Amoeblog

Best Films to Watch While Tripping

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, May 4, 2020 04:21pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

At Amoeba Music, one of my main jobs is working in the DVD room. Customers frequently ask me, “What’s a good movie to watch while tripping?” These are the movies I recommend:

Yellow SubmarineThe Beatles, Yellow Submarine:
When I was in first grade, my teacher took our class to see Yellow Submarine in the theater. It may have been the single most psychedelic moment of my life, even though it was many years before I tasted my first drug. My mind was completely blown. I don’t even remember the teacher’s name, but they were one of the most influential people in my life just by taking us to that movie. The experience created an insatiable love for all forms of psychedelic music and art that has stuck with me to this day. It started the journey that led to me writing this column. This film is a one of a kind masterpiece largely created by director George Dunning and art director Heinz Edelmann. They combined the talents of truly gifted artists and animators to create one of the best animated movies ever made. It tells the story of how The Beatles free the underwater country of Pepperland from the evil tyranny of the Blue Meanies. This may be the basic plot but the movie is essentially a series of mind blowing visually stunning set pieces set to The Beatles music. This film was a game changer that shifted the entire evolution of animation. The movie is just as amazing today as it was when it was released. From its melting smearing colors to its surreal underwater monsters, this film may be one of the purest psychedelic experiences ever created.

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The Worst Parties In Movie History

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 10, 2020 04:20pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

I wrote this piece a month ago, which, as we all know, feels like a couple centuries ago. The worst parties Saloin movie history may not seem like the most appropriate theme for a blog post now, but there’s still some great movies on this list. “Bummer party movies” might be the perfect theme for your latest isolation party. Since nobody is going out to any parties these days, this also might be a good time to remind ourselves that not all the parties were good parties. Stay safe everyone and we’ll see you in person on the other side of this mess.

There’s good parties and bad parties and then there’s the worst parties in movie history...

Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom:
Crazed director Pier Paolo Pasolini updates the Marquis de Sade’s masterpiece of sexual debauchery to the fascist Italy of World War II. A group of utterly evil subhuman monsters decides to throw a sex party where they will systematically commit every perversion known to man. There are so many things in this movie you’ll never be able to unsee. You’ll be talking to your therapist about it for years to come. From shit eating feasts to gouging out eyeballs during intercourse to just burning off genitals during the orgy, this movie is filled with stuff you never want to try. Believe me, this is one party you don’t want to get invited to. It’s the kind of film that, after you’re done watching it, you almost wonder if you could be arrested for viewing what you just saw. Amazingly, this is a Criterion Collection release. When it first showed up in the Criterion section of my local video store, I used to always sneak a fake shelf talker on to it that read: Makes a great first date movie.

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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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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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Amoebapalooza San Francisco, February 23

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 10, 2020 12:36pm | Post a Comment

Amoebapalooza SF, the annual celebration of Amoeba employees and FOBs (Friends of Amoeba), descends upon The Knockout (3223 Mission St, SF) on Sunday, February 23rd.

Back with more Amoebite-powered musical mayhem, this year's line-up is action-packed. From a provocative live reading by author Jon Longhi to live sets with Misfits cover band Glenn or Glenda, reggae nine-piece Stepping Razors, the perilous folk rockers Dangerous Dueling Dulcimers, Uncle Seany (with Sean Murphy of Jesus Dude Mom), New Zealand rockers Tally Ho and more, this is shaping up to be another legendary night!

Doors open to the public at 8:30pm and the show starts at 9pm. Admission is just $5. This is a 21+ event.

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