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Some movies are exactly as good as their terrible dialogue.



"Nurse Latino, you are a sick person. I just want you to know that"


"I hate slides. I hate life"
Do I wanna know what this is?





I spent most of my time watching this simply trying to get my bearings on what exactly this was. In the beginning in feels as if it may be an actual documentary about an American moving to China to become a business entrepreneur. But there is such a narcotic glaze to the films style, it quickly undoes its almost cinema verite approach to capturing the seemingly naturalistic behaviour of the characters. Leaving us scratching our heads very early on as to where this could possibly be going. Or how we should react.


Then, for awhile it seems as if this is possibly some Christopher Guest style satire about the absurdity of business. The characters become more and more preposterous. What they are selling clearly is not believable in any rational world. And yet, you're never quite sure what parts are supposed to be funny, and what parts are meant to make you uncomfortable. We begin to see that many of the eccentric characters that populate the film, aren't simply to be gawked at, but carry a whiff of menace about them. Still, it is very hard to really know what you are supposed to be doing with what you are seeing.



As the movie continues, I found a horrible unease at the center of the it that I wasn't sure if I was imagining. If it was simply my mood. But as it continues, this somewhat despairing tone only becomes more and more realized as you are pulled towards the heart of the film. Where it has all seemingly been leading to, without you having any notion. It's starting to seem that this is all a giant amorphous nightmare of consumerism. Or maybe this is an absurdist drama? Or a dot com bust horror film? While it is still hard to apply any pure genre definition to what this is, it at least becomes more clear that confusion has been part of the point. It is okay to feel cut adrift in this film, to share the headspace with the films main character who becomes increasingly distressed and determined not to sink beneath all the deceit and terror that (apparently) comes with launching a company in China.


It is a completely dazed viewing experience. One that I admired but still didn't quite know how to parse once it was all over. Then, after I finished watching, I read a review somewhere which compares this film structurally to Apocalypse Now (or Heart of Darkness), which seemed to put the whole thing more in focus. A character on a mission, and us watching his idealism slowly decay as he gets closer and closer to what he came here to find. His confusion as to how he got stuck here in the first place, is also ours, as we struggle to make heads or tails of what is happening to him. What is real what is unreal, what is funny or what is upsetting. Much like Apocalypse Now, this film is a descent into madness. But unlike that, we don't see it coming, which makes the madness almost feel like our own.


It's been probably two weeks since I've seen it and it has kind of just lingered at the back of my head, like a bad dream, all this time. It's a really unique film. Possibly even kind of brilliant. Still not entirely sure what it was though.






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Christian propaganda designed to frighten non-believers into the arms of the church. It is an astonishingly unimaginative depiction of Hell, with its willy-nilly pockets of fire and people moping around in tattered clothes and covered in greasepaint. But this lack of imagination is where the queasiness kind of lies watching this. If the production was more baroque, filled with clever cinematic tricks to make the very particles of a Hell Experience as visceral as possible, we might find ourselves frightened by such a prospect of eternal damnation. Pascal's Wager and what not.



But this most banal of religious fear-mongering reflexes exposes something particularly ugly about this films worldview. What is much more clearly defined than how many circles of hell there really are, is the delight with which the suffering of non-believers is depicted. We are meant to nod in approval at the biker who ends up eternally damned and burning for all time because of his sassing back of a pastor. His ignoring of road regulations. There is no empathy here whatsoever. Simple self preservation and self satisfaction are the films core. And its message is mostly that by adopting Christianity, we aren't so much going to dodge just the Devil's punishment of our Flesh, but more importantly, that we can avoid the chorus of 'I told you so's' that living will mumble to themselves when they realize our souls are lost forever. And so high fives all around! As a result, this is not a depiction of religion as a communal experience. This is religion as a token to judge others. To separate us. Religion as spiritual isolation.



As should be expected with such a project, it's all pretty disgusting. But also vaguely interesting as The Burning Hell is a window into depravity. But not the kind you need to dig into the centre of the earth to find. It's the kind that proudly tsk tsks your life choices. Your sleeping in on Sunday morning. All the tiny transgressions your neighbours might be salivating over in the hopes it will bring you damnation.


In short, its the best kind of depravity for cinematic depiction. Even though it doesn't necessarily translate into much of a movie.






Nicolas Winding Refn restored the entire trilogy and put them up on his site (bynwr.com) to stream for free. I found all of them weirdly fascinating if not especially "good". The first one, If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, is probably the most unhinged (it goes full splatter movie) and therefore the most entertaining.



Btw, if you review Wicked World, you should put it on Letterboxd. Barry J. Gillis uses the site and likes reviews of his movies.






I actually watched this other Nathan Silver movie before Stinking Heaven, and is what compelled me to immediately watch something else by him. A completely different kind of film that filled me with the same urge to crawl out of my skin. Where Stinking Heaven is an open nerve of a film, this digs deep into similar emotional hells, but is presented as a neon lit Valentines Day card filled with fly eggs. Clearly this Silver is offering me the trauma porn that I'm looking for. Three of the most miserable, unbearable (and exhilarating) hours I've spent watching films this year.



I will watch everything this guy has ever done. My gut instinct is to already place him amongst the most interesting directors that have emerged in the last 15 years (Ben Wheatley, Sean Baker, Yorgos Lanthimos, Robert Eggers)



My gut instinct is to already place him amongst the most interesting directors that have emerged in the last 15 years (Ben Wheatley, Sean Baker, Yorgos Lanthimos, Robert Eggers)
I notice Julia Ducournau isn't on that list. Sup with that, bruh?



Never seen anything by her.
You need TITANE in your eyes right now. Also RAW but especially TITANE.

It's now streaming on Hulu in the US so I'm expecting all of you to rectify sleeping on this bad boy.



Victim of The Night
You need TITANE in your eyes right now. Also RAW but especially TITANE.

It's now streaming on Hulu in the US so I'm expecting all of you to rectify sleeping on this bad boy.
I was meaning to see this but, believe it or not, I just haven't really been into watching movies lately. My back-log has gotten huge.



I was meaning to see this but, believe it or not, I just haven't really been into watching movies lately. My back-log has gotten huge.
This might be the one to kickstart your desire for cinema again.