Category Archives: Cody’s Essays
It’s no secret that there hasn’t been much activity here at Smug Film as of late. Posts became sporadic during the six months of hell the first half of this year was for me, and then after my mom’s passing, the scarcity became only more so. Some of this is because many of our critics are just plain busy with other things—Greg DeLiso started a full-fledged LLC doing videography, was recently married, and is doing quite well for himself; John D’Amico is about to start production directing his crime film set in the Bronx; Alex Hiatt is busy looking at various rocks under various microscopes as always; I’m in a band with my friend Lauren called To Be Young, writing delightful acoustic pop songs and enjoying myself immensely, with recordings expected before the end of the year. But, those wonderful developments aside, the reason, mostly, for the sparsity around here comes down to the fact that I, your dear steward, just can’t stomach watching movies as of late.
My parents had a special chance encounter with Robin Williams. This must have been during the 80’s, although I’m not sure exactly when. Maybe my sister remembers. It was at a museum here in NYC, the last day of an exhibit by an artist that had designed all sorts of chairs or something. It was late in the day, and the place just so happened to be empty except for my parents and Robin Williams and his wife at the time.
The exhibit was pretty dour and uninteresting. Both couples were quiet and respectful of the art though—that is, until they realized that all four of them thought the art was ridiculous.
As of the time I’m writing this, Todd Solondz on Becoming a Filmmaker & Welcome to the Dollhouse has 412 views in the 6 months it’s been online. That is a travesty. It’s one of the best short films I’ve seen in ages, albeit an unintentional one.
It’s basically just Todd Solondz being interviewed by a film major at Drexel University, Zachary Shevich, but really it’s so much more. It contains all the precise uncomfortability you might expect from a Solondz film, but wholly organic. For starters, it’s as though Solondz is being interviewed by one of his characters—Zachary’s vibe and mannerisms and attire are similar to that of the protagonist of Dark Horse and certain side characters from Storytelling, Palindromes, and Life During Wartime. Then, there’s the production values—the setting, a college screening room, is uncomfortably overlit; Solondz’ lavalier microphone is placed on the wrong side of his lapel for the direction he is speaking, as though they were nervous to be interviewing him and weren’t thinking, and maybe even switched sides last minute; the lower third graphic stating their names is a depressingly ugly, brown, clipart film strip, with a bland font; there are random mic rumbles here and there from breathing and fidgeting, and at certain points, Solondz bows his head and accidentally talks quite loudly into his mic. On top of all of this, you of course have Solondz’ calmly dour and intimidating demeanor. It’s a must-watch.
My favorite moment is the cut at 1:23 where we see the exact distance and body language of our two characters. That’s the shot at the top of this post. By the way, there’s a Part 2! You can watch both parts below:
Stuck is one of the best horror movies of the last decade, and one of the only ones to ever make me cringe. It’s not for the faint of heart—and I mean that on a things-happening-to-the-human-body level as well as a human-beings-being-awful-to-each-other level.
It’s based on the (unfortunately) true story of a woman named Chante Jawan Mallard who, while driving home under the influence, hit a homeless man with her car. She then continued home with the man stuck, still alive, in the front windshield of her car, and intentionally left him to die in her garage. She is currently serving a 50-year sentence in a Texas prison.
It’s a horrific story, and fittingly, the film does not play the scenario for laughs. Unfortunately, the trailer does just that:
As many of you know, my mom passed away recently from stage 4 breast cancer, and my family has a fundraiser up to help pay for her medical bills, memorial, and all sorts of other costs that have crept up … Continue reading