Quick-Thoughts: Her Smell

Her Smell is disgusting. The directing is so claustrophobic and very reminiscent of the Safdie Brothers. Most of the motion picture is one unsettling reign on what it must be like to revere sin in the light of fame. The sound design and score are hair-raising and dig profoundly under the viewer’s skin. Alex Ross Perry’s feature-film is a satanically spiritual movie that successfully attempts to make its audience feel as if they are possessed, undergoing an exorcism in a studio or on the stage of a crowd full of punk-rock fans. 

Elisabeth Moss convinced me that she was the female, more demented version of The Devil. Her character is pure, unadulterated insanity. She exaggerates the psychological toll fame can take on a soul who was ransacked of sanity at an early age—way before the line of a worldwide career breakout. She could destroy Jack Torrance in The Shining with her pinky finger and not break a sweat. Moss’s incarnation is easily one of the most deranged female characters in film history and another performance that will most likely be severely undermined by The Academy.

Also, this movie looks f****** radical. It’s as if the motion picture was filmed on film and then somehow filmed on a second layer of film. Additionally, the mix of the modern-day trend of graphic fluorescent lights not only fit the criminal mood quite adequately, but it added a nice glowing flair to the final product’s cinematography.

Her Smell reeks of disorder. Even if the third act is a bit of a cop-out—in the sense that it mimics a familiar conclusion that we usually see in nonfictional and fictional musical biopics—it still doesn’t take away from the anxious tone that Perry has contrived so perfectly. If I’m being honest, this is probably the most overlooked movie I’ve seen so far in 2019—or 2018, if you’re British or someone who was spoiled by TIFF last year. 

Verdict: B

“Her Smell” is available to stream on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu.

Quick-Thoughts: Earl Sweatshirt’s Feet of Clay

I went to Earl’s semi-secretive listening party in Los Angeles for Feet of Clay during Halloween evening, and I swear to you, I felt like I was the only dude jamming and totally digging the track EAST

Feet of Clay is essentially just an extension of Some Raps Songs, but like, in what world is that a “bad” thing? 

That’s right. In no world. Now excuse me, I need to buy a big-ass poster of the album cover for this because it’s taking the #1 spot for coolest LP artwork of the year.

Verdict: B+

“Feet of Clay” is now available to stream.

Marriage Story: A Deeply Layered Account on the Hellish Journey of Divorce

Marriage Story is a grief-stricken motion picture that further confirms my stigma that marriage is a cancerous cultural push. Noah Baumbach’s 12th feature film inspects one of life’s most unnecessary games of hell (divorce) by thoroughly explaining how it can demolish bonds, threaten financial funds, create unmerited battles, and essentially make everybody a part of the process become an absolute prick. F*** marriage, f*** divorce, and f*** the law that condones the rules of divorce. 

Too personal? Okay, let’s start over.

Marriage Story follows Charlie and Nicole—a neutrally dogmatic couple that has lost the desire to be together. These receding partners—played with career-best performances from Adam Driver and (maybe) Scarlett Johannsson—come to a firm decision to separate. From there on out, we witness the bitter exercise that exes must go through when filing a divorce and how exactly it can influence those around them. Importantly though, the movie shows how in-depth discussion between broken couples can be highly important but how the automated laws that want to handle these personal ordeals generate more wrongs than rights. This is like the Spotlight of divorce movies. 

Noah Baumbach’s witty writing performs far better in Marriage Story than in some of his past films like cult-hit Frances Ha. The dialogue is frequently amusing but faintly casual and plausible, which is crucial for a wildly sympathetic narrative such as this. Robbie Ryan’s cinematography can also make the simplest of locations protrude, moreover confirming that cinema’s visual power can countermand the most ordinary of tales. 

Something that was rather distinct about Marriage Story when compared to other divorce-based movies, was the decision to make Charlie and Nicole a couple who are in love with the art of theater. Experiencing this dramatic story from the perspective of two filmmaking divas who have the archetypal peachy dreams and the slight narcissism that comes with even the lightest of famed individuals was engrossing. The Hollywood-esc vibes of Marriage Story’s lead characters, in a sense, helped elevate the more lethal elements of the film.

If I had to sum up Marriage Story as a partial call-to-action for people new or who will be new to the concept of love, it’d be that sometimes aspiration shouldn’t be a commodity that is exclusive to yourself, but it should be a commodity that can be shared with your partner. Make that ambition become a part of the family or relationship that you want to create rather than something that guides you away from one another. And if, ultimately, this combination doesn’t work out, don’t make it a gamechanger that’ll affect your whole entire life, just change it into a learning lesson. Conclusively, Marriage Story is a film’s version of wisdom that begs the question, “Why can’t we just love, move on, and leave it at that?” 

On a side-note though, if you’re worried about money during your expensive divorce, why buy at Whole Foods? Adam, what were you thinking? 

Verdict: A-

“Marriage Story” is now playing in select theaters and will be available to stream on Netflix December 6, 2019.

Quickie: Wild at Heart (1990)

This is not how I remembered Raising Arizona.

Wild at Heart is the horniest movie David Lynch has crafted yet. I mean, this is probably how the pitch meeting for it went:

Producers: How much nudity do you want in this movie?

David Lynch: Yes.

Producers: And how many sex scenes do you want to include?

David Lynch: Yes.

Producers: You know, we’re not trying to make porn here? We’re trying to sell this movie to the public.

David Lynch: No.

Thus, Wild at Heart was born. I cherish how weird this movie managed to be regardless of the mawkish storyline it has, but unlike most of Lynch’s filmography, this left me with more to be desired. Still, good s***. 

Verdict: B-

David Lynch Ranked

“Wild at Heart” is now available to buy on Blu-ray.

Quickie: North by Northwest (1959)

My boy Mr. Kaplan…I mean…Mr. Thornhill got c***ed to the highest degree. 

But, yeah. I don’t know what else to say. This is another mind-bending Hitchcock treasure that I have little to complain about. A splendid “we can’t trust the government” movie, indeed. Would it be mean though to consider North by Northwest the gratuitously extensive edition of Vertigo? That’s partially a compliment.

Also, I’m beginning to notice a pattern. I don’t think Hitchcock has had many pleasant encounters with the women in his life. It kind of shows in a decent handful of his films. 

Verdict: A-

Hitchcock Ranked 

“North by Northwest” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play.

Quickie: Frances Ha (2012)

Frances Ha: The movie that thinks black-and-white on digital looks good and that people only throw out witty lines while having everyday conversations. Which is chill; I’ll give it props for being “special.”

Yeah, again, these run-of-the-mill, feel-good comedies about the many bumps in life are simply not for mwah. HOWEVER, the low-budget filmmaking here is inspiring and all the actors and actresses—notably Greta Gerwig—excel.

I suppose that most folks can relate to this film because we’ve all been hoodwinked by that one ex-best-friend you once loved, ultimately changing the entire course of your life. And, if you can’t, you are that ex-best-friend. 

Marriage Story, here we go. 

Verdict: B-

“Frances Ha” is now available to stream on YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, Netflix, and Showtime.

Quickie: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Yeah, I know, I know; I’ve been putting this movie off for way too long. Quiet yourselves. 

I have no hesitation in saying that 12 Angry Men has one of the most adroit scripts I have ever laid witness to. It’s got one of those stories where you’re like, “how are they possibly going to twist this around?” and then they completely twist the whole affair around seamlessly.

Sidney Lumet’s essential masterpiece is the optimum piece about how men—especially during the 50s—couldn’t stand the thought of being wrong and would fight their precious time away just to prove that they were correct. Humans are so damn stubborn by nature and this movie shows how important it is to challenge fixed beliefs—even if it means disproving ourselves.

Marvelous stuff, anyhow. Duh.

Verdict: A

“12 Angry Men” is now available to stream on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, and The Criterion Channel.

Quickie: Terminator 2 Judgement Day (1991)

4th Viewing

Okay, Dark Fate wasn’t the worse thing I’ve ever seen in the line of cinema this year, but, regardless, I needed to cleanse my brain cells with some killer quality after watching it. Rewatching T2: Judgement Day felt right, ya know? 

Do you remember the first R-rated movie you saw? Well, okay; T2 technically wasn’t the first R-rated movie I saw—it was the second—but it was indeed the first R-rated movie I saw alone with no parental guidance whatsoever! I remember feeling like I was getting away with the biggest crime of my entire life or I was doing something so risky and devious that it ultimately built up so much vigorous excitement inside my lungs. Some sequences in T2 still stick out to me like a sore thumb—specifically the grisly moments—because those parts where the striking images that had first introduced me to the world of ruthless, uncensored cinematic violence. 

So yeah, Judgement Day I may have a psychological bias towards because the iconic, blood-drenched scenes still hit me sharper than they possibly would have if I hadn’t seen this as a kid. Nonetheless, it’s still one of the best action movies of all-time and it should be considered that forever. 

Verdict Change: A+ —> A 

“Terminator 2: Judgement Day” is now available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, and Philo.

Terminator Dark Fate: Proof That a Franchise’s Failure Never Dies

A List of Some Things I Hate:

1) Action sequences that are heavily reliant on poor, patent CGI.

2) Action sequences that are heavily reliant on quick-cut editing.

3) Artificial, dry cinematography that accompanies the CGI, speedy-cut action sequences. 

4) CGI, speedy-cut action sequences that are so absurd to the point where the viewer can feel no tension or apprehension for the individuals involved.

5) Plots that are tiresome, repetitive, and rely on a predecessor’s structure.

6) R-rated movies that are borderline PG-13 movies. Like, why? WHY? 

7) When a movie reveals that it has some potential but completely wastes it because it decided to follow comments #1-6.

There hasn’t been an objectively justified Terminator movie since the machine-gun-blasting, arm-chopping, eye-popping, Sarah Connor-socking, Edward-Furlong-whining, Arnold-Schwarzenegger-fighting action masterpiece T2: Judgement Day. Since then, we’ve been treated with a regularly scheduled program of Terminator movies that have continued to get inferior and inferior by the sequel.

Luckily, Terminator: Dark Fate just barely breaks this curse—notwithstanding the fact that that isn’t saying much. The blockbuster, in essence, finds its strong points in the character arcs that it amends or introduces with its main leads—especially for returning legends Sarah Conner and the Austrian-accented Terminator himself.

In the midst of the semi-passable, mundane wreckage, however, the movie’s fate lies within its atrociously executed action spectacles, cringy dialogue, and its all too familiar plot that unapologetically bootlegs the fragments of some of its sturdier forerunners. The spirit of what made James Cameron’s The Terminator and Judgement Day a cinematic celebration to never forget seems to still be terminated amongst this hopefully endangered franchise.

Verdict: D

“Terminator: Dark Fate” is now playing in theaters.

Quickie: Friday the 13th (1980)

2nd Viewing

Friday the 13th: The prime example of a movie that does not hold up in the slightest. There are some dandy kills and cute women (and men; #KevinBacon), plus the “mommy stuff” is somewhat iconic. Everything else this movie has to offer, however, is the most amateur that amateur filmmaking can possibly get—and there is rarely no excuse for this when your production crew has a budget of $700,000. 

I was watching this movie on Halloween night with a couple of rowdy pals, however, so who can say whether my judgment is fair or not—especially considering I thought this movie was decent way back when I first saw it in middle school. I wasn’t intoxicated or anything though, so I suppose these criticisms are quite on target.

I kind of wish I just watched Black Christmas again. Or literally anything else that’s at least above bad. 

Verdict: D

“Friday the 13th” is now available to stream on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, and Philo.