Basketball really cuts into my movie watching time. Of the millions of things that are fucking amazing about the Raptors winning, one is that I finally have time to go back to watching more than a few movies a week. There are only 3 this week, but they’re all rather enjoyable to watch and hopefully enjoyable to read about, so there’s that.
June 10: Heathers (Amazon Prime Video)
Somehow, Heathers manages to be even more relevant today than it was in 1988. It’s considered a dark comedy, and while that may have been true back when it came out, it feels a little less ridiculous and more eerily realistic when you take a look at the highly publicized teen suicides and school shootings of this century. That’s not to say this movie isn’t funny or entertaining, it’s absolutely both those things, but there’s an underlying morbidity that may not have been so present in a pre-Columbine world.
But Heathers is more than just prescient. It gives us fantastic performances from Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, both extremely early in their careers. Winona Ryder was 17, the actual age of a high school senior! When the heck does that ever happen? Christian Slater looks like a teen doing a really good impression of Christian Slater, and I love it. That guy makes for a uniquely charming yet unnerving psychopath, something I was begging to see in Zac Efron’s Bundy.
I think the little details are what can separate a good script from a great one. Things like Slater and his father always jokingly interacting as if their roles were reversed, or Ryder always having near-identical conversations with her boring parents; these are details that give a movie a distinct personality. Heathers has personality out the wazoo, and that’s what makes its dark subject matter work so well as comedy. It’s high school American Psycho with less satire, and it’s every bit as fun.
June 12: Vampire’s Kiss (Amazon Prime Video)
Masterpiece is a word used to describe something incredibly good. This is a restrictive definition. We’re amending it today, because Vampire’s Kiss has made me rethink the concept of good and bad. It transcends both of those simplistic categories, instead opting for another option entirely: insanity. Pure insanity. Vampire’s Kiss cannot be described as good, and I would argue against anyone who does so. Vampire’s Kiss cannot be described as bad, and I would argue against anyone who does so. It is insane, and that is that.
A man thinks he’s a vampire. It’s a simple idea, one that could have so easily become a run of the mill character study in which we delve into the psyche of a mildly unhinged dude. But cast Nicolas Cage, and you are required to make it the most batshit off the walls clusterfuck of madness anyone has ever had the pleasure of seeing. Every ounce of insanity stems from Cage’s performance, but it’s impossible to recreate using only words. You have to see this movie. You have to. I’m not a fan of so-bad-it’s-good movies, and while it may appear to be one, it is not. This is not The Room. No, this is something new entirely. In 1989, something was created and nobody ever wanted to create it ever again. Good. Vampire’s Kiss, much like a vampire, will never age. It is a timeless masterpiece.
June 14: Incendies (Netflix)
Incendies is the only major Denis Villeneuve movie I had yet to see for whatever reason. Maybe I was worried it would make me rethink Villeneuve’s top position on my list of best directors alive. That’s not a worry. In fact, whoever’s in second just got sent a little lower. Speaking of which, who is #2? Refn, maybe? Bong Joon-Ho? Nolan’s great, but that’s a generic choice and I despise Interstellar for reasons I won’t bother getting into here. Tarantino might take the spot; I love every single one of his movies. I’ll think on this and get back to ya.
Incendies is Villeneuve’s last fully French-Canadian movie, and this is notable because it brings with it some bad news. Last week, you may recall that my review of Enemy concluded with a conspiracy theory that Denis hates Toronto and made Enemy just to make Toronto look bad. This may be true, but Villeneuve clearly has no love for Montreal, either. While Incendies isn’t smeared in a piss-yellow filter, it shows us exclusively the more run down, depressing parts of Montreal, and shows no affection towards the city. I live in both these cities, and seeing Denis make them look like garbage towns is hilarious to me. But you know what’s not hilarious? A single second of Incendies.
One of the things I love most about Villeneuve is how wildly different each entry in his filmography is. While some may be the same genre, none come close to being similar in terms of subject or execution. Incendies stands on its own as being a brutal, emotional wartime drama, utilizing parallel storylines to bring a decades-long story together. As twins search for their father and brother at the behest of their recently deceased mother in the present day, we see the vicious 1960s/70s Middle Eastern war that shaped the person the mother became, and why she was forced to hide her past from her family. Villeneuve shies away from absolutely nothing – every horror war could possibly encompass is on display here. It’s horribly depressing and brilliant at the same time. Incendies is beautiful yet you’ll want to look away; well written but you won’t want to hear it. Your heart will be ripped to shreds by the end. Watch it regardless, because if nothing else cements Villeneuve as one of the greats, Incendies most certainly does.
My plan was to watch a movie from every year, starting with 1988. I came up with this idea after coincidentally watching a movie from ’89 right after one from ’88, and thought it would be kinda fun. Then I forgot the idea, watched Incendies, and screwed everything up. Why am I telling you this? To teach you a lesson about plans, and how they don’t work. Don’t make plans. Or promises. Remember when I promised a full review of Avengers: Endgame? Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Or when I said I was definitely, absolutely gonna watch Paddleton? Nope, still haven’t seen it. I wrote a whole outro about how I wanted to settle down and watch something decent but not great like Paddleton, then, nothing! I’m not planning anything from now on. Okay, one exception, at some point this summer me and Noah are watching David Lynch’s entire filmography, and that’s a promise. But no more promising! This week’s shoutout goes to Bernard, the character in Westworld played by Jeffrey Wright. I hope some day he finds out why Delos wants all that guest info. And I hope that show goes back to being great.