God Told Me To, 1976 – ★★★★ [Movie Log]

What once seemed an inexplicable, nigh impossible act of irrational violence—the mass shooting of random victims—one that could perhaps only be explained as an anti-miracle (on par with the near sacrifice of Isaac, the real miracle of which is God staying Abraham’s hand), of course today is all the more horrific for how real and familiar an occurrence it has become, in no small part thanks to similar zealots who justify evil in the name of religion and their god-given right to bare arms. Notwithstanding that awful new contemporary resonance, Cohen’s film is an uneasy, uncanny, and uneven amalgamation of New Hollywood horror, a provocative perichoresis combining elements of a police procedural, spiritual terror, and eerie sci-fi that questions the heart of fear and trembling. The story may be ripped from the tabloids rather than the Gospels, dressed not in a toga but the trappings of B-movie schlock, yet the movie is anything but sacrilegious, full of doubt and guilt and a pulpy sort of piety.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

Advertisements

It’s Alive, 1974 – ★★★★ [Movie Log]

It speaks to the enduring anxiety produced by the Oedipal relationship that the film is no less eerie for being satirical, filled with a slow-burning sense of terror and humor in equal measure. Yet whatever the natural absurdity of the supernatural circumstances on display, the feelings of unease and uncertainty that imbue the film are given weight by Herrmann’s sublime score while being grounded by a set of performances that never admit to the insanity of everything around them, because both comedy and horror are best told with a straight face.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

Black Caesar, 1973 – ★★★ [Movie Log]

Cut with a manic energy that propels each moment into the next with a sense of disregard and inevitability, much like its titular antecedent, the film is as suffused with a tragic spirit as it is with street violence. It is a despair beyond individual peripeteia, one born of resentment and rage felt by an entire community, which lifts up a strongman to save it only to be stepped on in turn, giving a social depth to the story beyond its gangster film source material. On the contrary, for these souls, when the die is cast, it’s never more than a game of craps; at least they have a classic soundtrack from none other than James Brown—a different sort of godfather—to carry them through.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

Vox Lux, 2018 – ★★½ [Movie Log]

As ambitious and alluring as its acerbic central figure, but ultimately just as cynical and shallow as she is, to boot. Mirroring the rise and fall of its stylish (and stylized) subject, the film begins with shockingly and strongly enough, maintaining a tense tone throughout its first act until meandering in the latter half, when Natalie Portman takes over the part of Celeste from Raffey Cassidy, who, in an interesting casting turn, is relegated to playing the daughter of her former self. A far too glib, shallow dive into the vapid vanity of modern celebrity, all style with little substantial to say, the film (again, like Celeste) exploits the continuous tragedy of contemporary America—mass shootings, terrorism, drug abuse, the decline of symbolic efficiency, and so on—but itself never rises above vague vacuity (consider how the title itself says nothing, a cheap imitation of Latin), as trapped by its aesthetic commitment to Celeste as she is trapped by the commitments of stardom.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 2001 – ★★★★ [Movie Log]

Gender is, no doubt, a doubtful, complicated thing, utterly self-contradictory—femininity defined by men, who define their masculinity in opposition to what makes a woman—and so difficult to positively affirm while impossible to entirely escape. At best, perhaps, rather than simply repudiate gender tout court, aiming for some impossibly neutral middle ground, a gender equilibrium that still reinforces a basic binary while seeking the stasis of the death drive, one must abandon such dichotomies whatsoever to instead see gender as a fluid spectrum with multiple overlapping identity positions. Such is the case for Hedwig, a character whose radical queerness must have been bracing when she first appeared on stage, whose success and longevity helped spark a transformation in queer acceptance that, twenty years later, makes her problematic aspects all the more glaring, reflecting transphobic myths of child abuse and castration anxiety. Still, the film, for good reason, is iconic, innovative, and subversive, blending cinematic and musical genres just as artfully as Hedwig blends gender.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

Jem and the Holograms, 2015 – ★★½ [Movie Log]

Upbeat, polished, bland, and overproduced: An apt surrogate for modern pop.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

The Runaways, 2010 – ★★½ [Movie Log]

Provocative if not very effective, and more neurotic than erotic, the movie is built on performances to match those of the band, though just like their music, there’s more style, shock, and spectacle than artistic merit—but maybe that’s just rock ‘n roll.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan