Absolutely Insane

Ed Wood Jesus Do? – Lemon

Film: Lemon (2017)

Directed by Janizca Bravo. Written by Bravo and Brett Gelman.

Available for rent OnDemand, Amazon Video, & Google Play. 

this shit was written by eric

Lemon is a 2017 film directed by Janizca Bravo about a man struggling in every aspect of his life.  Isaac, played to great effect by Brett Gelman, is a theatre director whose long-term blind girlfriend is cheating on him, his prized student is getting better gigs, and his own acting career exists in short unheard monologues of mid-nineties New York.  His family exists as an array of unhinged neuroses ranging from their son’s inability to move furniture without scratching the walls to the shame of having his face featured as the poster boy for those suffering with Hep C. The film is a beautiful trip and does a great job of stripping away the indie man-child dramedy streamlined in the 2000s by Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson.

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I was delighted to see Brett Gelman star in this film, as I have been a fan of his comedically creepy characters for years. He has had bit parts and side-character spots on random TV shows, and he certainly does not disappoint in this film. His performance is dry and despicable and he rides the very difficult line between pseudo-poignancy and complete contemptibility with great aplomb. Bravo in her own right, is an incredible artist and photographer. She directed a short film in 2013, starring Michael Cera entitled Gregory Go Boom, which felt like Gummo meets Napoleon Dynamite, but better, and she also published a photo series with Vice called TOUPEE between 2011 and 2012 with Gelman starring as her muse, which was equal parts quirky and charming. (He also wrote the accompanying story.)

The film itself boasts an amazing look and feel. Much of the comedy is derived from the incredibly awkward interactions between pompous Isaac and the rest of the world. He is a character trapped in the metaphysical ramblings of theatrical “processes,” and his only passion comes from berating the “lesser” actress Tracy (Gillian Jacobs). Funnily enough, he even pawns that job off to Alex, played stunningly well by Michael Cera. What we are left with is a film about an artist who is so wrapped up in his own “art” that he forgets how to interact with other humans. It is very reminiscent of Caden Cotard in 2009’s Synecdoche, New York, and also draws so well from many other sources. There are bits of surrealism that seem sponged from Quentin Dupieux’s milieu, the social awkwardness of an LA in competition with itself from Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the real messy bits about confronting your own human emotions, as is seen in the films of Yorgos Lanthimos. It also has the yellow coloring and gorgeous soundtrack you’ve grown accustomed to seeing in a Paolo Sorrentino flick.

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Though drawing from very different artistic realms, the film feels wholly of itself. It has an Anti-Hero who isn’t fully a hero, because there is perhaps no part of the film in which he takes full advantage of his agency, and in many ways, the film follows suit. There is so much action that takes place off-screen. It is as though we are watching the downfall of a human Plinko disc, just bouncing off interactions and scenarios and experiences with no true will of his own. Even in the scene where Isaac attempts to intimidate Alex with a knife, Alex appears more off-put and annoyed than frightened. You could not see a lazier, more reluctant fight than the one between these two. In fact, he is so lazy, he can’t even muster enough energy to sing “A Million Matzo Balls” with his family, which is the most entertaining, vividly gorgeous, and downright fun scene in the entire film. In fact, the only time he ever really acts at all is at the hallucinated behest of his new love-interest Cleo’s grandmother, in which he runs her wheelchair down the street in an attempt to help her escape after having a few strokes.

Lemon is an absolute delight that will affect your brain for days to come. I wholeheartedly look forward to seeing more films from Bravo in the future. The music and sound design is thrilling and evocative, and this is a film not to be missed.  

 

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Ed Wood Jesus Do? – The Greasy Strangler

Film: The Greasy  Strangler (2016)

Directed by Jim Hosking 

Available on Amazon Prime

this shit is written by eric

Spoiler Alert: This film contains gratuitous amount of prosthetic penis. If you are a fan of that one scene in Boogie Nights, you will fall fast in love with this cutie of a film from 2016. The Greasy Strangler was directed by British filmmaker, Jim Hosking who is also known for the highly sexualized gore-fest The ABCs of Death. The film centers around a father and son as they search for life and love while guiding Disco Tours through some desolate commercial dead zones in some non-descript Northeastern textile town that lost all of its jobs to China. The world consists of dialogue so dumb it gleams brilliant and characters defined by their crazy sexual predilections. It’s also perfectly acceptable to wear a disco one-piece with the crotch cut out to expose one’s monstrous uncircumcised penis…

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Big Brayden and his father, Big Ronnie, played to disgustingly incredible effect respectively by Sky Elobar and Michael St. Michael, live together and create lies about the local community’s involvement in the history of disco. Ronnie loves his food as greasy as possible, piling on what appears in the film to be just hyper-viscous petroleum jelly onto everything he eats. Brayden loves cooking for his father and writing fantasy novels with Rastafarian leads. Brayden soon falls for Janet, played by Elizabeth De Razzo. She also portrayed Maria in Eastbound and Down, and is an absolute delight in this film; thankfully not being typecast as the stereotypical Mexican woman with a thick accent. In a film full of the wide gamut of acting ability, she comes across as a shining light. Brayden and Janet soon fall for each other and Big Ronnie steps in the way, seducing Janet by being his “smoothie” self. On the side, Big Ronnie runs around the B-plot as The Greasy Strangler, a serial killer who greases up his entire nude body in order to strangle the locals.

The film revels in its true strength, which is making you feel uneasy about certain social and tactile conventions. In a way, the atmosphere is quite reminiscent of Eraserhead, insomuch as the exterior shots feel oppressive with desolation, and the interior shots tend to disgust with their abrasive visions of human and animal biological function. It is quite easy to find yourself as turned off by Ronnie eating a greased up sausage as it is in the scene of Brayden masturbating his comically microscopic penis to completion while on the phone with Janet. It is hysterical in its dark and grotesque humor and I feel like that may be where the film falls short. While it is weird and often times hard to watch, I cannot not say it is all that original in the ways it tries to shock you. I applaud its use of male nudity,  but it is nothing more offensive than one would see in the YMCA locker room; old and ugly penises grow stale quite easily.

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Overall, the film’s casting is pretty great. Michael St. Michael has face appeal that is so fucking great in this latest resurgence of cinematic weirdness. He looks like Karl Lagerfeld meets Klaus Kinski meets Denis Lavant (especially in that UNKLE music video, “Rabbit in your Headlights”) and has a deep and gruff voice that simultaneously makes him seem smooth as grease and greasy as grease. While some of his line delivery is suspect and feels read from an off-screen placard, there is no denying it matches the tone of the film. Brayden looks like what you imagine every neckbeard nice guy to look like, but exudes a certain charm like the guy outside the convenience store you can’t help but be polite to, despite the fact he has been giving you the same sob story about trying to get enough money to get to Denver for two years.

This is one of those films that is weird and probably just for weirdness sake. But if you are into that sort of thing, definitely check it out. You’ll dig it, probably.

 

Ed Wood Jesus Do? – KUSO

New Column Time – As you may know, our cult film podcast, Ed Wood Jesus Do?, has been unleashed upon the world, and though in great length we will dissecting films through an audio format, there are films too important not to discuss here.  So welcome to Ed Wood Jesus Do? The Column! (THE N IS SILENT, MOTHERFUCKERS!) These will be less reviews and more explorations of what works and why you should see them. 

Film: KUSO (2017)

Directed by Steve, or Steve Ellison, or Flying Lotus. Written by Steve Ellison, David Firth, and Zack Fox. Follow them on Twitter or whatever. 

Available Exclusively on Shudder

this shit is written by eric

Good gravy! That’s all I can say directly after seeing the 2017 horror film, KUSO. I don’t even have time to replay the events in my mind or to even find a suitable through-line to make everything digestible. I am going from the gut on this motherfucker and the gut is telling me that KUSO is the greatest film to ever be created by Earthlings. I am not 100% certain these Earthlings exist on our temporal-spatial plane, and in fact, this is the Citizen Kane of a dimension in which films are strange, and linger in parts of your brain not connected to logic or consciousness. So maybe us.

KUSO is the first film directed by Steve Ellison, otherwise known as Flying Lotus. If you have not heard of him, I am sure by the name, you can easily pick up what he is putting down. This film follows four chaotic vignettes in a post-earthquake, surrealist LA. It was co-written by David Firth, creator of the legendary YouTube creep hype toon, Salad Fingers. The film is strange, deep in its shallowness with a depth that is shallow in and of itself. There are CGI breasts and even a psychotropic healer named Mr. Quibbles living inside George Clinton’s asshole. It also features Adult Swim and Comedy Central alums such as Hannibal Burress, Tim Heidecker, Anders Holm, and Donnell Rawlings. It is intense, scary, gross, and fucking awesome.

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Let’s stop there. This isn’t just a weird film. That’s right, we’re about to get real in here. Flying Lotus’ filmmaking is a lot like his rap. He riddles the listener with absurd lines and awkward sounds, but behind all the ugly surrealism and the offensiveness meant to shock, there is real fucking talent. This film feels like the marriage of the absurdist humor of Tim and Eric with the ultra-violent visions of Takashi Miike. It is as important to cinema in 2017 as Eraserhead was in 1977. Every shot of a little person rubbing his own feces all over a sticky xenomorphesque pod in the woods is bookended by magical scenes that instantly develop the tone in much the same way Apichatpong Weerasethakul established his in the astounding Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives. There is a melding of obtuse CGI imagery with Troma-style practical effects. A lesser artist would have left you feeling lost inside, but Mr. Lotus creates a world that doesn’t give a fuck about how cohesive it looks. As much as this film may be dismissed as kissing the ass of Bunuel, it must be remembered much of the beauty of the famed Spanish surrealist was incorporated to allow subversive thought to become more easily digestible. KUSO is subversive thought wrapped in a fucking tortilla shell of subversive style. In other words, just like Flying Lotus.

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For now, the real question is: “How the fuck am I supposed to return to my life? What am I supposed to do with the vivid imagery of someone repeatedly stabbing the head of an erect penis with an ice pick?” My guess is that I need to watch it again to try and make sense of it. And when I can’t, I’ll tell someone else to watch it, and you should too. Tell your high friends to watch it; dissect it in between bitter bong hits. Tell your church friends to watch it and that God exists and He created a masterpiece about two fuzzy creatures who perform abortions like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat; “Get over here!” “Fatality!” “Toasty!” Tell your mother to fuck off, she probably won’t like this film.

The film enters with Busdriver, one of my all-time favorite lords of Hip-Hop, doing a majestic spoken word piece. He only returns post-credit with another melodic monologue, a sigh of relief, a bit of beautiful levity to let us know that though the world is absurd, we live in it, and will continue to live in it. “So skin me alive. I survived, and I can barely believe it; quake,” he says in the last line of his soliloquy. “So skin me alive. I survived, and I can barely believe it; quake.” And with that, we get the most profound statement of this film, and possibly our lives.

 

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 8: The Purge Trilogy & Legion

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 8: The Purge Trilogy and Legion

Our eighth episode is here! This week, we talk The Purge Trilogy, the first season of Legion on FX, Juggalos, and more! Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!

iTunes –https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemabysmal/id1153464020?mt=2

Google Play Music – https://play.google.com/music/m/Irjld24rxpsi22hdnugilmxh57u?t=CinemAbysmal

SoundCloud – https://soundcloud.com/cinemabysmal/08-the-purge-trilogy-legion

Stitcher – http://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=49928012&refid=asa

Spreaker – http://www.spreaker.com/show/cinemabysmals-show

You can also find us on BeyondPod! Just search for CinemAbysmal.

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 7 ‘Stuck in Shining, New York’

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 7
‘Stuck in Shining, New York’

Our seventh episode is here! This week, we talk some of our favorite movies and try to involve Stephen King in each of them! Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemabysmal/id1153464020?mt=2

Google Play Music – https://play.google.com/music/m/Irjld24rxpsi22hdnugilmxh57u?t=CinemAbysmal

SoundCloud – https://soundcloud.com/cinemabysmal/07-stuck-in-shining-new-york

Stitcher – http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=128435&refid=asa

Spreaker – http://www.spreaker.com/show/cinemabysmals-show

You can also find us on BeyondPod! Just search for CinemAbysmal.

Sloppy Saturdays: Volume 2 – ‘Junior’

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What is ‘Sloppy Saturdays’?

I realized that I own over 300 movies, many of which I have not watched a second time. Whether on Blu-Ray, DVD, or the legendary LaserDisc, I have a lot of films I need to watch again. So, I’ve decided I should probably go through these and justify why I own them, and perhaps, why you should too. I put them all into a database and will randomly mix them up once a week. Come back every Saturday for a new review. 

-Nick, Editor of CinemAbysmal

 

Sloppy Saturdays – Volume Two

Junior (1994) – Comedy | Absolutely Insane

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Format I Own: LaserDisc

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Synopsis

OK. Bare with me. Junior is about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays some kind of scientist that deals in pregnancies, with his OBGYN partner Frank Reynol…Danny DeVito (if you’re not already gagging at the thought of this, you might need to reevaluate your life) in San Francisco. They create a drug that supposedly induces healthy pregnancies in women after they tested it on chimps or some shit, but the FDA turns them down and they lose their funding. It’s basically the setup for Ghostbusters, but about two dudes that want to get women pregnant instead of chasing spectral entities through New York. Anyway, DeVito convinces Schwarzenegger that he should carry the baby in some kind of abdominal cavity, sans anything that would biologically allow a baby to grow or thrive, but yeah. Guess what happens by the end of the movie?

What I Love

I have absolutely no reservations in calling this movie a huge fucking turd. Honestly, it’s an insult to film and really should never have been made. That being said, I love and respect a lot of what Ivan Reitman has done as a director, and most are allowed their misfires (I’m looking at you, Tom McCarthy’s The Cobbler). Reitman is responsible for GhostbustersMeatballsStripes, and more. However, he’s also at fault for a lot of shit, so whatever.

If you saw 1988’s Twins (also with Schwarzenegger and DeVito), well, you know what you’re getting. So in a way, this falls along the same lines as that film and his other Schwarzenegger-helmed flick, Kindergarten Cop. This movie has an absolutely fucking batshit plot in which a god damn baby grows inside of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscly abs. If you don’t love that a movie was made strictly around that nuthouse premise, you need to learn how to enjoy this weird thing called reality. Because, guess what? This movie actually, really exists.

My Favorite Scene

About 80 minutes into the film (yes, this shit factory is nearly two hours long), Arnold goes full drag at about eight months pregnant. He and DeVito show up at some kind of compound for expecting mothers to find shelter from the evil dicks at the college that want to steal her…er, his baby away from him as it was experimental, so belongs to them. At this point, the estrogen has completely taken hold of Arnold and he and DeVito hug as the James Newton Howard score intensifies. He even starts speaking like a woman, and it’s so insultingly bad, I couldn’t help but giggle like a little kid.

THEN, holy shit. A god damned montage in which Arnold does Lamas and races other pregnant women down stairs and cries to doctors and shovels food into his mouth. It is so spectacularly out of control and really saved this movie for me.

 

What You Might Not Like

What really bothered me about the film was my now current familiarity with perhaps Danny DeVito’s most iconic character in his career: Frank Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Now, I realize this film was made in 1994, but holy shit, all I can think about is Frank alone in a room with a woman doing gawd knows what down there, and it just does not work. Other than that, the film really is just shit. Arnold is practically yawning the whole film and the story is laughable, at best. I couldn’t imagine watching this with anyone that had a trace of a Medical education or even faintly studied Biology. It’s so ridiculous.

Honestly, the last time I watched this movie was over 20 years ago. I remembered liking it, so swooped up the LaserDisc copy and have just had it sitting there for years. Will I watch it again? Eh, maybe? If I want to show someone how not to make a movie, I’ll definitely show them this. But did I enjoy it again? Oh, hell no.

How You Can Watch

  • Streaming on HBO Now as of 04/07/2017
  • Rent for $2.99 on Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu

 

Final Score: 1.5/4

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Similar Films: Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Any Movie that a Dude is Pregnant in…

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 6: ‘Santa Clarita Diet’ & ‘Samurai Cop’

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 6
‘Santa Clarita Diet & Samurai Cop’

Well here we are, already on episode six! This one was a blast as we are joined by the hilarious Yoli Banos (@ybanos) to discuss season one of Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet and 1991’s ‘so bad it’s good’ classic, Samurai Cop. Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemabysmal/id1153464020?mt=2

Google Play Music – https://play.google.com/music/m/Irjld24rxpsi22hdnugilmxh57u?t=CinemAbysmal

SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/cinemabysmal/06-samurai-cop-santa-clarita

Stitcher – http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=128435&refid=asa

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You can also find us on BeyondPod! Just search for CinemAbysmal.