Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Hisss, or: Is That a Giant Snake or–It’s a Giant Snake

As much as I enjoy a good song and dance number, the marriage-driven Bollywood plots of our recent films are getting a bit much. The Blog Collab is returning to its roots this week with a Bollywood-ish feature about a snake goddess murdering dirtbag men.

The Film:

Hisss

The Premise:

A man’s plan to obtain an immortality stone from a snake goddess goes horribly awry when he kidnaps her lover to lure her out.

The Ramble:

According to ancient legend, the snake goddess Nagin holds a stone with the power to grant immortality. For a mere human to acquire the stone, they must kidnap her lover in snake form, which will draw Nagin out to find him. Keep in mind that Nagin is a goddess who can shift into the form of a large deadly snake at will. TL;DR: there’s an entire legend around Nagin cautioning you not to fuck with her. So don’t fuck with her.

Insert clueless white dude into the picture. George States (legit this character’s name), dying of brain cancer, is determined to track down the stone and avoid his fate. He recruits three guides to help him find Nagin, though they draw the line at actually participating in the abduction. Of course, George isn’t exactly an upstanding man of his word and forces the guides to commit the crime, and two of them end up dead. With the snake securely locked in a glass tank, all George must do now is wait.

A man sticks out his tongue at a snake in a glass enclosure.

Transforming into a woman, Nagin begins the search. As it is Holi, she is caught up in a crowd of dancers spraying each other with vibrantly colored paint. When she is distracted by a snake charmer, two sketchy dudes use the opportunity to kidnap Nagin in broad daylight. And people are just kind of chill about this?!?! Of course, this encounter will end much differently than these men imagine.

A snake/woman sticks out her tongue, baring sharp fangs.

Meanwhile, police detective Vikram Gupta receives sad news when his wife miscarries. Despite his grief, he must continue work as usual; though a rather strange report of a naked woman who seems distressed is a bit of a change of pace. Vikram’s wife, Maya, and some other ladies take care of Nagin. Little do they know, she ventures out at night to find her lover, confronting men who are abusive, rapists, or all of the above. Again, these meetings go better for Nagin than the men.

Now Vikram is investigating the possibility of a serial killer, ignoring extraordinary claims of a giant snake committing these murders. Rookie Naveen arrives in town and urges Vikram to follow up about the snake; since Vikram owes his father a favor, he has no choice but to listen to Naveen.

Two police officers stand face-to-face outside, discussing a murder.

So you’ve got the pattern of more people dying, Vikram having home life drama, George acting like an asshole; rinse, repeat. Eventually, George’s admittedly limited patience wears thin and he develops a stupid plan to lure Nagin out and catch her that somehow works.

Will George manage, however improbably, to succeed in his quest to be an immortal dickbag?

The Rating:

1/5 Pink Panther Heads

I tried. I really, really tried to justify giving this a better rating, but this is truly a horrendous film. The film favors absolutely abysmal CGI and scenes of Mallika Sherwat’s rockin’ bod (for real, girl is toned) over any semblance of plot or character development. So confident are the filmmakers in their impressive CGI effects that the film comes with a WARNING in advance reminding viewers that none of the snakes depicted are real. Unfortunate considering the CGI makes this film look about 30 years old rather than 10ish. Pride before the fall–you know how it goes.

There seems to be some feminist theme buried under all of this film’s nonsense, but it’s pretty difficult to know for sure. On the one hand, Nagin avenges women who are unable to stand up for themselves; on the other, the number of brutal attacks against women that are graphically depicted borders on torture porn. Nagin herself commits many acts of badassery but has almost no interiority. While I recognize the purpose of her role was basically to look good onscreen (including during a woman/snake sex scene no one asked for), it troubles me that she had no lines except occasional screaming or moaning.

George is really difficult to take seriously as he seems to be contending for a prize for overacting. It doesn’t help that he has all of the cliche villain lines, including overwrought sinister laughter.

I don’t even know where to begin with Vikram’s mother-in-law, who seems to be developmentally disabled…and later predicts her own death and dies? What.

The moral of the story here is don’t be a piece of shit dude. Piece of shit dudes get murdered by snakes. Don’t get murdered by snakes; don’t be a piece of shit dude.

Would my lovely blog wife defend this film with tooth and claw or head to the nearest warm rock for a sunbathe? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Peppermint, or: So Vanilla

I love any month when we do what we want on the blog–which to be honest, is every month.  This time around, doubly so.  It’s free for all month, so be prepared for a series of film selections connected only by our unpredictable impulses.  First up is a film that makes me glad my impulses typically involve watching bad movies and eating cheese rather than going on murderous rampages.

The Film:

Peppermint

The Premise:

After witnessing the murder of her family, a woman seeks vengeance against the drug cartel responsible.

The Ramble:

Present day:  a badass Riley North fights with and ultimately kills a gang member in his own car, leaving him for police to find.  She asks before he dies if he remembers her…

Flashback to Riley’s happy home life 5 years before.  Riley is a busy mom working full-time and trying to dodge her passive-aggressive neighbor.  After no one comes to her daughter Carly’s birthday party, the family goes out for pizza and fun at the local carnival.  Seem like a fun night out, eh?

A man and woman pose in a photobooth with their young daughter.

What Riley doesn’t know is her husband Chris has been exploring alternative sources of income, including serving as a getaway driver for the robbery of Mexican drug lord García.  Having discovered that Chris is considering messing with García, a hit is put out on him…a hit that is carried out at the carnival.  In a matter of moments, Riley has lost her family and suffered a serious gunshot wound to the head.

Upon waking from a coma, Riley is able to identify the perpetrators of this crime, but Diego “Guillotina” García’s influence prevents any consequences for his crew.  Having bought the judge, district attorney, and some of the police force, García ensures the killers go free.  Riley, understandably distraught, loses it in the courthouse and is remanded to psychiatric care.  After managing to escape custody, Riley disappears…for 5 years anyway.

A woman testifies in a courtroom while a judge looks on.

5 YEARS LATER…

Mysteriously, those involved with the murder of Riley’s family and the sham trial have all shown up dead.  It would appear Riley has used the past few years productively, accumulating identities and becoming skilled in hand-to-hand combat, weaponry, and explosives.

As García’s cartel puts a price on Riley’s head, the police attempt to find her and bring her into custody.  Riley seems to be taking out the gang one by one, first taking out a PIÑATA STORE that serves as a front for the operation.  SERIOUSLY.

A woman with a gun dives down onto a room of suspended piñatas.

Next stop:  giant secret warehouse full of drugs.  Will Riley have the chance to complete her vengeance or will the cops get there first?

The Rating:

1/5 Pink Panther Heads

I don’t know what to say except I hated this.  Jennifer Garner is pretty badass taken at face value, but it’s problematic AF that 95% of the people she’s killing are Mexican-American.  She even hangs the corpses of the 3 gang members responsible for her family’s deaths from a Ferris wheel, as if no one who made this film had any clue about the racist tradition of displaying the bodies of victimized black and brown people?!?!?!  This film just feels like one giant hate crime.

In addition to all of the racist stereotypes this film employs, it’s also just a badly set up revenge film.  I watched Riley see her entire family murdered and felt no pity for her.  There’s also a weird impersonality to the murders, so it’s difficult to get any sense of satisfaction as Riley seeks vengeance–it’s definitely horrific that Chris and Carly died so senselessly.  Yet drug cartels senselessly kill many other, ahem, non-white people all the time.  It’s not a great look that Riley’s entire family is murdered and she still doesn’t care a whole lot about other victims of gang violence.

Add to this that the entire dialogue of this film is a bunch of police drama clichés put together, and it’s downright painful.  This is a film that’s much more vanilla than peppermint.

Would my blog wife take this one around the Ferris wheel or rain down bloody vengeance upon it?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Love, or: Full-Frontal Male Misogyny

In the history of the Blog Collab, there have been only a handful of films so hated that Christa and I cannot contain our rage about them.  This is one of those films.

The Film:

Gaspar Noé’s Love

The Premise:

An awful garbage human being reflects on how he fucked things up with the so-called love of his life.

The Ramble:

Our film begins ever so tastefully in the middle of a 3-minute full-frontal sex scene.  If this is the kind of thing you’re into, good news–you’ll see so many endless, gratuitous sex scenes with all of the nudity.  All of it.

As it turns out, the scene depicts our protagonist and resident misogynist Murphy with his ex-girlfriend and love of his life, Electra.  In the present, Murphy’s memories of her are all he has.  Murphy is unhappily married to a woman named Omi with whom he shares a young son (named Gaspar, JFC).  As the film opens, Murphy learns that Electra is missing and quite possibly dead.

A man sits on the edge of a bed, head in hands. Behind him, a woman holds a toddler.
Can’t…contain…douchebaggery…much longer…

Let’s just pause to appreciate the nature of Murphy’s marriage and the almost superhuman amount of self-pity he feels.  He’d definitely be top pick for Marvel’s Improbably Self-Pitying Misogynist Man.  Murphy believes his wife, Omi, deliberately became pregnant to trap him.  He regularly thinks shit like “I’m sick of this bitch.  Take care of the baby and leave me alone,” “I’m married because of a broken condom,” and “I hope she doesn’t make my son gay.”  What a catch.

As Murphy reflects on his present, he becomes lost in memories of his past with Electra and–lucky for us–details the tragic story of how their relationship unraveled.  When Electra and Murphy meet at a party, he is a film student who wants to make movies out of “blood, sperm, and tears.”  He’s the obnoxious film guy who gets indignant when Electra admits she hasn’t seen 2001.  Give it a rest, bro.

Electra is a struggling artist with a drug problem and a complicated relationship with her parents.  Despite their issues, Electra and Murphy fall into a passionate relationship with an absolutely unnecessary number of sex scenes.  The two believe they will start a family and be together forever because their love is so twu.

A man and woman lean close together over a table in a Japanese restaurant.
Yet another reason to be grossed out by PDA.

Unfortunately, cracks begin to show quite quickly in this relationship (and not just ass cracks).  Electra’s ex, Noé (eye roll), has a successful gallery whose position to help her makes Murphy super jealous.  As the couple fights more and more, they go to extreme measures to save their relationship.  Naturally, this includes a visit to a gross underground sex club (I almost vomited when I thought about people having to clean this place), hiring a trans sex worker, and a threesome with a pretty young neighbor, Omi…aka Murphy’s future wife.

A dark-haired woman reclines in bed between a man and a blonde woman, smiling.
A rare moment of fully-clothedness.

What happened to drive the final nail in the coffin?  And will Electra ever be seen again?  Does anyone give a shit?

The Rating:

1/5 Angry Pink Panther Heads

Ugh, the only thing worse than seeing Murphy’s dick so many times that it stops looking real is hearing this douchebag’s internal monologue throughout the film.  I have absolutely no sympathy for this dude’s existential angst as everything bad that’s happened to him is his own fucking fault yet he still doesn’t learn to treat women better.

Just for fun, a selection of Murphy’s internal thoughts:

“A dick has only one purpose:  to fuck.”  (Dicks fuck assholes.)

“Men understand each other; we have respect for each other.”

“I’m not a slave to pussy.  Pussy is pussy.”

The nature of Murphy and Electra’s relationship is also horrific.  This film should’ve just been called Sex or Fucking because what they share is not love.  The two spend an insufferable amount of time talking about what a great couple they are, but they’re actually the worst.

Only watch this one if you want to watch a porno while insisting to your friends at a party that this is true art.

Would Christa have a self-pitying wallow with this one or cover it quickly with a towel (and/or kill it with fire)?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Final Girl, or: You and Me Baby Ain’t Nothin’ But Mammals

This week’s film is chosen with my Blog Wife in mind. Not only is she on record as one of the coolest people I know, but she has a segment on her blog dedicated to final girls in horror. What could be more appropriate for this week than a film taking its cues from the badass final girls we know and love? (Assuming we continue to exist in a world where the Mega Shark vs. Mecha Margaret [The Foxy Merkins] franchise has yet to materialize.)

The Film:

Final Girl

The Premise:

A teen girl trained to kill targets a group of boys who like to reenact “The Most Dangerous Game” with the girls in their small town.

The Ramble:

After the death of her parents, 5-year-old Veronica is adopted(?) for the purposes of mini assassin training. Her trainer, William, has lost his wife and child in an extremely vague murder, leading to his, er, brilliant plan of killing a group of 17-year-old boys 12 years later.

A teenage girl and a man paddle a canoe across a scenic lake surrounded by mountains
Nice view, if you can stand all of the assholes.

The training for Veronica is oddly specific, from killing people with her bare hands (since guns run out of bullets) and running through the woods until she can no longer feel her feet. After all of this time with William as her only human connection, Veronica is rather in love with him (in a super gross Stockholm syndrome kind of way).

After seriously 12 years of training, William deems Veronica ready for a test. She lures a man into the bathroom of a sort of Western themed restaurant(?) and manages to knock him out. This is an exhibit of (1) the general cop-out feeling that is watching this movie—surely the first test would be actually killing someone and (2) unintentional evidence of the creepy nature of Veronica and William’s relationship—random older man hits on Veronica = unacceptable, but relationship with William = ok because she knows him and he knows how to rock the stubble?

A man and teenage girl are dramatically lit in a dark restaurant with a Western theme
Creepy pseudo-romantic relationship or perfume ad?

To be completely ready, Veronica also has to undergo a test where she’s injected with a drug that will reveal the truth/show her greatest fear. As it turns out, her greatest fear is William murdering her. Pretty fucking twisted.

Having passed all of the tests, Veronica is finally ready for her, uh, mission? William instructs her to gather information on a group of 17-year-old boys who hunt and kill the girls in their high school. Somehow, no one is suspicious about all of these girls going missing or about the number of times a girl has gone out with these guys only to never return.

Veronica buys a milkshake at the local diner for Jennifer, who is dating one of the psycho teens. I actually really liked the bonding scene between these two characters, even though it’s all about boy problems and Jennifer delivers one of the most cringeworthy lines of dialogue in the entire film (and there are a lot): “I’m a 17-year-old girl…of course it’s boy-related.” I could feel myself losing years from my life during that moment.

Two teenage girls sit in a booth at a diner, sipping milkshakes
We were going to try to pass the Bechdel test, but who gives a fuck.

After learning valuable(?) information about her targets that she pretty much already knew, Veronica meets up with the ringleader and scores a date. There are a few scenes giving the boys a bit of personality, which pisses me off, largely because the female characters like Jennifer get no time whatsoever for character development. Like the only thing we know about her is she likes milkshakes and is dating a psycho.

A teenage boy in a diner raises a straw to his lips
I drink your milkshake…

Veronica meets up with the Fucked Up Four and starts things out with a rather sinister game of truth or dare in the woods. Our ringleader tells this really psychotic story about a rabbit and eventually says the line “We’re all just animals,” thus ruining any chance I had of taking this movie seriously. It’s really difficult to take anything seriously when you have the Bloodhound Gang stuck in your head.

I think it will surprise no one to learn some pretty grisly deaths follow without a ton of suspense about who the final girl is in this film.

The Rating:

1/5 Angry Pink Panther Heads

I would’ve gone with 2 PPHs because this film wasn’t the worst ever, but the relationship between Veronica and William pissed me off so much. It’s creepy for William to have raised Veronica and then potentially pursue a romantic relationship with her. Plus she’s 17, which may be the age of consent but is young enough to still be creepy AF. It’s also uncomfortable that William keeps putting her through tests to prove she’s worthy of being alive; the parallels to what men do in toxic relationships are too real. Let’s not even touch on the major Stockholm syndrome at play in all of this or we’ll be here for a long fucking time.

It’s difficult to see William as any better than the psychotic 17 year olds we’re supposed to hate, honestly. He subjects Veronica to horrendous treatment and plays mind games, even if he considers it for her own good. It’s unclear how killing these dudes has anything to do with the murder of William’s wife and child as well; I don’t think we’re in a Michael Myers situation where they killed someone at the age of 5. This film accepts the weird logic that targeting bad people for murder makes you a good person…but does it?

By the end, I was really rooting for Veronica to kill William and fully embrace the concept of the final girl. Take a wild guess about whether I was disappointed (yet again).

Would Christa buy this one a shake or take an axe to it? Find out by reading her review here!

a group of four backpackers on a hill looks at the English countryside below
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Backtrack, or: I Do Nazi the Point of This Movie

So maybe you’ve thought off-hand that you must have done something terrible in a past life to deserve a series of lamentable circumstances in the present.  Like…the global political climate, for example.  Perhaps as you’ve considered this possibility, you’ve used a series of clichéd expressions and non-sequiturs to frame what is already something of a cliché.  That’s this film in a nutshell…with Nazis.  And, coincidentally, we must have all offended the forces of the universe to deserve this movie.

The Film:

Backtrack:  Nazi Regression

Where to Watch:

Amazon Prime (US)

The Premise:

What’s more fun than a walking holiday with your partner and two of your closest friends?  Exploring a possible Nazi past life through hypnotism while your girlfriend hooks up with your friend’s boyfriend and a deranged kidnapper stalks you.

The Uncondensed Version:

Claudia has an incredibly vague and convenient talent for looking into the past and future.  While on a walking holiday with her friends seems to be the perfect opportunity to test out her abilities.  Specifically, to explore the secret Nazi life of friend Ralph.  Learning about his past life is…important?  For some reason?  As it turns out, Ralph had a Nazi family in his past life, and something bad seems to have happened to them.

a man lies with eyes closed in front of a seated woman
A fun hobby to try explaining during interviews.

Meanwhile, Andrea and Lucas (who looks 12), the respective partners of Ralph and Claudia are fine with this turn of events as they’re off having sex constantly and/or complaining about all the walking…ON A WALKING HOLIDAY.  Too tired to deal with this shit, Andrea and Lucas go off to find the local pub.  Once there, they are greeted by an incredibly creepy bartender.  I kind of expected him to get along well with Lucas because they are both so fucking sleazy.

a young man sits next to a woman in a bar
Is he reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally old enough to be in a bar, though?  Is he REALLY?

Later, as Andrea and Lucas have yet another weirdly shot sex scene, a mysterious figure who we’ve heard talking to himself throughout the entire movie approaches their tent.  He hits Lucas and ties up both parties.  Whoa.  Is that where this film is heading, i.e. torture porn territory?  Apparently so.  There are some absolutely disgusting scenes that feel endless where this guy burns his victims with a lot of camera close-ups.  I hope you realize I don’t say that lightly given the massive number of B horror movies featured in this blog collab.

After being asked once, Andrea immediately reveals where the other two have gone.  Look, I’m not saying I’d do any better if a creepy kidnapper started asking me questions, but come on.

Btw, did I mention all of this is happening in broad daylight?  And he moves his victims in the back of a tractor wagon?  Super inconspicuous.

Conveniently, when Claudia and Ralph return to the campsite, Claudia senses that Andrea and Lucas were abducted after the odd camera angles of their sex scene.  The answer to all of their questions is supposedly to do another Nazi past life regression.  This is interrupted by the most unintentionally hilarious attempted abduction scene in film, in which the creepy shadowy dude tries to basically tow their tent with his tractor.  Unsurprisingly, they can get out of that one pretty easily.

a tractor tows a camping tent across a field in the night
IDK if I should really be laughing so hard about kidnapping.

However, when he does catch up with Claudia and Ralph, he is intent on exacting revenge for some unknown offense.  You’ll have to watch to see what happens, why, and if you even fucking care by the time any of this happens.  But honestly, if you ask nicely, I’ll probably just tell you how it ends.

Top 5 Lines of Dialogue:

5. “It’s better to know than not know.”

4. Andrea: A man hit you, tied us up, and brought us here.

Lucas (outraged): WHY?!

3. Julian Glover (dramatically, to a grave): You shall be avenged!

2. “If you untie us now and let us go, we’ll be on our way and the whole thing won’t be mentioned.”

1. “I’ve lived before…even if I was a Nazi.”

The Rating:

1/5 Angry PPHs

So bad, guys.  So, so bad.

I tried to think of small things about this film that could be changed to improve it, and I drew a blank.  On the bright side, the scenery is pretty?   Fucking hell, though, those burn scenes are vile.  And though as viewers we are obviously supposed to hate the cheaters and like the other two characters, they are all sooooooooooooooooooo bland.  Sub-par, even for a Nazi B movie.

Would Christa go along with this one or roll on out of the tent ASAP?  Find out by reading her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Monkey’s Paw: or, Gators Will Crash Your Car

A new week, a new part of Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2015!

I am to blame for this week’s travesty. See what Christa thought over here!

The Film:

The Monkey’s Paw

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

The short story of the same name, aka the story that inspired that episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, gets the bad movie treatment.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Young boy, parents fighting, wanders downstairs and finds his father lying on the floor. His dying father, clutching the monkey’s paw, warns (in a really bad Southern accent) “Don’t play with fate, boy.”  Are you scared yet???  No?  Yeah, don’t hold your breath.

Cut to the present day, where we follow Jake, employee at some kind of industrial factory/warehouse in N’Awlins. He works with a couple of all right dudes, Cobb and Catfish (Corbin Bleu again???), and a couple of dicks, Gillespie and the big boss man (Kevin, but who even cares).

Actor Corbin Bleu looks over his shoulder in a scene, wearing a camouflage baseball cap and a sleeveless vest.
I realize I seem to be crossing into obsession territory, but DAMN.

Shortly after a disagreement with Jake, Gillespie loses his job, setting up all of the nonsense about to unfold. Jake and all of his coworkers like to hang out at the same bar, the Gator’s Den. Foreshadowing??? Foreshadowing.

Jake vents to Cobb that he wants more than this provincial life: his mom has cancer, his brother always needs to borrow money, his ex-girlfriend is married to the asshole boss, and he has to walk everywhere since he has no money for a car. Cobb then reveals his ex has a restraining order so he can’t see his own son. Everyone has a sad story. We get it.

Gillespie has taken his drinking outside, where Jake and Cobb join him. Jake apologizes for Gillespie losing his job, even though I’m not 100% on how/why that was his fault at all. In a gesture of friendship, Gillespie presents Jake with a monkey’s paw and tells him to make three wishes before he can pass it on to someone else. As it turns out, the kid from the beginning was Gillespie. All of the alarms should be going off in your head, Jake.

Jake is pretty nonplussed; I guess this kind of thing happens all of the time in Louisiana. He tests out the paw by wishing for the GT parked outside of the bar, which is a predictable if stupid wish. Cobb and Jake find the car unlocked with keys in the ignition, and take it as a sign the car is now Jake’s. When they end up at asshole boss’s house, it becomes clear that Jake is not over his ex, Olivia. Since they are both exceptionally bland, uninteresting characters, they probably deserve each other.

The joy ride is cut abruptly short when Jake swerves off the road to avoid hitting an alligator (things that are passably normal in Louisiana but strange everywhere else, cont’d). Cobb doesn’t make it, so Jake uses the monkey’s paw to wish that he isn’t dead. Then Jake takes off through the woods for reasons I don’t totally get? To be honest, I wasn’t giving the film my undivided attention at this point. Jake ditches the monkey’s paw near this strange graffiti and continues on his merry way.

Graffiti of an eyeball with skulls and snakes is painted on a wall.
EYEBALL GRAFFITI…is terrifying, apparently.

Here begins the Great Undead Cobb Killing Spree. Blonde lady from the bar stops to help Cobb: dead. Jake’s mom: dead. Asshole boss: dead.

When he’s not killing people, Cobb enjoys hanging around cemeteries. I suppose the undead are an underserved population and don’t have a ton of other options.

An older man talks to another man in an elegant cemetery.
Probably one of the nicer options as cemeteries go.

Basically, the moral of the story is that he won’t stop killing until Jake gives him the third wish on the monkey’s paw. Complication: monkey’s paw is at an undisclosed location in the woods being chewed on by rats. Further complication: Jake is under suspicion for the murder of his boss.

Somehow he and Olivia have time for a date, by which I mean they talk while holding to-go coffee cups and have this voodoo lady read their cards. I feel we really need to raise the bar if coffee and voodoo counts as a date.

At this point, Gillespie finally reveals that he gave Jake the monkey’s paw with malicious intent (duh). Also that he was the kid at the beginning of the movie. When his dad wished he could pay off the mortgage. This, of course, yielded the death of his military brother, whose life insurance policy covered the exact amount needed to pay off the mortgage. Shortly after this revelation, Gillespie dies violently. Also Jake’s brother and sister-in-law.

Okay, I’m kind of done now.

Basically, there’s a big dramatic showdown at the home of Cobb’s ex.

I’ll spare you because the end is stupid, you guys. Stupid.

The Critique:

I hated this one. The characters are bland, the acting is bad, and an interesting premise is reduced to an incredibly repetitive story about stabbings.

I wanted the unintended consequences to be crazier, like stealing the car leads to Jake and Cobb embroiled in a drug smuggling operation, or wishing for a sunny day results in the entire planet crashing into the sun. And would it kill anyone to have a more interesting wish? I would wish for cats and a teleporter. Also that I could go back in time and NOT watch this movie.

You should probably just save yourself the trouble and watch that Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode again.

The Rating:

Small Pink Panther - Angry 1/5 Angry Pink Panther Heads

Honestly, these are more apathetic than angry PPHs, but I’m being consistent with my rating scale.

Look for Christa’s review here on her blog!

Film Reviews

Gummo, or: Dead Cats Will Haunt Me

The Film:

Gummo

Where to Watch:

If you can’t find this at your library, you may want to give up unless you can find it online. I would not advise you to rent this movie unless you are very comfortable with looking at dead cats (none of which appear in this post).

The Premise:

I love the IMDb summary, which reads “Lonely residents of a tornado-stricken Ohio town wander the deserted landscape trying to fulfill their boring, nihilistic lives.”

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

I know I say this a lot, but this is a strange one.  It’s closer to a series of vignettes than a film with any sort of traditional narrative structure.

The film follows Solly and his friend Tummler, as well as some other post-1974 tornado residents of Xenia.

At the beginning of the movie, Solly drowns a cat; then he and Tummler engage in some hardcore bicycling—just this extended scene in which they bicycle around as heavy metal music plays. When they arrive at their destination, they trade a bag of dead animals for cash, which they use to buy milkshakes.

teenage boys with grim facial expressions bicycle in a residential neighborhood
BICYCLING IS HARDCORE.

Then Tummler pays to have sex with this mentally and possibly physically disabled woman. Solly goes in to see her as well, and she tells him his fortune: “Your wife will die in a hay fire.”

a blonde woman with heavy eye make-up says "It says your wife will die in a hay fire" to a teenage boy
Whatever happened to “Your life line is very long” or “Avoid strangers with one eye”???

Solly and Tummler then hang a dead cat from a tree and beat it with sticks.

Later, Solly is working out with weights he has made by taping a bunch of utensils together. He goes into the basement and lifts while listening to “Like a Prayer.” His mother comes downstairs and tells him not to stunt his growth by lifting. She then starts tap dancing and trying to make Solly smile.

a woman in front of a mirror practices dancing while a boy throws punches at his reflection
“If you don’t smile, I’m going to kill you.” It’s like a cripplingly depressing version of Billy Elliot.

Meanwhile, Tummler is spending time with his father’s group of friends. There is a lot of arm wrestling, which becomes wrestling in general, complete with breaking chairs.

Solly and Tummler reunite to break into another boy’s house, who is their competition in the killing animals department.  The boy’s grandmother is resting there hooked up to a machine. Tummler turns off the machine and she dies; in his words, “She’s always been dead.”

Other people of interest(?) in Xenia include Helen, her blonde older sisters, and their black cat, Foot Foot. Early in the film, Tummler is going to kill the cat, but Solly stops him, as it is a house cat. Helen brings the cat inside, and the sisters hope the cat isn’t pregnant because they’ll have to drown any kittens she births. The two older sisters’ favorite hobby is to watch this guy with a really strange haircut play tennis.

We also have Bunny Ears, a kid who wanders around wearing nothing but shorts and bunny ears, never speaking. He likes to hang around on a bridge above the highway and spit onto the traffic below. Apparently he also enjoys playing the accordion in public bathrooms. He later makes out with the older two blonde sisters in a pool in the rain.

a shirtless pre-teen boy wearing pink bunny ears sits on a public toilet while holding an accordion
It’s not possible for me to add any insightful commentary to this image.

Towards the end of the movie, Foot Foot goes missing, and the girls ask people to look out for her.  Solly and Tummler are practicing loading their guns while aiming at a dead cat:  Foot Foot.  At the end, Bunny Ears runs toward the camera holding the dead cat.

close-up of a black cat with green eyes
RIP Foot Foot.

The Critique:

I was already nervous about watching this film because of the IMDb discussion boards (even though you can dismiss the IMDb discussion boards 90% of the time).  A few of the top subjects include: “This is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen,” “Why did you decide to watch Gummo?” and “how graphic is the animal violence?”

If you are opposed to killing cats and animal cruelty in general, this may not be your movie. In fact, if you have ever walked by a cat without kicking it or immediately thinking, “Motherfucker needs to die,” you may want to pass on this film.

I, personally, don’t ever want to see another dead cat. No more Nature specials, no more Narnia, no more The Fly, no more Lion King.

The Rating:

Small Pink Panther - Angry 1/5 Angry Pink Panther Heads

I’m going with 1/5 Angry Pink Panther Heads because a) I didn’t understand this movie and b) the Pink Panther would probably be opposed to the amount of cat killing in this film.

Film Reviews

Alex & Emma: Or, Personal Goals Are My Kryptonite

It might be wise for me to find every instance in which I proclaimed to the world my goal of updating this blog once a week, but I have chosen the (slightly) easier alternative of profusely apologizing to my readers and myself with no intention whatsoever to change my behavior.

This evening’s film is part of the oft-neglected “Remembrance of Films Past” series: Alex & Emma.  I LOVED this movie when it first came out. So let’s evaluate it (tear it apart) critically.

The Film:

Alex & Emma

Where to Watch:

Watch on Youtube; borrow from the library (though I acknowledge that it could be embarrassing to be seen walking around in public with this movie); die slightly from shame that you already own this movie (coincidentally, I have a friend who is getting rid of a copy of this movie. Free to a good home. Or a not-so-good home). The takeaway: don’t pay to watch this.

The Premise:

Luke Wilson plays Alex, a writer with a gambling problem, who must write a novel in 30 days or Cuban thugs will murder him. Alex hires Emma, a stenographer to help him. Yes, A STENOGRAPHER.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Let’s start with the credits. I actually really like the way the credits are animated and wish the entire film had been done this way. Sadly, it was not.

a stylized 1920s animation shows a woman with a parasol, with two men and two women in period costume on either side of her

The movie begins with the aforementioned Cuban thugs breaking in to Alex’s apartment and, among other things, LIGHTING HIS COMPUTER ON FIRE. They also dangle him out of the window and give him 30 days to write a novel, which will cover the cost of his gambling debt…or else. I have trouble believing Alex would really be paid so much for a novel that he would make so much money that he could pay off his debts and live happily ever after (though if this is the case, WHO IS THIS PUBLISHER AND WHERE CAN I FIND THEM???).

a man with a fedora and several gold chains holds a laptop over an open flame in a kitchen
This movie was released in 2003, so he’s burning like $3,000 right there.

One of the Cuban thugs is apparently played by a man named Chino XL. Spinoff about the Cuban mafia? It would have been so much better than this particular movie.

Anyway….the Cuban thugs are going to kill Alex because HE CAN’T WRITE A GODDAMN NOVEL. I think this may be a recurring nightmare for writers who never meet their deadlines.

Apparently Alex wrote a best-selling first novel entitled Love Is Always Having to Say You’re Sorry (this was perhaps the only detail of the film that I found mildly entertaining). Since he no longer has a computer, Alex hires a stenographer to help him write his novel (OBVIOUSLY).

The movie then switches between Alex and Emma writing the novel/ falling in love in bland, generic rom-com fashion and Alex, Emma, and Sophie Marceau playing out the plot of the novel, set in the 1920s.

I won’t go into the details of the plot because it is pretty much the most generic romantic comedy plot you can think of. 1920s Alex falls in love with the beautiful French heiress even though girl-next-door-type 1920s Kate Hudson would be better for him. Meanwhile, present-day Alex and Emma bicker, but only because they’re falling in looooooooooooooooooooooooove and secretly giving each other significant stares.

a woman reads a book at an outdoor book sale while a man in a plaid shirt looks on
Emma’s odd but charming quirk is that she reads the end of a book first to determine whether it will be worth her time. As a book nerd, social acceptance of this concept is a recurring nightmare for me.

Probably the major problem with this film is they are not writing a particularly good novel. There’s a lot of deliberately bad writing. Then there’s Kate Hudson putting on a Swedish accent, then German, then Spanish. It’s so very painful.

a woman with heavy eye makeup and a silk robe holds a white cup and saucer in each hand
Her accents are about as convincing as you imagine.

The Critique:

I don’t understand why I liked this movie so much.

Possibly because Luke Wilson is really pretty in period clothing.

a man in a 1920s white suit sits opposite another man on a train car

Here are a few major hang-ups for me regarding this movie:

Maybe Alex and Emma should have been putting on a play? I’m not convinced this would have made the film significantly better, but it seems like a generally more successful/interesting premise for a movie than writing a novel. Like Moulin Rouge? Or Shakespeare in Love? The Muppets?

Another significant flaw of this movie (and perhaps I’m just projecting my own personal experience with deadlines): if I had 30 days to write a novel with another person, I don’t think I would fall in love with my collaborator. I would probably claw his/her eyes out.

Plus let’s consider the financial issues that plagued me throughout the entire film. If Alex is a starving artist with a gambling problem and still has a really nice fucking apartment in Boston, I have a new career goal. And he gets $125,000 for his novel. WHAT. HOW CAN I MAKE THIS MY LIFE??? Do I have to fall in love with Kate Hudson? Fuck.

Also Alex’s gambling problem basically disappears. Just like in real life. Ha…

The Rating:

Small Pink Panther - Angry 1/5 Angry Pink Panther heads

This wasn’t even a fun bad movie to watch. I kept checking the case to see how long it was, hoping that 96 minutes on the back was a typo, just praying that it would all end soon.

Probably one of the worst movies of Luke Wilson’s career, which (I’m sorry, Luke Wilson) is saying something (and Kate Hudson’s…which is really saying something).  It’s for sure the worst of Rob Reiner’s. Yeah…Princess Bride Rob Reiner. THAT Rob Reiner. This movie is even sadder now.

If I ever made you watch this movie, I sincerely apologize. I deserve to be defenestrated.