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FILM / Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo / May 2019 / Gabriel Ricard

fight club photo.jpg

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have at least one movie where their opinion is influenced by their interactions with fans of that movie. This is also something I see with average films that wind up garnering massive degrees of attention come awards season (looking at you, Crash, Green Book, and The English Patient).

I have a working list of my own. I still can’t really appreciate Fight Club as the marginally enjoyable style-over-substance-fest that was seemingly at the heart of the motivations of those who actually made the fucking thing. I can’t really sit through The Boondock Saints, despite believing it’s not the worst choice for a listless Sunday afternoon. Both of these movies have been ruined for me by their most ardent fans. With certain films, even I can’t keep in mind that it’s not the movie’s fault. Films speak deeply to most of us in one way or another. It just happens to be that there is a sizable portion of folks out there, mostly men, who don’t seem to realize that movies like Fight Club or TV shows like Rick and Morty are in fact holding doofuses like them up for mockery.

To put it another way, if you’re the kind of person who says, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes,” and means it, there’s a very good chance that I’m going to think you’re an asshole. It’s a good line, but probably not something to build a whole philosophy around. I could be wrong, but most personal belief structures need more than the foundation of a half-truth that sounded good in a Star Wars movie.

It’s not that movies shouldn’t affect people. I just wish it was easier to enjoy movies with fandoms that somehow managed to skip the part where they eventually become toxic, by just starting like that right out of the gate.

What is a movie for you along these lines? I’m also willing to discuss TV shows, or even comic books. We can talk about the upcoming Joker movie. I’m intrigued. Unfortunately, like a lot of you, I can already see the non-ironic cosplayers filling the sprawling, unfathomably-warm lobby of a convention near you.

It gives me a sense of dread, yes, but the beat goes on.

Avengers: Endgame (2019): B+

Image © Disney / Marvel

Image © Disney / Marvel

Objectivity is difficult for a movie that is going after your emotions with an aggression usually reserved for a Spielberg movie. Nonetheless, speaking strictly in the context of people who know and love superhero movies, I’m confident enough to say that you’re going to be pleased.

Wrapping up stories, establishing new ones, and giving necessity and purpose to literally dozens of heroes and villains (including Robert Downey Jr. in the best Iron Man performance of his long run with the character) is no easy feat. The Russo Brothers have managed something quite remarkable with this movie, which manages to hit almost every mark it could ever hope to hit. No, it’s not perfect, but it would be slightly ridiculous to demand perfection. Too much is going on for that to even be possible. It makes sense for the most part, keeps the pace surprisingly brisk for its running time, and offers a slew of emotional hooks and jabs. What else can you really ask for?

Limite (1931): A+

Image © Cinedia

Image © Cinedia

Two hours can seem slightly long for a silent film. Yet the immense, far-reaching visual poetry of Limite, the only film ever made by the Brazilian poet Mário Peixoto, is essential viewing. This extends to anyone with an aversion to black and white movies, foreign films, or releases from the silent era. If you are in any of those categories, I implore you to watch this regardless. The emotional power of the film is such that it is difficult to imagine not being moved by these images, the characters, and the story.

The basic premise isn’t complicated. We meet a man and two women, on a boat, somewhere in the middle of an endless sea. Much of the movie is told in flashbacks, which not only adds scores of depth to these people, but also provides Peixoto with the opportunity to experiment. Limite should have been hailed as a landmark film in its day. The sheer inventiveness of it will engage you, if nothing else.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (2018): B+

Image © Epic Pictures Releasing

Image © Epic Pictures Releasing

It isn’t surprising that Sam Elliot remains an impressive leading man. More surprising is the fact that more movies don’t trust the 74-year-old legend to do it more often. While The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot may prove disappointing to you, depending on what you want from the proceedings, no one can deny that Elliot still has what it takes to carry a film. The B+ rating given here reflects that to a strong degree. This in spite of how well this movie tells its story without tiresome meta humor, or overstimulated, bland comic book dumbness. The movie is surprising in many ways, and impressively tells it in a serious enough fashion that works without dipping into intentional/unintentional parody.

Still, the thought that something is missing from this movie will occasionally nag at you. The movie isn’t bad in any sense, but a disappointment in the uneven energy and lackluster atmosphere is likely to stick with you by the end. This is pretty good, but you can’t help but think it could have been better. If you figure out this vague, underwhelmed feeling, let me know.

The Housemaid (1960): B+

Image © The Criterion Collection

Image © The Criterion Collection

50+ years later, Kim Ki-young’s immensely strange, oddly satisfying surrealist horror movie The Housemaid still has the ability to captivate. This comes from several places. It certainly includes the performances, particularly Kim Jin-kyu as the husband who falls on the family housemaid (the incredible Lee Eun-shim) with his penis, causing an array of issues. Eun-shim is perhaps the most distinctive performer in this piece, tearing through a wild-eyed performance that matches every moment of escalation this movie hurls at you.

The film also establishes its offbeat, unsettling tone early on, which goes well with the movie growing increasingly weird and disturbing as things move along. I can also promise the ending is going to surprise you. Or at the very least, it’s going to provoke you.

Currently, The Housemaid is available on the new Criterion Channel. The new streaming service is already justifying itself with titles such these, available through a collaboration with Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project.

Scotland, PA (2001): B+

Image © Abandon Pictures

Image © Abandon Pictures

Released nearly 20 years, it seems odd that Scotland, PA, which re-imagines Macbeth as a white trash noir set in Pennsylvania, doesn’t have a greater cult following. That could be the fact that James LeGros (as Joe “Mac” McBeth) isn’t the most memorable actor, although he does fine work here, playing Macbeth like the dupe he really is. However, if this distinct, consistent dark comedy belongs to any one person, it would be Maura Tierney as Pat McBeth.

Scotland, PA, the only film directed to date by Billy Morrissette, also offers the appealing opportunity to see Christopher Walken and Kevin Corrigan in Shakespeare’s timeless lesson that good people do exist, and greed really can make you dumb as hell.

Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. His books Love and Quarters and Bondage Night are available through Moran Press, in addition to A Ludicrous Split (Alien Buddha Press) and Clouds of Hungry Dogs (Kleft Jaw Press). He is also a writer, performer, and producer with Belligerent Prom Queen Productions. He lives on a horrible place called Long Island.