Is this topic really of any interest? It is to me. Or at least it’s just funny to me. This is more about the weirdness behind being a movie fan, when you find you have dug yourself deep enough.
So, people who visit me at my home know that I love movies. It is kind of hard to avoid this (not that I really want to), as most of the wall space in my pretty large living-room is covered by movies. I have 46 Bennos from IKEA (I don’t think you can get them anymore), which hold 80 DVDs each (or 88, if you are willing to use a little force). They are not all full, but they are getting there.
Thus, movies are a good converstation starter, and I like to explain some of them just to break their minds a little bit. Not too hard, but a little. My collection doesn’t have any specific goal outside of being nice collection of movies. I can get smirks out of people who find Mean Girls, But I’m a Cheerleader, any of the quite many Disney classic or Pixar movies, the Crank movies, or whatever they don’t expect to find here, but those are not really that interesting.
In no specific order… Let us start with…
1. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary
This is an easy one to tell about. It is by Guy Maddin, this little known, but quite prolific Canadian avant garde moviemaker. That’s something, but not nearly as interesting as the idea behind the movie: This is Dracula, but as a ballet. Yes. That’s it. I don’t think you would get what is happening, if you aren’t familiar with the story, but when you do, and I would suppose most people who would seek this out definitely do, this is just a little hidden gem of cinema (I actually like very much).
Just because it happens to be very close physically on my shelves…
2. Dr. Caligari
Not the famous movie from 1920, but an unofficial sequel from almost 70 years later. The movie is kind of fun and interesting in a weird way, but I tend to talk about this movie, because of I wasn’t able to find this anywhere, except that 366WeirdMovies had a link, which was to… let’s say an ‘adult interest’ store. The movie isn’t really that, even though you could easily mistake the beginning. The front of the DVD is also clearly from such a specialty store.
Onto something very different…
3. Jeanne Dielman or more precisely Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
This is mostly because of the recent Sight & Sound results, in which it actually, against all odds, won. I mean, I don’t think anyone could have predicted it, but at the same time, it is clearly worthy of occupying that honor alongside Bicycle Thieves, Citizen Kane and Vertigo. I have to say that this is a movie that is pretty hard to recommend, but that’s why it is an interesting topic of conversation even with people who have never seen it.
Just because it is so long. The European version is 7 hours. It is also a great movie and the length is mostly just a good excuse to talk about the content of the movie, which is about the fall of communism in Hungary and the chaos afterwards just told in the form of slow cinema.
Which leads me to the one movie on my shelf that is longer…
5. The Shoah
The version I have on my shelves is 9 hours and 10 minutes. It is mostly interviews regarding the holocaust done when many of the eyewitnesses were still alive. The production took many, many years and they have released shorter versions of this for financing purposes. There’s also hundreds of hours of extra material available on Steven Spielberg’s online archive.
6. W (and also M)
This is a movie by Anna Eriksson, who is (or was) a big musical star in Finland for a very long time, but decided to leave recording behind in favor of moviemaking. And I for one, like her movies much better than her music. The weird thing is that while her music was very mainstream, MOR music, these movies are very avant garde and clearly very personal to her. I don’t think that many people even know she has this new career, as her movies haven’t garnered a very large audience, but at the same time, I’m not sure that audience would really be appreciative of this weird and kind of extreme movie. This is also just a good example of what Finns are capable of if given the opportunity.
7. She Dies Tomorrow
This was shot before the pandemic, but is sort of a perfect pandemic movie. It is about this young woman, who believes that she is going to die the next day, as the title implies, but on top of that, she tells another person about this and she starts to think the same thing about herself as well.
8. Les Vampires
I have fondness for this movie beyond what I probably should have. The only feature film older than this in my collection is The Birth of a Nation, but that is not a fun topic, so I show people this instead. It’s around 7 hours in length, but it wasn’t originally a feature film as it was, in the style of the day, shot as a 10 episode serial, although it didn’t have cliffhangers. It’s about a gang called The Vampires, but the real main character of sorts, is Irma Vep, who has become sort of an icon, but is a complete mess as a character in the serial, as her character seems to fluctuate wildly (sometimes she is an eager participant, in some cases she has been hypnotized to take part in crime).
9. Reefer Madness or Tell Your Children
This is actually a bonus on a documentary called Midnight Movies, because it became a sensation in the 70s as one of the aforementioned midnight movies. The documentary itself covers Night of the Living Dead, Pink Flamingoes, Harder They Come, El Topo, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Eraserhead, but as a part of this counterculture movement, which included all sorts of weirdness, like this anti-cannabis movie from the 30s. You can easily find the movie on YouTube. It is just so exteme in it’s approach that it has become a joke.
10. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
This is about a Romanian teacher, who’s private sextape is leaked and she has to deal with the consequences. The movie has an interesting structure, where the first half (roughly) is just her sextape and philosophical takes on the topic of how we are all sexual beings, but can’t be open about it. The second half is almost like a trial, where our teacher has to sit in front of the rest of the faculty as well as a bunch of parents while trying to defend herself from something you shouldn’t ever have to.