Tag Archives: Movies

Frontier(s)

This is one of those films that I have a love/hate relationship with.  I absolutely love the new wave of underground French Horror films.  I would argue that the wave actually started with the Spanish film Them (2001), though it really started to take shape with the grossly overrated Inside (2004).  By that time you start to see many of the new tropes start to take shape, with homages to the home invasion films of the 70’s and creating a genre around them with the kind of gristly anticipation of Rami’s original Evil Dead.  One of the kind of weird tropes has been that of a pregnant female protagonist.  This film is not original in any of the devices that it uses, but it is one of the more prominent and popular films to come out of this film movement, probably because it is a hodgepodge of so many other famous and better films, and often tries to say so much that any meaning often gets lost to the audience.  One of the biggest reasons for this has to be the frantic editing pace that seems to be taken from a bad Michael Bay rip off.

One of the first things to note is just how much this film looks up to and tries to be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1973).  Unlike many other home invasion movies, this film is not about people breaking into the victims home, but more about trespassers in a strange world.  Unlike TCSM, or the much lesser House of Wax remake, these victims have been invited to the property under the guise of it being an inn so that they can be exploited.  To fully understand that this inn acts as a new state, as the victims are literally fleeing the city and the state, which has become a fascist police state that has come down hard on muslims/those of Middle Eastern decent.  While I do kind of shutter at that stereotype, the film is rarely if ever subtle and painting in the widest strokes imaginable.  The allusion here is to refugees that have been invited to a new host country only to be further exploited.  Since they are already refugees in France, the real message is that France, and as the obtuse Nazi references strongly imply, all of Europe has exploited immigrants.

The normal trope of chastity and sinful behavior causing death have a new place here, with the Muslim characters refusing vice at the hands of the Nazi inn keepers, as this now references to cultural assimilation and giving up more traditional values, though it is hardly only the inn keepers that are assimilating them, as the female protagonist is already pregnant.  Also interesting here is that the female is French and it is the traditional male that has succumbed.  I can only speculate that the reason for this has to do with avoiding controversy if the roles were reversed and a traditional Muslim girl were impregnated by a sympathetic French man.  This is an attempt to show that there is some solidarity with citizens against the state that resides with minorities, thought the film’s ending rather roughly contradicts this message.  The woman, after having killed all of the Nazi’s that have conversely killed all of the Arabs that she was running with, she then quite solemnly turns herself back into French authorities, maybe to protect the child that she was contemplating aborting at the beginning of the film.  To me this could only mean that at some level she is both accepting her place in the fascist regime, though I can appreciate the argument that because she is going to be in prison that she is actually sacrificing her own freedom in order to honor her friends that have fallen.

As with many of these types of films, there is a heavy emphasis on what one has to do to survive, and that violence is actually the lowest common denominator of what makes society and civilization tick.  Non violence, while preferable to violence, is always going to not withstand those that choose to enact violence on the nonviolent, and that as much as we may try to remove ourselves from that message, we always have to harden ourselves for the potential of defending ourselves.  She literally escapes death through a puddle of pig shit and blood, arising free yet changed from the experience.  Her turning herself in is in a way admitting to herself that even though she survived, that there are more out there like the Nazi family and that she is incapable of protecting herself and her child indefinitely, and that she does in fact need the state’s violence to protect her, though submitting to those terms is also submitting to their selection of suppressing the immigrants, to which her child has a heritage.

Ultimately the film suffers from being too literal and confused, much like the editing style that does keep the audience from emersion in the film, though with some many contradicting ideas and possible meanings, you can say that you will not have a hard time at least getting in the mindset the film wants you to get in, even if you can’t agree on a concussion.  Then again, that sounds very French to me.

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The Anorexic

I really haven’t given much of an update in a while as to what I’m up to.  My most recent project is a documentary that I was hired to do regarding the state of Maryland’s taking the child of a family because the child had anorexia and had complications resulting from the disorder.  The child had already been in treatment, prior to the state’s involvement.  Going into this, I knew that there were a lot of questions that would need to be asked, especially regarding why the state felt like they needed to take the child away, which can become a rather hairy subject when the person paying the bills is the person who is going to be under a great amount of scrutiny, hypothetically paying me thousands of dollars to make a two hour inditement of him being a bad parent, and yet he was steadfast in the truth that the government is overstepping their bounds and that other parents should be aware of what is going on, though his politics are a bit right of my own (proud centrist) I can definitely appreciate a parent that is upset and lashing out.

His reasoning is to give more red tape to the government before they are able to separate children from their parents with his case hopefully being heard by the supreme court in Maryland.  After a few interviews and background discussion with educators and people in the medical field, they have very mixed opinions, as they believe it to be already too difficult with so many children being abused at home or being neglected.  Some of the points I will be exploring is the way in which once the state takes custody of a child, the state then appoints a lawyer to represent the child to the state, when that lawyer does not take into account the wishes of the child.  The state giving out bonuses for children to be taken away from their homes to social workers.  Why the state has their doctor give the prognosis of children in question, even in cases that go beyond that doctor’s scope of practice, and more so that when other medical professionals regard that prognosis, that there are no repercussions?

I have to say that it is still too early to give my opinion.  There are many questions I want answered on both sides and totally understand why many people are so suspicious of his claims, and see how some could see the parent as bringing this situation on himself, but look forward to talking with the other side’s legal team soon and look forward to sharing my conclusions.

QT

Quintin Tarantino.  He is the shadow that all American independent film makers live in.  I loved Pulp Fiction.  I love his love of films, but I have to say that I love him more as a talking head than I do as a film maker, and it has been more and more this way for a long time.  I don’t mean to disrespect him.  I want to love him, but the 90’s version of him, the prefame scripts, it is long gone.  True Romance, Natural Born Killers, PF, Reservioir Dogs, all original.  Now he wants to put “his” spin on popularish genre movies.  It is like after PF he has had huge performance anxiety.  Everyone was doing Pulp Fiction knock offs. Some were really good.  I don’t blame him that his next film was Jackie Brown, and way different than PF.  It was a cool, unique one off.  Then the long break.  He did a lot of live theater and found himself.  He did Kill Bill.  I didn’t hate it.  Either part, though I thought it could have been one film.  I let him go on plot holes, cause it is a movie movie.  Not what we were used to, but it was fun.  Also, not the best revenge movie ever made.  People Talk about it being the film version of the television show that Mia had been on from PF and it is interesting, but not great.  Then we get Inglorious Bastards.

I loved the opening scene.  One of the single best scenes ever in a movie.  The scene in the basement is very similarly good.  The rest of the film is crap.  You can’t mix camp and real violence.  It worked in his early work because these were not from the narrative, but character driven.  Hitmen talking about sex before a kill.  It seems real.  Stranger than fiction.  Having a 70’s style cartoon introduction kills credibility for everything interesting you might want to say.  Similarly, killing Hitler is silly.  It is like trying to wish away bad things in the world rather than address them. That is what art is, is addressing the world to people.  Sure, escapism is great.  I love it  If his genre was truly the WWII adventure film it set out to be, then go for it.  But make it ridiculous.  Making a film go back and forth, with a silly story of the girl and her black lover.  Who cares.  The race card is not edgy anymore.  I feel like I am being beaten over the head rather than entertained.

By the time we get to Django, I mean any credit we might give him for bringing up slavery as a topic just seems so outdone by the superior 12 Years a Slave.  It is a silly idea of a Western, with a couple of great scnes that should have been tightened up.  I can’t tell if I am supposed to take any of the violence or the situations seriously which is a weird world to set such a serious subject, unless he wants us to escape from the reality of it as well.

The one plus side I’ll give him is Death Proof, which had the one great car wreck scene.  I love the idea of giving the audience so much of what they want from build up that they regret ever wanting it.  I love to punish the audience.  You want a car crash, well not the one I’m going to show you.  Again, great ideas, but poor construction.  I really want him to go back and make some old school stuff. Something set in the really real world.  I’d love if he handled Natural Born Killers 2.  He now wants to do another Western.  Then maybe another coule of genre films before he retires.  He wants to retire before he tarnishes his brand, but the sad fact is that I fear he already has.  Now the stories are about him as celebrity.  With the script being leaked, the lawsuit, on again off again.  Great publicity.  I wish I was in that position, but it isn’t honest.  It isn’t the man on the street.  I know that he has paved the way for so many.  The indie circut would not exist without him  All the stories I hear about him are of him being very helpful to artists, and I love that.  I want to be that.  But what upsets me is that so much talent will not be discovered.  So many better films will not be seen because he is the system now.  He is there to tell you what to think as much as everyone else is.  He is safe.  As much as he says he doesn’t want to talk about violence in movies, he pushes the issue.  It is his Golden Goose.  I really wish he would do a Rom Com.  No violence, no cursing.  Just all working on form and composition and story.  Somethign about him as a person.  Something personal and vulnerable.  I want him to evolve and come around to the potential we all wanted him to have.