The Lost City Of Z

Now through Thursday May 11 at Sunshine Cinema: $14

I haven’t seen The Lost City of Z just yet, but what I can tell you is that the film takes place in 1925, a tumultuous time in the Western world when it looked like the sun might very well start to set on the British Empire. In fact, imperial order was starting to collapse around the globe, and would eventually be replaced by a new bipolar world order– divvied up into two supposedly opposite political instincts, nationalism and socialism. (If that sounds like a super mysterious process, that’s because it is. There are tons of fascinating theories about how and why this happened, and about WTF nationalism even is, man– none of which I will go into here.) So even though a bunch of landowning white men still ruled the day at this point, they were probably feeling a little insecure about their privileged position, which they justified by an unshakeable belief in white supremacy and fashionable pseudoscientific ideas/total BS concepts of the time. I mean, now we know that terms like “imperial expansion” and “colonization” are just fancy ways to talk about pirate stuff (e.g., raping, pillaging). Oh, and racism too.

With all of this in the background of Z, you can imagine that the film’s hero Percy Fawcett, an explorer obsessed with finding a legendary “lost city” in the Amazon, would face some problems when he argues against the notion that the area is occupied by “savages” and nothing more. Fawcett draws groans and boos when he asserts that an “advanced civilization”– one that predates his own Anglo-Saxon one– built the city of Z.  According to Fawcett, anyway, he’s not in it for the gold and blood/glory like the conquistadors.

Well, at least in this film he’s not.

We’re told that the film is “based on a true story”– though let’s be real, there are multiple layers of problematic perspectives at work here. I mean, who recorded this historical moment in the first place and why? And what kind of Hollywood character reshaping went down in order to make Percy a palatable enough figure so that moviegoers don’t barf up their popcorn? We don’t really know. So let’s just say this “true story” claim is questionable at best. But, hey, Z can still be a great adventure story, as long as you can handle swashbuckling explorer boys, who themselves offer a window into the British imperial psyche– which might actually qualify Z as a horror film.

Another Evil
Friday May 5 (7:30 pm), Saturday May 6 (10 pm), Sunday May 7 (5 pm), Tuesday May 16 (10 pm), and Monday May 22 (7:30 pm) at Spectacle: $5, duh

I can totally identify with Dan Pappadakis, the main dude in Another Evil– a new “supernatural comedy” directed by Carson Mell (writer for Eastbound & Down and Silicon Valley)– when he says, matter-of-factly, “My house is haunted.”

At risk of sounding totally insane, please read this disclaimer: as far as I know, I am not prone to regular hallucinations, and I don’t hear voices or anything like that. Sure, being a bad kid has left me with the occasional “tracers,” but I think we can all agree– no matter what your “beliefs” dictate and whether or not you actually follow your yoga teacher’s directives to chant and levitate and stuff– sometimes weird stuff happens that you can’t always explain. The universe is a vast and mysterious place, right? And as humans we have a pretty meager grasp of its terrain. But seriously, my house is haunted.

My roommates have handled this whole thing pretty well, even when these spirits/ghosts/energies, whatever were getting quite aggressive in their pranks. Thanks to the one well versed in the spirit world and witchy things, we’ve been able to placate the entities– pretty much following the logic offered by the first guy that Dan hires to deal with his own haunting. Dan’s pretty freaked out by the whole thing and really just wants to exorcise the house and be done with it. But according to the spirit cleanser, “that would be an asshole move.” Just let the spirits do them, and you do you– is the approach he suggests.

Needless to say, Dan is not down, so he decides to bring some real muscle into this ghost-trapping scheme by hiring Os, “a straight-up ghost assassin.” The twist (not, like the actual secret twist, but the obvi-twist twist) is that Dan’s decision leads to the uncovering of “a great evil” that has attached itself to his home. Lesson learned, don’t mess with ghosts– and ghost trappers, for that matter.

City of Women
Friday May 5 and Saturday May 6, midnight at Nitehawk: $12

Fellini made some pretty weird and amazing films, but few are as politically bold as City of Women, a surreal and beautifully rendered film that proposes an alternative world order governed by matriarchal values, not the patriarchy. Nitehawk quotes the very academically titled book Masculinity and Italian Cinema: Sexual Politics, Social Conflict and Male Crisis in the 1970, which describes the film’s scenario as one in which we see “what it would be like for man to be finally looked at by a woman’s gaze and the consequent loss of power that this experience might generate.” In a word, heaven.

If you haven’t made it out for a screening of this Nitehawk Naughties series focused on “sex, politics, and humor in Italian cinema (1964-1980),” then consider this your last chance (of 2017 anyway) to watch an erotic film in a theater full of patrons clutching vibrators (or perhaps butt plugs) in one hand, and a Campari and soda in the other. Actually, I dunno– maybe people leave the schwag from Babeland (the sex shop that unionized and then quickly became embroiled in an unfair labor practices suit)– in their bags throughout the film. But I can’t say for sure!