Lessons of What Not To Do In A Mass Shooting (Lesson of the Evil, 2012)

have shotgun, will look intense

have shotgun, will stare-down

Lesson of the Evil [2012, by Takashi Miike] is a deliciously taut, bloody film that follows a handsome, charismatic high school English teacher named Hasumi. Hasumi also happens to be a psychopathic killer [Example of what constitutes a psychopath: while killing a fellow heartless bastard, Hasumi says "You like to kill for pleasure? I don't"]. After some dabbling in forced suicides, faked suicides, and straight-up homicide, Hasumi winds up at night with a shotgun in his school. Just his luck, there is a class of about thirty students setting up a “House of Horrors” [the irony isn't exactly subtle] in the school overnight. With one adult to supervise [what world are they living in? JAPAN? ANSWER ME], locked doors, and a cleverly blocked cell phone signal, the massacre scene plays out half as a thriller, half as a dark, dark comedy. To wit:

- When involved in a mass, unexpected killing in a locked building, (especially if you already have the advantage of dead bodies on you) PLAY DEAD. Don’t scream, don’t run, and don’t do something as ridiculously pointless as whine “BUT WHY?” to the killer. He’s already decided this is happening. Attempts at empathy will be shot in the foot, head, and anywhere else visible.

- Don’t keep mentioning said killers’ name over and over in protest or acknowledgement. This forces him to confront how many people now know he’s a killer, and will only prove to make him angrier [and it won't help you, at all. You'll still die].

- NEVER kiss/make out with/have sex with your high school teacher. Besides the disgusting moral lines crossed, he just might! Kill you later because you already know he is into the crossing of moral lines [and why is he asking what message boards you can get into? RUN, BITCH, RUUUN].

- If you’re gonna hide from a killer outside, close the goddamn window! Billowing curtains are the hugest red arrow in any horror film.

- If you know too much, shut up. Or only talk in the woods, which is apparently the only place in the world that can’t be bugged.

- If the killer asks “is that you?” While you’re dying, even if he sounds nice, KEEP DYING. FOR FUCKS SAKE DON’T ANSWER HIM

Lastly, and Most Importantly, if someone is too handsome, kind, intelligent, outgoing, & just generally way too knowledgeable to be believed…..don’t believe him. Rat out that bitch. Particularly if their theme song is “Mack the Knife” (and they whistle it. Creepily. While working out naked. As one is wont to do).

yuck

Coming Up, Recent News, etc.

next up: Only God Forgives [or as I like to call it, Only A Mother Could Love This Movie]. They beat the life out of his acting. Emotionless the entire film. Waste of a Gosling

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lately i’ve been watching a lot of Teen Wolf, because of the amazing Dessert Stand-Offs:

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that is while i’m not sobbing over The Killing [fuck me if that wasn't the hardest episode of anything to watch EVER]:

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also the new greatest show happens to be Orange Is The New Black [an all-female cast that's flawless? WHAAAAA - yeah, us ladies knew this was a long time comin]:

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Holy Crap! [Holy Motors]

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In the beginning of Holy Motors, director/writer Leos Carax wakes up in a dark room, lights a cigarette [because he is French, duh], and extends a finger to open a lock with a now-whirring mechanical finger. Pushing the door that has appeared in his forest wallpaper, he arrives in a movie theater balcony, looking down upon theatergoers. He faces a whirring blank screen, seemingly empty film stock waiting to be filled with a story. The people are waiting to be entertained. They will get their wish and then some, waddling out of the theater, heads bloated with so many different stories at once, sparks flying in their brains, asking verbatim: “…What the fuck just happened?”

The theater is Carax’s mind, nothing more, and what the fuck just happened is an extremely entertaining, well-written, amazingly-performed peek inside his head, uncut. It’s what I wish Enter the Void had been after learning Void director Gaspar Noe had been inspired to make the film by watching another film on magic mushrooms. Holy Motors is some kind of insane, nicotine-soaked trip, which makes the ubiquitous white limos feel perfect – if you’re going to go insane, do it in style; Do it like the French!

Holy Motors follows the performer Oscar for one day at his job. Oscar is a middle-aged Frenchman who, once you see him, will agree that he looks impeccably French – not conventionally attractive, short, bald, with pock-marked skin. His face, however, is so compelling, how he looks becomes unimportant. Everything about him, you will see, is compelling – it is his job. He drives around in a limo all day, shuffling in and out of different costumes, eating different foods, feeling different moods depending on the job he is assigned. On paper it seems like a fairly simple job – you are randomly assigned a character to play, in real life, and it is up to you and you alone to make that character a hundred percent believable to normal people who happen to be observing. You do the makeup, the hair, the really disgusting dirty, overgrown toenails should that happen, [and it does] to be necessary. If you have to make yourself look ten years older, you had better know how to do that, while driving in the back of a limo with a portable stage wardrobe. If you have to bite someone’s fingers off to appear weirder, you do it. And if you have to kill someone, you do it – just watch out for when they get back up, excuse themselves because “they will be late for another appointment”, and shuffle out of the room covered in blood.

The refusal to explain anything, to leave storylines dangling infinitely in our heads, is a big part of why I loved watching this film. Usually this, combined with multiple storylines, is a horrible strategy that leads to frustration [Crash, anyone?]. Usually films don’t dare to go this insane in front of our very eyes, because we can’t handle it. Somehow, someway, Leos Carax has done the impossible and made a film about the illusion of film, with no apology, and made it entertaining, bizarre, impressive, confusing, and electric. Dennis Lavant, who plays Oscar, is the one constant throughout the film, and also delivers one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. He literally plays every type of character fluidly, believably – father, lover, benefactor, banker, musician, monster, killer [a few times over], and best of all – insane sewer freak. Going into any more depth about the film would simply be saying too much. Expect anything and do yourself a favor by not taking it too seriously – just enjoy the trip.

I Think We’re [far too] Alone Now

Loneliness brings out the insanity in all of us. A few of us will try to crawl our way out of it so intently that we come across as entirely too intense. In the end we’d all like to be understood for who we are, without apology. After seeing I Think We’re Alone Now, about two different people obsessed with brief pop star Tiffany, it sheds a different light on non-violent stalkers.  Stalking is a form of focused loneliness that has an oddly broad spectrum of expressions but at its heart is such concentrated, sad loneliness. Where there is extreme loneliness, there is extreme action.

…..Towards Tiffany.

Meeting a person with stalker-like tendencies is, hopefully, not an experience that generally lasts very long. You meet them, realize the level of weird you are not prepared to deal with, and take the nearest exit out. In this story, you aren’t allowed an exit, no shying away from awkwardness. Initially this feels like a curse, but quickly becomes very moving, pure, non-condemning look at two people who are truly bizarre. They are easy targets for a plethora of reasons, the biggest ones being that Kelly was born intersex [and with Agent Orange in her system] and Jeff has Asperger’s Syndrome [also his father died when he was fourteen]. It’s as if they were dealt an unfair hand before even given a chance to see the human race without anxiety. This is, as is expected, uncomfortable to watch and parts of it I could only watch through my fingers.  You know how some of the greatest art is formed from sadness and insanity? Some of the best insight comes from a lifetime steeped in loneliness: At one point, Jeff refers to his someone’s head as a “brilliasphere, about to crack open and shine with a light that cuts through all ignorance and fear”.

They both retain a kind of sweet, childish innocence about their object of desire. Kelly claims she was put on this earth to be with Tiffany, and we see her watching a Tiffany video, catatonically rolling her eyes backwards with her face pressed against a wall plastered with photographs of Tiffany. It’s a moment that I will always see in the movie because it’s only one of a few that is truly creepy:[ the filmmakers’ way of making the whole thing seem relatively normal is an admirable and extremely impressive piece of work.]

Jeff claims he is already in a “very good friendship” with Tiffany as he’s “known her most of her life” [Jeff is Fifty, Tiffany is in her thirties]. While it is, again, just creepy to see someone feel a bond so intensely out of thin air, it made me nostalgic for being a teenager again [and I hated being a teenager]. What I remember most, what I did enjoy, is the heady, knocked-out feeling of being besotted with someone you barely know. At the time you think, no, you know, that no love is greater and no one can truly understand this unique, gleaming experience. You can’t even see their flaws because you’re never allowed that close. Both Jeff and Kelly truly believe they are spiritually connected with Tiffany. It’s awe-inspiring how much imagination it takes. They are stuck in the past because it is easier than coming to terms with the present. We all feel at some point like we’re not accepted, even hated, but even these two wake up in the morning and force themselves to be around people, even if they don’t have anything to talk about. They find the common ground. Two people stuck in a time that never existed still wake up in the present, hopeful that this day brings something better than the ones before. Today, they think, is the day we will connect with someone in a new way, grow, give more of our energy. Today we will not be alone – If we fall, [and we probably will], we will get back up tomorrow, stronger and thicker skinned for our experiences.

Eat Cake, In Moderation – The Queen of Versailles [2012]

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If all of you know of The Queen of Versailles is courtesy of Netflix, it sounds suspiciously like an older Paris Hilton-type character & how her spoiled self will be forced, grudgingly and with many hijinks, into the humility of a dreaded normal life by the recession. Thus we hate her, thus we are entertained. Even the cover art makes the movie look like Real Housewives of Orlando, But Richer – the eponymous queen posing in front of her house like a Victoria’s Secret model, smiling with a little white dog and, naturally, a glass of champagne [which we all need with a yappy dog, to be fair].

Unlike the Real Housewives series, which follows fairly insufferable rich women doing fairly insufferable, dull things that only rich people can afford to do, The Queen of Versailles is a real story about truly changing people, without the melodrama that would be so easy to glean. Instead of scripted trips to ridiculously expensive lunches for no reason, there are limo runs to McDonald’s for a, I kid you not, fifty-piece McNuggets – oh, and “I want two Big Macs” [hey, at least they aren’t picky eaters].

The Queen of Versailles follows time-share mogul David Siegel [and, more importantly, his wife Jackie] as his corporation Westgate Resorts comes almost completely crashing down after the 2008 stock market crash. This is framed by the story of the mansion the Siegels are building – the largest would-be single-family home in America, modeled after the palace at Versailles [the Vegas one as well. God Bless their beautiful, tacky weird style].

As you might have imagined, Jackie is the star here. Jackie is full of surprises – a degree in Engineering, chosen practically and intelligently prior to her the pageant circuit and modeling. A previous marriage that left her abused and led her to run away to pursue modeling. Bringing the necessary things to watch her son play little league, without decoration or unnecessary grandeur. Despite their 30+ year age difference, David and Jackie seem genuinely in love, and acknowledging of their situation – during a Miss America finalists soiree at the Siegels’ less-mansiony home, David talks of his love of beautiful women and Jackie of how excited she was that a man could give her eight children, and that she could have nannies necessary to have so many children.

About two thirds into the film, all the animals of the vast household cease to be taken care of properly, due to layoffs of home employees. Jackie peeks into a lizard tank, notices the lizard is dead, and scolds the children for letting it die. “I didn’t even know we had a lizard!” exclaims one of the kids empathetically.

Herein lies the beautiful clincher of the film: the Siegels’ dismantling has a ripple effect felt throughout, by every driver, nanny, and lizard of The Siegel Kingdom. It does what every documentary longs for – starts with a family hilarious in their strange, excitingly unreal-reality, then portrays their forced adaptation into a life more familiar with us peasants.

Jackie is so affected by so many Westgate Employees being laid off, she donates a ridiculously large portion of her to-be Versailles furniture to the community, mostly former Westgate employees. She gives 5,000 dollars to her high school best friend to help stop her home from being foreclosed. She guiltily spends money she isn’t supposed to at Walmart, not on herself, but on Christmas gifts for a party guaranteed much less lavish than the ones before. Similar yet altogether different from Marie Antoinette, this is a Queen who cares about her subjects and knows that at the end of the day, the people, not the money, will lift you up or bring you down, so it is a wiser and happier decision to lift them up above all else.

The Siegels’ driver puts it best. After showing us matter-of-factly the small apartment he and his family were forced to move into, he says with a wise sense of weathering-the-storm: “You can survive, you can live without a house. You can’t survive without family, without friends. You got those, you’ll be okay. That’s what matters.”