#284- Häxan

Quick recap: A documentary-ish about Witchcraft through the ages

Don't feed after midnight

Don’t feed after midnight

Fun (?) fact: Director Benjamin Christensen originally planned on writing the script with the help of experts but dropped that idea when he learned they were against his movie.

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My thoughts: Another year of HorrorFest is in the books and another year where I still think the 1920s were a pretty creepy time. Häxan alone didn’t do much for me because ‘meh’ on witches, but people dressed UP as witches, no thank you. I’m not talking about the sexy kind we have walking around these days, but the ones with dead eyes featured in this film.

Häxan is half dry documentary about the history of witchcraft and half stories that the director heard. The dry documentary part was more interesting to me than the vignettes because people a long time ago imagined some pretty scary stuff. I’m all for science and learning how the world works, but sometimes it would just be nice to blame things on witches, you know? Like, it’s not my fault I didn’t get grades on time- my witch is a neighbor! I was going 30 mph over the speed limit because a witch cursed my foot. It works in every situation. We make jokes how stupid people back then used to be but they sure were the masters of shirking responsibility.

The vignettes are your typical witch fare of curses and making weird brews in a big pot. One ‘fact’ the director wanted us to remember is that witches like to kiss the butt of the devil. He mentions it 3 different times, complete with recreations of a bunch of witches lined up, ready to literally kiss ass. It seems like such a weird thing to focus on, as if that is the most offensive thing witches do. I didn’t know that was a thing before the movie, however, so I can’t completely hate on it. The more you know, I suppose.

Final review: 1/5. I’m still ‘meh’ on witches, but please don’t make me look at people dressed up during Halloween in the 1920s.

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Up next: The Wizard of Oz

 

#273- Vinyl

Quick recap: Andy Warhol’s ‘interpretation’ of the Anthony Burgess novel, ‘A Clockwork Orange’

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I feel like this picture wrongfully implies that the film had badass moments

Fun (?) fact: This is more ‘painfully obvious’ than ‘fun fact’, but Vinyl was filmed unrehearsed.

My thoughts: Vinyl is like that very brief time in my life when I thought I was an actor. I did theatre in middle school and mostly liked it, until my very last play when, for whatever reason, I didn’t memorize my lines at all. The result was as horrible and embarrassing as you could possibly imagine and STILL, STILL the show wasn’t as bad as this movie.

There are only two redeeming parts about Vinyl: the music was good and the film itself was only about 70 minutes long. It was a very hard 70 minutes to sit through, but I might’ve had to check myself into a mental institution had it gone on any longer. That picture I posted above? That was the entire scenery for the movie. Seriously. At one point, the character Victor gets into a fight with another character who I think was called ‘Scum Baby’ and then he sits in a chair for the rest of the movie as a cop interrogates him and now I’ve just literally described the entirety of the movie. How does this even happen? How did Andy Warhol, one of the most ‘out there’ artists read ‘A Clockwork Orange’, and think to himself, ‘What if I just had the main character mumble through his lines and then dance around a bit and then just sit in a chair while everyone listlessly moves around him? This will be the most faithful interpretation yet!’

But of course he didn’t think that. I don’t know what his reason for making this garbage was, but it’s art, so it’s supposed to mean something, right? I’ve always loved modern art because while it angers some people to see a rope lying on the ground that’s worth a million dollars, I think it’s brilliant. And for everyone who says, ‘That canvas painted black is stupid. I could’ve painted that,’ I say to them, ‘yeah, well, you didn’t.’ But art house movies are different because I can’t just walk away. I’m forced to sit through them and then spend time trying to figure out the point and then realize that maybe there is no point and why am I not out there producing stuff like this and making a ton of money. But then I realize that the only different between something cringeworthy posted on Youtube and this, is that one is directed by Andy Warhol. That’s it.

Final review: 1/5.

Up next: Enter the Dragon

#237- Storm Over Asia

Quick recap: A Mongolian herdsman starts a revolution because he got ripped off by a fur trader.

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To be fair, that’s a pretty nice piece of fur

Fun (?) fact: A silver fox fur coat will put you back about $5,000.

My thoughts: I’ve recently gotten into the podcast You Must Remember This, which examines the history of American cinema. This season, they are tackling the story of the Hollywood Blacklist, which fits perfectly with Storm Over Asia because it is legit Soviet propaganda, yo.

Did this movie create a bunch of Communists? Probably not. Unlike Salt of the Earth which had me legitimately questioning what I believed, Storm Over Asia only made me feel sorry for the poor foxes murdered for their fur. Not too sorry, though, because Mongolia is a very cold place and I’m sure fur was invaluable for keeping warm. The story itself, about the Mongolian joining with the Communist Partisans to fight the evil British army never really happened. Britain never invaded Mongolia, although they did occupy other places in Asia so it’s not too far fetched of an idea. Granted, I don’t know my USSR history as well as I should, but I just can’t imagine hoards of Russians rushing to movie theaters only to leave as card carrying members of the Communist Party because they were so angry about the fictional invasion of Mongolia.

Propaganda aside, the movie itself ran much longer than it should have. There are several scenes that made fun of Eastern religions, which made sense for the USSR to put in but watching 20 minutes of ritualistic dancing got old very quickly. I also didn’t really sympathize with the Mongolian herdsman, although I agree he should’ve gotten more for that pelt than what was given to him. Really, the only part I truly enjoyed was the last minute or so of the film when an actual storm blows in. At first, I wondered why someone chose to film a wind storm but then I got it- THIS is the storm over Asia! To make sure I understood the subtlety, among the wind blown objects were British Soldier hats and dead bodies, It was an exciting way to end an otherwise boring movie, although it still didn’t make me a Communist.

Final review: 1/5

Up next: La Notte

#231- There’s Something About Mary

Quick recap: In the screwballiest of screwball comedies, There’s Something About Mary is about a guy (Ted) in love with a girl (Mary).

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Ben Stiller as a high school kid will haunt me for a long while

Fun(?) fact: Lee Evans (who plays Tucker) has the most godawful British accent but as it turns out, he is actually British and just exaggerated what he normally sounds like. Actors!

 My thoughts: Hello. My name is Mary. YEAH. This movie came out when I was in middle school and has been the bane of my existence ever since then. Not that I needed more fuel for people to tease me about my name- ‘Hey Mary, how does your garden grow?’ ‘Hey, Mary, where’s your lamb?’ ‘Hey, Mary, are you proud?’ ‘Mary Me!’ (actually, that one was kind of funny). The point is, I hated this movie just for that reason and I’m glad to say that now I can hate it because it is the WORST.

All you really need to know about There’s Something About Mary is that it is directed by the Farrelly brothers, who are known for such gems as Shallow Hal, Osmosis Jones and Dumb and Dumber. Now, I have nothing against lowbrow comedy or even the Farrelly brothers in general. I have seen Dumb and Dumber many times and certain scenes still make me laugh. The difference though is that that movie had heart where this one just has jokes about masturbation and killing a dog. Yes, there is a love story but just barely. It’s mostly just a vehicle to get to the gross out stuff and making fun of people who are disabled. I never bought into the whole Ted/Mary dynamic mainly because there wasn’t much there. There is one scene where the two sit around and talk about more meat products needing to be on sticks. This turned out to be a joke that Seinfeld was going to use originally but decided against it so the Farrelly brothers bought it. These guys suck.

And as for the ending, which I’m going to go ahead and spoil because screw you if you want to watch this after my review, it turns out that EVERY guy is in love with Mary. There is a zany cast of suitors throughout the movie with the reveal at the end that Mary’s crazy high school boyfriend, Woogie, is Ted’s best friend and his been patiently waiting for his chance. I cried in despair upon realizing that I had been duped by the Farrelly brothers and hadn’t seen the twist ahead of time. The other reveal that Mary’s ex, Brett, was actually Brett Favre didn’t send me into quite as big a shame spiral, but I was still pretty broken up about the whole thing. Please don’t watch this movie.

Final review: 1/5. I guess you could call this the height of screwball comedies, which just means that it gets much, much worse.

Up next: Cleansing my palette with The Godfather