Summer Guide: Bellflower's Muscle-Car Mayhem Shifts the Summer Into High Gear

Director Evan Glodell talks breakups and homemade bombs. Plus, summer film picks.

Homemade flame-throwers. Hot chicks who eat crickets. The ultimate muscle car named Medusa. Booby-trapped with the superficial pleasures of a summer movie, writer-director Evan Glodell’s darkly exhilarating debut, Bellflower, is a pre-apocalyptic love story and the most emotionally (even literally) explosive critique of male insecurity since Fight Club. Glodell stars with Tyler Dawson as mechanically inclined buds whose anarchic collaboration is threatened by a magnetic but volatile woman. While in NYC to flex Medusa’s guns at an auto show, Glodell sat down to discuss what shouldn’t be tried at home, kids.

Filmmaking aside, when did you learn to build such dangerous toys? I was a tinkerer when I was a kid. I would mess around with electronics, and then I got into Tesla coils and anything I could make high-voltage. When I was in middle school, I started building bombs, because that’s fun when you’re a young boy, right?

At the risk of incriminating us both, what did you make them with? Whatever we could get our hands on. We’d take apart firecrackers. Dry-ice bombs were the easiest. I never made a pipe bomb, because it seemed sketchy, but you can empty CO2 containers, fill them up with gunpowder, and put wicks in them. That makes a pretty serious explosive. I remember making a bomb out of those disposable candles and throwing one in the garage to mess with my brother and his friends. It was the first time it hit me that what I was doing wasn’t safe. No one got hurt, but it was loud.

What inspired the toxic romance at the heart of Bellflower? I went through a breakup—it was the most devastating thing that has happened to me. At the time, I was obsessively making weird little projects and short films, and I started writing about it. The first half of the movie was going to be pretty and happy, and the second half was this terrible destroying of all that. Other ideas came in, like the characters building this car, something that my friend and I joked about: “Someday we’ll have a car like that, and that will enable us to be super-powerful like Mad Max.”

So now that Medusa exists, are you empowered? I don’t know, but I really like it. It’s a bit silly in reality, because you can’t even drive anywhere. By the time I park, like to go to 7-Eleven to get cigarettes, there’s someone waiting outside the car. It’s always bros who are like: “What kind of engine do you got in there?” It takes twice as long to get anything done.

How do you feel about those who have decried your film as nihilistic or misogynistic? I literally would destroy [the film] if I thought it was a negative thing. There are scenes that are supposed to be like nightmares. A confused young guy is getting his heart ripped out by a girl, or at least, that’s the way he sees it. He’s having these awful images in his head. Some involve revenge because he doesn’t know what to do. To me, I was being honest and addressing the shit that dudes will never talk about. I knew there was a danger that people were going to judge me. 

Is it true that your Oscilloscope contract has a clause requiring you to build a flamethrower for Beastie Boy and film distributor Adam “MCA” Yauch? Yes, there is. We have to deliver them two flamethrowers. One regular, and one child-size. I think it’s for his son. It’s legally binding.

'Bellflower’ opens August 5 (Oscilloscope Laboratories), oscilloscope.net

Summer Film Picks

Rooftop Films
Ongoing through August 20
Who wants to be trapped in a multiplex on a beautiful summer evening? The 15th-annual edition of this smartly curated open-air series boasts 23 features, live music, and madcap stunts: The semi-pro wrestlers of the riveting vérité doc Fake It So Real will take part in an on-site battle royale; the Dutch artist and subject of Convento presents an installation of dead-wildlife animatronics; and expect pure mayhem from the “musical terrorists” who star in the sublime Swedish comedy Sound of Noise. Rooftop Films, various locations, rooftopfilms.com

‘Out of the Blue’
June 3–9
In the late Dennis Hopper’s mind a better film than Bertolucci’s Luna and his own Easy Rider, the actor-director’s brilliant, still shockingly subversive 1980 cherry bomb—revived here in a new 35mm print—is as sad and unsettling as dysfunctional-family dramas come. Days of Heaven’s Linda Manz steals it as an Elvis-loving teen punk reconnecting with her truck-driver dad (Hopper), freshly sprung from prison after drunkenly smashing into a busload of schoolchildren. Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, anthologyfilmarchives.com

BAMcinemaFEST
June 16–26
Nineteen New York premieres (and one world debut) light up BAM’s third-annual showcase for new festival treasures and repertory curiosities, opening with SXSW Audience Award winner Weekend. Don’t miss the freewheeling comic snark of The Color Wheel, the psychosexual jealousy bubbling beneath Green, French actor and filmmaker Mathieu Amalric’s bawdy burlesque-girls dramedy Tournée, and some truly must-see docs (Dragonslayer, Last Days Here, The Ballad of Genesis & Lady Jaye). Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, bam.org

‘Page One: Inside the New York Times
June 17
Whether you’re getting ink on your hands or currently experiencing digital eye strain, there’s something to be gleaned about the mutating world of journalism from Andrew Rossi’s delightful, fly-on-the-wall peek within the Gray Lady’s newsroom. Discussing 21st-century ethics and concerns as the WikiLeaks controversy unfolds in real time, the film is at its most entertaining when embedded with sandpaper-voiced veteran reporter David Carr, who approaches his beat with a sharp wit and uncompromising saltiness. Magnolia Pictures, in limited release, magpictures.com

New York Asian Film Festival
July 1–14
Celebrating a decade of bat-shit nutty thrills, Subway Cinema’s genre-busting extravaganza will host special guest Tsui Hark for “Wu Xia: Hong Kong’s Flying Swordsmen,” a sidebar featuring the directing legend’s kung-fu spectacular Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Fresh from Cannes, Na Hong-jin’s The Yellow Sea headlines “Sea of Revenge: New Korean Thrillers,” and that’s just the beginning. Punk-rock Buddhist monks! Karate-fighting robots that transform into motorcycles! Egad! The Film Society of Lincoln Center, West 65th Street and Broadway, filmlinc.com

‘Tabloid’
July 15
After the sobering politics of Standard Operating Procedure and The Fog of War, Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris returns to his eccentric early roots with—no, not a counter-argument to Page One—but a hilariously bonkers saga that indeed made headlines. In the late ’70s, beauty queen Joyce McKinney flew to the U.K., kidnapped her former beau, and chained him to a bed to “deprogram” his Mormon beliefs of chastity. Crazy but charismatic, McKinney tells her rationalized side of a story whose twists are unthinkable. IFC Films, in limited release, ifcfilms.com

Essential Pre-Code
July 15–August 11
1930s Hollywood was at its most exhilarating before the Hays Code suppressed all the innuendo, raciness, and creative rebellion, which will titillate new generations in Film Forum’s four-week fête. Take in the uncensored version of Baby Face (starring Barbara Stanwyck as a corporate ladder–climbing prostitute) and new 35mm prints of Sailor's Luck, The Match King, Jewel Robbery, and Heat Lightning. Each Thursday salutes suave actor Warren William (“The Heel of Heels”), and Tuesdays offer triple features for one admission. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, filmforum.org

‘The Future’
July 29
Following 2005’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Miranda July’s long-awaited second feature may theoretically seem too twee, since its self-questioning drama about a quixotic thirtysomething couple (July and Hamish Linklater) in existential crisis features YouTube dance projects and narration by a dying stray cat. However, this wonderfully whimsical examination into the fear of cosmic insignificance is so deeply touching and honest (think Ikiru starring Silver Lake hipsters) you just might need a stiff drink afterward. Roadside Attractions, in limited release, roadsideattractions.com

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