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STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.




3. Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce vs. 14. Terence Fisher’s Brides of Dracula

Brides is fun. Its pulpy, its gothic, its got a fun finale. Its probably the most Hammery Hammer I've seen. I find that a lot of fun and I've actually seen this more than any other Hammer film and its a real easy watch. But there's also nothing that super stands out in it either. Its ok but the villain sucks and nothing really elevates things. It flows easier than most to me because I feel like a lot of Hammer films kind of die in the middle when people are just researching or investigating or something. But I think Brides manages to avoid that by spending the first act with the damsel in distress running around the spooky mansion before Peter Cushing shows up in the second. The first act maybe drags a little towards the end but it keeps the middle from dragging where I think a lot of them do. Instead we get Cushing do his rounds of giving everyone the speech and figuring out the game and then into Action Helsing for the finale. So it flows. But I can't really say much beyond that.

Lifeforce on the other hand is like the opposite? Its kind of long and does kind of drag in the middle as the film awkwardly transitions from one kind of movie into another kind. Like one minute its 50s B lab film, then people wander around a little, and then all of sudden its a full blown apocalypse. But man there's a lot that happens in all the in betweens. A ton to write home about and remember. Great effects with the zombified vampires that have more than a passing similarity to the classic effects of <b>Return of the Living Dead</b> released within 2 months, which can't be a coincidence considering Dan O'Bannon wrote this and Tobe Hooper was supposed to direct Return. So I don't know where exactly the links line up but its clear they do. And then there's just the tiniest bit of sexual imagery and content. You know, if you're paying close attention. That gets uncomfortable and rapey at times and isn't my thing as much as it is everyone else's around here but its very memorable and shapes the movie. The movie's maybe a little too ambitions and insane and much. It feels less like a homerun and more like big hit that gets caught up in a crazy rear end rundown. But what a spectacle that makes.

So yeah, Lifeforce. But I thought about it.

6. (Irony or Death’s The Nephilim) Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor vs. 11. (Debbie Does Dagon’s Team Deb Tricks You Into Watching Porn) Bruce LaBruce’s Otto; or, Up With Dead People

I'm not as high on Possessor as everyone else is. As we all know I'm a story and character guy more than an effects and style guy. I think Cronenberg actually drops the ball a bit in the story and characters. I don't think Vos ever really gets established as a character nor her victim, and I think that fundamentally hurts the core story of them struggling for control. Instead of watching an actor play two characters wrestling in the same skin it just sort of plays like a guy I don't really know acting irrationally. And the emotional impact of the finale is again hurt by not really knowing Vos. The effects are great and the film does a great job establishing the whole sense of disassociation and not knowing who you are or feeling like you're in the right body. And I totally get why that clicks with so many. I just feel like all the story threads in between are kind of loose and the more you think about them the more they start to fray. That's not really the point and I get that, but you know... you either feel it or you don't. I think its an interesting film and I'm curious to see more from him. And I don't have the same reservations I have with his dad. But it just didn't fully click for me and I actually liked it less on the second watch when I started to notice those flaws more and appreciate the uniqueness less.

Otto is definitely unique. I don't really know what to make of it. Its kind of a mess of ideas constructing a way that is either so genius I miss it or too loose to really make out where the lines should be. The filming ideas are interesting. The themes are interesting. People in discord during the stream more familiar with the academic history of the themes of zombies and death being used as metaphors for escape from society's rejections or heteronormative standards helped me understand them. I'm just not sure the film itself really communicates that quite as clearly. It felt maybe a bit like a movie you kind of already had to have an understanding of some ideas or engagement in some elements to really get all it was trying to say. Its a unique and interesting watch and again maybe more style than substance. I didn't quite love it but I don't regret it or anything. It was different.

So gonna go Possessor there. Neither really clicked with me but I did get Possessor a bit more.

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Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





I feel like I might be fighting an uphill battle this week, but I must argue for why you should all vote for my team, Deb Tricks You Into Watching Porn, and its entrant Otto; or, Up With Dead People. Otto is a fascinating film for multiple reasons, and has, I would say, a level of depth untouched by Possessor. I would absolutely concede that Possessor is visually creative, has an incredible amount of visceral and disturbing gore, and packs a punch. I would say, however, that it is not equal to Otto in terms of depth, character-building, or in regards to the themes presented.

"Plague remains a virulent metaphor: a powerful and historically lethal way of labeling enemies and outsiders, a disturbing vector for our fears surrounding the fragility of the social bond”
-Jennifer Cooke

Otto concerns itself with a multitude of competing questions. First, and most obvious, is the issue of zombieism as a metaphor not only for homosexuality but the outsider status that comes with all queer identities. The film presents Otto as a largely harmless figure despite his monstrous undead condition. The typical movie zombie is often presented as being stripped of consciousness, of personality, of moral agency, and of human connection. Otto, on the other hand, contains and desires all of these things in abundance. The presence of these desires creates a gap between our audience/societal expectation of Otto, and the reality of his existence within the world. He is a foil to the simplistic narratives of homosexuality and queer-identities as some two-dimensional societal pollutant, and instead uses the monstrous status to highlight Otto's plight as a target for homophobic abuse. It's no coincidence that the final line of the film quotes from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, as the theme of being rejected by our "makers" rings loud within Otto.



The film begins with a juxtaposition of images, suggesting apocalypse, war, and a zombie uprising. Yet the narration contradicts that stereotypical reading, instead positing the zombies as a largely unimposing, unthreatening group, incapable of mounting significant threat against the human race, and may in fact be a reaction against the inhumanity of humanity. Tellingly, what isn't commented upon within the film, is the obvious parallels that could be made between gay-zombie infection and the AIDs/HIV epidemic. I feel that's an obvious and potentially rich reading, but I think its absence is purposeful, as the focus of the film is an expectation and confrontation of fears, and not the realisation of them.



The film itself is in fact three films folded into a nonlinear narrative. First, there is the world of the film, then nested within that is another two distinct films, Otto, a documentary about the titular character, and Up With Dead People, a pornographic political diatribe against violence directed toward the gay community. The distinction between these three films is incredibly muddy and often switches perspective mid-scene, which forces the viewer to be constantly unsure about what can be taken for granted.



There are two occasions within the film of attacks on zombies which are coded as homophobic in nature. Once at the hands of white skinheads, and once more at the hands of middle-eastern teenagers. During the stream, there was consternation over the latter and its potential islamophobic messaging, which, given the time and place of the filming is entirely likely. In any case, the message is clear that the world is not a safe place for queer homeless people. After this second attack, Otto confides with a friend that he was "bashed", and the friend, and we the audience, are instantly aware of what that entails and why it was motivated. Violence against people with queer identities is an open secret that is blithely shrugged at, with an "oh well, what a shame" by the public at large, and yet is a constant stultifying everpresent fear for those who have to deal with the reality of that violence.



Otto's decision to enter the world of pornography mirrors the lived realities of many young queer people, often as an escape from a violent and uncertain life on the street, as Otto does. This is where the political ramifications are made concrete, as Otto's precarious social position and seeming self-exile is simultaneously explored and exploited by Madea, the aforementioned pornographic filmmaker who uses Otto as a platform for her own beliefs. Much of Madea's monologues are actually extracted from director Bruce LaBruce's own “Purple Resistance Army Manifesto”.



While the Madea of the film is clearly repeating lines that hold great significance to the director, they’re delivered in a pretentious, droning, inaccessible way that is beyond Otto, but I feel like that’s the point. Otto represents a rebellion that defies the neat categorisation Madea represents. Transforming yourself into a zombie is an absurd protest, which tilts against life, society, hygiene, and everything considered to be good taste, but I think there's something in taking ownership of absurdity and bad-taste in a culture that calls your existence absurd.



Madea is transfixed with the concept that Otto should make sense, that he should fit within her narrative for the world, her script. Yet it is that same insistence that the world must make sense, and that everyone should fit within a prescribed narrative, that sets those who do not neatly meet those narrative structures at odds with the system. As people with queer identities, we do not fit within the "classical" narratives, yet we have always existed within them. We are treated perpetually as newcomers because our voices have been buried, ignored, pushed aside, and destroyed, with our only hope being to rise from the grave, generation after generation, and attempt to have our voices heard once more over the din of normativity, a feat that often requires radical methods, such as, as the wonderful Peacoffee pointed out during the stream, having unsimulated gay-zombie-sex with an abdominal wound.



The conclusion of the film plays with the idea of resurrection quite literally, with Madea worrying that Otto visiting his ex-boyfriend may rekindle some joie de vivre. In fact, sitting on the bench, piecing through his old life with his ex, Otto looks more alive than at any previous moment in the film. There is clearly the seed here of a love-conquering-all happy ending, allowing those of us who feel like outcasts to find community and repair our hearts, our minds, and souls. It is not however a path Otto chooses or considers open to him, signaling that there are no simple fixes to the wider societal issues at play, only further struggle.



I just want to end this rambling mess with a small note of appreciation for the cast, all of whom deliver brave, uninhibited, and honest performances. A few notable highlights include Hella Bent, a flapper character who is shot at all times as if they were a silent film star, including dialogue cards. And of course the titular Otto, who, within and without the films within the film, is incredibly cute, charming, and tragic. In fact, if just want to watch a film about cute guys making out with each other, you could do a lot worse.

Basebf555
Feb 29, 2008

The greatest sensual pleasure there is is to know the desires of another!



Fun Shoe

In fairness I have to say that I really did enjoy Brides of Dracula more this time around, maybe the company in the stream helped boost it. For one, Martita Hunt is fantastic as the mother of the boring villain. Without her, the movie would really fall on it's face because she carries the first act. Secondly, this movie has some of the best stuff Cushing ever did as the Van Helsing character. The scene where he gets bitten and then has to cauterize the wound is amazing, and in 1960 he was still young enough to be leaping around and jumping off furniture, etc.

I dunno, part of me wants to "break the rules" and just vote for Fisher because I want to see him in future rounds and have him get the opportunity to draw more movies. It's tough to do that because Lifeforce is one of my favorite movies and part of me would definitely feel dirty voting against it. Uniqueness is something I usually vote for when the opponent is more of a predictable sequel, which you could argue that Brides of Dracula is. And Lifeforce is undeniably one of the most unique combinations of elements you'll ever see in any film, let alone a big budget studio film. So my gut is telling me I will vote for Lifeforce but my heart is still trying to pull me the other direction. I'll probably vote at some point today.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment



Grimey Drawer

I'm leaning Lifeforce, but I've only seen it and Daughters of Dracula all-the-way through once each. I'd like to do a rewatch and see what I think now.

I loved Possessor, but I gotta watch Otto to see where I lean.

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



Basebf555 posted:

In fairness I have to say that I really did enjoy Brides of Dracula more this time around, maybe the company in the stream helped boost it. For one, Martita Hunt is fantastic as the mother of the boring villain. Without her, the movie would really fall on it's face because she carries the first act.

One of the most underrated Hammer performances ever.

Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





Someone contacted me this morning complaining that they had trouble tracking down Otto, and were considering voting for Possessor without watching the film.

1. Please don't do that. You can abstain from voting in specific matchups, you don't have to fill out the entire form.
2. I will be streaming both Otto and Possessor again tonight on Discord, at 8pm EST.
3. If you PM me either here, or on Discord, I will gladly hook you up with a copy of Otto.

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




Debbie Does Dagon posted:

You can abstain from voting in specific matchups, you don't have to fill out the entire form.

This is an important note for people who are participating quietly from the sidelines. This is what I did in the round where there were films I wasn't sure I could "take" at the time.

FWIW I watched Otto and thought it was OK, my comments would be similar to STAC's I suppose. I voted Possessor / Lifeforce

Basebf555
Feb 29, 2008

The greatest sensual pleasure there is is to know the desires of another!



Fun Shoe

Are you gonna stream Otto first or second? I want to try to make it but if it's not starting until after 10pm I probably won't be able to.

Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





Basebf555 posted:

Are you gonna stream Otto first or second? I want to try to make it but if it's not starting until after 10pm I probably won't be able to.

It'll be Otto first, so at 8pm EST :)

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



Your friendly weekly reminder that voting closes at 3 AM EST Friday, Mar 5th (or when I wake up). That's about 36 hours away and Deb's doing a stream tonight so theres still some time.

Basebf555
Feb 29, 2008

The greatest sensual pleasure there is is to know the desires of another!



Fun Shoe

I voted for Otto. Not because I dislike Possessor, I enjoyed Possessor quite a bit. But these are two films that are pretty hard to compare, they're not really operating on an even playing field, and their goals are completely different. And I feel like in terms of accomplishing those goals they were about equal.

The decider was just watching Otto, and seeing how weird and unique it is, it made me interested to see what else this team has up it's sleeve, whereas with the Nephilim team I kinda feel like I know what I'm gonna get there. At least somewhat. So I voted for the team that I wanted to see more of, even though this specific matchup was basically a push for me.

married but discreet
May 7, 2005




Taco Defender

Short thoughts:

Brides of Dracula
Hammer movies for me almost always sound better in concept than in execution. I like foggy forests, fake looking sets, Peter Cushing, this movie has all the elements and does nothing interesting with them. Completely what you’d expect from a Hammer movie, a fun finale, but overall nothing to make it stand out from the many movies of its kind.

Lifeforce
Now here’s a movie that stands out. A rare rewatch where I absolute had no recollection of the movie outside of a picture of a naked lady walking out of some sort of glass window situation, and yes that was indeed a memorable scene, but there’s much more. SOOO much more. Voting for Lifeforce

Possessor
A movie that just ekes over the threshold where it’s good enough for me to be unfairly and unwarrantedly picky about it. It does quite well with such a videogamey premise, but it’s very derivative in that sense. I personally don’t like being reminded of better movies when I’m watching a movie that I’d otherwise enjoy. This one gave me (obviously) strong Cronenberg vibes, but I was also reminded of the best parts of Blade Runner 2049, which itself suffered from comparisons to the original BR and Her. I was also going to criticize the visual motifs for being there for no other reason than being there, but thankfully Tarnop patiently explained them to my dumb beep boop robot rear end. But really, none of this is valid criticism that I could properly justify. It’s a good movie, some excellent horrors scenes, looks good, it just didn’t grip me that hard.

Otto, or Up With Dead People
Now here’s a movie that didn’t remind me of anything else, and something that as a result I could pay full attention to. Well, it did remind me of the 2000’s, the fashion, American Idiot style teen angst. I’d like to know more about Bruce LaBruce’s painfully juvenile manifesto. It’s so endearing, and it’s admirable that he’d be willing to make fun of it like that. It’s of course worse than Possessor on every technical level, but it’s got heart, drat it. Voting for Otto.

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



I gotta get to WandaVision so lets hurry this along.



No upsets this round. Deb made a passionate play for Otto and her Tricky Team and it led to a late week surge but not enough to ever really threaten the hot new Cronenberg film Possessor which cruises him and young Ms. Lynch into the second round with their dads. Hooper’s Lifeforce had as an easy week itself as a lot of people came to the defense of Hammer and Terrence Fisher but no one could really get too enthusiastic for Brides of Dracula. That means Fisher falls first round the second year in a row and Tobe Hooper heads into second round matchup with Irony or Death’s The Nephilim.

Lets do another round.

3. Joe Dante’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch vs. 14. Jack Hill’s Alien Terror

Last year Joe Dante ran over the always popular Mike Flanagan first round with The Burbs before his Howling dropped to eventual champion Ken Russell’s Altered States second round. Jack Hill is new to the tourney and a late add to the nom pool when I just happened to watch Spider Baby the last night. Now I don’t know much about him or Alien Terror but based on that one film we could have quite a wacky double feature on our hands. Its gonna be tough to beat Gremlins 2, though, as its a crowd favorite. But Jack Hill is an interesting matchup and Alien Terror appears to be a 1980s Mexican film directed by someone else but with inserted scenes filmed by Hill starring Boris Karloff? So I’m intrigued. Honestly, I’m kind of excited to watch it now. Can Dante put together a better run this year without a darkhorse champion in his path or can Hill make another upset happen?

Sequel Alert: Gremlins 2 is of course the sequel to Gremlins. Duh. On the off chances you haven’t seen Gremlins it IS a direct sequel with many references and characters but also you could definitely just enjoy Gremlins 2 on its own understanding the basic idea of little monsters. You’d just miss a few gags.

Shrecknet posted:

Ex-cuse me?!! The President's Day monologue in Gremlins 2 is the funniest thing in the entire movie and only works if you've seen the original.
Shreck makes a good point. You won't just miss a few gags. You'll miss some GREAT gags. So watch Gremlins if you can.

Redraw Alert: Deb and I debated redrawing Alien Terror. It was hard for Deb to track down a copy and even harder for subtitles. But there is a copy on Youtube with closed captioning that can auto translate. Those subtitles are as questionable as any online auto translator but… well, remember The Bride? So we debated redrawing for a more accessible film, especially since Hill only kinda directed parts of this. But Hill only has 7 horror films on Letterboxd and Deb says its gonna be a similar problem with a bunch of his films. So we’d really just theoretically be delaying the problem and it IS on Youtube and watchable. So we opted to stay.

Joe Dante’s Gremlins is on HBO Max in the US.
Joe Dante’s Gremlins 2 is on HBO Max in the US.

Jack Hill’s Alien Terror is on Youtube with spanish subtitles that can be auto translated.


6. Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance vs. 11. (STAC Goat’s Rustic Films) Jeremy Gardner & Christian Stella’s After Midnight

Park dropped first round last year with part of the Three… Extremes anthology, losing to FW Murnau’s Faust. But this year Park’s seeded higher and Murnau is already gone so can his luck turn around with one of his more highly regarded films? His opponent is my 87th team but maybe my favorite one, built around Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead’s production studio/crew. But After Midnight isn’t actually one of their films and its also kind of barely a horror film. Honestly, even knowing nothing about Lady Vengeance I don’t have much hope for my team to win. But its a quirky little relationship story with a monster twist that I really enjoyed when I saw so I’m happy to revisit it and share it with everyone and maybe a few people won’t hate it as much as everyone on Letterboxd does? Seriously, read some reviews. People hate this film in a really funny way.

Also I vow to rename this team “Enemies of Horror” if they advance.

Sequel Alert: Lady Vengeance is the third film of Park’s “Vengeance Trilogy” along with Sympathy for Mr Vengeance and Oldboy. But this appears to be a thematic trilogy with no real continuity or character ties so I’m gonna go ahead and skip those since it doesn't feel like the kind of thing I want to binge. Your call.

Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is on Criterion and Mubi and free on Tubi, Popcorn, Vudu, and Hoopla in the US.
Park Chan Wook’s Oldboy
Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is on Criterion and Mubi and free on Tubi and Popcorn in the US.

Jeremy Gardner & Christian Stella’s After Midnight is available on Shudder and AMC+ and free on Hoopla in the US.

That’s our week. Looks like a fun, silly night with Dante/Hill and then maybe a deeper taste depending night for Park/Horror’s Enemies. I look forward to it.

Vote until 3 AM EST Mar 12th (or when I wake up)

Bracket & Noms Spreadsheet
Letterboxd List

Next Week!

3. George Romero vs. 14. Joel Schumacher
6. STAC Goat’s The Ghostbeaters (Sam Raimi, Fede Alvarez, & Dan O'Bannon) vs. 11. Kiyoshi Kurosawa

STAC Goat fucked around with this message at 20:23 on Mar 5, 2021

Tarnop
Nov 25, 2013

Pull me out



This looks like a fun round!

Also, I can confirm that Lady Vengeance is a standalone film. Like Goat guessed, the trilogy is a thematic one

married but discreet
May 7, 2005




Taco Defender

The supposedly harmless heterosexual majority has spoken on Otto I guess

I'm expecting no upsets this round, Gremlins 2 is an all time great and Lady Vengeance, well, the quote by Liam says it all.

married but discreet fucked around with this message at 14:04 on Mar 5, 2021

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



I voted for Otto :(

Basebf555
Feb 29, 2008

The greatest sensual pleasure there is is to know the desires of another!



Fun Shoe

I voted for Otto but I kinda knew it had no chance, Possessor was really popular in the horror thread when it first hit the scene.

After Midnight looks really interesting and it's on Shudder so I'm looking forward to that, and of course a rewatch of Gremlins 2 is always nice.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Maybe it's just cause I didn't grow up with it and saw it as an adult but my controversial stance on Gremlins 2 is that it's good, but not great. Like, it's fun don't get me wrong, just I expected more from it.

Shrecknet
Jan 2, 2005

Nosferatu Enthusiast
@shrecknet



STAC Goat posted:

On the off chances you haven’t seen Gremlins it IS a direct sequel with many references and characters but also you could definitely just enjoy Gremlins 2 on its own understanding the basic idea of little monsters. You’d just miss a few gags.
Ex-cuse me?!! The President's Day monologue in Gremlins 2 is the funniest thing in the entire movie and only works if you've seen the original.

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



TrixRabbi posted:

Maybe it's just cause I didn't grow up with it and saw it as an adult but my controversial stance on Gremlins 2 is that it's good, but not great. Like, it's fun don't get me wrong, just I expected more from it.

Seconded. It's fun in the abstract and I'm glad it exists but I find it kind of exhausting. I prefer the kiddie-traumatizing menace of the first one.

MacheteZombie
Feb 4, 2007






I liked Otto but Possessor was a better movie.

Nothing personal. Just thought Otto meandered aimlessly at points and not in interesting ways.

Hella and Otto were great and very unique though

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




As you suffer through Alien Terror, squinting at a film made with perhaps $20 in the budget for lighting, trying to make heads or tails of the dialog through a combination of the bit of Spanish you've picked up from Duolingo and the attempt at translated subtitles from Youtube, you will look at yourself in the mirror and think:



Gremlins 2 is a loving blast. Gizmo makes a flaming arrow out of a pencil and a bottle of white-out and uses it to kill a gremlin that drank spider potion. The "Lincoln's birthday" bit is a hilarious reference to the original. There's a Miss Vanjie gremlin. This is the easiest vote of all time.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



I will say, so far this tournament has not disappointed in leading us to strange, offbeat movies.

Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





MacheteZombie posted:

I liked Otto but Possessor was a better movie.

Nothing personal. Just thought Otto meandered aimlessly at points and not in interesting ways.

Hella and Otto were great and very unique though

Et tu, Machete?

Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





:spooky: Week 10 Bracketology Streams! :spooky:
:rip: Only on the CineD Discord :rip:

All times are in EST and may not reflect reality.

Saturday, March 6th



1900 Alien Terror
2025 Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Monday, March 8th



1900 Lady Vengeance
2105 After Midnight

Content Warnings

Alien Terror
Australia:M Germany:18 Iceland:(Banned)

Gremlins 2 - The New Batch
Contains moderate threat and comic horror. Contains moderate violence

Lady Vengeance (2005)
Contains strong violence

After Midnight
strong language, bloody violence

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



I think Otto would have been an easier sell if it hadn't been up against a movie that also seemed to have something to say and connected with people in a visually unique way. It was a very good double feature in that regard but it put Otto at a disadvantage that it diluted some of its appeal. Had it been up against something more standard or boring it might have been able to pull off the upset on its uniqueness.

Shrecknet posted:

Ex-cuse me?!! The President's Day monologue in Gremlins 2 is the funniest thing in the entire movie and only works if you've seen the original.

Fair. Sequel Alert ammended.

Servoret
Nov 8, 2009



STAC Goat posted:

I think Otto would have been an easier sell if it hadn't been up against a movie that also seemed to have something to say and connected with people in a visually unique way.

What does Possessor have to say? Asking because it didn’t really connect with me. (I was also an Otto voter.)

STAC Goat
Mar 12, 2008

Watching you sleep.

Butt first, let's
check the feeds.



Servoret posted:

What does Possessor have to say? Asking because it didn’t really connect with me. (I was also an Otto voter.)

It felt like a lot of people connected with the ideas of disassociation or not knowing who you are or feeling like you're in the wrong body. That largely felt like the main theme of the movie to me, I just didn't really connect with the characters enough to connect with the theme. But a lot of the positive reviews/discussions I've had have talked that aspect up.

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



Servoret posted:

What does Possessor have to say?

Work sucks.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment



Grimey Drawer

Servoret posted:

What does Possessor have to say? Asking because it didn’t really connect with me. (I was also an Otto voter.)



This is a big one.

Tasya is told multiple times by Girder that she is their best assassin. Her reward for this is to continue being an assassin. You can infer that she is paid well, but you can also infer that the money goes directly to her husband and child. That's about the best thing that comes from her work as an assassin.

Our first moment with Tasya is her memory test, where she opens a box of memorabilia. Some of them directly relate to her memories, some of them are false icons. We don't get to know which results are correct, we only hear what Girder says is correct. From the memory test in the beginning the memory test at the end of the film, the answers change. More memories have died, calling into question, "How many memories of Tasya has died?" This first scene with Tasya's memory box reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut's Rules of Writing, where #5 is "Start as close to the end as possible." With the very first scene, when Tasya is inhabiting the body of a server at the party, she chooses to stab the target to death. Her control over her bloodlust is waning, and she is becoming more desensitized to the violence she commits (and becomes more violent because of it) while also being inundated by violent imagery in her day-to-day life, further alienating her from human connection. This directly leads to her failing her mission, when she is more interested in torturing her target, Parse, than killing him. By the end of the film, in the final memory interview, she no longer expresses guilt for killing the butterfly. Her human capability for empathy, sympathy and pity has withered away with the murder of her family.

A fascinating moment in the film is Tasya, in Tate's body, actually making love to Tate's girlfriend Ava. Tasya's rushed her preparation and isn't able to fully act like Tate, which makes Ava suspicious. And yet they seem to have a genuine connection when Tasya and her are having sex. Tasya wasn't able to connect with her (ex)husband Michael, and seems to gently caress him out of an attempt to feel normal again (and to get rid of their dinner guests, whom Michael enjoys talking with while Tasya can't say anything), but instead just has visions of the yonic neck wound she stabbed into her previous target. Tasya's moments alone are all moments of rehearsal for when she has to be around normal people, and it's a great irony that the one time we see her connecting with someone, Ava, is in an act of physical connection, non-verbal, and one that can be used for great intimacy. Except this moment is ultimately a rape for Ava, because she is consenting to her lover, and is instead loving someone in her lover's skin. The moment also rocks Tasya's sense of self, with her identity blurring with Tate as he possibly fights to come back into control.

The ultimate deciding factors on all of the major plot beats happen over wealth and power. Tasya is just a pawn in several greater corporate games. Even though she is an assassin, ultimately this is a game about climbing corporate ladders, both for Tasya and Colin Tate. The company Tasya works for is hired to kill CEO John Parse, with an awesomely high financial reward in addition to granting the company huge stakes in Parse's company. Money and power. Girder is able to convince Tasya to take on the contract, partially through psychologically conditioning her to acknowledge her alienation from her family and human connections, partially through complimenting her as the best employee, and partially through hinting at a promotion. The real reason for the contract--money and power--won't benefit Tasya in the slightest. Colin Tate is dating the boss's daughter. She is incredibly attractive and affluent. While it does not seem possible that Tate will marry his way up the corporate ladder, as Parse is an arrogant sociopath, he is still benefiting from the affluence Ava affords him. Tasya's possessing him and using him as a pawn in a greater game (in which she is also a pawn) puts them in direct competition over contradictory goals.

Once the murder of Michael Parse and Ava is completed/botched, the struggle between Tasya and Tate begins in their one body. Tasya has taken everything from Tate and made him a murderer. If Tate can't find a way to maintain his control over his identity and body, he will at least try and destroy everything Tasya has. Another great irony is that Tate doesn't have much to take; Tasya's identity, life, and connection to the world has long been systematically destroyed by her career.

The finale leaves the paranoid conclusion that Tate may have been a pawn in a greater war over Tasya than Tasya realized. There is room to believe Tate's neural transplant was compromised from the beginning. Tasya's son received a neural transplant surgery, which we know takes planning and preparation, meaning Girder's controlling him to kill Tate was not a last-minute decision, but had been a part of the scheme in the beginning. Whether or not Girder is acting on her own interests in keeping her most valuable employee her asset, or for the greater company, it is obvious she has been planning on eliminating Tasya's family.

So, in conclusion:

-Tasya and Tate are expendable cogs in a system that only benefits those in charge. You can take this theme and compare it to the corporate world driven by capitalist interests, and/or you could consider Tasya a soldier of sorts, fighting a war that benefits powers above her at the cost of her innocence and humanity
-One of the most valuable pieces of humanity is our individual identity, which is becoming more fragile and threatened with the advancement of technology, and the capabilities of weaponizing individuals against their will
-The only targets we see assassinated are CEOs and business men, implying that most of the jobs Tasya's company is hired for is corporate espionage, not military, not political, and certainly not overtly criminal (like a kingpin of a drug trafficking ring or a sex-slave trafficking ring). It's just a new wrinkle of capitalism brought about by new capabilities of technology.

Franchescanado fucked around with this message at 14:40 on Mar 8, 2021

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment



Grimey Drawer

STAC Goat posted:

It felt like a lot of people connected with the ideas of disassociation or not knowing who you are or feeling like you're in the wrong body. That largely felt like the main theme of the movie to me, I just didn't really connect with the characters enough to connect with the theme. But a lot of the positive reviews/discussions I've had have talked that aspect up.

Unrelated specifically to Possessor, but a question it brings up to me, to ask you specifically:

In Possessor, the film is set up to where you're not really supposed to connect with the characters. Tasya begins the film a shell of a person, broken by her career in destroying lives internally, at the cost of her own internal life. We do not know Tate until Tasya has already taken over his body (creating the suspense of the audience knowing just as much about Tate and how he acts as Tasya does, and knowing every interaction she has as Tate is dangerous), and only get to know Tate once his life has been destroyed. At points I was rooting for Tasya to succeed in her mission, but also understanding that it would mean Tate, (probably) an innocent, and Ava, would be murdered. But if I also rooted for Tate, that would mean Tasya ultimately failed to reclaim her humanity (very unlikely). So, there's no "good" way to root for anyone in the film; my interest is in watching the implosion of events and how drastic the repercussions will be, not in the hopes of any character's salvation or happy ending.

Knowing that you really like Marvel movies (and use them to decompress from the bleaker competitors in this challenge), where the impetus in the brand is that every character, even villains, fit into a likeable mold, I've been wondering:

What movies, if any, would say you like/love (4 stars or more, for Letterboxd standards), where you do not connect to the characters and/or find them all detached, or bad, evil, or reprehensible?

married but discreet
May 7, 2005




Taco Defender

Those are good posts and might have swayed me to vote for Possessor. Not that it would have mattered.

Shrecknet
Jan 2, 2005

Nosferatu Enthusiast
@shrecknet



Franchescanado posted:

What movies, if any, would say you like/love (4 stars or more, for Letterboxd standards), where you do not connect to the characters and/or find them all detached, or bad, evil, or reprehensible?
Pretty much the only movie like that on my LB 4+ stars is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and that is an exceptional movie in so many ways that it really stands alone.

Basebf555
Feb 29, 2008

The greatest sensual pleasure there is is to know the desires of another!



Fun Shoe

Shrecknet posted:

Pretty much the only movie like that on my LB 4+ stars is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and that is an exceptional movie in so many ways that it really stands alone.

Henry at least has Becky, who you worry about and you root for her to get away from Henry and Otis.

That's what's rare about the sort of thing Fran is talking about, usually in a movie full of reprehensible characters there's at least one anchor character that the audience is supposed to latch onto. Like half of the Coen Bros films are close to falling into this category but they always give you the one character you can connect with and root for. Almost always.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment



Grimey Drawer

Shrecknet posted:

Pretty much the only movie like that on my LB 4+ stars is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and that is an exceptional movie in so many ways that it really stands alone.

It's a really good example of one, though! Did you get that from the first watch, or did it grow in your esteem like Ms. 45 ?

(edit: I realize I've been responding to Shrecknet to a question posed to STAC without really reading the username; STAC Goat gained appreciation for Ms. 45 after a 2nd viewing. My confusion, my bad.)

Franchescanado fucked around with this message at 16:21 on Mar 8, 2021

Shrecknet
Jan 2, 2005

Nosferatu Enthusiast
@shrecknet



Ive only seen Henry once, it was a hard watch and while I got a lot out of it, its not exactly Mean Girls in terms of throwing it on for a rewatch while im cleaning the house

Uncle Boogeyman
Jul 22, 2007



To expand on my earlier post a bit, for me Possessor is a movie set in a very near future where even in the relatively high-class corporate world, work starts at a baseline of degrading (sitting in a row of people at a bay of computers watching people have sex all day) and quickly progresses to the realm of the literally dehumanizing (mind-raping people and forcing them to commit gruesome murders while yourself inhabiting their body and taking on a grotesque pantomime of suicide, or in the end, killing your entire family in front of your boss and liking it too, or at least having to pretend you do to a degree where “liking it” and “pretending to” are indistinguishable from each other). It is the ultimate tour-of-hell horror movie about the 2020 gig economy.

I also found the performances by Andrea Riseborough and especially Christopher Abbott to be absolutely harrowing.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013

If it wasn't for disappointment
I wouldn't have any appointment



Grimey Drawer

Oh, the performances are ridiculously good. Nothing will make me cringe faster than an actor doing a shallow character change, like James McAvoy in Split, but when it's done well, like in Possessor, it's just fantastic. There's a lot of aspect of film I like and would like to do, but the performances in Possessor remind me that I am not an actor.

Uncle Boogeyman posted:

work starts at a baseline of degrading (sitting in a row of people at a bay of computers watching people have sex all day)

This was another great choice, and reminded me of an old job I had where they did the open-plan tri-cubicle thing. The reality of being elbow-to-elbow with a fellow employee in a disgusting dungeon-like room, then logging into a digital office with "pleasing"/"relaxing" imagery of trees, then logging into a digital computer interface within THAT, is just fantastic satire. Then to use THAT to then show that the job is to look through someone else's computer into their private life and to figure out what products they buy--invasion of privacy for capitalist intentions--it's just perfect. (So while Tasya's job is to invade the privacy of individuals for profitable homicide, Colin's job is to invade the privacy of individuals--and becoming the "eyes" of their computer into their private lives--for his company's profit.) Then the reveal that Colin Tate was put into that job to humiliate him from his future father-in-law is icing on the cake.

The layers are so much fun in that movie.

Franchescanado fucked around with this message at 17:03 on Mar 8, 2021

MacheteZombie
Feb 4, 2007






I enjoyed After Midnight. Well done indie horror/romance.

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The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




MacheteZombie posted:

I enjoyed After Midnight. Well done indie horror/romance.

I liked it too, thought it was pretty good, but I still have to watch Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

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