Movie Reliquary

Our previously screened movies – so you can see where we have been and where we are going.

August5Friday

Black Mask (1996)

First Fridays - Cinema Vendetta
10 pm
Black Mask (1996)

Directed by Daniel Lee
Written and Produced by Tsui Hark

A rare, perhaps singular example of the positive effects of dubbing a movie into English. Jet Li plays an unwilling superhero committed to hiding from the past via his library job, etcetera etcetera. As you may have guessed he is eventually attacked by his old gang of special forces laser criminals, the leader of which is possibly supposed to be Native American, and our hero is forced to trade in his glasses for a crepe paper Green Hornet mask, which is all he can come up with at the time, and the whole affair makes him kind of a dodgy employee for a while and puts a lot of stress on his relationship with his brutal cop friend. The magic comes with the US Version, which adds some perfectly enunciated profanity as well as a totally homemade 90’s Hip Hop scratch track that is just kiss-your-fingers exquisite.

Factors(15)
Shootiness/Explodiness5
Hottie Tottie Librarians5
Villanous Westerners4
Weaponized Compact Discs3
Further weaponized Silly String3
Ginger Abuse3
July29Friday

Wild at Heart (1990)

10 pm
Wild at Heart (1990)

Directed and Written by David Lynch

Not to be fanboy about this; believe me I often find his films to be as frustrating as everyone else does, but I think the key to penetrating the Lynch oeuvre without smashing your playback device is to commit yourself to the understanding that he just doesn’t give a whit about the elements that are supposed tether us emotionally and analytically to films; stuff like narrative threads, plot structure, character development, normal human behavior… All he seems to care about is the feel that emanates from whatever is happening, like standing up in a rowboat, its those brief discomforting surges that drive his movies. He filmed Wild at Heart concurrently with Twin Peaks and if you’ve seen the latter you will recognize the absurd degrees to which this film’s characters and elements are stylized. Thematically though this movie functions a lot more like an oily, insidious remake of The Coens’ Raising Arizona, which had been released only a few years prior, and when considered together raise some questions about what the hell went on in the late 1980s that being pursued by evil and its not entirely your own fault was one of the more resonant cinematic themes of the era.

Nicolas Cage’s Sailor (just like Nicolas Cage‘s Hi) is some kind of vaguely southern everyman trying to escape both his past and his nature. He might just be what your average Florida Man sees in the mirror when he’s getting dressed in the morning; snakeskin jacket, an oblique and musical way of speaking, a clear-eyed moral vision and a perfectly logical reason to be smuggling an alligator out of a Walmart or stealing his toddler’s identity or trying to sell his neighbor’s mailbox to a picture of a cop on a billboard. Viewed holistically Wild at Heart is a horror film that murdered a road movie and then went around wearing the dead road movie’s sagging, bloody skin while introducing itself to people alternately as a romance and a black comedy. There are extreme levels of absolutely terrifying makeup, fashion and syntactic choices and also what in the halcyon days of 1990 was considered to be quite a bit of gore. And as memorable performances go, most people you interview will happily and wrongly tell you who is definitely The Most Evil character in film history, but no reasonable person would deny Willem Defoe’s Bobby Peru the honor of The Sleaziest. Bobby would indeed be honored too.

Remember that as with any Lynch movie, the narrative is only going to make sense if you’re slightly distracted or you go to the bathroom periodically, so prepare appropriately. 

Factors(15)
It's Lynch’s fault you’re cringing5
It's your fault you’re cringing5
July22Friday

D.O.A. (1949 )

10 pm
D.O.A. (1949 )

Directed by Rudolph Mate
Written by Russel Rouse/Clarence Green

This is virtually a PSA about the dangers of Jazz music. Also one of the very best of the noir era, the kind of movie in which people say things like I don’t think you fully understand Bigelow, you’ve been Merded. A guy goes to the big city for the weekend. He should’ve known better. Now he’s got a couple days at best to find out who dosed him with luminous toxin and why.

Factors(15)
Confusion1
Panic2
Anger3
Desperation4
Merder5
July15Friday

Holes (2003)

10 pm
Holes (2003)

Directed by Andrew David
Written by Louis Sachar

There are a lot of confinement themes in the Disney filmography, not necessarily in the movies themselves but in the watching of them. I’m thinking of how the end credits of that last Pirates of the Caribbean made me feel like I had just been paroled and of the tearful jubilation that overcame me that night upon emerging into the parking lot. But Disney actually did make a prison movie. For kids. In Holes, these teenagers get sent to a juvie camp in the southwest and are subjected to vastly illegal labor practices by the camp’s road boss, “to build character” they’re told. Mr Sir explains it with the Manichean simplicity of your average Super PAC television ad,” You take a bad boy, make him dig holes all day in the hot sun, it turns him into a good boy”. Oddly the kids are not assuaged by this, and they carve out bits of time amidst the brutal necessities of their existence to find out what’s actually going on out there in the deep desert. Featuring some objectively hilarious character acting from Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson and Henry Winkler, as well as Shia Laboef, right before puberty did that thing it does so well.

Factors(15)
Gen Pop violence3
Canned fruits and vegetables4
Tough love5
Shootiness2
Hit a barniness0
Grown ups just askin’ for it3
July8Friday

Almost There

Almost There

Turns out we don’t reopen til the 9th. Don’t tell anyone we said so, but this might be a good time to cash in one of your FMLA days and watch Wong Kar-Wai’s hazy, meandering Hong Kong inner monologues, Chunking Express and/or Fallen Angels. Really any of his films will suit this purpose; Days of Being Wild if you can get it. They’re largely the same movie every time, yet still all quite unique, and they consistently portray a kind of person who doesn’t really exist in the real world; someone who is fascinatingly introspective and has plenty of free time to make that happen. The abundant loneliness available to Wong’s characters allows them to obsess about all kinds of cool things like product expiration dates and the ins-and- outs of being a hitman and the dark art of guerrilla Feng Shui. On a blazing July afternoon on the eternal beach that is our home sometimes the only thing you can do for yourself is to hide out, staple a blanket over the window and watch some movies.

Factors(15)
Them skeeters is out there jest a waitin4
A tumbleweed rolled by that was 60% Circle-K bags4
You just caught yourself mouthing “what the F** you lookin at?” to a billboard4
Strangers keep trying to give you water4
Whatever it was you were going off about, it was the last straw4
July1Friday

Not Quite Yet

First Fridays - Cinema Vendetta
Not Quite Yet

Still closed. Technically its the supply chain’s fault. The distillation process for our signature Plum Nekkid Jaegertini is both time intensive and highly delicate and with all the specialty beakers and CRISPR tech that is required, not to mention keeping the blast freezers below 200 Kelvin just so the VR goggles don’t fritz out, and then on top of it all a whole season’s worth of DeKuyper Sloe Gin gets lost for 3 months at the Port of Los Angeles… look, what we all learned from Covid is that some things just won’t be pushed. We’re trying. It’ll be soon. On account of this being a Cinema Vendetta night we recommend that you stay home and watch Apocalypto, the extraordinary Mayan chase movie. OR, if you can get it, you could instead watch War of the Arrows, the nearly identical Korean flick that is exactly as good but doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with Mel Gibson. Your call.

Factors(15)
Folks just minding their own business4
Everybody in their weird hats3
Cleaviness4
The old “lead em into an alpha predator” trick5
Aaaaaaaaaaaand here comes the waterfall5
Nuh Uh, you suckers in MY hood now5
June24Friday

We’ll All Be in Mexico

We’ll All Be in Mexico

This is not a movie. We’re closed cause we’re all going to Mexico. If you’re bored you should rent Night of The Iguana. It’s an exceptional film and the plot is more or less how these Mexico trips go for us anyway.

Factors(15)
Shootiness/Explodiness0
Clams/Castanets2
Hammock Life4
Carpools4
Defrocking4
June17Friday

L.A. Story (1991)

10 pm
L.A. Story (1991)

Directed by Mick Jackson
Written by Steve Martin

People are usually pretty negative when discussing the Surveillance State in the US. No one ever considers that it could be helpful. In Steve Martin’s L.A. County those big digital traffic delay signs on the interstate see and know everything about us… all the cars filing past, everyone alone with their hopes and anxieties, day after day… Sometimes, the right moment, the right person, the signs intervene. Harris Telemacher is a man overflowing with desperation for a change in his life and just a little nudge in the right direction is all he needs. This movie is a perverted love letter from Martin to his hometown and he brazenly enjoys himself for every minute of it. Consistently charming, with all kinds of recognizable actors.

Factors(15)
Poor gun etiquette2
Sarah Jessica Parker when she wasn’t annoying5
Advent of the New Cruelty4
The Chicken1
The Duck0
June10Friday

To Have and Have Not (1944)

10 pm
To Have and Have Not (1944)

Directed by Howard Hawks
Written by Ernest Hemingway/Jules Fuhrman/William Faulkner

Because it is essentially the same movie as Casablanca this film never quite got the recognition it deserved. Hawks pressured Hemingway into adapting his novel for film and Hemingway of course wrote something entirely different. Eventually Faulkner got brought in to sanitize the parts objectionable to Vichy France and traded it for a thick air of suppressed anxiety and periodically salacious dialogue. Wainscoted with stars in front of and behind the camera, among its notable performances was the classic Rummy Sidekick archetype that Walter Brennan hand built for this film, stupid jokes and all. “Was you ever bit by a dead bee?” Only he would think that was funny.

Factors(15)
Is not technically Casablanca5
Hoagy Carmichael sings4
Fog induced tension2
Conspiratorial dining3
Having/Having Not ratio2:5
June3Friday

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

First Fridays - Cinema Vendetta
10 pm
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Directed and Written by Stephen Chow

If there’s nothing wrong with you it is probable that you’ve seen this movie at least once already. However we want to recognize that some spontaneous calamity may have prevented you from doing so properly the first time. Like maybe you had to go to a Bar Mitzvah not realizing how long those things can last and then the day spiraled away from you and the next morning it was still 2004 and you had to mail the DVD back to Netflix- who knows really, things happen. We just don’t want to judge. The film itself begins with a Bob Fosse number, which is always a good sign for a kung fu movie, and gets less predictable from there. It ends up being the story of a committed loser trying desperately to avoid reclaiming his virtue. Think of it as a tapestry of irreverence with hilarious stuff sequined randomly all over it. Preposterous characters, superlative physical comedy and top notch second-unit fu. This may be your last chance.

Factors(15)
Seductive axe violence2
Smoking as a force of good5
Plot linearity3
Underpants4
Positive gay stereotypes-3
Gay stereotypes beating the snot out of criminals3
Net gay stereotypes0
May27Friday

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

10 pm
The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Directed and Written by Sylvan Chomet
Animated (might be subtitled, no one knows for sure)

Roger Ebert had a difficult time even describing this film, ultimately pointing out, almost inadvertently, that “most animated features have an almost grotesque desire to be loved.” If you stop right there this is the most precise assessment available of The Triplets of Belleville. It doesn’t need anyone to watch it at all, and that level of independence allows it to achieve great heights of deviance and equivalent charm. It is somewhat musical, yet the songs have no real words in them. What crumbs there are of real dialogue are even less productive. The actual words in the movie generally come from one’s own interior monologue;  Whoa that dude has hella big thighs. So how come she’s not in the Tour de France? Whaaahahahahaha Lady Liberty looks like Honey Boo Boo!  Wish my great aunts were that cool. Well the dog seemed to enjoy it so its okay I guess. Wait, were they Nazis? Cmon frog, get out of there buddy.

Factors(15)
Shootiness/Explodiness2
Cheerily violent old ladies5
Plot linearity2
Chitchat-4
Domestic weirdness4
My kids may need therapy after this0
I may need therapy after this0