The Dead Don’t Die, 2019 – ★★★★ [Movie Log]

With a tone so droll that the title might refer to the deadpan and dry wit rather than the dead themselves, whose remains remain, if not six feet in the ground, a background and laggardly creeping threat, less frightening and less urgent (especially considering their stereotypical lack of speed) than the film’s real horror, catastrophic climate change. Far more terrifying and deadly than the undead, anthropogenic climate change is simultaneously slower than the lurching ghouls (what Tim Morton calls a “hyperobject” that only reveals itself inchmeal) yet more imminent and grave, the rise of zombies from their crypts here figured as a secondary symptom of the underlying disaster. Of course, climate change itself is a secondary symptom of a deeper social ill, the zombie-like nature of postmodern consumerist existence under the object injunction of late capitalism—a sociological point that Jarmusch, in the grand tradition of Romero, drives home in the film’s final moments, when a character described early on as a ghost who abandoned ordinary civilization comments in whispered tones upon the spectral lives at hand. By frequently breaking the fourth wall and drawing out a sense not of doom but of droning, the message seems to be that so long as everyday people merely follow the script handed to them, then (as we’re reminded time again) things really aren’t going to end well.

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

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The Ambulance, 1990 – ★★★½ [Movie Log]

Part kitschy Stephen King horror novel from the mid-80s and part 70s-style paranoid thriller, you can always count on a Cohen film like this one to embrace the unusual: Rich characters where you least expect them, offbeat performances from otherwise familiar faces, strange genre combinations, unpredictable and enigmatic narrative convolutions. His work may never have been particularly stylish (Eric Roberts’ mullet should get top billing here) or subtle, but it always was singular and surprising in an interesting way.

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

Society, 1989 – ★★★★ [Movie Log]

Shocking without being surprising, don’t let the simplicity of the satire fool you: Considering the corrupt corporeality of the final scene, that the class allegory is somewhat heavy-handed and on-the-nose seems practically to be the point; for what is the grotesquery of a stomach-churning orgy compared to the grotesquery of the rich?

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 Stuff, 1985 – ★★★½ [Movie Log]

For Lacanians—and yes, I can already hear the groans—there is a distinction to draw between objects of desire (objet a, McGuffins) and objects of drive, which Zizek defines as an embodiment of enjoyment. No doubt, the titular “Stuff” fits the latter description, an “extraordinary protuberances” bubbling up from the earth itself—whether or not it is extraterrestrial or some chthonic entity is never made clear—“whose growth cannot be stopped,” indestructible and threatening like the (similarly face-hugging) libidinal Xenomorph. In this way, The Stuff is a irresistible metaphor for Reaganite consumerism, the acephalic impulse of late capitalism to consume and be consumed, death being the only option (as death is the only drive).

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

Q, 1982 – ★★★ [Movie Log]

The movie itself is as much a queer chimera as Quetzalcoatl, an inscrutable hybrid part sublime and part horrible, winged and wonderfully weird—or perhaps the ‘Q’ in the title stands not for the god-monster, for ‘Quinn,’ the part-time crook, aspiring jazz musician played by Moriarty in a performance that is only better for being so batty.

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

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

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