Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Most Assassinated Woman in the World, or: Frenchy McFrenchface

This week’s film brings Horror Month to a close (say it isn’t so)!  In true French spirit, this film does horror with style (and is based on a true story!).

The Film:

The Most Assassinated Woman in the World

The Premise:

Paula Maxa, famous for dying onstage in every performance, may be the target of a real-life killer.

The Ramble:

Welcome to 1930s Paris, a world full of cigarettes, drama, religious zealots, and…murder?  The (in)famous Paula Maxa has the distinction of being murdered every night at the Grand Guignol Theatre, much to the dismay of a die-hard group of protestors.  Believing her violent act will yield acts of real violence, the protestors only seem to create more intrigue around the scandalous show.

You have to give credit to the theater crew for keeping things fresh–Paula’s deaths are always gruesomely staged with a disturbing amount of attention to detail.  Whether being stabbed, choked, or beheaded, the stunts always look real.  Possibly because the blood and body parts involved aren’t props but harvested from human victims…?

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On this particular evening, there are several audience members of note watching the show.  First is an older man with his young lover in a private box.  The man in question seems much more interested in Paula’s bloody death than anything his lover has to offer.  That can’t be good.

Another person of importance is a journalist, Jean, writing a story about the Grand Guignol as a den of depravity.  After the show the next night, Jean meets Paula at a bar straight out of a film noir.  He’s immediately intrigued and determined to learn more about the glamorous, aloof star.

Meanwhile, Paula is having flashbacks to her younger days, and they aren’t particularly happy memories.  These seem to be influenced in part by the awful director who is determined to drive Paula insane for some reason?  Mostly because he’s a douche?

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As Paula opens up to Jean, she reveals the tragic secret in her past she’s held onto for so many years.  She also hints that she’s ready to leave the theatre and will do so with an appropriate amount of dramatic flair.

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Unfortunately, someone else seems ready for Paula to exit, stage left, in real life.  The choice to re-create Paula’s past onstage seems rather ominous.  Like Paula’s past, will this story end in tragedy?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

More film noir than horror, this film has a wonderful aura of mystery.  The gory effects paired with the melodramatic onstage deaths are impossible to resist.  As an added bonus, the film fits in nicely with the blog collab’s unoffical subtheme:  Women Who Look Good Smoking.

However, there are a lot of elements that never feel fully fleshed out.  I expected more to happen with the religious zealots, and almost all of the character motivations are confusing.  This is the kind of film where I anticipate a clever twist, but the end is just…a very French ending indeed.  (Not in a dirty way.)

Would my blog wife resurrect this act for a grand finale or let it die IRL?  Find out here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Madame Bovary, or: Arsenic and Gold Plates

November is the month of love on the blog–specifically love for the Blog Collab and our partnership.  In line with age-old tradition, our theme for this month revolves around choosing films that remind us of each other.  This week is Christa’s pick, and I think I’ve done well for myself if period dramas are the films immediately associated with me.

The Film:

Madame Bovary (2014)

The Premise:

France.  Extramarital affairs.  Massive debts as a result of too many gold encased centerpieces.  You know the drill.

The Ramble:

If 150+ years isn’t long enough to catch up on the basic plot of this story, this film considerately drops a few hints right away that it doesn’t end super well for the titular Madame Bovary.  Guess what?  Being a middle class married woman in the 19th century French countryside isn’t usually the most fun in literature.

Short diversion:  though set in France, this adaptation feels English AF, and the accents are confusing.  We have pseudo-French, British, American, and a few I couldn’t identify super easily.  Call me old-fashioned, but I want to hear actors in a French story at least make an attempt to put on a terrible French accent.

Returning to our story–almost immediately after her education in what looks like the world’s most boring martial arts school (but is actually a French convent), Emma marries a youngish doctor and moves to a small town outside of Rouen.  Everyone is stoked about the good match she’s made and predicts she’ll enjoy a comfortable, quiet life with her husband.  A ha ha.  Ha.

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They see me rollin’…

For whatever reason, Paul Giamatti has a small role in this as a pharmacist/unintentional wingman for Emma.  He introduces Emma to a young legal clerk, Leon, with the dubious honor of being the last romantic in France.  Though Emma is really into this guy, the most scandalous thing she’s willing to do is walk slowly through a golden field with him.  That seems to be the end of that (at least for now).

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Period drama requirements satisfied in this scene:  bonnets, sideburns, symbolically wild/flowy hair on men, walking in fields.

Bored with the countryside, Emma tries to convince her husband to move to a city with more excitement or at least some more dudes to scope out.  Sorry, Emma–not going to happen.  Her only consolation is buying expensive shit on credit so she’ll have a shiny new wardrobe and extravagant decor.

After some time, Emma meets a marquis at a really fancy fox hunting party (which also makes this story feel even more fucking English).  Though initially Emma only offers friendship to the Marquis, she becomes tired with the constant disappointment that is life and begins an affair with him.  Eventually, Emma plans to run away to Paris with the Marquis, but…that doesn’t work out very well for her.  She does get some apricots out of it, though.

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Break-up note accompanied by food is…not the worst idea, actually.

Luckily, Leon shows up again around this time.  However, Emma has also amassed much more debt than her husband can ever pay off by this point.  Unless Emma can rustle up 10,000 francs, she will lose everything.  Guess who’s there for her in her hour of need?

Spoiler:  it rhymes with marsenic.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I do always love the scenery, costumes, and symbolism of a period drama.  The sweeping landscape shots are beautiful, though (again), there’s something about all of this that feels so English.

However, we’re sorely missing a glimpse into Emma’s inner workings.  We see her reacting to feelings of emptiness and boredom without understanding where these feelings come from or what drives her to spending money and conducting affairs.  She’s also described as intelligent yet overly romantic, but neither of these characteristics shines through.  In this adaptation, Emma is actually somewhat boring herself and honestly not the brightest.  As a result, there is very little redeeming about her character, and it’s difficult to be sad when she meets an unhappy end.

At a certain point, this film ends up feeling like it’s crossing off items on the period drama checklist:  furtive glances at church, melancholy walks in the countryside, forbidden meetings at night.  You can get all that and more from so many other period dramas, in addition to more fully developed characters and deeper significance (plus less confusing accents).

Would Christa plate this one in gold or send it away to walk alone in the woods?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Divines, or: Au Revoir, Feelings

Not cool, Christa.

First film of the new year and I’m already ugly crying.  We’re kicking off 2017 by knocking off a handful of titles that have been on our movie bucket list forever.  First up is Divines, which will just toy with all of your emotions before crumpling them into a ball and kicking them.  In the best possible way.  Make sure you’re not wearing mascara before you watch.

The Film:

Divines

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Teens in Paris are determined to make money by any means possible to escape their tough neighborhood and family dysfunction.

The Uncondensed Version:

Dounia and her bff Maimouna are teenagers living in a rough Paris neighborhood.  The two are always getting into trouble, blowing off school, and causing mayhem in general.  Dounia has the added chip on her shoulder from her mother’s reputation for sleeping around—which means all of the little asshole kids call Dounia a bastard.

Things really kick into high gear when Dounia gets sick of all this shit and drops out of school, determined to make as much money as possible and leave everyone else in the dust.

Enter Dounia’s idol, Rebecca, a drug dealer who seems to have it all.  Dounia comes up with a bold plan to get Rebecca’s attention…which actually pays off, and both Dounia and Maimouna wind up working for Rebecca.

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Preach.

In addition to working together and causing trouble, Dounia and Maimouna like to sneak into the theater when dance recitals are happening and make snarky comments.  That is, snarky until Dounia develops a major crush on one of the dancers, Djigui, whose day job is working security at the mall.  (He does have really nice eyes and a fucking hot back tattoo.)  In typical teenage girl fashion, she’s a complete jerk to him and makes fun of his dancing…which may be the only time in recorded history that tactic actually works.

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Also the tactic of watching/recording him while he’s shirtless.  Apparently when I do it, it’s creepy and illegal.

As the relationship between Dounia and Djigui intensifies, so too does her role in Rebecca’s criminal activities.  Rebecca’s plan is to steal money from her old supplier, who supposedly has 100,000 hidden in his apartment.  Dounia will get herself invited to his apartment…once she conquers walking in heels.

At the club, Dounia does catch Reda’s eye but later gets in trouble when she provokes the police.  Her mom, Maimouna’s parents, and Rebecca are all pissed.  Dounia loses permission to see her bff and loses Rebecca’s trust.  Determined to make things right with Rebecca, Dounia arranges to meet up with Reda.

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THIS.  Is my favorite scene.  Along with every other scene Dounia and Maimouna have together.

Unfortunately, the night she will meet with Reda is also the night Djigui invites her to his recital.  What will Dounia choose and what will the consequences be?  I’ll answer one of those questions:  major.  Major consequences.

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I deducted 1/2 of a PPH because it took me a while to get invested in this one, maybe 30 mins or so.  It’s really hard to get under the surface of Dounia’s personality at first—she’s cocky, tough as nails, and single-mindedly focused on making money.  She’s also incredibly talented at making cringe worthy decisions that you can see unravelling as soon as she commits to them.

I also find it really challenging to sympathize with teenagers at this point in my life.

However, once I finally started to understand Dounia’s motivations and the vulnerabilities she constantly works to cover up, I fell hard for her character.  The relationship between Dounia and Maimouna is so fucking lovely and perfect, it makes me almost want to be a teenager again.  Almost.  Just be warned that all of those horrible decisions Dounia makes don’t come cheaply and don’t come without serious repercussions.

What did my divine blog wife think?  Does she have feelings left or is she also just an empty husk now?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Tenant, or: Please Don’t Make Poles Talk About Feelings

This is easily our classiest horror-themed month for the Blog Collab, so of course we’re working in a…classic…Polanski film?

The Film:

The Tenant

Where to Watch:

Reasonably challenging to find (at least for free)–good luck!

The Uncondensed Version:

Trelkovsky is a Pole looking for an apartment in Paris.  He asks the concierge to show him the apartment, but she is rather unwelcoming and initially dismissive until bribed.  Her dog isn’t any friendlier and tries to bite him in a scene reminiscent of The Pink Panther Strikes Again (which coincidentally[?] was released the same year).

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“Does your dog bite?”

The concierge reveals the previous tenant threw herself out of the window, and shows Trelkovsky the glass that needs to be repaired below.  She rather cryptically explains that the previous tenant isn’t dead, but won’t be returning to the apartment and laughs rather sinisterly.  There is also no bathroom in the apartment.  Even so, apartments are hard to come by in Paris, so Trelkovsky eagerly snatches the place up (I can relate even in Dayton).

Out of curiosity, Trelkovsky tracks down the previous tenant in the hospital, Simone Choule.  Simone has just woken from a coma and is in a full body cast, but it doesn’t stop her from producing absolutely horrific screams when she sees Trelkovsky, her friend Stella, or perhaps all of the above.

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So much ’70s chic happening in this still.

Perhaps to seem a bit less of a creep, Trelkovsky pretends to be a friend of Simone’s, which gets him a drink and a semi-drunken grope at the movies with Stella.

Trelkovsky invites a few people over to celebrate his new place and in general goes about having a normal life, but there is a vague sense that all is not well when increasingly surreal incidents begin happening.  First, he finds a human tooth in a hole in the wall.  Then, he is confronted by a woman and her young daughter about a noise complaint he allegedly made about them.  In turn, he is on the receiving end of several noise complaints.  He also sees people just silently standing unmoving in the toilet for hours.

Further complications arise when one of Simone’s friends visits the apartment and reveals he was in love with her.  Once he starts crying, he can’t stop and (like a true Pole), Trelkovsky becomes incredibly uncomfortable in the face of emotions.

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I’ve seen 127 Hours…there’s only one way this can end.

The turning point seems to be when Trelkovsky’s apartment is robbed and, rather than looking out for him, the neighbors and landlord continue to harangue him about how much noise he makes.  Trelkovsky, quite patient up to this point, becomes irritable, paranoid, and quite unhinged.

It just gets more confusing when he is asked to sign a petition complaining about tenants he has never met, buys a wig, slaps a random child (I mean, who hasn’t had that impulse?), and witnesses a very strange ritual in the streets.  As he unravels completely, Trelkovsky insists that “they” drove Simone to suicide, and they are trying to do the same with him.  I say this rhetorically but also in hopes of an answer—what the actual fuck is going on with this film?

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I walk around with a baguette since I am stereotypical French landlord.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

If this weren’t for the blog, I probably would’ve given up on this one.  It’s a solid 2 hours and only gets more incomprehensible as the time goes on.

What I do like about this one is the commentary on city life and living amongst strangers.  Trelkovsky tries to keep to himself as advised, but he is still on the receiving end of noise complaints and interference from nosy neighbors.  There is an absurdity to the entire situation—no matter how quietly he lives, his neighbors find fault and want him to essentially cease to exist.  The landlord suggests he wear slippers, and the police even intervene when they receive multiple noise complaints about Trelkovsky.

Ironically, everyone (including those dispensing unwanted advice) tells Trelkovsky to mind his own business to solve his neighbor problems.  (And we all remember how well that worked for Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.)  This further antagonizes him, making him even more isolated and paranoid.

The ending reminds me so much of Rosemary’s Baby, with Trelkovsky becoming cornered and trapped just as much as Rosemary by dark and perhaps evil forces (Rosemary’s Baby is so much better, though).  As with every Roman Polanski movie, this just sort of makes me want to watch Chinatown again.  Or maybe I should just…leave it (sorry [no, I’m not]).

Would Christa have a drink and uncomfortable cry with this film or start a petition to get this one out of her neighborhood?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Hellraiser IV, or: Past, Pinhead, Future

I don’t know what to call March except fantastic. This month’s features brought to you by Pinhead and Ewan McGregor. My personal hope is that Christa and I throwing these ideas together and sending them out into the universe, we will bring about the next major entertainment announcement of Ewan McGregor as Pinhead. You have no idea how thoroughly that would complete my life.

But you do. If you’ve made it to this point with this blog, you most decidedly do.

BTW, if you come up with an appropriate name for this month’s theme, I will be forever in your debt. Just be aware that I am already in a lot of debt.

The Film:

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Pinhead returns (again) in past, present, and future timelines to end the bloodline that created the original demon Rubik’s cube.

The Uncondensed Version:

I Googled this one a little (a lot) and realized that (a) this film is 20 years old, and (b) this is the last of the Hellraiser franchise to get a theatrical release. Bodes well, right?

The premise is somewhat complex(?) for the 3rd sequel in a horror franchise. Our story follows the Merchant family in 18th-century France, the present (ahem, 1996), and the future.

As the film opens on a spaceship that looks like a deconstructed Rubik’s cube (believe it or not, this is a critical detail that will become vitally important later), we meet the first Merchant. He appears to be using a robot to solve a Rubik’s cube/summon Pinhead. Just as he is about to accomplish this task, he’s rudely interrupted by the military space police.

Future Merchant has pulled a big no-no in taking over the ship, hijacking it, and pursuing his personal demon-fighting agenda. But since this film is practically an extended episode of Star Trek: TOS, don’t worry—Merchant is about to explain everything.

…Beginning with the first Merchant (chronologically), a French toymaker (not a euphemism, actually). This Merchant, aka LeMarchand, has created a masterfully crafted box (Rubik’s cube) on commission for a rather odd French aristocrat. When LeMarchand’s wife fails to appreciate the genius of his work, he storms off in a huff to deliver the box to the French aristocrat (also a magician because of course he fucking is).

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To be fair, if only thing your invention does is summon demons, there is probably a very limited market for it.  Even among French aristocrats.

Unfortunately, LeMarchand gets a bit more than anticipated when he witnesses the magician and his assistant (Adam Scott [sporting ‘80s rocker hair]???) performing a satanic ritual to summon a demon, Angelique. If you were wondering, the ritual involves a lot of organ removal and blood draining.

LeMarchand is, understandably, quite disturbed, and vows to steal the box back. However, things don’t go quite as planned, and Adam Scott tells LeMarchand that his bloodline will be cursed as he helped unleash demons upon the world.

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I SERIOUSLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO REACT TO THIS.

Flashforward to 1990s Merchant, aka John. John is an architect prone to recurring nightmares. Matters don’t improve when he receives an award for his work, drawing the attention of Angelique.

Angelique has a lot of potential as a character, but I inevitably kept comparing her to Julia off Hellraiser I and II. No one in this franchise is as cool as Julia. No one.

Angelique tricks this sleazy business dude into summoning Pinhead. She and Pinhead have a very odd, somewhat antagonistic relationship that also borders on being sadomasochistic. Very confusing, and leads to cryptic lines like “Temptation is illusion” and “I am pain.”

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that Pinhead and Angelique decide to kill John’s baby. As soon as someone threatens to kill a baby, I am out because all suspense is lost. You know that 98% of time in a Hollywood film, no one is actually going to kill a fucking baby.

Is that awful?

So there’s a showdown between Pinhead and John, which ends the way you might expect, mostly.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that you should always run when someone asks if you’d like to play a game.

And finally, we return to the future.

The officer who arrested Merchant, Rimmer (one of the writers had to be a huge sci-fi fan), releases future Merchant to stop Pinhead.

How will he ever manage that?

Let’s just say it’s no accident the ship looks like a deconstructed Rubik’s cube.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Okay, I’m never going to hate a Hellraiser film, but I feel sorta bad that 1996 people paid money to see this.

I wanted the part in 18th century France to go on longer, but I will always want the historical period part to go on longer. The plot is very loosely tied together, and all 3 Merchants are so bland that it’s rather difficult to care about them.  Even when their children are threatened by demons.

Missed the presence of other Cenobites, as well as Julia (of course).

Did this film make Christa want to summon a demon or was she ready to send it straight to hell? Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Un-American Pterodactyl in Paris, or: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

Romance week with Christa, aka crazy French adventure comedies with mummies and pterodactyls!

The Film:

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A young French reporter seeks adventure, a cure for her sister, and pterodactyls in early 20th-century Paris.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

To be 100% honest, you can probably just look at this poster and stop reading:

Glorious.
Glorious.

However, I did write this 1,000 word blog post, so it would be cool if you read it.

As our narrator is kind enough to point out, there are a lot of minor but important characters in this particular film. The first one we meet is soon going to witness some quite remarkable events transpire: 1. Joan of Arc seemingly coming to life and burning again, and 2. a French official, his lover, and his driver crashing into the Seine as a result of a pterodactyl attack. Seriously.

There’s a clueless French inspector investigating this crime…hmmm, I don’t know if I should be reviewing this film on my blog, which is NAMED after a film about a clueless French inspector. Sometimes Christa’s choices are too perfect and I’m afraid she might be a cyborg.

Finally we get an introduction to Adèle, a globe-trekking reporter, and Andrej, a young scientist who is a teensy bit in love with her.

It becomes clear pretty early on that Adèle is kind of the female French version of Sherlock Holmes/Indiana Jones/the entire cast of characters in The Mummy. We meet her as she’s excavating (prob more like raiding) the tomb of a pharaoh. However, she has noble intentions: she must revive an ancient Egyptian doctor to save her sick sister (what).

Just as she’s opened the sarcophagus, her arch-rival with a long fucking French name I can’t remember bursts in looking…basically exactly like a 20th-century French arch-rival should look like.  Adèle manages to escape by starting a fire, jumping into the sarcophagus, and escaping down a waterfall that ends in a whirlpool.

If I had a nickel for every time I had to save my emotion for later...
If I had a nickel for every time I had to save my emotion for later…

Meanwhile, in Paris, Adèle’s mentor and friend, who is a physicist, manages to befriend and train the pterodactyl. Unfortunately, when the police discover the pterodactyl in his apartment, the physicist is arrested for the murder of the aforementioned French official.

Adèle returns to Paris to some super French accordion music, revealing the mummy to her sister.  Because the physicist is her friend and she needs him to bring the mummy back to life(?), Adèle adopts several disguises in order to save him from a death sentence. By the time she is successful, he has been moved to a new location in preparation for his death by guillotine.

Further complication: a world-famous (or at least France-famous) hunter returns from a trip to Africa in order to take care of the pterodactyl problem; once again, the utter 20th-century French-ness does not disappoint. Shortly after, he and the clueless inspector go up the Eiffel Tower, where the inspector EATS A FUCKING BAGUETTE to this really fucking French music. Then, looking for places where the pterodactyl could’ve gotten its meal of mutton, the hunter and inspector go to the most fucking idyllic French farm. The hunter accidentally shoots a sheep, and both Frenchmen make SHEEP HOODIES. Having seen Far from the Madding Crowd just yesterday, I am prepared for the sheep violence to END. I am just steps away from joining PETA, you guys.

LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER.
LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER.

In one final attempt to save the physicist, Adèle asks the president for a pardon. The pterodactyl ruins everything by swooping down and grabbing the president’s dog in its claws (talons?). THANK CHRIST the dog is still alive later in the film or my post would’ve probably focused on unnecessary animal deaths and demanding an end to the cruelty.

At this point I lost track of the plot a little b/c I had to save what I thought was a baby caterpillar but was probably a baby centipede. So once again I regretted an act of mercy and had to look at pictures of ocelot kittens to make myself feel better. (I discovered that fishing cat kittens are also really adorable.)

Life = made.
Life = made.

Suffice it to say the poster on Netflix is NOT misleading for once, and Adèle does, in fact, ride the pterodactyl to save the physicist.

He manages to bring the mummy back to life (I understand the role of physicists even less than I previously thought), but both physicist and pterodactyl die in the process.

Adèle is unpleasantly surprised to discover the mummy is not a doctor, but a nuclear physicist.

He has a point, though...
He has a point, though…

She reveals that her sister is in a vegetative state because their friendly tennis match got competitive and Adèle hit her sister in the head with a tennis ball. (I’m sorry, but the only thing going through my head at this point was the Salad Days sketch from Monty Python.)

I do not apologize.
I do not apologize.

The mummy promises to find someone who can help Adèle’s sister, and the three head over to the Louvre. That’s all I will say because I really liked this one and I don’t want this post to end up being a novella.

Also there’s a pretty entertaining twist at the end that I don’t want to spoil.

Okay, I’m going to spoil it almost entirely, but worth it:

The Critique:

I had high expectations for this film, and, for once, my biggest takeaway was NOT to lower my expectations. This is a fun, silly movie, and it’s SO fucking French, you guys. So fucking French.

You’ll probably think of me as essentially a 10-year-old boy now, but every time the pterodactyl showed up I thought, “FUCK YEAH PTERODACTYL.” Whatever, guys. I don’t need your approval.

My only question here, and I’m sure this is influenced by my recent viewing of Far from the Madding Crowd (so fucking good), is WHY MUST THE SHEEP ALWAYS SUFFER AND DIE? I watched so many sheep die this weekend.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I don’t always understand you, Frenchies, but our connection is profound.

Check out Christa’s review here!

P.S. Just to give you an idea of the kind of nonsensical notes I take: “Meanwhile, the hunger is following them and this the pterodactyl.”

NOW do you appreciate how hard I work to write a (mostly) coherent blog post in complete sentences???

Film Reviews

Pontypool: Or, Quebec Rises Again

The Film:

Pontypool

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

A talk radio show host begins receiving calls as strange events (aka the zombie apocalypse) unfold in a small Canadian town.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Our film opens with a Twilight Zone-esque radio broadcast. The narrator tells us ominously, “Something’s about to happen. But then, something’s always about to happen.”

This narrator turns out to be Grant Mazzy, controversial talk radio host just about to begin broadcasting on a small-town radio station after being fired from his hit show.

Grant is driving to work in a blizzard when he stops to answer his phone. (Canadians are so responsible.) As he’s pulled over, a woman suddenly appears, bangs on the passenger window, and disappears. Grant is kind of freaked out, but continues on to work anyway.

When Grant arrives at the radio station, his assistant, Laurel-Ann is already there. It’s apparently Valentine’s Day, a detail I really appreciate. He begins a rant on-air about people growing pot in their basements until his boss, Sydney, abruptly cuts him off. Grant then makes an announcement that Honey the cat is missing.

A bigger story breaks, however, when Ken in the Sunshine Chopper reveals that a large group of people have gathered downtown outside of a doctor’s office. Military vehicles are also present. A group of people suddenly explodes from the building, and chaos ensues. Then Grant loses contact with Ken.

Not the most exciting screen cap in the history of blogging, but I didn't have a whole lot of options.
Not the most exciting screen cap in the history of blogging, but I didn’t have a whole lot of options since the majority of the film takes place inside the studio.

Meanwhile, Grant is scheduled to interview a group who will put on a musical version of Lawrence of Arabia (which, coincidentally, would make an excellent bad movie). The interview goes pretty well until one kid starts babbling, “I can’t remember how it ends. It just keeps repeating.” Not good.

After the interview, Grant begins taking calls from those who are first-hand witnesses to the events. They describe masses of people repeating bizarre chants and cannibalizing other people. These calls all end with screaming and a suddenly lost connection. Some suspect it’s the Quebec separatists because, I mean, it’s always the French.

Ken in the Sunshine Chopper calls back and reports it’s not safe outside. He sees someone he knows who is just making weird alien baby sounds. Grant advises him not to approach and, of course, Ken doesn’t listen. RIP Ken.

Suddenly, a French announcement interrupts the broadcast: stay inside, avoid contact with close family members, terms of endearment, and the English language as a whole.

At this point, Grant starts losing it. He storms out of the recording studio, yelling at Laurel-Ann and Sydney as he prepares to exit the building. His yelling draws the zombies, who start repeating the words he’s said. Ultimately, he is forced to stay as the zombies trap everyone inside. Laurel-Ann becomes infected, repeating “m” words to herself. The doctor mentioned earlier breaks into the building, and they all barricade themselves in the recording studio. Well, except for Laurel-Ann, who is locked out and keeps throwing herself against the glass.

It's not good to be Laurel-Ann.  Or really any kind of assistant in a movie.
It’s not good to be Laurel-Ann. Or really any kind of assistant in a movie.

The doctor explains that the virus is transmitted by infected words in the English language (this film seriously is Quebec separatist propaganda). When the word is understood, the virus takes over and copies itself in our understanding. It’s in the language and thus has the ability to reach into reality (THIS is why we had that Twilight Zone intro earlier).

We finally get some of the blood and guts required in basically every zombie movie when Laurel-Ann EXPLODES. The other zombies also manage to break in, but are drawn back outside when Grant and Sydney broadcast a recorded message over the loudspeaker: “Sydney Briar is alive.” This message is repeated so many times that it doesn’t even sound like words after a while. Then “O Canada” suddenly blares in the room Grant and Sydney are hiding in (I’m onto you, Quebec separatists).

The doctor starts to lose it, going out into the blizzard, and later returning. He says that if the disease is in the words, the cure must be in words too. When it becomes obvious the doctor is infected, Grant and Sydney leave him and barricade themselves in another room. Then Sydney becomes infected, and both she and Grant attempt to disassociate words from their meanings in an effort to cure her. For example, “kiss” becomes “kill.” So when Grant says to Sydney, “Kill me,” they begin an end-of-the-world, linguistic experimentation make-out session. Because nothing brings people together like a zombie plague.

"I'm so turned on right now.  Kill me." Uh...what?
“I’m so turned on right now. Kill me.”
Uh…what?

Grant goes back on the air and spreads the word, telling people to stop understanding what they’re saying: “Yellow is crowded, friends are verbs.”  And he’s not even a New Age poet.

The cure may all be in vain, however, as the government begins bombing the infected.

EL FIN.

The Critique:

I think this is a really cool concept—a linguistic zombie plague. The symptoms of the disease are loss of language and repetition of certain bizarre phrases (along with the standard slow, mindless walk and craving of human flesh).  As a blogger and librarian, I believe words are perhaps the most powerful tool we possess. The failure to communicate is an under-emphasized consequence of zombification.  Probably because being a rotting corpse that kills and eats people usually takes first place on the “Reasons It Sucks to be a Zombie” list.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther heads

Nice concept, but the film suffered from some execution problems.  It’s interesting that the action occurs almost entirely in the radio station; however, I got really sick of staring at those cold, gray walls.  And there were also limited opportunities for screen capping.