“Do you think it’s okay if I pretend to be a zombie?” : short film notes
These are really short, to make room for a love letter to Times Square at the end.
The man from the depot: It’s just a wonderful movie. Love the setup: In the near future where all edibles are labeled eg FOOD, a punk (Emilio Estevez!) sells himself for a job repossessing cars, works some crazy jobs, then goes in colliding with a weird girl who may be hunted by aliens; there is also a nuclear car, as if the freaks end kiss me deadly were a car. The famous lines, “Let’s have sushi and don’t pay”, etc., may have fallen a bit flat due to over-familiarity, but much of this film captures the feeling of being in a dreamy landscape full of people talking to you on the bus. Just like neon lights, diatribes and bad intentions. I couldn’t enjoy this movie anymore if I put it on a plate.
Neptune Frost: Queer afro-futuristic musical, and parts of it look and feel good, like liquid sky had the organization of work instead of sex. The coltan mining stuff is fantastic. Sadly, it degenerates into a sort of ungrounded ideology, lots of self-comforting anger and rhetoric, and little description of alternative political structures or anything that might force the audience to learn something we didn’t already know.
Addams Family Values: A little more uneven than the first part, but the good songs are emblematic. “You enslaved him. You put Fester under some sort of sexual charm. I respect that.” Kudos to Christine Baranski, always a welcome addition.
three hours high: 80s teen comedy riff on high noon but no one is pacifist + after hours but no one has guilt. Yes No ? I would be extremely “Who asked that???” if parodies of the violent rhetoric of high school team sports were not so delightful. A perfectly serviceable 80’s locker and lip movie for those into that sort of thing, totally lacking what Christians call a conscience or what philosophers call ‘a point’, but I appreciate that the posters hallways say, like, TORTURE THE TIGERS! CRUSH THE TIGERS IN MUD!
(I don’t remember the real posters, and I think the Tigers were actually the home team and not the rivals, but you get the idea. The cheer squad absolutely shoots down a football player pinata !)
valley of the Dolls: Warm colors, melancholic camera, facing divas; I mean you can’t not Check out this soapy ’60s sinfest. Clichés in addiction history land with a real bang because of the decision to call speed pills “dolls.” “I just want a doll! I need a doll! Give me a doll!“Gimme gimme gimme (a doll after midnight) etc. Occasional gestures towards class just make you realize that this film isn’t exactly capable of class and could have played more to its sordid strengths.
Last night in soho: Wonderful camera work, my god Edgar Wright is so good, so gifted, everything rushes and cuts just when needed. Tension, gallery of mirrors effects, it’s all there, in a story that seems to prepare for nostalgia and/or misogyny, the political elements flowing organically from the story it tells rather than the story being just a pretext to teach you”the 5 stages of grief” or what have you. Slowly, you’ll start to notice that the love interest (Michael Ajao) is perfect in a way that makes him totally devoid of personality. It exists only to be united. And then the story goes through a few twists too many, which blur its representation of misogyny. Like every movie made today, it wants to validate your anger (ugh) without actually saying it’s okay to rampantly kill men. Either develop a spirituality of peacemaking, or go all out and go chainsaw!
We all go to the world Fair: A smaller film than I expected. This is not a review, I’m just setting expectations. A girl plays an online horror LARP that explores body horror and alienation. Her videos get more and more disturbing, and an older man tries to… help her? To be the one to help her, so that she gets tangled up with him because he’s already engrossed in the idea of her?
Truly believable portrayal of the budding teenage anger (the scene where she recites the introductory text, “I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to to go to World Exhibition. I want to go to the Universal Exhibition! ”) and internet heaven/addiction. This opinion (found via Tim Markatos) emphasizes the “safe haven” aspect, which is real, but I’m not sure that’s what you see on screen in this movie. Both the girl and the older man exude a palpable loneliness that the LARP seems to reinforce and even turn into skeptical, rather than saluting or transforming into the basis of a damaged but real community.
Time Square: NOW THAT’S THE TRICK. This movie is so good!!!!! Or, like, it’s so great until it’s not. But it might be my best movie of the year so far.
The year: 1980. The place: a Times Square that looks more like Ralph Bakshi than Disney. Pamela Pearl (Trini Alvarado), an upper-class Jewish girl, is sent for neurological tests, possibly a ploy by her political father David (Peter Coffield) to have her locked up out of sight while he is running for NYC City Hall on a Clean Up Times Square platform. Her hospital roommate is Nicky Marotta (the phenomenal Robin Johnson), a raspy thug and every girl’s dream. Nicky breaks Pammy out of the funny farm and they hide in an abandoned warehouse. According to Wikipedia, “The film was inspired by a diary, found in a second-hand sofa bought by [director Allan] Moyle, detailing the life on the streets of a young woman with mental illness.
Oh, there are so many iconic love scenes here! The first time we see the trashed interior of the warehouse, the camera just strokes over every inch of rust and wreckage, an absolute glamor shot of filth. The girls shouting each other’s names: “PAMMY!!!” “NICKY!!! “PAMY!!! Nicky, on her knees (!!!), swallowing her words as she recites the love poem that would become her proto-riot grrrl hit song, “Damn Dog.” (It’s not the only love poem the girls exchange and they’re both so perfect.) the Sea to Skye scene” from England’s Last as the saddest musical scene in the history of cinema. I didn’t even mention that Tim Curry plays a pro-sleaze radio DJ (pro as in, pro, but also pro as in pro): “Get in touch with that place in you that craves more slime What plastic, David.” God, yes!
So, okay, like. Nicky is unstable, she flirts with the kind of crimes that could really hurt someone, she goes too far. You could do the movie that way if you wanted to, you could go the Withnail and me road and make sure the people who can escape the mud always leave behind the people who can’t. I would be heartbroken but there would be something raw about it, something believable and unprepared. But Nicky also becomes super famous and you can explain that as, “She wants to matter, to be known, and not fade away like the poor dead,” but that also means the film slips into a familiar rise and fall, tempting groove. -of-fame worked with more conviction by Ladies and Gentlemen, Fabulous Spots.
Even that’s not the real problem, it’s that the movie wants to eat its cake and have it too. The movie wants Pammy to come home as a good girl, not to abandon Nicky but certainly not to choose her or stay with her or sacrifice himself for her; for Nicky to be an inspiration, but one that inspires girls at nothing more menacing than seam garbage bag; so that everyone ends up the same at the end as at the beginning. Lol you can tell the film’s bad faith that it harshly haggles over the coolness of black people in Times Square, but in the end, in the inspiring grand concert finale, they’re reduced to selling trinkets to white girls privileged who are the real concern of the film. (Have black characters ever given us poetry, or politics, or maybe cool lines about slime? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.) Check out the cops at horse as benevolent overseers for all the outside girls to have fun at their little concert. The NYPD is thanked in the closing credits, that’s how far this film falls from its previous Be Gay Do Crimes/daisies For an ethic of the less civilized age.
What’s bad about this movie is rotten, dishonest, a cruel joke. But the good thing about it is just a desire, a kind of love song that I didn’t expect to find outside the pages of J.D..