TW: Talk of Suicide
I love this film. I love everything about it. It’s an absolutely brilliant story about suicide (although as stated above definite trigger warnings if you’re currently depressed or feeling suicidal). Not everyone’s been there but a lot of us have – that point where you just want to give up on everything. It’s a scary point. But then, if you’re lucky, you’re able to pull yourself out of that deep, dark hole with the help of friends, family, therapy, meds, and mostly yourself. What happens when you can’t leave that place? What’s it like to have an addiction to suicide & death?
“Suicidal ideation: unusual preoccupation with suicide.” In Here Lies Joe, we meet two individuals at a Suicide Anonymous group – a group for individuals dealing with suicidal ideation. Joe is the new guy while Z is the manic-pixie dream girl of the group. Z writes her suicide notes in iambic pentameter instead of trying to NOT want to die; Joe just seems out of place and unsure of why he’s there or anywhere. The two seem to sense kindred souls in one another and Z manages to finagle a ride from the meeting with Joe. Instead of taking him to her home, she takes him to the cemetery instead, where they spend the afternoon. And later that night they spend hours on the phone together, bonding, each lost in their own way. What will morning bring?
As someone who has a mental illness of which suicidal ideation is a key symptom, this film really touched a chord. It was incredibly honest and open. The characters were real and tangible, relatable. Z says she wants to kill herself because she’s “an ugly thing in a beautiful world”, a statement which is so honest and heartrendingly easy to understand. This film is utterly beautiful. And while it is a film with dark elements and themes, they explore them with humor and pathos to arrive at the film’s ultimate message: hope.
While Dean Temple as “Joe” gives a wonderful and sturdy performance, it’s Andi Morrow as “Z” who steals the show (and your breath) away. Her performance is raw and something magical to behold.
I can’t recommend Here Lies Joe highly enough. Visit the film’s website to find out where you can catch it. And remember that there’s ALWAYS hope.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
So the cool thing about The Second Coming: Brought To You In Low Definition is that it was filmed on VHS, resulting in an interesting vintage look and feel to the film (like do you remember the quality of VHS?? So spotty!). Unfortunately, that’s really the only good thing I can say about this one. I have absolutely no idea what the point of this film was.
I mean, the tagline reads: “Two 20 some-things, Halibar & Peggy, meet and bond trying to find the owner of a lost cat.”, and this is true…I guess…They DO meet when Halibar finds a lost stuffed animal in the shape of the kitten that he spends some time talking with and whom Peggy helps him return to it’s owner. Whether this stuffed animal is supposed to be a “live actual cat”, I don’t know. They certainly treat it as such. After returning the stuffed animal to it’s owner though, nothing happens except a whole lot of boredom and really uncomfortably strange bits that go on too long. You know what, let’s go back to the beginning…
When a film opens with two people pissing on each other in a non-erotic way whilst taking a bath together, it’s probably a good sign that the film you’re about to watch is not going to be up there in the best of the best category. When the same film continues on so that one of your main characters gets constipated, decides his “poos are like his babies” and then talks to them while on the toilet, it’s definitely a sign that you’re in iffy territory. When said film has no plot and is absolutely non-linear, just random moments, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s on the “not so wonderful” end of the spectrum…except in this case where it does. Random moments are awesome. Random moments where a grown man hugs a child he doesn’t know for 5 minutes straight in silence; decides he’s Jesus and dances in his underwear to remixed gospel music for 5+ minutes (including pole dancing whilst wearing socks and sandals); decides he’s the next Hitler and pens a second Mein Kampf; and is obsessed with his bowels? Really, really not so awesome.
A big part of the problem here was that each of these bits went on for WAY too long – like that dying sketch on SNL that just won’t end. You think you’re “sexy Jesus”? Fabulous. I don’t need to watch you dance in your underwear for more than 5+ minutes though especially when there’s no point to it. Which is the main problem I have with this film – there’s no point. Nothing happens. No one evolves. Two people get together but it’s not an actual relationship, more of someone taking care of a child. Nothing moves forward (or sideways or anyways). It’s just two people (but mainly one guy) acting like a very annoying, whiny man-child with delusions of grandeur. It’s not experimental. It’s not avant-garde. It’s not artsy. It’s not ANYTHING. And therein lies the problem.
While very cool with the filming on the VHS, there were still issues with the cinematography – long shots that didn’t match with close-ups, too many uncreative camera angles – it was stagnant. I wish I could say more about this film, better things about this film, but I really can’t. I love that someone had the passion to create a film in the first place; it’s hard work, I know. I think the writer/director here would benefit greatly from a bit more mentoring and learning, and I think it would be interesting to see what he brings in the future.
“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!)
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!
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!