Quick-Thoughts: Derek Jarman’s The Garden (1990)

I ❤️ greenscreens!

Uses a lot of commercialism horror — “think pink!” — in the midst of this splicing of two different (a homosexual relationship and a paparazzied madonna) stories and some others, with religion (the story of Christ specifically) only further magnifying these themes in the mix. There is a plethora going on in The Garden, and to its name of Eden’s home of many species, comes a narrative that provides many thoughts. As if the literal reoccurring visual of a nude, dreaming Derek Jarman being circled almost ritualistically by men and women didn’t already tell us enough that we are exploring the conflicted mind of an anxiously opinionated man whose mind feels constantly enclosed, the film then provides us an outspoken conjoining of queer culture battling the makeup of history and, eventually, the now and maybe even plausible future, a future were Jarman’s generation becomes massacred from the British government’s oppressive handling of the AIDs epidemic. Like The Last of England, Jarman’s work here is nothing short of terrifying.

Verdict: B-

“The Garden” is now available to stream on Kanopy.

Quick-Thoughts: Derek Jarman’s The Last of England (1987)

This soundtrack has no business being so damn cool. 

I love getting so wrapped up in movies such as The Last of England, where the editing and variety of visual content is so unpredictable and moreover flashy that it feels like borderline hypnotism, as if the author is truly trying to get us into a trance of his mind skimming through his life back and forth from A to a nightmarishly conjectured Z. The film is vulnerable and bravely genuine in that case though, because while the content is undoubtedly political — screw Thatcher and Section 28, amiright? — it is openly personal too, proclaiming emotion and nostalgia to be pieces of the footer for his hatred of a modern country and visions of its demise; same would probably go for any other human being in this position as much as most would refuse to admit or show it. 

Derek Jarman first found out that he was HIV positive during the making of this movie; in these visions of apocalypse you can feel that new found fear for the end, especially in its climax which is absolutely horrifying to endure. 

Verdict: B

“The Last of England” is now available to stream on Kanopy.

Quick-Thoughts: Ghostbusters Afterlife

Paul Rudd to be hired as ALL future teachers, Mckenna Grace to play ALL future acting roles, and Podcast to be America’s eternal president. There, I saved the country.

Initial impression: the first half of Ghostbusters Afterlife surprisingly starts the story off tolerably — coming of age 101 + a low-life family — but from there on forward it essentially abandons this coloring of new characters succumbing to their environment for recycled spectacle, becoming this obnoxious clump of an amalgamation between being a remake of the 1984 original and an overstuffing of references from it. The climax of this movie is essentially the absolute worst outcome that can arise from sequels based on properties old enough to evoke nostalgia; I went from mildly having a good time with this to absolutely despising it particularly once we dove into that final act. Ugh, so close to mediocrity, but not quite!

Verdict: D+

2021 Ranked

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is now playing in theaters.

Quick-Thoughts: Dee Rees’ Pariah (2011)

Why did so many of my high school relationships start from one another bragging about how chad and underground our music tastes were? Pretentiousness brings us together, ay? 

Anyways, more movies please featuring characters who’re all prone to the occasional faults (humans be moody!) that are furthermore viewed with such an objective, impartial gaze like Dee Rees’ whether it’s aimed at the protagonists or antagonists. The realism and believability sky rockets just from such a simple detail fix rather than idolizing specific individuals and sidelining the rest.

Verdict: B-

“Pariah” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: Ghostbusters I & II (1984-1989)

Ghostbusters (1984)

2nd Viewing

The theme song never ceases to bang!

Yeah, it’s fun and unique, but whatever happened to blockbusters being horny like this? Plus, all that shameless expression of sassy New York attitudes, awkward (yet charming) improv, crappy animation cropping effects, climaxes that are basically just Michael Jackson music videos, ya know? I’m honestly shocked that these things haven’t made a comeback yet given how much mainstream material currently banks on 80s nostalgia; why return to the old if you can’t bring back all the sus s**t from it as well?

Verdict: B-

“Ghostbusters” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Ghostbusters II (1989)

The gang’s chemistry feels just as fresh as it was previously, and yippee more cheesy, over-the-top special effects!!! However, the whole by the books, sequel-itis will-they-won’t-they? plot-line with Peter and Dana is such a hindrance to the momentum of Ghostbusters II. I respect the film’s commitment though to embrace as much quirky weirdness and goofiness in honor of its comparably aimed predecessor as possible, but it’s otherwise boring whenever it wants to be conventionally sweet and touching, and especially whenever it just decides to *eye roll* hit the same story beats as the original did as an easy way out.

The Ghostbusters’ disrespectful disrupting-every-place-imaginable doubles here howbeit so that’s commendable, but there’s only a QUARTER of the horniness as the original in this so nah! 

Verdict: C

“Ghostbusters II” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Quick-Thoughts: Disney’s Encanto

Despite this being mostly predictable to Disney’s usual T, Encanto’s songs and messages slapped wayyyy too hard for me not to enjoy this — that opening kills! Really appreciate how confined the film’s setting is too, which smartly made it easier for the story to close in on how every character in this Madrigal family is an antagonist in their own little manner rather than it strictly being just some underdeveloped, outside force that the studio usually finds themselves writing in; identity crises stemming from an overly relied and emphasized specialty or kettling to a single stereotype are our own worst enemies! Bigotry from tradition also believe it or not! 

Verdict: B-

2021 Ranked

“Encanto” is now playing in theaters.

Quick-Thoughts: Lucrecia Martel’s The Holy Girl (2004)

Roses are red, violets are blue, this twisted ass (coming of age?) film, was awfully discomforting to view. 

Has some super interesting gimmicks going for it — showcasing characters whose ethical duties simultaneously clash with and even sometimes provoke unlawful desires amidst their pursuits or vise versa — but then draws them out extensively in realism, which only makes me wish that this had been a lot shorter than it is. Cinematic minimalism is one thing, sometimes (and in this case) replicating that distinct weight which natural storytelling can often allude, but not a whole lot of the existential, hard-hitting, and fragmented structuring of dreary authenticities which made her debut feature-length La Ciénaga (2001) work are there to enhance The Holy Girl, and the film just seems inadvisedly straightforward in comparison.

Verdict: C+

“The Holy Girl” is currently not available to stream.

Quick-Thoughts: Lucrecia Martel’s La Ciénaga (2001)

A real nihilistic attitude on this kind of lifestyle: lodging in filth only to never leave it. Drifting endlessly in the trapped depths of your bourgeoise circle that somehow rots but never truly changes. Allowing your problems and even your own existence to become as meaningless as the next mundane event that gets tossed on screen or the ones before it. The curse of understanding our environment is exhibited here in a nutshell. This is nothing less than a nightmare that somehow feels exactly like a reality. 

Consider the construct of family (or living in general) officially ruined for me. Thanks, Martel.

Verdict: B-

“La Ciénaga“ is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: Neon Genesis Evangelion + The End of Evangelion (1995-1997)

It seems that only people with some serious daddy / mommy issues can save the face of humanity. Real?

In the end, every teen — the arguable beginning stage of substantial consciousness — or any age from there on forward has some form of a Neon Genesis Evangelion experience: that almost incomprehensible desire to piece together the surreal ambiguities that come then and again to attack your emotional stability, as if the entire world had suddenly become obliged to scrimmage against them, with nearly every observed analyses of human social rationale leading you to that (usually thought not done) conclusion of death being the only answer out of sheer failure to comprehend. Maybe the absurdly unreckonable dystopia of child-piloting mech suits, invasions from mysterious cataclysmic aliens, and a perilously fragile end of the world scenario are just the facade of the gargantuan size that can be felt just in the rather minute size of a human body: the never-ending search for understanding ourselves and the dominating sadness that comes with trying to control it in an environment where you are always seen.

Biggest pro though: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show allow its characters to become so vulnerable as it goes along; this series is just a total mood… or more like a total mission to have every mood ever felt put into one piece. Awe yes, cheers to my new unhealthy means of substituting therapy. 

Verdict: A-

“Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “The End of Evangelion” are now available to stream on Netflix.

Quick-Thoughts: Tsai Ming-liang’s What Time is it There? (2001)

Watching someone piss into bags and bottles really is cinema at it’s finest. 

I imagine this is what Christopher Nolan did during his days of youth: selling watches on the streets, obsessing over women from different time zones, and caressing public clocks at any opportunity he got. And in spite of such oddities, we more than the latter seem to know what causes these obsessions — a family tragedy, a complete alteration in lifestyle — but why “these” obsessions in particular? Is it just because it’s the initial thing we recognize as plausibly symbolic after the incident? A first comes first serves philosophy but applied to something becoming a repeated custom from there on foreword? Is this just one of many ingredients that crafts tradition, these spontaneous yet vaguely contrived superstitions, reckoned out of unexpected, swelling pain, or is it everything we hold onto? Anything we’ve ever learned to do and redo and redo and redo and redo till the storm leaves?

Grieving is a mess in this outlook. We don’t know what we’re searching for but we search regardless. Hopefully, these times will somehow change with aimless ventures. 

But, ending on the most commendable matter to note here: only few like Tsai Ming-liang could make all this mumbo jumbo totally not overwhelming and actually pretty funny in What Time is it There? His films are so breathable and relaxed despite how deeply reflective and gloomy they are. On paper, this should be boring, but it’s so much the opposite: it’s comforting to relate this easily. 

Verdict: A-

Tsai Ming-liang Ranked

“What Time is it There?” is currently not available to stream.