Category Archives: Netflix Recs

Shut Up It’s Time For Troma

Reasons Why I Love Troma

  • Independent sleazeball films by people who LOVE movies and HATE evil corporate soul sucking overlords make me wet.
  • Gender anarchy
  • Gratuitous violence and gore that will make you laugh
  • Totally offensive
  • Anti-insitution
  • Hella leftist
  • Totally gross
  • Way more complex than meets the eye
  • Makes me want to make more movies
  • Reminds me to have fun while living and to call out the assholes
  • Weird sexual shit happening all the time
  • Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!
  • Well help filter out who your real friends are.
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All Hail Murnau

He was gay. He was serious. He made magic with light and lenses and the imagination.

Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe was born in Bielefeld on December 28, 1888 but the world knows him best as F.W. Murnau. He died on March 11, 1931 from a car accident on the Pacific Coast Highway near Santa Barbara, CA. Only 11 people were in attendance at his funeral near Berlin, one of whom was the great Greta Garbo who commissioned a death mask of his face she kept displayed on her desk in Hollywood, CA. He was 42 years old when he died.

We have cameras everywhere we go now. On our phones, inside parking garages, at red lights, inside retail businesses, outside our homes, inside teddy bears that spy on babysitters and house cleaners, inside schools, and pretty much anywhere there is a source of electric power to get one turned on properly. Like cars, we don’t often think much about how they work. It wasn’t until 1895 that the first moving picture was projected for a paying audience of greater than 1. It was a novel medium with many detractors who were convinced that there wasn’t a real future for motion pictures and it was artists like Murnau who would master this new technology and take it to stunning heights that would quicker our breath and jump start our pulse.

As with anyone I write about, I will once again add the caveat that I do not maintain crushes like a teenage girl. I did not maintain such practices even as a teenage girl. Rather than get obsessive about a person, I tend to get more obsessive about the products of their work. There’s a lot to obsess over in any given frame of a Murnau film.

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Horror Is My Porn


When I was little, I was fascinated by the horror movie section and the video rental place in my hometown. I wasn’t allowed to watch those movies and their forbidden nature beckoned me. I read the covers of every horror film in my reach while appropriate videos were selected for me. This has been a serendipitous asset during trivia games because while I may not have seen all of these movies I have bizarre facts about them tucked away in my brain because the mind is a strange and wonderful place with bizarre data hoarding patterns.

I remember writing junior high essays on Alfred Hitchcock and delighted in renting and watching as many of his films as he could while diving into biographies about his life and looking into his source materials. I felt my skin flush when I read that he dodged film code rules about the 3 second maximum length for an on camera kiss by having his characters stop to whisper in one another’s ears, to zoom in on a moving hand, to return to a kiss, and create a product that followed all the rules but was sexy as hell anyway. I loved the utterly pornographic diamonds on Grace Kelly’s neck in To Catch A Thief. I cheer for all the cinema rogues who found ways to speak the language of the erotic and turn a nose up to the draconian absexuals on censorship boards baffled by the fact that sex will always find a way.

I couldn’t be unglued from AMC during Halloween season. I was a dedicated Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanatic. I studied posters, purchased trailer compilations, and absolutely delighted in all of the very intimate stories about humanity in all sorts of creative and hyperbolic grandeur. Movie monsters delight me, all of my senses are piqued, and I’m likely to laugh and cheer through gore and spurting arteries, and a racing pulse, and loud sounds that make you jump in your seat. I sound like a hyena when I screen a horror film I love but then again, I was also notorious for being a giggling SM bottom who processes through howling laughter.

I had the pleasure of taking a class on horror films hosted by my literature department because of its strong focus on narrative analysis. The film department focused on different elements of cinema and this one was about the storytelling. It was a delightful class and every week a classic and slightly esoteric film would be projected in the biggest multimedia classroom on my campus. A state of the art digital media amphitheater with surround sound and climate control where I could experience of black and white ghostly delights.

Whether it’s fetish or just serendipity, I would sit in the back and watch while casually humping the inside of my blue jeans as the stories progressed the way I sometimes do while watching The Twilight  Zone or good German Expressionism. Nosferatu’s hand shadow creeping down the body of a woman in bed still tickles my fancy every time. The tension in Cat People makes me purr in delight. Getting to see these films on the big screen with a lecture notes, a keen eye, and a redwood forest to walk home through in the dark resulted in more than one evening booty call for me.

What I love about fall is that people are willing to indulge in the spooky and the sexy. Now, sexy should not be compulsory and I’m never happy when I see young women looking obviously uncomfortable, tugging at the miniskirts of their costumes, ambivalent about their exposure. However, spotting the sexuality in any of these ghouls and goblins isn’t wholly misplaced, either. There’s always a sexual undercurrent and Halloween seems to punctuate that.

I’ll be watching lots of my favorite horror films and sharing them here for you. One thing I will be keeping track of is death toll by gender. A lot of feminists have focused on the woman’s body in horror films but what we’ve forgotten is that a lot men are knocked off as preludes to the final confrontation climax scene. There’s a lot of interesting observations in “Final Girl” analysis  but it never really accounts for the what happens with the male body as a veritable sacrifice without a second thought. There is sexism in horror films but that means there are limitations on femininity and masculinity. I think it’s also interesting who is more likely to have an on camera fatality than off-camera and why.

I’ve made observations that a lot of male characters are killed off in horror films and I’ve observed that their deaths tend to happen on camera more often. Still, I don’t know how this holds up and I’m probably doing a fair amount of my own filtering. Given that I already have a throbbing clit for horror films both old and modern, I like the idea of watching a bunch and breaking them down for a sex and gender perspective. I’m also excited for whatever input you might have.

Coming Soon: Nosferatu

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Born In Flames: A Film By Lizzie Borden

Real life activist and lawyer Florynce Kennedy in "Born In Flames"

There’s so much I love about Born In Flames , a film written, directed, and edited by Lizzie Borden. It’s a landmark film about some of the different stripes of feminism and how they might work together to overthrow a fictional US socialist democracy established after a bloodless revolution of (presumably) the 1960s. It’s a what-if experiment that has fun with editing and film art. It’s very low budget and homegrown but a fun and inspiring watch.

It’s a good film to watch now in the middle of the Occupy Wall Street Movement taking off because of the way it shows activism happening. Motion and action are the recurring visual themes of the movie as montages of women working, in casual settings, and engaging in activism play constantly. A condom rolls onto a penis in one shot, a woman wraps raw chicken in cellophane for a supermarket, people type, do construction, wheat paste fliers, and on and on.

In one of the most commented upon scenes in the film, the camera focuses on a woman being pestered by two men in a situation that escalates to assault. When it starts to become violently triggering the camera pulls back to an overhead shot of the street filling with women on bicycles who come to the rescue. They fend off the would-be rapists and comfort the victim. They activism begins with community work and street based outreach, one-on-one’s and pamphletting. The verite style of the daily real work of activism mixed with protest footage makes the bicycle action seem plausible even in an age without twitter.

Watching the film with the lens of activism today, it’s easy to dream of what we’re capable of accomplishing for equality. The film asks an important question: what would happen if women’s rights activists picked up arms to defend themselves? One of the protagonists, Honey, recites a Malcom X Speech in a powerful closeup changing the language to refer to women’s issues. Florynce “Flo” Kennedy makes an appearance in the film as a mentor and godmother of the revolutionary action of the film’s army of women.

Flo Kennedy was a brilliant hell stallion of an activist and lawyer. Her work remains very inspiring to me. In the film, her character takes the name “Zella” which also happens to be the name of her mother. Her autobiography is a really interesting take on “radicalism’s rudest mouth” and outrageous pioneer. One of her famous actions was a response to Harvard University’s absence of women’s restrooms. (Because how many women could be expected to be at Hahhh-varrrddddd?) She organized a mass urination to protest. That’s some provocative and effective activism right there. One of the film’s protagonists is talking to Zella about her fears and doubts as a leader and activist and the process of coming to her realization that it is time for her movement to pick up arms. It’s clear she’s worried about acceptance but Zella responds with a dead pan, “What took you so long?”

 The characters do not represent psychologies so much as they represent politics. The trio of female journalists represent the academic feminism which is very often moderate and centrist in nature. There is a brief commentary on this fact as they turn their attention and support to the women’s army. Punk anarchism, black liberation, African feminism, and queer politics are also represented in the film in a fictional harmony of working alongside one another and ultimately together.

The grittiness of the film makes it a very realistic watch. It was also good to see quick moments of eros and a principal character wearing a pro-marijuana shirt during a scene without too much time or attention spent on the backdrop of sex and drugs in the background of the revolution. Flo Kennedy understood the importance of laughter and good times and it’s important to show that radicals aren’t all 24/7 wired for the revolution and do take time to listen to some tunes, crack open a beer, spark up a joint, and enjoy some sexy times. What kind of a revolution could exist without that?

Setting the film in a socialist democratic America after a “bloodless” revolution also hearkened to the way that seemingly progressive agencies use words without action while acting as oppressors. Enemies of the women’s army frequently comment that there can’t really be discrimination against women because they’re an equal socialist democracy. Sure, sure, sure, there are rapes but there aren’t that many rapes. Women’s interests are selfish interests because they don’t have everyone in mind. There is a lot examined in the relatively short run time of the movie.

If you’re interested in feminism or activism or radicalism in general this film is a must see. Great film for discussion nights after a day of filming indie queer porn.

It’s worth checking out at Amazon or instantly on Netflix.

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Feel Good Films On Netflix

It’s time for even more Netflix recommendations. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some of my feel good picks.

Carey, Wayans, and Goldblum

Earth Girls Are Easy comes in from 1989 and boy does the film look it. You cannot get away from the 80s vibe but that’s what makes this movie incredibly charming and an all time favorite of mine. It’s rated PG, don’t even ask me how that happened. I love this film and it talks about female sexual desire far more than many other films will dare along inside the valley girl guise. Shout outs to Julie Brown for her work on this project as a writer, performer, and musician. Julie Brown is a knockout and a funny woman in this vehicle and watching this film really makes me hope that we’ll see more of her work. This number will always be hilarious:

At any rate, this is very much a movie about the female gaze. Those bushy and technicolor aliens crash land into a San Fernando Valley pool, get shaved and emerge as hunks. Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans played up their roles as sex objects with no clue how Los Angeles culture works at all but revel in being adored and lusted after. Jeff Goldblum also gets shirtless and does an amazing job with lines constructed out of what he hears in the consumer culture and from the point of view of Geena Davis’s explanations.

Rather than asking if his crew is getting out of hand, Jeff Goldblum delivers the line, “Are we limp and hard to manage?” with impeccable dead pan earnestness. It is a reminder that our language is defined in many ways by our advertising. Just as Damon Wayans character learns how to dance and sets off a competition with another man for female attention, Jeff Goldblum is learning how to win the affections of Geena Davis based on what he sees and hears. While explaining love, Geena Davis sums her ambivalence in romance as a quest to find “Mr. Right.” When she asks Goldblum, the alien, if he has a girlfriend he sincerely responds, “No Mr. Right girlfriend.” It’s a fascinating gender study to watch him communicate with her using only her language.

Whenever the film can be wacky, it goes for wacky. Angelyne, the strange LA persona heralded by a self-bought billboard and later a gubernatorial campaign, make a cameo as do many other kitschy L.A. spots. The salon where the protagonist works is called, “Curl Up And Dye,” which is a winning name if I ever heard one. This is a fun film to catch if you want some silliness and Jeff Goldblum without a shirt in 1989 who also has a magic “love touch” that induces total pleasure and ecstasy. I love movies that make it clear that the set was a really, really fun place to be.

Ball Of Fire is a great feel-good sex comedy from 1941. Gary Cooper did a tremendous job in this comedy and I never realized what a totally well rounded actor he really was. Barbara Stanwyck plays “Sweet Puss O’Shea” a sultry singer and girlfriend to a mob boss. In this retelling of Snow White, Stanwyck’s gangster world collides with that of dedicated and studios bachelor professor’s who are hard at work composing a comprehensive encyclopedia. There’s a lot of slapstick comedy that goes into bringing these characters together but the movie is supported by a supremely strong ensemble. You might recognize many of those faces from other stellar and academy award winning productions.

This movie had its own share of awards as well. It’s listed as one of the best comedic films of all times and had 4 oscar nominations. The dialog is quick and witty. Gary Cooper explaining the name “Sweet Puss O’Shea” to his colleagues was brilliant. “Her name implies a certain sweetness to her…face.” Another great line delivered by Stanwyck comes when she invites the professors to look into her throat. “It’s as red as the daily worker and just as sore,” she says.

I love Stanwyck’s confidence throughout the film even though the plot goes out of its way to make her a good girl by painting her as naive about her gangster boyfriend’s real work and her hard-boiled exterior as a way to get by in her social circle. Her character rides the line between someone who earnestly enjoys her sexuality that of those around her and someone who willing to manipulate others with sex appeal. The movies paints a picture that her circumstances make the difference.

Another cool thing about this film is the support that the 7 professors have for their colleague when he falls in love. They are happy to see their friend lucky in romance and work hard to support him in every way possible including a wedding night talk about the delicacy of flowers. Nerds and the nerdy at heart will love a showdown scene in which the geeks defeat the gangsters by using their wits and encyclopedic knowledge of their environment.

 My Cousin Vinny is another great comedy up right now. Joe Pesci gets pretty pigeon-holed into the gangster role but he really creates a three dimensional character with Vinny. I appreciated this film so much more after I started performing on character. So many people make the assumption that if you dress and talk trashy that you must lack intelligence. Although things work out all right at the end (this is a feel good list) it reminds you of all the contributions we lose that come from unexpected places.

The wardrobe was a big part of this film. The things that Marisa Tomei wears are so bad they’re fantastic. It was fantastic to see how outlandish they could take that costume because they compliment Vinny’s challenge with finding an “appropriate” suit to wear to the courtroom. His black leather suit would no doubt be the pride of Folsom but the movie makes it clear how strange he is in comparison to the people in the town and how bad that is for politics. He flounders when he wear’s the kind of suit that the judge wants him to wear and has the most success when circumstances force him into garb that reminds us how ridiculous the notion of a suit ever was in the first place.

Through all of its slapstick and outrageous moments, it’s a story about being who you are. It’s a very fun movie to watch until the bitter sinking realization that in the real world innocent people go to jail all the time for looking “wrong” even in the presence of credible evidence and data to the contrary. Strive to take in the good moments while you can.

I also recommend this film for anyone getting through a quarter life crisis over the fact that in a recession a college degree means absolutely shit and your future is entirely uncertain and held captive by a sea of hostility. It feels good to have a movie where the hero acknowledges failing the bar exam 6 times before finally passing and starting a practice in law. If you’re bitter about educational assessments, open a beer, toast to Vinny, and yell “fuck” along with him. It’s nice to have a hero who articulates some actual bitterness behind the functions of justice.

 

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