United Kingdom, 1982, 95 min, Dir. Alan Parker
Pink Floyd: The Wall dives headfirst into the self-destructive malaise of being an internationally clamored after rock star—the groupies, the booze and drugs, the godawful arena shows, the unresolved childhood grief, asshole managers, fascistic fanbases, the MEANING OF IT ALL. Centered around rock star Pink (Bob Geldof) and using the music of Pink Floyd, the rock opera follows its central character as he builds a symbolic wall around himself, reeling from his father's death and ill effects of fame. As all operas should be, the film is high drama and folds in trippy animation, war flashbacks, gory sequences, and giants sets to tell its tale. This is a Dad Movie to a tee.
Almost as dramatic as the content of the film is the production behind its release. It was originally conceived as a live concert film interspersed with Gerald Scarfe's surreal animations and lead singer Roger Waters starring as Pink. Slowly the idea morphed into Boomtown Rats' Geldof starring in the main role, with the live performance element done away with. Alan Parker went from producer to director of the film, frequently clashing with Waters and Scarfe in what Parker called "the most miserable time I ever had making a film." That misery is the stuff of cult film legend. And though you can find rips of the film on the internet, The Wall is currently officially* unstreamable. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Japan, 2019, 58 min, Dir. Yûya Nakaizumi
You've probably stumbled on the colorful One Cut of the Dead film if you're a subscriber of the horror streaming service, Shudder. This clever zombie comedy was a breakout hit when it premiered in Japan in 2017, making box office history when it grossed 3,000 million yen on a 3 million yen budget, also earning million$ in the US. It deserved the hype, taking its "shot in one cut" premise to innovative lengths, which I won't spoil, but I will say it delightfully and ironically goes off the rails.
The film's freakish success naturally birthed spin-offs, with the principal one being One Cut of the Dead: Hollywood Edition. Released in 2019 and set in "Hollywood"—or, a Tokyo suburb trying and failing to resemble Hollywood—the spin-off closely mimics the original format. It's got the goodness of the first film (an endearing ensemble, stunts and tricks, blood and gore) with new silliness, like its Japanese cast pretending to be Americans by eating veggie burgers and wearing blonde wigs. Like its predecessor, it reveals itself to be remarkably wholesome, and it rewards its audience's patience. Initially grating, the films quickly grow on you, like a zombie virus infecting your brain, babe. CHASE BURNS
This film is available as a new Blu-Ray release from Third Window Films.
USA, 1994, 106 min, Dir. Gus Van Sant
I think I like the plot description and characters of Even the Cowgirls Get the Blues more than the actual film itself. There's Uma Thurman as Sissy Hankshaw, a woman with unusually long thumbs who models but longs to spend her days hitchhiking. And John Hurt as her gay agent and beauty mogul, The Countess, who is obsessed with Sissy's thumbs and tries to keep her in the modeling business. He sends her to the Rubber Rose Ranch, a “beauty ranch” stuffed with cowgirls, where she's meant to shoot a commercial against a backdrop of whooping cranes. Shit starts to go left when ranch hands violently take over the ranch, and Sissy has a brief love affair with their wiley, feminist cowgirl leader Bonanza Jellybean (Rain Phoenix). Sounds hot right?
But like a pesky sauce, the ingredients of this film frequently break from each other, creating a dissatisfying viewing experience, or what Roger Ebert at the time called "an exercise in nothingness." Not even a brief cameo from Keanu Reeves (and, according to urban myth, an even briefer River Phoenix cameo) can push this Gus Van Sant film into the territory of good-bad, which is disappointing in the least. However there are two bright spots in the movie: one, the flirty and charming performance from Phoenix as Bonanza Jellybean. And, two, the film's warm and familiar narration from Tom Robbins, who wrote the novel the film is based on. JASMYNE KEIMIG
US, 1993, 60-90 min episodes, Created by Bruce Wagner
The good news is there are no spoilers in this blurb.
The bad news is there are no spoilers because I didn't finish watching this five-plus-hour-long mini-series. Sometimes you don't need to watch the entire over-two-decade-old-ass five-plus-hour-long mini-series to have an opinion on the over-two-decade-old-ass five-plus-hour-long mini-series. My justification for aborting this ship is, I have to confess, that I've decided to terminate my relationship with David Lynch and the world of Lynchian things. After falling asleep to Twin Peaks about a dozen times, and attempting to enjoy everything from Wild at Heart to Inland Empire, I've come to understand that this relationship isn't working out for me. It's too shrill, or trippy, or straight, or meandering. I'm not sure. Maybe I need to take myself more seriously or attempt transcontinental meditation or whatever. But this unique brand of dreamlike insanity is a boot for me.
And! I know I'm wrong! With this opinion! I'm not here to yuck anyone's yum! This is why I'm still recommending Wild Palms, an early '90s mini-series that is not from David Lynch but is absolutely Lynchian. The ABC series, created and produced by Bruce Wagner, starring actors like Jim Belushi and Kim Cattrall, shares clear similarities to Lynch, with bizarre interludes and soft '90s fever dreams. I've run out of words in this blurb, so I'll just direct you to the trailer. It tells you what you need to know. CHASE BURNS
*Unstreamable means we couldn't find it on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or any of the other 300+ streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn't find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. Yes, we know you can find many things online illegally, but we don't consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.