Weekend Weirdness: Know Your Mushrooms, Ricky Powell’s Rappin’ With the Rickster, The Human Centipede Slithers Stateside, Michael Cera on Drugs
Posted on Saturday, January 9th, 2010 by Hunter Stephenson
It’s a crazy, mixed up world and we are thankful for movies, sans The Tooth Fairy, that offer proof. Weekend Weirdness cocks its disoriented head to examine such flicks, whether it’s a new trailer for a provocative indie, an interview, or a mini review.
In this installment: a look at the new DVD Know Your Mushrooms, a breezy doc on fungi, of the magic variety and otherwise, with music by The Flaming Lips; the latest news on The Human Centipede, the increasingly nefarious, pukey ass-to-mouth horror flick now officially on its way to the States; an NYC public access DVD from Beastie Boys‘ pal Ricky Powell; a Brooklyn premiere party, a Michael Cera music video, and more! Btw: The above family portrait, inspired by my number one film of 2009, Observe & Report, is the latest work in a series by artist and /Film fave Kirk Demarais. …Buy it so I can steal it and cruise to Mexico blasting Little River Band’s “Help Is On Its Way” in a raffle convertible.
Know Your Mushrooms: Edible Late Night Fluff
The documentary, Know Your Mushrooms, simultaneously met and dipped below my expectations. It’s a film that aspires to sincerely inform on the titular fungi and playfully revel and explore the history and reputation of psilocybin as a psychedelic. It never goes quite far enough in either direction, which lends a slacker charm that’s semi-befitting. But as late night laptop fare? One could do a lot worse. There are silly animated interludes featuring a multiple-choice screen and a boyant, ‘shroom mascot and slick Wii-like sprinkling star trail graphics. Half-way in, I realized that ‘shroom porn could be a genre; a fascinating and educational niche with none of the embarrassment of, say, staring at huge nug’ pin-ups in High Times.
Considering that I have a girlfriend, and have no current need for Faye Reagan, I could be up for watching more ‘shroom porn at the witching hour; observing professional “mushroom hunters” with Jerry-beards stumbling around Oregon and Colorado forests seeking well “gilled” specimen for their compartmentalized collections is addictive yet mellow. The main hunter in the doc, an articulate and sane man named Larry Evans, sees mushrooms as “free food” and has lead a life demystifying their picking as risky and esoteric. Sure, some naturally grown mushrooms are poisonous, but countless others are medicinal, nutritious, and delicious. Others are a fine chemical-free alternative for turning paper white, and still others are used to soak up oil in massive ocean spills. Climb the stem of enlightenment and wear the cap of a convert. (Evans never says that, but he should have.)
It’s to the credit of director, Ron Mann, who is drawn to “counter culture” topics (see Grass) but not a full blown hippie revivalist, that Mushrooms doesn’t reek of patchouli. In addition to the animation ditties, he intersperses weird ‘shroom-related clips from Japanese cult films and old PSAs. These clips were compiled by Mann for past research on drugs film history and played an integral role in the doc coming together. As explained on the decent Special Features, it was via the suggestion and inspiration of Mann’s pal, fellow silver-fox indie director, Jim Jarmusch (who’s evidently a fungi enthusiast) that he decided to make it.
Too briefly discussed in the film are thoughts by late writer and intellectual, Terence McKenna, who believed that magic mushrooms were vital to the origins of human civilization. (He proposed that way back when our ancestors discovered that in small doses, ‘shrooms strengthened eyesight and worked as an aphrodisiac. In high doses they established hallucinogenic conceptions of god and spirituality.) Rather than serve as a definitive look at ‘shrooms—hopefully someone eventually makes that—this film is a primer and a refresher of their flourishing existence in the wild. (I had somehow forgotten about the theories that Santa Claus, flying reindeer, and Christmas trees were directly influenced by tripping.) Enjoy the film and the nice song made for it by The Flaming Lips, and then chase it with a nap and a visit to Wikipedia.
Your Girl Got Flicked by Rick Powell: New York City Public Access TV on DVD
Photographer and New York City personality, Ricky Powell, is probably best known to /Film readers for being a memorable lyric on a track by the Beastie Boys (“your girl got dicked by Ricky Powelllllll!“). He also played one of the nerds in their classic “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” video. Well, a new DVD about mister dude called Rappin’ with the Rickster— documenting his busy, longtime contributions to rap culture and laffs—is on the way. Here’s the trailer, which features him interviewing and smoking a blunt with late rapper, NWA-member, and CB4 inspiration Eazy E…
The DVD’s title is also the name of a public access TV show and video project created and hosted by Powell. Along with the classic Squirt TV and The Kid America Adventure Hour, we’re suckers for that kind of homegrown, unpredictable NYC teevee, and can’t wait to check this out.
Michael Cera, Islands and Drugs
Speaking of which, in my last Weekend Weirdness, I interviewed NYC-scenester Pinky Beckles about his new, fucked-up work out video compilation Let’s Work It Out. Well, last Wednesday night I went to premiere party for the DVD at the Brooklyn bar Legion. The final cut of Work It Out is a bowl of bonks. Stay tuned here. Also shown was Pinky’s new music video for the band Islands starring Michael Cera wandering around high as hell and seeing prisms. Here’s that…
Side note: Leo Fitzpatrick (the star of Larry Clark’s Kids and a bit-player on The Wire) was djing at the party (a common sight) and put on the eggrolls-and-ecstasy jam from Eastbound & Down. It was the first time I’ve heard that out-and-about.
Also on hand was Gavin McInnes, one of the founders of VICE magazine, who now operates the website, Street Boners and TV Carnage, with Pinky. McInnes—recently nominated as “Hipster of the Decade” at Gawker.com—has a new DVD out as well that he screened after offering a “Canadian handshake” and buying me a Bushmills. For some reason it’s called Gavin McInnes is a Fucking Asshole. Here’s the trailer for this consortium of McInnes’s recent short films, drug-induced rants, and the time he was on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and argued that Jesus Christ was a gay.
“And I thought hipsters had their heads up their asses…”
The Human Centipede Hearts America: Next-Level Torture Porn in Oh Ten
Several months ago, I wrote about a new horror film entitled The Human Centipede (First Sequence) that many early viewers feel is one of the grossest and most disturbing movies ever made. In a nutshell, it’s about a mad doctor who sews the mouths of living humans to the asses of others, in hopes of creating and sustaining a centipede-like monstrosity. Click the above link for the teaser trailer. Last week, IFC Films picked up the domestic rights and they plan to release the film this year. More details to come. Here’s what IFC Entertainment’s president, Jonthan Sehring, said regarding the deal via IndieWire…
“I can’t remember when I have been as excited and had as much fun being horrified and repulsed while watching a movie. Echoing back to the early works of David Cronenberg, ‘The Human Centipede” is a landmark work in the horror genre, taking the “mad doctor” conceit and perversely twisting it into a mind-boggling roller coaster ride. Everyone at IFC is excited to introduce such a unique talent as Tom Six to American audiences and it’s a perfect film for our theatrical and VOD platforms.”
Rock your body-horror, IFC. That’s enough Weekend Weirdness for readers to digest for now. Until next week. For all of the previous installments on /Film, click here.
Hunter Stephenson can be reached on Twitter. If you have a press screening invitation or a screener that you’d like to send him for Weekend Weirdness, email him at h.attila/gmail. He will also be in New York City for the next few weeks on assignment for Slashfilm.