Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Are you looking for the perfect film to destroy your remaining faith in humanity? Then The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is what you’ve been searching for. Not a sequel per se, but more of a jaded, mean-spirited box-cutter to the eye from director Tom Six; it’s his meta-thesis statement on the rabid fan base of the original, as if he actually felt guilty that people loved it as much as they did. Martin, who's mentally disabled, is an overnight parking garage attendant obsessed with The Human Centipede, only finding solace from his nightmarish existence in the idea of surgically connecting 12 people together, ass-to-mouth, and keeping them as one big pet. One problem: He has zero medical knowledge and his tools are rusty. The final 30 minutes is a step-by-step procedural, proudly showing Martin’s DIY surgery skills. And that’s not even the worst of it. Human Centipede 2 is pure soul-crushing nihilism captured on film. I am worse for watching it.
The indie darling Martha Marcy May Marlene deserves about 90 percent of the accolades it's received. It’s a scary, powerful story of a troubled young girl’s escape from a Charles Manson-like hippie-cult commune that, surprisingly, isn’t located in Boulder. The titular character is played by Elizabeth Olsen — sister to irritating ’80s sitcom duo Mary-Kate and Ashley — who gives a great performance. Her shell-shocked emotions and fears of being hunted down by dead-eyed cult members fill the thing with nervous energy even in the slowest moments. The problem lies with the screenplay from director Sean Durkin. Like just about every interesting film that Fox Searchlight releases, the viewer gets completely invested in the main character's mental health and survival, then is left with an ambiguous ending, and total anger. It affects the whole movie. After all that work we put in, is it too much to ask for some sort of ending? Please?
As a teenager, staying up late to watch Def Comedy Jam, I quickly gravitated to Bernie Mac. Come Monday morning, I was repeating his jokes and catchphrases like they were mine. He died in 2008 at the age of 50 — far too young for someone who still had so many laughs left to give his fans. The touching tribute documentary I Ain’t Scared of You doubles as a biography, showing Mac as he worked his way up from nightclubs to a live variety show to headlining movies like Ocean’s Eleven, Head of State and Mr. 3000; it’s a truly inspirational rags-to-riches story. Along the way, his closest friends and contemporaries relate stories about him and his life, most of them funny, all of them very heartfelt. Director Robert Small wisely avoids the fake treacle so many of these docs push on the viewer, going right for the gut the way the Macman did with his comedy. A fitting coda to a real comedy legend.