2006: Year of the Weird?

Doodle by Steve Willis (scroll down link for bio).

For a year that includes a new Mission: Impossible, a big-budget Robin Williams comedy, a remake of one of the 70s worst disaster films (Poseidon Adventure) and yet another slate of comic books flicks, it is with great pleasure that I am able to point you, dear reader, to the short list of this year’s oddballs. And by oddballs I mean the truly weird, the types of movies that twist your insides when you watch them, make you disgusted, angry even, and serve, in your advanced years, as a safer method of hallucination. Except for the last entry–that one just looks like fun.

Inland Empire by David Lynch

It’s been five years since Mulholland Drive, and finally David Lynch is back with its supposed sequel Inland Empire. Frankly, this could go either way: Lynch has made, in my mind, three great films–unbelievable, classic films that I’ll watch my whole life–in Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and the aforementioned Mulholland. That said, he’s also made some of the worst films I’ve ever seen in Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (unbearable) and even The Straight Story. There’s no way of knowing if Lynch can build on Mulholland or if he’s just going to make yet another incomprehensible piece of trash.

Supposedly in theaters late this summer or early autumn.

Lunacy by Jan Svankmajer

Hell if I know what brought me and a few friends to the Oak Street one summer night to see Little Otik years ago. But Jesus Christ, I haven’t been so freaked by a film since, well, since I took in Blue Velvet at the Goodrich Lansing Mall. Otik is a strong concoction of uber-Freudian fable, pedophile drama, and horror, involving a woman who adopts, and nurses, a tree stump. This stump, Little Otik, grows eyeballs, lips and a tongue, all of which is stop-motion animation using pig eyes and tongues for the effects. The stump eats cats and people. Bloody and creepy. Now my wife can’t think of soft-cooked eggs without flinching.

Lunacy is Svankmajer’s first film since Otik, some six years ago. You can see a preview of Sileni (Czech for lunacy) here (it’s in Czech, and the version with English subtitles hasn’t been released yet). Supposedly it’s about a lunatic asylum, and has dancing pork tongues that also drink beer.

Should hit our shores this fall or winter.

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes by the Brothers Quay

I don’t know much about the Brother’s Quay except that their a pair of American weirdos who have relocated to Europe (don’t know where) and have made Svankmajer their personal hero and make surreal claymation cartoons. This is their second full-length feature, involving a beautiful diva who is killed and whisked away by a madman to a distant island, where she meets a poor soul who can piano tune anything, including earthquakes. If you can find the Sight and Sound from two months hence you’ll see the full page ad for the film, which is so painfully sexy I can’t imagine why anyone would fail to see this movie.

Theoretically opening this fall.

Drawing Restraint 9 by Matthew Barney and Bjork

Frankly, I have no clue what this movie’s about. Something tells me that when I’m through watching it, my feeling will be the same. Barney’s films frighten me, and I have yet to see any of them. The Cremaster series, which I’ve missed in part due to scheudling conflicts and my own cowardice, look as bat-shit crazy as anything I’ve ever seen. Drawing Restraint 9 looks equally weird.

Barney and Bjork board a Japanese whaler that also has a mold shaped like a tablet, filled with liquid petroleum jelly. As the ship plows into the arctic, the jelly cools and becomes a sculpture. I guess that Bjork and Barney engage in a number of Japanese ceremonies involving dancing, tea, the vomitous gunk that whales eat, and eventually cut their own legs off. Or something like that.

Here are the links where Bjork and Barney try to explain themselves. And the preview.

Premiering at the Walker May 5; opening later at the Lagoon.

And finally Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane.

This one doesn’t really fit, except to say that I can’t believe anyone came up with this thing. Snakes is high concept: for those of you not in the know, high concept means that you get an a movie based on a single idea, or concept. Twins is perhaps the best example–imagine the laughs with Danny DeVito and the Governor of California as twin brothers. That’s not a story, it’s an idea and a bad one. Most high concept films are worthless, but this one seems to write itself. Some goofball gets it into his head to assassinat some world leader or government lackey by bribing a member of airport security to unleash 400 poisonous snakes on an airplane. For Christ’s sake. Of course, the pilots have to die, a young woman will be in danger, you’ve got to save the damn target, and, on top of it all, Samuel L. Jackson is the star. I like snakes, my wife loves snakes, and my brother, well, he’s batty. And we’re all going to see this thing the day it opens.

This thing isn’t going to be anything too weird, or complicated, or beautiful or intelligent. But pay attention when a people are having fun making something–often those are the best times in a darkened theater.

Snakes has been the subject of a million gossipy conversations on the net; it opens this August.