Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 1/17/19 – 1/23/19

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Glass M. Night Shyamalan continues the off-kilter superhero mythology he established in Unbreakable & Split (is that still considered a spoiler?) in a third, already critically divisive chapter. Split was one of Swampflix’s favorite films of 2017 and Shyamalan was already on a creative upswing with The Visit before that, so this surprisingly rapid follow-up definitely has our attention.

The Seven Year Itch (1955) The Billy Wilder romcom that gifted us the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe pinning down the skirt of her white dress while standing on a gusty subway grate. Also features an animated credits sequence from legendary graphic designer (and Phase IV director) Saul Bass, which is always a treat. Playing Sunday 1/20 & Wednesday 1/23 as party of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

The Favourite  Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – In the abstract, the concept of a 2010s CG animation Spider-Man origin story sounds dreadful. In practice, prankster screenwriter Phil Lord explodes the concept into a wild cosmic comedy by making a movie about the world’s over-abundance of Spider-Man origin stories (and about the art of CG animation at large). Spider-Verse is a shockingly imaginative, beautiful, and hilarious take on a story & a medium that should be a total drag, but instead is bursting with energetic life & psychedelic creativity.

-Brandon Ledet

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Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 1/10/19 – 1/16/19

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins follows up his Best Picture winner Moonlight with an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel set in 1970s Harlem. From what I can tell without spoiling it for myself, it appears to be brimming with gorgeous costumes, sensual romance, and a seething indictment of America’s inherently racist system of “justice.” Looks heavy, but emotionally powerful.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening Fine art photographer RaMell Ross sets his gorgeous portraits of impoverished Southern lives in motion in his debut feature as a documentarian. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art will be screening the film for free on Friday 1/11, followed by a The Dismantling of Southern Poverty panel discussion with Ross & other artists on Saturday, 1/12.

Saboteur (1942) A film noir spy thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, featuring a co-writing credit from Dorothy Parker. Playing Sunday 1/13 & Wednesday 1/16 as party of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

The Favourite  Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – In the abstract, the concept of a 2010s CG animation Spider-Man origin story sounds dreadful. In practice, prankster screenwriter Phil Lord explodes the concept into a wild cosmic comedy by making a movie about the world’s over-abundance of Spider-Man origin stories (and about the art of CG animation at large). Spider-Verse is a shockingly imaginative, beautiful, and hilarious take on a story & a medium that should be a total drag, but instead is bursting with energetic life & psychedelic creativity.

Escape Room – The first significant release of 2019 is essentially the ideal version of Saw, with all the nasty torture porn & (most of) the nu-metal removed for optimal silliness. All storytelling logic & meaningful character work are tossed out the window in favor of full, head-on commitment to an over-the-top, truly preposterous gimmick, making for some delicious early-January trash.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies Screening in New Orleans This Week 1/3/19 – 1/9/19

Here’s a quick round-up of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.  In case you can’t tell, we’re starting to get into that glorious time of the year where Oscar Hopefuls trickle down South from NY & LA while dirt-cheap genre films simultaneously get dumped into wide-release. It’s a very satisfying, weirdly incongruous overlap.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

If Beale Street Could Talk Barry Jenkins follows up his Best Picture winner Moonlight with an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel set in 1970s Harlem. From what I can tell without spoiling it for myself, it appears to be brimming with gorgeous costumes, sensual romance, and a seething indictment of America’s inherently racist system of “justice.” Looks heavy, but emotionally powerful.

Escape Room Whether it’s “Truth or dare?,” Pokémon Go, or CandyCrush, it seems like there’s always an early-in-the-year horror release waiting to exploit a silly game or novelty fad for cheap, goofy scares. This year, the random topic generator landed on escape rooms, which should be as good for a dumb-fun time at the movies as anything.

Mortal Engines A steam punk action-fantasy epic about warring cities on wheels. Appears to fall halfway between Howl’s Moving Castle & Mad Max: Fury Road.  I doubt it’s half as good as either of those comparison points, but it looks impressively silly and this is likely its last week on local big screens.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

All About Eve (1950) – A classic Big Studio melodrama starring Bette Davis as an aging Broadway star who must fight to maintain her profession & fame in the face of a power-hungry fan who intends to usurp her. It won an impressive six Academy Awards in its day (including Best Picture) and is as excellent of a Bette Davis acting showcase as any you’ll see. Playing Sunday 1/6 & Wednesday 1/9 as part of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.

The Favourite  Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – In the abstract, the concept of a 2010s CG animation Spider-Man origin story sounds dreadful. In practice, prankster screenwriter Phil Lord explodes the concept into a wild cosmic comedy by making a movie about the world’s over-abundance of Spider-Man origin stories (and about the art of CG animation at large). Spider-Verse is a shockingly imaginative, beautiful, and hilarious take on a story & a medium that should be a total drag, but instead is bursting with energetic life & psychedelic creativity.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies Screening in New Orleans This Week 12/27/18 – 1/2/19

Here’s a quick round-up of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, including one of the most grotesque films of the year and one of the greatest films of all time.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Border A Swedish fantasy-horror about a twisted creature-on-creature romance. This is supposed to be one of the most divisive, what-the-fuck cinematic freak-outs of the year, a repulsive nightmare. So why not watch it in public with fellow squirming weirdos? Only playing at Zeitgeist.

Roma – Alfonso Cuarón’s black & white period-piece epic & personal memoir is all but guaranteed to be a major Oscar contender in the next few months, but most people will only have a chance to see it at home on Netflix. We’re one of the few cities where audiences can fully immerse themselves in its lush cinematography & meticulously detailed sound design on the big screen. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

Mary Queen of Scots Saoirse Ronan & Margot Robbie square off in a not-quite-historically-accurate costume drama directed by a legitimate mainstay of the British stage.  The reviews are generally positive, and this seems like the exact kind of buttoned-up period piece that earns Oscars attention, but that’s not why I’m excited. I just like to watch actors play Queen Elizabeth I, because it’s a role that invites them to chew scenery while dressed like a maniac, and I’m sure Margot Robbie is up for the task.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Citizen Kane (1941) – It’s near impossible to live up to the hype of being The Greatest Film of All Time, but Citizen Kane does a damn good job of it. Here’s a pull-quote from when I reviewed it for my Roger Ebert Film School series a couple years ago: “It’s tempting to label Citizen Kane as the first modern film, the birth of an auteurist fever that wouldn’t fully take hold of the industry until the New Hollywood movement got rolling three decades later. Citizen Kane’s punishing rhythm and hands-off-the-handlebars fragmentation feels strikingly modern even at today’s standards.” Playing Sunday 12/30 & Wednesday 1/2 as part of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.

The Favourite  Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse In the abstract, the concept of a 2010s CG animation Spider-Man origin story sounds dreadful. In practice, prankster screenwriter Phil Lord explodes the concept into a wild cosmic comedy by making a movie about the world’s over-abundance of Spider-Man origin stories (and about the art of CG animation at large). Spider-Verse is a shockingly imaginative, beautiful, and hilarious take on a story & a medium that should be a total drag, but instead is bursting with energetic life & psychedelic creativity.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 12/20/18 – 12/27/18

Here’s a quick round-up of the films we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, including a new potential Christmas classic.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Anna and the Apocalypse A Scottish, Christmas-themed horror musical about the zombie apocalypse. Critics have positively received the film as bloody, over-the-top mash-up of Glee & Shaun of the Dead, but the true draw here is its arrival in time for Christmas. Why watch Home Alone or It’s a Wonderful Life for the thousandth time when you could watch a new, campy, gleefully violent horror comedy about the Yuletide undead? Only playing at The Broad Theater.

Roma Alfonso Cuarón’s black & white period-piece epic & personal memoir is all but guaranteed to be a major Oscar contender in the next few months, but most people will only have a chance to see it at home on Netflix. We’re one of the few cities where audiences can fully immerse themselves in its lush cinematography & meticulously detailed sound design on the big screen. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

The Favourite Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun!

Widows Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen cashes in some of his prestige points to make a heist picture about a group of ordinary women who reluctantly transform into violent criminals, a collaboration with Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. I was surprised by how much of his one functions like an ensemble cast melodrama instead of the action-thriller that was advertised. Not disappointed, just surprised. It feels like a movie custom built for people whose all-time favorite TV show is still The Wire, which, who could blame ‘em? Only playing at AMC Westbank, likely its last week on local big screens.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans this Week 12/13/18 – 12/19/18

Here’s a quick round-up of the films we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week. After nearly a month of there being little to recommend, the mysterious distribution gods are actively trying to drown us. There’s so much to see!

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

The Favourite Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with what appears to be his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). This is the one film I feel like I must see before contributing to any Best of the Year lists; it looks like a gorgeous riot.

Roma Alfonso Cuarón’s black & white period-piece epic & personal memoir is all but guaranteed to be a major Oscar contender in the next few months, but most people will only have a chance to see it at home on Netflix. We’re one of the few cities where audiences can fully immerse themselves in its lush cinematography & meticulously detailed sound design on the big screen. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

The Big Easy (1986) – A big-budget erotic thriller starring Dennis Quaid & Ellen Barkin, shot on location in 1980s New Orleans.  Come for the hot & steamy criminal-world intrigue; stay for the documentary glimpses of 80s New Orleans locales like Tipitina’s, Antoine’s, Mardi Gras parade float warehouses, and French Quarter strip clubs. Screening Thursday 12/13 at The Prytania Theatre.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Spider-Man & CG animation are two filmmaking arenas I usually don’t care about at all, but there’s a lot of promise in the screenwriting involvement of Phil Lord (Clone High, Last Man on Earth, The Lego Movie) and the movie’s Ben-Day dots visual design. Its high critical scores (99% on Rotten Tomatoes, 85 on Metacritic) also suggest that it’s something worthy of my time, despite my genre biases.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Female Trouble (1974) – Divine might not have ever gotten those cha-cha heels she wanted from Santa and John Waters may never make the gay Christmas movie Fruitcake that he wrote, but you can still celebrate XXX-Mas with the Dreamlanders this weekend with a drag-themed screening of Female Trouble.  Drag performers Puddin’ Tain, Titibaby, Squirt Reynolds and Tarah Cards will host a rowdy midnight screening of the film (with the pre-show starting at 11) Saturday 10/15 at the AllWays Lounge (as an unofficial afterparty for the performance of A John Waters Christmas at the Civic).

Vox Lux Natalie Portman stars as an off-the-rails pop star in the middle of a spectacular breakdown in the public spotlight. A lot of people are going to hate this, but I was really won over by it when we caught it at NOFF. It’s brutal and coldly funny like a Lanthimos film, but also absurdly earnest like a Mommie Dearest melodrama. It’s interesting as a philosophical indictment of modernity, but also just a perverse joy in watching a woman behave monstrously (and dance to Sia songs) without repercussion. Bold, alienating stuff – the mother! of 2018.

Widows  Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen cashes in some of his prestige points to make a heist picture about a group of ordinary women who reluctantly transform into violent criminals, a collaboration with Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. I was surprised by how much of his one functions like an ensemble cast melodrama instead of the action-thriller that was advertised. Not disappointed, just surprised. It feels like a movie custom built for people whose all-time favorite TV show is still The Wire, which, who could blame ‘em?

Jim Henson’s Holiday Special (1977, 1984) – A Yuletide, Muppet-themed double feature of Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and The Bells of Fraggle Rock, two beloved Jim Henson holiday classics. Screening Sunday 12/16 via Fathom Events.

-Brandon Ledet

Shirkers (2018)

Swampflix is a money-losing labor of love. Everyone who contributes to this blog is a non-professional, untrained cinephile who just happens to have enough passionate opinions about movies to need the creative outlet. If our collective had formed a couple decades earlier, Swampflix almost certainly would have been a zine instead of a blog – an assumed truth I try my best to reflect in the site’s general DIY aesthetic & our participation in zine culture events like NOCAZ & The American Library Association Zine Pavilion. The 2018 documentary Shirkers is as accurate of a summation of that same zine culture aesthetic as any I’ve seen, both in its subject and in its editing methods. Novelist Sandi Tan begins the film recalling her teenage days as a pop culture gatekeeping zinester in early-90s Singapore. She translates the photocopier collages of her early zine collaborations with friends into a vibrant, volatile cinematic expression that affords the doc a distinct, yet familiar visual language. It’s a visual ethos that perfectly matches the subject it serves, as Shirkers is about the ultimate DIY art project time-suck, the most tragic of youthful collaborations lost to dissociation with the means of production. It’s the cinematic equivalent of working on a zine with your friends all summer only for the pages to blow away in a single gust of wind on your way to the photocopier, never to be recovered. It’s a pain in artistic loss that hit home for me in ways I did not expect, as I identified with its teen-girls-in-Singapore subject far more closely than I could have assumed I would, since we’re all DIY zine-makers at heart.

In the summer of 1992, Tan and her fellow brat-punk friends set out to make Singapore’s first entry in the era’s indie cinema boom – an aesthetic typified by then up-and-comers like Tarantino, Soderbergh, and Jarmusch. A DIY art project that translated their zinester tastemaker sensibilities to highly stylized, low-budget cinema, the original form of Shirkers was meant to defy Singapore’s cultural conservatism with some good ole 1990s who-cares slackerism. It was a 16mm “road trip movie in a country you can drive across in 40 minutes,” a film more concerned about documenting counterculture personality & local atmosphere than telling a coherent story. With the help of a shady older man “of unplaceable age & origin,” the young women miraculously completed principle photography on the shoot, having all the raw materials necessary to complete a feature film. Then the creep who “helped” them disappeared with the footage, with no one else who had worked on the film having seen a single frame. Tan eventually recovered the footage form Shirkers nearly 20 years later from the creep’s widow, finding its intensely vibrant colors & richly textured filmstock pristinely preserved by the conman who ruined her teenage dreams. Instead of attempting to reconstruct her original vision for the film (which would prove impossible, given its still-missing soundtrack), she instead uses the opportunity to explore who she was and why she was ripped off at such a pivotal rime in her life. The documentary version of Shirkers finds Tan both reopening old wounds in interviews with her closest zinester-days collaborators and investigating the mysterious identity & motivations of the man who derailed their dream project.

Shirkers figuratively hit close to home with me in its profile of DIY art project tragedy, but it also literally, geographically hit close to home with me in the trajectory of its narrative. It’s shocking how much of this story about a conflict that begins in Singapore finds its way to Mid-City New Orleans, as Tan investigates the mysterious backstory of her arch-enemy, Georges Cardona. She discovers that Cardona had a history of sabotaging microbudget art projects wherever he went, including an obscure 80s New Orleans slasher titled The Last Slumber Party. He was far more concerned with making legend than making art, claiming bizarre self-mythology (like being the source of inspiration for James Spaeder’s character in Sex, Lies, and Videotape) that’s just as unflattering as it is untrue. Outside considering the inappropriate nature of her youthful friendship with the much older Cardona, Tan’s investigation of his deceitful legacy mostly leads to fruitless dead ends. The true revelations she discovers in the doc are much more personal and, thus, more painful. When reflecting on her history as a culture-gatekeeping zinester and her over-ambitious willingness to risk her collaborators’ time & energy on a shady creep’s honor, Tan has a hard-look-in-the-mirror epiphany: she’s an asshole. Regardless of Cardona’s baffling behavior, the way she socially bullies her friends in her attempts to establish an artistic Personal Brand, both as a teen and as an adult, makes her out to be the true villain of this doomed DIY collaboration. The gorgeous footage that survived from Shirkers suggests that this assholery can lead to wonderful artistic results, but her headstrong stubbornness also leads directly to Cardona’s sabotage of the project – leaving her collective essentially empty-handed for their efforts. There’s a fascinating tension in that self-defeating dynamic that drives Shirkers’s thematic core.

You don’t have to be a DIY zinester with moviemaking dreams to appreciate Shirkers as an artistic, historical object; you don’t have to be a Singapore or New Orleans local either. It helps, but you don’t have to. Between the what-the-fuckery of Cardona’s mysterious backstory, the vibrant imagery of the recorded footage, and the preposterous circumstances of its inciting incidents, Shirkers has plenty to offer audiences as almost a true crime-level twisted story. I was just pleasantly surprised to personally connect with the film as a self-portrait of a socially tactless, self-sabotaging DIY artist. Tan got to me through the merits of her brutal self-honesty. More superficially, she also got to me through the aesthetics of her DIY zine culture ethos & her story’s exponentially rapid trajectory to my front doorstep.

-Brandon Ledet

Episode #71 of The Swampflix Podcast: #NOFF2018

Welcome to Episode #71 of The Swampflix Podcast! For our seventy-first episode, Brandon and CC review the overwhelming list of oddball films they caught at this year’s New Orleans Film Fest: 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 12/5/18 – 12/12/18

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Mirai – A tender animated drama about a young child’s jealousy of his newly arrived baby sister that eventually transforms into a time & space defying fantasy adventure, boosted by Miyazaki-style anime artistry.  Screening Saturday 12/8 via Fathom Events.

Creed II – I’m not much of a sports movie fanatic, but Ryan Coogler’s 2015 boxing drama Creed was enough of a knockout to punch past my genre biases and knock me on my ass.  It’s one of a very select few sports movies I can think of that made me weep instead of lulling me to sleep. Coogler is not involved with this scrappier follow-up, but reviews have mostly been positive and supporting actor Tessa Thompson is already in three of my favorite releases of the year (Annihilation, Dirty Computer, and Sorry to Bother You), so it still seems to be worth a look.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Widows  Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen cashes in some of his prestige points to make a heist picture about a group of ordinary women who reluctantly transform into violent criminals, a collaboration with Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. I was surprised by how much of his one functions like an ensemble cast melodrama instead of the action-thriller that was advertised. Not disappointed, just surprised. It feels like a movie custom built for people whose all-time favorite TV show is still The Wire, which, who could blame ‘em?

Overlord– This is less the Nazi Zombie Movie tedium delivered in Dead Snow than it is an over-the-top descendant of Re-Animator, reinterpreted as a WWII video game. It’s cartoonish schlock with a big studio budget behind it – a deliriously fun, cathartic middle finger to the Nazi grotesqueries of the modern world. Only screening at Canal Place, likely its final week on local big screens.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans this Week 11/29/18 – 10/5/18

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, including a couple one-time-only specialty events.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Snow White (1916) The Silent Era fairy tale classic that famously inspired Walt Disney’s first animated feature.  The Historic New Orleans Collection will be screening the film at the William Research Center on Sunday 11/2, with live piano accompaniment.

Shakedown A documentary about the underground black lesbian strip club scene in early 2000s Los Angeles, this one appears to be an essential, rowdy, aggressively political addendum to 2018’s other black dance circuit doc This One’s for the Ladies . . .  Playing Friday 11/30 as part of Shotgun Cinema’s Full Aperture series.

Mirai A tender animated drama about a young child’s jealousy of his newly arrived baby sister that eventually transforms into a time & space defying fantasy adventure, boosted by Miyazaki-style anime artistry.  Screening Thursday 11/29, Friday 11/30, and Wednesday 10/5 via Fathom Events.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Overlord– This is less the Nazi Zombie Movie tedium delivered in Dead Snow than it is an over-the-top descendant of Re-Animator, reinterpreted as a WWII video game. It’s cartoonish schlock with a big studio budget behind it – a deliriously fun, cathartic middle finger to the Nazi grotesqueries of the modern world. Only screening at Canal Place, likely its final week on local big screens.

Widows  Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen cashes in some of his prestige points to make a heist picture about a group of ordinary women who reluctantly transform into violent criminals, a collaboration with Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. I was surprised by how much of his one functions like an ensemble cast melodrama instead of the action-thriller that was advertised. Not disappointed, just surprised. It feels like a movie custom built for people whose all-time favorite TV show is still The Wire, which, who could blame ‘em?

Venom – A C-grade superhero movie that treads water for at least a half-hour, then mutates into an A+ slapstick body-horror comedy with an outright Nic Cagian lead performance from Tom Hardy. Venom is a less satirically pointed, big-budget version of Upgrade or a modernized Henenlotter, but its highs are also much funnier (and surprisingly queerer) than either of those reference points. It’s a lot of fun if you maintain your patience through the first act.

-Brandon Ledet