Blogging 101, Film Reviews

Hellraiser, Or: The Rubik’s Cube of Doom

The Film:

Hellraiser

Where to Watch:

Netflix, Youtube

The Premise:

Clive Barker directs this horror film in which a man’s dead brother begins to resurrect himself by feeding on the corpses of his murder victims.

The Trailer (soooooooo ‘80s-tastic, guys):

The Uncondensed Version:

Clive Barker supposedly writes really creepy horror stories; the only thing I’ve read of his is Abarat, which he also illustrated. Both Abarat and Hellraiser are characterized by Barker’s terrifying nightmare monsters.

Our film opens with the man we later identify as Frank opening a puzzle box and being transported to hell (only during the ‘80s could a horror movie about what is essentially a demonic Rubik’s cube have been produced). In hell, he experiences both extreme pleasure and extreme pain. Frank’s only objection is that he also happens to be dead.

In the land of the living, Frank’s brother, Larry, and his wife, Julia, move into the historic family home. Hidden upstairs, Julia discovers evidence that Frank had been living in the house until recently, smoking cigarettes and shooting dirty pictures of himself with various female partners. As she looks through the photos, Julia uncovers one of her with Frank. EARLY PLOT TWIST: Julia had an affair with Frank!

Meanwhile, Larry is helping move their bed upstairs when he suffers a nasty cut on his hand. When his blood falls, the floorboards soak it up, steam and ooze bubble up, the rats are kind of freaked out and…Frank is resurrected! Sort of.

1
Not bad for an ’80s special effect, eh?

Julia goes upstairs and, upon discovering Frank, agrees to help him become completely alive again (through blood sacrifice. Duh). Basically, Julia dresses up all ‘80s glam and hangs around in bars (“I put on women’s clothing and hang around in bars!” But literally). After she lures them back to the house, Frank kills them and eats them.

No man can resist the '80s shoulder pads of doom!  She also has gigantic plastic star earrings.
No man can resist the ’80s shoulder pads of doom! She also has gigantic plastic star earrings.

Larry’s daughter, Kirsty, who has never been a fan of Julia, figures all of this out and freaks out a little (a lot). Kirsty grabs the cube and runs, but kind of has a breakdown in the middle of the street. She gets sent to a hospital, where she accidentally opens the door to HELL. The Cenobites (essentially sadomasochist punk demons) appear and tell her she must go with them. Kirsty manages to make a deal with them: she will help them catch Frank, their only victim to escape, if they allow Kirsty to go free.

THE CENOBITES.
THE CENOBITES. Pinhead in center, I presume.

Kirsty returns to the house to find Larry…or, rather Frank dressed up in Larry’s skin, who tries to kill her. Frank stabs Julia for no apparent reason, then goes after Kirsty. He is just about to kill her when the Cenobites appear and take him back to hell.

However, the Cenobites do not keep their promise to leave Kirsty alone. Each one tries to send her to hell. Luckily, Kirsty manages to get hold of the cube again. She twists the cube in different ways to solve it and make each Cenobite explode into light/return to hell.

Demonic Rubik's cube in action.
Demonic Rubik’s cube in action.

Her boyfriend shows up, and the two escape the burning/collapsing house. Kirsty throws the cube into the fire, hoping to destroy it.

Then this homeless guy who has been showing up at random intervals walks into the fire, TURNS INTO A FUCKING DEMON DRAGON SKELETON, and flies away with the cube. THE ETERNAL QUEST TO SOLVE A DAMN RUBIK’S CUBE CONTINUES…

...Yeah.  That really just happened.
…Yeah. That really just happened.

The Critique:

I unabashedly enjoyed this movie. Some of the effects were actually really disgusting, and most of the monsters were pretty creepy-looking. Although Kirsty was kind of annoying in a generic ‘80s heroine kind of way, she could have been worse. I kind of wanted Frank to successfully come back to life. Is that weird? What does it say about me as I person that I sympathize with demon-worshipping sadomasochists who kill and cannibalize other people?

Apparently there are 8 sequels involving Pinhead, the latest of which came out in 2011. I had no clue this was such a big franchise. Sorry, but there’s no way I’m watching all 8. Maybe 1 or 2.  A remake is also in the works; if this ever actually happens, you know I’ll be critiquing it.

Favorite piece of IMDb trivia about this film: It was originally entitled The Hellbound Heart after the Clive Barker novella it was based upon. The studio thought this title sounded too much like a romance and wanted to change it (I don’t know what kinds of “romances” these people read/watch). Barker’s suggestion? Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther4/5 Pink Panther heads

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Blogging 101, Film Reviews

Rubber: Tired of Waiting

First Film of BLOOD Month:

Rubber

Where to Watch:

Netflix, Hoopla

The Premise:

A tire goes on a killing rampage in the desert (Is the title of this post making you cringe now?).

The Trailer:

Doing my best to include a link to the trailer for movies I critique from now on, when possible.

The Uncondensed Version:

With this movie, the prologue is essential. Through the bizarre sequence of non-sequiturs that occur, we learn that, like many other things in both art and life, there is no reason. To begin with, a car drives up to a man standing in the desert holding a dozen or so pairs of binoculars. The car hits a series of chairs in the middle of the road, breaking them all; when it stops, a police officer steps out of the trunk of the car and begins his monologue to the camera about the lack of reason in a few films: ET, Love Story, JFK, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Pianist. He then empties a glass of water onto the sand and gets back in the trunk. After all of this, it is revealed there is a small group of people, who receive binoculars to watch the events about to unfold.

Probably not the wisest move in a desert.
Probably not the wisest move in a desert.

First, there is life. Or at least animation. The tire gets up and starts rolling (by the way, my cat did NOT appreciate these sound effects).

The tire starts small, rolling over and crushing a water bottle, then a scorpion. It approaches a glass bottle that is not so easily destroyed. Not to worry—at this point, the tire discovers its telekinetic powers. Or, rather it discovers the ability to blow things up with its mind. So 2 important questions: 1. Is this a form of telekinesis? 2. Do tires have minds?

As the sun sets, the tire decides to rest. The audience goes to sleep as well. In the morning, the guy with the binoculars wakes them up and they continue to observe the tire blowing things up. It blows up a bunny, which is kind of sad.

The tire’s rampage is interrupted when a young woman in a convertible drives by. It’s kind of difficult to tell if the tire has a crush on her or wants to kill her. After the tire makes her car break down, it’s just about to catch up to her when a man in a pick-up truck drives by, hitting the tire. Now the tire is really enraged.

When it catches up to the pick-up truck guy, the tire makes his head explode.

BLOOOOOOOOD.  EXPLOSIONS.  I know this is what you've been suffering through this post for.
BLOOOOOOOOD. EXPLOSIONS. I know this is what you’ve been suffering through this post for.

The tire then follows the girl in the convertible to a shady motel. Also in the motel is the binoculars guy, who is slaughtering a turkey in his room. What. He then brings the turkey to the audience members, who fight over their first meal in days (with the exception of this middle-aged guy in a wheelchair).

The tire is taking a shower when the maid comes in and throws it out. This is not wise.

We also meet the owner of the motel and his emo son. The emo kid puts 2 and 2 together, figuring out the tire is the murderer. Of course, no one listens to the emo kid.

Nobody understands me!  The world is indifferent to my suffering!  I wear this camo because I'm fighting a secret war against ALL of you!
Nobody understands me! The world is indifferent to my suffering! I wear this camo because I’m fighting a secret war against ALL of you!

As the police attempt to solve the murders, the policeman from earlier interrupts the scene and informs them the audience is dead; therefore, they can all go home now. Minutes later, he receives word that one spectator is still alive, so they have to continue with the production. The binoculars guy renews his efforts to get the guy in the wheelchair to eat something; instead, the binoculars guy eats the poisoned food and dies.

After the tire kills the emo kid’s dad, it’s on the run from the police. There is an extremely high speed chase with the tire that ends poorly for the police. The tire continues its rampage.

Later, the police locate the tire camped out in someone’s house and set up a trap for it. They attach a bomb to a mannequin, which they leave outside of the house. After they ring the doorbell, the girl in the convertible reads from a truly terrible script, encouraging the tire to blow up the mannequin. At this point, the guy in the wheelchair intervenes, telling the actors that this scene makes no sense.

Finally, the policeman goes into the house and shoots the tire. Then, in a shocking plot twist, the tire is reincarnated as a tricycle. The tricycle kills the guy in the wheelchair and rallies its fellow tires to take down Hollywood.

75% of these tires will be getting implants.
75% of these tires will be getting implants.

The Critique:

I don’t even know where to begin. This is a pretty funny movie, but it’s also so strange. I liked it, but it also endlessly confuses me.

The Rating:

I honestly have no clue if this is the smartest or the stupidest movie I’ve ever seen.

I’m going to have to break out half Pink Panther heads for this.

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherHalf Pink Panther head 3.5/5 Pink Panther heads

Blogging 101

Anatomy of a Blog Post

For this Blogging 101 post, I’m trying 2 new things:  1.  New format.  2.  Abnormally low word count.

This is essentially the Behind the Music version of my blog (with slightly less drama, drug use, etc.).  In photos, these are the essential elements of my typical blog posts:

Lately I can’t blog without Whitney.  She gets my rage.

Coming up in honor of Halloween:  Movies featuring the Brutal, Ludicrous, Or Otherwise Deranged.  Yeah…October is BLOOD month.  It will be a change of pace from the sober and reflective posts that typify this blog.

Blogging 101

10 Things I Hate About the Daily Prompt

I hate the daily prompt, guys.

“You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?”

It’s like these WordPress people know how much I despise talking about myself in blog posts. I’M JUST HERE TO WRITE MOVIE REVIEWS, OKAY???

So I’m going to avoid talking about myself and writing about what truth is to me or listing honest things about who I am. I’m into all that po-mo bullshit about truth being subjective anyway.

Since I primarily use this blog to post film reviews, I decided to write a short list of movies I honestly love to an embarrassing degree. This may be cheating slightly because I made an unnecessary list the last time I had no clue what to do with a prompt as well. IF BUZZFEED CAN DO IT, SO CAN I. Without further ado:

  1. 10 Things I Hate About You

Not that I’m embarrassed about the degree to which I ADORE this movie, but it was the first thing I thought of when I was trying to work on today’s prompt. Ha, kind of because I considered writing a list of reasons I hate the daily prompt. This was my favorite movie when I was 10 and is still my favorite comedy. Heath Ledger in our hearts forever.

  1. 13 Going on 30

I love ‘80s movies, guys, especially of the teen angst variety. So it kind of makes sense that I love this film, which is basically a tribute to those movies. Really cheesy, but so fun to watch and surprisingly heartfelt. Any movie that features a large group of people performing the “Thriller” dance has to be at least halfway decent.

  1. Dragonheart

Mixed reviews for this one, but you’ll have to stab me in the heart to kill my love of this movie. TOO SOON. I find this movie every bit as traumatizing as I did as a child. It pretends to be a fun medieval adventure and then it breaks your HEART. Sean Connery voices the dragon, which is pretty fantastic. The line “To the stars, Bowen. To the stars” in Sean Connery’s voice randomly pops into my head to this day.

  1. The English Patient

I know…it’s that movie Elaine from Seinfeld hates. As a result, this film has gotten the reputation of being boring and pretentious, but it’s so good. The desert shots are absolutely gorgeous, and the story is utterly devastating. I love that this movie is incredibly romantic, but it’s also a disturbing and kind of creepy love story. And I’m sorry, but I find Ralph Fiennes ridiculously attractive (ahem, even when he’s playing Voldemort), and this movie is basically the equivalent of looking at his face for 2 ½ hours.

  1. Miss Minoes

This is a Dutch children’s movie about a cat who is transformed into a woman and takes down an evil corporation. I don’t know if it would be considered a classic of filmmaking, but there are so many kittens in this movie, the acting is actually pretty great, and it never fails to make me laugh. I may post my Facebook review of this film here on WordPress someday.

  1. Penelope

Hmmmmmm…I’m starting to realize what a shallow human being I am when it comes to movie watching. I basically love this movie because James McAvoy is rocking some beautiful shaggy hair throughout, and he never once gets beaten or tortured (if you follow his career, this happens A LOT in most movies he’s in). The film kind of hits you over the head with its message and features some very one-dimensional characters, but it’s still pretty cute and mostly works.

  1. The Pink Panther (and all of its sequels)

I feel like such a jerk for neglecting to mention this movie more frequently. Obviously I love it if I named my damn blog in its honor. Peter Sellers is so brilliant in these movies, even when they devolve into absolute nonsense. Even though the first one has some spectacularly dark humor, I enjoy the sequels (esp. The Pink Panther Strikes Again) featuring Burt Kwok and Herbert Lom as well.

  1. Sabrina

Included this movie because the premise is really sketchy, but I love it anyway. Humphrey Bogart pretty much plans to seduce his younger brother’s fiancée because she’s their chauffeur’s daughter and not good enough to marry into the family. Plus Bogie is waaaaaaaaaay too old for Audrey Hepburn, but I just don’t care. It’s Humphrey Bogart. This movie is so much better than I’m making it sound, I swear.

  1. Shakespeare in Love

All I ever hear people say about this movie is that it shouldn’t have won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the outrage—Shakespeare in Love also won over Life Is Beautiful, one of my absolute favorite movies. Should this film have won Best Picture? I don’t know, but I LOVE all of the Shakespeare references, and I flipping love Judi Dench. Also, like his brother Ralph, Joseph Fiennes has a pretty nice face to watch for a couple of hours.

    10.  Star Trek IV

I think this is the most critically acclaimed of the Star Trek movies until the reboot. That being said, it’s still an incredibly cheesy movie that makes very little sense (even for Star Trek). This movie makes me laugh every time, though. It almost makes up for the effrontery to filmmaking that is Star Trek V (sorry, Shatner).

It should go without saying that I love a lot of bad movies too…but it was just too difficult to decide which ones to list here. Maybe I’ll do a top 10 bad movie countdown eventually.

I am also honestly trying to get my posts to 500 words or even 750…but I’m not a particularly concise writer. There’s a reason I don’t do Twitter.

Blogging 101

Nobody Expects the…

I was reading One Little Library’s post The Best of 2014 (So Far!) on her favorite books of 2014, which gave me inspiration for this post. Some of her favorites are ones she didn’t think she would like (Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest, for example, which sounds like a fun read).

So I thought for today’s Blogging 101 task, I’d make a list of some things I have expected to hate, but have actually enjoyed quite a lot this year:

  1. Battlestar Galactica: science fiction tv show about humanity’s struggle to survive after sentient robots attack.

I didn’t necessarily expect to hate this show, but didn’t expect to get so sucked in by the plot and characters. There’s a lot of sci-fi that is just a vehicle for phallic spaceships exploding, but this isn’t one of them. BSG is a really intelligently written show that uses its sci-fi premise to offer social criticism and make you very uncomfortable. You will probably be extremely upset that Starbuck is a fictional character if you watch.

  1. Hanging out by myself in public places.

I have a lot of down time between many of my shifts, but it’s not worth my time/gas money to drive home. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time in sandwich shops reading, eating, and/or watching bad movies. It’s been quite pleasant to sit in a corner while people make me food and expect minimal human interaction. Even though I would still rather sprawl at home on the couch with no bra.

  1. Wolf Children: anime about a woman struggling to raise her half-wolf children after their father dies.

Guys, I am really not someone who enjoys anime. It usually just confuses me endlessly, but Wolf Children was a lovely movie about loss, family relationships, and establishing an identity independently (spoiler alert: there are also wolves. And children). I find Hosoda’s films highly imaginative but grounded in the deep emotional connections between characters. Plus there’s some beautiful animation going on in his movies.

  1. Kindred by Octavia Butler: science fiction novel about an African-American woman in the 1970s who is thrown back to the early 19th century to guide her plantation-owner ancestor.

I find sci-fi is very hit or miss for me, so even though I’d heard great things about Octavia Butler, I was skeptical about picking up this novel. I’m so glad I gave it a chance—one of my favorite books of any genre now. Kindred is so action-packed and absorbing with some very unsettling observations about race and gender in both the past and the present. No matter how disturbing this book became, I couldn’t put it down until I knew how it ended.

  1. Enlightened: tv show about a woman trying to change her life and the corporation she works for after having a huge meltdown on the job.

Cheating because I didn’t expect to hate this show, but I did read a lot of negative reactions towards Laura Dern’s character, which put me off watching. I ended up loving her character, who is extremely flawed but stubbornly optimistic. I didn’t expect a show about a woman having a mid-life crisis to seem all too relevant to my own life, and for the writers to basically send a giant “fuck you” to corporate America. Added bonus is the appearance of Luke Wilson in this series, who is aging extremely well.

  1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: pretty much the contemporary YA version of King Lear.

I don’t read a ton of YA fiction (too much angst—been there, done that), but I wanted a nice light summer read. While I suppose it didn’t end up being nice or light, it was a lot of fun to read and kept me in suspense until the end. Much more carefully and intelligently written than many other YA novels out there.

  1. Iron Sky: bad movie about Nazis who colonize the moon post-WWII.

I didn’t expect to hate this movie, but I didn’t have high hopes for it. The premise sounded like it could either be brilliant or horrendous. With its hyper-awareness of its own absurdity and surprising amount of snide political commentary, it’s definitely one of my favorite bad movies now.

  1. The Walking Dead: I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’re familiar with this show. If not, it’s a tv show about zombies.

I just started watching this show, and I’m enjoying it so much more than I thought I would. It’s really disgusting, which is somewhat problematic because I’m usually eating when I watch tv. That being said, it’s not (quite) as much about blood and guts as I thought it would be, though I’m not sure how much longer I can keep watching without becoming totally repulsed by the human race as a whole.

  1. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: comedy tv show.

Kind of cheating again because I couldn’t think of any reason I wouldn’t love John Oliver’s show. However, I do love it more than I thought humanly possible, especially this clip from his latest episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDPCmmZifE8.

What about you?

Have you been pleasantly surprised by anything that you initially thought would be terrible? Or maybe you’ve gone back to something you hated the first time and loved it the second time around.

Ha, I’ll hate you a lot if you say this blog. 🙂

Blogging 101, Film Reviews

The Visitors: Qu’est-ce que c’est?

The Film:

The Visitors

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

A 12th-century knight and his servant attempt to return to their own time after being transported to the 20th century.  Hijinks ensue.

The Uncondensed Version:

This movie is so weird, guys.

It starts out with Sir Godefroy travelling to marry his fiancée, Frénégonde, after saving the King of France; however, en route he encounters a witch.  Instead of killing her, he brings her back to the castle to burn her.  I’m not really clear why.  Possibly so the people will at least get to enjoy the entertainment of a public execution.  Or maybe medieval knights were way bigger believers in habeas corpus than I realized?  Either way, this turns out to be a really bad idea.  The witch drugs Godefroy so that he believes his fiancée’s father is a bear and kills him.  You can be sure that wedding isn’t happening now.

In an effort to change these events, Godefroy asks a wizard to send him back in time.  Because I guess even though witches practice dark magic, wizardry is perfectly acceptable to the typical medieval knight.

Seriously, you're going to trust this guy with your life?
Seriously, you’re going to trust this guy with your life?

The wizard makes everything much worse by, in fact, sending Godefroy and his servant, Jacquouille, to the 1990s.  There, Godefroy encounters his descendant, Béatrice, who looks EXACTLY like his fiancée.  There were, in fact, a few times when I thought she was going to become her own great-great-great (etc.) grandmother, which was so uncomfortable.  Don’t sleep with your ancestors.  That is the first rule of time travel.  (It’s okay…nobody breaks this rule in The Visitors, but it comes pretty close.)

Béatrice, for her part, spends the majority of the film thinking Godefroy is her long-lost racecar driver cousin.  So she is usually trying to reintroduce him in polite society, which equates to cleaning up his messes.

One of many cultural misunderstandings.
One of many cultural misunderstandings.

I don’t want this to be the longest entry ever and I would like to leave plenty of space for me to rant, so suffice it to say Godefroy keeps trying to find a way back to the 12th century for the rest of the movie.  I think there were a lot of puns and general archaic language I didn’t understand.

Finally, one of the wizard’s descendants gives Godefroy a potion that will take him back to the past.  Godefroy and Béatrice share a moment in which they proclaim how glad they are to have met each other.  I SERIOUSLY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY SHE WAS GLAD TO MEET HIM.  HE JUST FUCKED EVERYTHING UP.  I was also having a major Kindred (Octavia Butler) moment and thinking that this is why you’d never want to actually meet your ancestors:  you don’t want to know all of the awful, screwed-up things they have done, no matter how normal or even honorable they were considered at the time.

They are basically cats in terms of the ability to fuck with EXACTLY what you would prefer they leave alone.
They are basically cats in terms of the ability to fuck with EXACTLY what you would prefer they leave alone.

The end was pretty funny, though.  Jacquouille switches places with his descendant, who’s a huge jerk, and manages to stay in the 20th century with his girlfriend.  I felt (appropriately for this blog) it was a bit of a Pink Panther ending.

Meanwhile, Godefroy returns to the 12th century, kills the witch, marries Frénégonde, and everyone lives happily ever after.  Well, everyone besides the witch, that is.

The Critique:

I think I’m used to the kind of time travel movie where you have to learn a heartwarming lesson about yourself and/or the importance of family.  Probably the influence of too much Disney/Back to the Future.  Sooooooooooo I was pretty much expecting Enchanted in French, but also Monty Python.  OKAY, FINE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT.  But Godefroy didn’t learn anything from his whole time-travel escapade, and that upset me.

Maybe the only lesson here is that a 12th-century French knight will act like a dick in every century.
Maybe the only lesson here is that a 12th-century French knight will act like a dick in every century.

And I couldn’t help thinking Jacquouille’s got it right in this situation.  I suppose no matter what time you are from, you would probably want to get back because it’s full of the people, geography, and worldview you are familiar with.  But I don’t know, if you could live in a time and place in which you are less likely to die of the plague or an infected splinter or whatnot, wouldn’t that be appealing?  Wouldn’t you at least take some penicillin with you?

There’s apparently a sequel as well as an American remake (of course), but I’m not sure I’ll add those to the bucket list.  They both look so very painful.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther3/5 Pink Panther heads

Sorry every film I review seems to be a 3/5.  Just remember the bell curve, okay?

Blogging 101, Film Reviews

Hipster Headache: The Lark Farm

I’m cheating a little bit at Blogging 101 for this post. My “new element” for this prompt is the introduction of a new series of film reviews tentatively called “Hipster Headache,” written using my inner hipster. Occasionally I enjoy watching movies that aren’t intentionally awful. In this new series, I’ll review whatever indie, foreign, or forgotten films strike my fancy.

This post is dedicated to you, dream reader. I suppose that is essentially just someone who gets my humor and doesn’t find my irreverence offensive.

First in this series?

The Lark Farm. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s Italian.

Where to Watch?

You’ll have to borrow, rent, or buy; otherwise hope it’s hidden in some dark corner of the internet. Netflix is so mainstream.

The Premise?

Our film follows Nunik, a young Armenian woman who lives with her family in Turkey, through the Armenian genocide in 1915 and its aftermath.

The Uncondensed Version?

This is a rather mysterious film on my list because I have no recollection of how, when, or why I decided I would like to watch this movie. All I could remember was that it had something to do with WWI, and, since it’s the centennial of the war’s start, I thought I should write about at least one related film. I keep forgetting about the centennial even though my calendar for this year is WWI propaganda and then feeling bad about it. Since this film focuses on the Armenian genocide, I suppose I still haven’t really appropriately acknowledged WWI.

The movie begins with a close-up shot of grapes. I’m still not completely sure why; maybe they’re a symbol for the luxury and vitality of life in the pre-war period. Possibly because this movie is Italian, and you’ve got a lot of grapes and wine in Italy. There’s also the whole wine/blood of Christ thing. Maybe just because grapes are tasty and a nifty portable snack. Any or all of the above.

After we’ve seen a lot of grapes, the old patriarch of the family dies, but not before having a vision of blood and telling the family they must leave immediately. (This movie may actually be a retelling of Watership Down.)

The Turkish and Armenian community will be (briefly) united for the patriarch’s funeral. Our protagonist, Nunik, is pretty pumped for the funeral because she’ll be able to see the sexy Turkish soldier she’s been crushing on. She pretty much spends the entire funeral giving the Turkish soldier “come hither” glances.  This movie is going to end like The Sound of Music, isn’t it? Except with everyone dying.

This can only end in tears.
This can only end in tears.

The next day, the Turkish soldier visits Nunik and asks her to run away to Europe with him. I’m really not sure if going or staying would be a better option at this point.

I swear, this exact line appears in Singing in the Rain.
I swear, this exact line appears in Singin’ in the Rain.

The homeless Turkish guy who is a friend of Nunik’s family overhears their plan and reports it to the soldier’s commanding officer. The soldier gets the choice of being sent to the Russian front or being demoted and escorting the Armenians out of the country. He chooses the former.

This is interspersed with a lot of debating behind closed doors about the relative value versus threat of the Armenian people. As always with closed door discussions, there is a lot of snooping behind curtains and the like, which led me to anticipate Shakespearean-level misunderstandings and stabbings.

Soon after, the heads of all of the Armenian households are ordered to report to the prefecture. Unsurprisingly, very few of them actually go. Nunik’s family and several other members of the Armenian community flee to their remote property, the Lark Farm. Another not-so-shocking revelation: this ends terribly. The homeless guy is forced to show the Turks where the farm is. When they arrive, the Turkish troops kill all of the boys and men, then force the women to begin a death march.

At this point, everyone in Nunik’s family has died or is on the death march. All of the Turkish soldiers are completely awful except for one who is kind of decent. Nunik begins a sexual relationship with him, and he gives her bread for the children.

Meanwhile, the homeless guy feels terrible for betraying the family, so he and their maid plan to help them escape. Their big plan is to drive a wagon to the line of Armenians, then smuggle them out at night. Yeah. That’s the big plan…which actually WORKS. Mostly.  Somehow the homeless guy is able to approach Nunik in broad daylight and tell her to be ready for the escape that evening.

Nunik goes to see the decent-ish Turkish guy that evening, as usual. He tells her he has asked for a transfer closer to home, and promises to take her with him. She says she won’t be going with him, and actually TELLS HIM SHE PLANS TO ESCAPE TONIGHT. He becomes enraged, threatening to tell the other soldiers if she doesn’t agree to stay, reminding her that anyone who tries to escape is burned alive and beheaded.

If threatening her with a fiery death doesn’t make her love you, then nothing will.
If threatening her with a fiery death doesn’t make her love you, then nothing will.

Eventually, the Turkish guy decides to let her go. However, as Nunik and her family escape, one of the girls screams after she drops an apple. (Children. Ruin. EVERYTHING.) Her family runs to the wagon, while Nunik runs back to the camp in an effort to distract the soldiers. It appears she will be burned alive when the decent-ish Turkish guy appears. He kills her quickly so she won’t suffer as much.

After the war, he testifies in court about the events of the massacre. When the judge asks who he is accusing specifically, he says, “Myself” because he killed the woman he loved. This scene might have been more convincing to me if he hadn’t threatened to have her BURNED AND BEHEADED shortly before.

The Critique?

There’s nothing as painful as a sincere but awful war film. I felt bad that I didn’t feel any sympathy for the characters, then I felt bad because I felt the directors cared a great deal about this movie but it still fell short, and then I felt bad for the real victims of the Armenian genocide who receive this film as one of the few tributes to their memory.

I just didn’t care about any of the characters, and it didn’t really bother me that terrible things happened to them.  So either I have a heart of stone or the film failed to establish sympathetic characters and evoke any feelings of compassion. Both could be true but, since I’m the critic, I blame the film.

It might have been more interesting for one of the children to reflect years later on how Nunik saved them. Or even for the decent-ish Turkish guy to be haunted by what he had seen and done.

Also, the first Turkish soldier was a completely unnecessary character in this film. This is a comparatively minor issue, but he appears on the front cover of the DVD case even though he’s in the movie for about 15 minutes. Maybe he’s a big star in Italy? That’s the only logical explanation.

The Rating?

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther3/5 Pink Panther heads