Episode #148 of The Swampflix Podcast: Shapeless (2021) & #NOFF2021

Welcome to Episode #148 of The Swampflix Podcast. For this episode, Brandon is joined by local film critic Bill Arceneaux to review the films they caught at the 32nd annual New Orleans Film Festival (which Bill also covered for The Bayou Brief), starting with the eating disorder-themed body horror Shapeless. Enjoy!

00:00 Welcome

10:45 Shapeless

26:40 17 Year Locust
38:04 Blue Country
46:30 100 Years from Mississippi
54:15 The Laughing Man

1:07:20 Socks on Fire
1:18:05 Homebody
1:23:40 Memoria
1:30:31 C’mon C’mon
1:40:33 Red Rocket

1:49:20 Best of 2021 homework

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

– The Podcast Crew

Quick Takes: Spotlight Films at #NOFF2021

As you would likely assume, the COVID-19 pandemic has sabotaged my usual filmgoing routine during the New Orleans Film Society’s annual New Orleans Film Festival.  In a typical year, I fill my NOFF schedule with a dozen or more low-profile independent films that I likely wouldn’t be able to see on the big screen (or see at all) outside a festival environment.  I’ll zip around the city for a week solid, cramming in 3-4 no-budget titles a day, the more esoteric the better.  I tend to avoid most of the big-name movie premieres at NOFF every year – both because those films are likely to be widely distributed to local theater chains in a few months anyway, and because the events are time-sucks that keep me from catching the smaller, weirder titles that will not screen in any other local venue.  The pandemic shifted those priorities greatly for me, though.  As I’ve been going to the movies a lot less frequently this year, the appeal of seeing a film festival screening of a major release with a masked, vaccinated crowd instead of gambling that I might be comfortable seeing it at the multiplex in a couple months is much less resistible.  And so, my participation in the 2021 edition of the New Orleans Film Festival was most boldly defined by attending the city’s premieres of three Awards Season prestige pictures, the exact thing I usually avoid during this ritual.

I will still do my best to individually review the few smaller NOFF selections that I watched at home on the festival’s virtual platform, since those no-distro titles are the ones that can most use the attention.  Since the three Spotlight Films I attended in person will most likely be discussed to death in the coming months by professional publications, I’m okay just grouping them here in bite size quick-take reviews.  As always, we’ll also provide an audio round-up of all the films we caught at this year’s festival on an upcoming episode of The Swampflix Podcast in the coming days.  Some traditions are worth maintaining, pandemic or no.  For now, here’s a brief round-up of all the major spotlight releases I caught at this year’s NOFF.

C’mon C’mon

The most thematically on-point selection for this year’s New Orleans Film Festival was definitely C’mon C’mon, which was highlighted with a lavish red-carpet premiere at The Orpheum.  The film was an obvious programming choice for that festival-opener treatment because the city of New Orleans features prominently in its cross-generational road trip narrative, which visits—in order—Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and, finally, N.O.  Director Mike Mills was in attendance to gush about the locals who collaborated on the picture, especially the New Orleanians who trusted him to interview their children on-camera about their visions of what they expect the future will be like. 

While that choice to highlight a (partially) local production in one of the city’s most gorgeous venues makes total sense thematically, I do think the presentation clashed with the film’s low-key nature.  I walked out Mills’s previous film wowed by his concise encapsulation of subjects as wide-spanning as punk culture solidarity, what it means to be “a good man” in modern times, the shifts in the status of the American woman in the decades since the Great Depression, the 1980s as a tipping point for consumer culture, the history of life on planet Earth, and our insignificance as a species in the face of the immensity of the Universe.  For all of C’mon C’mon‘s interviews with real-life kids about the daunting subject of The Future, it’s mostly just a road trip movie where a socially awkward uncle (Joaquin Phoenix at his most subdued) bonds with his socially awkward son.  It’s about the same thing a lot of low-key indie dramas are about: how difficult it is to meaningfully connect with the fellow human beings in your life, which is a much smaller scope than what I’m used to from this director.

Since C’mon C’mon is a lot more contained & intimate than either Beginners or 20th Century Women, it never approaches the heights of what Mills can do at his best.   Still, it’s pretty darn charming as one of those heartfelt friendship stories where a precocious child drags a lonely grump out of their shell.  And I love that you can feel Mills falling in love with New Orleans in real time in the third act, especially in a brief sequence set during a walking parade.  He looked genuinely inspired by the city on that stage.

Red Rocket

The other two Spotlight screenings I caught at this year’s fest were staged at AMC Elmwood – a very clear vision of what it would’ve been like to see them presented outside of the fest.  Of the Elmwood screenings, the title I was most stoked to see was Sean Baker’s latest black comedy Red Rocket, since his previous film The Florida Project ranked among my personal favorite films of the 2010s (several spots below Mills’s 20th Century Women).  Red Rocket did not disappoint, but it did leave me in a worse mood than Baker’s previous two features, which are much sweeter despite dwelling in the same bottomless pits of economic desperation.

Former MTV VJ Simon Rex stars as a down-on-his-luck pornstar who returns to his hometown in rural Texas to recover from his rock-bottom fallout in Los Angeles.  From the opening seconds of the film, Rex chatters & schemes at a brutally unrelenting pace, weaponizing his conman charm (and gigantic dick) to climb the local drug-ring ladder at the expense of everyone he encounters – including his closest family members and innocent neighborhood teens.  The only moment of relief from his sociopathic motormouth is when the community joins forces to shout “Shut the fuck up” into his face in unison.  The film boasts all the D.I.Y. visual splendor & infectiously rambunctious energy that typify a Sean Baker film, but they’re re-routed into a stomach-turning, pitch-black character study of Beach Bum-level proportions.

In its broadest terms, Red Rocket is just another bleak poverty-line comedy from Baker, exactly what you’d expect from him.  It’s just that this time it’s more of a feel-bad hangout than a nonstop plummet into chaos, and the protagonist is deeply unlikeable instead of charmingly vulgar.  It’s like a goofier, laidback version of Good Time, where you feel terrible for laughing while a desperate scumbag exploits every poor soul in their path just to keep their own head slightly above water.  It really slows down to make you squirm between the punchlines.  I didn’t appreciate it as much as The Florida Project or Tangerine, where you are invited to love Baker’s protagonists for their misbehavior, but at least he’s not repeating himself, nor shrinking away from what makes his work divisive.

Memoria

While the appeal of the other two NOFF Spotlight selections I caught this year was the previous work of the creatives behind them, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was drawn to the third & final film on my schedule mainly because of its exclusivity.  I’m generally a fan of Sean Baker & Mike Mills, but the only other film I’ve seen from Apichatpong Weerasethakul left me dead cold.  What drew me to his latest slow-cinema arthouse drama, Memoria, was less the artist behind it and more the William Castle-style gimmickry of its distribution.  A large part of the appeal of film festivals is having access to movies I wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.  Memoria fits that bill perfectly: a challenging head-scratcher indie film that may never play in New Orleans again.

In a publicity-generating power move, Memoria‘s distributor Neon has announced that the film will “never” be presented on a streaming service or physical media.  It will instead perpetually “travel” in a “never-ending” theatrical release that will only play on one screen in one city at a time.  Personally, I very much value the novelty of attending an Event Movie right now.  It’s been a lackluster year for me, so I appreciate a little carnival barker razzle dazzle on the arthouse calendar, luring marks like myself who don’t even enjoy the director’s previous work into the circus tent just to feel like I’m witnessing something special.  I also recognize the pretension & elitism of that release strategy, so I was proud of the NOFF audience for outright laughing at the explanation of it during the festival’s pre-recorded intro.  That moment of communal mockery turned out to be one of the precious few highlights of the experience, unfortunately.

Memoria stars Tilda Swinton as a Scottish academic who’s spiritually adrift in Colombia, haunted by her sister’s mysterious illness and an even more mysterious sound that only she can hear.  Much of the film consists of non-sequitur tangents & intentionally overlong shots of its star sitting in still silence, as seems to be Apichatpong’s M.O.  I had about the same level of engagement with this film as I had with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: short bursts of baffled awe drowning in a bottomless sea of boredom.  Both films have exactly one scene that I flat-out love (a tense family dinner at a restaurant here & the catfish encounter in Boonmee) but for the most part were decidedly Not For Me.  I was practically begging for Memoria to end by its final half-hour, cursing myself for being suckered into the theater by its “never-ending” exhibition gimmickry.  Taking chances on difficult-to-access art films that make you feel intellectually bankrupt for not “getting” them is a quintessential film festival experience, though, and it oddly felt nice to be let down in that distinctly familiar way.  Made me miss the before times, may they soon return.

-Brandon Ledet

Lagniappe Podcast: #NOFF2020

For this lagniappe episode of the podcast, Brandon, Britnee, and CC review the few films they caught at the 31st annual New Orleans Film Festival, including films on killer mermaids, local drag artists, and New Orleans legend Valerie Sassyfras. Enjoy!

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

– The Podcast Crew

#NOFF2020 Ranked and Reviewed

When reviewing the few feature films I caught at this year’s (mostly virtual) New Orleans Film Festival, I found myself constantly writing about how the context of the COVID-19 pandemic shaped my experience with them. It’s been a long nine months since I last attended a film festival in person (French Film Fest, which was snugly slotted in between Mardi Gras and the city’s initial coronavirus lockdown orders), so it was impossible to not compare & contrast this year’s NOFF with similar events in the past.

To the festival’s credit, the programmers addressed this unavoidable preoccupation head-on, platforming a wealth of short films that directly commented on COVID-era New Orleans culture. They also adjusted the scope & structure of the festival to offer as safe of an experience as possible, including an online streaming option for most of their selections as well as a few outdoor, socially distanced screenings for in-person events.

COVID undeniably reshaped my usual New Orleans Film Festival experience this year, at the very least in how it limited the range & volume of movies I could make time for during the fest’s short window. It didn’t halt the ritual entirely; it just hung over it as an unignorable dark cloud.

Here’s a list of the four features I’ve reviewed from this year’s New Orleans Film Festival. CC & I will record a more fleshed-out recap of our COVID-era festival experience on an upcoming episode of the podcast, in case you’re interested in hearing about our favorite shorts from the line-up or our thoughts on the ways the fest had to adapt to the constrictions of a pandemic. This list is a more bare-bones kind of recap: a best-to-least-best ranking of the features we managed to catch at this year’s NOFF.

Each title includes a link to a corresponding review. Enjoy!

To Decadence with Love, Thanks for Everything

A local documentary that captures how drastically different the New Orleans drag scene is now vs. the traditional Southern Pageant Drag scene I remember growing up with. It was great to see a community I love (including a couple friends who perform) documented for posterity, but also bittersweet because the very last in-the-flesh social event I attended was a drag show in March and I miss it very much.

Nobody May Come

A local documentary about avant garde zydeco-turned-new-wave musician Valerie Sassyfras, who’s a very specific kind of New Orleans eccentric. It’s a jarring mix of fun outsider-art punk aggression and severely upsetting social & mental dysfunction; the exact kind of niche-interest no-budget filmmaking you only see at festivals.

The Giverny Document (Single Channel)

A conceptual art piece about Black women’s relationships with their own bodies and the meaning of “feeling safe.” It’s a little impenetrable the way a lot of experimental essay films can be, but it also packs a powerful wallop when it feels like going for the jugular. There’s also some incredible Nina Simone footage interspersed throughout.

Undine

Christian Petzold’s latest is Good, but not entirely My Thing. I can’t imagine being the kind of person who watches The Lure and thinks “What if this was a quiet, understated drama instead?” but apparently that kind of person is out there.

-Brandon Ledet

Episode #104 of the Swampflix Podcast: Children of Paradise (1945) & New Orleans French Film Fest 2020

Welcome to Episode #104 of The Swampflix Podcast! For this episode, the podcast crew discusses all eight features they caught at the 2020 New Orleans French Film Festival, with a particular focus on the 1945 epic melodrama Children of Paradise – which is often cited as “the greatest French film of all time”.  Enjoy!

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

-James Cohn, Hanna Räsänen, CC Chapman, and Brandon Ledet

New Orleans French Film Fest 2020, Ranked & Reviewed

Of the two local film festivals operated by the New Orleans Film Society, New Orleans Film Fest is both the longest-running and the most substantial. The 30th Annual NOFF, for instance, screened hundreds of films all over downtown New Orleans last October, of which we were able to cover 10 features (and a few shorts). We’re only seeing an insignificant fraction of the films screening NOFF every year, making a festival-wide recap something of a Sisyphean task as amateur bloggers.

NOFS’s annual New Orleans French Film Fest is a different matter entirely. The entirety of French Film Fest is located at a single, beautiful venue: The Prytania, Louisiana’s oldest operating single-screen cinema. All films are at least partially French productions, all are shown in subtitled French language, and the large majority of them never see domestic big screen distribution outside of the festival. I see some of my favorite releases of the year at French Film Fest too; 2018’s Double Lover ranked near the top of my favorite films of the 2010s . There are also typically at least two screenings a year that I’d comfortably call all-time favorites after just one viewing, especially in retrospective screenings from auteurs like Agnès Varda & Jacques Demy. New Orleans French Film Fest is the smaller, more intimate festival on the NOFS calendar, but its manageability is more of a charm than a hindrance and I’m starting to look forward to it more every year.

We will be doing a more exhaustive recap of our experience at the festival on an upcoming episode of the podcast, featuring a more fleshed out review of 1945’s Children of Paradise. For now, here’s a ranking of the few films we’ve seen that screened at the 2020 New Orleans French Film Fest. Each title includes a blurb and a link to a corresponding review. Enjoy!

1. Mr. Klein (1976) – “It’s clear from the start where the story is headed, as the movie largely functions as a Twilight Zone-style morality tale, but the point is less in the surprise of the plot than it is in the ugly depths of Klein’s authoritarian, self-serving character. This is a damn angry film about the evils of Political Apathy, and a damn great one.”

2. Deerskin (2020) – “Damn funny from start to end. Not only is the idea of a jacket being so fashionably mesmerizing that it leads to a life of crime hilarious even in the abstract, but the overqualified Jean Dujardin’s straight-faced commitment to the bit sells each gag with full inane delight.”

3. Varda by Agnès (2019) – “It may not be as kinetic or as aggressively stylistic as her career’s greatest triumphs (a contrast that’s unignorable, given those films’ presence on the screen), but it’s still incredibly playful & thoughtful in its own construction, especially considering the limitations of its structure as an academic lecture.”

4. Children of Paradise (1945) – Given this one’s accolades as one of the greatest films of all time, I expected a shift into outright Movie Magic surrealism during its stage pieces that never came. Instead, it’s just a well constructed, stately four-way melodrama with a dark sense of humor and an exceptionally grand budget considering it was partially made under Nazi occupation. It’s really good, but I was prepared to be totally floored (which is my fault, not the movie’s). Looking forward to diving further into it on the podcast.

5. Sibyl (2020) – “Its only major fault is that you could name several movies that push its basic elements way further into way wilder directions; Double Lover & Persona both come to mind. Otherwise, it’s an admirably solid Movie For Adults, the kind of thoughtfully constructed erotic menace that used to be produced by Hollywood studios at regular intervals but now only seeps quietly through European film festivals.”

6. Matthias & Maxime (2020) – “Incredibly observant about macho bonding rituals & typical group dynamics among basic bros – especially when parsing out what’s considered Normal male-on-male touching vs. what’s considered Gay. It’s just a shame that same thoughtful consideration didn’t extend to knowing how to trim the movie down to its best, most efficient shape.”

7. House of Cardin (2020) – “Not at all interested in matching the avant-garde artistry of its subject in any formal way; it’s about as forward-thinking in its filmmaking style as an I Love the 60s special on VH1. However, the vibrant, playful art of Pierre Cardin more than speaks for itself, and stepping out of that portfolio’s way read to me like a great sign of respect.”

8. Celebration (2019) – “Without any contextual info about how this late-career misery differs from YSL’s earlier, more youthful fashion shows, this behind-the-scenes glimpse fails to communicate anything coherent or concrete. Like the worst of the ‘elevated horrors’ of recent years that it stylistically emulates (if not only in its spooky score), it’s all atmosphere and no substance.”

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week (French Film Fest Edition) 2/27/20 – 3/4/20

New Orleans is stilly groggily recovering from this year’s Mardi Gras mayhem right now, but there truly is no rest for the wicked (or the festive, apparently). The 23rd annual New Orleans French Festival is here to shake us out of the Ash Wednesday fog and back into the routine of watching challenging Art Films in public, even though this period of post-Mardi Gras sloth seems better suited for binge-watching Trash TV on the couch. Wake up that Carnival-addled brain of yours before you get lost forever in an endless flood of Love is Blind episodes . . .

There are over a dozen titles screening at The Prytania in the coming week for the New Orleans French Film Festival (and tracking any goings on beyond that event sounds absolutely exhausting), so we’re going to keep this week’s local screenings round-up as simple as possible. Here are some recommendations for movies to see at one the city’s most consistently rewarding film fests, with blurbs lifted from the New Orleans Film Society‘s own listings for the lineup.

French Film Fest Screenings at The Prytania

Children of Paradise (1945) – “Poetic realism reached sublime heights with Children of Paradise, widely considered one of the greatest French films of all time. This nimble depiction of 19th-century Paris’s theatrical demimonde, filmed during World War II, follows a mysterious woman (Arletty) loved by four different men (all based on historical figures): an actor, a criminal, a count, and, most poignantly, a mime (Jean-Louis Barrault, in a performance for the ages). Thanks to a major new restoration, this iconic classic looks and sounds richer and more detailed than ever.” Friday, Feb 28, 2:15 pm

Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) – “Demy’s 1964 masterpiece of music and romance stars Catherine Deneuve as an umbrella shopkeeper who is separated from her mechanic boyfriend (Nino Castelnuevo) when he is called for military service. The film was fully restored in breathtaking color in 1992 under the supervision of Demy’s widow, filmmaker Agnès Varda. Umbrellas won the Grand Prize at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for five Academy Awards. The restored soundtrack features Michel Legrand’s unforgettable score remixed in stereo.” Sunday March 1 & Wednesday March 4, 10:00 am

Mr. Klein (1976) “In Occupied France, Mr. Klein (played with perfection by Alain Delon) exploits the situation of the Jews by buying and selling their works of art. When a Jewish man of the same name surfaces in Paris, Klein comes under suspicion and experiences the persecution of his countrymen firsthand. Also starring Jeanne Moreau, this rare and celebrated film from 1976 was blacklisted American director Joseph Losey’s first film in French, and it won the coveted César Awards for Best Film and Best Director. This restored version has finally arrived in theaters to ecstatic praise from major critics.” Sunday March 1 & Monday March 2, 12pm

Varda by Agnès (2019) – “The final film from the late, beloved Agnès Varda is a characteristically playful, profound, and personal summation of the director’s own brilliant career.  At once impish and wise, she acts as our spirit guide on a free-associative tour through her six-decade artistic journey, shedding new light on her films, photography, and recent installation works while offering her one-of-a-kind reflections on everything from filmmaking to cats to feminism to aging. A warmly human, touchingly bittersweet parting gift from one of cinema’s most luminous talents.” Sunday March 1, 5pm + Wednesday March 4, 12pm

Deerskin (2020) – “The latest from Quentin Dupieux (the brains behind the delightfully outrageous Rubber, about a sentient tire on a killing spree), Deerskin follows amateur filmmaker Georges, who becomes obsessed with his new deerskin jacket. Convinced that his jacket must be the only one in the world, Georges is led down a Tarantino-esque path to rid the world of all competition. Played with total commitment by Academy Award® winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist), the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and also stars Adèle Haenel (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).” Saturday, Feb 29, 8:30 pm

Sybil (2020) – “Premiered at the most recent Cannes Film Festival, French director Justine Triet’s Sybil brings together an all-star cast with Virginie Efira (Elle, Victoria), Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Color), and Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann).” Thursday Feb 27, 7:45pm + Tuesday March 3, 12pm

Matthias & Maxime (2020) – “The latest feature from the 30-year-old French-Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan, who premiered six films in Cannes and received too many jury awards and prizes to mention. Matthias and Maxime stars Dolan and Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas in the lead roles, with longtime Dolan muse Anne Dorval playing his ailing mother.” Wednesday, March 4, 7:45 pm

-Brandon Ledet

 

#NOFF2019 Ranked & Reviewed

Here we are almost two full months since the 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival concluded and I’m finally gathering all of titles I caught at the fest in one spot. CC & I already recorded a more fleshed-out recap of our festival experience on Episode #95 of the podcast, in case you’re interested in hearing about the goings-on at the handful of downtown theaters where the festival was held and the various short films that preceded some of those screenings. This list is a more bare-bones kind of recap: a ranking from the best to the . . . least best of the features we managed to catch at this year’s festival.

This year we focused entirely on boosting the profile of micro-budget indies that are unlikely to get wide theatrical distribution, skipping the New Orleans premieres for bigger titles like Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, and Harriet. Each title includes a link to a corresponding review. Enjoy!

1. Swallow Appearing like a scared child in June Cleaver housewife drag, Bennett conveys a horrific lack of confidence & self-determination in every gesture. Her fragility & despondence under the control of her wealthy, emotionally abusive family make you want to celebrate her newfound, deeply personal path to fulfillment, even though it very well might kill her. As she snacks on fistfuls of garden soil while watching trash TV instead of obeying her family’s orders all I could think was “Good for her!”‘

2. Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project As Stokes’s D.I.Y. archive is an extensive cultural record of American society over the past thirty years, the list of trends & topics that could be explored in their own full-length documentaries are only as limited as an editor’s imagination. This film is an excellent primer on the cultural wealth archived in those VHS tapes, as it both explores larger ideas of how media reflects society back to itself and does full justice to the rogue political activist who did dozens & dozens of people’s work by assembling it.”

3. Gracefully “Smart to never allow the flashiness of its craft to overpower the inherent fasciation of its subject. When it does get noticeably artful in its framing & imagery, it’s only ever in service of its subject’s dancing—often showing him performing in pitch-black voids as if his D.I.Y. glamor was the only thing in the world that matters.”

4. Jezebel “Perrier doesn’t shy away from the exploitation or desperation that fueled her online sex work as a cash-strapped, near-homeless teen, but she’s equally honest about the joy, power, and self-discovery that line of work opened up to her at the time, making for a strikingly complex picture of an authentic, lived experience.”

5. A Great Lamp “Feels akin to the aimless slacker comedies of yesteryear – the kind of deliberately apathetic, glibly existential art that put names like Jarmusch & Linklater on the map back when Independent Filmmaking was first becoming a viable industry. It’s got the handheld, high-contrast black & white look of a zine in motion (and I’m sure many a Clerks knockoff from festivals past), evoking a bountiful history of D.I.Y. no-budget art. However, in both tone & sentiment there’s no way the film could have bene made by previous generations of artful slackers, as its heart is clearly rooted in a 2010s sensibility.”

6. Hunting for Hedonia “Most valuable for its ability to explain the full scope of Deep Brain Stimulation’s history in concise layman’s terms. It covers the horrific past of its abuse, the promising present of its success in the therapy field, and the terrifying future of its rapid, unavoidable escalation in a modern capitalist paradigm.”

7. The World is Full of Secrets “Plays like Are You Afraid of the Dark? reimagined as a traumatizing stage play or audio book – with long takes of sub-professional teen actors struggling to conquer unnecessarily complex monologues. What’s amazing about this set-up is that the film not only finds room to establish a genuinely creepy mood, but it’s often prankishly hilarious and light on its feet despite its potential for academic pretention.”

8. Pier Kids “Its personal, intimate documentation of a new, specific crop of homeless queer kids is just as essential as any past works – if not only as confirmation that the epidemic is still ongoing. These children are still out there taking care of themselves & each other with no end or solution to this cycle in sight. I do hope there will be a day when these documentaries are no longer such a regular routine, but only in the sense that I hope for a future where they’re no longer necessary. We’re not there yet.”

9. Reži “Even if the film is overall too frustrating to merit a hearty recommendation, the combatively prankish attitude it performs in every frame is too infectious to fully ignore – like so many festering stab wounds.”

10. Singular Whatever faults this might have as an overly reserved document of a wild, punches-throwing artist, it does have plenty of net benefits in pushing Cecile McLorin Salvant in front of an even wider audience. I imagine if you’ve never heard of her before this doc could play as a revelation that a Nina Simone-level genius is alive & working in plain sight, waiting for your eyes & ears. The contrast between her work & the doc’s reserved nature might even unintentionally emphasize her art’s subversive playfulness, which seeps through the concert footage despite the buttoned-up style of the interviews.”

-Brandon Ledet

Episode #95 of The Swampflix Podcast: #NOFF2019

Welcome to Episode #95 of The Swampflix Podcast! For our ninety-fifth episode, Brandon and CC review the full list of low-budget, high-ambition films they caught at the 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival: shorts, documentaries, and narrative features. Enjoy!

You can stay up to date with our podcast through SoundCloudSpotifyiTunesStitcherTuneIn, or by following the links on this page.

– CC Chapman & Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week: The Horrors of #NOFF2019 10/16/19 – 10/23/19

There’s a wonderful overlap of goings-on in the city this week, as the 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival is descending upon us just as we approach Halloween. There are hundreds of titles screening all over the city for NOFF and we plan to cover at least a dozen or so of all types and shapes and genres for the site in the coming weeks. For the purposes of keeping our weekly Now Playing feature spooky all October, however, I’m only going to highlight a few horror-related NOFF titles here, so you can work the festival into your regular Halloween-season movie binging. Happy hauntings!

Spooky Movies Screening at NOFF

Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm StreetA long-awaited documentary chronicling actor Mark Patton’s troubled relationship with the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Closeted at the height of Reagan Era homophobia, Patton felt he was bullied by the gay “subtext” the filmmakers behind Freddy’s Dead added to his de facto “Final Girl” character. He’s since embraced the role (and the horror community at large) in his journey to self-acceptance, but that turnaround has not been easy or fair. An important episode in queer horror history. Thursday 10/17 (9:15pm) & Friday 10/18 (8:30pm) at The Broad Theater.

The World is Full of Secrets Set during the nostalgic haze of a mid-90s summertime sleepover, a group of teenage girls compete to one-up each other by telling the ghastliest, goriest stories they can conjure – answering the prompt “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever heard?” Described in the NOFF program as “something like a deconstructed episode of Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?.” Saturday 10/19 (7:30pm) at The Broad Theater.

Swallow Recalling the horrors of modern life & patriarchal control in Todd Haynes’s classic chiller Safe, this discomforting atmospheric creep-out centers on “a newly pregnant woman whose idyllic existence takes an alarming turn when she develops a compulsion to eat dangerous objects.” Sunday 10/20 (9:00pm) at The Broad Theater.

Hunting for Hedonia A Tilda Swinton-narrated documentary on the history of medical research in Deep Brain Stimulation. Both a testament to the practice’s benefits for neurological disorders and a nightmarish exploration of its implications in mind control, psychological abuse, and sexual debauchery. Only “horror” in the sense that it explores the uncomfortably thin, easily exploited border between our minds and modern tech. Saturday 10/19 (2:30pm) and Tuesday 10/22 (6:30pm) at The Broad Theater.

Horror Classics Screening Elsewhere

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – This bizarro tale of child-melting Halloween masks and ancient Stonehenge-worshipping cults was once the most hated entry in its franchise (as an experiment in releasing a Halloween film that opted to not feature Michael Myers) but has since been reclaimed beyond the point of being a cult classic. It’s just a classic now. Maybe the best film about Halloween as a holiday; certainly has the all-time best Halloween jingle. Screening in the midnight slot at The Prytania on Friday 10/18 and Saturday 10/19.

Alien (1979) – Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic, bolstered by the bottomless subliminal nightmare of H.R. Giger’s visual art, is still the all-time scariest movie ever set in outer space (and maybe even beyond). Screening to commeorate its 40th Anniversary on Sunday 10/13, Tuesday 10/15, and Wednesday 10/16 via Fathom Events.

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) – The first Sleepaway Camp film stumbled into over-the-top melodrama, deep psychosexual discomfort, and Problematic-As-Fuck gender politics by attempting to spice up the first-wave slasher formula with some unexpected twists. This lesser-seen sequel is much more self-aware in its slasher-riffing intentions, functioning as a full-on parody of the genre in surprisingly fun & clever ways. Screening for free at the Frenchman Theater & Bar on Wednesday 10/23 (10:00pm, with a pre-party celebration beginning at 8:00).

House on Haunted Hill (1959) – Long before it trickled down into a nu-metal atrocity under the Dark Castle brand (thanks largely to its open-season copyright status in the public domain), this classic team-up between director William Castle and horror icon Vincent Price defined the haunted house horror flick for an entire generation of dweebs. No word yet on whether these showings will incorporate Castle’s innovative “Emergo” technology – in which a “skeleton” on a pulley system swooped over the audience to punctuate specific scares. Screening Sunday 10/20 (10:00am) and Wednesday 10/23 (10:00am) as part of The Prytania’s regular Classic Movies series.

-Brandon Ledet