Well, it looks like all we need now is for The Purge to happen for real. That might just be possible now that reality TV host and professional pussy grabber Donald Trump has been elected President of the United $tates. Since we could be here forever arguing about how such a shit show happened (and which set off protests in several cities), let’s leave that for another time, shall we?
One bit of good news that did occur during this disastrous election was the passing of Prop 64, which legalized recreational use of marijuana in California (Massachusetts and Nevada made it legal as well). The momentous change coincided, fittingly enough, with the premiere of Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. Congrats to MERRY JANE co-owner on the launch of a cooking show that aims to bring folks together in a time when we’re fully aware of just how divided we are.
For those who could use some laughs or just want something else to think about other than the new POTUS (or if you just to wallow in misery for a few more days), here are few movie selections to get you where you want to be….
These Final Hours (2014)
Starring: Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice, Jessica De Gouw
Director: Zak Hilditch
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Summary: A man must maneuver through suburban chaos as the apocalypse approaches.
It might be a bit hyperbolic to say that America is doomed after Trump took the election, but if the worst-case scenario were to come true, it might feel like this gripping Australian doomsday picture. Even though it takes place in another country, it’s not hard to imagine all the bros and dudettes who voted for the human Orange Bang deciding to spend their last hours alive binge drinking and snorting cocaine off random asses while counting down to the end of the world.
One of these wild parties is where the film’s hero, James (Nathan Phillips), is headed to when he’s suddenly burdened with taking care of a young, lost child. Racing against time, we can see how James’ mind is turning while he tries to figure out the true meaning of friendship and whether or not common decency still matters when the world is about to blow up.
Cash Only (2015)
Starring: Nickola Shreli, Ele Bardha, Stivi Paskoski
Director: Malik Bader
Genre: Crime Drama
Summary: An Albanian-American landlord involved in shady dealings is haunted not only by his past but also by the criminal element he’s in debt to.
Life is rough in the Hamtramck, Mich., neighborhood where Elvis Martini (Nickola Shreli) rents out apartments to tenants who don’t always pay on time. That’s a big problem because he needs to come up with money in a hurry to pay off an impatient loan shark. Just when he thinks he’s come up with a quick solution to his personal drama, shit only gets worse as he’s forced to do anything he can to get out of a hole that keeps getting deeper.
Shreli, who also wrote the script inspired by real-life experiences as a landlord, has a natural tough-guy flair about him, making him believable as somebody who can hold his own in the underworld, but who also realizes he’s made one too many mistakes. The high-stakes drama creeps towards a bleak, disturbing ending that viewers should be warned is extreme. For those who can hack it, this is a good, gritty, low-budget flick.
Scherzo Diabolico (2015)
Starring: Francisco Barreiro, Daniela Soto Vell, Jorge Molina
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Horror
Summary: A pent-up accountant with a devious side is up to no good.
From the director who made Here Comes the Devil comes this seedy tale set in Mexico about the abduction of a teenage school girl by an unassuming but treacherous businessman (reliable Bogliano regular Francisco Barreiro). Whereas the first half of the film is spent watching the dastardly pencil pusher coldly calculate with precision his would-be crimes, the final act is filled with breathless anxiety as the aftereffects of the kidnapping start to unravel.
The film uses classical music in a similar manner A Clockwork Orange did, juxtaposing sophisticated sounds with graphic visual shocks and gore. As the film whips itself into a frenzy, some of the more morbid moments feel surrealistic, giving the movie an even more nightmarish quality.
Knights of Badassdom (2013)
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau, Peter Dinklage
Director: Joe Lynch
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Summary: A group of friends at a medieval LARP event in the woods must band together to fight an ancient evil monster.
There’s a lot to love about this rousing comedy that’s custommade for nerds but also enjoyable for too-cool-for-school types. Like they say in the movie, LARP (Live Action Role Playing) is Dungeons & Dragons to the next level, where enthusiasts dress up and bash each other with foam swords while casting “spells” and talking like an episode of Game of Thrones (speaking of GoT, seeing Peter Dinklage as a rowdy stoner is alone worth the price of admission).
Goofing around in the woods is the last thing that main character Joe (Ryan Kwanten) wants to be doing after being unceremoniously dumped by his career-orientated girlfriend. But his friends kidnap him in hopes of cheering him up, although their planned adventure in the forest is going to be interrupted by something far worse than the rival asshole paintball enthusiasts who like to torment the role players.
Knights of Badassdom is more amusing than laugh out loud funny, but it’s never boring. The cast packs as much personality as it can into the characters. KoB also mixes a bit of horror into the action with awesome results.
It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)
Director: Don Hertzfeldt
Summary: Troubled soul Bill tries to understand some deep, personal things about himself.
While Pixar, Disney, and other major animated studios with hundred-million-dollar budgets are capable of making great films that appeal to both kids and adults, there’s also room for more experimental works like animator Don Hertzfeldt’s trilogy, which consists of Everything Will Be OK (2006), I Am So Proud of You (2008), and It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012). Aside from sounding like Radiohead song titles/lyrics, these thoughtful short films utilize mixed media and a fractured narrative (that still makes sense) to bring to life the character of Bill, a confused man undergoing medical treatments who tries to piece together a troubled family history and memories of an ex-girlfriend.
These are simple stick figures, but in an hour’s time a moving portrait surfaces of a fictionalized man who, without explicitly stating so, could be suffering from mental illness. Narrator Hertzfeldt’s voice might need some getting used to, but in various ways he’ll have you thinking of so many different things, like whether or not happiness is the only emotion worth striving for—it could very well be that doses of misery can sometimes be just as useful in our lives.