Wednesday, April 28, 2010

DON'T Browse Retro Posters!

Who knew artwork could be this controlling?

"Pass the warning."

DON'T Look Now

DON'T Look in the Basement

DON'T Open the Door

DON'T Open Till Christmas

DON'T Go In the House

DON'T Go In the Woods

Certainly DON'T Go In the Woods... Alone!

DON'T Go Near the Park

DON'T Be Afraid of the Dark

DON'T Ride on Late Night Trains

DON'T Mess with My Sister

DO call social services. If these movies were a relationship, we'd be telling people we accidentally fell down the stairs or ran into a doorknob. DON'T let artwork push you around!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Virgin Viewings: Chloe (2010)

Catherine (Julianne Moore) suspects her husband (Liam Neeson) is cheating and hires the charm-talking, chameleon-like prostitute Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to get confirmation. Chloe's sordid tales escalate, breaking down Catherine's marriage while opening her up to unexpected desires.

How to stalk Julianne Moore in this modern age...

I love a tawdry thriller you turn past on Cinemax as much as the next tasteless person, so I was titillated to see Atom Egoyan's Chloe -- a pretentious cousin to the Poison Ivy franchise if there ever was one. It could very well be part of the series if it were underscored by saxophone and Chloe's name had been replaced with some kind of orchid. Amanda Seyfried's in the Drew Barrymore/Alyssa Milano/Forgotten Blonde temptress role, and Julianne Moore has the life and body she desires. The difference here is the baffling talents of someone like Julianne Moore, and an acclaimed arthouse director providing thematic weight to the plentiful tit shots.

Moore's exquisite as ever playing to her strengths of the repressed housewife and forlorn mother figure. Also true to form, she's no stranger to going topless for her art (even strictly bottomless in Short Cuts). Even when the film takes a southern route toward being a more conventional femme stalker flick in the vein of Notes on a Scandal or Single White Female, Moore fleshes out her character long before she gets her flesh out. Also typical of her career, she's awkward when thrust into the high-stakes thriller mold, but give her a sparse line of dialogue or welling of tears and it's masterfully dimensional work.

Moore's character Catherine is stifled by a lack of communication in every aspect of her life. Through the simple of act of talking, each sensuous detail offered by Chloe stirs something dormant in Catherine. Their "business transaction" becomes a strange renewal for both women, while something much darker brews beneath. For the majority of the runtime and the build up to Catherine's revelations about Chloe and her husband, it's beautifully shot, skillfully orchestrated smut with substance.

The turns aren't exactly surprising, nor is director Atom Egoyan's repetitious use of mirrors as symbols, but there's a resonance to the film's themes -- although attached to a rather uninspired finale that underhands much of the emotional restraint. The ending is lifted note for note from the more exploitative Poison Ivy -- surpassing it only in its lack of a naked and thrusting Tom Skerritt. That film likewise has the subtext to support its more sordid elements, with Ivy serving as the symbolic sexuality and mother figure lacking for its repressed main character.

Chloe, too, is the personification of Catherine's repressed desires, for better and for worse. Chloe's profession is to be whoever anyone wants her to be, and as reflected through Catherine, there's intensely untapped desire and yearning for connection. Egoyan wants us look deeper into Chloe as she looks directly into us -- another of the film's many symbolic moments of reflection.

Chloe will be written off by many as trash, given its tired outcome and faint echoes of Shannon Tweed. The elegance surrounding it though is undeniable. Meditations on the modern breakdown of communication and repressive relationships with just a smidgen of softcore. No doubt you'll turn past it on late night cable, drawn in by the flash of flesh whilst channel surfing, or bored whilst awaiting the arrival of your own hooker. Given Egoyan's artful attachment and the confusingly commercial slant, it's one of the more flawed but curious films of the year. It's one worth talking about, and one worth the reflection.

Welcome to Your New-ish Nightmare

April 30th sees the release of revamped Freddy Krueger: freshly cooked by neighborhood parents and clawing his way into your daydreams about Kellan Lutz. The trailer's tagline for A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) says, "Welcome to your new nightmare," all the while ironically stealing old scenes from the sixth sequel, Wes Craven's New Nightmare. Besides that the remake creators have expressed a desire to make Freddy dark and dastardly once more (again, do I have to prove the existence of Wes Craven's New Nightmare?), all the while Jackie Earle Haley perfects his skill at cinematically fondling Little Children. Chances are it will be 50% old, 20% new, and 30% recycled plastic. But like a horror fan glutton for the punishment he pays to endure, I'll pay to see this one as well. I'm 50% concerned genre buff, 20% asshole, and 30% struggling for things to blog about.

But there's plenty of reason for my bad dreams. Current remakes tend to forget that the villains aren't the only things that made the originals great. To credit only Freddy Krueger with Nightmare's success is to ignore its uniquely empowered Final Girl, Nancy, and Wes Craven's grimy and glossy aesthetic. Yet filmgoers have too hard a time dismissing how iconic Freddy is at this point. To quote New Nightmare, "Every kid knows about Freddy. He's like Santa Clause or King Kong." Fedoras and stripy sweaters, hand-fashioned gloves as signature as Michael Jackson's, and a distinctive comedic shtick to compliment his mass slaughter of sleepy adolescents. Before Final Destination's excessive death scene spectacles, before snarky Ghost Face was testing you with bar trivia via obscene phone calls… Freddy was once a sensational and innovative cinema serial killer.

That wicked (often wicked lame) sense of humor, that playful taunting -- Freddy took extensive pleasure in the hunt. What a difference from Michael Myers, who waited for years to make shit happen. Or backwoods hulk Jason Voorhees, who could be a bulldozer considering his lackadaisical attitude toward teen homicide. Freddy was notable in that he got into kids' heads and toyed with what made them tick -- before inevitably deciding their time was up. Wes Craven's original film is playful as well, and iconic in more ways than its razor-fisted poster boy. Think of those dank, steamy boiler rooms, teens dragged to their ceilings and decimated, or Johnny Depp's film debut as a geyser of blood. The imagery is chilling and fantastic. The special effects practical and, even when cheap, in the aid of some sort of surreal dreamscape.

Never you mind the big hair, the big wardrobe, or the presence of John Saxon. Craven's visuals are, to this day, as relevant and steeped in nightmares as they were in 1984: evocative, terrifying, and still with an undercurrent of gallows humor.

Freddy loves murdering kids THIIIIIIS much.

"No running in the hallways…"

Razor burn.

Like a little girl's jump rope chant, there's something mindlessly unnerving about this whole remake business. And even if the most nightmarish thing about the new film is its budget, we can sleep well knowing it stands very little chance of being worse than Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, or that burnt popcorn taste left in your mouth after Freddy vs. Jason. Freddy Krueger, like Santa Claus, should be depended upon to show up about once every year, even if his gifts sometimes disappoint. Tis the season for coal in your stocking or coal in the boiler room.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Who Killed Retro Posters?

Who Killed Mary what's 'er name?

Mary what's 'er name:
a woman as oft-forgotten as her murder investigation.

Who Killed Baby Azaria?

"Who is the murderer? A wild dog or the baby's mother?"

Or TV's own Hank Azaria?

The Lift

"Take the stairs, take the stairs,
for god's sake, take the stairs!!"

An elevator so evil it forces you to be physically active.

Teen Lust

The woman with the triple-X ray eyes!

Sex Through a Window

Where restraints get as kinky as restraining orders.

Last Embrace

...But their first time embracing
on the edge of a hundred foot drop.


Friends don't let friends drink their promotional artwork.


"They're men turned inside out!
And worse... they're still alive!"

Worse yet... they still feel the societal pressure
to wear pants.

Friday, April 9, 2010

UPDATED: The "How Gay Was THAT?" Guide to 'A Nightmare on Elm Street Part II: Freddy's Revenge'

UPDATED: One of the first posts to find its way onto Club Silencio was this excessive dissection of this notoriously bad sequel. One of my most popular posts I might add. Not because of content or any sort of quality in the writing, just simple softcore nudity and excessive Google searching for "jock shower." Now enjoy the discussion with more pictorial evidence! It's flamboyance made all the more flamboyant, and it comes to you in hopes that when the studio inevitably make a sequel to their upcoming remake that they try their damnedest to out-gay this original sequel. Impossible you say! And yet the possibilities for 3-D are endless.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge
might just be the gayest sequel to a non-gay horror film ever intended for teenage boys and put out by a fledgling studio. So gay it's fun to watch, so poor a sequel that it's astonishing, and filled with so many mixed messages it has an absolute bevy of "issues."

Its undercurrents about "demonic gay impulses" that threaten to break out of poor, defenseless Jesse White, aren't so much undercurrents as the thrust to the entire plot, so to speak. Is it anti or pro-gay? A case could be made for both sides. As homoerotic as many scenes play, it's also pretty clear we're meant to see Jesse's gay desires as the enemy that needs to be sent back to hell where it belongs. What a weird mutation for an established horror icon. And what a way to ensure no one legitimately respects your film.

Screenwriter David Chaskin had this to say : "Yes, there was certainly some intentional subtext but it was intended to play homophobic rather than homoerotic... Jesse is, in the end, finally able to control the monster inside him (his latent homosexuality) with the love of a good woman. Maybe they should show this film at one of those evangelical deprogramming sessions where they try to “fix” gay people into regular Americans."

Hmm... "Regular?" "Americans?" That doesn't sound too promising... Yet, I'm still confused.

So why not do an exhaustive play by play so we can analyze and dissect this gay content in the only way I know how: observation and mockery. Let's dig in!

The times associated are vague approximations, in case you wan
t to give the film a go for yourself, but they may not match up entirely.

Jesse, the pasty boy at the back of the bus, gets mocked by the catty girls who have no interest in him. Ouch! Not even in his dreams...

Cavernous openings appear beside the bus, giving way to giant phallic columns of rock that threaten to topple into hell! Metaphor or lame scare sequence?

Jesse's little sis asks, "Why can't Jesse wake up like everybody else?" upon Jesse's girlish shrieks from the bedroom.

Jesse awakens and pointedly adjusts himself in his briefs.

7:00 Hints of daddy issues? Maybe it's the drama of moving and all but... Maybe not!

8:00 Jesse gives Lisa a ride to school, just like any nice gay boy to his potential fag hag. Note that Lisa is the redhead. Why are redheads always relegated to the fag hag roles? Let's assume it's because she looks faintly like Kathy Griffin...

Jocks on the baseball field in short shorts, but it seems Jesse can't (and WON'T) play sports. (Even though his bedroom is decorated solely in sports paraphernalia, like any true closet case.) Many gay men play sports, but Jesse, he's distracted by the short shorts.

Kerry, Lisa's best girlfriend, asks if she's getting any from Jesse. Lisa gets snippy, "He's my ride to school, okay?!" Lisa, we get it. He's just not that into you.

Ron Grady, a jock clad in red short shorts, joyfully depantses Jesse on the bases, ending in a rousing and playful wrestling match.

Coach Schneider's response? "Okay dirtballs, assume the position."

Coach Schneider watches from the office as his boys do push-ups. Ron explains, "Guy gets his rocks off like this. Hangs around queer S&M joints downtown. He likes pretty boys like you."

Ron asks Jesse about Lisa, "Are you mounting her nightly or what?" Jesse gets defensive, "Look Grady, you got some problem with me?" Stop hounding him, Ron.

Schneider ends that girl talk quickly, "Okay dirtballs, hit the shower!"

12:00 Locker Room Scene 1! Shirtless boys make conversation while we get plot points.

Can you believe it? I almost forgot this was the sequel to a horror classic.

Back in class we're discussing the colon.

17:00 A snake appears around Jesse's neck and he gets another girlish shriek in during class. Metaphor or lame scare sequence?

Lisa gets out of the pool. Notice the lack of drying off, cleavage thrusting and excessive nipple shots usually in abundance in these films.

19:00 Gay Dance Sequence! Jesse pops in a cassette of an ultra gay song and snaps his fingers during the lyrics "All night long." He gyrates his hips and butt bumps his dresser while placing his toy mic in a choice area.

20:00 Uh-oh, nearly outed by Mom and Lisa! They walk in during the lyrics, "You're my kind of man." They pretend it's just Risky Business teen boy fun but know better. He's a Kate Bush superfan after all.

21:00 Lisa comes up to Jesse's bedroom and they... Wait for it... Clean Jesse's room!

Lisa finds a product called "Jock Itch." So maybe that wasn't your standard penile adjustment in the briefs earlier...

Jesse gets busy cleaning as Lisa finds a diary hidden in the closet (next to a board game called "Probe.") It belongs to Nancy from the first Nightmare film. Lisa reads an entry: "I can see Glen in his window across the way, getting ready for bed. His body is slim and smooth..." Jesse pulls up a seat. It's getting good!

25:00 Freddy Krueger, like your favorite employee at Banana Republic, appears mystically and says, "Go ahead Jesse, try it on for size." Literally he's talking about a glove, or make that a claw. The "demonic" gay side is starting to emerge from Jesse.

26:00 At the sight of Lisa and Jesse close together in the school hall, Kerry gives a winking, "Hi guys..." Lisa gives a somber, dejected, "Hi Kerry." Lisa's getting nothing. Nothing.

Kerry asks about Lisa's pool party, "Are any cute guys going to be there?" Lisa perks up, "All of them!" Jesse mentally RSVP's.

Apparently Jesse and jock Ron are running buddies. Jesse asks Ron if he remembers his dreams. Ron really opens up, "Only the wet ones!"

Of course Coach Schneider is looking on in hopes of some playful grab ass.

Locker Room Scene 2! Shirtless boys converse again. Ron says Coach Schneider "sure does got a stick up his ass today!" Jesse replies, "Schneider's always got a stick up his ass." Of course Schneider's listening in. Like he'd miss locker time!

Back at Jesse's house they have caged birds. Metaphor or setup for a lame scare sequence?

28:00 Lame scare sequence involving a metaphorical caged bird that gets free and bursts into flames.

Belligerent Dad blames Jesse for the exploding bird attack. No wonder Jesse's staying in the closet.

31:00 Gay Dream Sequence! Jesse cruises down rainy streets and winds up at a back alley gay bar called "Don's Place." It's packed with leather queens. Jesse enters, drenched, with an open shirt. Seems right at home.

Jesse orders a beer and chooses to pour it into a glass. He's THAT gay.

(Cameo: It's New Line exec. Bob Shaye as a leather daddy bartender!)

Of course Jesse's spotted by Coach Schneider, who's now clad in a leather getup with a spiked wristband. Coach Kinks has been looking forward to this.

Schneider takes Jesse by the arm and forces him to run laps on the basketball court. After working up a sweat, Schneider tells Jesse to hit the shower.

33:00 Gay Shower Scene! While Jesse's relaxing Coach Schneider's hunting down a jump rope for some old fashioned after-school bondage. He even has boy pics on his office wall, but it does say a lot more than a plaque.

Schneider is mystically pummeled by balls.

Gay Bondage Scene! Schneider is supernaturally tied with jump ropes facing the wall in the showers. Jesse looks on through the steam as towels mystically and brutally snap Coach Schneider's bare ass. Lighthearted murder if anything.

36:00 Jesse has now emerged from the steam as the demon Freddy, overcome by his impulses to take part in every gay boy's shower room fantasy. Schneider gets clawed in the back, and in a disturbing image, his nude bloodied body hangs limp against the shower wall.

Jesse is returned home by the police. An officer tells his parents, "We found him on the highway, wandering around. He was naked." Mom just wants Jesse to go to sleep, Dad suspects drugs. If they only knew!

45:00 Scared by a rat, Jesse and Lisa have their first embrace. Lisa's pretty invested, but Jesse takes her from the side and pats her on the back.

Jock Ron's persistent at the lunch table. His mouth's full, but a move's a move. He asks Jesse, "Hey, you wanna go out and get a movie or something, hang out? Maybe ease things off your mind, get a pizza or something?" Lisa's NOT invited.

Kerry arrives at the table and flirtatiously addresses Ron. Disinterested, Ron tells an off-putting anecdote about throwing his grandma down the stairs. You don't need to tell Kerry twice, she gets the hint.

A lover's quarrel... between Jesse and Ron that is. It might all be due to that damn Lisa's constant coddling, but Ron forgives and forgets and still wants to hang out. Cuteness ensues.

49:00 Jesse's at Lisa's pool party hanging solo. He doesn't even want to meet her parents. Girl can't catch a break!

Time to have... the talk. Jesse wants to leave the party, asking Lisa, "How are you going to help me? What are you going to do for me?"

Hetero kissing? Lisa says, "We'll stay up all night if we have to..." It's a lead in to a stumbled, awkward kiss. Is it Jesse's first ever? Well, he's trying his best.

52:00 Jesse's working hard! He starts going to town on Lisa's breasts, though they're thankfully veiled by Jesse's workman-like grip and a thick blouse. Lisa's loving it, but Jesse's inner demons are not. Suddenly Jesse's tongue becomes a giant icky gray mass! Jesse can't (and WON'T) go any further.

Lisa's confused and asks, "What's wrong?" Oh Lisa, you'll understand when this happens again sophomore year.

53:00 Jesse rightfully flees the hetero action to Ron's bedroom after getting worked up. Jesse requests, "I need you to let me stay here tonight." Ron's begrudging but he does sleep in a twin.

54:00 Jesse comes out! He confesses to Ron,"There's something inside of me."

55:00 Jesse's loving that open shirt look. He prefaces their night together by saying, "If anything starts to happen or I start to act weird... You've got to stop me."

57:00 Jesse doesn't have the stamina and passes out, while Ron adorably says, "Sweet dreams, pal," before turning in. No action tonight... unless you count the homo-demon Freddy tearing out of Jesse's body to quell those impulses! Maybe Freddy's the one who likes the open shirt look. You know, for ease.

Jesse's lust unleashes Freddy upon Ron, clawing him in the chest while Ron's parents overhear cries through the doorway. Jesse's gayness is now free in the form of Freddy Krueger!

1:01:00 Jesse confesses his innate desires and lack of control to Lisa, "He's inside me and he wants to take me again." Lisa's so smitten (read: oblivious) that she barely believes him, despite the blood on his hands.

1:03:00 Lisa reads from the diary again, "He is evil himself. I know that I brought him into this world..." She assures Jesse, "You can fight him... You created him, you can destroy him."

She MUST work for one of those ex-gay ministries.

1:06:00 Jesse and his demon Freddy are now interchangeable as he asks Lisa to kill him. Freddy taunts Lisa with professions of love and chooses not to harm Lisa because, well, she never triggers his sexuality. Not when there's a shirtless pool party to be had.

1:08:00 Hetero party guests get slaughtered. Not too many, or enough really, considering this is the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The only ones to really get put down are men.

Freddy/Jesse leaves the party while Lisa, spirited as she is and sure she can change him, follows after.

(What kinds of parents let their daughter leave the house after a mass slaughter?)

1:16:00 Lisa wounds and scars Freddy by saying, "I love you."

1:17:00 Freddy goes up in flames with the help of a tender kiss. Somehow Lisa's wily heterosexual ways have helped stifle those pesky gay desires.

1:18:00 Jesse sheds the demon skin and emerges a new heterosexual man.

Jesse's dreaming again about being on the bus to school. He's still a new man, snuggling close but only briefly kissing his new "love" Lisa. Then the bus speeds up, but Jesse insists it's "going too fast!"

1:22:00 The bus goes off the road and Freddy re-emerges! The gay impulses persist.

So there we have it. Jesse's faced his demons and come out as a happy heterosexual with the help of his most beloved casual interest, Lisa. But it seems he may never really conquer those "demons" of his...

So what's the consensus? Should we be offended, or credit this as a clever way to dissect internal homophobia?

I'm still confused.