Friday, November 6, 2015

Spectre (2015)

Meditative, brooding, imperfect, also remarkable, the new James Bond adventure Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes, marks the third time the series has reached the status of a breathing, ambiguous work of art. The last two heights, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and 2012’s pop dream Skyfall, combined the sleekness of franchise cool—cars, world travelling, sexual indulgence, action—with human personality and resonant entanglements.

They created a utopia of franchise tropes and thematic richness, culminating in the fusion of past and present in Skyfall’s masterful climax at Bond’s childhood manor. Quoting the unlikely sources Les Vampires and Under The Volcano (book and film) Spectre didn’t leave me walking on a cloud like Skyfall but it isn’t trying to be the previous movie. The Bond films have turned Mendes, previously a middlebrow hack, into a possibly great director. He interrogates and celebrates Bond in equal measure. If not the most notable instance of an auteur doing new, creative things with a recognizable icon since Godard took up Lemy Caution, Mendes’ extraordinary 007 films offer mainstream lift and an autodidact’s hermetic concerns.

Start with Under The Volcano. Spectre begins with a ravishing vista of Mexico City on the Day Of The Dead, the enormous skeleton parade float recalling the opening credits of John Huston’s adaptation of the Malcolm Lowry novel. In an illusion of sustained tracking the camera cranes down to find Bond wearing a skull mask and walking towards another dalliance with a woman. Like Lowry’s Consul (and Albert Finney’s definitive drunkard walking dead performance in Huston’s film) Bond is a man living in extremes and always threatening to die. He also admits to drinking “too much.”  Recalling Timothy Dalton’s actorly professionalism, Craig is never likable, always fascinating. Who is this guy? When Spectre’s oneiric story unfolds and we find that a shadowy villain (Christoph Waltz) has been the cause of all of Craig’s Bond’s losses and heartache over the previous three installments—“I’m the author of all your pain” being a line so genius Sorkin could never think it up—Craig’s, and the series’, continuity reveals itself to be one Rivette-length epic. Spectre begins by aligning Bond with one of the great characters of British literature and then goes further, enmeshing him into a secret society that recalls Feuillade’s cloak and dagger trickery and, by extension, Rivette’s. The action scenes are good and serviceable in the Mendes Bonds—Spectre includes a dazzling train fight and boat/helicopter showdown climax—but the cultural recalls and sheer invigorating pulse given to the material makes these recent movies singular classics.      

Since rebooting the series with 2006’s Casino Royale, the Craig Bonds have reimagined villains, plotlines, images and characters from the Broccoli series in ways that make Bond contemporary and mythic. 2009’s Quantum Of Solace was a largely failed attempt to make Bond Bourne yet it contained the forever-haunting image of a nude female conquest covered in oil, a response to the classic lover’s death in Goldfinger and a prescient reminder of where Bond stood in today’s uncertain quagmire of terrorism and politics.

Quantum was made by a director, Marc Forster, who possessed neither movie sense nor a love for Bond. Mendes has both. Beloved characters like M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Wishaw) and Moneypenny  (Naomie Harris) are given showier roles and become integral to the narrative melee. The Bond Girls (Lèa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci) are fleshed out women yet still filmed with sexy radiance (a shot of Bond introducing himself to Bellucci while in front of a mirror questions the series’ history of objectification). Traditional Bond scenes like the car chase, the pursuits by the henchman, the aquiring of gadgets and journey to the villain’s lair are shot with high cinematic standards, true pop immersion and love. Yet Mendes and his writers (among them John Logan, author of the classic screenplays Any Given Sunday and The Aviator) don’t forget that Bond is, like Geoffrey Firmin, a man living with death and loneliness. Spectre is airier and more deliberate than past Bonds; an almost funeral essence hangs about its edges. It might be the art film of the year. 

Though the final scenes aren’t as inspired as perhaps they should be, and the showdown with Waltz’s major character lacks catharsis, Spectre brings Craig’s Bond story to a rousing conclusion. His movies as the character click together like no other Bond actor’s. So what if, as early reviews have charged, it doesn’t “Make sense”? Neither does Feuillade, most Hitchcock, most De Palma, most movies. Neither does Under The Volcano. The aestheic rush: Now that’s a neat trick. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Love (2015)

“You’re a dead fuck,” someone told Crispin Glover in a certain movie years ago, and that’s the perfect way to respond to Gaspar Noè’s new erotic 3D drama Love. Turgid and aimless, dire in its lack of the director’s previous invention, danger, passion and elastically restless camera, Love does nothing for sex on film besides make it boring—I almost walked out and nearly fell asleep about a half dozen times—while the only kind of sex it really emphasizes is masturbation, namely of the directorial kind (Characters name their baby “Gaspar” for Chrissakes!)

For two hours and fifteen minutes we’re stuck with Murphy (Karl Clusman) and Electra (Aomi Muyock) a couple in Paris redefining solipsism through nakedness. Their bedroom trysts are athletic and dually beneficial, as we see in the opening shot: a long, unbroken take of mutual masturbation that’s as explicit as it is compositionally flat. There’s been much hubbub about the lack of talent shown by the amateur actors here, but I thought Clusman and Muyock's improvisational line readings possessed a refreshing rawness. (Murphy’s late film lament of “I’m lost” has a lack of studied cadence and is thus not mannered.) The blame for Love’s failure rests soley on Noè’s shoulders.

Provocateurs can be artists too (look at Fassbinder, Harmony Korine, John Waters) and Noè has been an artist in the past. I even tolerated the weak acting and excessive naval gazing in his previous feature Enter The Void because of the sheer lush beauty of the Tokyo nightscapes and Noè’s extraordinary utilization of camera movement. Here everything is constricted when it should be most liberating.

Murphy and Electra are that classic variant of hot young couple: artists who don’t make art, primarily because they’re busy with each other and with having a life (I live in a college town so I meet their horrific kind most every day). Their repartee consists of Kubrick references (Murphy calls 2001 the greatest movie ever made, classic film school blather for the world’s most overrated director), epic clashes and hermetic boasts. Noè’s widescreen tracking shots attempt a trance-like immersion but the superficiality of Murphy and Elektra’s characters deaden the screen. Also, Noè’s grasp of English (this is his first feature in the language) recalls the awkwardness of Ingmar Bergman’s obscure Elliot Gould-starring The Touch. “I shouldn’t have taken that shit,” Murphy declares in ponderous voice-over, while later in a flashback the aspiring junkie Electra yells at him in what I assume Tommy Wiseau would think is naturalistic dialogue. After they take their underage neighbor Omi (Klara Kristin) into bed with them their already fraught relationship is further wrenched. Noè doesn’t employ traditional cuts; there’s a swift darkness between shots, which gets old fast. Rather than entering a void we get worn down by repetition. The three-way sex scene is a failed turn-on because of these aesthetic blackouts.

Unlike Godard’s game-changing use of 3D in Goodbye To Language Noè’s handling of the technology doesn’t justify the extra money for the ticket purchase. Only two shots “jump out”—a finger pointing at the audience and Murphy’s sperm careening from his erect penis—and they feel like Noè’s feeble attempt to give a bad idea some credence.

When Noè has real actors his superficial nihilism musters weight, that’s why Irreversible remains his best film. But Murphy and Electra are a long way from Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci. Despite Noè’s welcome choice to leave certain plot threads hanging, and a mildly affecting conclusion, Love is an irreversible disaster, the rectum of Noè’s art. Real sex in cinema can yield remarkable results, as in the XXXs of Radley Metzger and Kirdy Stevens, and in movies like Shortbus. Emotion and narrative become memorably fused. They can also lead to meandering non-events as in Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs (Winterbottom thankfully dropped actual sex from his ambitions which has led to recent triumphs like The Trip and this year’s woefully underrated The Face Of An Angel). Love doesn’t reveal any truth about relationships, bodies, or intimacy, and Noè said the same things more profoundly in his segment for the anthology film Destricted. Here his efforts just produce a dead fuck.  


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Our Brand Is Crisis+Burnt (2015)

Cinema polymath David Gordon Green wants to direct every kind of movie from Malickian sun flare panoramas (George Washington, All The Real Girls) to boob comedies (Your Highness and his undisputed masterpiece The Sitter) to road trip 70s throwbacks (the little-seen Prince Avalanche) to Great Actor character studies (the mighty Joe and effete Manglehorn). Now he’s doing his political satire with the George Clooney-sanctioned Our Brand Is Crisis, based on a ND (Notable Documentary) and starring Sandra Bullock, in a role originally meant for Clooney, as “Calamity” Jane Bodine, a vaunted campaign strategist brought out of semi-retirement to run the hopeful ascent of shady Bolivian pol Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) whose opposition is spearheaded by her arch-nemesis Pat (Billy Bob Thornton). The problem is…quick, count how many political satires actually work? Besides, say, The Candidate and, I don’t know, Bullworth, the list is pretty anemic, with movies like Wag The Dog and the recent The Campaign ratcheting up nothing but the smugness of their creators trying to score direct hits and emerging with thin movies and even thinner politics. Crisis works best as a drama and behind-the-scenes exposè, with Jane’s collaborators (among them Zoe Kazan, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy and Anthony Mackie) providing a rich sea of character actor idiosyncrasies. What doesn’t work are the jokes, like hijinks involving animals and dud smear commercials. This has to be the least personal film of Green’s career. He shoots Bolivia like it was anyplace (contrast this with the tactile dread Denis Villeneuve brought to the Mexico of Sicario) and even his usually rich cinematographer Tim Orr hefts up bland Sorkinlike imagery. Still, Bullock’s obsessive grandstanding isn’t a further hindrance—it recalls her underrated turn in the 2009 comedy All About Steve, which was better than her overrated Red State porno The Blind Side—and de Almeida gives a rather thankless role a degree of smarmy depth. Thornton looks like he’d rather be off playing music, and he deserves his own immersion-film like Green gave Cage and Pacino. As it is, Crisis scratches the surface, which Green refused to do in even his crudest paeans to the mainstream.


Burnt (formerly Adam Jones, formerly Chef till it sat in development for so long that Favreau took the title) is a minor film with a major performance by Bradley Cooper. As the formerly titular Adam Jones, exiled star chef who emerges from a past of drug use and fucking people over to start a restaurant in London that will hopefully net him his third Michelin Star, Cooper essentially plays an American Gordon Ramsay—indeed, Ramsay is an executive producer—and, like the notorious celebrity chef, has freakouts and one epic breakdown in the kitchen that heightens the film to must-see status. As someone who has watched hours of Ramsay I always wondered what a great actor would add to his litany of cusses and rage, and seeing Jones after a bad service chewing out his crew (including fellow American Sniper holdover Sienna Miller) makes for an explosion of personality worthy of placement besides real cinematic explosions in Zabriskie Point and The Fury. Yes, the movie begins in a way that makes it feel like it’s own sequel, and the romance and Jones’ redemption strike one as tacked on and unnecessary after screenwriter Steven Knight’s typically astute attention to the details of milieu (he also wrote Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises and last year’s great Locke). Yet Cooper’s mastery keeps Burnt compulsively watchable. The food is gorgeously filmed too. Jones wants his work to be perfect, “not ‘good,’ not ‘excellent,’: perfect” and so does Cooper. Unlike Our Brand Is Crisis this movie doesn’t feel overly fussed over and prodded. Burnt doesn’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Jem And The Holograms (2015)

I have to preface this by admitting I have absolutely no relationship to the cartoon that Jem And The Holograms is based on. Sorry. Anyway:

What freezes choreographer/directors? The likes of Kenny Ortega and Adam Shankman always make the most anonymous, joyless films—their understanding of dance never translating to the passionate demands of cinema—and now Step Up sequel guy Jon M. Chu can be added to the list with his Hasbro franchise launch Jem And The Holograms. Aside from the neon fairy tale cinematography by Alice Brooks Jem is oddly slack and dour, Pop without pop.

Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) lives with her biological sister Kimber (Kimber? Emily VanCamp lookalike Stefanie Scott) and foster sisters Shana and Aja (Aurora Perrineau and Hayley Kiyoko) all being raised by her aunt (tense-faced Molly Ringwald). After an opening montage honoring Youtubers (the endearing ones who make music and Vlog, not the cultural pit of video game commentators) we’re introduced to Jerrica and her tight-knit brood. Peeples, with her true blue eyes and huge, kissable lips, is quite likeable, but her sisters lack appeal and throughout the movie we, like the evil record executive (Juliette Lewis), want Jerrica to go solo.

She’s discovered after donning Liquid Sky makeup and calling herself Jem—based on her deceased father’s nickname for her—in a video that Kimber (Kimber??) uploads to Youtube, making her an overnight sensation. She’s soon whisked away to a series of pop-up shows in Los Angeles with a cutesy robot named Synergy that her father invented in tow. Half the movie chronicles Jem and her sister/bandmates’ rise and struggles, and half is the WTF subplot of Jem following Synergy’s clues to a maudlin dénouement that recalls this year’s mushy mystery Paper Towns.

Jem doesn’t rock as hard as the girl group classic Ladies And Gentlemen…The Fabulous Stains. It’s not in the same league. That film connected teen angst with the raw release of performing it out and Jem’s concert scenes are as spontaneous as Synergy’s beeps and programmed graphics. Jem’s songs have no lift; this music is just factory Itunes downloads. (The most memorable song in the film is Hailee Steinfeld’s transcendent masturbation anthem played as incidental music during a red carpet scene.) The best musical moment comes during an impromptu singing session under a pier that Chu thankfully milks—it’s really wonderful—but then we’re back to family sentiment between actors who don’t begin to pass as family members and Jerrica’s flirtations with Rio (What is it with this movie and names? Ryan Guzman), scion of the bigwig record company that signs Jem. 

This reads like a vicious pan, but leaving the theater I didn’t feel any remorse for having seen it, and a late film montage of Youtubers saying how Jem helped their lives is a decent if naïve fantasy of internet democratization. Peeples is agreeable and Lewis is a nasty, catty pleasure, as she usually is. It’s sobering also to see a setup for a follow-up movie when you know the film you’ve watched has bombed. (Pan was the same.) I guess Kesha will never have a chance to go after Jem. A sequel to this movie will always be just a hologram. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Steve Jobs (2015)

I can picture The Onion on Steve Jobs, a large headline reading “Steve Jobs Was A Hero” with the subhead “Was Steve Jobs An Asshole?” A glut of biopics and documentaries have offered dissenting viewpoints, but you can tell which direction Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle bend while watching their new film. As the genius behind items you’re probably using right now, Michael Fassbender plays someone who views himself as a deity if not God himself. Strutting and sniping before his Macintosh, Next and IMac computers, with a mouth as innovative as each invention he presents in the film’s framing device (three product launches, a new machine for each of Sorkin’s acts) Fassbender’s Jobs is a dense, troubled inferno of a man.

Aaron Sorkin writes dialogue the way John Dillinger shot at cops. He’s better when he doesn’t like his characters—Sorkin becomes unbearably precious and didactic when he does—and he clearly has an almost personal set of grievances for Jobs, who denied paternity of his daughter Lisa (played by three different, and talented, actresses during the course of the film), cut down, ignored and used his colleagues (including Seth Rogan as former right hand man and amiable milquetoast Steve Wozniak) and destroyed seemingly every relationship he had save the one with his chief excecutive Joanna Hoffman, played by the usually sturdy Kate Winslet with an oscillating Polish accent.

Sorkin’s script for The Social Network is a masterclass in construction, but the movie was great because David Fincher’s visual expertise sanded over Sorkin’s television thinking and added weight to his words that made them cinematic. Danny Boyle, a hackish director who long buried his promise under cottage cheese aesthetics and pedantic noodling, infuses the screenplay with effects like subliminal inserts, melodramatic music queues and an adherence to Sorkin’s patented “walk and talk” that accomplishes nothing more than showing what Thomas Schlamme would do with Panavision.

Steve Jobs is saved—indeed, it becomes Boyle’s best movie despite his worst intentions—because of the superb acting by Fassbender, Rogan, Jeff Daniels (as Apple CEO John Sculley) and Katherine Waterston as Steve’s baby mama. Waterston has been a constant stunner ever since her breakout role as the melancholic beach bunny in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, and she’s deepened her art in Alex Ross Perry’s moody psychodrama Queen Of Earth and here, where as Chrisann she’s liable to explode in hysterics at every dickish thing Jobs says to her. 

A late film verbal battle royale between Jobs and Wozniak, played out in front of an auditorium of sycophantic underlings, is the best scene in the movie, primarily because Boyle trusts Sorkin’s searing words (“It’s not a binary. You can be caring and gifted at the same time,” Woz tells Jobs) and doesn’t try to sabotage them with his “look ma, I’m directing” sensibility. Daniels, settling phlegmatically into his current career typecasting as the tired-eyed businessman (it’s basically the same role he had in The Martian) displays resigned sadness at having to balance one man’s erratic high functionality with the bottom line. Rogan taps into the searching vulnerability of his more dramatically inclined performances, and the great character actor Michael Stuhlbarg issues a cutting putdown that you know will stay with Jobs forever.  

“I’m poorly built,” Jobs tells one of Lisa’s iterations, though he doesn’t believe it himself, at least that’s how Fassbender, one of our finest, plays the moment. He’s above Sorkin’s dramatically uncomplicated mythologizing of real people. The genius/asshole but-who-ultimately-betters-the-world theme was developed with higher art in The Social Network; this feels like spare parts. As a movie it’s poorly built. But Fassbender, man. His commitment unblinking, his Bob Dylan worship lustily specious, his transformation in dress and personality in the journey from the dressing room to the stage efficiently calculated to project another person to his literal worshippers, all these elements coalesce into one of the year’s top acting achievements.

Steve Jobs is stirring but superficial, and undercuts itself by including flashbacks which offset the sweaty real-time feeling of the backstage squabbles. Left to his own devices Boyle is pathetic at worst, and his transitions and tryouts—breaking the “reel” (an effect stolen from Monte Hellmann’s Two Lane Blacktop) and projecting images onto walls as Steve speaks to their importance in his vision—remind us of effort, and we can see him sweat. We can hear Sorkin sweat too, making everything punchy and a tour de force. (He compared himself to Chayefsky at the Oscars, which is like Ronald McDonald judging himself superior to Gordon Ramsay.) Steve Jobs is so often excellent that the failures make one angry. It should have been TV.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Final Girls (2015)

Eli Roth made two of the best movies of the year with The Green Inferno and Knock Knock, and aside from their satirical pleasures and crackerjack filmmaking the double feature offered terror that wasn’t grounded in ghosts. My preferred horror is caused by people, not spirits, and after the box office failure of Roth’s Hostel 2 and the success of the lame Paranormal Activity the scales have unfortunately balanced in the ghosts’ favor. It’s too early to see if Roth’s great twofer will cause a renaissance, but Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls honors the reign of movies that dominated the 80s and influenced Roth.

I gulped in dread during the opening of The Final Girls. Yes, there was a tribute to the low-res company logo of Vestron Video, but Schulson stages parody footage of 80s Slasher movies, specifically the invented Camp Bloodbath. It’s all there: horny girls shouting “woo” before getting dispatched by this movie’s campfire killer Billy Murphy, along with cheeky taglines (“Kum-bay-nooooo!”) all underneath fake “Grindhouse” print scratches which look totally false against digital videography. I thought we were in the realm of Robert Rodriguez’s blind homage trips or the smug genre disgrace Cabin In The Woods.

Then the film got substantially better. Max (Taissa Farmiga from American Horror Story, younger sister of Vera) is still grieving over the loss of her mother Amanda (Malin Akerman) in a car crash three years before. See, Amanda played Nancy the fresh-faced, virginal “good girl” in Camp Bloodbath, and now a fanatic of the series, self-professed “Bathematician” Duncan (Thomas Middleditch, sublime on Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley) asks her to attend a screening of the first Bloodbath. She reluctanctly agrees to go, along with her friends (including Alia Shawkat and Nina Dobrev) but after a fire in the theater the leads escape through a hole in the screen, effectively landing inside the movie.

It’s like Last Action Hero or Pleasantville with Jason Voorhees. Every 92 minutes—the perfect length of an old Slasher—the action restarts in a loop, and Schulson finds inventive ways to enforce the logic of being lodged in a movie: if Max and her friends run away they immediately return to the action, and when Nancy delivers a monologue about Billy’s origin the room liquefies into a portal opening into the fifties. One particularly resonant image has Max looking up at the evening sky where the end credits of Camp Bloodbath run like programmed clouds.

What’s missing is the forbidden sleaze of these movies, the gratuitous nudity and piquant gore. The Final Girls is PG-13 so we’re not in the truly evil realm of Buddy Cooper’s The Mutilator, which is ingeniously vile. But this movie has other offerings. The dynamic between Max and her non-mother is moving and suggests that the relationship between movies and real life has a membrane that begs to be torn down and can even reunite the living and the dead.

It also genuinely reveres Slashers and sees their usual motley of regularly assorted characters as pop archetypes. (Comedy Central star Adam Devine is funny as the horny bro, better here than he was fist-pounding De Niro in Nancy Meyers’ The Intern.) And Farmiga gets the line—“You fucked with the wrong virgin”—that has been on the lips of every actual “Final Girl” in underground film history.

The gimmick of being transported to your favorite movie is an engaging metaphor for obsessive fandom. It isn’t as purely enjoyable as Schulson’s Harold And Kumar sequel, and has the residue of On Demand disposability, but The Final Girls is unexpectedly soulful and in the last third photographed like the American slasher giallo that never was.


This movie got me reflecting on my lifelong relationship with Slasher movies. I would have been a Billy Murphy fan. As a child I imagined the Jason series as a utopia of overflowing female nudity and cherry-red blood. Rewatching the 4th Friday The 13th chapter I was startled by the waste of human life and the time it built up characters (like Crispin Glover’s Jimbo) only to furiously end them and never mention their arcs again. The Final Girls isn’t a real Slasher but it refreshingly meditates on the off-screen history of these movies, the quotidian post-shoot lives of the actors and the magic the idea of Slashers holds for young viewers. That magic doesn’t burn as bright for me anymore (the Roth films offer more riches than mere gorehound-pleasing) but The Final Girls brought some of it back with new dimensions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Experimenter (2015)

Harold Bloom once judged John Updike as being a minor talent with a major style and I think that applies to Michael Almereyda, the director of the cerebral new biopic/character study Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story. His work is unassuming, modest in ambition and tightly edited. His fiction features include the strange vampire noir Nadja and the sleek modern day Hamlet, and he’s also produced documentaries, including 2009’s affecting mosaic Paradise, a travelogue that encompassed everything from the set of Malick’s The New World to late portraiture of Manny Farber. Paradise was my favorite Almereyda until Experimenter, a movie that goes by so quickly (a svelte 90 minutes) you may not notice just how thorny and strange it is.

This resembles Mark Rappaport’s essay films more than medical movie treatises like, say, the heinous Awakenings. Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) narrates directly to the screen while standing in front of rear-projection backgrounds and still photographs standing in for sets. Every time conventionality seems ready to pounce—mainly in the form of Milgram’s wife Sasha (Winona Ryder)—Almereyda layers on the meta.

In Rappaport’s great trio of documentary essays, Rock Hudson’s Home Movies, From The Journals Of Jean Seberg and Color Me Lavender, actors narrated the subterranean relationships in movie history while standing in front of frozen film clips and the artificially obvious. Sarsgaard acts as a Rappaportian guide, taking us step by step through his controversial social psychology tests. Twice as he’s pacing through a hallway addressing us an elephant walks behind him in one of Almereyda’s further audacious touches. What does the elephant mean? Well, what do the experiments (which I won’t go into here because you can easily Google them) reveal—about cruelty and base human nature?

No actor can be as interesting or dull as Sarsgaard, and he’s on fire as Milgram, his furrowed, piercing eyes (and later film beard that looks as fake as most of the film’s interiors) registering cold delight in what his work unveils. Your perception of his success or failure has a lot to do what how you view humanity. Was Milgram wrong in deceiving his subjects? As the experimentees we’re treated to a wealth of good actors (John Leguizamo, Anton Yelchin, Taryn Manning, Anthony Edwards) all allowed terrible epiphanies about what they’re capable of and how they approach or defy authority. The cold, barren headquarters where Milgram operates is in effect the only “real” place in the movie—houses and cars are flimsy stages because to Milgram the only location that has definition for him is the controlled academic dungeon where he is overlord and potential savior. 

I call Almereyda “minor” because his work, fine as it often is, doesn’t make great claims for itself, it doesn’t try to swallow you up. When he comes at you with a formal surprise it’s a genuine shock, like those ostensibly administered to the “learner” (Jim Gaffigan) in the experiment. Soderbergh would likely darken this material, but Almereyda keeps the spectrum breezy, clipped, pithy, like an objective report for the archives. “1984 was also the year that I died,” Milgram tells us with the throwaway casualness of an anecdote. Nothing, not even mortality, is as genuine or important to Milgram as what he gets from other people.

Winona Ryder’s career still hasn’t quite recovered from her shoplifting incident (come on, it’s just stuff!) and seeing her is always welcome even though she doesn’t leave much of an imprint on Experimenter, which is the point. Stanley Milgram isn’t one for domesticity. He briefly mentions his daughter but then digresses with “but at this part of the story she hasn’t been born yet” or words to that effect. His real children, his real marriage, is in the twitch of face and reaction brought on by those administering painful punishment, or what they think is punishment. There’s pathos in that, but the movie is too fleet-footed to dwell. Experimenter is an experiment itself, fooling us into thinking we’re watching something slight. Yet we think about it, and its volts accumulate. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Assassin (2015)

His camera doesn’t pan, it floats. His narratives leave things out for the sake of meditating on the enigmas of life and human personalities. His triumphs, which include The Puppetmaster, Three Times and Flight Of The Red Balloon are the equal of anything by Bresson, another master of soulful austerity. Only Lav Diaz’s scenes put me in as much of a trance as Hou Hsio-Hsien’s, and while Lav owns the year with his two knockouts Storm Children: Book One and From What Is Before (both tragically screened once in this country), Hou’s new film The Assassin nears that standard. Nobody besides Diaz and Godard is making better cinema right now.

Set in 9th century China, The Assassin lingers on the aura of impending violence until that violence cuts aggressively through the air. It’s the story, or rather the languorous study, of Yinniang (Shu Qi) a girl taken from her home by a nun as a child to be trained as a killer for profit. When she’s grown, Yinniang is tasked with ending the life of Tian (Chang Chen), a young nobleman. The problem is, they were childhood sweethearts before she was taken off, as he tells his bride (Zhou Yun). Yinniang lingers around his palace like a living ghost, biding her time until she decides whether she can bring herself to dispatch him or not. A description of the story may deliver more clarity than the telling of it, as Hou films and edits with elliptical grace.

The longest scene of exposition is delivered in a wide shot with a veil separating the characters from the camera; when the veil, like the past, is lifted and we see the people clearly, bludgeoned by the dread clarity of the present tense, the moment is a visual essay on the nature of time more than it is simple background filling-in.

The action scenes don’t work like they do in movies like Hero and House Of Flying Daggers—the movie isn’t about them. When conflict escalates, the confrontations are swift, harried, even a little awkward, not unlike the human impediments slowing down the action (as it naturally happens in life) in Bresson’s Lancelot Of The Lake. Blood doesn’t spray as it would in a Miike or Lady Snowblood, yet Hou’s cutting in these sequences is breathless. The sound of Yinniang’s blade hitting its target is just as visceral as a shot of the inevitable gash would be. Hou is capable of action but doesn’t indulge it in "awesome" terms, as Yimou does. He’s an artist probing for human truths and thematically limning the indifference of nature, providing the most rapturous color photography of landscape since Assayas’ Clouds Of Sils Maria.

A final meeting between the assassin and her master is framed on a hill with the sky’s debris closing in, a grand composition reminiscent of the later sections of Godard’s Contempt. Like Godard, Hou is a poet of moments: the looks between the assassin and her love as they duel, the slow motion slitting of a throat in black and white, a group walking through marshes with their cattle under the exciting din of Lim Giong‘s music. Watching this extraordinary film you wouldn’t think Hou has taken an unfortunate 7-year absence from directing; he must have been planning every inch of The Assassin the whole time.   

The acting is superbly controlled. The actors in Hou’s films always seem to collaborate with his generous camera, and like his other period efforts (The Flowers Of Shanghai, the middle portion of Three Times) the performers blend into the costumes and set design without being lost to them. Chen is especially poignant with his wide, expressive eyes and dignified facial hair. As the assassin, Qi‘s steely face never quakes into betraying the emotional divisions that are ripping her up inside. As Lady Tian, Yun plays a woman who reveals herself to have just as much mystery as her lord’s potential assassin. And as Jiaxin, Yinniang’s trainer, Fang-Yi Sheu exudes an icy sheen that lacks her protégé’s buried but existent vulnerability. Their stories are conveyed with knowledge of the wonder of faces and almost balletic movement.

What will Hou give us next? I don’t know how long we’ll have to wait for another film, but I can go a few years because his current offering is inexhaustible.   

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crimson Peak+Pan+Goosebumps (2015)

Mia Wasikowska is a beautiful chameleon. She has the star spangled eyes and cream features that’s catnip to high-end literary movie producers who make her Jane Eyre and Emma Bovary, but she soars—and seems to be having the most fun—in more perverse ventures. She was at her best (and the best thing about) David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars, and her triumph to date has been as the murderous India Stoker in the garishly entertaining movie of her name. Now she’s Edith Cushing, amateur novelist and glossy socialite in Guillermo Del Toro’s new “One-for-me” Crimson Peak. It’s unfortunate that Del Toro didn’t cast her as the evil, incestuous Lucille (Jessica Chastain), sister of Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) who courts Edith, marries her after the mysterious death of her father, and takes her to the sprawling, ruinous Allerdale (groan) Hall. Wasikowska can play evil better than Chastain, and Cronenberg and Park Chan-Wook (director of Stoker) used her with far more Bad Seed finesse. Crimson Peak is handsomely mounted but stale and rambling. It reminds one less of Mario Bava than Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (Mia’s breakout), which isn’t a good thing at all.

The film never recovers from its earliest blunders, like having the ghost of Edith’s mother come to warn her of Crimson Peak twice within the first twenty minutes, and bogging the scenery down with prim Period Piece jabber that unconvincingly streams from the mouths of the principles (including Jim Beaver as Edith’s father and a wasted Charlie Hunnam once more doing his faulty American accent). Crimson Peak is a bad period piece and an even worse horror movie. Once Edith marries Thomas she, and the audience, become stuck in the mansion where the set design and lavish color photography do most of the heavy lifting. The actors are stranded by Del Toro’s misplaced enthusiasm, and the screenplay (co-written by veteran Matthew Robbins) galumphs through tame bodice rippings and a foggy central mystery. Ironically, Del Toro’s most purely enjoyable and streamlined movie was 2013’s Pacific Rim; I liked it far more than his “personal” projects like Pan’s Labyrinth and the horrendous Hellboy series. If Rim is what he has to do to make movies like Crimson Peak he should do more of them because they bring out his true talents as a mainstream entertainer rather than as a “visionary.”

There are three kinds of Jessica Chastain movies: the good (Tree Of Life, Take Shelter), the bad (Intersteller) and the actually unwatchable (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, A Most Violent Year). Crimson Peak isn’t unwatchable—Del Toro knows how to shoot, color and frame a movie, and it’s very tempting to bathe in the delectable reds and serene snowfall dancing to the ground in the mansion’s interior—but it is definitely bad, with final scenes that are dire in their lack of imagination. I would think Del Toro would have advanced beyond the “talking killer” device. I was never a big Hammer Horror fan (I always preferred Roger Corman’s Poe movies) and at its worst Crimson Peak recalls the expository blandness of the dullest Hammers. He should have studied Bava harder to find a way to get his effects with little talk and more brevity (at 80 minutes a movie like Whip And The Body accomplishes more than Del Toro’s film does in a bloated two hour runtime).

With Crimson Peak Del Toro tarnishes what he loves and stifles the talents of a promising performer. You wouldn’t even know that Tom Hiddleston is the exciting thespian of The Deep Blue Sea, War Horse and Only Lovers Left Alive by the evidence of his simpering turn here. Not that Hiddleston can be blamed—Del Toro cares more about Doug Jones in a variety of costumes than he does his more than capable leads. In his jumble of actors and narrative Del Toro proves himself to be one of the most profoundly overrated of the Ain’t It Cool Saints. 


Pan turned out to be a very apropos title as the movie sunk like a cannon-torn pirate ship, though I like it, as I also liked director Joe Wright’s Hanna. (He should stick to trash material instead of his high-lit aspirations.) It never matches the razzmatazz invention of its early scenes, like a battle between WWII-era bombers and a flying ship that could have been thought up by Pynchon (it indeed is a combo of Gravity’s Rainbow and Against The Day) as well as a cadre of orphan miners singing Nirvana along with the evil Captain Blackbeard (appropriately hammy Hugh Jackman). Nevertheless, Rooney Mara and the John Huston (or is it Daniel Plainview?) sound-alike Gerrett Hedlund make for spirited guides through the busy remainder, and some beautifully conceived flashbacks along with Cara Delevingne as a trio of topless mermaids help make Pan a movie Pauline Kael might have also called a Bliss-out.It's also far better than the similar, and wretched, Oz: The Great And Powerful and the anachronisms better Baz's, as the movie is infinitely better than anything he's done that I've panned.


Goosebumps is wondrous. As a child I always responded to the book cover illustrations more than the actual content of R.L. Stine’s writing, which is fitting because Rob Letterman’s homage to the popular young adult horror author takes those elegantly detailed pop cartoons—abominable snowmen, talking ventriloquist dummies, evil garden gnomes—and sets them off like Gremlins when its revealed that Stein (Jack Black, in his best since Bernie)’s powerful imagination makes the monsters real and they must be contained in locked manuscripts while Stein and his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) keep a reclusive existence in a small nowhere town. This is discovered by Zach (Dylan Minnette), a normal kid suffering in silence from the death of his father and moved to Madison, Delaware by Mom (Amy Ryan, starring in the second terrific movie I’ve seen over the last two days). This is a pungent writer’s fantasy, made cinematically expressive in shots of the actual ink of the books taking tactile shape and morphing into the various beasts (reminding the marathon viewer of exposition deployed through living woodcuts and water sprites in Pan). Goosebumps is deftly wrought entertainment with exhilarated pacing and fine comedic turns by people you didn’t expect to show up (Ken Marino, Jonah from Veep), but in the treatment of Stein’s most beloved creation it levitates into the realm of moving profundity. One of the heroes doesn’t know they’re a product of Stein’s imagination, and the moment where another character realizes this comes when elegiac moonlight seeps through the invention’s body, making it glow transparently. This is gothic lyricism miles beyond Del Toro’s lax ideas, as well as one of the most poignant commentaries on the magic and cost of writing that I’ve seen in years. Letterman provides the kind of Americana romantic crush poetry that Joe Dante used to effortlessly pull off before seemingly losing all his gifts in this year’s more-abominable-than-the-snowman Burying The Ex. Rob Letterman is the new Joe Dante, and is a fulfillment of the claims Del Toro’s fans overheatedly make. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bridge Of Spies (2015)

Why Spielberg? I’ve been asked that before and I’ve wondered that before. As a graduate student in film I’ve seen great hostility expressed towards the most famous director in the history of cinema, and my enthusiasm for his work is something I’ve had to keep close to my chest in order to avoid being laughed out of academia. Yet I love Steven Spielberg’s movies and his latest, the Cold War mini-epic Bridge Of Spies, is no different.

This is a luminous cavalcade of brisk suited G-Men raiding rooms, espionage meetings in trashy motels, classrooms showing bombed out propoganda, the wilds of divided Berlin where insurance lawyer Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks, playing his usual Magical White Man role) speeds around to negotiate the prisoner exchange of a captured soviet agent (Mark Rylance) with two imprisoned Americans, a crash-landed soldier and a detained academic. Spielberg’s immaculate craft and unparalleled knack for bringing out the ideas and essence of his material through shot composition, camera movement and the precise color-noir of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski is in full bloom here, though detractors will find much to detract, specifically Hanks’ shade-free characterization and Spielberg’s infusion of music after nearly an hour without it. Hey, I always liked Capra Corn, and Spielberg Corn is always brocaded with a tough-minded view of the world’s foibles and ironies.

What Hanks lacks in complexity Rylance fulfills in a quietly stunning performance as the dual spy and austere amateur painter Abel. During a tour de force opening, silent save for the horn honks and outside bustle of 50s Brooklyn, Abel is seen working diligently on a self-portrait, walking to the subway—hey, is that someone following him?—and picking up a dispatch in the park. By the time he utters his first line, “Visitors?”, at arresting officers, the question Why Spielberg has already been answered. Despite the hatred thrown his way by virtually the entire country, Donovan defends him and Spielberg consequently does too. “The human part, the only part worth knowing,” were the sign-off words for the great HBO series Oz and that dictum is the philosophy for both director and lead character. 

Abel is a spy for the other side, but he’s also a human being, and as in his problematic, lesser Abraham Lincoln movie Spielberg leapfrogs over history’s wrong side. Bridge Of Spies has the entertaining levity Spielberg denied himself in Lincoln, a failing because Spielberg works best when he allows himself humor (excepting A.I., his grand tragedy of pornographic aesthetics). Bridge includes the kind of solemn talky sequences that were perhaps too much employed in Lincoln—though Spielberg certainly makes talk cinematic, as Preminger did—but, as opposed to Lincoln, these moments are alleviated by glint and crackle, such as Jim’s almost screwball quest to find a man named Vogel while coming up short with German mothers almost Fassbinderish in their puff and heft. 

The screenplay, unlikely co-written by the Coen Brothers, stomps out any of their natural comedic flair like it was bugs in the carpet. I suspect the Coens did this themselves, working like a record producer to bring out the best that Spielberg is capable of. When, at the final swap on the titular snow swallowed bridge, Abel tells Jim that “This is your gift” and then repeats it, it’s the Coens using sentiment they would boot from their own films but in the Spielberg context it works as well as E.T.’s profoundly mundane advice to Drew Barrymore to “be good.”

E.T. is a good place to start when connecting Bridge Of Spies to the rest of the Spielberg canon. It is also the story of sending a marooned alien home, and though Spielberg would probably group this in with his capital-H History films (Amistad, Schindler’s List, Lincoln) it is an adventure story, a cloak and dagger Indiana Jones fable. Light and dark duel as they did in Spielberg’s “childish” entertainment (which is paradoxically his most mature work); the complex visual palette—dismissed as “mournful” by Armond White, who strangely accepted the oppressive drainage in Minority Report—makes color into a character, from the warm interiors of Jim’s home life and skeptical spouse (Amy Ryan, used in a way that’s progressively subtle) to the washed out Quintet winterscape of Berlin (which Donovan enters like Indy entered the Temple Of Doom) and the blue hued a.m. diners and bellicose top secret military hangers in between. 

He stages a plane crash that, while powerful, includes a brilliant visual joke that’s so gimcrack you might miss it. He is still playing with form and possibilities: a masterstroke of a cut takes us from the courtroom where an utterance of “all rise” sparks a swift transition to children in a classroom giving the pledge of allegiance. It’s the most purely audacious cinematic moment since Godard’s divided split screen in Goodbye To Language 3D. A dissolve between two faces vital to the narrative is held so the faces stare at us, and on a big screen and in the thrust of the story to follow that dual-headed composition issues a pictorial essay on fate that only movies can pull off.

A secret thread of the picture is the treatment, or rather non-treatment, of women. Secretaries close doors for big secret male meetings and the most resonant shot of a female is when we view one of Abel’s paintings as he’s led out of a cell, though Ryan’s wife seems to fight against the tide of the era, especially when she asserts herself, agreeing with a colleague’s warning of the “cost” of what to Donovan has become a mission. Spielberg is shy of women but he is also critical of the “man’s world” that leads to frightened children and forced suicidal practices. I’d rather a director be shy and smart in regards to women than moralizing about how they have to “clean themselves up” (it’s hard to domesticate Amy Schumer, but Apatow managed).

While Spielberg’s best handling of this kind of heightened airport novel was in the mighty Munich, he achieves a more affecting conclusion than that film. On the subway after having success in the Berlin trade-off, Donovan looks out the window to see kids jumping over a fence, instantly causing him to remember the murdered Germans trying to climb the dividing cement wall during his sojourn there. Spielberg holds on a shot of Hanks staring dumbfounded out the window, recalling the framing device of De Palma’s Casualties Of War where, also on a train, Michael J. Fox saw a vision that brought the dread and terror of overseas malfeasance to our “safe” shores. Bridge Of Spies is rich and wise, the work of a director gracefully entering his “Old Master” years. Like Abel’s work, it is a self-portrait of its creator and his engagement with history, humanity and his own elevated art.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Forbidden Room (2015)

The Forbidden Room reminds me more of John Ashbery’s poetry than it does other movies. 

Co-directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, this relentless cine freefall actually has a co-writer credit for the 88 year-old poet, who is cited for penning the bookending PSA spoof “How To Take A Bath.” Ashbery’s poems never end where they start and poetry critic Helen Vendler once wrote about his “eel-like darting.” Maddin and Johnson are eel-like darters throughout these two-hours of digressions and narrative wormholes, coquettishly sustained even though all the gags (primarily the moustache jokes) didn’t entirely agree with me. Regardless, this Technicolor odyssey plays, like the best Ashbery reads, as the revenge memory of cast-off things, in this instance cinematic trash in forgotten movies that play at 3 in the morning and feature submarines, jungles, squid theft, motorcycle crashes, amnesia and skeleton leotard laffs. Ashbery and Maddin have been recently displaying their collage art in galleries and The Forbidden Room is a moving, bleeding extension of that work. The frame digitally fissures as the ominous and the absurd are pumped through a revolving door (or is it subconscious mansion?) where lumberjacks, flapjacks, broken bones and Udo Kier all densely dance. If this isn’t the best Maddin (I think that would probably be 2008’s My Winnipeg) it is certainly the most Maddin.

Breaking down a list of the cast would be pointless because each character (“Margot!” “The Loyal Servant!”) is introduced in silent era title cards along with the actor’s name. There are people we recognize—Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, Mathieu Amalric, Maria De Medeiros, Kim Morgan—and many we don’t, and as a pileup of idiosyncratic facial expressions this film rivals German’s companion carnival masterpiece Hard To Be A God (though Maddin’s canvas is far less monochromatically gruesome). Mostly, though, this is a director’s movie, or director-as-poet’s. “Pucker your ankles” a poem in Ashbery’s new collection Breezeway begins. But before we have balance, before we can say “who’s ankles?” he’s on the next thing, just as Maddin pitches an amnesiac woman (“Margot!”) into a nightclub and then interrupts matters to focus on a sweaty patron (Kier, in one of many roles) obsessed with the female posterior and getting brain sugary (“A little off the top”) to cure himself. 

After the disappointing Keyhole, where Maddin’s invention veered into self-parody, The Forbidden Room offers a rejuvenated artist. I think it took his collaborations with Ashbery to help Maddin let loose. Keyhole was hampered by a reliance on a single narrative while The Forbidden Room keeps blossoming and not only avoids being repetitive or numbing but, again like Ashbery’s poetry, makes us question our relationship to linearity and timeline in the art we absorb.

If movies are all A B and C this one is all A’s and C’s; indeed towards the end one of Maddin’s travelers finds a tome called “The Book Of Climaxes,” and as he reads it we’re treated to a blistering montage of end-of-film kisses and hot air balloon collisions. Like a knowing young woman at a school dance, The Forbidden Room avoids being pinned down—that eel-like darting again—but if it “means” anything this insanity is a benign challenge to our preconceived process of watching a movie. David Lynch did the Russian Doll conceit with more emotional heft in the metropolis of Inland Empire but Maddin isn’t after audience commitment or catharsis. Stuff just happens: a blind mother receives answers from her son via phonograph recordings, endless expository text flies on the screen, advancing nothing, slashes of Maddin’s oeuvre make themselves known (there’s the towering mother figures of Brand Upon The Brain!, the balletic genre deconstruction of Dracula, the period anti-detail of Archangel, the identity politics of My Winnipeg, thankfully not much of Keyhole) and Ashbery’s influence reigns supreme.

Like Godard’s most recent film, The Forbidden Room is a labyrinthine roadrunner. Call it Goodbye To Storytelling—hello to new possibilities, new rooms. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

New Poems


In the winter alley’s crystal darkness I wept
Listening to a song about American drug death,
My reserves uncoiling.

I backed myself against brick
While she played billiards in extreme unknowing.
The night pooled onward, this
Christian dimness ripe with unusual eviscerations.
I wish I knew her better. 

Oh for a local Noc list, open the door. She can’t
Compare to what I had found installed in her room
When she wasn’t there.
And furthermore.
And I staggered into an engagement with Cinema
Wanting to share what I had discovered with her.

She touched me appropriately on the arm and
Tried convincing me that all would be psychologically
What was the secret of sunlight? We
Wouldn’t know in the back what we hoped to
Conquer. I returned to the bar/arcade. And
My face had been concealed by tribes of snow.
She wrote too, but not as much. Did she like living?

We blasted away at the previous together while I
Made payments to forgetting. Tim had a talk with
His woman that she’d heard thanks to me. She listened.
I asked her to listen. And listening she heard the aura.

Communicating through typed words found she
Couldn’t be accessed in that way.
Bastards buried in the unofficial snow. She was passed around
And hugged. She drank with us and obliterated feeling.

With her I became pictures. And we bunched ourselves
Together as friends if friends we were. She laughed mid-wave,
Her colorfully stocking’d thigh pushed out like euphoria’s island.
Would reading the same things she’d read broach a kind of
Alternative kiss, sidelining what she’d told me with friendly fire?    
I would never find out. Oh I must have been solved.

Happiness pulped
To a time-honored standstill. And we spoke more, and had shared
Interests though we could never be together, yet that was not
The reason I left. It would be maybe, in our future. Consequences
Dribbled and draped over the her she was becoming for me. Out of
The blue then, I walked up alongside her. And I elected to speak.  



Wet flesh,
A fire on your privacy
Kicked up one shiv
And globes were fallen and sucked.

Evil music bathed us
On top of you where I had moved.
The you I needed wanted me back
But you were the wrong you. So I
Moved to Abilene.

Grab them there, and collect.


Ample Problems

I am a film critic.
You didn’t know there were
Different ways of approaching
The art. We together make
Your experience brighter.
We hate each other and I stand alone.

So many films, how can they be
Reviewed in a timely manner befitting
Their heedless rush out the door? I love
The bad ones. They need me and I
Don’t know what to do with them except
Praise their dented incongruities.
I chase you at the movies.

Walking down 2nd Avenue I brushed
Sandpaper out of my eyes and stood
In truth at the corner of Store and Store. There
Were no interlopers at the spots where I tried to think
And while I didn’t know a soul I
Made it easier for myself to stroll after idle gardens.
When it becomes clear I’ll know. We checked with them.
Certainly the ottoman was becoming unstitched, and yet—
Yet—I forewarned you about stalling. It was a bad note.

We the jury find the defendant sexy.
And we thought there was a possible
Exposure in that. What I found were more movies than you would
There were in the bucket. Tons. And I took them,
Absorbed, into my neon chest. Where they thrive to this day.  

There at the bottom
Lurks a problem even Griffith
Couldn’t solve with his awe
And power.


Supreme St.

If I could stop writing about this person
I’d make the effort. Lord knows they would appreciate
It. And my only reader wouldn’t mind. But alas
I opened my freezer yesterday to find an entire boy
Waiting to be dusted off and presented, he blinked
And the plan was to set him free when The Group felt like bending.

Could be a glen of sentences, all covering Pop Music. You
Really must try them. The fashionably overheard were right
There like a jar of pickles splintered and not presentable. You
Couldn’t just let it breathe could you, well I can, and did.
He kept writing to me asking about her health, and I lied
To him, yes, but only to protect a love I thought was prominent
But turned out to be counterfeit moonbeams.

So much of my life is oneiric and tinted.  
Oh Jonesy, did you survive? I can’t hold in rubber blood forever.

One day this will all be annotated, and you’ll understand.
However on the carriage ride it was his idea to kiss. And with
The train I thought about getting off two stops before my
Obvious departure space. Wouldn’t that be winsome. A
Saga of warmth eluded me, which is exactly why the confession
Lacked merit. There’s this problem I have now where I can’t do
The assigned readings but I can read all the rest of the sun’s
Offerings. Shoot me. Render it complete in its mystery.

Can you untangle her tingle? I stole that. Forgiveness is an
Entity this nation cannot get back, except though extradition. While
Her gams were perfect, there was something inappropriate about her Refusal to share them with the named monsters of the deep. Surrendering a grain of babble was out of the question. Stop. I could
Find a corrective. I wanted to press myself against you but instead Located your college boyfriend and tortured your favorite joke out of Him. I was in Paris when I unexpectedly dropped the ransom, which
Was 500 milligrams of shredded come. Keep following me if you like.

I got a text from her saying she was hyper busy
And even her closest
Friends didn’t know where she was, it was final, I wasn’t in the
Mood to respond but still I did because I’m like that, a “nice” guy,
Though really this didn’t take, she was out of control but free, too, and
Enthusiasms coalesced and swallowed logic, which painted reanimated
Flowers like they were Emmanuel. Everyone made pictures in 2005. His Poetry
Was late to the party though.

Took me fifty plays to see the song’s beauty, and agog I tried
To sleep in but breakfast beckoned and I ate wishing I was eating
With the creator of Blue Afternoon but I was a couple decades too late.
In America, the city remained unpublished. We have a funny Relationship, the girl and I, she explores and I can’t shut up. Understanding is important in alliances, sure, but what if obsession
Trumps blindness? What it means is I’m in love with a delusion. Of Course. I think really the problem was she had three first names, and
That was why she fucked him and left him for one of those Silicon
Valley poindexters and he only stopped coming to me about the trauma one year 

I should buy a house by the river. Worked for him. We could use Telescopes to watch each other sleep there, and while beauty fades
The auditorium still separates us by years and I had been blocked
Yet thankfully it was reversed. The other one guessed at a porn site
And I’m lucky I escaped with my balls. That family was weird.
While on Supreme Street it was required by law that you walked around
On stilts. Never could get accustomed. Damn things were bait for cats. On the other hand she wore black masks that should have been mistaken for a death aesthetic. I swear she looked like a phantom right out of a Feuillade serial. We have
To have sex like yesterday.