Better Late than Never: The Best and Worst Theretofore Unseen Movies of 2023, Special Edition: Catching Up with Shunji Iwai, Part 1: How the RIAA Almost Cost Shunji Iwai a Fan, Part I: All About Silly Doo-doo


"Why are you so out of touch?" nobody ever asks me, mostly because they're too preoccupied with: A) the latest fortune-flushing cinematic misadaptations (or, in fruitily ostentatious parlance, "reimaginings") of comic books that I wouldn't condescend to read any longer thirty years ago because they were too stupid for a teenager who actually thought that Backdraft was a profound movie; B) they're unquestioningly guzzling shit from the puckered, Talmudic, gapingly theatrical anus of a distribution firm that's irrationally deified for co-financing seven good movies; C) they're too busy enjoying Godzilla Minus One; D) they're pretending that Ted Geogheganiganighanian or however you spell his name isn't a one-hit wonder and that Fessenden isn't the only good thing about Brooklyn 45; E) they're streaming their gameplay. The point is, I came unforgivably late to a few of these movies and I'm really sorry. On the other hand, I'm not as sorry as everybody aforementioned who isn't classed as C or E should be; sure, maybe I was living life like an idiot instead of watching two or three good movies that would've inspired incredible catharses and broadened my conception of cinema, but at least I had a life to live. If you honestly call an addiction to capeshit some kind of legitimate life, I have so much advice to dispense to you on how to discharge your unsecured debt. As soon as you email me your credit card info so that I can secure my fee for this counsel and safeguard you (the way Batman would!), we'll be ready to start the first day of the rest of your new, less expensive life, where you minimize your debt by jerking around with service reps employed by collection agencies.

Jack Valenti, c.2000

If you really want to get cruelly, possibly actionably biographical about it, the real question nobody ever asks me but should except during my time of the month, which is actually my girlfriend's time of the month, so I'm on edge for her constant nagging so lay off, is, "Why did it take so long for you to get around to Lily Chou-chou when you should be typing about Kyrie's Song, just for one example, you ignorant loser?" That's a question worth answering after you learn some god damned respect for a victim of the lingering War on the VHS Black Market (Plus Me).

The best way for me to earn your respect (or, if you will in edgy parlance, your fucking respect) is to recount a summary of my tribulations during wartime in WVHSBMPM. In the late '90s and early aughts, most of the movies that I discovered beyond the pinprick-sized compass of domestically-distributed home video were delivered on bootlegged videotapes copied from foreign DVDs, puchased on eBay. The very second that the MPAA's administration were apprised on the existence of this booming cottage industry that dared to siphon tens of thousands of dollars from a multi-billion-dollar industry that refused to distribute superior foreign and independent pictures, they actually postponed one of their triweekly, adrenochrome-guzzling, baby-eating, child-raping services in praise of Baphomet or Hashem or whoever, and deployed the ancient, leathery pastazombie known as Jack Valenti (pictured at right) to threaten eBay and stamp out innocuous sellers whose modest profit in a gaping, oligopsonistic vacuum almost had some kind of effect whatsoever on the industry that he represents.

Jack Valenti, c.1640 (probably)

As a result, while that twisted, leathery old ghoul (pictured at left) was laughing himself hoarse -- probably while coughing up centuries-old dust, spiders, very small snakes, and whatever else has been nesting in his dessicated abdomen since the Medicis sepulchered him for the good of their fiefs in the 15th century -- I didn't get to buy All About Lily Chou-chou, Eureka, Rainy Dog, and about 20 other titles that looked interesting. Also, I completely forgot about Shunji Iwai and Shinji Aoyama for 20 years. I have no idea why. I didn't even know that Aoyama had died until six months ago, which really rubbed salt into the figurative open wound of my contrition, which I guess hurts less than his death to his bereaved, but I'm not laying any bets.

If that story "didn't seem to make any sense," I also haven't seen Kyrie's Song because Aina the End (who, like, can nominally make any paragraph or credit read like stupid gibberish) kind of scares the shit out of me. Really, women who are sexy yet minaciously misshapen are really not what I need when I'm trying to relax, or even when I'm trying to perturb myself. Let's just say that certain ex-girlfriends have traumatized me to the point where I flinch when I see somebody who's my type, but looks as though she's been plotting my murder since her good old days in demonic mother's womb.

Oh, and I couldn't find a decent torrent for Kyrie's Song, which I guess is the real reason why I haven't watched it yet. Anyway, I promise that Kyrie's Song, Kubi, The Boy and the Heron, the French remake of Serpent's Path, and Chime will be on next year's list if they meet my reasonably high expectations. Promise! Until then, enjoy these snotty summations of movies that I (and probably you) should've watched 5 to 40 years ago.

Part II: The Best >

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