Remember when we told you about some of the films we were seeing at Fantastic Fest? Well, there are more, and you should know about them.
Directed by Mikkel Nørgaard, 90 minutes, Denmark.
Starring Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen.
Acquired by Drafthouse Films, will see “”a limited theatrical release across North America alongside a variety of VOD and digital platforms in 2016, with a Blu-ray/DVD release to follow later in the year.”
In 2012’s Klown, Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam, the Danish comedians that make up Klown (sometimes Klovn), took a bachelor party canoe trip to a river-side brothel. In Klown Forever, Casper moves to L.A. and Frank comes to try to save him, from expanding healthcare costs and Adam Levine, all while driving a Nissan Cube. (Things I never get tired of ridiculing include: Nissan Cubes, Adam Levine).
Klown often gets compared to Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is fair, given its penchant for heated comedic dialogues, directed improv, and etiquette-based comedy, where the characters are named after the actors and modeled after their lives as famous comedians in Denmark. But whereas Larry David is a slightly misanthropic and extremely neurotic Everyman, the Klown boys push their fictionalized natural personas right up to the edge of sociopathy. They don’t do terrible things by accident, they make conscious choices to engage in indefensible behavior, including one scene that I’m pretty sure was rape. And they don’t make it seem like you’d have to be a terrible person to do terrible things, which would probably never fly here (with the possible exception of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).
In fact, you could play a drinking game with everything they’d never get away with in the U.S., from depicting Casper’s erect penis to the general sense that every single scene could spawn an outraged thinkpiece. A decent portion of the jokes are based on f*cking or 69-ing or “snorting pussy,” so intellectuals who find sex jokes crass probably need not apply.
The beauty of Klown for me (as an intellectual who loves crass sex jokes) is that while they include a lot of broad sex humor, they don’t rely on the outrageousness of sex. They get into outrageous situations, but the humor is much more about timing and reactions — it’s not like American Pie where the entire scene is buildup for that one sight gag of Jason Biggs pounding a pie. Even if the gag is immature (and I’m a firm believer that there is no high and low brow in comedy, anymore than there is in fetishes — it’s not the content, it’s whether it gets you off), the execution is almost always a beautifully timed mixture of dialogue that snaps and clever sight gags.
Klown doesn’t moralize its characters’ boorishness, sex criminality, or child endangerment, but it mostly allows you the option to laugh at it without endorsing it. Though, there is one scene set in South Central where the setting is the butt of the joke more than Frank and Casper. That one probably should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. In any case, I feel reasonably okay defending how much I laughed at the rest of it. Don’t quote me on that.
I’m very curious to see what the MPAA says about Drafthouse putting a movie with an erect penis in it in theaters.
Directed by Teemu Nikki, 97 minutes, Finland.
Released in February in Finland, no US release set.
Fitting that Lovemilla was playing a venue called “Fantastic Fest,” since perhaps no other film has so thoroughly incorporated the idea of “the fantastic” into everyday life. It’s a fairly simple story about a struggling young couple, bodybuilding diner owner Aimo and his indie pixie-ish girlfriend, Milla (orange hair, shaved underneath), who love each other and have good sex but sort of feel stuck in dead-end lives.
Throughout, there’s the fantastic element. Sometimes it’s literal — Milla’s alcoholic, “zombie” parents who the couple lives with are actual zombies. Milla’s friend’s baby, a “little monster,” is actually a little monster. Other times, it’s just beautifully surreal, like Milla’s superhero best friend, “Super-Gitta,” who can’t get any respect despite constantly saving the world, because she “flies like an epileptic.”
A lot of the plot hinges on Aimo spending the couple’s money on a pair of exo-arms, Robocop-like robot appendages that make him stronger than his power lifting ever could and are an obvious metaphor for his feelings of inadequacy. The robot-arm dealer is a shady guy who keeps a giant panda prisoner, incidentally. Basically, Lovemilla is a love story spiced up with Robocop and giant pandas. And not a cheesy love story either, about how love conquers all and all you need is love (it is from Finland, after all); it’s about relationship realities, where sometimes just thinking it’s not going to work is enough to keep it from ever working. Also, there’s the time travel paradox. Relationships are hard.
Lovemilla is maybe a little on the nose and cutesy at times, but using genre tropes as a way to create new ideas and actually say something about people is always my favorite approach. So often filmmakers just want to have genre play time without a goal. “It’s a love letter to the genre!” Who cares? Tell us something we don’t know.
Lovemilla tries to, and it’s mostly successful — a surreal mix of Scott Pilgrim, Michel Gondry, and Charlie Kaufman that feels homemade, unafraid to get too earnest or esoteric. Also, the Finnish language is hilarious to listen to, because everyone sounds like a chattering mongoose. Rikkitikkilitokken pujöpippitippi!
62 minutes. 1972. USA.
This one was a real treat. As part of his tour to promote his book of vintage exploitation posters, The Act of Seeing (see above, also: my interview with Refn on the subject), Nicolas Winding Refn joined Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League in presenting one of the films covered in the book, in partnership with the American Genre Film Archive, 1972’s The X-Rated Supermarket, which no one present had ever seen before, Refn and League included.
It turned out to be, for all intents and purposes, a porno. It couldn’t show penetration or erect penises (and there was one odd scene where one actor was thrusting from behind in a doggystyle position, yet you could see his flaccid penis slapping limply against the underside of the actress’s mons), but was nonetheless 95% nudity and sex, complete with grinding and grunting and thrusting, clearly designed to be screened in Times Square for people to come in, have a wank, and leave.
It opened with a theme song where the band actually sang the name of the movie and all the actors under the title card, which was so funny it played like deliberate parody. The film was, as you might expect, about a supermarket, where people f*ck. They found many sexual uses for bananas, carrots, cucumbers, and, oddly, celery.
All I could think watching it was that all that food was going to have to be thrown away, and that if it actually was thrown away, this probably would’ve been one of the most expensive pre-Mitchell Brothers pornos ever made. My guess: The filmmakers found a supermarket where they could shoot guerilla-style, where someone in the production’s buddy was a manager, and just didn’t tell anyone. So if you ate produce near Times Square in the early ’70s, there’s a fair chance someone had been screwing on it.
Classic lines included: “Are we on the moon? Because I’m staring at a crater right now!”
This was from a guy staring at the undercarriage of a lady. I’m still not sure whether he was talking about her anus or vagina. ’70s innuendo was weird.
Also, “You have nice tits. Do you shop here much?”
Afterwards, Refn and Tim League discussed the film with the audience. League asked if anyone got turned on, and expressed surprise that anyone could. I didn’t raise my hand, but in all honesty, I love ’70s porn. I don’t think women have ever been hotter than in the ’70s, and even in the midst of all the goofy sexuality and Borscht Belt humor, there’s a naturalness to it. They actors probably did it thinking maybe 100 people would ever see it, and the ’70s was imbued with the counterculture’s overinflated sense that they’d “won,” and that people’s sexual hang ups were going to go away and sex movies were going to be just as mainstream as regular movies any day now. It’s quaint, and cute, and as an added benefit, in the ’70s, it seemed like porn actresses treated penises like an old friend, not like an Israeli special forces agent encountering an ex-Nazi. Just try not to think about the actresses in it being the same age as your mom.
Alan Jones, who wrote the liner notes for Act of Seeing, even including a few anecdotes about living in New York in the ’70s and being part of “the scene.” One anecdote was about a night club called “The Toilet,” where people would go and lay down in the middle of the dance floor and get peed on. Another was called “Anvil Club,” where, according to Jones, there was a contest to see how many beer cans a person could fit up their ass. The record was 10.
Anyway, there are no trailers for The X-Rated Supermarket, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever see it, but as a fun tidbit, Nicolas Winding Refn revealed that he’d raised the $100,000 it supposedly cost to produce Act of Seeing, “the most expensive movie poster book ever made,” by directing those weird Lincoln ads with Matthew McConaughey.
I honestly thought he was joking at first. He was not.
Directed by Robert Eggers, 90 minutes, Canada/US.
US Release Date: February 26th, from A24.
The Witch is a film about a Puritan family who move to an isolated homestead in colonial Massachusetts, six years before the Salem witch trials. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a horror film that could be described as “too real” before this, but The Witch certainly fit the bill. It’s not just scary and creepy in the traditional sense, it’s like an extended nightmare.
I love period pieces and read history books for fun, and I don’t know about you, but one of the last periods I’d ever want to live in is early colonial America. Gangs of New York and Rome this ain’t. A bunch of wool-clad fanatics living in humid, malarial wilderness trying to hack a subsistence farm into an alien landscape thinking the devil was hiding in every moldy wheat stalk and that someone had to be burned alive to appease the sky wizard — fuuuuuuuuuck that times a million.
The Witch is a film that goes to borderline psychotic lengths to recreate this nightmarish period, from the itchy wool costumes to the dialogue, which is rendered entirely in the archaic English of the period (recreated through painstaking research of period sources). It works, in the sense that it feels hyperrealistic. Even the supernatural elements rely heavily on real worries of the time — runaway superstition and ergot madness. It’s legitimately disturbing, and f*cked up, not in the usual, giddy isn’t-this-f*cked-up giggly way I usually mean. (Except for the creepy goat character, I like everything with a creepy goat).
For me, The Witch is a movie I admire more than one I like, if only because it’s so unrelentingly unsettling that I can’t imagine ever watching it again. Still, I love that it exists, and that there’s a horror movie about demonic possession that’s more like a Goya painting than Paranormal Activity.
Vince Mancini is a writer and comedian living in San Francisco. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.