2021 An Art Exhibit Pt VII

The content keeps on coming, doesn’t it?

Here’s Part I.
Here’s Part II
.
Here’s Part III.
Here’s Part IV.
Here’s Part V.
Here’s Part VI.

Corpus Chrome, Inc. (S Craig Zahler, 2013)

Zahler’s writing is interesting to look at alongside his film works. They’re both primarily focused on navigating relationships and how characters react to situations rather than any concrete plot. Corpus Chrome, Inc. honestly feels more like a series of barely connected stories within the same universe than anything else. Some of those stories feel disposable, particularly the one that actually propels what little action exists within the book. Others? Captivating. A lesbian couple — one a musician grieving the loss of her sister, to whom she was figuratively attached at the hip & the other a teacher who doesn’t know how to react when confronted with the notion of losing her lover to a revived sister — is maybe the best written portion of the book. There is a genuine sensitivity to the emotional battlefield these two women are navigating, as well as the third party whose life has been returned to her but is dealing with the crippling insecurity of a chrome body and lack of control over it. Beyond that, the father-son dynamic between Champ and Eagle (the latter, the father, re-bodied after years of estrangement and his death) is equally engaging. The femininity of the former is contrasted beautifully by the masculinity of this relationship and it shows that Zahler has a real knack for actually exploring a variety of characters (which sort of exists in contrast to the hypermasculinity of his films). That said: Zahler also has the unfortunate habit of referring to pretty much every character by their race, religion, size, sexuality, etc, and occasionally falling into weird stereotypes in spite of his attempt at going for diversity. It’s just unnecessary to be like “the petite blonde” and “the Jew” and “the Arab” and “the Chinese man” over and over again, especially when characters have names. Someone could easily argue that he does this for basic things like “the garbage man” as well, but it’s just an oddly grating and stupid writing habit that sort of takes me out of the story, which is otherwise fairly engaging. Looking forward to reading more of his work though.

The Comfort of Strangers (Ian McEwan, 1981)

It’s really fascinating to me how McEwan’s shorter novels are almost entirely build-up and characterization. There’s little real “plot” in things like this and On Chesil Beach; more interested in the dynamics of relationships of all kinds. It’s all about the way our histories shape our present, how our trust in someone can be so easily betrayed. I’m not always convinced they land the ending, but the journey always works for me.

Point Omega (Don DeLillo, 2010)

I should really give one of DeLillo’s novels a shot because his novellas have a lot of interesting ideas that I don’t think always come together that well.

The Empty Man (Cullen Bunn & Vanesa R. Del Rey, 2014)

Real Clive Barker vibes with this one. Vanesa Del Rey’s art continues to be one of the best things in contemporary comic books and the way she depicts a vast realm of horrors just always excites me. It’s a gorgeous kind of grotesquerie. Anyway, I love how this comic navigates various characters confronting what horrors they’re facing in different ways; all the questions and answers look different and the way bodies and minds shift is nothing short of fascinating. Sincerely cannot wait to read more & eventually check out the film (that I’ve heard is entirely different but tonally gels with it).

The Empty Man: Recurrence (Cullen Bunn & Niko Guardia Jesus Hervas, 2018)

Sort of pales in comparison to the first six issues. Where that felt like a complete story, open ended and ambiguous in an intriguing way, this one doesn’t really offer its own full tale and feels like a lackluster expansion and continuation of the past. I think it loses track of the mystery and allure that existed at first and tries to explain things rather than simply give new color and texture to the world it has built. Also, like,

The Empty Man: Manifestation (Cullen Bunn & Niko Guardia Jesus Hervas, 2019)

I think with each set of issues, I found myself more turned off by this. Despite maintaining some level of ambiguity, it feels almost too derivative, not only of itself but of all the sources it’s pulling from. It wants to be Lovecraftian or Barkerian, etc, but ends up feeling kind of over-explained and less interested in the cosmic horror of it all. There are small moments that work, but boy it it a major step down.

The Lords of Salem (Rob Zombie & B.K. Evenson, 2013)

Not as effective as the film considering its commitment to gorgeous imagery and unsettling sensations, but it is an overall enjoyable read that expands upon the mythos and character dynamics that the film establishes.

If Found… (Dreamfeel/Llaura McGee, 2020)

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I was not expecting to get so deep into my trans feelings while playing this game, but it is really just a gorgeous little visual novel. The art is sweet, the atmosphere is melancholic, and the story is engrossing. It exists somewhere between memoir and speculative fiction, which really affected me as someone writing something within the same realm. There is ache but there is also growth and I think there’s something beautiful about that. Might revisit it one of these days.

O Human Star, Vol 1–3 (Blue Delliquanti, 2012–2020)

Do Androids Dream of Being Human? I may very well write about this in depth soon but who knows. Just know I loved it. Great trans sci-fi.

Higurashi When They Cry — Onikakushi

I hate Sam for convincing me to read this goddamn visual novel after probably a decade of not having engaged with the anime and mostly forgetting it entirely. Just fascinating the way it works as a slow-burn horror by giving you hours of almost nothing, just kids playing games and establishing group dynamics before peppering in oddities. The back half of this chapter of Higurashi really takes a wonderful turn and goes hard on painting fear. What’s most effective is the simplicity of it all; just a little sound, a few background paintings and barely changing character sprites, paired with a whole lot of writing, is more unsettling than most horror films today. Kind of want to write about how it ties in with my experiencing watching The Empty Man (from gender to horror to mythmaking and more).

The Empty Man (David Prior, 2020)

I know that there’s a direct line between David Fincher and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (and obvs from Fincher to Prior) but The Empty Man is maybe the most effective descendent to films like Cure and Pulse to ever exist in American cinema without ever sacrificing its own identity. It is especially riveting to see how David Prior took a concept from a comic book and morphed it into something uniquely his own. The way they share the same blood but have two completely different bodies and souls is just really impressive to me. I could live in this universe forever. A fantastic film. A shame how it was mishandled and I am thrilled that people are appreciating and discovering it within a year of its botched release. In years we’ll all be talking about it the same way we do other cult works and I’m glad that conversation has begun already. I sincerely cannot wait to revisit it someday.

At Home With Amy Sedaris, Season 1

Still a perfect show. Nothing else to say. Rewatching this is pure comfort.

American Dad, Seasons 1–6

Not without some bad jokes (what comedy series doesn’t falter?) but I am shocked at how much I’m enjoying revisiting this series.

Superstore, Season 6

I cried. Whatever. Maybe the only show to actually tackle the pandemic that didn’t suck at it.

WandaVision

I wrote about this for Hyperallergic!

Body World (Dash Shaw, 2010)

I love me some comics about fucked up people trying desperately to connect with each other and all of their thoughts and personalities and terrors melding together into one big shitshow.

Godzilla (Ishirō Honda, 1954)

Godzilla good.

Godzilla Raids Again (Motoyoshi Oda, 1955)

Godzilla fighting monsters good.

King Kong vs Godzilla (Ishirō Honda, 1962)

Bullshit that Godzilla lost here. We all saw how he was wrecking that ape.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

hoping that [ancient lamentation music playing] happens every time i step over the corpse of some loser who didn’t like this movie

But on a more sincere note I haven’t stopped thinking about this movie for a while and really love a lot of what it’s going for even though I do think it’s a little too bloated for its own good.

Hole (Gil Goletski, 2020)

so good that i replayed it immediately upon finishing it. just wonderfully discomforting and willing to be so playful with its lovely animation. there’s something so appealing to me about when an animator can really aptly convey the sensation and mind frame of its character/narrative.

maybe it’s just me rambling at this point but i really appreciate people who use this sort of sparse natural sketch work while still creating these full images and worlds. they’re always shifting, moving, changing, breaking. so many contemporary works try to strive for meticulous perfection or realism and that’s so bland to me. this short is a great example of how you can do things with animation that you can’t do with live-action cinema & felt so lived in from the very get go, down to its sound design.

i dunno i just really vibed with it.

A Trans With a Movie Camera (Frances Arpala, 2018)

i love??? trans cinema????? so much???????? idk just feels like this was made for my taste specifically. more experimental and playful trans art.

I Blame Society (Gillian Wallace Horvat, 2020)

A fun mockumentary that playfully makes its ‘unlikeable’ sociopathic lead into the most stupidly relatable serial killer. Not without somecomings but man does Gillian Wallace-Horvat deliver something promising and delightful.

1974: The Possession of Altair (Victor Dryere, 2016)

Appreciate making the most out of an aesthetic gimmick — in this case contemporary found footage aesthetics (and lack of logic) applied to super-8 70s horror. A few rough effects, but enjoyed watching effectively eerie low key Mexican horror. After tweeting about wanting to buy a super-8 camera and make something, it was refreshing to see a movie like this. Makes me want to do it all the more. Throws a lot at the wall; some works, some doesn’t. But it also just made me miss being around my Mexican family and friends.

That’s Not Austin (Sean Patrick O’Brien, 2020)

once i managed to get past the excruciating level of cringe presented here, i truly settled into the 4am television vibe and just enjoyed this little post bush era masterpiece of editing

Play Misty for Me (Clint Eastwood, 1971)

Fun! I simply enjoy watching women go crazy. Rewatching this is always a good time.

Mostly Dead Things (Kristen Arnett, 2019)
With Teeth (Kristen Arnett, 2021)

Really fond of the way Kristen Arnett writes messy queer women and how they navigate relationships. Stay tuned for an extended interview with her on the upcoming With Teeth.

Godzilla vs. Kong (Adam Wingard, 2021)

just plain wonderful and extremely entertaining. wingard delivers the first film in this monsterverse that actually knows how to balance and interweave its human characters with its titans.

already seeing criticism that it’s dumb spectacle and, frankly, i would like to know: what were you expecting? the entire thing felt like it was born to be adapted into the best amusement park ride possible; predictable, goofy, thrilling, and even a little heartfelt.

also there were at least two or three moments where my roommate and i were like “that’s evangelion” in this movie. it’s not as explicit as in shin godzilla with anno using literal cues from nge, but they’re ABSOLUTELY inspired by him. [spoiler?: the entire battle on battleships is ripped straight out of asuka’s introduction and someone yelling “GET IN THE GODDAMN CHAIR” felt very “GET IN THE GODDAMN ROBOT, SHINJI” and there were more i can’t remember rn]

honestly feel kinda bad for folks who have to watch this at home because the pleasure of almost flying into godzilla and king kong’s mouths made me giddier than anything i’ve watched in years. just straight up has the same energy as the old BTTF and T2 rides at universal.

War of the Worlds (H.G. Wells, 1897)

Enjoyed listening to the audiobook for this!

One Piece: Sky Island
One Piece: Water 7
One Piece: Thriller Bark
One Piece: Summit War

Okay, but like, Water 7 is a perfect piece of art. That’s all.

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