Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bigbug, or: The Robots Are Revolting

Free for all months on the Collab have the dubious distinction of providing some of our most memorable film experiences…along with some we’ve immediately forgotten. It’s rare we truly regret watching a film, particularly as there’s no better bonding experience than enjoying utter garbage together. Though this week’s film isn’t even close to the worst we’ve watched, it’s certainly not one that I’ll be giving a repeat viewing.

The Film:

Bigbug

Director:

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

The Premise:

Trapped inside a smart house, a group of humans attempt to escape as, unbeknownst to them, sinister AI machines seize power.

The Ramble:

In the year 2045, the world has become conveniently automated to the dystopian degree we’ve all come to expect. For recently divorced mother Alice, the household is run by Monique, an android who looks uncannily human, along with a handful of older models of household robots.

While the robots strive to be loved by the humans they serve and even long to be human themselves, self-aware AI known as Yonyx seek to replace their creators. The Yonyx oversee a strange reality show that features the humiliation and torture of humans, rather transparently enjoying this above all else.

Rather than show much concern for what’s happening in the world, the humans in this future are predictably wrapped up in their own dramas. As Alice attempts to move on from her ex with a sleazy man named Max, Monique can sense his intentions are less than noble. Largely for plot reasons, Max’s teenage son Leo is around for the evening as well.

Before the evening can get going, Alice’s ex-husband Victor crashes the party, bringing along their adopted daughter and his much younger fiancée, Jennifer. Rounding out the group is older neighbor Françoise and her dog–at least the sixth or seventh cloned version as the other ones have died horribly.

Things begin to go awry when, sensing elevated threat levels from outside, Alice’s smart home locks everyone inside. While Victor and Jennifer fret that they will miss their destination wedding on an artificial island, news reports reveal the Yonyx are taking increasing control over humanity.

As escape attempts fail one by one, the group finally secures an exit at the worst possible time…when a Yonyx arrives on site to “assess” the humans. What does fate have in store for human and robot alike, and even the world?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I liked this one aesthetically and am willing to give it a lot of credit for that. The warm pastels and 1950s-inspired fashion suggest a false sense of contentment and peace, contrasting the cold mechanical appearance of the Yonyx. It is of course not a coincidence that the film is set exactly 100 years after the end of WWII, and the future of the world seems just as precarious here.

In light of this, the tone is super strange, making a lot of the humor feel inappropriate and empty at its core. The film needed to push things much further, either towards a darker or a more comically absurd message. Not a lot makes sense here, from the tone to the character motivations to the plot itself. There is way too much plot jampacked into the film, making things feel disjointed.

In addition, none of the characters are particularly likeable or interesting, and the film’s tacked-on ending is unsettling. The robots are perhaps the most compelling of anyone, but they don’t get a huge amount of screen time to express their personalities. What’s annoying is how little they follow any sort of consistent logic…which is largely because of the film’s message. However, as a sci-fi fan, this especially gets under my skin.

Would my blog wife summon this one for help or wipe its memory card without hesitation? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

I Am Not an Easy Man, or: Is a French Tootsie a Toot Suite?

Okay, it’s still January for a few more hours. But would anyone really object to wrapping up this month a little bit early? It’s already been a tough year, and it’s likely to remain challenging.

In the spirit of getting on with 2021 (and sparing us yet another uplifting film that merely makes us roll our eyes with disdain), we’re kicking off Feminist February now. Delightfully, we have the potential to get 5 films in during one of our favorite months of the Collab. Will this week’s pick bring in the month with a bang or a whimper?

The Film:

I Am Not an Easy Man

The Premise:

After waking up in an alternate reality, a chauvinist must contend with a matriarchal world in which women hold the power and influence.

The Ramble:

Absolutely epitomizing the word “sleaze,” Damien is a man thoroughly sexist and gross in every context. His most recent professional triumph is a proposal for an app that keeps data on a person’s sex life from year to year…and by “person” I mean “heterosexual man.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, Damien’s behavior towards his female colleagues can only be described as harassment.

A man (Damien) leans against a display in a book shop, flirting with a smiling blonde woman.

Damien uses his free time to check out literally every woman he encounters and try to pick up every one he finds attractive. At a book signing for his old friend Christophe, Damien meets new assistant Alexandra. She is less than impressed with Damien’s slick moves, promising that the only way they would ever get together would be in another world. Hmmmm…prophetic.

Catching up with Christophe on the way home, Damien gets so distracted harassing women on the street that he walks face first into a street sign. After sustaining a nasty head bump, Damien wakes up to find female paramedics helping him, along with a concerned Christophe.

In the world Damien now lives, the order of the day is toxic matriarchy rather than patriarchy. Roles are reversed, so that Damien sports a much more revealing wardrobe and is constantly checked out by women on the street and at his female-dominated workplace.

It’s not long before Damien learns of the firm’s upcoming Vulvometer app, a spin on his brilliant(?) idea. Disgusted by the app, enraged that his idea has been stolen, and talked down to or harassed by virtually every woman at work, Damien has a meltdown that results in his firing.

A man (Damien) sits on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on his head, brushing his teeth and petting a cat sitting next to him.

After talking to a psychiatrist who dismisses Damien’s concerns that there’s something wrong, there’s nothing to do but try to score with all of the sexually liberated women in this new reality. However, this proves more difficult than anticipated, as the first woman he goes out with takes him to a male strip club and is horrified by Damien’s unwaxed chest.

Leaning on Christophe, now a struggling father trying to nurture his family, Damien shares his worries now that he’s unemployed. Luckily, Christophe has a connection; while he’s on parental leave, his writer boss is in need of an assistant. The writer? Alexandra, obviously.

Alexandra ticks off all of the boxes usually reserved for the male genius: self-absorbed, balancing a rotating string of men, constantly showing off her abs. In between constantly harassing her new assistant, Alexandra learns of Damien’s supposed delusions. Intrigued by the idea of a patriarchal society, she decides to get close to him…all in the name of gathering information for her new book.

A woman (Alexandra) sits up in bed, shirt open. A man (Damien) sleeps, his head resting in her lap.

Meanwhile, Damien gets involved with the men’s rights group, Tits for Tat. Advocating for greater opportunities and representation for men, the group shows up at female-focused events wearing fake breasts to…make some kind of point, apparently.

On top of this, Damien must contend with his parents, who wonder when he will stop being a pathetic single cat man. Everywhere he turns, there are images of men being sexualized. To make matters worse, Damien has a huge falling out with Christophe, who learns that his wife has cheated.

As Damien gets closer to Alexandra, she begins to develop genuine feelings for him. However, she is a woman of many secrets and dysfunctional patterns of behavior. Is love enough to change the heart of a female chauvinist?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Conceptually, I like this quite a lot. However, the execution leaves something to be desired. Tonally, this is a very odd film. It’s billed as a sort of romantic comedy, though I don’t think Damien and Alexandra are exactly #CoupleGoals in any reality. On the other hand, this is a satirical social commentary, and the ending is downright chilling, to be honest.

I think where things break down a bit is the film’s understanding of feminism and gender, both of which lack nuance. Our story is meant to teach Damien a lesson about his bad behavior, but I don’t think it does a whole lot to actually represent feminist values. After all, the point of feminism is not for women to switch places with men and inherit patriarchal systems of oppression. Nor is it to imply that there is one correct way to be a woman, man, or non-binary individual. I know this, darling Christa knows this, our film knows this. But does every viewer? Surely I need not remind you that there are actual men’s rights groups in this reality that genuinely believe they are being oppressed.

Depending on the gender binary too much creates a lot of problems in our film. There are times when the tone misses the mark, seeming to ridicule effeminate men–as if that’s not something that already happens quite a lot. Overall, there’s not a lot of imagination put into LGBTQ existence in this matriarchal world. Additionally, characters of color are noticeably absent. This may be for the best, truth told–the one scene that addresses the concept of Muslim veiled men is downright cringey.

I did laugh at some of the absurd role reversals, especially getting a kick out of Damien’s ludicrous chest hair. And, intentional or not, I found the unplugged version of “You’re the One That I Want” that played at a club hysterical.

Ultimately, I find this film’s literal role reversal less than true to the spirit of feminism. IMHO, Tootsie did it better.

Would my blog wife approve of this one’s form in its layers of shapewear or leave before it even wakes up? Read her review to find out!