Rhymes for Young Ghouls,
and a few more films

#221  [archive]
NOV. 20, 2023

Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013)

Please ignore the movie's silly title. There's no poetry, and it's a fine flick.

It takes place in Canada in 1976, where by law all native kids must be ripped from their families and forced into special boarding schools run by the most cruel bastards the government can hire. At the school, speaking their native language could get kids beaten or worse.

Not so long ago, this was Canada's law of the land, and I'm sure America was no better.

There's one kid who's extra tough, and has found a way to skip the native schools entirely. She's grown up without parents, but made do fairly well on tribal folklore and the drug business, with help from a support group of 'rez zombies' — the often drunk but basically good people all around her.

When the authorities finally force her into the residential school, she's victimized but breaks out, and seeks vengeance on the way.

Made among and by indigenous people, this is authentic in ways I'd never thought about before. It's mostly in English, but it might be the first North American movie I've seen where natives are allowed to speak in their own language and the dialogue is not about ancient mysticism.

The story is brutal, frank, infuriating, and truly a hell of a lot of fun. This is every bit as accessible and entertaining as anything at the multiplex, but unlike a Marvel superhero it'll make you think. Kudos to first-time director Jeff Barnaby.

Because it's brilliant, the film was barely released in America and you've probably never heard of it. Now that you've heard of it, see it.

Verdict: BIG YES.

♦ ♦ ♦

Locke (2013)
a/k/a No Turning Back

This is a gutsy idea for a film, and there are a dozen ways it could've gone stupid, but it goes smart all the way.

Ivan Locke is supposed to be supervising a concrete pour tomorrow, and it's not just any concrete pour. It's "the biggest single concrete pour ever made in Europe outside of nuclear and military projects." Locke is in charge of the entire operation, and there's no-one else who can handle his duties.

But something's come up, and Ivan won't be there. The concrete will have to pour without him, because he's decided to do the right thing — drive to London, to be with a women he barely knows as she has his baby. It's a long drive, an hour and a half or so, and that's the movie. 

During the drive, he's on the phone with his boss, who's furious that Locke won't be there; with his underling, who needs coaching on even the most basic details of the pour; with his one-night-stand, who's terrified and a little unstable; and with his wife, explaining that he had a brief affair, just once, and now he has to be there as the baby comes. Between calls, Locke talks to himself, and to his memories of his shitty father, someone he's spent his life trying not to be.

The story we're told through all these calls is tense enough to make a very good movie, and it does. But for me it's personal. I frickin' hate phones, keep my ringer off 24/7, so I winced at every incoming call.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022)
Streaming free

This was November's movie with my brother, and I had doubts about it. Could a biopic about Weird Al Yankovic — not the best but arguably the most famous accordion-player in a very specific category — make me smile for an hour and a half?

Yeah, absolutely. It's a very funny movie with a lot of laughs — a parody of a biopic of Yancovic. It's cleverly written, and every element of his life story is fake but funny. 

Wikipedia says of Yankovic's father: "He believed 'the key to success' was 'doing for a living whatever makes you happy' and often reminded his son of this philosophy," but the film hilariously portrays Old Man Yankovic as hating the accordion, and nearly killing a door-to-door accordion salesman.

Weird Al's mother says, "Honey, I know it's hard to hear this, but your dad and I had a long talk and we agreed it would be best for all of us if you just stopped being who you are and doing the things you love."

Daniel Radcliffe stars, which was a good idea. My brother made me watch several Yancovic videos before the movie, and while he's funny, he'd be too much for an hour and a half. Radcliffe plays him turned up to 10½, which is better than 11.

It also features one of the finest film adaptations of an LSD trip I've yet seen. And "You will find out what we make at the factory when you work at the factory!"

The laughs let up just a little toward the end, but bounce back with Weird Al's new song over the closing credits.

Verdict: YES.


• • • Coming attractions • • •

The Internet's Own Boy (2014)
Romper Stomper (1992)
Room Service (1938)
Who Farted? (2019)

... plus occasional 
schlock and surprises 

• • • But wait, there's more  • • •

Alexander Nevsky (1938)
Brainwaves (1983)
Cellular (2004) 
The Dark Glow of the Mountains (1985)
The Day My Parents Became Cool (2009)
The Decline of Western Civilization (1980)
Downsizing (2017)
Frankenhooker (1990)
Hugo (2011)
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
Love Happy (1950)
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
The Man with Nine Lives (1940)
Phone Booth (2002)
PickAxe (1999)
Poison (1990)
Revelations (1993)
Same Kind of Different as Me (2017)
Saved! (2004)
Scared to Death (1947)
Secret Weapons (1985)
The Shooting (1966)
The Soloist (2009)
The Train (1964)
Welcome to New Orleans (2006)
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

There are so many good movies out there — old movies, odd or artsy, foreign or forgotten movies, or do-it-yourself movies made just for the joy of making them — that if you only watch whatever's on Netflix or playing at the twenty-plex, you're missing out.

To get beyond the ordinary, I recommend:

AlterCineverseCriterionCultCinema ClassicsDocsVilleDustFandorFilms for ActionHooplaIHaveNoTVIndieFlixInternet ArchiveKanopyKinoCultKino LorberKorean Classic FilmChristopher R MihmMosfilmMubiNational Film Board of CanadaNew Yorker Screening RoomDamon PackardMark PirroPizzaFlixPopcornFlixPublic Domain MoviesRareFilmmScarecrow VideoShudderThoughtMaybeTimeless Classic MoviesVoleFlixWatchDocumentaries • or your local library

Some people even access films through shady methods, though of course, that would be wrong.

— — —

Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Reviews are spoiler-free, or at least spoiler-warned. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff. 
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  1. Why have I never heard of Rhymes for Young Ghouls until now? itsdougholland.com is where I should get my news. What a fascinating movie, thanks for th recommendation.

    1. Thank *you* for that, and for making itsdougholland.com the world's most trusted site for news and entertainment.

      (Yeah, I laughed out loud at that.)

  2. I'm glad that you liked Weird. I thought that movie was hilarious. Not what I was expecting at all. I loved all the cameos also.

    1. Definitely an all-star cameo roster. I spotted Conan, Patton, Keanu, Jack Black... and that's just what I remember the next day...


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