Sweat stains, the movie
I hadn't seen Alligator in eons. It truly is an A+ B-movie.
I was 11 when the movie came out, and when it premiered in my hometown of Gainesville, FL, they made a big thing out of it. They brought the big animatronic gator itself on a flatbed truck. It was donated to the university and made many appearances at football games over the years.
I know this firsthand because my mom took me and my best friend to the…
Trying to figure out how this got on my radar...
Generally, it's a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the filming of Jess Franco's 2000 flick Blind Target, shot in Brazil.
It is more, as well. A meta-film, a glance into a moment, a capture of curious, significant figures (including Linnea Quigley).
By no means incisive or comprehensive, it's an insight of a very specific kind. No less valuable for that.
The incongruous and disorienting variance between the additional padded 20 minutes whipped up by UCLA students in 1968 clashes with the original 1963 footage of Madmen of Mandoras, the film that is the bulk of They Saved Hitler's Brain. Totally different film stock, very different fashions and motor vehicles, and saddest of most, extremely dull by comparison, the expanded footage.
But give it to the marketing team. They Saved Hitler's Brain is quite the title, incorrect as it is. They really save his whole head and shoulders.
The original footage puts a quality camp classic. Too bad they didn't have a better marketing division.
Julien Temple adds another fine documentary about original London punk heroes, long after the fact. His 2000 film The Filth and the Fury, about the Sex Pistols, he had stated it was an apology of sorts for The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle, giving John Lydon a platform to retell the story of the band in later life. His Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten seemed to stem more from the sudden death of the Clash frontman, but was also eloquent and…
If you can imagine a premonition of Bob Clampett and Tex Avery in a live action pre-code comedy, as loose and absurd and surreal as anything remotely resembling the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup, Million Dollar Legs (1932) is your baby.
As a musical and a comedy, it's only partially successful. As a total trip and a wild obscurity, it fucking slays. It's nuts.
I do wish it was genuinely good all through, but it's worth it nonetheless as an artifact of weirdness, a thing unlike most others in Hollywood's output of all time.
A couple problems with the title of the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché 2021. Namely, it would be best titled: My Mom, Poly Styrene since the film is essentially a reckoning of the relationship between the punk legend and her daughter, Celeste Bell, co-director of the film and featured figure tracing the steps of her mother, some years after Styrene's death in 2011 from breast cancer. Styrene is the film's focus, of course, but prismed throughout by Bell's…
I first caught this at the Roxie back in either 2004 or 2005 and this is one film that stayed with me.
Recluse and outsider artist Henry Darger developed an epic piece of fantasy in his lonely space and crafted vivid and wild images to illustrate his imaginings, all only discovered after his passing in the early 1970s.
Jessica Yu's documentary illustrates the story of Darger's life with animated versions of his paintings and graphics. His imagination spun off of…
Letter Never Sent, a naturalistic survival adventure thriller, also vibes vaguely sci-fi.
Three geologists and their hulking guide are dropped in remote Siberia, searching for a potential seam of diamonds, based on the idea that the geography matches that of African diamond deposits. There is an unsent letter, but after a surprising discovery, a forest fire flushes them on a desperate flight for survival.
I don’t know what I thought it was going to be about, but Mikhail Kalatozov’s film…
I’d long been curious about People on Sunday, a silent German production dabbling in something avant-garde: depicting regular people and starring non-actors in the primary roles. While the cast may be largely unknown, the reason this intrigued me so was the collaboration of so many notable eventual emigres from Germany to Hollywood and notability. This list includes co-directors Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer, but also Billy Wilder and Curt Siodmak on the writing team.
The opening depiction of Berlin…
Winterbeast fetishizes Native American pop culture junk and throwback nudie kitsch in its confusing tales of an ancient mountain site that serves as a gateway to hell. Its confounding editing as well as its shooting history probably go hand in hand, and certainly without the great lo-fi DIY horror magic, who knows how much interest it could evoke.
But magic it has. In spades.
I’m a total sucker for stop-motion creatures, and Winterbeast brings these with utter wanton abandon, even…