Spookies

I’d never seen Spookies. A brilliant/awful sub-classic 80s horror that sits on the weirdness scale somewhere between Phantasm and Troll 2. Watching this will remind you just how accurate Garth Merenghi really is.

Spookies starts with two cars, one of cool kids, one of squares, getting lost and deciding to party in an old abandoned mansion. The leader of the cool kids is Duke, an Italian-American stereotype who drives a car with the vanity plate Psycho, and who dresses in a bunch of taped-together bin bags with a zip diagonally across the chest, like some kinda sash. His girlfriend is Linda with da big tiddies. They are accompanied with their comic-relief pal who has his own handpuppet he talks to. The main guy from the car full of squares is an actor who is clearly about 20 years older than the rest of the cast, yet is passed off as another teenager.

Together they face a cat-man with vampire teeth and a hook for a hand, dirt monsters that make fart noises, a Fiji mermaid Boglin, a geisha spider, the literal Grim Reaper and a bunch of zombies for good measure.

Mad as fuck.

Always In Season

Always In Season focuses on the death of Lennon Lacy, through the wider context of the history of denial, impunity and erasure of lynchings in the States.

Lennon Lacy was a 17-year-old boy who was found hanged from a swingset in the public green behind the house where he lived. Local police immediately ruled it a suicide, without investigating any other possibility. He told his Mum he was going out to take his washing in off the line just as she was going to bed, then when she woke the washing was still there, and he was dead.

Many avenues went uninvestigated, like the presence of white supremacist neighbours who had previously threatened Lennon with a gun, and that they might have opinions on Lennon starting to date a local white woman. A medical examiner, who saw the body, reported the presence of multiple injuries and defensive wounds.

A word of warning before you watch this – there are a LOT of pictures of lynchings in this movie. It is used to give perspective to how common lynchings were, that they happened everywhere, for centuries, and happened in the open where all could see. No one was ever charged for almost any of the deaths. And their existence was cloaked in silence, something unspeakable by the black community and something refused to be spoken of by the white community. And with each new generation of lynchings, the narrative was that lynchings were a thing of the past. In this denial, any contemporary injustices were also silenced.

As a reaction to this, and the current tendency to rule black men found hanged in public as suicides, of which Lennon is only one of many, there has been a growing urge to bring these cases to light, to not let them be swept away again. One of the stranger solutions that has emerged is lynching re-enactments. That’s something I did not see coming.

In the South there is a tradition of historical re-enactments, with Civil War battles being a favourite, and there never being any shortage of men willing to represent Confederate soldiers. Significantly less volunteer to represent KKK members and lynch mob members. Lynch re-enactments kinda turn the tables on how comfortable the South is with venerating its racist past. Everywhere you go there are Confederate flag merchandise, statues of Confederate soldiers, streets named after slave owners, and if you challenge any of it, you will be decried for trying to take away their history. But at the lynching re-enactments, tumbleweed.

The re-enactments also serve another purpose. These are unsolved cases. Every year they go to the crime site and reconstruct the crime. Maybe it will jog someone’s memory. Maybe it will finally shame someone who has buried it all deep inside. Whoever did this in the 60s or 50s or 40s, they could still be around today. And the KKK took their kids to lynchings, they considered it fun for all the family. So those kids may now be more aware of the significance of the things they saw.

All in all, a difficult watch, because there is no happy ending. This long legacy of injustice continues, and the victims are just supposed to live with it. But for a crime which is meant to have been erased, the most important thing you can do is acknowledge it and speak up.

Pacarrete

Before the title card was even up, I had decided I loved Pacarrete, thought she was a legend, and wanted to be her.

Pacarrete is an elderly woman, who loves ballet and takes every opportunity to dance, and share her art. She is also a salty auld queen with a raspy smokers voice and barbed tongue. I absolutely loved her.

Goan yersel Pacarrete! Why should you fade into demure ignorability? Wear bright red, vibrant lipstick and live out loud. Just because you’re past the age of supposed fuckability, you shouldn’t want to be pretty, or admired, or graceful? As if you only exist in the male gaze and since it’s lost interest, you should just curl up and blow away.

Pacarette is about how, even when you are seen as having no talent and no beauty, you must insist on your own worth, and how people need art to survive.

The Translators

A twisting, turning, locked room mystery. A group of translators are locked underground to translate the final installment of a worldwide bestselling novel series in time for its simultaneous global multi-lingual release. But somehow the first few pages get released online, and the publishing agent in charge proves much more ruthless at finding the culprit than anyone expected. Starring Alex Lawther (the kid from Ghost Stories) who I did not realise was a fluent French speaker.

Dive: Rituals in Water

What a lovely way to start of your day, with Dive: Rituals in Water. It is a documentary about Snorri, an Icelandic swimming instructor. He started out teaching adults with developmental and co-ordination challenges, and then went on to open the nation’s first baby swim class.

What he learnt was just fascinating, teaching babies a few months old to dive and swim and stand up. I mean, it sounds unreal, but apparently before a baby learns to walk, they will still automatically hold their breath when underwater. The first time you see it, it is quite startling, and my first instinct is always to panic, but he really knows what he’s doing and pays such close attention to the body language of the wee ones.

Once they learnt to swim and dive, he can lift them out the water, and they will lock their knees, standing upright on his hands from the age of 4 months. It’s just extraordinary.

The swim class is also full of music, rhymes, and stories told in songs. It is a full workout for their little brains, learning rhythm, communication, interaction, co-ordination, balance and movement.

The film is really good at bringing you right down to the babies’ level and showing their little faces as they figure things out, grow in confidence in their dives, and trust their parents as they introduce them to these new things. You see each of their wee personalities shine through. Just a lovely documentary.

The Changin’ Times of Ike White

The Changin’ Times of Ike White is a documentary about the bizarre and mysterious life of Ike White.

Unlike a lot of my friends, I don’t have a thorough knowledge about obscure one-hit records from the 70s, so I’d never heard of Ike White. He was a musician, a real multi-instrumentalist prodigy that got picked up by legendary producer Jerry Goldstein, who had him tipped to be the next Jimi Hendix. Only problem though, he was in prison serving a life sentence for murder.

It very much introduces you to the character of Ike, that he managed to get a record deal, record his album The Changin Times of Ike White, get married to his producer’s secretary, and knock her up, all from behind bars. There was a lot of buzz around him, and Stevie Wonder even came to visit him in jail after hearing his music, starting talk of a possible colab.

Then at the peak of his potential, he is paroled. You would think, “Yeay!”, world’s your oyster kinda thing. He’s went into prison with nothing, and came out with a wife, kids, and career. Happy story, right?

Wrong. He abandons his family and disappears. And there the story of Ike White tails off . . . until the documentary makers find him in 2014.

I would put solid money on this film being snapped up by Netflix for their expanding What The Fuck documentaries section. However strange it seems, it gets stranger.

He’s now living under another name, one of many, playing as a crappy lounge singer, married to a Russian mail order bride, both of them eccentric as fuck. He makes windchimes out of disco balls, and decorates the bedroom in a neon seascape. The whole house is the most gorgeous explosion of kitsch tat, it has to be seen to be believed. And the road between that place and this . . . it’s even weirder.

An even handed look at a complex, charismatic, violent and chameleonic man.

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Suicide Tourist

The premise of this film will be familiar to anyone who has given even a passing thought to ending their own life. Like, why isn’t there an app for this?

Wouldn’t it be better if there was a service you could go to, say, “I wanna end my life”, and they handled the rest. It would be safe, you would be taken care of by medical professionals who would ensure you didn’t just injure yourself horribly, but died correctly and quickly. There would a legal service included to get all your affairs in order. All for one affordable price.

Sounds great to me. And the film does give serious time to the absence in our society of any process that prepares you for death. We live in a time of the cult of life, and even our religious institutions only prepare you for more life. The least serviced aspect of our lives is that they end.

The main character Max books into the Aurora Hotel, a luxury spa for the suicidal, which fosters peace and acceptance of the end, and helps you plan and enact your finish.

Because this is speculative fiction, of course, there has to be a dark side. And given that the film doesn’t set bodily autonomy and the right to die as the dark side, the ominous element is “How does a business act when their Unique Selling Point is that you definitely will die?”

If they sell themselves as “We are the people who will ensure you won’t chicken out, fuck it up or put it off”, then your have to have a 100% customer satisfaction rate.

A moody interesting drama with a good cast Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones) and Robert Aramayo (Elmer Wayne Henley Jr from Mindhunter).

Our Mothers

Our Mothers is a film in awe of the strength of women.

It follows the main character, a forensic anthropologist, who is responsible for identifying the dead when they are unearthed from the mass graves created under the military dictatorship and genocide in the 80s. He helps a woman retrieve the bones of her husband, while he himself searches for the body of his father, whom he never knew.

It is a one-act story, in which the ghosts of the past finally come home. It is a story that venerates the women who endured the unendurable and somehow still had the love to build a future for others. A film of quiet, underappreciated dignity.

Cook Fuck Kill

At one point in this movie, a lassie puts a frog up her vagina, and that’s the closest this film comes to making sense.

As far as I can tell, Cook Fuck Kill follows one guy, Jari, as he relives the same hellish day over and over again, in some kinda purgatory. And purgatory is what he deserves as he’s a wife-beating, child-abusing, misogynistic, self-pitying asshole.

He’s in good company as everyone else in the film is a fucked-up mess too. It kinda leaves you with no one to root for.

Body of Water

Tonight on a very special episode of Body of Water . . .

Body of Water is a film about a woman leaving recovery for anorexia and trying to re-establish her relationships with her mother and daughter. She does this by ignoring all her daughter’s boundaries and trying resume the relationship on her terms and on her timetable, which unsurprisingly doesn’t work well as a plan. Her mother is initially more receptive but becomes gradually more frustrated when she sees signs of backsliding.

My problem with Body of Water is, despite its commendable attempt, it is ham-fisted, obvious, and lacks emotional reality. The dialogue verges on cringy, being very on-the-nose. The characters seems like sacks into which issues are stuffed so we can hit on as many at once – drug use, sexting, self-harm. It comes off as clumsy and reduces the characters to two-dimensional puppets for the director to speak through.

What I will say in its favour though, is the main actress does a great job at showing her uncomfortable imprisonment inside her own body.

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