Midsommar

 

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Of all the casualties of COVID-19, one of the most painful losses has been my desire to write…at the very moment I’ve been watching more films than any point in at least the past decade, I lost all desire to write about them. Part of the issue was that I haven’t been watching much of substance…but Midsommar changed all of that.

There is SO MUCH to unpack in Midsommar. It’s not your average “scary movie” – in fact, it’s not scary at all. It’s more like a trip to IKEA on mushrooms….if you’re not in the right state of mind when you start, you’re gonna have a bad time. (The same is true about shrooms and IKEA each on their own, I guess?) “Suspenseful” is a better description, because with every Swedish atrocity performed, you are incredulous and wondering how far they will go. There’s definitely some gore, but the gore isn’t what will shock you. For example, my kids were far more grossed out by the pube pot pie, than by the blood eagle.

I will point out that every time I said that “Christian is a shitty boyfriend,” my husband responded that all the characters are shitty and unlikeable. That may be true…but Christian is extra shitty.

By the end…I was straight up cackling (just like you, Andrew Delaney). Maybe it’s my dark sense of humor…or maybe it’s that I’m about 1/4 Swedish? Or maybe it’s because I understood Dani’s struggle? It’s hard to be surrounded with people who don’t “hold” you. I feel like my college relationship was a lot like Dani’s…too bad we went to Amsterdam instead of Harga.

So…this is obviously not a very long or a very complete review…baby steps.

The kids really liked it, I think. My daughter kept saying, “This movie is weird,” but she didn’t give up on watching. They are demanding Hereditary next…I cannot say no to sampling more Ari Aster. Also, a shout-out to Eli Roth’s History of Horror – his show has given the kids a horror watch list a mile long. I started them on Cabin Fever and they were laughing and screaming. My son is wanting to go straight to the hard stuff – Audition, etc…but again, baby steps…

The Wizard of Oz (3D)

Never before have I written a second review of a film. Not so much out of pride or any kind of belief that my reviews exist as the “final word” on the worth of a film…it’s more because I’m kind of lazy. (Or quite possibly…really fucking lazy.) The 3D re-release of The Wizard of Oz deserves a second review…not only because my original review was written 15 years ago, but because it truly is like watching a completely new film.

The images were so crisp and clear that it was almost detrimental to the experience. Seriously, I could see the edges of every munchkin’s baldcap, the fine edge of the lion’s wig and even the tin man’s white undershirt! Obviously, 3D wasn’t a consideration when this movie was originally filmed, so there’s nothing flying at your face or whizzing over your head. Even so, adding 3D wasn’t a total waste. Glinda’s bubble seemed to be really hanging in the air above us. Any scene with red smoke looked like some asshole had dropped a smokebomb in the front of the theater. Simply dazzling.

In my original review, I whined about having to share my Oz experience with a theater full of people. I wouldn’t say I’ve mellowed over the past decade and a half – I still loathe most theater audiences. But my selfishness over Oz has certainly decreased. When I found out about the 3D re-release, my first thought wasn’t, “I’ve gotta go see this,” but, “I’ve gotta take the kids to see this!” That’s right, my kids are just as obsessed with all things Oz as I am. My son has seen nearly every movie even vaguely Oz related – for several months, he watched The Wiz every day. His newest fixation is Oz Monopoly. My daughter is going to be Dorothy with sparkly boots for Halloween this year, wearing MY Dorothy dress, from when I was 5. I’ve done quite a good job of brainwashing them…and even though they watch the DVD at least once a week, they sat there like me, eyes wide in rapt attention at the 3D version. No screaming at them to be quiet, the only talking was to demand more candy out of my gigantic mom purse. That right there was worth the $14 a head admission price.

Return to Oz

There are few things scarier to a child than forced medical procedures – anything that requires being strapped down is bad, bad news. Even before I was aware of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I knew that shock therapy was fucked up.

Far scarier than anything that happened in Oz, Auntie Em dropping Dorothy off at the asylum to get her brains scrambled FUCKED MY SHIT UP. Nevermind the fact that Auntie Em was played by Carrie’s fucked up mom.

Even so, I let my kids watch it anyway. They love The Wizard of Oz just as much as I do…besides, I could always turn it off if they freak out, right? Well, they didn’t freak out, so don’t call CPS on me…yet.

The first question my son asked was, “Why isn’t it in black and white?” I’m pretty sure I asked my mom the same question over 25 years ago, sitting in the movie theater. He also wanted to know why the characters didn’t look the same. He understood Dorothy was a different actress , but he was bewildered that the Cowardly Lion was a real lion and the Tin Man and Scarecrow weren’t just dressed up people. I explained that the characters were meant to look like the illustrations from the original book, but I really need to buy him a copy, because my old copy doesn’t have the artwork. He’s one smart cookie for six years old – he caught on right away and didn’t ask too many questions after that. He really liked the film and was disappointed when I deleted it from the DVR to make more room for Hoarders and Animal Hoarders.

I’m still a big Fairuza Balk fan. I liked her as a crazy witch in The Craft, but I loved her as Ed Norton’s crazy girlfriend and Adam Sandler’s crazy girlfriend. She hasn’t done much lately, what happened to the market for crazy?

My three year old wouldn’t look at the screen when the Gnome King was exploding, but that was her only reaction – she didn’t cry or scream or demand I turn it off. She wasn’t scared of Mega Pythons either – she just laughed when it ate people, so I think I may have a little Knobby Jr. on my hands…seriously, DO NOT call CPS, I promise I won’t let her watch Faces of Death until after she starts Kindergarten.

 

Scarecrow Gone Wild

Honestly, I expect more “wild” from a film with “Gone Wild” in the title. Don’t get me wrong, there was boobage…just not good boobage. There’s nothing wild about fake middle aged boobs or nipples-only pre-teen boobs. Frankly, I’m disappointed in the makers of the Girls Gone Wild films. They would have done well to stick with college girls with low self esteem, instead of branching out into the world of killer scarecrows.

What? You mean to tell me that Scarecrow Gone Wild isn’t the newest in the series of drunken sluts showing their knockers and experimenting with bisexuality? Well color me embarrassed! Turns out that Scarecrow Gone Wild is the third in a series of films about a Scarecrow who avenges the victims of nerdism, primarily those victimized by fraternity hazing pranks. Wow – that’s a pretty specific thing to avenge. Did the ACLU help the Scarecrow pick a disenfranchised group to avenge – or did he think of it himself?

The Scarecrow was fucking cheesy. It looked like they bought the mask at Spencer’s half off after Halloween. And he didn’t have a Scarecrow hat! And there were NO Wizard of Oz jokes WTF?

The script is pretty formulaic – scarecrow kills a bunch of kids to avenge the sins of the generation before him. I’m pretty sure it was a rejected Smallville script, because the scene in which the jocks “crucified” the nerd in the middle of the cornfield is *just* like the pilot of Smallville. Wait – did I just admit that I watch Smallville? Fuck. Moving along…

I’m by no means an expert on US geography, but is there ANYWHERE in this country that has cornfields in walking distance of a beach? Within 20 miles even? Because that Scarecrow goes straight from the cornfield to bust up an atrocious campfire singalong the next day. I guess it’s possible that he drove, since he later mows down a victim with the coach’s F-150, we see that he DOES know how to drive. But what would he have driven? A tractor? Maybe he rode a bike?

Ken Shamrock is supposedly the star of the film. He used to be a WWF Wrestler, although I’ve never heard of him. I guess since wrestling isn’t real, they don’t have any rules against juicing and in fact, likely encourage it. Nice. Too bad he didn’t go all ‘roid rage on the Scarecrow. That would have been frickin’ awesome.

This movie SUCKED. Cornman – even though it has way lower production values – is a way better example of a film set in a cornfield.

The Wizard of Oz

Absolutely, positively, undeniably my favorite film ever. No other film comes even close. Screw all those people that think Star Wars is the best film ever made. There would be no Star Wars if it wasn’t for The Wizard of Oz. (After that statement, I guess I should expect to get hate e-mail…)

I was Dorothy until about 6 or 7 years old. (Okay, sometimes I was Cinderella or Wonder Woman, too.) Anyway, my Dad would have the hardest time picking me up from Sunday school. He would come asking for Lara, but they would say, “No, that’s Dorothy,” and he would have to convince them otherwise. I had ruby slippers (okay, they were red shoes), the blue gingham dress, I even had a dog that looked like Toto. In other words, I was in complete denial of reality. I never heard of anyone going crazy like that over Luke Skywalker….okay, no more about Star Wars!

I was so excited when I heard about the re-release of The Wizard of Oz. I knew that it had been re-released before, but never in my lifetime, so this is pretty special. It was downright weird seeing it in the theater. It had always been my own experience before, having always watched it in my own living room, either taped or on TV. But this time, I had to share it with a whole theater full of people and I did not like it one bit. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing seeing it on the big screen. The colors were brighter than they ever could be on my crappy TV and it pretty much blew me away. I just couldn’t get over the feeling that every single person in the theater was invading my space. Selfish, huh? Exactly. It was almost as if I was betrayed by a lover – no one should get to see Oz but me…

But of course I am glad that others have gotten to see it. A whole new generation of children have been exposed to The Wizard of Oz, whereas they might not have been otherwise. Even though I think that it was re-released more as a marketing ploy (are the Oz beany babies that I saw at WalMart really necessary?), it is truly wonderful to see the Wizard again.