Vinegar Syndrome et al.

Milestone, Flicker Alley, Oscilloscope, Cinema Guild...they're all here.
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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#926 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Aug 02, 2022 8:23 pm

L.A. wrote:
Mon Aug 01, 2022 3:26 pm
Natural Enemies interests me.
It's a strange and unclassifiable film, avoiding any clear categorization in a manner that's reflexively communicated in an early scene where Holbrook sits down with an astronaut at his magazine press. The astronaut wants Holbrook to produce an article about the overwhelming experience of vitality the spaceman had on his otherworldly adventure, and Holbrook cynically responds that no medium we have could ever express such a sensation. That seems to be the ethos here, both in the themes of the film and the approach by the filmmaker: That agitation of overwhelming stimuli that numbs us as we face our existential crises, born from life failing to meet the expectations of our various desires and needs. Just like Holbrook and his magazine are impotent to vocalize these dense feelings, the film's grammar doesn't even attempt to rise from its languid energy. The film is fatigued at the task of contending with life on life's terms, just like its protagonist. We're clinically blended with his subjectivity- as Holbrook's perspective is that two people must engage together for meaning to occur, discounting the astronaut's meaningful story because it doesn't gel with Holbrook's definition of meaning being one that thwarts his loneliness. This isn't something the filmmaker necessarily shares, but it rather feels transparently placed to exhibit the skewed outlook infected from mental health deterioration. Whether or not viewers will be able to endure this film and come out the other side with a positive review depends on their ability to appreciate films that are so aggressively alienating. I fall somewhere in the middle- it's an interesting movie but one that stumbles and potentially fails to abide by its own logic by the end.

The film's greatest strength is in how it simultaneously beats us and Holbrook down with the fatalistically tragedy of his inability to articulate suburban malaise. However, the final act boils things down from the fantasies of Holbrook's exit from life into the banality of life's muck, and then frustratingly engages in some conversations where these ideas are articulated with a degree of simplified pronouncement and obnoxious TV-movie didacticism. At the other end of this incredibly depressing film is a somewhat inspiring revelation that -despite not having answers, or being so powerless over our pleas to avoid being flooded by the stimuli of life- when we come together intimately with another person who is willing to engage us on that level, we can become liberated with a lucidity around the actual reduced size of our problems.. Then the film reverts back into nihilistic terrain from inherent disconnect, a gravity far stronger than any hope could ever produce, and it's an even more unsettling ending because of the elision between the final speech and the written denouement. This is itself a sick joke, likely a wink at all the preceding talk of how printed information cannot illuminate all the complexity of experience occurring intangibly and desperately in the margins of our psychological space and in the vacuity of our souls. So maybe this undercuts the didacticism and renders it as a pathetic TV movie after all. Maybe it's brilliant for its follow-through on the pump-fake of its unevenness' mirage. I'll have to see it again to diagnose, but I'm not sure if I can stomach another go of this film any time soon. Recommended with hesitation- you have to be in the mood for this one, and it might ruin your day anyways!

Glowingwabbit
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:27 pm

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#927 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed Aug 03, 2022 9:25 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Aug 02, 2022 8:23 pm
I'll have to see it again to diagnose, but I'm not sure if I can stomach another go of this film any time soon. Recommended with hesitation- you have to be in the mood for this one, and it might ruin your day anyways!
Great write up. I've seen this last point mentioned by a lot of people. I've been a FCE completionist up to this point (most have been blind buys), but this is the first title that I might skip. I'm gonna watch it but I'm not sure if it's something I'd ever watch more than once.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#928 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Aug 03, 2022 10:02 am

I'm going to buy it because I do think it'll be a rich film to revisit, if only for list projects or the commentary. With less than 24 hours having passed since my viewing, I'm already feeling liberated from its sinkhole energy and curious to return to it at some point. I also didn't mention that a lot of the film is comprised of Holbrook's existential voiceover commentary, or 'B-plot' thought-provoking conversations with peers (including a powerful moment where Jose Ferrer tells a story), which are dense with ideas, and I definitely got the sense that I'll pick up new significant aspects of the film and its themes upon future watches.

As far as replayability or quality of films released by FCE goes, this is somewhere in the middle for me. Having just finished going through their entire catalogue, I've been meaning to post a ranking of the films they've released so far, but since the label'd dedicated thread has been funneled into this one, I'm not sure how organized it'll be if I decide to follow through on the label analysis I talked about after my Rancho Deluxe viewing. Either way, I may post a ranking here later on and then just come back and revise the post as the label keeps going

Glowingwabbit
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:27 pm

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#929 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed Aug 03, 2022 10:13 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Aug 03, 2022 10:02 am
As far as replayability or quality of films released by FCE goes, this is somewhere in the middle for me. Having just finished going through their entire catalogue, I've been meaning to post a ranking of the films they've released so far, but since the label'd dedicated thread has been funneled into this one, I'm not sure how organized it'll be if I decide to follow through on the label analysis I talked about after my Rancho Deluxe viewing. Either way, I may post a ranking here later on and then just come back and revise the post as the label keeps going
You may have convinced me to just pick it up. I always grab the slipcover so worse case scenario I can sell it off later and recoup what I paid.

I would definitely love to see a label analysis. I really love Hertzberg's curation so hearing from someone else who has also really taken to the label's continuity of themes and aesthetic would be great. Maybe if you get it started a mod will spin it off into its own thread.

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Grand Wazoo
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:23 pm

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#930 Post by Grand Wazoo » Fri Aug 05, 2022 11:39 am

Yellow Veil Pictures confirms a release of Calvaire for early next year.

I've been waiting for this one. The Palm Pictures dvd is a blurry mess.

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Yakushima
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:42 am
Location: US

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#931 Post by Yakushima » Sat Aug 06, 2022 12:20 am

Re: therewillbeblus - Glad you took a chance on Grandmother's House and enjoyed it! This film literally haunted me for years after I caught it on TV one night.

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yoloswegmaster
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:57 pm

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#932 Post by yoloswegmaster » Sat Aug 13, 2022 6:38 am

Cybthia Rothrock has confirmed that 'Yes, Madam' will be released by Vinegar Syndrome.

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Ribs
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Vinegar Syndrome et al.

#933 Post by Ribs » Sat Aug 13, 2022 11:04 am

She misspoke - as the title was already confirmed to be forthcoming by 88 USA (and Eureka in the UK).

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