A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (1966)
Written by Melvin Frank & Michael Pertwee
Based on the musical by Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart, and Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Richard Lester
Pseudolus (Zero Mostel) is a slave in ancient Rome who enjoys gambling and disobeying his masters of the House of Senex. His son of his masters, Hero (Michael Crawford) is in love with a woman he has spied only from his bedroom window at the brothel next door. Pseudolus sees this as an opportunity to gain his freedom and makes this the reward if he is able to get Hero’s dream girl for him. What follows is a farce of class and society filtered through the lens of the satires of Roman playwright Plautus and the vaudeville schtick of Jewish comedians. The whole production is directed by English filmmaker Richard Lester who was hot off of The Beatles’ Help! and British sex farce The Knack…and How to Get It. All of this makes for some very wild cinema.
The Forbidden Room (2015)
Written by Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk, & Guy Maddin
Directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson
A bespectacled man hosts an aged and worn instructional film on how to take a bath. After explaining the opening procedures, the camera dives beneath the murky water, and we see a submarine float by. We cut to inside the submarine where the crew is in dire circumstances. They carry onboard an incredibly volatile substance that, if they were to surface, would combust due to air pressure killing them all. They find a portal in one of the dank, humid chambers that should lead them out into the waters, allowing them to abandon ship and swim to the surface. Instead, when they open a door, a lumberjack soaked to the bone tumbles forward. He begins to tell the tale of his quest to save a maiden from a band of cave-dwelling barbarians only to find the maiden is their den mother. In her sleep, the den mother dreams of another life, as a noir nightclub singer…and so on and so on. The Forbidden Room is a Matryoshka doll of short films, one nested within the other, moving up and down the ladder of stories until they become intertwined and lost within each other.
Wonder Woman by George Perez Vol. 2 (DC Comics)
Written by George Perez and Len Wein
Art by George Perez and Bruce Patterson, various others
Collects Wonder Woman v2 #15-24, Annual #1
Following the first year and a half arc of the Wonder Woman reboot, Perez settled nicely into his own pocket of the DC Universe. In this volume, Wonder Woman’s fame makes her the target of cybernetic villain Silver Swan, a visit to Greece puts her into direct conflict with the sorceress Circe, and Themyscira opens its gates to the people of Man’s World leading to disastrous consequences. The Maid of Might struggles with the identity the world has assigned her and her own developing feelings for fellow superhero Superman. Her host family, the Kapatelis mother and daughter, Julia and Vanessa are both going through their own personal upheavals. Julia toys with one relationship and ends up with a teacher at Vanessa’s school. Vanessa becomes jealous of Diana when her crush becomes infatuated with Wonder Woman and finally ending up with another girl entirely. She also experiences the sensation of sudden popularity when she and Julia become the first visitors to Man’s World since Steve Trevor.
Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky
Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) rises in the morning, a new day in her beautiful manor home in the middle of the woods. She shares this home with Him (Javier Bardem), her husband, a poet, and they live in solitude together. Then one night a knock at the door and a Man (Ed Harris) is on the steps. He is a doctor who claims he was told this was a bed and breakfast. Mother’s husband lets him in and without consulting her, allows the Man to stay. The next morning a Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives, the wife of the Man and suddenly Mother’s husband becomes obsessed with this family, ignoring her. From there, the litany of guests and violence increases as Mother becomes lost in her own world.
Written by Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman
Directed by Andy Muschietti
It’s 1988 in Derry, Maine and Bill Denbrough is mourning his brother Georgie who vanished one rainy Saturday afternoon. His group of friends begins to have similar experiences all revolving around a menacing clown called Pennywise. He seems connected to Derry’s history of disappearances, far beyond that of any other town in America. As the Losers, their club’s nickname, investigate further they are led into the very bowels of Derry where the evil waits, eating up their fear and the children of the town.
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch
This won’t be the standard dissection, but more a reflection on the emotions and ideas I have had in the week following the finale of Twin Peaks: The Return. My immediate reaction was a strong feeling in the gut, a sense of being overwhelmed, but overall positive. I was definitely ready to ruminate and one day reexamine the piece in its entirety. As with all work by Lynch, there is no Meaning, there are many meanings and understandings. He would be the first to not put authorial voice over your own interpretation and has never shown an interest in decomposing his work. As he says, “the work is the work.”
Written by Janicza Bravo and Brett Gelman
Directed by Janicza Bravo
Isaac Lachmann (Brett Gelman) is a despicable, misanthropic, misogynist, narcissist. He is a struggling actor who teaches acting classes with a pretension so dense it is nauseating. The opening of the film finds his live-in girlfriend Ramona (Judy Greer) trying to sidestep out of their relationship and Isaac taking it in the least mature way possible. He stumbles through episodes in his life that include Passover with his almost equally acidic family. He somehow ends up in another relationship despite being a rude, crass dullard and the story sort of just ends. Isaac’s life continues to be a mire of self-pity and blame shifting.