Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Feminist February: Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (But Only Metaphorically)

Third film of Feminist February with the somewhat misleadingly titled Vic + Flo Saw a Bear.  I don’t know where to begin with this one.  Really I don’t.

I am positive Christa has much to say about this week’s pick.

The Film:

Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Lesbian ex-cons move to small-town Canada, which is quite beautiful and has fewer bears than anticipated. Except in the metaphorical sense.

The Uncondensed Version:

The titular Vic arrives in a small town in Quebec, already ruffling feathers as she insults a trumpet-playing child. I really connected with her at that moment.

As it turns out, Vic has recently been released from prison. She plans to live with her uncle, who is now paralyzed and cannot speak. Fortunately, Uncle Emile has a caretaker in the form of this teen boy who likes to fly a remote control helicopter and avoid wearing a shirt. (Does it really get that hot in Quebec?!)

This is part of a plan to fool her parole officer, Guillaume, into thinking she lives with her brother. Guillaume is pretty much not fooled, but he lets Vic get away with a lot of shit.

a man sits with two women in a restaurant booth
Pretty adorable for a parole officer.

Vic spends quite a bit of time cruising around with that teen boy in a golf cart, saying grumpy things to the PO, and inexplicably crying.

It’s not too long before Flo arrives and completes the duo. Vic and Flo are quite sweet initially, but their differences are heading towards irreconcilable. Flo is a younger, free-spirited city dweller who longs for excitement, while Vic would be perfectly content to stay holed up in the woods and never see another living human being.

two naked women recline on a bed, one saying "I'm old enough to know that I hate people."

Sadly, this is not to be, as a woman working for the city shows up and seems to be flirting with Vic. She helps Vic tend to her garden and, in exchange, asks to use the property as a shortcut occasionally. Vic agrees because, hey, what could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, Flo, whose sexuality is a bit more fluid, goes to the only bar in town to pick up guys. Also to drink, but probably like 60-75% to pick up guys.

So not the healthiest relationship ever. Things go from bad to worse when Guillaume tells Vic that her uncle Emile really needs better care. She manages to hang on to some of his money that she found hidden in the house, which Flo interprets as a way to keep and control her. Vic, on the other hand, sees it as a romantic gesture even though she follows it with the line “I’ll kill myself if you leave.” Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, ease up a bit on the emotional manipulation, please.

two women drive a golf cart down a country lane

Everything spirals out of control when the lady who has been helping Vic with the garden turns out to be Jackie, a woman with a vendetta against Flo. After she ties Flo to a tree and breaks her leg, Flo insists Jackie has gotten her revenge and will absolutely, definitively NOT return.

a woman stares fixatedly at another woman standing against a tree
Look at her face…she’s obviously just kidding around.

I would just like to point out that this is (obviously) horribly, horribly wrong and the kind of person who ties you to a tree and breaks your leg will ALWAYS be back. Lest I completely ruin this one, let’s leave it there and say this film takes a very dark turn.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Personally, it drives me nuts that many questions are left unanswered at the end of this film.  Unless I missed all of the answers while typing my notes.

First, any sort of explanation for Jackie’s behavior. Presumably Flo owes her money or betrayed her in some way? Jackie’s motives are deliberately ambiguous as she is the force of nature, the “bear” in this film, and it’s not important why she behaves the way she does. It seems to be inherent in her nature.

On a related note, the reason for Vic’s incarceration and Flo hiding for 10 years. Money? Idk, you guys—the only institution who I’ve borrowed large sums of money from is the government. And I don’t think the US federal government has reached the stage of tying people to trees and breaking their knees. YET. My point is that Jackie’s motives seemed more personal, but it remains unclear what she wanted…except to hurt Flo.

The last half of this movie was much stronger than the first…and it would have been stronger if there had been, I don’t know, SOME FUCKING ANSWERS.

I found Vic and Flo compelling but not particularly sympathetic. I completely loved the parole officer, while Vic was scary controlling at times, and Flo incredibly self-destructive.

Worth a watch, but be prepared for the lack of literal/non-metaphorical bears.

Did Christa see a bear or is she out in the wilderness regarding this film?  Does that question even make sense?  Find out the answer to at least one of those questions by reading her review here!

Blogging 101, Film Reviews

Hobo with a Shotgun (and Bear Sweatshirt)

The Film:

Hobo with a Shotgun (Appreciate that I was watching this in the middle of the day in a sandwich shop between shifts.)

Where to Watch:

Amazon Prime, Hoopla (shamelessly promoting the shit out of library resources)

The Premise:

A corrupt mob boss rules Scum Town through violence and terror until he encounters Rutger Hauer, the titular hobo with a shotgun (yeah, I know he’s in Blade Runner, but I always think of him as the Huntsman from 10th Kingdom).

The Uncondensed Version:

Our film opens with deceptively cheerful music accompanying shots of the hobo riding the rails, waving at the occasional car, and generally enjoying the sunshine and greenery he passes. All of this exists solely to provide contrast with the environment of Scum Town. There’s graffiti everywhere, street fighting (some of which has been staged for filming), litter filling the streets, and the sounds of nearby gun shots.

A man wearing a beanie hitches a ride on a train, looking serenely at the greenery passing by.
Yeeeeeeeah, there’s no way this movie is going to be about the simple joy of a life spent riding the rails.

The villain of this film arrives on the scene, a really obnoxious mob boss who calls himself “The Drake.”  He’s pursuing a guy with a manhole cover around his neck. After catching this guy, The Drake and his sons (Slick and Ivan) put him back in the manhole, attach a spiky rope to his neck, and drive, thus decapitating him.

At this point the hobo lays low; he just wants to collect bottles and get enough money for a fucking lawn mower (seriously).

Later, the hobo follows Ivan and Slick into a seedy club with deadly bumper cars and other games generally involving blood and torture. The hobo saves a prostitute named Abby from Slick, making a citizen’s arrest and taking him to the police station. At this point, the hobo finds out the hard way that the police are corrupt; he is thrown into a cell. Later, Slick and Ivan arrive, carving the word “SCUM” onto his chest. That’s just rude.

Abby helps the hobo to her apartment and lets him stay for the night. She gives him a sweatshirt that rivals 3 Wolf Moon.

An older man in a warmly lit bedroom sits on a bed, smiling while holding up a sweatshirt with a roaring grizzly bear.
I guess when you’re a hobo, you probably aren’t too picky about the appearance of your sweatshirts.

Then the hobo tells us some facts about bears: They live in a magic circle; You should never hug a bear. It made me wish the movie were Rutger Hauer talking about bears.

In the morning, the hobo leaves the apartment and chews glass for the guy filming street fights. AT LAST he has enough money to buy a lawn mower.

Unfortunately, he arrives at the pawn shop as it’s being robbed. At this point, the hobo becomes the titular hobo with a shotgun, shooting the robbers and saving the people in the pawn shop. What we need now is a montage (even Rocky had a montage) to show the hobo shooting the bad guys and cleaning up the city. And we get it, along with the newspaper headline “Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change.”

A man wearing a beanie shouts as he points a shotgun towards an unknown target in a shop.

In retaliation, Ivan and Slick light a school bus on fire in case anyone is still confused about whether they have any moral scruples. Then The Drake tells the town to kill the entire town’s homeless or he’ll kill all the children. “Bring me that hobo” becomes a line that receives significant use.

The hobo saves Abby again after Ivan and Slick try to kill her in her apartment. Ivan likes to walk around on ice skates, which is a convenient set up for him being electrocuted with a toaster.

Abby ends up in the hospital, where the hobo brings her some flowers in a Dixie cup. He then gives the babies in the hospital the most de-motivational speech: essentially, some day you’ll all be prostitutes, drug dealers, or maybe a hobo with a shotgun.

At this point, The Drake unleashes the Plague (basically robot Nazis), who catch the hobo.

A person wearing a gas mask stands next to wall with religious iconography; in the background, a large tentacle rises up.
The Plague also has some kind of tentacle monster…? Maybe this script was written by Alan Moore?

Now the movie is Abby with a shotgun. She rallies the townspeople by forcing them to confront the nature of being homeless; what does homelessness mean? Who is truly homeless?

The Drake begins a public execution of the hobo, but Abby arrives in the nick of time with the shotgun and a hacked lawnmower. She threatens to shoot his son Ivan (Slick has already died), which doesn’t faze The Drake. He shoots Ivan, then grabs Abby and sticks her hand in the mower (total Romancing the Stone moment). Abby then stabs The Drake repeatedly.

Bizarrely, Abby kills one of the Plague robots; the other tells her she must replace him as a member of the Plague. When she declines, he just walks away.

A woman with a rifle and improvised shield stands confidently in a dark, dusty area outside.
I would have liked to see Abby join the Plague, honestly, if only to figure out what the actual fuck the Plague IS.

Meanwhile, The Drake is miraculously still alive and attempting to escape. The hobo is just about to shoot him when the police arrive and order him to stand down. He shoots The Drake, and then dies when the police open fire. Shortly after, the townspeople arrive and rebel against the corrupt police force, order is restored, etc.

The hobo’s last words: You’re riding shotgun.

The Critique:

This movie looked like it was shot in a 13-year-old’s basement. Maybe it’s supposed to.  Because this movie is a tribute to ‘70s exploitation films, the acting is soooooooooooooo bad; the dialogue is worse.  I don’t really understand how they convinced Rutger Hauer to appear in this movie.  The plot is really predictable except for maybe the sudden appearance of the Plague.  It’s still not clear to me what the Plague IS except for robot Nazis.  Do they work for The Drake or just generally anyone who wants to commit evil acts?  Are they evil fairy godmothers?  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE THAT REMAINS UNRESOLVED.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther2/5 Pink Panther heads

Apparently this movie was based on the winning entry in a trailer contest. It probably should have just stayed a trailer.