Movie Review – Pink Flamingos

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Pink Flamingos (1972)
Written & Directed by John Waters

Well, Pride month is here, which means corporations & municipalities all around America will temporarily use rainbow avatars on social media and paint homeless deterrence rainbow colors to celebrate. Unless they are one of several states actively legislating against LGBTQ people, where Pride celebrations have either been banned by city leadership or heavily threatened with violence by reactionaries state & federal leaders feel no desire to do anything about. So I decided that I wanted to watch a bunch of queer cinema I’ve heard about for years as a way to see & write about these films and maybe provide solidarity for some readers out there. 

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Patron Pick – The Daytrippers

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

The Daytrippers (1996)
Written & Directed by Greg Mottola

The American independent film had its heyday in the 1990s. There are dozens of names & faces I will always associate with this period. There’s a certain tone & style that feels like it only existed in that decade and vanished after bleeding over just a bit into the 2000s and hasn’t returned since. The advent of digital cameras did a lot to change how low-budget films feel for better & worse. I can understand the convenience and affordability that digital brought filmmakers; however, there is a texture to shooting on film that you lose. I have yet to see any sort of filter that can restore it. The Daytrippers is one of those movies where you can feel the low budget, but that in no way diminishes the picture; it enhances it and gives the whole thing a sense of personality. 

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Patron Pick – Kicking & Screaming

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

Kicking & Screaming (2005)
Written by Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick
Directed by Jimmy Miller

I’ve wondered a lot over the last decade, was Will Ferrell ever actually good? Or was he just benefitting from other people’s strong writing when we thought he was. I have managed to avoid some of his more toxic recent movies; a Patron may choose one in the coming months now that I’ve typed that out. Like almost everyone, I first saw Ferrell on Saturday Night Live when the big mid-90s reboot happened. It suddenly felt like the quality of SNL has improved. I’ve revisited those episodes since, and they were not as good as I thought then. Ferrell was a definite stand-out, so it didn’t surprise anyone when he transitioned to movies. Night at the Roxbury never crossed my radar, so Anchorman was where I first saw him on the big screen. Looking back, I think I liked Adam McKay’s writing, not necessarily Ferrell’s performances.

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Movie Review – Beau Is Afraid

Beau Is Afraid (2023)
Written & Directed by Ari Aster

I’ve begun to feel like much of American culture & media is just a falsehood lately. For me, it’s been a combination of sitting back and soaking in the strangeness of social interaction in that culture, embracing my autism, and taking psychedelics. Everything feels chaotic in a very contrived, artificial way. We know that nothing about man-made societies is unintentionally chaotic; there are lots of moving parts behind the scenes. So, who benefits from the chaos? That seems easy to answer: the capital class, the owners, the managerial class. Chaos keeps people disoriented, unable to form bonds, and thus unable to achieve solidarity. Each person comes to feel isolated, terrified and atomized. Individuals are standing in the middle of their own personal hurricanes. This is the entire tone of Ari Aster’s latest picture, Beau Is Afraid.

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The Short Films of Ari Aster Part Two

Part One and Part Three

TDF Really Works…well, they include it in Aster’s filmography on Wikipedia, and it has its own entry on Letterboxd. This feels like something inspired by Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job. This is another example of Aster’s sense of humor which hasn’t been quite as prominent in his two feature films. Beau Is Afraid looks like it might be going there, though.

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PopCult Podcast – To Die For/Underground

1995 was a year with some wildly diverse films. For instance, this week we have a Gus Van Sant picture that wants to comment on the media & celebrity. The other is probably the most controversial film you’ve never heard of and is about the collapse of Yugoslavia done as a slapstick comedy.

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PopCult Podcast – Kicking and Screaming/Fallen Angels

We’re continuing our flashback to 1995 with a very talky film about a bunch of white people (that narrows it down) as well as one of the “lesser” works of a Hong Kong filmmaking master.

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PopCult Podcast – Welcome to the Dollhouse/La Haine

We’re going back to 1995 for April to watch & re-watch some fantastic films. Our first picture is a darkly comic examination of life in the East Coast suburbs. Our second film is a French crime-drama that moves at a breakneck speed and is a perfect piece of cinema.

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Movie Review – The Big Lebowksi

The Big Lebowski (1998)
Written by Joel & Ethan Coen
Directed by Ethan Coen

Why is The Big Lebowski still so damn funny? Rewatching it for this series; I think the 6th time I saw the movie, I was still laughing as hard as I did the first time. The comedy comes out of a common trope in the genre, the juxtaposition of opposing concepts. You can bring up tons of humorous situations by placing two things beside each other that don’t contradict so much as they don’t belong together at all. In the instance of The Big Lebowski, this is taking a Raymond Chandler noir novel and making the protagonist an old stoner hippie rather than a square-jawed private investigator. It’s a concept that, on paper, doesn’t pop as spectacularly; however, because of the sharpness of the Coens’ writing and the performances they get from their actors, the film is a transcendent comedy experience.

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Movie Review – Waiting for Guffman

Waiting for Guffman (1999)
Written by Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy
Directed by Christopher Guest

Musical theater is a mixed bag. I enjoy plays that Stephen Sondheim contributed to; he was a thoughtful songwriter whose lyrics show a maturity not often seen in American entertainment. However, we also have shlock like Spongebob the Musical or Back the Future the Musical, shows that should be held in little amphitheaters off the side at amusement parks that you only go to in search of some shade and a break from walking around. And then you have something like Hamilton, a piece of garbage in its own class. Yes, I know some of you really love this one, but between the color-swapping of historical slave owners and Lin Manuel Miranda’s simping for the elites at the cost of his fellow Puerto Ricans, let’s just say it’s not my thing. Nevertheless, making fun of musical theater is a rich vein to tap, and Christopher Guest & company pulled that off beautifully in Waiting for Guffman.

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