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Do Not Disturb

by Daniel Baldwin

It’s a tale as old as time. Sweethearts get married to fix their very rocky relationship and – surprise, surprise – it makes things worse! Chloe and Jack are longtime lovers turned newlyweds taking a honeymoon trip to Miami, hoping that it might bring them closer together. When a chance encounter with a strange drug mule leaves them with a stash of designer drugs, they hope that tripping together might help them achieve that.

Spoiler alert: Things get even worse!

Sometimes couples want to tear each other apart. And other times, they want to – as the kids today say – “eat each other up, no crumbs left.” But in the case of Chloe and Jack, it’s both! You see, while the cocaine-by-way-of-peyote high that they’re on might initially make them more open to physical and emotional intimacy, their moments of sobriety between trips drive them further apart. The solution? Do more drugs. Problem there is that in addition to a trippy high, the substance has this bad habit of making one crave human flesh.

Cannibalism CAN be an interesting metaphorical delivery system for a romance. After all, when we’re in love, we want to be a part of one another as much as possible. What is more a part of you than what is inside you? Throw in cannibalism as an additional flavoring and you’ve taken the allegory to its most extreme conclusion. This is illustrated nowhere better than in Luca Guadagnino’s masterful road trip cannibal romcom, Bones and All.

While John Ainslie’s Do Not Disturb does not reach those same heights, there’s a lot to like here. Kimberly Laferriere and Rogan Christopher turn in good work as Chloe and Jack, although they’re more at home during the drug trips and horror elements than they are during the grounded dramatic beats. This is largely the fault of the writing not quite being up to snuff in those sequences, but the highs of the more genre-oriented fare go a long way toward balancing that out.

Do Not Disturb is slow to start, but once it gets going, it earns that build up and is at its best when it’s freaking out, man. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned Bones and All or even the psychedelic ferocity of Joe Begos’ Bliss, you’re bound to find something to like here. Just be sure not to snack on your loved ones while you watch it!

Hundreds of Beavers

by Daniel Baldwin

Earlier this year, quirky auteur Wes Anderson gifted us Asteroid City, which is probably best described as “What if Looney Tunes did its own take on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and then poured it through a theatre kid filter?” Some folks found that off-putting, as though Wes Anderson had gone a bit too Wes Anderson for them. Others, like me, found it to be an utter delight. Such a movie was one I never pictured myself needing, yet when it was finally presented to me, I could no longer picture myself living without it.

What does this have to do with Mike Cheslik’s Hundreds of Beavers? Nothing, and yet also everything. This is not Asteroid City, nor should it be. What it is, however, is the answer to the question “What if Looney Tunes did its own take on Jeremiah Johnson and then poured it through a silent movie filter?” I’m not sure who – outside of those who made it – asked for this movie. But I’m glad they did, because for the second time this year, I have been gifted an absolutely lunatic slice of cinema that I never knew I desperately needed.

Not everyone is built to appreciate a movie where a buffoon wanders around a cartoonish wilderness landscape full of animals that are portrayed either by people in mascot suits or puppets. Similarly, not everyone is built to appreciate such lunacy when it feels like it was made by mad scientists who Frankenstein’d together a plushy beast composed of parts from Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Buster Keaton, Terry Gilliam, and the Keystone Cops. This is darkly violent, yet deeply comedic work that blends a love for classic cartoons and early cinema history together into an inspired near-masterpiece of a film. I say near only because it becomes a bit too indulgent during some of its lengthier set pieces, causing the pace to sag a bit at times. Well, that and maybe utilizing an anvil at some point would have also been nice!

Hundreds of Beavers is a gift. It’s one that some might want to return, but by God Bugs Bunny, it’s one that just as many are bound to cherish for the rest of their lives. This lunatic included.