Director Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale” explores the prospect of a family at war, and a family that will likely always be at war. Director Baumbach has a lot to say about family and how parents can decide what kind of people we ultimately grow up to be. “The Squid and the Whale” is a weird, darkly comic and often demented look at how the eternal grudge of a man and his ex-wife will likely keep their sons at odds with then and one another for the rest of their lives. Director Baumbach contorts the dynamic of a grudging family, but also stays true to a lot of themes that find two sons on a diverging road and a dark path. Jessie Eisenberg is great here as the son of Jeff Daniels’ Bernard, an educated often pompous individual who has a keen sense of attempting to make his equals feel inferior.
“XX” is yet another horror anthology, this time featuring four horror segments directed by women, all of which revolve around concepts mostly associated with women. While “XX” garners the recurring theme of motherhood, the tales themselves are based around feminine or maternal concepts that are twisted for the genre. “The Box” is a loose allegory for anorexia, “The Birthday Party” is about status, “Don’t Fall” is kind an allegory for menstruation, while “Her Only Living Son” is about a mother’s unwillingness to let go of her son and let him realize his destiny. The four very talented female filmmakers were given complete freedom and as a result we have a pretty stellar horror film, all things considering.
Director Teemu Niukkanen’s is a dark and demented comedy about living in a place where pretty much anyone can move in next door and how we can rush to judgment too often and brush off some pretty nice people. Thought it’s only a short film, “Fucking Bunnies” could work as a hilarious and twisted feature film about the uneasy friendship between two very different men. Raimo is a middle-aged Finnish man living in the suburbs in an apartment complex in Helsinki. He’s a very settled and tightly wound man who lives his day of monotony joyfully. One day when the new neighbors move in next door, he learns that they are a cult of Satanists that indulge in orgies, and sadism.
Chris Jopp’s short horror film feels like a lost segment from “Cat’s Eye.” It’s a nice and fun horror tale about fate intervening and coming to rescue of someone who didn’t know they needed rescuing. Samantha just moved in to a new apartment in a new town and has to deal with an overbearing mother who insists in calling her every chance she gets. What worse, is that she also has to deal with a very intrusive and overly attentive landlord who insists that pets are not allowed in the building.
Despite the truly awful 2015 adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” audiences are being handed the sequel to the erotic stinker next month with “Fifty Shades Darker.” Sure to attract its hardcore following and some surefire curious audiences, rather than pumping more money in this pseudo-erotic wannabe arthouse junk, I thought I’d suggest five titles you can watch instead. These are five very erotic and entertaining films that explore the ideas of BDSM and sado-masochism, I suggest experimenting with over the watered down dreck hitting theaters in February.
“Rock & Rule” is a wonky, surreal, and entertaining animated musical that feels like Ralph Bakshi, Don Bluth, and “Heavy Metal” magazine were combined in to such a frantic cult gem. The 1983 movie has gone through years of being an underground classic, and has finally been embraced for such an ahead of its time science fiction tale. The animation for “Rock & Rule” is completely out of the box, resembling rotoscoping in many aspects, and opting for character models you don’t often find anywhere else. “Rock & Rule” is a science fiction, punk rock, steam punk tale set many years in the future after world war III wiped man off the face of the Earth. The only surviving species are cats, dogs, and rats. They have evolved in to anthropomorphic mutants, all capable of thought and speech.
The Farrelly Brothers’ “There’s Something About Mary” is a pitch black romance comedy, and it embraces its dark mood with a sense of humor that’s relentless in being ridiculous. Released during a time where Ben Stiller still had potential, and Cameron Diaz was still something of a fox, the Farrelly brothers focus less on the dream girl and the guy who lost her, and more how the dream girl manages to arouse a group of men that are dangerously obsessed with her.
It’s about time the world has caught up with “Black Christmas” and (thanks to Shout!) given it the proper treatment it’s always deserved. What is arguably one of the first slasher films ever made was always out of print and hard to find while “Halloween” was granted various editions of VHS, and DVD. While “Halloween” is a masterpiece, “Black Christmas” is far more superior. It works as a slasher film, a mystery, a dark comedy, and is genuinely spine tingling in a movie draped in Christmas ephemera. It’s surprising since the tone for “Black Christmas” is almost the same tone from his other Christmas classic “A Christmas Story.” Yet director Bob Clark really never misses a beat, offering up a very scary tale about an inexplicable maniac wreaking havoc on a small neighborhood during the holidays.