#406- Naked Lunch

Quick recap: 

Fun (?) fact:  Seeing as this whole film is just basically one fact after another, here’s the one that shocked me most: The scene where Bill accidentally shoots and kills his wife during a ‘William Tell’ act happened in real life to William S. Burroughs and his wife. He only served 13 days in jail.

me with the boys after the second vaccine

Thoughts and observations: 

I think it’s best to come out and say I had NO idea what was going on through most of this movie. It’s like one of those viral videos where the caption just says ‘you can’t guess what happens! Just watch to the end!’ and I did just that. Not once did I predict correctly what would happen in the next scene, whether it was two typewriters fighting to the death or someone snorting centipede dust. And that’s ok. This movie wasn’t meant for me and once I realized that, I just sat back and enjoyed myself.

The title comes from William S. Burrough’s novel ‘Naked Lunch’ but the movie is actually several of his novels mashed into one as well as a quasi-biography of Burrough’s himself. And seeing as I have not read any of his works or know anything about the author, 95% to 98% of the references went over my head. It’s not necessary to cram before watching this movie, though. I was invested from the first moment. The main character, Bill Lee, is an exterminator whose wife gets addicted to the roach powder he uses. Which brings him to also become addicted, or maybe addicted to the centipede powder that’s supposed to counteract the roach powder. This leads him to talk to a hideous looking roach who tells him to kill his wife because she’s not really human. Which he does accidentally. Maybe. And then typewriters turn into hideous creatures and Lee flees to a place called the InterZone and finds out he’s actually a secret agent of some kind. Honestly, I’m not ever sure what is real and what isn’t. Does he die at the end or does he finally escape to a higher form of consciousness? Or was this all real and he did his agent job? It really doesn’t matter because it was a fun ride to just watch.

I don’t want to say too much about Cronenberg because it’s all been said anyway, but I can’t imagine anyone else directing this movie. The figures were grotesque in a way I don’t have the vocabulary to describe. So, instead enjoy some nightmarish pictures!

Watchability score: 4/5

Up next: Europa Europa

#404- Chungking Express

Quick recap: The first part of the film follows a policeman who wants to fall in love before his cans of pineapple expire. The second half involves a fast food worker in love with a policeman (not the same one). When he doesn’t seem interested, she breaks into his apartment and spruces up the place.

But now I can’t stop thinking about pineapple

Fun (?) fact: The movie is filmed in sequence, with director Wong Kar-Wai writing the next portion of the script the night or morning of shooting.

Thoughts and observations:

There were parts of Chungking Express that were so confusing to me, like trying to figure out what kind of food Faye was making when she worked with her cousin. But then other parts were intimately familiar, like Officer 223 setting an arbitrary expiration on his single life. As most people know, jumping back into a relationship to get over a previous one doesn’t usually end well, but it’s what keeps you going sometimes. The same could be said about vowing to hit on the next woman to walk in the bar, yet Officer 223 does it anyway and ultimately feels better. I loved the ambiguous ending of the first story, as he goes out for a run to expel all wetness from his body. The woman he ‘fell in love’ with never really seemed into him (maybe something to do with her actually being a drug mule and looking for a lost shipment), but the night he spent with her seemed to be what needed to happen.

In the second half of the film, the audience comes across another lovelorn officer- this one goes by 663, who was just dumped by a flight attendant. He is so deeply in denial that it’s over, that he barely notices Faye, the fast food worker who instantly falls in love. And here again, I found myself relating so much to her character. I’ve never broken into my crush’s house and redecorated but I have created a dream world in my mind imagining what life could be like together. The ending of this story is also ambiguous, but maybe less enjoyable for me because I so wanted the two of them to fall in love together. And maybe they did, but it also reminds me how love can feel so consuming in the moment yet not be the end of the world when it fails to happen.

The director’s use of color and staging intimate shots made me realize there is a third love story- this one about Hong Kong. I could’ve just watched scenes of people walking and eating and chatting for hours. It’s a city so alive with possibility. No wonder this people felt it so important to be in love. I also enjoyed the soundtrack, although I admit to tiring of ‘California Dreamin” after the 4th go round. Still, much of Chungking Express reminded me of Manhattan, in that it follows Woody Allen’s weirdo relationship but the setting overpowers the plot in the most powerful way.

Watchability score: 4/5

Up next: A Place in the Sun

#374- Toy Story

Quick recap: A space ranger and a cowboy find out they can be friends despite their differences.

credit: Sushio

Fun (?) fact: The carpet in Sid’s house has the same design as the carpet from the Overlook Hotel in the Shining

My thoughts and observations (in no particular order):

  • I almost wish I hadn’t watched Toy Story 4 a few nights before viewing the original because one can’t exist without the other. Would Toy Story be as great if it was a stand alone film?
  • I remember freaking out about the details when I watched the original in theaters many years ago. The scuff marks on the door! The texture of Rex the Dinosaur! Even now, the digital graphics are impressive.
  • …….Except for the humans. All of them are frightening, especially Andy. Pixar would’ve been better off doing a Headless Nanny thing, a la Muppet Babies.

  • Something else that doesn’t hold up? The music. On one hand, I’m glad no one burst into song but on the other hand, did we really have to go with Randy Newman? He sounds like a parody of himself.
  • I still want to go to Pizza Planet. There’s a version of the restaurant at Walt Disney World but it’s not the same by a long shot

Final review: 3/5. I think this number would’ve been higher had there not been the sequels to carry out the story further. This is the origin and it does it’s job setting up the characters but it’s just not as funny as the other movies and doesn’t showcase all that Pixar is capable of.

Up next: The Ear

 

#355- Jacob’s Ladder

Quick recap: A Vietnam vet’s life starts to get really weird and creepy when he starts having visions of demons and nightmares of torture.

I finally realized that Tim Robbins reminds me of John Green and now I can’t unsee it

Fun(?) fact: Much of the imagery for the film comes from photographs taken by Joel-Peter Witkin. I won’t post on here because it is super creepy and gruesome but you should Google it if that’s your thing. Or just scroll through the Subreddit Creepypasta because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen most of his pictures there at some point.

Macaulay Culkin! Tim Robbins! Jason Alexander! This movie is peak 90s

My thoughts: SPOILERS APLENTY!!

I’d heard this movie was terrifying but I tend to take those warnings with a grain of salt. Basically, all I knew was that it had something to do with Vietnam and seeing as how I never fought in the war, I considered myself safe. What I did not realize is that Jacob’s Ladder is about visions and nightmares, of which I have PLENTY (nightmares, not visions).

One of my favorite things about this movie is how minor details seem so creepy and can add up to something terrifying. In the beginning of the movie, Jacob heads to his local VA to talk with a doctor about his flashbacks, only to find out there is no record of him in the system. It’s unnerving but seeing how this was Pre-Computer age, not entirely illogical. But as the movie progresses, more and more of Jacob’s life starts to fade. He realizes something awful happened to him in Vietnam but when he goes to see a lawyer, the lawyer tells him that he never actually fought and was dishonorably discharged. Combine that with the super creepy demons and this movie kept me up for hours after it was over.

And here’s the spoiler: The entire film takes place in the moments before Jacob dies. Turns out, he was mortally wounded in Vietnam after all and all these nightmares and visions are just his mind’s way of coming to terms with his mortality. I was a little annoyed by how hokey the scene was when Jacob is reunited with his dead son Gabe and they walked upstairs to a white light, but then the next scene was the medics crowded around his body and that stark contrast really threw me off. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in All that Jazz, when he does that huge musical number about saying good bye and then the very next scene is of him being put into a body bag. It’s such a sobering thought to realize that I just sat through a man’s final, horrifying moments on earth but I’m also grateful that Jacob finally got some peace.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Possibly more Horrorfest?