The Pink Panther Snipes Again

Bad Movie Reviews with a Touch of Snark


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Christine, or: Chickens vs. Serial Killers

Gorgeous Ladies of the Blog Collab takes an unexpectedly dark turn this week.  Chickens, mental health, and sensationalizing local news are all wrapped up neatly (or not so neatly) by Rebecca Hall.

The Film:

Christine (2016)

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Uncondensed Version:

Right from the start, it’s clear that Christine is a brilliant yet deeply self-critical and complex young woman.  In both her personal life and professional career as a local TV news reporter, she frequently second-guesses herself and looks for opportunities to confirm her flaws in the eyes of others.

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“I can’t help feeling you’re a bit detached for this interview…”

After a year working for a Sarasota Springs station, Christine is ready for the next move in her career.  Having a non-existent sex life, her mother as a roommate, and an impending 30th birthday only make it clearer that she’s much in need of change.

When the opportunity arises for a promotion that will take her to Baltimore, Christine is eager to prove she’s up for the challenge.  However, this won’t be easy as the new marching orders from the station execs are to cover sensational, violent stories over the thoughtful human interest pieces Christine favors.  Her work crush, Dexter George, agrees with her objections, but it’s not long before the reporters are tripping over themselves to get in line with the changes.

Meanwhile, Christine has been experiencing major stomach pains that she shrugs off as stress-related.  I’m apparently way more of a wimp than Christine because I’d be at the doctor’s so quickly or at least popping more than the recommended dose of Extra Strength Advil 24/7.

These factors seem to be creating the perfect storm for Christine to suffer a repeat of Boston, which her mother mysteriously alludes to.  The mother/daughter relationship is volatile to say the least; Christine reacts very badly to change and seems to be threatened by her mother’s series of unsuccessful relationships.  There’s so much to unpack here that their relationship doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other facets of Christine’s life, but I would have loved to see more.

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For once, I have nothing cynical to say.

The stress begins to wear at Christine as it turns out the stomach pains are more serious than initially thought and may impact her ability to have children.  After receiving the news, she has a bit of a melt-down at work.  It’s frustrating to see self-care as a continuously low priority for Christine, though of course there are mental health and other issues at play too.  However, even when her sole work friend Jean suggests they take the rest of the day of and eat ice cream, Christine insists on pressing on.

Later, she does an ill-advised piece on a gun enthusiast who warns her that threats are everywhere.  He encourages her to carry around a gun for a few weeks to see if it makes her feel different and more in control.  Seems like…maybe not the best idea?

Though Christine tries to tow the new party line, her ideas are constantly shut down and she is usually at odds with her boss.  Finally, she is forced to take time off when she’s sent home early after an especially tense disagreement.

Just as her professional life is falling apart, Christine’s personal life seems to be lining up for once.  George asks her out to dinner, which is a major breakthrough as she seems to be convinced they have a future together…or at least the possibility of Christine’s first sexual relationship.  At the same time, George has some important news to share—news that will prove deeply upsetting to Christine.

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I’ll give you 3 tries to guess the number of murders I’ve committed.

If you are familiar with the story of Christine Chubbuck, there will be no surprises for you here.  I was not and didn’t expect the ending at all…though it does have a sad logic that made me think I should have seen it coming.  Much like the real story I imagine.

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m not sure I’d want to revisit this one, but it definitely earned at least a solid 4.  Infinite PPHs for Rebecca Hall’s performance, as she manages to portray mental health issues with such a depth and range of emotion without becoming melodramatic.  Christine comes across as extremely bold and intelligent while pulling back a few layers to reveal the pain of living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and a devastating lack of confidence.  It’s time for Rebecca Hall to be a household name–she’s so talented.

Special shout-out to Christine’s closest work friend, Jean, and chicken lady, who I didn’t give a lot of attention here but who also deserve recognition.

Did this one hold Christa’s interest or was it too sensational?  Find out here!


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Dazed and Confused: Film Title or Current Emotional State?

This week concludes high school month, which is somewhat bittersweet.  Largely because we don’t have a theme for next month, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Don’t worry—we’ll do some research BEFORE making our minds up unlike some, ahem, recent decisions internationally (sorry, Christa, I’ll cool it with the political asides).

The Film:

Dazed and Confused

Where to Watch:

You’re on your own

The Premise:

Teens celebrate the beginning of the summer of ’76 with the timeless American traditions of beating people up, driving pick-up trucks, and smoking weed.  A lot of weed.

The Uncondensed Version:

This is about teenagers, so of course everyone’s big concern is what they will be doing tonight, the first night of summer.  Will it be another night of hanging with the guys, going to the big party, finding some weed, or just sort of being an asshole for no reason?  Yes.

But that’s not really the point of this film so much as taking a snapshot of what it was like to be in high school in the ‘70s.  Fortunately, remembering all of the characters’ names also not really the point.

You have your jocks, of course, as in every high school movie.  Half of them, including Ben Affleck with the most ‘70s hair in existence, spend the bulk of this film chasing around freshmen and spanking them with a paddle (not a euphemism).  We also follow the freshmen Ben Affleck torments, who continuously outsmart him and manage to make a pretty great night of it.

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What do you mean you didn’t like Batman vs. Superman??!???!

On the other end of the jock spectrum is some dude whose name as a character and as an actor I don’t remember.  Whoever he is, he’s the last holdout on this new policy—all sports ball players must sign an agreement not to smoke a lot of weed, amongst other nefarious activities.  This guy is just one hair’s breadth away from becoming a conscientious objector as he is extremely reluctant to sign the agreement.  Which is pretty admirable, TBH, especially when you consider how many papers I sign without actually reading them.

Anyway, so school ends and the freshman hazing begins.  This means getting the shit beaten out of you if you’re a dude, and for some reason sitting in the back of a pick-up truck with a pacifier if you’re a girl?  Whatever, I didn’t make the rules.  The girls also have to lie on the ground while the upperclassmen pour ketchup, mustard, flour, eggs, etc. on them.  My biggest takeaway from this movie is that kids are mean fuckers (I could’ve told you that for free, man).

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Ah, the…good old days?

Yet another part of the hazing involves the freshman girls proposing marriage to various guys, one of whom has sort of a blonde John Lennon vibe.  If that even makes sense.  I know there’s only a 3-4 year age gap at most, but he looks SO much older than this freshman girl.  But I’ll try to be more open-minded.  (No, I won’t.)

This, of course, is all before Matthew McConaughey and his signature “Alright alright alright”s show up.  I feel like 50% of people watch this movie solely for the alrights, so I’ll wrap it up here.

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Mr. Alright Alright himself looking…er, pretty shady with that ’70s ‘stache.

The Rating:

I just didn’t really get this one honestly, though I confess I wasn’t paying the most attention ever because I was also catching up with GoT this weekend.

But beyond that, I wonder if this is a kind of “You had to be there” thing?  I have no particular objections to being a teenager in the ‘70s, but if everyone was that much of an asshole, I’m really glad I wasn’t.  My general feelings of not giving a fuck about high school and not so much pausing for a backward glance probably don’t contribute in a positive sort of way.

I just felt kind of “eh” about this one and wanted to kick a lot of these kids in the shins.

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Was Christa similarly dazed and confused or…perceptive and…lucid?  Find out here!


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Wolfen, the Citizen Kane of Werewolf Movies

“My goal is to update weekly” is a direct quote I posted on Facebook regarding this blog.

Then I started watching Battlestar Galactica.

I’m almost done, so I am again striving to meet the (somewhat realistic) goals I’ve made for myself.  Here’s my review of Wolfen, which I meant to post over a week ago.  It’s a bizarre one, guys.

The Film:

Wolfen

Where to Watch:

SearchOhio that shit; alternatively, buy/rent from Amazon or stream elsewhere

The Premise:

Someone or something is brutally murdering the people of New York City.  Albert Finney is the totally retro detective who investigates the murders and stares into a lot of mirrors.  Inevitably, there are wolves, conspiracies, and cults explained by a young Edward James Olmos (Commander Adama from Battlestar Galactica!).

The Uncondensed Version:

Our movie opens with the demolition of a building in a really rundown part of the Bronx.  Then we get footage of these Native American guys (one of whom is EJO) standing on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Apparently this film was revolutionary because of the camera technique used to see from the predator’s perspective, which is part thermal camera, part acid trip.  I just found it really distracting and it made me question if this is really how wolves see.  Has there been any scientific research about how wolves see?  (Nobody had better ask me this at the ref desk.)

So anyway, when we have our first murders, they are trippy as fuck.  For whatever reason, the governor and his wife have their chauffeur drive them all to Battery Park at 4 in the morning.  Because they’re dumb.  In true horror movie fashion, the black guy is the first to die, but the governor and his wife follow shortly after.

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This is the way wolves see you before you DIE.

We finally meet the detective, Albert Finney, who is all ‘70s glam in this movie, when he goes to investigate the murders the next morning.  He is eating something the entire time, which is incredibly distracting.  He is also eating a COOKIE while he watches the autopsies being performed.  It made me never want to eat a cookie again.  For about 3 minutes.

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Note the headband.

Then we meet a criminal psychologist who will be working with Albert Finney.  They go on a date, which I thought would only end in tears, but is actually not a catastrophic mistake.  In a move made specifically to garner the interest of librarians (read:  cat ladies), the psychologist has a cat!

At this point I started to lose interest because I wanted to see some fucking werewolves, so this may not be the most accurate plot synopsis on the web.  There’s an eco-terrorist group the governor’s niece is involved with called the Götterdämmerung (seriously, is it a requirement to mention Götterdämmerung in every bad movie?).  I think the assumption is that they’re somehow involved, but Albert Finney continues to investigate.

He talks to EJO, who kind of fucks with him by pretending to be a werewolf.  EJO gets naked, runs around the beach, and does some pretty wonderful crazy eyes as part of his “transforming” face.

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This makes me wish Adama were secretly a werewolf.

One of the werewolves FINALLY appears after an hour and a half; it’s just a black wolf.  HIGHLY DISAPPOINTING.

Then EJO and the other Native American guy explain the Wolfen, who are a really old group of wolves with special abilities and may or may not be gods.  This is when the movie gets really philosophical and pushes an environmental message that comes out of nowhere with lines including:

“Reality is just a state of mind.”

“To them, you are the savages.”

“In the end, it is all for hunting ground.”

“You don’t have the eyes of a hunter.  You have the eyes of the dead.”

This is some heavy shit for a werewolf movie.  Albert Finney seems to agree, as he just kind of slowly unravels for the remainder of the film.  He stares into fragmented mirrors A LOT and thinks about wind chimes.  He also repeats series of words to himself, such as “territory, terrorism, terror,” and thinks about demolition, urban renewal projects, and loss of land.  The last 20 minutes of this film is basically just Albert Finney repeating words to himself.

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Fragmentation. Broken society. Koyaanisqatsi.

When Albert Finney, the chief of police, and the psychologist go outside one evening, it’s foggy, atmospheric, and suddenly…wolves!  EVERYWHERE.  The police chief gets murdered, then his car explodes for no apparent reason.

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WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLVES.

Now Albert Finney REALLY loses it.  He’s just kind of sitting in a corner holding a wolf pelt, occasionally repeating random words to himself.  The Wolfen are watching; they break through the glass to kill him and the psychologist.  Albert Finney aims his gun at one of the wolves, then lowers it and empties the bullets.  He then destroys the scale model of a new development, and the police arrive, opening fire.  The wolves suddenly VANISH.

Last lines of this film really drive home the environmental message of this movie:

“In arrogance man knows nothing of what exists. There exists on this earth such as we dare not imagine; life as certain as our death, life that will prey on us as surely as we prey on this earth.”

The Critique:

This is the Citizen Kane of werewolf movies.  Or at least it wants to be.  It was also sort of trying to be a film noir, so it resulted in a lot of shots of characters walking along alleyways in the dark, which became a bit tiresome.

There are so many wind chimes, reflections, and repetitions in this film that I didn’t find particularly effective.  The movie ends as it began—with a demolition.  The writer/director probably loved that this reinforced the cyclical nature of our existence, the inevitable destruction that accompanies our way of life, the damage we bring upon ourselves and our environment over and over again, but I didn’t think it was that clever.

A werewolf movie is the last place I would have expected the message to overwhelm the story, but it did.  I anticipated terror and werewolves, and this film didn’t deliver.

My biggest takeaway from this film is that BSG is always relevant.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther2/5 Pink Panther heads

It would probably be 1/5, but I threw in a bonus Pink Panther for EJO running around naked.

I thought this movie would click for me at some point, but it never really did.  It was just really strange and pretentious.  Plus I wanted werewolves!  Footage of wolves ≠ werewolves.

FDR, American Badass is coming up, I swear to god.