Sunday, June 30, 2013

Netflix suggestions for a weird afternoon

This morning, I walked with the Seattle Women's Chorus in the Pride Parade. It was SO fun. And exhausting. And took 5 hours. And was in 90 degree weather, which, in Seattle, is really freaking hot. So, after I managed to wrangle down a taxi, get home, and get in recovery mode, I watched two really bizarre movies on Netflix Streaming...

(1) This Must Be The Place

I've seen the icon for this movie every day for the last month, but I didn't realize something... That's SEAN PENN. Seriously. I was under the impression that this was some kind of Ozzy Osbourne documentary. 


It's a weird indie flick starring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand. 
And this movie is WEIRD. 

You should totally watch it!  If you like weird movies. 

It has totally bizarre character work that sometimes doesn't quite make any sense. It has a wandering, jumping plot. It has Sean Penn playing a completely cartoonish version of Ozzy... or Alice Cooper... or somebody.  

And it's also about a man discovering what it means to be Jewish and the son of a Holocaust survivor.  

WEIRD, right?  Right. 

Totally worth a watch, even though it's not a perfect movie.  

You need to be patient with this one, too, because even an hour into the movie, I was wondering what the point of it all was. But there are some really great emotional moments, so it's worth the wait. However, remember that this movie is not perfect. But there's something there. Like, there were people from tons of different ethnic backgrounds, to the point that at certain moments, I wasn't sure what continent, much less country, it took place in. And, maybe it had something to say about our search for culture in a world that functions on a global level most of the time. 

So, I say, watch it. 

(2) Natural Selection

WTF? Seriously.  This movie is totally weird. 

I suggest watching this movie, if for no other reason because the amazing character actor Jon Gries is in it.  You may remember him as Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, but this dude is awesome. I always enjoy his performances. 

This movie is about a really strange UBER-christian woman whose husband dies, and she goes on a mission to reconnect with his son, whom he sired through donating sperm.  The son, of course, is a ball of problems, and they have a journey together that provides many bizarre, upsetting, and sweet moments. 

Rachel Harris, another seasoned professional with 100+ IMDB credits, delivers a fantastic performance as Linda, the sex-deprived wife of Jon Gries. 

This movie is really emotionally authentic. It has complex relationships, which are dealt with in a realistic and satisfying way. Great soundtrack. Great ending, too. 

So, here are two more ideas, if you are hoping for a day of indie-movie weirdness. 

Embrace it. It will make you feel things. Sometimes good things. But definitely things. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

15. This is the End

OH MY GOD!!!!  Go see this movie.  I can't even talk about how much I loved it.  Ok... calm down, Peggy... you can do this...

Hey, everyone! I just went to a "little" movie called This Is The End. It's that movie where everyone who is awesome plays themselves in a movie, and it's about the apocalypse.

That's really all you need to know.

It's so funny. Like, hilarious from the first second of footage all the way through the end. Hilarious to the point where I feel like I bonded with the other people in the theater. Like, we could all go hang out after the movie and feel like old friends.

Hilarious in all the tiny details. Hilarious in big, broad strokes. Just really damn funny.

That having been said, I have the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy, so if you don't like dick/poo/vomit/jizz jokes, then ... well... go watch something boring and leave me alone.

Yesterday, I read Patton Oswalt's recent blog in which he theorizes about many comedic subjects, including the sensitive issue of rape jokes. (You can read it here.) He poses the question of whether humor can be used to attack and expose ideas within something as violent and horrific as rape. And, I really appreciated that idea, because I like to think that humor is a tool, and you can either use that tool to perpetuate things like hate, violence, bigotry, etc., or you can use that tool to (slowly) chip away at those same things. And oddly, this movie had a VERY funny scene in which rape is the central theme. I dare say, it was an extended rape joke, which I think was done very successfully. Maybe it will be used as an example of how you can approach sensitive subjects with humor, and not come out looking like you support things like violence against women.

I really have nothing else to say about this movie. Just go see it.

Today was a funny day, too, because I went to the SIFF theatre, where I see most of my free movies, and I was just sitting in the theatre, listening to the emo they play over the reel of still ads for upcoming screenings, and I got kind of sad, but in this really nice way.  I don't know if I can explain it. Like, nostalgic, and happy, and sad all at the same time. I'm sure there's a word for that feeling in Japanese. But, it's like the end of the summer after you graduate from high school, sitting by a pool at the end of the party right before all your friends are leaving for college. And then the movie started and I laughed my ass off for two hours. Like, what better day can a person have?  Sure, you're all teaching your kids to ride bikes, or inventing something that will make blind people see, blah blah blah.

I was at the movies.

Peggy's Rating: FIVE out of Five stars.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

14. The Sprocket Society's Fifth Anniversalodeon

This review is definitely a day-late-dollar-short kind of thing, because this was a one-time-only screening, and I'm in a hyphenate-everything kind of mood. However, I hope to introduce some new people to a fun event that they might be interested in, especially those of you who are film preservation enthusiasts.

On Wednesday evening, I went to the Sprocket Society's 5th anniversary screening. And yes, it was FREE for me, because I volunteer at the film forum, now, and therefore, I get into screenings FREE.  Did you hear that? FREE!!!

You, the sad, non-volunteering public, would have to pay a maximum of $10 for Northwest Film Forum movies.  That is as cheap as it gets, AND you can become a member for $45 and enjoy $6 ticket prices year-round (among other member benefits). You should get on that, because it's an awesome deal. 

The Sprocket Society is a local group that "seeks to cultivate the love of the mechanical cinema, its arts and sciences, and to encourage film preservation by bringing film and its history to the public through screenings, educational activities, and our own archival efforts."

For this screening, we watched a delightful group of short films - and I mean FILMS, no digital here. My favorite was a short film from Canada which featured extreme slow-mo, extreme close-up shots of a piece of popcorn being oil popped.  SO cool. The group of shorts was well-curated, entertaining, and had real humor in it. 

Then there was a short break, and we enjoyed the feature-length Million Dollar Legs (1932) starring W.C. Fields.  That was frankly a snooze. 

But, I tend to not have the attention span for early cinema feature-length comedies. Or dramas for that matter.  Pretty much the only movie from that era that you could get me to watch more than once is The General (Buster Keaton, 1926), because that movie is hilarious.

Overall, it seemed like a really friendly group of people who were all passionate about film, which made me want to keep coming back for more screenings.  Especially if there's an opportunity to see more film shorts! 

Check out their website for information about upcoming screenings. I saw the Anniversalodeon at the Northwest Film Forum, which is a great place to see odd, compelling, artful, truly independent films, as well as film preservation events such at this. 

Monday, June 3, 2013


So, I haven't written in a few weeks, but I have seen a lot of movies. Movies like Iron Man 3, Star Trek, blah blah blah.  But really, I didn't have anything worth saying about those movies.  Oh! There was more of the same, and I still liked it.  BORING.  But, today, I saw a movie worth mentioning.

So, let's talk about Mud, y'all!

Mud is a movie currently rocking a sweet 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. This fact was what first caught my attention. Then, when I mentioned it on facebook, a friend responded with "The writer definitely has issues with women, but it's a really good film, nonetheless." This made me think... hmmm... issues with women, 99%, AND Matthew McConaughey?

Sign. Me. Up.

So, this movie is kind of a low-fi, coming-of-age, semi-mystery, semi-action, semi-drama in which Matthew McConaughey's shirt is an actual character of the film. No joke.

It's mostly humorless, with brief moments of excitement, but overall, it's a very patient (read:slow at times) character piece. The main character is a 14 year old boy who really carries the film quite well, and his adorably white trash friend "Neckbone." It had delightful backwoodsy things, and Reese Witherspoon pulled out some nice, nuanced acting with what could have been a stereotype of a character.

I'd have to agree with my friend that this movie reeked of issues with women, but I think it was more about a young boy trying to parse out how to have positive relationships with women, despite having a black-and-white understanding of love, and poor role models.

Overall, I think the 99% may be a function of a dearth of decent films out at the moment. Perhaps all the critics out there were so hard up for a movie they liked that they threw this one a bone. And that's fine with me.  I didn't think it was genius, but it was definitely worth a watch.  I got a little droopy in the second half, and frankly, I could have done without the bad guy, who seemed pulled out of a Steven Seagal movie. (In my rewrite, Mud would have been delusional. Running from no one.  That would have been awesome, right?) Despite that, I appreciated all the great acting and patient editing.

And, in one really stunning sunset shot, I saw a tree that looked like a silhouette of Abraham Lincoln. So that was fun.

Also, Michael Shannon should be in every movie ever made. He was kind of a throw-away side character in Mud, but he was SO watchable it didn't even matter. Love him. Love his work.

Peggy's rating: Three out of Five Stars.