Amoeblog

Remember The Oscars?

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, March 26, 2020 04:05pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

It seems like the Oscars were a million years ago, but they were actually just last month. This column was supposed to run a while back but it’s been in limbo for the past few weeks as civilization has been collapsing. I wasn’t a fan of Joker, but the other two Oscar nominees/winners in this column are totally worth checking out during your virus lockdown. Parasite, especially, is not to be missed. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in the past couple years.

JokerJoker, Warner Brothers:
This steaming pile of Oscar excrement is the most torturous couple of hours I’ve spent in the past few months. Sure, Joaquin Phoenix grunts, weeps, spasmodically chuckles, and even interpretive dances his way through a role and that’s acting with a capital A; but most of the time I just feel like I’m watching a terminally constipated man squeeze out the world’s most reluctant turd. It’s acting with a capital A in a movie that’s a bummer with a capital B. The slow moving script is beyond ham-fisted; it’s like they grafted a herd of wild boars to their forearms. There are multiple layers of irony in the film, but the most annoying one is that a movie called Joker doesn’t have a funny moment in it. The whole thing is utterly grey and joyless. It’s like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, only more depressing. The pacing is glacial. At one point my wife said, “God, this movie is so slow,” and we were only ten minutes past the opening credits! There’s no super villains, fights, or explosions to break up the pace, just one excruciatingly sad scene after another. Unlike Marvel, DC seems to have given up on actually entertaining us. Not even Robert De Niro could save this. I mean, it’s well written and acted. The script had some literary sophistication to it. I appreciated the political and socio-economic metaphors and liked the references to the horrors we’re experiencing in the age of Trump, but at the same time you can see the major plot points coming from a mile away. When he lost his job, I turned to my wife and said, “I bet before the end of the night he’s going to have turned to a life of crime and 'Send In The Clowns' will be playing somewhere in the background." And sure enough… Joaquin Phoenix gives it his all until he pretty much breaks out in a sweat in every scene. I’m not saying he’s trying too hard, but by the last time in the movie he does a little interpretive dance I was ready to open a beer, not because I wanted to drink it but just so that I could throw the bottle at the screen.

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New Blu-ray & DVD Releases on Amoeba.com, 3/17/20

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, March 17, 2020 08:25pm | Post a Comment

By Audra Wolfmann

We're all in the same boat right now and, although that boat feels like it's on fire and slowly sinking, we're going to be fine as long as we stay away from public gatherings, practice social distancing, and DON'T FREAK OUT. I'm not exactly an expert on not freaking out, but one surefire way I've learned to avoid panic, anxiety, and generalized freak-outs is the pleasure of escape into music, movies, books, and really any kind of art for that matter.

Luckily, the post offices are still making deliveries, and Amoeba.com is open for business with free shipping on music and movies to the U.S. New releases continue to appear in the world, like freshly sprung sprouts after a destructive storm (or something like that), and I'll be here with you throughout this insanity, letting you know about the neat new titles that you can have delivered to your door.

Here's some new Blu-ray & DVD releases that came out today, Tuesday, March 17th:


Jumanji: The Next Level
A team of friends return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own but discover that nothing is as they expect. The players need to brave parts unknown, from arid deserts to snowy mountains, in order to escape the world's most dangerous game. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Danny DeVito will keep your head in this game.

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Weird Wednesdays this March at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, March 4, 2020 04:59pm | Post a Comment

Join us for another month of Weird Wednesdays at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission in San Francisco! This weekly celebration of genre film is a one-way ticket to the fringes of the unknown, where imagination and ambition dance on the graves of logic and reality. From outlaw exploitation classics to inexplicable Hollywood excess, Weird Wednesday showcases mind-blowing genre discoveries that are unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. Check out what what the Alamo has lined-up for March!

LOST HIGHWAY (1997)
Wednesday, March 4. 9:45pm.
After a five-year hiatus following the release of Fire Walk With Me, David Lynch returned with perhaps his most daring and disturbing work since Eraserhead. Lost Highway follows an LA jazz saxophonist’s (Bill Pullman) withering relationship with his wife (Patricia Arquette), who receive cryptic, menacing surveillance tapes of their Hollywood home. As the anxiety within their marriage grows, the logic of time, space, and identity seem to slip away, splintering the narrative into a thrilling, schizophrenic ride down the darkest roads of the human psyche. It's a beautiful edifice of echoes to house an unwaveringly subjective cinema.



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Having a Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Russian Ghosts & Japanese Monsters

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 21, 2020 05:49pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to this month’s Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases.

VIYViy, Severin:
This dark Russian fairy tale could easily make it onto a list of the best horror/ fantasy movies ever made. It's just a simple story beautifully told. In the fifties and sixties, Russia produced some psychedelic and surreal adaptations of fairy tales. Most of these were made for children, but Viy takes this unique aesthetic and applies it to a fable that is decidedly for adults. The movie is an adaptation of a classic novella by Nikolai Gogol and there is a literary feel to the screenplay that keeps the story on a tight narrative track. Director Mario Bava previously adapted this same Gogol novella as Black Sunday and, while it is an excellent movie, Viy is even better.

The film starts when a class of seminary students are sent home for vacation. Three of them lose their way and end up staying at a farmhouse owned by an old woman. During the night the old woman tries to seduce one of the students whose name is Khoma. When he rejects her advances, she puts him under a spell and begins riding him around the countryside like a horse. When they start flying he realizes she's a witch. When they finally land, he beats her to death with a stick. After death she turns into a beautiful young woman and Khoma runs back to his seminary. The next day, his Rector summons him and sends him to the house of a rich man to read prayers for his dying daughter. When he arrives, Khoma is horrified to discover that the daughter is same woman he killed the night before. The rich man tells Khoma if he stands vigil and reads prayers for his daughter for three nights in a row he will be richly rewarded; if he refuses, he faces severe punishment. Khoma basically has no choice but to agree. This is the basic setup of the story and the bulk of the film explores what happens each night as he sits vigil and is assaulted by ever greater supernatural manifestations and attacks. Each night, the underworld ante is upped until the third night becomes one of the most bat shit crazy things ever filmed in horror cinema history. It's literally like an Hieronymus Bosch painting brought to life with extra demons bussed in from one of Salvador Dali's nightmares. I have watched this ending many times and every time I view it I notice some new strange detail. If you ever want to see a cinematic representation of things going totally insane, just watch the end of this movie. It's one of the best and most unique scenes ever filmed. Severin's edition of Viy is a perfect movie release. The remastered picture looks stunning and allows you see all kinds of details in the ending insanity that weren't clear in earlier editions. There is an English dub as well as the subtitled version. The bonus features include interviews and a trailer. There's a nice little feature on the history of Soviet fantasy and sci-fi films called: From The Woods To The Cosmos. You even get a selection of three short silent films. This came out in December of 2019 and was easily one of the best releases of the year.

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Weird Wednesdays this February at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 7, 2020 03:07pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music joins Alamo Drafthouse New Mission in San Francisco for another month of Weird Wednesdays! Check out the outrageous fringe films they're showing this February. We'll see you at the movies!

REFLECTIONS OF EVIL (2002)
Wednesday, February 12. 9:30pm.
Reflections of Evil is like seeing an astral projection of someone’s mental breakdown through the prism of low-budget horror aesthetics. Produced and self-distributed by filmmaker Damon Packard thanks to an unexpected inheritance, this is a highly personal psychedelic collage that utilizes 16mm film, video, and found footage to tell the story of a wandering creature named Bobby (Packard) as he searches for his missing sister...who may have fallen in with a supernatural drug cult. Packard’s schizoid style is built on visual manipulations, breakneck editing, renegade plagiarism, mismatched audio effects, and the juxtaposition of tones. This is true genre anarchy: a rage-filled, 137-minute outsider manifesto that toes the line between artsy triumph and genre pastiche. Imagine a stream-of-consciousness collaboration between Sam Raimi and Charles Manson and you’re halfway there. After being caught while filming Reflections of Evil inside Universal Studios, Packard was banned for life from the theme park. He made the right choice.



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