Still Can’t Hang

Another Lost Weekend (number eight, to be exact) was held this past weekend at the Winchester Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (which is a national treasure) and no, I couldn’t do it. Not all twenty-five movies, no way. A combination of disinterest and distraction kept me away, but I did manage to see some of them:

Step.  This is a documentary that threatened to be nothing but a Black Lives Matter propaganda film but, no, it was quite entertaining and quite fascinating. I’ve known about step since high school because a bunch of guys in my neighborhood formed a precision drill team, all on their own, and used to hold their practices in front of my apartment. They let me watch but not join because I couldn’t keep up. It should be a high school sport because, man, talk about teamwork!

Nocturama. This might be a good movie but I don’t know because I slept through half of it, not because of the movie but because I can’t hang. I caught enough of the gist to conclude that the wannabe terrorist idiots must have used action movies as their inspiration because, Holy Hannah, dudes, did you really think you were going to get away with this?

PattiCake$. About three seconds into this I turned to my wife and said, “It’s New Jersey.” North Jersey, to be specific, a place I studiously avoided because, well, it’s North Jersey and I lived in South Jersey and never the twain shall meet. All of New Jersey has an instantly recognizable look: a dreary, despairing architecture highlighting an atmosphere of confrontation and aggression over everything from sports teams to cheese steaks. Patticake$ is the story of typical Jersey Girl Patti Dombrowski, an overweight washed out blonde bartender of a local tavern populated by sensitive Teamsters and her drunken mother. You know, Jersey. Patti wants to be a rapper, which is like me wanting to be an astronaut, the difference being that I have bowed to reality while Patti refuses.

Herein reside the elements for dismal exploitive proletariat frustration and Jersey Shore commentary about how unfair everything is but, it’s not. It’s something else entirely, a fable of princesses and dragons and never giving up on your dreams because your dreams are yours no matter how unobtainable they appear. Patti is the last person besides me you’d ever regard as rapper material, but that doesn’t faze her one bit as she and her hilarious partner, pharmacy tech Jheri (played by the outstanding Siddharth Dhnanjay) meet in abandoned industrial parking lots to write. Jheri has the beats and Patti has the words, and they’re good. They’re damn good. This coming from someone who hates rap music, which I regard as nothing but self-referent braggadocio of biological imperatives by people whose only life accomplishment is a lot of self-regard over biological imperatives. Patti’s rap, though, ain’t that. It’s good. It’s damn good, downright poetic (interspersed with the requisite crudities. C’mon, it’s rap) on life in north Jersey, actual messages woven together in what should be disparate incompatibilities, like “Neosporin” worked into a verse about psychic wounds. Might have to reevaluate my whole hate-of- rap. Might.

The best character in the movie is Basterd AntiChrist

(played by Athie Mamoudou ), a weird heavy metal hermit living in a graveyard who knows how to mix tapes. I know that guy. He’s very Jersey. I used to hang out with all kinds of Basterd AntiChrist’s in my south Jersey days.

Cathy Moriarity deserves an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

This is my second favorite movie of the weekend.

My Friend Dahmer.  A look at the high school life and hijinks of Jeffrey Dahmer. Gives you a really good idea why he became Jeffrey Dahmer.

Have A Nice Day. An animated Korean crime movie, although it’s not Korean but Chinese but should be Korean because it’s as over-the-top crazily violent as one expects from Korean crime movies. It’s about a bag of money that various low life quasi-and-actual criminals want. Cartoon mayhem ensues.

The Bar. An over-the-top Spanish movie depicting unfortunate patrons of a bar who are gunned down every time they try to leave. Probably one of the dirtiest movies I’ve ever seen, and I don’t mean of the porno variety. You’ll feel the need to shower when it’s over.

Brigsby Bear. An absolutely delightful movie about child kidnapping. No, really. The deceptively complicated plot is really quite simple: kidnappee James, now almost 30 years old, has watched only one TV show his whole life, Brigsby Bear, an 8-900 episode-long series about a galactic bear fighting the evil Sunsnatcher, a series produced and broadcast closed circuit by James’ kidnappers (played quite sympathetically by Mark Hamil and Jane Adams) to maintain the illusion that the world ended when James was a baby and is polluted and that’s why he can never go outside. James gets rescued, and discovers there is no Brisgby Bear, no one else has ever heard of it, so he decides to continue the story on the internet, much to the consternation of his real parents and all the world’s psychiatrists.

We love what we love. No one can make you not love it.

Thelma. Stephen King’s Carrie on Quaaludes. Or lithium. Sooooooo sloooooow, with a few genuinely frightening moments. I think her Dad had the right idea.

The Road Movie.  This is an hour or so of slapped together Russian DashCam clips that we’ve all come to love, but not the best ones. Stick with YouTube.

Super Dark Times. A high school movie, this time portrayed quite accurately as the nihilistic, confrontational, unreality that we all so fondly remember. There is no one to like in this story of grab-assing gone very wrong, especially when one of the grabassers goes inexplicably homicidal. You don’t see it coming because there is no reason for it. Charlie Tahan reprises the teenage jagoff role that he perfected in Netflix’s Ozark.

Dave Made a Maze. Kudos to Bill Watterson and Steve Sears for taking this one trick pony of a cardboard maze that continues like a Mobius strip and keeping it going with innovative and creative takes, like a cardboard Minotaur and puppet changelings. This is how failure-to-launch can alter your reality until reality gets altered. In cardboard. Wait until you see the cardboard vagina room. Just wait.

My favorite character was the documentary crew’s cameraman, played by Scott Narver. He didn’t have any lines, or any that were memorable, but his expressions were priceless. Wouldn’t you know, he was there for the premier and spoke to us?

Yep, I got an autograph.

Infinity Baby. My favorite movie of the weekend. Genius. Just genius. Another failure-to-launch movie premised on a lab accident that leaves the Infinity Baby Corporation in possession of a thousand infants that never grow old. They’ll always be babies, always, a thought that should send shivers down your spine but these only need to be fed a couple of pills and changed once a week. Mostly they sleep and coo. Want one?

Well, no, and apparently no one else does, either, because Infinity Baby is paying people $20,000 to take one. Two of its techs decide to pocket the money while asserting the package has been delivered and further decide to make their lives easier by adjusting the baby’s pill schedule so they rarely have to change it. Shouldn’t have done that. A parallel story involves their supervisor, Ben (played by Kieran Culkin), who has developed a very effective method for breaking up with a girl. Until it’s not.

Nick Offerman and Stephen Root are in this, which is meta.

Gook. An excessively melodramatic movie about a melodramatic situation: looters getting closer and closer to a third-rate knock-off shoe store run by two Korean brothers. There are overly complicated family relationships here that will make you go “Huh?” a couple of times, and an overly cute little girl who is so doomed. Still, a good movie, but it should take some of Thelma’s Quaaludes.

Love and Peace. An ungodly mess of a Japanese movie that has no idea what it’s supposed to be. A kid’s movie? A growing-up movie? A monster movie? A movie? Sheesh. There is a scene where nauseatingly cute toys suffer Arya Stark’s revenge on the Frey’s and if this is a kid’s movie, it explains Japanese low birth rates.

Should have made turtle soup.

Dina. A documentary made for no discernible reason. Felt exploitative, was exploitative.

Lost in Paris. Fun. Cute movie. You’ll like it.

So, 16 out of 23. Next time, I’m shooting for 15 out of 25. Because I can’t hang.

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