Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer Flicks For Snobs & Pricks

I love movies. I'd say they're probably my fourth favorite thing after the three P's: Punk, Politics and Pussy. And there are few things that I love more than going to the movies. I love everything about it, the dangerously over buttered popcorn, the glow of the big screen in that deep dark room, even the unwinnable arguments I get into with my brother over the meaning of what we just witnessed on the moonlit drives home. There's really only one thing I don't like about going to the movies these days and, ironically enough, it's the fucking movies themselves! Especially in the summer when that putrid cesspool called Hollywood (America's second undrainable swamp!) unleashes a tidal wave of the dumbest, safest, tackiest, money-grubbing horseshit that their pea sized lizard brains can fart out. It's all green screens, CGI and wisecracking, jingoistic superheroes pimping the lowest common denominator out of their hard earned walking change. I know, I know, I'm a film snob and a total fucking prick. Nothing gets my unwanted, chubby little pecker harder than a good old fashioned bugfuck art flick or a pretentious, Euro-trash, soft-core fuck-fest: Vaseline, subtitles and all. I would love nothing better than to gorge myself sick on this strange vice before the silky glory of the silver screen but sadly there aren't too many faggy revival houses out in Amish country, so I have to settle on watching Netflix in my parent's basement.

I can't be the only one, can I? There has to be at least a few other weirdos out there hungry for something new and strange this summer and maybe even a few curious rubes brave enough to watch on the wild side. Well, never fear, dearest motherfuckers, Comrade Hermit Productions is proud to present the first annual list of Summer Flicks For Snobs & Pricks. A small collection of some of my favorite of-the-beaten-path cinematic gems for you fine fucks to feast on in the cool comfortability of your own basement. You probably won't find any of this shit at Redbox and you definitely won't find it at your local megaplex but as long as you have access to an old-school, snail-mail, Netflix account, you should be able to get your grubby mitts on all that lies below. Just pace yourselves, dearest motherfuckers, especially the more bourgeois among you. This is the kind of shit that Hollywood doesn't want you to see. But if you keep an open mind, it might just get blown. You're welcome.

The Doom Generation (1995) Directed by Gregg Araki

Gregg is by far the most underrated director to come out of the Queer Cinema movement, largely because he's it's most dangerous alumni and The Doom Generation is his blood soaked magnum opus: The nihilistic saga of a shiftless teenage couple, Amy and Jordan (played by the equally gorgeous Rose McGowan and James Duval) who hook up with a mysterious bisexual drifter who involves them in a convenience store robbery gone gruesomely wrong. Together, the triad flees the dystopian sprawl of the Los Angeles suburbs, only to be stalked by an endless procession of queer bashers and Amy's irate ex-lovers. Hollywood hated it because they didn't get it. It's a grotesquely humorous analogy for the culture of random chauvinistic and heterosexist violence that women, girls and queer kids have to live with every fucking day. Araki never sugarcoated it for the breeders or the squeamish (or do I repeat myself) which is precisely what make him and movies like The Doom Generation so fucking vital.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Rose McGowan's Amy Blue instantly became one of my idols upon watching this movie back in high school. With her fuck-you attitude and her Gothic Lolita swagger she was everything little girls weren't supposed to be and everything that I secretly wished I was. Her foul mouthed one-liners are still fucking priceless: from " You're like a life support system for a cock!" to " If bullshit were music, you'd be a big brass band" and, of course, the instantly classic refrain "Eat my fuck". Amy's filthy mouth made me wanna be a girl.

Visitor Q (2001) Directed by Takashi Miike

Note to dearest motherfuckers: NOT FOR EVERYONE. Takashi Miike has made some fantastically fucked up cinema over the last twenty-something years: masterfully mixing the awkward dreaminess of David Lynch with the grotty body horror of David Cronenberg in cult classics like Audition, Ichi the Killer and Gozu. But I believe the mad genius of J-Horror hit his peak with this little known, direct-to-DVD black comedy which may very well go down in history as the most fucked up family movie ever made. Incest, heroin addiction, necrophilia, domestic violence: The Yamazaki family shatters every taboo in the book before a nameless stranger injects himself into the madness and brings them back together through the magic of casual violence and erotic I said, not for everyone, but if your just the right kind of fucked up you might just find a strange bitter-sweetness in Visitor Q that's, dare I say, almost heartwarming.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

The scene where the Yamazaki's gleefully hack their son's bullies to bits should bring a smile to the face of anyone who grew up weird and was forced to suffer for it by vicious square kids or any parent who's ever had a day dream about fucking gutting some teenage psychopath for calling their kid a faggot. Here's your moment, beautiful people. Soak it in.

Shortbus (2006) Directed by John Cameron Mitchell

Mitchell, that beautiful creature who gave us the gift of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, once stated in an interview, " to interesting to leave to porn." He proves this maxim in spades with this groundbreaking erotic comedy that follows the denizens of a weekly queer happening known as the Shortbus as they try to find themselves and each other through the tangled web of their sex lives. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but you probably wont come. That's not the point as Mitchell shows us that even explicit sex doesn't have to be pornography. It can be something even cooler. It can be art.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Nothing can beat the final scene, where Shortbus' host, the brilliantly vivacious Justin Vivian Bond, playing herself, sings to the love battered collective, joined together under candlelight during a blackout, a wistful lullaby which explodes into an anthem as she's joined by a marching band, uniting the room with the refrain "We all get it in the end!" It's downright orgasmic.

Sonatine (1993) Directed by Takeshi Kitano

Murakawa is a depressed Yakuza sent down to Okinawa to broker a peace deal between warring clans, only to find himself and his men caught in an ambush. They escape to a secluded beach house where they rescue a mysterious rape victim and lose themselves in childish pranks, firecrackers and rainy day bullshitting only to have the violence of the adult world they escaped come crashing in on them. Takeshi Kitano is nothing short of phenomenal: writing, directing and starring in one of the most refreshingly original gangster films ever made. Watch it on a rainy afternoon and fucking lose yourself. I promise you wont regret it.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Murakawa's revenge on the bosses who slaughtered his men is one of the most haunting shootouts in cinema history. Kitano stalks the darkened hotel boardroom like a panther with an M-16. His expressionless face, still as a stone mask. His quiet rage, silent but palpable like a phantom pulse set to the beat of the gunfire, flashing in the darkness like a strobe light. Just like the movie itself, it breaths madness like a strange kind of magic that makes perfect sense to no one but Murakawa and the audience that he holds captive.

The Dreamers (2003) Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

Thirty years after Last Tango In Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci returns to the City of Light with this beautiful erotic love letter to youth, cinema and rebellion. During the build up to the May '68 Paris Uprising, American film student Matthew (Michael Pitt, brilliant, gorgeous) shacks up with local twin cinephiles, Isabelle (Eva Green, equally brilliant, doubly beautiful) and Theo (Lois Garrel, meh?) at their stately chateau while their bourgeois parents are on holiday. Matthew quickly discovers that the twins have zero sexual mores, even between each other, and he quickly finds himself sucked into their private world of sex games, classic cinema and revolutionary Maoism, all culminating in the break out of the revolution they've been waiting for.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

As shallow as it may sound to a cinematic laymen, the sex scenes really are a work of art. Every three way is more like a four way with Bertolucci's camera playing the role of the fourth, silent lover. It delivers a level of intimacy to the audience that makes mainstream pornography look like a sad and lonely joke. Matthew's passionate but ultimately doomed attempt to convince the twins that love is far more revolutionary than violence during the final scene is another highlight, still as poignant and tragically unheard today as it was in 1968. C'est la vie.

The Killer (1989) Directed by John Woo

John Woo's high octane masterpiece is nothing short of a triumph of Hong Kong cinema. The operatic tale of an assassin with a heart of gold who agrees to do one last hit in order to pay for the eye surgery of a nightclub singer he accidentally blinded in a previous job, only to be double crossed by his Triad boss and befriend a detective fascinated by the criminals valor. I know, on paper it sounds melodramatic and it is but it's also the greatest action film ever made. Trust me, skip the latest Vin Diesel abortion and watch this instead. If your disappointed then please kill yourself, your hopeless and I can't help you.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

No action sequence will ever beat the epic final shootout in the abandoned chapel: Beretta's flashing, bodies falling, doves flying, candles flickering, blood spurting. John Woo turns unspeakable carnage into a bullet ballet of near biblical proportions. What more can I say? It's fucking beautiful. Shakespeare would be humbled.

Gummo (1997) Directed by Harmony Korine

Gummo isn't a movie. Gummo is an experience. One that will mark you and forever change the way you look at cinema and the world around you. It's a strange, terrifying, beautiful thing to behold. In the dystopian wasteland of tornado ravaged Xenia, Ohio, an odd collection of aimless misfits eck out a strange existence on the wreckage of their former lives. At times it feels almost like a Jacques Cousteau film only with people playing the parts of the monsters only found at the bottom of the sea. These bizarre, seemingly random and largely improvised vignettes are rendered even more surreal by Harmony Korine's use of gritty, voyeuristic, cinema verite style of camera work and a soundtrack comprised almost entirely of left-field extreme metal bands like Burzum, Absu, Spazz and Sleep. It's one hell of a fucking trip. Do yourself a favor, buy the ticket, take the ride.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

During the final vignette, when Chloe Sevigny emerges from the dirty water in the vacant above ground swimming pool and kisses Bunny Boy surrounded by a pounding torrential downpour while Roy Orbison's Crying plays in the background has to be one of the great indelible images in the history of avante garde cinema and it's an image permanently fried into my frontal lobe like a cigar burn, at least I hope so. Maybe I should watch it again just to make sure....

Love Exposure (2008) Directed by Sion Sono

Clocking in at just over four hours, you would think that Sion Sono's epic black rom-com would be fucking exhausting but if you have an afternoon to kill, Love Exposure is your weapon of choice. The story starts with Yu, the earnest son of a widowed Catholic Priest who only seems to have time for him in the confessional booth. Yu's solution to this problem is to start committing sins to confess, the more perverse the better. This sends him down a strange and twisted path that leads him to petty vandalism, uspkirt photography, cross-dressing, finding true love and battling a deadly cult for her heart. It's insane. It's beautiful. it's Japan in a nutshell. A love story that could only exist on that wonderful, volcanic archipelago where everything seems to be both sacred and perverse all at the same time.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Yu's ultra-violent, Tarantino-esque siege of Zero Church headquarters as his drag queen ultra-ego, Miss Scorpion, plays like Kill Bill meets Rocky Horror. It's the queerest jihad since Stonewall and it's all for love. Absolutely perfect in every single way.

Together (2000) Directed by Lukas Moodysson

Lukas Moodyson's bitter-sweet period comedy about a bored house wife who leaves her alcoholic husband with her children and crashes at her idealistic brother's floundering hippie commune in 1975 Stockholm earned a very special place in my heart during a very dark time in my life. It would have been very easy just to make this movie a tasteless parody of '60's/'70's counterculture but even Together's most seemingly irredeemable hippie brats are treated with a degree of love and compassion that only a self-proclaimed fellow socialist like Moodyson could deliver. Only a true egalitarian could skewer his own fellow comrades with such tenderness. It's a movie about sensitive idealists coming to terms with the fact that though the revolution may be over their love for each other still makes them family. Call it the charming side of self-criticism.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

It's strictly personal but the awkward relationship that develops between Lena's shiftless, bookish daughter and the schlubby neighbor boy really got me deep. Probably because the two ugly ducklings bare more than a passing resemblance to me and my first middle school crush. Caitlin, wherever the fuck you are, someone weird still loves you.

The Edukators (2004) Directed by Hans Weingartner

A menage a trios develops between the three members of a non-violent leftist cadre after they're forced by circumstance to take a wealthy businessman hostage. Together, the four of them hide out in the picturesque Austrian Alps, where the rebels with a cause realize that their prisoner use to be one of them back in the seventies. What results is a beautiful meditation on love and revolution that will stay with you years after watching this brilliant indie gem. I was heartbroken to learn that Hollywood planned to remake The Edukators but overjoyed to learn it had crashed and burned in development hell. What can I say? Some people never change.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

The final sequence, in which it's revealed that Hardenberg has gone back on his promise and presses charges against the trio after all, who it turns out predicted his hypocrisy and already escaped, unveils like a dream sequence beautifully set to the score of Jeff Buckley's flawless cover of Hallelujah. It's nothing short of cinematic perfection and it makes me cry every fucking time. The kind of magic those greedy hacks in Hollywood could never remake in a million years with a billion dollars.

Well there you have it, dearest motherfuckers, another pretentious list from your favorite asshole. I can just see you rolling your eyes right now but if I can get just one of you to watch just one of these criminally underrated masterpieces then I can breath easy and live with the chorus of sighs and snickers that seem to follow my snarky ass everywhere I go, watch two and they might just sound like music to my ears. Just remember, dearest motherfuckers, safe art is bad art and life's too goddamn short to waste on bad art.

Peace, Love and Eat My Fuck- CH

Soundtrack: Music from or inspired by theses flicks

* Alison By Slowdive
* The Hardest Button To Button By The White Stripes
* Boys Of Melody By The Hidden Cameras
* Wave Of Mutilation By The Pixies
* S.O.S. By Abba
* Hey Joe By Jimi Hendrix
* Nightswimming By REM
* Dunkelhelt By Burzum
* Somebody To Love By Queen
* Hallelujah By Jeff Buckley

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