Category Archives: Rogue Cinema
“For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” Romeo & Juliet, Act 5, scene iii
What would’ve happened had Romeo & Juliet NOT died at the end of Romeo + Juliet? That’s the question upcoming film, The Enemy tries to answer. In this world, Romeo and Juliet are alive. For eighteen years and nine months, less a day, the star-crossed lovers have lived in exile far from Verona. Now their hiding place is known, and their epic warring families are out for blood. The safe life Romeo and Juliet have built belongs to the past, and the greatest love story ever told is about to be reborn. OUR question then, is does The Enemy successfully take one of the greatest love stories ever told and expand upon it, making it better? The answer, unfortunately, is not necessarily so.
We open upon Romeo & Juliet bitterly fighting and being interviewed by the cops about causing a domestic disturbance. R&J continue to fight and argue throughout the film – getting married at 13 and 14 definitely has it’s drawbacks, it seems…However, this night they’re also celebrating the 18th birthday of their daughter., Kate Yep, R&J had a kid (pretty much immediately too). Kate shows up for dinner with a man in tow, Theo, which Juliet is none too pleased about. In fact, Kate and Juliet really don’t get along that well. Like, AT ALL. The rest of the evening becomes Romeo & Juliet retelling their love story, one Kate truly never knew, while Kate tries to build HER love story, all while everyone from their past in Verona decides to descend upon the house in one night (Paris, Balthazar, and more).
Every actor in this film is absolutely wonderful. From Paris and his sing-song narration to Juliet’s vitriol, they are fucking fabulous. My problem here is a matter of choice of casting, I guess, in that several characters do NOT look age appropriate. Kate is supposed to be 18 but looks MUCH older. Paris had a line about them all being children back when R&J ran away (and we already know R&J were 13 and 14) but he looks like he’s in his late 40s. Just, everyone in this film looks to be in the 30s to 40s age range, and it doesn’t work. ESPECIALLY Kate. Her not looking anywhere near 18 took me out of the film so much.
I enjoyed the sense of being a fly on the wall in the way the movie was filmed. It was fun and intriguing and I really felt like I was watching these people in their every day lives. Unfortunately, over a quarter of the film involved night or dark scenes that were TOO dark and I couldn’t see what was happening. I didn’t even see Paris’ face until the very, very end and he was in the movie from the very beginning. So, the lit scenes are great; the dark scenes could really use a bit more light.
The dialogue was a lot of fun in places because they kept to the use of iambic pentameter a lot, particularly in Paris’ narration (yay!!), and there were lots of plays upon words (I’m a language nerd. Totes). If you’re anything like me in that regard or if you just love Shakespeare as much as I do (and I carry his complete works in my car at all times), then you’ll definitely dig that. Things did get a bit boring, however. It felt like the film was aimed at people who’d never seen or read Romeo & Juliet before because they seriously did go through that story. It wasn’t just a matter of – “oh, this is how I met your mother!” – it was a long drawn out flowery murderous tale (you know, basically the play but in conversation form). It didn’t leave much room for The Enemy to have it’s own story and what story it did have was almost a re-telling. So they retold the story via R&J, then they retold the story AGAIN via characters & action.
The Enemy started out strong but it lost its way. The idea of Romeo & Juliet having escaped with their lives and building a life elsewhere is truly fascinating and I REALLY love it. I just didn’t really love THIS version of it. While it wasn’t really for me, if you do love Shakespeare or language, or a bunch of Italians yelling at each other (made me miss Jersey! *sighs*), then this just might be the film for you. The acting really is excellent; you really do feel like you’re there; it just needs a bit of tightening up perhaps?
Um, what? What am I talking about? David Hasselhoff and lightsabers? Am I drunk? (No) Did I fall and hit my head? (Always a reasonable question, as clumsy as I am) Am I simply talking about Rogue Cinema’s cool new retro video feature? (YES!)
What is it exactly? It’s Instantly Dated, hosted by McQ, a look back at olden times (ya know, the 70s and 80s) when things were simpler and cool things happened more frequently (like Hasselhoff playing with lightsabers). Have a look, then go check out the other episodes we’ve got going on in this issue! (E, there’s one about a Star Trek guy being in a Star Wars ripoff!)
Ugh, anthologies are like SO over, you guys. Totes. And yet, people keep doing them. “The Perfect House” came out this past July as a release from Wild Eye Releasing and once again reminds us of how badly we need some original horror stories on the scene. And it isn’t just the anthology framework here that’s overdone, it’s ALL of it. It’s an entire film of “Yes, yes, we KNOW, we KNOW,” with perhaps a spot of “Oh, hey. That was sort of nice.”.
Here’s how it goes down:
Enter a young family (parents and 3 kids) going to dinner at their neighbor’s house. Things are going well (kinda sorta – the in your face foreshadowing has already told us shit’s about to go down) till a weedwhacker (I think) is brought up. Chaos ensues for a brief moment. End Scene.
Enter a young couple who are house shopping. They stop at a house that they are so super uber excited about and meet with the oddly super sexual realtor (whom the wife does NOT bitch slap for some reason) who shows them around the house (thankfully without having sex with either or both of them) while telling them that the basement is usually a deal breaker. But why?? End scene.
Enter another family in said basement on a dark and stormy night…No really, it is. Big storm so they’re all sleeping in the basement because it’s all dark and scary. We’ve got a brother and sister who look to be between 13 and 15 years. We’ve got a dad who is REALLY into protecting the daughter for some reason. And then we’ve got mom, who is a scary psycho bitch. Needless to say, the sleepover doesn’t end well. The problem is, I think there was supposed to be some sort of twist or something but it was so dark I don’t know what happened (not to mention 3 different versions of the same story were told – NOT helping). This one could’ve been okay with a clearer ending and some more light in the basement.
After a totally not seamless transition (I spent a good two minutes trying to figure out if the girl in this story was the same as the girl in the first story despite our having gone back to the couple/realtor scene b/c they looked so similar), enter another teenage girl and a psychopathic guy, say in his early 20s? in the deal breaking basement. This time the girl is in a cage (kinky) and is being forced to watch as dude allegedly kills a person a week. Just fyi, he’s had her for FIVE years. A person a week for five years? How many people is that exactly? 260? Have the police not noticed the 260 people that are missing from this town (is there even a town left at this point)? Or are they seriously just so incompetent that they can’t find a serial killer who’s been in the same house for 5 freaking years with a girl in a cage? SERIOUSLY?? Logic, thou art a fool. *eye roll* And then after that, it’s just torture porn for a thousand years or so. I thought the torture porn trend had finally died out but it seems I was wrong. *sighs* On the plus side, the effects are really good so if you’re a gorehound, you will most definitely be pleased.
Back with the sexy realtor/married couple, the wife part of said couple is getting totally wigged out by the basement. Bad feels and all, ya know? Her hubby still says everything is fine but you know what? He’s apparently cut his finger on something pretty badly (from the amount of blood gushing out) and yet he still has a goofy grin on his face because of the realtor, so what does he know?
ANNNNNDDDDD we’re back with our original family, who went to have a friendly dinner with the not at ALL crazy neighbor man, who didn’t at ALL flip out about a weedwhacker and then handcuff them all up to indulge in some more torture porn that’s a cross between “Saw” and “Would You Rather?”. Ye gods, when will the torture porn/”I’m Jigsaw’s prodigy” end??? But once again, it’s got some good gore (although *spoiler* if you have issues with young kids dying, you might want to skip this one).
Also on the plus is Felissa Rose as the mother of the “Let’s go to dinner and get murdered!” family (you might better know her as “Angela” from the amazing “Sleepaway Camp”). Most of the acting is well done – the young couple and realtor were a little under par while Girl in a Cage was pretty kickawesome. Props to the makeup team and FX – they went above and beyond. This film suffered the fate of many a horror flick in that parts of it were much too dim to see anything. That was mostly in the basement scene and then part of the family at dinner scenes were hard to see as well.
To sum up, “The Perfect House” isn’t the worst thing you could watch by far, it’s just tired, another “wash, rinse and repeat” horror film. But if you’re into anthologies or the torture porn genre, then by all means check it out because you might like it. Just hop online and hang a left at their website!
Citizen ‘Caine comes to us courtesy of John Ervin, who also brought us The Tiki War (which you might remember me reviewing in Rogue Cinema a couple of issues back). While I enjoyed The Tiki War, unfortunately I did not enjoy Citizen ‘Caine. The film didn’t serve so much as a look at the grittier side of life as it did to a somewhat boring slice of life. While I don’t think the point of the film was to be grittily morose, one would think that diving into an exploration of the adult film industry and cocaine addiction would be dirtier and more interesting. Mostly though, I just kept wondering what point the film was trying to make exactly and that’s usually not a good sign…
Synopsis: Lou Phillips, a cocaine-addicted insurance salesman from Minnesota, confronts the seedy underbelly of Hollywood in search of his missing teenaged daughter. During his search he interrupts a shoot at LA’s Deep Horizons Studios, which specializes in home-maintenance videos that also serve as adult-entertainment films. In the process of confronting director Sir John Blunstone, his crew, and his biggest star Martha Sunset, Lou also confronts his addiction to cocaine.
See, that sounds kinda neat, right? And I liked Scott Carson as “Lou” A LOT…except for when he was in Hollywood. Those scenes he wasn’t as good in but it had more to do with the dialogue than him. Because there was simply too much extraneous dialogue floating about here. I’m guessing 7-10 minutes could’ve been cut from this 30 minute film and it would have still worked (possibly even better?). Simply removing the word “Ratan” from appearing so many times would have been an improvement.
What the film DID have going for it were the rare jokes sprinkled throughout. I did find the mixture of sex and appliances strangely amusing, as well as the several references to Nicolas Cage being the BEST ACTOR EVER. But as a whole? The acting made me wince…the dialogue went on and on…and the film just left me empty. It was a nice effort but one that didn’t really pay off. (And let’s face it, if you’re making a movie about people having sex with blenders, it should be fabulous, even if it’s just so BAD that it’s hilarious. But this was just BAD).
Capital I, by director Amartya Bhattacharyya, is an intriguing mix of philosophy, psychology, physics, sexuality, reality, imagination…this film is an abstract work of art. Amartya is a 27 year old Indian filmmaker and this was a debut film shot on a shoestring budget – I gotta say I’m wicked impressed. Capital I involved a lot of artistic shots and a lot of beauty; a lot of creation. Pulling that off on their budget, I find amazing.
Synopsis – ‘Capital I’ is a surreal fiction film dealing with an artist’s works where the artist himself doesn’t exist in reality. It is also an existential psychodrama revolving around said mysterious and unknown artist and depicts the transformation of mind of a young girl whereby she finds herself trapped in between realistic relationships and attractions and a strange relationship with her hallucinatory lesbian partner.’ If you’re like me, you just read that and went “What the hell?” But if you go and watch Capital I and come back and read this, it will not only make sense; it will make so much sense that you’ll see metaphorical layers.
Because that’s what watching this film is – seeing the metaphorical layers of life peeled back one by one. It’s having everything in life being simultaneously set right while being crushingly wrong. I don’t know whether to reference Alanis Morisette’s ouevre here or The Matrix…Piyali is a young grad student of psychology who becomes obsessed with a local happening wherein a house was found locked from within but with the occupant having vanished. All that was left behind were some drawings and poetry style scribblings. She and an old friend, who is also a physics professor, team up to solve the mystery but as they go deeper, Piyali discovers more about existence and reality than planned. Oh, and she’s the one with the hallucinatory lesbian lover (as one has).
Capital I is one of those films where every sentence spoken has meaning but since there’s so much dialogue and so much to catch, only a couple of things will be lines that you, yourself, hold onto. One of mine was when it was mentioned that “the air here is pure.”…”it’s because it’s not weighted down by dreams and memories.” (Insert heart emoticon because I swooned). It’s not just the words you’ll fall in love with though (side note: the dialogue switches between English and Odia, sometimes in the same sentence. I’m not sure if there was a deeper meaning to that as well?), but the cinematography and the scenery. There are close-ups of some amazing small creatures…blurred ambiances when it comes to sensitive material…symbolism galore…amazing use of color…Ugh, have I gushed enough yet??
Seriously, this is a Must Watch, particularly if surrealism is your thing. I think this may be my first Indian film (Bollywood has never quite appealed)(also look at that – first Turkish film AND first Indian film posted about this week!) but if this is what’s coming out of India right now, I am SO there. Check out the Capital I website and go follow them on Facebook (then share their Facebook page with your friends and make yourself look uber cool and all sexy intelli!) You won’t be sorry!
The latest issue of Rogue Cinema is here and you KNOW you’re dying to read it…so what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?? Sorry, I don’t have any of those. I can give you a preview of the issue though! Inside this month, you’ll find great articles on awesome films like these (and TONS more)!
Jilel: The Calling of the Shell is another original Marshallese by Microwave Films (you might remember Zori or The Sound of Crickets at Night from them, as they’ve been reviewed on Rogue Cinema in the past). Jilel has much in common with these former films – from similar camera shots to just a bit of over-preachiness – yet much like the previous two, it is also charming and heartwarming. Jilel is a sweet story that showcases the beauty and talents of the Marshall Islands and it’s people.
Jilel: The Calling of the Shell is the story of Molina, a young Marshallese girl who is confronted for the first time with the idea that her island—her beloved homeland—is vanishing because of the rising seas caused by world-wide global warming and how she turns the tide of doom. When Molina’s grandmother dies, Molina is left to take care of a jilel – a shell that is a family heirloom and said to hold great power. Not realizing it’s importance, her older brother takes the shell to sell it at a local store for cigarette money. However, once out of Molina’s hands, the jilel starts wreaking havoc not only on her brother’s life but also on anyone who comes in contact with. Will the jilel find it’s way home? Jilel: The Calling of the Shell is a global warming fairy tale about the importance of knowledge, respect and preservation.
The landscape of the film is stunning – from the ocean waves to the painted sky to the colorful shacks along the island. Jilel stars local people, who are (for the most part) surprisingly good. Samson in particular stood out as the comic relief. Yes, parts of the film temporarily take on the quality of a homemade video, but Jilel always picks itself back up from there. The story is it’s strongest aspect, however. Deceptively simple, it makes for a powerful allegory about respecting Mother Earth and the damage that’s been done to Her. Equally powerful is the spoken word at the end of the film by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner called “Tell Them” – as much as I enjoyed Jilel, “Tell Them” was my favorite part.
Jilel is highly recommended viewing – not just a fairy tale or cautionary tale, it showcases the beauty of a partially forgotten people and land. Ancient customs are woven throughout the film, creating their own kind of magic. And that’s what this film is – magic.
It’s that time of month! (Ew no, not THAT time of month…) I only had 3 films this month for Rogue but they were quite possibly the widest range of films I’ve ever had to review at one time – witch hunts to aliens to Lifetime on crack…it was an interesting (and sometimes confusing) time. Stop by and check it all out!