20 October 2023

Catching Up with Depeche Mode.

 A pair of Depeche Mode pieces.

1) A thinkpiece on their legacy these days.

2) A review of their 2023 show in Nashville.

At the movies: Dicks: The Musical.

 The Sewer Boys will claim us all.

At the movies: Killers of the Flower Moon.


An essential corrective to how so many stories are elided from history.

A Stop Making Sense roundtable.


I put together a bunch of people and asked them about Stop Making Sense.

At the movies: Bottoms.


Emma Seligman continues to knock them out of the park. Bottoms is the kind of weirdo High School adventure I wish we'd had back in the '90s.

At the movies: Slotherhouse.


Slotherhouse is a delight.

Pulling Punches and Claiming Space: Subsistence Queerness on The Big Screen.

 I get long and analytical about a bunch of things. Including: Barbie, Bottoms, Fast X, Haunted Masnion, Joy Ride, Kokomo City, Mission: Imposible 7, Passages, Red White And Royal Blue, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, and Theater Camp.

02 August 2023

The Mother and The Whore intro.

The latest in this occasional series of screening intros that I've been asked to publish, here's Jean Eustache's The Mother and The Whore. This one is a bit weird, because I decided to sort of wing the last minute or so (you'll find this point denoted with an *), so the text here is more clearly organized.

Fuckboys, y’all. They’ve been with us forever. There’s just no getting around how much of twentieth century culture is built on the foundation of that special kind of insecurity that leads someone both to try and sex their way through the neighborhood while at the same time clinging to someone in a death grip of promises and misguided intentions. Now, monogamy can mean a lot of things- you’re coming to see a French film at the Belcourt, so that’s already a concept that you get, at least aesthetically. But this film, The Mother And The Whore, is focused on that cornerstone of civilization about what’s good for the goose being good for the gander, oh Sheila indeed.

We’ve all known a guy like Alexandre. Perhaps not someone coping with the collapse of their ideals following the 1968 Paris riots by dabbling in misogynist sportfucking, but I bet a decent amount of you know a former liberal thinker who let their inner reactionary out after 9/11. Or someone whose social media let out their unsuspected incel tendencies. Some folk here might even be like Alexandre, though I don’t know if it’s even possible to smoke as much as this fictional character does and still be puttering around, because if you are trying to quit smoking, tonight is not going to be the night for it. But if you’re trying to quit a guy who can’t help but disrespect you because he’s stuck on a continuum between the deepest, crippling insecurity and the most stereotypical, visceral horniness, well you are in luck. Even moreso, how a guy responds to the end of this film is a gift to the world from filmmaker Jean Eustache, because it’s not quite a pulsating neon sign or anything, but it is what we call pretty damned close.

I’m glad you got to see the trailer for the new Ira Sachs film, Passages, before this, because it is a great companion pieceto this film- there are certain speed bumps that loom before any triad, regardless of the gender expression of those within it. Although funnily enough, in depicting this situation in the age of texting and eCommunication, Passages runs ninety minutes. So some doctoral student in mathematics can actually figure out how much more quickly our lives have been greased on toward oblivion by our technology.

This is a film about a lot of things, but chiefly are pleasures and pains of conversation. And that’s why I wanted to do this little address beforehand. Because the first time I saw this, in 2010, it was thanks to friend of the Belcourt/occasional Nashvillian and brilliant artist Harmony Korine, who programmed it with his then-new film Mister Lonely. And it was a pain in the ass to make happen. The French Consulate had to be involved. Agnes B had to be involved. It was a big deal. And I appreciated the film because there are few things that make the heart go zing like high contrast black and white. But when I watched it again last October at the New York Film Festival, they premiered this restoration alongside special guest Francoise LeBrun (whom we had recently watched masterfully holding court in Gaspar Noe’s Vortex), who had been unable to attend the film’s US premiere at the 1973 NYFF because she was pregnant. So it took fifty years for New York to catch up to her. And as for me, standing here on my forty-eighth birthday, it’s not so much that time caught up to me, more that it slammed full-tilt into my ankles and left me in a state of teleological confusion with great wailing and gnashing of teeth. But what struck me was the most controversial aspect of the film.

It’s never not been controversial. This film, for fifty years now has been messing with people’s minds and senses of propriety. * But what seemed most controversial about it during the screening last October was the new subtitle translation- which I found a revelation, making the film exponentially more relatable (and mordantly funny), but which seemed to piss a lot of people off. I'm not a native French speaker, but I know hardcore cinephile, and I know the ways of consumptive sadness and the way that sexual pathology can get all up in your syntax. So we'll just say that I found this restoration of the film a revelation. And I hope it provokes a response in you that helps you find some form of catharsis. 

Also, here is a picture of Francoise LeBrun at that aforementioned New York screening last year. She's the coolest.

Werckmeister Harmonies intro.


I had a request to publish the text of my intro for Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies, so here goes... Its abrupt ending is intentional, due to my weird ass trying to pay tribute to the film's thirty-nine shots by doing the intro in 3.9 sentences.

It’s a testament to the cruelty of time and the venality and susceptability of man that Werckmeister Harmonies has bridged many chasms and somehow become the most easily relatable film from Bela Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky for American audiences, not because of any sort of extensive flourish in the capacity to empathize, but rather, simply, that anyone living through the past eight years of American history just cannot simply pretend that elaborate demonstrations of the mass appeal of inarticulate fascism and chaotic demagogues are something to merely be viewed through the veil of ‘Eastern Europe,’ when there’s no aspect of this film, from the perceptive way science and art become enemies of collective mania all the way to the dependence that all of us rely on to whomever is on the inside, connected to power in enough of a capacity that we may live- merely live on the crumbs and spare change that slip from the pillaged table.

Taken from Laszlo Krasnahorkai’s The Melancholy of Resistance, in tribute to whose sentence structures I have undertaken this introduction just as I aim to pay homage to this film’s thirty-nine shots by doing this in 3.9 sentences, Werckmeister Harmonies is the fruition of a school of Hungarian cinema going back decades, but most fun to explore in the work of Miklos Jancso (The Red and The White, Private Vices Public Virtues, Red Psalm), who had been experimenting with the combination of radical political thought and extended, fluid single-take scenes since the ‘60s- with the added bonus of a bit of horny optimism and ample flesh, a form of expression that was viewed by some as decadent and by others as obsessively formalist, which let’s be real are two exceptional ways to hammer away at personal pain and national trauma and make it into something new, supple and stark.

If you saw the seven and a half hour Satantango back when we showed it on film in 200? or in its rapturously lovely restoration in 2019, then you know how Tarr and Hranitzky work, which is exquisite black-and-white photography and not rushing into foolishness, moving with deliberation and purpose and letting the viewer sit with everything that’s happening, not relying on constructivist editing or Slavko Vorkapich mind games, letting you steep in stark emotional truth and often incredible performances, sometimes dubbed into Hungarian, widely known by more diligent linguists than I to be a very difficult language for non-native speakers to master- even Tilda Swinton, who worked with Tarr and Hranitzky in 2007’s troubled The Man From London, had a Hungarian dub artist- but always reliant on the human face, in this case Lars Rudolph’s eyes, the site of human decency bearing the sight of a perpetual disappointing pain that drags humanity down like gravity, or in the cruel sparkle of Hanna Schygulla’s posture, collaborator chic she’s been refining since the Fassbinder days, and the sheer heft of ideas incarnated in teeming throngs of bodies.

To watch this film now is an illustration of how it all can happen, all too easily, a lifechanging work of art for more than two decades that has nonetheless remained constant even as the world continues to unwind on such a sudden scale, leaving us to contemplate the movements of the cosmos not to gauge our impact upon them but rather to take comfort in our inability to do so, chastened by our own limitations, reflective and wounded, deprived of even the privilege of being a cautionary tale, replaying our tragedies, bound to the knowledge that there was nothing we could have done anyway, music itself having left, suspended in silence and

Podcast Appearances!


In addition to my monthly gig as one of the cohosts of Fearless Pretender, the podcast where we take a chronological journey through the film and television work of the singular Jennifer Jason Leigh, I also had the chance to appear on chaos imp Billy Ray Brewton's new podcast Movie Mixtapes, where we riffed on the theme of History with Bite. We started with Ken Russell's 1986 masterpiece Gothic, then went from there, each contributing three other titles on a similar theme. Give it a listen, why don't you?

At the movies: Talk To Me (2022).


The exquisite terrors of Talk To Me await you. This film messed me up.

At the movies: Let's just call it Mission: Impossible 7.


Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning - Part One has a few surprises up its sleeve, namely a triumphant return for Esai Morales. 

02 July 2023

Mike Maimone's Mookie's Big Gay Mixtape and Moony's Podunk.

 I contributed to a discussion on recent musical releases that deserved some more attention. Please do explore...

At the movies: Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny.


It's disheartening how I am not picking the hits this Summer. I mean, success has nothing to do with quality. But it shakes one's certainties. I very much liked this film.

Talking The Blackening with Sheronica Hayes.


Always a delight to talk with artist/designer/theorist Sheronica Hayes about movies, and we get into it about The Blackening.

At the movies: The Flash.


Well, here's my thought on another film that the public has soundly rejected.

Werckmeister Harmonies and Trenque Lauquen.


A short piece on two longer films- both exceptional narratives that reward the viewer with untold worlds to take a soak in.

21 April 2023


 I got to write about m83 and their whole vibe.

At the movies: Renfield.

 I liked this more than most, it seems. It is chaotic as hell, and way gorier than you might expect (though cartoonish gore, not upsetting gore). But you put Nicholas Hoult in a floppy haircut, and I'm going to at least let you explain.

At the movies: Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.


You don't have to have played D&D to enjoy the new film version, but it absolutely enriches the experience. 

At the movies: Country Gold.


A new Mickey Reece film is always cause for celebration.

At the movies: The Super Mario Bros. Movie


Talkin' bout Nintendo's beloved brother plumbers.

At the movies: Pacifiction.

 Albert Serra is back with another masterpiece, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

At the movies: Enys Men.


Since I first saw this one at last fall's New York Film Festival, Enys Men (Uh-NEEZ MANE) has occupied a significant part of my subconscious. Moody and ethereal and a lot of fun.

16 March 2023

Clan of Xymox.

 I got to talk to Ronny Moorings from Clan of Xymox.

At the movies: Scream VI.

 Scream VI is a definite step back toward the right direction after its fifth installment.

At the movies: Cocaine Bear.


There is a bear. There is cocaine. There is more than you might expect.

At the movies: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.


The next Marvel one.

The Outwaters and writer/director/star Robbie Banfitch.


I got to talk to Robbie Banfitch about his new film The Outwaters, which I find fucking awesome. Your mileage may vary, but this film is something special.

At the movies: A Knock at the Cabin.


A new Shyamalan, but more importantly, a new Tremblay. 

I had very conflicted feelings about this one.

31 January 2023

At the movies: Infinity Pool.

 New Cronenberg action! Absolutely worth checking out.

The 2023 Jim Ridley Memorial Film Poll

 The 2023 Jim Ridley Memorial Film Poll is one of the biggest things I coordinate in the year, and I'm always pleased to present the results. We cover a lot of ground here, with critics, producers, exhibitors, craftspeople, performers, and interesting folks the world over contributing. 

13 January 2023

Mulholland Drive introduction.

Hey there. So, I had a bunch of people who attended my Mulholland Drive mini-lecture/introduction this past weekend ask if I could publish my remarks. So here they are. This isn't a transcription, but rather the printed-out thing I used to work from. If you dig this, let me know, and I'll start publishing more of them.


I’m ecstatic to be introducing this film as part of the Sight and Sound Top Ten series, because I love the ways that certain films don’t allow themselves to be tied to any one genre or mode of viewing. David Lynch excels in the living legend auteur and midnight movie master modes, and we’re happy to show his work in both capacities here. Side note: those of you’ve who’ve recently seen Jeanne Dielman and want to get a feel for an equally amazing but very different facet of Chantal Akerman, I urge you to start an eMail and social media campaign to show her 1986 musical Golden Eighties, because it is awesome.

2001 is a transcendent object and also a theme park ride for people having hallucinogenic experiences for over fifty years now. Please don’t watch Mulholland Drive if you are currently having a psychedelic experience, because this is a film that defines a subgenre that I like to call “Films That Make You Come To Terms With The Absolute Moral Truth Of Yourself.” Because everybody wants to see the Betty in themselves, being careful to protect the Rita that skulks around the edges. We ache for Diane even as we are volleyed between two walls, one of relating, one of recoiling. And nobody wants to acknowledge the Camila within. And the sad truth of being alive right now is that we’re all all four of them. It’s like in The Black Hole, where Dr. Reinhardt is both a visionary celestial being transcending into new worlds while also being imprisoned in the burning shell of a robot for all eternity. We are all bridging multiple modes of existence at all times. And between this and I Heart Huckabees, Naomi Watts is the finest incarnation of millennium tension, a bruised butterfly with steel and silence weaponized against this world.

Mulholland Drive is about movies and what they and the process by which they are made mean to each person who watches it, creating a hyperspecific engagement with the viewer regardless of who all is around them at any given time. Eraserhead does this, the forthcoming Skinamarink does this as well. And we watch Mulholland Drive as an experience simultaneously internal and external, Subjective and objective. This is the kind of film that makes you have to take a day off work and figure out who you are. It’s a DreamWork that uses dreams as a sieve; we are Laura Palmer and Ronette Pulaski in the audience at the Club Silencio, we are the witness to the trials of a soul like Anubis weighing hearts, and we are ourselves, becoming part of this strange excursion that understands why we’re seeking out this ritual, this shared experience of pulling together and blowing apart.

David Lynch won the Best Director award at Cannes for this magical chimera, and that is 100% the correct word to use: made as the pilot for a tv series to follow the phenomenon of Twin Peaks and the highways and byways of Hotel Room and On The Air. Made for ABC, rejected, and left to drift until dramatically (in both senses of the word) reconceived as a feature film; it is a mystery that becomes a ritual, a Hollywood phoenix unmaking itself and then rebirthing itself before our eyes. This is Lynch’s movie about movies- his Singin’ In The Rain, his , his Sunset Boulevard, and what he’s telling us is simultaneously an indictment of the entire system by which we visualize dreams and manufacture our collective memory as well as craft a terrifying film about the pull of the very land itself. Until someone makes a film of Clive Barker’s Coldheart Canyon, this is a primary source nightmare of William S. Burroughs’ old and dirty American evil, and somehow by exporting it we’ve fixed the eyes of the world on this particular place in the Western United States where dreams feed on the lives and ideals of countless naïve coulda beens. Billy Ray Cyrus has said that his time on this film brought evil into his life and set young Miley on the path to becoming Hannah Montana, so again, respect to David Lynch. To put it another way, as far as cinema as a transformative conduit goes, this is like the exact opposite of Spirit of The Beehive.

Ann Miller in this film is semiotics. Rena Riffel, in this film, is also semiotics. And because this is a Jason Shawhan intro, I’m gonna recommend Riffel’s film Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven, which Brundleflys Verhoeven’s original with much of this film, wherein you’ll see her as a disposable tragic accessory to the hitmen and lowlifes proliferating around the hanging resolution that haunts this whole endeavor. Rena Riffel is the bridge between David Lynch and Paul Verhoeven, and she must be protected.

We’re in the middle of Lynch’s psychogenic fugue trilogy here, and all you need to know about that is that Lost Highway is pure möbius strip horror, an unending cycle of human weakness and depravity, this film is about how inspiration and hope allow us to break that cycle, simultaneously triumphantly and tragically, multiple experiences in a single timespace, and Inland Empire demonstrates that the entire process can be transcended using the very building blocks of story to make the stairs we ascend to a different kind of being.

I used to say that the first time I saw this film, I didn’t get it. Early October, 2001, having returned to New York for the first time since 9/11 happened less than a month before, sitting with performance artist and social worker Jeff Baker in what’s now the Regal Union Square, sharing a 40 we’d snuck in because like I said, less than a month after 9/11 and emotions demanded such an approach, and it just didn’t click for me. Fortunately, the review I wrote, to that effect, doesn’t even exist online anymore since Gannett sent all actual local entertainment writing to go live on a farm somewhere. It is one of four reviews that I genuinely regret, but it only exists in my head anymore. Judge. Defendant. Snarky YouTube Commenter. “It’s me; I’m the problem, it’s me.” Thankfully, time helps us to evolve. And this film is more than what it was, growing moreso with each subsequent viewing.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that we are totally justified in demanding more from the movies we experience than what we are usually offered. But here’s the wide awake truth: the reason why the films in this Sight and Sound Top Ten series, and especially why David Lynch’s films resonate in the minds who live, breathe, and think cinema, is because these films are big, complex meals that nurture the weird parts of the brain and toss some pop rocks into the electrified goo we call consciousness. The rest is Silencio. And that means turn your phones off or Billy Ray Cyrus will punch you in the face. Thank you for coming, and enjoy the show.

Hey there y'all- something to remember.

 This is the Primal Stream archive, which I've been adding to since May 2020. There's all sorts of weirdness herein, definitely worth a look-see.

At the movies: Skinamarink.



An Interview with Roxanne Benjamin!


It's always a treat to talk to Roxanne Benjamin.

At the movies: M3gan.

 M3gan likes to party.

2022 Best ofs: Films!

 The Best of 2022 in films.

2022 Best Ofs: Physical Media.

 The Very Best of Physical Media for 2022.

Some thoughts on Avatar: The Way of Water.

 I got real in-depth about the 3D (good) and HFR (bad) of the new Jim Cameron joint.


At the movies: All The Beauty And The Bloodshed.


One of the best things I've seen all year.

At the movies: Violent Night and Christmas Bloody Christmas.

David Harbour showing the groceries versus actual Murderbot Santa.

At the movies: Strange World.

 Disney's doing something interesting, and the general public couldn't care less, which is very sad.

Also, Jaboukie Young-White is the queer hero of a Disney movie, and that's awesome.

At the movies: Glass Onion - A Knives Out Mystery


Knives Out 2, A Cruel and Unjust World 0.

At the movies: Bones And All


YA cannibal artistry from Luca Gudagnino. And good news, he's putting together his own repertory crew. Like the Compass Point All Stars, but for art cinema.

A discussion about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

 I was able to have an in-depth discussion about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with my friend and colleague Sheronica Hayes.

Festival Update: NYFF and NF

 An in-depth dive into the 2022 New York Film Festival and NewFest, NYC's preeminent LGBTQIA+ film festival.

Festival Update: BHFF and KHFF

An essential look at upcoming horror and genre films from the 2022 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival and Knoxville Horror Film Festivals.