Heights” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974; directed by Michael Caffey; written by Jimmy Sangster) A Classic! Intrepid reporter Kolchak takes on a demon from Hindu mythology that appears to you as your most trusted friend.
So well-crafted by veteran Hammer Films screenwriter Jimmy Sangster that this episode could almost be a stand-alone short film. Available for viewing from Netflix Streaming.

The Innkeepers (2011; Ti West) is a terrible, ill-conceived film. Awful, stupid and BORING. Especially when compared to the weather outside…. (This was watched the night of The Big Storm, and just couldn’t compete—so perhaps this review isn’t fair…) (Star Sara Paxton is very cute, though, in that manic pixie girl kind of way…)

The Amazing Screw-On Head (2006; created by Bryan Fuller, Chris Prynoski and Mike Mignola, based on the graphic novel by Mike Mignola) Unfortunately an unused television pilot, this short introduces us to the robotic (?) Screw-On Head, President Abraham Lincoln’s special agent for supernatural investigations.
A wonderful idea for a unique type of steampunk adventure show—probably considered too weird for “normal” audiences, given a translation to film that doesn’t lose author-creator Mike Mignola’s splendid and macabre Jack Kirby-esque/EC-inspired designs. I own this short, consider it a delight, watching it semi-regularly.

[portions of] The Day After Tomorrow (2004; Roland Emmerich) No finer disaster porn to watch when NYC is disappearing under the waves! Followed by a goddamned snowstorm! WTF?!?!
Watching The Day After Tomorrow could only have been topped by a screening of Emmerich’s follow-up slice of D-porn, 2012 (2009), which had the awesomely brain-frying thesis that only the Super-Rich will have the capital to allow them to survive a global catastrophe. Jeez, I need to search the bargain bins and get myself a copy of 2012, for those days when I’m feeling glum and need a quick pick-me-up…


  1. Thanks for the nod. More beers and crazy movies to come! By the way, The Italian Connection (La Mala Ordina), is pretty amazing, and deserves a review. Someday.