less charming and more strange than your average blog

June 30, 2004


This entry has been extremely popular for the past several weeks, thanks to the sequel, which opens today. To this day, I am at a loss to explain why I was not quoted in more newspaper ads for the film.

June 29, 2004

I was lying in my bed this morning, just making my way back to consciousness, when somebody stabbed me in the chest.

At least, that's exactly what it felt like. All I did was roll over on my side, but for several minutes, I actually believed I was having a heart attack. What a stupid way to die, I thought. I totally saw this coming. Would it have killed me to get some fucking exercise once in a while? It occurred to me that if the problem was actually my heart, the pain wouldn't be so synchronized with my breathing, so I decided that if I lived through whatever was happening to me, it would probably be okay to continue not exercising.

I waited several minutes to see if the (excruciating) pain would subside on its own, only to find it increasingly difficult to breathe. Not only had someone stabbed me in the chest, they were hanging around and doing it again every time I inhaled. I sort of stumbled up to my mother and asked her to drive me to the hospital. Actually, I stumbled up to her bedroom door and yelled at her to "take me to the fucking emergency room." She was getting ready for work and didn't hear what I was saying so I sort of had to put my foot down.

About halfway through the car ride to the emergency room, during which I actually asked myself if I had somehow inhaled shards of broken glass recently, the pain abruptly disappeared. Just like that. Instead of relief, I felt a little pissed off that I was now going to look like a big old drama queen. A physician took a look at me and, of course, there was nothing wrong. After asking me a series of questions, she informed me that it had most likely been an air bubble on the surface of my lung, which had exploded when I rolled over. This particular type of blister, I found out, was called...a bleb.

"Bleb." It sounds like the home planet of some invading alien species, but that's what I had on my lung, and it exploded this morning. What causes a bleb? What can I do to prevent future blebs? Nobody seems to have any answers, and both of my parents are doctors. Also, for some reason, the word "bleb" seems to diminish the impact of my experience. My visit to the hospital was a source of unending amusement at the dinner table tonight, as my family could barely contain their snickering when I reached the final revelation. They tried, though, god bless them.

Bleb. Blebbity Bleb Bleb. What a fucking stupid word.

June 27, 2004

I don't think any of us are surprised 

We went out and saw The Corporation the other day, and you should all go see it too because it's amazing, but there was one part of it that shed new light on the Fantanas' sinister nature. During World War II, American company Coca-Cola couldn't market its more recognizable products in Nazi Germany, so it invented Fanta Orange for the sole purpose of selling over there so it could still make a profit without looking like they were just dandy with providing the Nazis cool, delicious refreshment. Even though they were.

There you have it, y'all. David says, "No wonder Kiki is the leader. Shit."

June 25, 2004


From Roger Ebert's review of White Chicks:

Because they look so odd in makeup, the effect is quease-inducing. They fall victims, indeed, to the Uncanny Valley Effect. This phenomenon, named in 1978 by the Japanese robot expert Masahiro Mori, refers to the ways in which humans relate emotionally with robots. Up to a certain point, he found, our feelings grow more positive the more the robots resemble humans. But beyond a certain stage of reality, it works the other way: The closer they get to humans, the more we notice the differences and are repelled by them. In the same way, the not-quite convincing faces of the two white chicks provide a distraction every moment they're on the screen. We're staring at them, not liking them, and paying no attention to the plot. Not that attention would help.

Ebert also used the Uncanny Valley Effect to explain why the Final Fantasy movie bombed, which I find incredibly interesting and accurate. I mean, there are human characters in other CG movies, like Shrek 2, but they don't produce the same discomfort in me because they're not trying to renounce their animated heritage.

Don't you wanta? 

Most of us are far more acquainted with the so-called "Fantanas" than we would like to be. The exception would be if you are dead, or perhaps living under a rock of some sort. If this is the case, consider yourself lucky because these bitches really want you to drink their soda and if they find you, they are going to sing at you until you do it. Then they will probably do it some more, because they want to make sure you drink it until the day you die.

The Fantanas are a pop group invented to advertise for Fanta sodas, which is the worst idea that has ever been thought of. Their music video is shown in movie theaters right before or right after the Fandango paper bag puppets. If you go to their official site, you can read bios for each of the girls, like Lola, the pineapple flavored one:

Lola did very well in school. She was offered scholarships to attend Ivy-League schools, but she opted to stay on Fantana Island and earned an online degree...Lola served as editor of her high school newspaper and literary magazine and loves to write poetry. It only makes sense that she writes most of the lyrics for the Fantanas.

It should be noted that the Fantana's song consists of exactly one phrase, "Don't you wanta." I hope Harvard doesn't think it's missing much. The Fantanas explode out of every conceivable location and chant this phrase over and over until your brain explodes, at which point the Fantanas emerge from the screen and drag your corpse back to Fantana Island to be their friend.

Anyway, I don't know how David ended up at the official Fanta website of Denmark, but apparently there is a special feature on this site where you can add your own kooky subtitles to actual news footage, which I have done here.

Doesn't news footage with wacky subtitles make you want to DRINK SO MUCH FANTA?

June 24, 2004

SIFF '04 leftover reviews 

I have decided to stop kidding myself and admit that I will never get around to writing the rest of my SIFF reviews. Toward the end of the festival, my movie reviewing duties took a back seat to things like term papers and goodbyes and dental work and graduations and spending time with Luke and catching up on sleep and I'm starting to forget all the things I liked or didn't like about these movies. But just in case these movies pop up in a theater near you, I thought you should at least have something to go on!

Danny Deckchair / ***
Why do I feel bad for liking this movie so much? Because it's a romantic comedy called "Danny Deckchair"? Whatever. The slightly loopy Danny, fed up with his trivial existence and bitchy wife, ties helium balloons to a deckchair and floats across Australia, landing in a small town and building a new and fulfilling life for himself there, oblivious to the fact that he is not only missing, but a media sensation. Clever and funny, with memorable performances across the board, especially the two leads (Rhys Ifans and the gorgeous Miranda Otto). Hilarious supporting characters include a cocky anchorman and Danny's famewhore wife (who appears to very nearly have an orgasm whenever cameras are pointed in her direction).

Primer / ****
Perhaps the only movie about time travel (besides Donnie Darko) that I have not hated. Two friends who find they have invented a device capable of moving them back in time grapple with the implications and possibilities of their invention. Thrilling, astoundingly well thought-out, and with a budget that almost goes beyond "shoestring" into "nonexistent," Primer is somehow a hundred times better-looking than many big-budget studio films. Expect big things from Shane Carruth, who not only stars in the movie, but acted as writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, and composer. He is also so hot it's not even funny. I'm just saying.

The Python / ***
Absurd Latvian comedy taking place in a post-Soviet school. A monkey, a beaver, and a python are on the loose in the building while a Hitleresque headmistress is demanding that all the students poop in matchboxes. Utilizes Bazinian long takes and deep focus brilliantly to achieve meticulous bursts of insanity that approach actual comic genius. One of the more bizarre movies I saw at SIFF this year, and I could very easily see this film driving someone insane rather than cracking them up, but it had me rolling in the aisles, dude.

Bright Young Things / ***1/2

Twin Sisters / **1/2
Based on a premise that comes across as inspired and contrived at various times in the film: a pair of young twin sisters in 1930's Germany are separated, one growing up in Holland and the other remaining in Germany. Eventually, one marries a Jew and the other a Nazi. Powerful moments here, but suffers from a clumsy framing device (the women run into each other at a present-day spa) and broad, simplistic characterizations. Raises plenty of interesting questions, but tries to answer them with awkward, heavy-handed dialogue between the present-day sisters. More interesting to think about later than to watch, but intriguing in the way it shows the war from the perspective of ordinary people on both sides.

June 22, 2004

Because I really needed more reasons to buy this DVD. What are they trying to do to me?

"Music is worthless unless it can make a complete stranger break down and cry..." 

Loving the hell out of this CD at the moment. Imagine "Joni Mitchell sings Bjork." But as a good thing.

You've probably already heard their song "Let Go" in the Garden State trailer. They also did "Holding Out for a Hero" over the Shrek 2 credits, the randomness of which boggles the mind yet makes you want to dance.

The talented Mr. Cunningham? 

I can only read your website periodically, when SONIC WALL doesn't pop up all blue and angry, letting me know that your site is forbidden and a record of my visit to your site has been created. SONIC WALL is angry and petulant, but also inconsistent. Naked East Indian men? Not a problem. Your site? All that's evil in the world.

But I digress.

I understand you're excited about Michael Cunningham's
A Home at the End
of the World. "It's promising," you write, "unless he sucks at writing

He does. Or at least I'm assuming he will. Just like he sucks at all writing. 'Course, I'm basing this solely on my intense, fever-like hatred of
The Hours, a book title deceptive in its brevity. Years. That novel cost me years. In some ways it feels like I'm still reading it. And I have to pee.

The problem for me is I read
Mrs. Dalloway before I read The Hours. I
wanted to make sure that I was able to plumb Cunningham's richness and not miss any literary allusions. That was a mistake. Virginia Woolf is hands-off so much better of a writer than Cunningham that, when I sadly closed the cover on
Mrs. Dalloway and picked up The Hours, there was no way he could compete.

I take it back. Maybe he could have competed. Only he really, really sucks as a writer. His prose is both leaden and deeply irritating. His variations on a theme sound instead like a 8-year-old with a Casio keyboard and a spastic condition. And he telegraphs far too much. Did you know that women have tough lives? And that they have to make tough choices? And that it's tough to be a woman?

What made
Mrs. Dalloway so amazing was the delicate but sure hand of Woolf, leading us through Clarissa's day and showing us a lifetime in a single day. There's nothing heavy-handed. It's all dreamy and lyrical and lovely. Cunningham is heavy, trenchant, and prone to overtyping.

But maybe you know something different. What is it about Cunningham that you think shows promise, especially in this movie? I'm assuming you enjoyed
A Home at the End of the World. Would you think it was on par with -- or different from (different than? I can never remember) The Hours? I've admired your writing for, well, ever. At least ever since I found your site. And I mostly agree with or at least understand your film critique. But this Michael Cunningham love has me flummoxed.

In closing, the hell?



The word "flummoxed" rules. But anyway.

It's been a while since I read The Hours or A Home At The End Of The World, so after reading your email I took them down off the shelf and flipped through them again to remind myself what made me feel so strongly the first time I read them. Disagreement (for intelligent reasons) is always interesting because it makes you ask yourself why you think the things you do; however, it also scares the crap out of me because I have the hardest time explaining something as intuitive as why I enjoy something like a movie, or a song, or a book. (It's why I don't write more movie reviews.)

Well, I don't believe I know anything different about Michael Cunningham's writing than you do, except that it works for me and it doesn't work for you. To me, his writing style isn't leaden or heavy-handed, it's dreamy and lyrical and lovely the way you described Virginia Woolf's style. After taking a peek at a random page from A Home At The End Of The World, I didn't remember to look up again until 30 pages later. I remember reading The Hours for the first time in one sitting, going back and re-reading nearly every sentence just to experience it again. I don't shut up about these two books because they made me realize for the first time, as unforgivably corny as it sounds, that literature can change your life.

I have to explain how the books affected me because it's the only actual evidence that they're any good (even then, your mileage may vary). I feel that Cunningham's writing touches on truths about the way people think and act that I didn't know language had the capacity to convey. He writes characters with the kind of ugliness to their personality that renders them not ugly, but human. I don't know if you read A Home at the End of the World or gave up on Cunningham after suffering through The Hours, but it's a completely different style of novel, not least because it features an actual plot, and a wider variety of characters. The way the same narrative is written so intimately from four different first-person perspectives amazes me. I still don't know what kind of screenwriter Cunningham is, but his vivid and profound understanding of his characters is what strikes me as promising.

In closing, that's the hell. According to me, anyway.


June 20, 2004

A Home at the End of the World 

And we have a trailer at last! If they don't screw this up, I'll be the happiest boy in the whole world. It's promising that Michael Cunningham himself wrote the screenplay, unless he sucks at writing screenplays, in which case it's not promising. The IMDb boasts a glowing review of the film, but I'm almost certain internet access is the only qualification for having your review posted there. But it's all there is to go on right now, so of course I'm all for it.

June 19, 2004

Calendar girl 

A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of my favorite shirts had a small rip in it, along the seam at the bottom of the right sleeve. After letting it sit in my closet for a long time and observing that it did not in fact heal itself, I decided to take it to a drycleaning place on Wednesday and see if they could fix it up.

When I got there, a young woman was talking her cel phone in the very back of the store, behind the racks of drycleaned clothing. "I'LL BE RIGHT THERE," she yelled, proceeding to talk on her phone for several more minutes. When she arrived at the counter, I asked her how much it would cost to fix my shirt. "Five dollars," she announced, which took me by surprise because that's more than a dollar per inch of rip and if that's her going rate for repairs, I'm surprised the woman is still in business. Inside my head, I stood my ground and said loftily, "That, madam, is bullshit and I will be taking my business elsewhere, thank you very much!" In reality, if someone gives me a free sample in a food court I have to eat there because I don't want to hurt their feelings by leading them on.

So I was slightly put off by the cost, but I supposed I could deal with it if that was how much it was going to cost for me to be able to wear the shirt to an important event that night. "When do you think it'll be ready?" I asked. The young woman proceeded to pull out a pocket calendar and studied it intently, as if I had suggested that we go out of town together for the weekend. She took out a pen and hovered the tip over Saturday, and then Friday. Then she looked at me and said completely seriously, "The absolute soonest I can get this done is Friday, and that's pushing it."

As I glanced over at the three-inch-long rip in my shirt, the woman put a large, dark circle around the date on her calendar. I almost felt a little bit guilty. Maybe I should have just given her the five dollars and fixed the shirt myself.

9/11: Just the facts? 

Very interesting article by Roger Ebert about the new Michael Moore film.

"The conservative group Move America Forward...has launched a campaign to discourage theaters from showing Fahrenheit 9/11. The campaign will amount to nothing and disgraces Move America Forward by showing it trying to suppress disagreement instead of engaging it. The R rating may stand; there is a real beheading in the film, and only fictional beheadings get the PG-13. Disney and Miramax will survive."

Attack of the feline-themed bondage queen 

Eric: I think there's something I'm missing from the Catwoman trailer.

David: Besides the desire to see it?

Eric: Yes. I understand that she starts out all mild-mannered and shit--

David: Her character's name is "Patience," by the way, in case we're not able to discern her mild-manneredness from Halle Berry's performance.

Eric: How much should they have just run with it and named her "Catherine Woman"?

David: A lot.

Eric: Anyway, I understand that she starts out as this mild-mannered woman who takes shit from everyone. And I understand that she ends up as...whatever.

David: Feline-themed bondage queen.

Eric: So what the hell? How does she get from Point A to Point B? In the trailer, it just says, "From a life that was taken...a new one will be born." What does that mean?

David: I don't know. I think she's dead, and some cats come and sniff her, and then she's Catwoman.

Eric: That's it? They sniff her?

David: I don't know. Maybe they bite her. They could be radioactive.

Eric: Maybe you can fill me in on how the fuck cats become radioactive.

David: Maybe they ate nuclear waste first.

Eric: I can't even tell you how many more questions than answers are raised by that explanation.

David: And maybe the radioactive cats tried to give her a haircut and that's why her new hairdo looks like shit.

Eric: It's just so random. What if, I don't know, rats had come and sniffed her instead? Isn't that way more likely?

David: "RATWOMAN"!

Eric: Heh, heh, heh.

David: I would totally pay to see that! The movie would be Halle Berry wearing a big furry costume and spreading plague. Box office gold.

Eric: I'm so not even buying this "Catwoman" business. They're just going to focus on the "sexy" aspects of her catness and ignore the interesting stuff, like whether she poops in a toilet or buries it in the yard.


David: I have to leave right now.

June 18, 2004

The only thing missing is a title... 

After I make it big in the film industry and have the kind of clout where I can work on whatever projects I want, I'm going to make a movie about a gang of crazy old people who survive unnaturally long by periodically cornering a young person, cutting them open while they're still alive, distributing the young healthy organs amongst themselves, and replacing them with their old broken down ones. Then a few months later the young person dies of old age and NOBODY KNOWS WHY.

Morgan Freeman will solve the case by using Ashley Judd as bait, which will be so thrilling it's not even funny. Frankly, I'm amazed Hollywood is managing without me as well as it is. Shit.

The truth about Seattle 

Right now, I want to dispel some myths about Seattle. More specifically, a single myth. And that myth is that it's always raining in Seattle. My principal evidence supporting this claim is the blazing hot sun that makes me want to hibernate in a meat locker from June to September each year.

That's right, it gets hot in Seattle. Not "nice." HOT. Hot, like the bus I spent an hour and a half on this afternoon, whose metal was nearly corrugated by the combined B.O. of all the baking passengers. Hot, like you can't move during the day or sleep through the night. Hot, like it's 1:44 AM and the sky is alive with heat lightning. Now, I have no idea how hot it has to be to create heat lightning (fun fact: I am not knowledgeable about anything) (another fun fact: I have had quite a few drinks tonight), but I know this kind of weather is never taken into account when people evoke the stereotype of a wet, cold, rainy Seattle.

My father has this old t-shirt that says, "People from Seattle don't tan...they rust!"

There are a lot of things wrong with this. First of all, we're not made of metal. That's just preposterous. And if we were, everyone would probably be talking about that a lot more a little bit of rain. They would say, "There's a city populated by metal people? That's weird. How did this happen? Are they a threat?" Nobody would give a shit about the weather. Unless you were one of the metal people -- then you would have to be careful and stay out of the rain, otherwise you would rust and die. Which makes that t-shirt just rude and insensitive. That would be like a t-shirt that read, "People from Australia get tan...but they also get skin cancer! How about that?"

Now I'm starting to question everything I think I know about major American cities. Perhaps "The Windy City" isn't windy at all! Perhaps New York City is more than just an enormous apple! And perhaps the people there do sleep!

What I'm trying to say is, you can't believe everything you read on t-shirts.

June 17, 2004

The graduate 

Guess who just graduated from high school! No, not me. David did. Congratulations, David and all his friends!

Sleeping it off 

I'm having some problems updating the website, but I now present to you an entry I wrote on Monday. This doesn't really excuse the derelict I've allowed this blog to become, but the people will return, won't they? Won't you?

June 14, 2004

SIFF / Sky Blue / ** 

There must be a reason why anime films are so fond of stories set in post-apocalyptic wastelands. Or, if not post-apocalyptic, at least in an unfathomably vast metropolis, enduring beneath an inky black layer of polluted cloud cover. The damned remains of humanity struggle below, wallowing in psychological darkness and out-of-control technology.

The good news is, it usually looks great. The Korean Sky Blue is no exception, opening with a promising sequence in which a mysterious rider navigates something resembling an armored motorcycle through the ruined landscape. So it's disappointing that the filmmakers have made the unfortunate decision to replace the original dialogue track with some painful English-language dubbing that undermines its grandiose thematic ambition.

The rundown: after the world as we know it was destroyed by something or other, a bunch of survivors came together and built the shielded city of Ecoban. This would be just wonderful except for the fact that they only allowed a certain number of people inside and then sealed it off, leaving everyone else to suffer in a polluted hellhole. Not only that, Ecoban is "powered by pollution." When pollution levels begin to decrease and it looks like the skies may finally clear, the leaders of Ecoban decide to perpetuate the outside pollution in order that their city may continue to thrive.

Now, even taking into account that we are dealing with a fantastical setup like this, there is a gaping plot hole here. If Ecoban consumes all the pollution from the surrounding environment, to the point where the rest of the planet will be a decent place to live for the first time in ages, isn't it in everyone's best interests to let this happen, even the Ecobanians'? The closest Sky Blue comes to explaining this is its suggestion that the leaders of Ecoban are Evil And Greedy, denoted by their angry eyebrows and flying chairs.

In any case, the narrative follows Jay and Suha, a pair of star-crossed lovers who grew up together in Ecoban but were separated when Suha was wrongly accused of murder and escaped to the outside world, joining a group of rebels planning an attack on Ecoban. (They are star-crossed because Jay has become a member of city security by the time they meet again.)

The thing is, movies like this usually don't rely on convincing characters or believable plot developments, they hinge on killer visuals and sustained atmosphere. When animes are dubbed badly instead of subtitled, it only breaks the atmosphere and reveals the inherent silliness underneath. There are some wonderful sights to be seen in Sky Blue, but too often you may find yourself feeling like you're watching a Saturday morning cartoon.

June 08, 2004

A long night 

I'm sitting here in Odegaard, the undergraduate library here at the University of Washington, and I'm thinking about how glad I am that it's open 24 hours, because no matter how stressed out I get over term papers or final exams, no matter what ungodly hour of the night, I can come here and find someone freaking out over something way worse. Sometimes I like to sit next to these people and stifle vindictive laughter for hours on end.

How many hours of my three college years have I spent here? I edited Guns of Religion here. I've researched and written papers on such topics as Scottish folklore, film noir, Sylvia Plath, German cinema, and demographic transition theory. These things always seem so unbearable at the time. I couldn't count upon how many instances I have wished I never had to pull another all-nighter.

But earlier today, I looked back on all that suffering, and I must admit to feeling more than a twinge of sadness that it was over.

Then I remembered that I have one more paper to write before I'm actually finished with this quarter. And as I walked back into the library tonight, I thought, This is some fucking bullshit right here.

June 04, 2004

Nun-clowns in Technicolor! 

If your name is Pam and your friend wants to make an apron with this image on it, I have a much larger version for you. I don't know how many people are going to trust your cooking after that, though.

June 03, 2004

SIFF / Buddy / **1/2 

Or, "NO, NOT THE RENE RUSSO GORILLA MOVIE." I guess the animal in that movie was named Buddy. I'm still kind of unclear on why this movie is named what it is, since nobody is named Buddy and there are not even any gorillas in it. If you were looking for gorillas, you're going to be disappointed, I can tell you that much.

This Buddy is about a young man named Kristoffer (Nicolai Cleve Broch) and his two friends and roommates, Geir (Aksel Hennie) and Stig Inge (Anders Baasmo Kristiansen). Kristoffer always has his digital video camera in hand ready to capture the craaaaazy adventures he and his friends are always having, such as jumping out of windows and doing stupid dances in their kitchen. Kristoffer has a frighteningly large library of MiniDV tapes of this kind of material in his bedroom.

One day, some of these tapes fall into the hands of a local television station and Kristoffer and his friends are offered their own segment on a popular show, made up of their craaaaazy adventures! The friends accept this offer and become local celebrities. They're being paid to be themselves on camera! Complete strangers are greeting them in public! Life is good!

But of course things don't stay that way, because then we are introduced to Henrietta (Pia Tjelta), the Love Interest whose sole reason for existence is to fall in love with Kristoffer, get mad at him, and then take him back. We predict this may have something to do with the television show. Most likely, something will be shown that is Too Personal. Or is that another subplot?

I should have hated this movie because it falls victim to so many cliches when it comes to the romance plot between Kristoffer and Henrietta (how many more times must we see someone walk in at the Wrong Moment and run away without listening to the explanation?). But I didn't, because its humor is genuine and the characters are a great deal more likeable and believable than your average romantic comedy. Yeah, okay, I was happy when they got together in the end. So sue me.

I want to mention specially that the character of Stig Inge, who has a panic attack every time he tries to leave Toyen Center (the part of town they all live in), provides an emotional center to the film that makes me wonder why it always seems to be the supporting characters in these kinds of movies that steal the show. Probably because they're not forced to jump through the same kind of narrative hoops as the lead characters.

(Also, this movie features a super cool soundtrack I would kill to get my hands on. If any of you out there happen to live in Sweden, maybe you can forgive me for not loving your movie and hook me up, yo.)

SIFF / The Raspberry Reich / *1/2 

I can't in good conscience rate The Raspberry Reich any higher than this, because it's a terrible, terrible movie. Then again, it's not really a movie, it's a porno. Not only that, it's a terrorism-themed gay porno, populated by left-wing extremists who say things like "Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses!" in order to segue into some man-on-man action. (A nearby minion who responds "I thought opiates were the opiate of the masses" is naturally ignored.)

Yes, this is a true blue hardcore porno, replete with penetration, cumshots and all. Nobody under 18 admitted. Of course, I don't know a lot of 18-year-olds besides my brother and his friends who run around checking out self-described "porno-political-paloozas" (though we did run into someone else from their high school, which is quite possibly the funniest thing ever).

The Raspberry Reich is a group of German terrorists led by Gudrun (Susanne Sachsse), a nymphomaniac psychopath who organizes the kidnapping of the son of the head of a major corporation. He's incredibly hot, of course, and when one of the terrorists is forced get in the car trunk with him after "accidentally" handcuffing them together, there is obviously enough room in there to get fully naked and perform oral sex on each other, while the others get burgers at a fast food joint and pray that Gudrun doesn't find out.

Like I said, this movie is terrible. The editing approaches epileptic proportions. The dubbing doesn't even come CLOSE to syncing up. It's loud, sloppy, and ugly. Even if it wasn't a porno, the brazen disregard for any sort of craftsmanship should get everyone involved blacklisted from the film industry. It is that bad.


You may be familiar with the work of Bruce La Bruce, the director of this film. He addressed the audience before the screening, explaining the work he's done so far in his career and why he decided to make The Raspberry Reich. The man is just not interested in making a "good" movie. He set out to make a new and different kind of porno, and I have to hand it to him, this movie is all kinds of new and different. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone masturbating with a gun before.

And I have no problem with this. I'll tell you right now that I loved this movie! Gudrun's political slogans, usually howled either while having sex or at people who are having sex, are outrageously funny and should all be made into t-shirts. "Private property cannot be stolen, just liberated!" she screams at her subordinates as she orders them to steal vegetables from a supermarket.

Garish scrolling text assaults the screen throughout most of the film, especially during the sex scenes (of which there are many). CORNFLAKES ARE COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY! (This is actually explained in the movie.) THE REVOLUTION IS MY BOYFRIEND! THERE CANNOT BE A SOCIAL REVOLUTION UNTIL THERE IS SEXUAL REVOLUTION! There is so much political ideology packed into the film that at a certain point you start wondering when it stopped being funny and started being, yes, a little bit interesting.

NOTE: Daniel Baetscher, Andreas Rupprecht, and Susanne Sachsse, three of the stars of The Raspberry Reich, appear together in another SIFF movie this year, Paternal Instinct, a touching documentary about a gay couple searching for a surrogate mother to bear their child. Make of that what you will.

SIFF / Open Water / *** 

Being stranded out in the open ocean has always been one of my biggest fears. Not in the sense that I ever imagined it would actually happen to me, but one of those "WOULDN'T THAT BE THE SCARIEST THING EVER?" situations. It's one of those childhood nightmares that I never really got over, like being buried alive or those damned Alien movies. (Just the opening image on the official site makes me a little nervous!)

So you can imagine my reaction to Open Water, a new film which plays out this terrifying scenario with excruciating detail and suspense. Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan) are a yuppie couple (the kind who like to talk on multiple cel phones at once) taking their first vacation in ages to a resort somewhere in the tropics. After an erroneous headcount on a local diving tour, the pair return to the surface to find their tour boat gone and no land in sight. That sound you hear? It's my heart pounding. And that's before the sharks show up.

Open Water famously scared the poop out of everyone at Sundance, and it's easy to see why. As Daniel and Susan progress from annoyed to nervous to alarmed to irritable to frantic to terrified and worse, the film is merciless and unsentimental. Like the similar Blair Witch Project (a comparison I'm sure the filmmakers are tired of), Open Water doesn't rely on a collection of BOO!-type scares to get you on the edge of your seat, but instead takes its time building suspense that pays off in a climax that will make you shudder. The real horror is in what you don't see.

Open Water clocks in at a brisk 79 minutes, which fits the simplicity of the structure nicely. It was obviously shot on a shoestring budget, although, with a cast of two and a set consisting of "the freakin' ocean," it doesn't show all that often except in the digital image quality. The pixellation (and the occasional awkward line-reading) are forgiven, especially since this is such a labor of love for writer-director-editor Chris Kentis (whose wife produced the film), who revealed in a Q&A after the screening that the budget was only $130,000.

These days, you don't find many scary movies that stay with you after the closing credits. This little nail-biter is sure to be a big success when it's released in theaters this August. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies...

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