The Friday Afternoon Movie: Everything Will Be Ok

I cannot definitively say that, as the title suggests, everything will be ok. It is all together possible and, perhaps, probable — depending on your bent — that everything will not be ok. That’s not what this is about. No, this post is about Everything Will Be Ok, Don Hertzfeldt’s award-winning short, which celebrated its 5th Anniversary last month. The first of a planned trilogy (the last of which is set to be released this year), Everything Will Be Ok follows the story of a man named, simply, Bill. We see Bill awkwardly greet a man he recognizes on the street, Bill at home, Bill spending time with his ex-girlfriend, Bill having a dream about a giant fish head, eating away at his skull. Its a story that concerns itself mostly with pseudo-existential shoe-gazing, filtered through the twisted mind of the man who brought us Rejected, and it is wonderful.

Fundraising Push for “The Sea of Trees” by Joshua Zucker-Pluda

At long last, Coilhouse fave Joshua Zucker-Pluda is finishing up his film about Aokigahara Jukai (The Sea of Trees), Japan’s forest of suicides.  Subsidized by grants from the New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA), the NYSCA, and the Jerome Foundation, production on The Sea of Trees began two years ago. The footage is, like everything else Zucker-Pluda creates, haunting and beautiful.

Some background information from Zucker-Pluda on Aokigahara Jukai, and his film’s content:

When Mount Fuji erupted for the second time, in 864 A.D., lava streamed down its northeastern face and into the lake at its base. The area was transformed into a volcanic plateau and in the centuries that followed, evergreen and beech trees grew; their roots clawed the moss-covered rocks, siphoning nutrients and water. A fifteen-square-mile forest was formed: Aokigahara Jukai, the Sea of Trees. Today its trees are so numerous and densely packed that they block out the sunlight and wind. Their roots intertwine, forming gnarled nests of strands shooting in every direction. The foliage absorbs all sound. Walking through the forest, it is impossible to see the sky beyond the canopy or to determine one direction from another. The magnetic materials in the igneous rocks are said to render compasses useless.

The first recorded suicide in Aokigahara Jukai took place in 1340. A Buddhist monk named Shohkai installed himself in one of the forest’s caves in order to perform nyujoh, a fasting ritual meant to purify and, eventually, kill oneself. Other monks followed his example. The popularity of the Aokigahara Jukai as a place to die grew such that, in 1971, local officials and residents established annual patrols for bodies. In 1993, Wataru Tsurumi published The Complete Manual of Suicide, which suggests killing oneself in the forest and includes directions, hotel recommendations, a map, and advice on evading police and local residents. “Your body will not be found,” he writes. “You will become a missing person and slowly disappear from people’s memory.” The book sold millions of copies.

A still from The Sea of Trees.

They say that the spirits of the dead inhabit the trees, that wild dogs roam, that a dragon makes his den in one of the caverns. Abandoned backpacks, bottles, and cell phones sit on patches of lichen. Electrical tape snakes across the forest floor, marking the paths of those who meant to return to the outside. Glacial Apollo butterflies flutter between the branches. Thickets of disc-shaped mushrooms ring the trunks of alder trees. Bush warblers emit their indifferent song. The snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji, which has been dormant for three hundred years, looms above, invisible.

The Sea of Trees explores the Japanese forest where the spirits of suicides linger, silence reigns and compasses fail.

(Chills? Yeah. Me, too.)

Since Zucker-Pluda began his long, often challenging artist-on-a-shoestring journey into the Sea of Trees, other Aokigahara coverage has been completed and covered here. While informative and touching in narrative, that footage doesn’t begin to capture the sublime, often chilling beauty of Aokigahara Jukai. Meanwhile, JZ-P has an astounding eye for composition, pacing, mood. Since the early 00s, he has been consistently producing work in a variety mediums that is reminiscent of Herzog, Tarkovsky, Lynch.

This film is going to be something very rare and special.

A still from The Sea of Trees.

Grant money can only go so far; now Zucker-Pluda needs to raise funds for post-production. Most immediately, he’s hoping to start work on translating all of the interviews from Japanese to English. And so, yet again, it’s indie crowd-sourcing to the rescue. (Gotta love Kickstarter.)

If, through the years, you’ve enjoyed Zucker-Pluda’s phenomenal Roadside Picnic Podcast (a new episode just went up, by the way!), here’s the perfect way to say thank you. He just needs a wee boost. To the Kickstarter, comrades.

Niche Market

It’s hard to imagine who the intended audience was for the “Stuffed” Girl’s Heads* from Honor House Products Corp. Certainly, there was and, no doubt, still is a well entrenched consumer base comprised of misogynists who would perhaps guffaw at the site of such an item or nod sagely, in possession of the belief that women are, indeed, nothing more than trophies. Despite this unfortunate reality, I have a hard time believing that anyone would actually buy something like this. No, this strikes me as the perfect gift for the laziest of movie serial killers; the star of some Grunge-era slasher film in which the villain is too stoned and jaded to actually get up off the couch in his parents’s basement to slay a cheerleader.

Regardless, for the low price of $3.35 you get the complete array of hair colors, those being blond, brunette, and redhead, affixed to a genuine mahogany base (notice no quotation marks there, so you know that shit is real.) The downer here, of course, is that the head is only 3/4 scale which may not completely sate your blood lust unless you have a Beetlejuice inspired fetish to go along with the murderous psychopathy. It also has the unfortunate side effect of putting a damper on the “realism” touted so often in the copy. That said, as the article suggests, it would no doubt be a conversation starter, though that conversation may take the form of a hushed exchange with authorities over the phone while the owner is in the other room.

Via Vintage Ads

*Also, who decided on the placement of those quotation marks. I mean, “Stuffed”? Shouldn’t they be around “Girl’s Head”? Shouldn’t the implication be that the head in question is not a real goddamn head and not that it isn’t actually stuffed? Maybe I’m over-thinking this.

John Murray Spear Builds a Machine God

A depiction of the New Motor. Artist unknown.

Ah, the 1800s were a simpler time. Before that whole Civil War mess, America was in the throes of the Second Great Awakening, with the Northeast so thoroughly scorched by religious fervor that a swath of New York was dubbed “the Burned-over district.”

Amidst this, Spiritualism was all the rage, too, so it didn’t initially attract much notice when John Murray Spear, a middle-aged Universalist pastor in Massachusetts, claimed to be receiving messages from dead men. Sure, it was somewhat strange that instead of talking to a deceased relative for comfort, he claimed that a “Band of Electricizers” made up of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others, had chosen him to bring a messiah into the world. But, in a twist fitting a new era, this savior was a machine, one that would, Spear relayed, “revolutionize the world and raise mankind to an exalted level of spiritual development.”

Those who already knew anything of the man might have figured he had simply snapped. Spear’s outspoken views on abolition and women’s rights, among other topics, led a number of churches to drive him out, and, in 1844, after a particularly vigorous denunciation of slavery, he was beaten and left for dead in Maine.

A picture of Spear, and the title page of a tome of the Electricizers’ revelations.

He recovered, and, in 1851, with the Electricizers’ plans dancing in his head, quit the ministry. Two years later, he began his work on the machine, with a result stranger than fiction.

The Friday Afternoon Movie: The Lobotomist

Please pardon the brevity of today’s FAM write-up as its inept and cretinous editor has once again succumbed to is inability to efficiently manage his time, meaning that he now has an mountain of goose colons on his desk that require sorting and filing. Also, he needs to get a picture of Spiderman on his boss’s desk by the end of the day. This is not going to turn out well.

But you don’t come to the FAM for the verbiage, you come for the movie. Today’s film once again comes from PBS, this time from their American Experience series of documentaries. This particular episode is entitled The Lobotomist and details the rise and fall of Dr. Walter J. Freeman, who traveled the country in the 40s and 50s in his self-described “lobotomobile” performing what came to be known as an “ice-pick” (transorbital) lobotomy, a procedure he helped to both perfect (even creating a tool which he called the orbitoclast) and popularize, performing between 2500 and 3500 of them during his career. Most famously he performed the operation on John F. Kennedy’s sister Rosemary when she was 23, permanently incapacitating her in the process.

Freeman was more than the country’s most famous lobotomist, he was also the procedure’s greatest evangelist. Always the showman, he would perform two lobotomies at once or assembly line style, once lobotomizing 25 women in a single day. In his crusade he was beyond reckless and unscrupulous. In December of 1960 he lobotomized 12 year-old Howard Dully at the request of Dully’s stepmother because he was “defiant and savage-looking”. Freeman’s license was finally revoked when a patient he was lobotomizing died from a brain hemorrhage. The lobotomy’s death knell came in the form of anti-psychotic drugs like Thorazine in the mid-50s, which allowed doctors to obtain the same results chemically, without having to slice up their patients’s frontal lobes.

The Lobotomist gives a look, then, into the life and career of a man singularly obsessed with his work, work he felt was helpful despite contradictory evidence, and the fame he so desperately sought at the cost of all else and, in doing so, presents another unfortunate chapter in the treatment of the mentally ill.

Wisdom Teeth And Deep

The first, seven episode season of Showtime’s Short Stories features an eclectic mix of mostly animated shorts, but these two may be my favorites and they could not be more different. “Wisdom Teeth” is another brilliant piece of unnerving nonsense from Rejected animator Don Hertzfeldt. It’s a cautionary tale about stitches and the pratfalls of trying to remove them too early. On the other end of the animated spectrum is PES’s ridiculously beautiful and serene “Deep” which details a deep sea community of fish made from compasses, pliers, wrenches, and trumpets. This one really blew me away with both its imaginative use of tools, flawless animation, and haunting atmosphere. Simply lovely. Be sure to check out the other five shorts.

Infant Aerobics?


site 0,40,0″>
via Disinformation

Whaddaya reckon? Real or fake? Either way, it certainly filled my Involuntary Horrified Shrieking Laughter of the Damned quotient for the day. Gah…

You win this round, internet. Walking away now.

The Assassination Of Yogi Bear By The Coward BooBoo

The new live-action Yogi Bear movie is a thing that exists, of that fact there is no doubt and, unfortunately, no escape. Were it to end in the manner depicted here by Edmunde Earl, as a darkly humorous ode to the penultimate scene from 2007’s under-appreciated The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, it might have at least some modicum of value. This is, of course, not the case and we are left with the reality that, as previous mentioned, there is a live-action Yogi Bear movie. Starring Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake.


The Friday Afternoon Movie: Rejected

Today is the Friday after Thanksgiving here in the US, which of course means that once again the Salespocalypse has descended upon this fair nation. Even now the fields are being decimated by swarms of bargains and the rivers run red with savings. While we here at the FAM do not partake in this yearly consumer orgy, content to huddle in our cell deep underground, far away from the lamentations of the trampled, we understand that there may be some among our readership who cannot resist the primal, thrifty Siren call of Great Deals.

Should you be among those who make it out alive we invite you to sit down, relax, and put the images of that helpless little girl out of your mind. No need to revisit the scene. No need to remember her cries of pain or recall the look of horror and resignation that came across her face right before that obese woman’s Jazzy crushed her skull. Here, have a look at some wonderful cartoons. To ease your guilt we give you Don Hertzfeldt’s amazing animated short Rejected. Watch it; it’s pretty funny. There you go, you just forget about that poor girl. I’m sure her family will be fine and, after all, they did wind up beating you to that very cheap HDTV. They came out ahead really. I mean, they can always make another daughter but when are you ever going to be able to get a 52″ plasma for under $600.00?

Yeah, It’s Kind of Like That.

Coilhouse Magazine production schedule/deadline hell is once again upon us, like WHOA. We’re deep down in it. And, yeah, it really is kind of like this:

Fondly, and with great empathy, this video is offered for the amusement of the entire extended Curlhaus crew. We’ve all been so busy and stressed. We need a good cackle. Do you realize we didn’t even get a chance to celebrate our Three Year Anniversary last month?! Damn.

So c’mere. Get in on this big impromptu group hug. Everybody, now: interns, managers, editors, contributors, distributors, merch-makers, etc. Everyone who is currently wrangling with some aspect of production, scheduling, design, advertising, financing, shipping, liaising, blogging, or crisis-averting. Everyone who’s ill, everyone who’s overwhelmed, everyone who’s hustling. Hang in there, babies.

Hey, readers? Feel free to get in on it, too.  Thanks, as always, for your support and patience. For leaving kind words for us here, on Twatter, on Fartbook, for linking back, for buying merch. For sticking around and standing by when we all inevitably wig out around production time and shit gets a little unhinged. We may all be gnawing our own lips off right now, but we can’t wait to share what’s coming next with you.

Gigantic, gigantic, gigantic, a big, big love.