Quick-Thoughts: Ti West’s Pearl

My new worst nightmare is growing up to be Pearl’s father. 

“Make the best of what you have” is usually the kind of mindset that happens when dreams are crushed. Isn’t it just hilarious that we live to overcome current control in order to be controlled by rather dreamt circumstances? Our freedom still remains a delusion.

With only a little over four months to spare since the release of its predecessor, the artificial technicolor prequel to X (2022) has already made its way to the big screen, and while this origin story is quite conventional on paper when it comes to bleak rise to fame narratives — the classic Mulholland Drive (2001) to put it otherwise —, Ti West’s exercise of the familiar is nevertheless an exotic force in its own rights. Likely, this prequel’s function is to either parallel in a despairing manner or paradox for means of a less awaited existence at what Maxine’s rise to fame story will be in the sequel to X, considering she has yet to wake up out of her “fantasy”. For now though, we have a methodically paced origin to the making of a slasher villain keeping us at bay. 

Mia Goth’s performance in Pearl alone is worth the price of admission. Next to Anna Cobb, we have been getting some seriously stressful embodiments of unhinged youngsters who are just dying to fit in. However, perhaps the most commendable aspect regarding the prequel is how much it differs from X, taking on less of an accumulating thrill factor plot structure and more of an apprehensive consistency that permeates throughout. It’s a slick series of scenarios where you’re regularly on edge for someone to not upset Pearl’s delusion to be loved for superficial *barbie-doll* stardom, or at the bare minimum, a mentally sane personality she simply does not possess – she’s special alright! But oh, isn’t it just so bittersweet once we’ve alas accepted the reality of our circumstances? Our projecting should stop there and then? Right?

Now onto the 80s…

Verdict: B-

2022 Ranked

“Pearl” is now playing exclusively in theaters.

Quick-Thoughts: Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream

David Bowie is the greatest musician of the 20th century who got to live long in the limelight. There is something about the film industry’s recent agenda for live-action classic rock biopics, from the falsified Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) to the sensationalized Elvis (2022), that lack a psyche into their respected artists. While the documentary Moonage Daydream falls in line with having eager leverage of musical nostalgia which chiefly produced those two movies’ draw, it is, however, also prioritized in sampling Bowie’s philosophical ethos, the partner core towards his sonic innovation for which made him a legend in the field. In fact, it’s the sole voice the film actually allows to speak aside from a few captured fan interviews. Many want to uncover the mystery left of him, sure, but we should moreover let the pieces that could solve such speak for themselves in defining the character which he had created from the recorded self instead of forcing it all to come together at the sacrifice of truth. Perhaps simply sharing the amount of direct information we do have is the most courteous method for what should be tapped into with the case of fallen artists. 

Though, if I’m being completely blunt, this documentary essentially felt like a more intensely edited and extended — 135 minutes to be precise — version of those YouTube video tributes that are content-swelled these days on celebrities, but as a senseless idolizer of this Moonman as both an entertainer and foremost an intellectual, I still indulged in it shamelessly.

Verdict: B

2022 Ranked

“Moonage Daydream” will be released in IMAX theaters September 16th.

Quick-Thoughts: We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021)

“I hate people like that that know everything; they just always are like: ‘Well, no, this is how it is. Who are you to tell me how it is?’”

So I guess two David Cronenberg movies came out this year. 

People habitually mislead themselves with documented “acts” that insight change so that they don’t have to put in the effort to actually change, or at least change with perceptive reason. The internet manufactures so many faulty, theatrical solutions made for lazy finger-tip consumption that quickly fill undefined voids temporarily. It’s safe to say that we, more than ever before, subconsciously want the media to be in charge of controlling our body and mind. We want to give up that responsibility to excess information no matter their sources — trend-approval is sometimes helpful nonetheless. We want contortion from something that is ironically unphysical. 

Most people compulsively online are living in a dream right now, where everything in you conveniently feels like it’s drastically changing, when really, nothing is until your eventual recognition of this dependency that’s, however, always just momentary till the next loop. The contemplative reality here is, as time and media populate, more and more people become okay with dreaming forever. They are looking predominantly there for a ticket to the world, when it’s just the world’s fair: new realities that we interpret as accurate projections of what’s going on or about to go on in the old. 

Problem is, so many of the ones we indulge in at some point are left incomplete to our knowledge. We become lost in their systems as just another string of alphanumerics that could vanish without question or return without even seeming as if we’d left to most. There is an underlying privilege or curse to these realities that in a way, condition us to death and rebirth at a far faster rate than just real life’s. Data on us becomes more permanent the more we self-produce our image, but not often are they met with recordings of us as regular people as much as they are celebrity concepts stemmed from the imagination, or at least that’s what it seems like considering this virtual barrier is really another facade that stretches our ability to determine the individual than from face-to-face — screen-to-screen is simply an extra layer(s) away from it given that it constitutes further complexion, and, if we’re assuming, further confusion of the self, not to mention some quite literal distance. There is so much more fabricated individualism when residing online than outside, like you in a dream. 

It’s funny though because even our lead character mentions how self-aware she is about these “acts”, but the fact of the matter is it’s clearly not enough to stop her from feeding it, and therefore, giving into its sovereignty over her actions. Video publication and self-contrived appearances are a one-of-a-kind convenient outlet to deal with permanent isolation, to diagnose ourselves from having to wake up from its draw. Like any new form of adapted society though, we grow to hate its mechanics in intervals, and every so often, seek to leave it but only for a little while since its hold has become much too alluring to ever leave it for good. 

So kinda like a modern update of Benny’s Video (1992). There aren’t a ton of scares in this, but the few that it does feature are pretty clever. And Anna Cobb is creepy ASF. 

Theo Anthony cameo was hard.

Verdict: B-

2022 Ranked

“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts, Again: Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels (1995)

Another full theater for Mr. Kar-wai. We should always expect nothing less.

My previous review of Fallen Angels is rubbish… or at least the first paragraph of it is. The aesthetic here is NOT identical to Chungking Express (1994). This is without a doubt Kar-wai’s most intentionally funny, his most violent, and really his most aggressive excess in style. The mix of art-pop and trip-hop from some spectacular artists such as Massive Attack and Laurie Anderson set the scene of midnight shenanigans perfectly. Christopher Doyle’s blur-crazy tactics are just as prime as they were in Chungking Express, but his slo/fast-mo is rather assembled together with a more sociopathic recklessness than before. I haven’t seen Ashes of Time (1994) yet, but for now, this to me is Kar-wai’s definitive action flick; the breakouts in it pedal to the metal beyond any performance direction that the filmmaker has done before, as if every nocturnal humanoid creeping between these after-hour streets are just here to ultimately blow-up and make something of that.

What’d we give to be blond in a profession that requires anonymity. Hell, what’d we give to just be blond to someone let alone an entire community. But for the most part, our fades stay shadows, and Fallen Angels is about wannabee caricatures feeding as hitmen or con-artists who eventually earn their wings as soon as their momentary glowing romantic fades discipline them into a transition where freedom exists when their impact is no longer corroborated by someone else’s tribulation, a classic coming-of-age development sought into maturing or even perhaps just dying happy as someone who can pull the trigger back for themselves. At some point, Kar-wai allegedly is even placing himself in this position when one of our lead characters (a mute bottom-feeder living in his father’s hotel complex who preys on the negative attention of others) begins fascinating himself with a video camera regularly, and the technology itself becomes more like God to him than his or any other’s own eyes. 

Cute how this also has the reverse ending of Chungking Express with the flight attendant returning to a platonic partner but this time with no memory of such. People aren’t just tidying up their lover’s rooms in secrecy like a giggly princess fairytale in this follow-up. No, they’re masturbating on their private territory in tears with Haneke levels of psychosexual desperation. The two films’ hopeless love stories aren’t too tonally alike, but that’s probably what makes them such strong companion pieces. Let’s see those polar opposites of relational reality mirrored in the day’s literal ante meridiem, the friskier time to feel alive.

Verdict Change: A- —> A

All-Time Favorites, Wong Kar-wai Ranked

“Fallen Angels” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

Quick-Thoughts: Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

Jacques Demy Marathon Part III of III • Screened at The Frida Cinema

THAT CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REVEAL. HOW DID I NOT SEE IT COMING?

Self-aware slice of fantasia harkening to the Gene Kelly Hollywood era but stuck by default in its era of French New Wave bleakness. Though, I didn’t take this as a strictly woeful tragedy — more of an acceptance of it and how true love doesn’t need to be “the life” when looking forward since it’s not the sole gateway to bliss — but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a plethora of intentional choices here to make the two lovers’ departure from fairytale idealism anything but an unreturned maneuver when considering the peers that influenced them. I know what you did now Damien Chazelle.

But, let’s be honest here fellas: more importantly than any of this…

The color, the color, THE COLOR!

Verdict: B

Jacques Demy Ranked

“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

Quick-Thoughts: Jacques Demy’s Bay of Angels (1963)

Jacques Demy Marathon Part II of III

This Jean guy has got to learn how to have some independence for himself, sheesh.

Quite the L when we allow chance to judge a person’s character, but in all fairness, that sort of sounds like the foundation for almost every encounter ever. The thing about gambling though is that it’s more direct: the act grants a stimulative ability to see a resolute good or bad to what came before or what’s to come, and it’s one of the easiest ways for us to judge our actions and subsequent drives based on its end results. It’s a simplified way of perceiving and living, and happiness and sadness in its perks become so black-and-white to the point where its straightforwardness is its addiction, especially in the face of love. The willingness to see it through and perhaps counter that yin and yang though then becomes what makes it worth going back to, to see if there is something deeper beyond its one-note mechanics, when really, luck is a bulls**t game we’d like to think is more deliberate than it actually is.

As someone who pulls crap like having to lock their car four times before leaving it, it’s furthermore proof that despite me knowing that these stunts are idle, I still subconsciously convince myself they’re not.

Verdict: B-

Jacques Demy Ranked

“Bay of Angels” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

Quick-Thoughts: Jacques Demy’s Lola (1961)

Jacques Demy Marathon Part I of III

“It’s ruined. The sky ran into the sea.”

Actually, I’ll ask you: do you think this movie exists during days where these people’s lives happen to function on a series of coincidences or does it exist in a world where they all play a role in the same series of experiences but each enduring it during contrasting timelines? Either way, the charm of Jacques Demy’s directorial debut is this sort of celebratory plot-writing on how we share and pass on similar experiences, romanticizing our akin dreams that occasionally become a reality but, as compensation, stay very much a dream to the majority of others in this revolving script to frame humanity. Lola has options, but don’t you dare question that she’ll choose any other than the one most straight from a fairytale if presented! Tis a pity though that it naturally leaves room for others’ contempt towards likelihood…

Quite ahead of its time. Pulp Fiction.

Verdict: B+

Jacques Demy Ranked

“Lola” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

Quick-Thoughts: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975)

Screened at Regal • 4th Viewing

Capitalism is a maneater’s best friend. Perhaps my favorite metaphor in Jaws is when all the locals and visitors of Amity Island decide to go into the water fully knowing that there’s a shark in there. Why? Because they’re told that they’re safe despite facts, and to tell ya the truth, far too often do we allow that reassurance from superiors to be enough for us, so it only makes sense that we still manage ourselves to be surprised by its unfavorable outcomes. 

Now a big believer though that the first half of this is scarier than the second — despite Quint’s iconic monologue — but don’t get me wrong, they both get under my skin. Minimalism.

Verdict: A-

Steven Spielberg Ranked

“Jaws” is now playing in IMAX theaters.

Happy Fifteen Years, There Will Be Blood (2007)

Screened at The Frida Cinema

“Do you think that God is going to save you for being stupid?”

There is something extremely important about the time period in which Paul Thomas Anderson chooses here because it very much is needed to embody the great foreshadowing of today. Throughout history, there have been all types of factors that clash but fail to veto a simple fact of life: intellectual belief will always come second to the intrinsic nature of an animal. But the inception of the petroleum trade in America – the real swinging industrialization of the country – anticipates better than no other movie on the subject, that capitalism has become the new centerfold that will come first before our other personal values, and that our biology — i.e. our wiring for family, our wiring for sexual reproduction — has alas reached a point where it can now more easily be the after-thought instead. The nature of fleshly creation (via us) has alas been bought out by a form of production far more powerful. Specifically, this is the start of the mechanical age of reproduction, where we will begin suppressing our intrinsic, animalistic nature faster than ever in order for corporate business endeavors to operate at full speed with no breaks to halt its excess of creations for the consumers who must undergo these constant changes, fueling a new spectrum of accumulating sorrow in us. Daniel Plainview is an example subject of a pioneering founder for this modern evolution, and he — quite literally — guides Hell onto Earth’s surface to sought it. His competitor Eli even kills his own beloved God by the film’s coda for the sake of business. 

And so I congratulate There Will Be Blood for being the best to depict it. If we had to save one movie to represent what’s been going on in humanity for the past century, then this is it. Here’s furthermore to fifteen years of not being topped!

Verdict: A+

All-Time Favorites, PTA Ranked

“There Will Be Blood” is now available to stream on Paramount+.

Quick-Thoughts: Alex Cox’s Repo Man (1984)

Screened at The Frida Cinema

I felt like I was losing my f**king mind watching this. I imagine getting high would somehow only lessen the brain scramble that this movie gives you, which goes to show how influential Alex Cox’s work is in its demonstration of an “end of the world” type psychosis when living in the existential stages of your ordinary suburban roles. From what I understand, it’s trying to find an equilibrium between the aimless zombie consumers vs the free yet also aimless criminals (the verbally punk and the discreetly hidden) vs CIA conspiracy theorist agents and their also aimless search for answers. Quite a nihilistic and frustratingly monotone look at Gen-X adult American lifestyle, and each story comes colliding with the other every so often with a new-wave sensibility that only gets more hectically interwoven as it rides along.

After seeing They Live (1988) yesterday, this makes for a coincidental back-to-back. Though this is a wee more up my alleyway when it comes to exploring sociology in the capitalist domain.

And that part where Otto barfs has got to be the weirdest plot convenience I’ve ever spotted. 

Verdict: B+

“Repo Man” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.