Popcorn Digest

Week of Saturday, October 29

Popcorn Digest

The pandemic has transformed me from a movie fan to a full blown movie pervert. On top of following movies, my cultural intake used to include a lot of novels and, you know, socializing, going to shows, galleries, what have you. But quarantine distinctly diminished my capacity to read for pleasure and I still don't go to indoor public events, so my movie time has mushroomed precipitously. Since January 2020 I have watched 1,230 films according to Letterboxd, and you don't average more than a movie a day without having something of a habit. I figured I'd use this newsletter to make recommendations to people not as terminally addicted but who might still want to see cool stuff!

Week of Saturday October 29
Movies Watched: 12
Countries: 4 (USA, Italy, Spain, Hungary)


The Assassination of Matteoti (1973, Italy, Dir Florestano Vancini)

Militant anti-fascist political thriller about early threats to Mussolini's regime and his ultimate path to consolidating power. Seemingly influenced by the broad socio-political storytelling of Costa-Gavras or Kinji Fukasaku, keeps you hoping that, despite its almost journalistic historical narration, somehow the regime is going to teeter and fall.

The Confrontation (1969, Hungary, Dir. Miklós Jancsó)

If you know one Hungarian filmmaker, it's probably slow cinema master Bela Tarr. But he studied under Jancsó who, alongside contemporaries in Poland and the Czech Republic, used historical allegory to evade Soviet censorship and produce devastating critiques of the USSR. This latter work shows his political sharpness giving way to more emotional and formalist concerns, and, as I wrote on Letterboxd, misses the mark a bit on critiquing 68 student movements, but you'd be forgiven for rolling your eyes at my description of this as less political, as even a minor Jancsó is still a hilarious, fiery, tragic and gorgeous work of protest cinema.

Killer Workout AKA Aerobicide AKA Death Spa (1987, USA, David A. Prior)

From the high to the very very low, this great value slasher from straight to video schlockteur Prior really challenges my insistence that there's no such thing as "so-bad-its-good". Movies don't become good because they accumulate such a large amount of bad, instead they are good when every choice is bizarre, ridiculous or clearly driven by budget concerns in a consistent, hilarious and delightful way. Anyway, this movie about a serial killer using a giant safety pin to murder gym rats doing aerobics is a gem, and Rhonda Johnson a perfect queen. (Shout-out to Gaylords of Darkness for the rec)

Dawn of the Dead (1978, USA, George Romero)

Got the absolute delight of watching this perfect movie with two people who'd never seen it before on Halloween. A total cinematic achievement.  Truly grinding terror and despair alongside goofy camp and a real critique of everyday life and alienation. If you haven't yet, watch it.  

The Straight Story (1999, USA, David Lynch)

Did you know that David Lynch made a movie for Walt Disney Studios? And it's a deeply moving, funny and melancholic road movie/reflection on death/story of American state-produced trauma? What if Nomadland was actually really good instead of decent and kinda suss?


Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996, USA Greg Spence)

Look, I know what you're thinking: "Karen Black and Naomi Watts as a mother-daughter duo in a super gory slasher? Surely this is at least worth checking out!"* Reader, it is not.

Don't Worry Darling (USA, 2022, Olivia Wilde)

Hey, I didn't know Olivia Wilde is so hot! She wears femme in a way very few cis women can actually pull off. Cool! Even god's gift to cinema Florence Pugh can't make this worth your time.

*ok I know I’m the only one who thought this