Posts Tagged ‘Capitalism sucks

06
Oct
15

Office Killer (1997)

What is that Dorine up to?

What is that Dorine up to?

I can’t count how many times writing this blog has made me miss the days where I had full access to my parent’s cable box. There is, after all, some pleasure in clicking through countless channels and coming across a horror gem that you otherwise would never have heard of. I watched so many movies when I lived at home with them, I’ve straight up forgotten most. Until recently, Office Killer was one of those, but when Q mentioned a campy horror flick starring Carol Kane as a serial killer, a lightbulb went off. Oh yes, I remember that…

Directed by photographer Cindy Sherman (which is why Q was interested in the first place), Office Killer tells the tale of a meek copy-editor whose job, after nearly two decades, is suddenly at risk. Dorine Douglas (Kane) has been at Constant Consumer almost since its inception, but that hasn’t earned her much respect. In fact, some people think her quiet nature hides something sinister and creepy. Kim Poole (Molly Ringwald) feels strongly about this. Perhaps she’s right.

Michael Imperioli is practically a baby here.

Michael Imperioli is practically a baby here.

Constant Consumer hasn’t had a good quarter, or year, in a long time. To make up for lost cash, Virginia Wingate, the head honcho at the magazine (who also happens to be a chain-smoking asthmatic – this will be important) hires Norah Reed (Jeanne Tripplehorn) to help the company downsize. Of course, Dorine is one of many to receive a nice little pink slip that kindly informs her that not only have her hours been cut down to part time, she’ll also be expected to work from home for most of it. To a lot of us today, a prescription for working from home doesn’t sound so bad. But Dorine’s home life is not exactly ideal. Every moment spent at home is spent looking after her needy, handicapped mother. Without even the minimal contact of her coworkers, Dorine’s going to have to make new friends. If she doesn’t, she just might go insane.

Have you read the latest issue of Constant Consumer?

Have you read the latest issue of Constant Consumer?

I’ve always liked Carol Kane as an actress, but I’m certainly more used to seeing her play a loud, obnoxious character (Scrooged, Princess Bride) than the quiet mouse she plays here. I’m happy to report she handles this role just as well as anything else I’ve ever seen her in, and she does so with just enough humor to fit the film perfectly. I’ve heard the film referred to as campy, and while that’s true in some places, it certainly isn’t an all-out romp. In fact, I think you could even say it’s a little sedate in places where it most definitely could have been taken over the top. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re walking into this one expecting a laugh riot, you’re not going to be pleased. There are some chuckles all right, but just chuckles. I’m hesitant to even add comedy as an appropriate category for this movie.

Office Killer is about as good as I remember it being when I first saw it ages ago. And that, according to my Netflix star-ratings, is about three stars. It’s not a movie I’d go up and down the street shouting about, but it is a pretty solid outing. It’s certainly not a bad way to spend a night in October. And hey, you get to see a pre-Sopranos Michael Imperioli playing an awkward character. That might be worth it in and of itself!

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29
Apr
15

Black Horizon (2002)

HughJanusThe Cull* is off to a very good start indeed. By good, I mean we’re watching movies that are so bad we’re getting rid of them! There is a sense of accomplishment to it, which is really good, because otherwise watching these movies would be a complete and utter waste of time. I do have to admit, though, to wondering why in hell we ever picked up such dreck in the first place? It’s as if used-media stores pump a drug through their air ducts that causes Q and I to be attracted to some of the dumbest looking movies around. And perhaps if we’d noticed Black Horizon was produced by a guy who claims the name HUGH JANUS, we would have put it down for someone else to throw money at. But we didn’t notice… until it was too late.

I admit to being confused by this movie at the get-go: it is very obviously a movie about a failing Russian space station, but starts off with some sort of drug bust. Jeffries (Ice-T) is some sort of Fed who’s gotten himself into trouble right before the bust is about to go down. His good buddy McKendrick saves his ass, and at the end of the disastrous bust they all have a good, hearty chuckle.

Sailor in space

Sailor in space

Once the opening credits roll, we get to the real meat of the film: McKendrick, an ex-Navy salvage diver is going to join Ed Carpenter, a pumped-up Macho man and his crew manning a shuttle to the AVNA space station. Seems systems are failing on the station, but important technology that could save the world needs to be salvaged. So of course you send a navy diver to do the job, right? Especially one that’s afraid of heights, right? Yeah, duh.

Things of course are much more complicated than anyone at NASA could have guessed. First, the space station has just been pelted with meteors – and more are on the way! Their communication system is down, so they’re unable to warn the hearty, brave Americans who are coming to save them that they’ll be in danger. Katherine, the leading scientist on the station, apparently skimped on some necessities while approving the blueprints for AVNA, and now she and her Russian crew are suffering the consequences.

If Dane Cook and Ryan Reynolds had a brother that ate cheeseburgers and couldn't do a Russian accent, it'd be this guy.

If Dane Cook and Ryan Reynolds had a brother that ate cheeseburgers and couldn’t do a Russian accent, it’d be this guy.

But perhaps worst of all, Katherine’s uncle Owen, a mega-capitalist of epic proportions, is hellbent on preventing the salvage mission’s success. Because the space station is such bullshit, if word got out about how shitty everything is his company’s stock would continue to plummet, resulting in the end of his glorious empire. Who cares that his niece is on board? They weren’t that close anyway! And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for Jeffries’ snooping around and general badassery!

Black Horizon is not a good movie. It’s not a good movie at all. The plot is very disjointed, skipping and jumping from one setting to another, and using stock footage to remind us whether we’re on earth or in space. The characters are so one-dimensional it hurts, from the badass, macho leader to the sexy, take-no-prisoners chick pilot, to the evil capitalist uncle and, of course, the drunken Russian. It’s almost like the writers took pieces from existing stories and glued them together very poorly, kind of how you’d expect a toddler to complete a jigsaw puzzle.

Ice-T wants to know why they gave him all the worst lines?

Ice-T wants to know why they gave him all the worst lines?

Aside from lackluster writing, the cast delivers us some very flat performances indeed. Look, I want to like Ice-T, I really do. I want him to be a great actor. But here, watching him is just excruciating. I don’t think it’s entirely his fault, he’s obviously not given much to work with, and his character is given all the worst one-liners in the film; a pretty insurmountable fate.

This is just another one of those movies that makes me shrug my shoulders and ask: why? Why bother making something this inept, this derivative, this nonchalant? After a movie like this is over, I always marvel at all the names that roll in the credits, reminding myself that it took all these people to make one giant piece of shit. Needless to say, this one won’t be going back on the shelf. Sorry, Ice-T.

*Q and I have decided it’s time for a great cull; an early spring cleaning. We have a large number of movies we have not yet seen. Are these movies any good? This is the question we are out to answer. If it’s no good, out it goes.

08
Mar
15

Nightcrawler (2014)

nightcrawlerAfter spending the last 10 years in the DC area, it was time for the Q’s to pick up and move down South. Naturally we had your normal set of concerns: will it be easy to navigate? How southern will it be? Will we make any friends? Will there be enough to do?  Honestly, though, what I was most concerned about was finding a good place to watch movies! As much as I dislike DC, it does have a lot of independent theaters and opportunities to do fun movie things; midnight movie showings, psychotronic society, etc. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, we quickly discovered our new area has quite a few offerings of its own; Monday night b-movie trash, old flicks showing three out of four Wednesdays every month for $5 a pop, and an accidentally-discovered second-run theater with even better ticket prices: $2.25! When I saw the last was playing Nightcrawler I figured why not give it a shot: I didn’t know anything about it except that Jake Gyllenhaal was in it and that people had said good things. I figured it was worth a gamble of $2.25. I was right!

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is out of work and desperate for money. His current cash flow comes from skulking the streets of Los Angeles collecting scrap metal for cash, but he’s not beyond beating up a security guard for his watch if he has to. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s not a very lucrative career. Bloom doesn’t want to be this way; in fact he tries very hard to find a legitimate position, but no prospective employers are biting – not even when Bloom mentions his online business courses! Despite a rousing speech lauding his qualifications, Bloom is turned down for yet another job. But on his way home, Bloom fortuitously finds himself at the scene of a car crash. While rescue crews work to free the driver from the wreckage, Bloom is far more interested in the cameramen gunning for a front-row spot. After the crash is cleared away and the commotion has left the scene, he probes the main cameraman, Joe Loder, (Bill Paxton) about his field of work. Loder explains the equipment and philosophy of his profession:  race to record disaster scenes and sell their graphic footage to local news outfits. Impressed by Loder’s truck-full of equipment, he assumes it must be a lucrative career, and thus his new path is chosen.

The very next day, Bloom sets out to get some equipment of his own. He trades in a stolen bike for a camcorder and a police scanner, and soon he even hires an “intern” named Rick, a homeless youth, to help him navigate the streets of LA as he races to the scenes of disaster in hopes of getting there before his competition. It doesn’t take him long to learn the ropes, and in a short while he finds himself offering some hot footage to local morning news director Nina Romina (Rene Russo). Impressed with his work, she asks for more, advising he make it bloody, gory, minority-on-white crime in nice neighborhoods. Impressed with his check, Bloom is more than happy to oblige.

For a while, Romina and Bloom’s professional relationship is extremely lucrative for both of them. Romina is able to get her ratings up, and Bloom can afford to upgrade more than just his shitty camera equipment. Unfortunately, it’s only a short while in until Romina realizes what kind of guy she is dealing with. While she initially admired Bloom’s unflinching ambition, she comes to realize exactly how dangerous a man he is. Bloom is the personification of unfettered capitalism; morality and compassion are secondary to the bottom line. As you can imagine, the film takes some very disturbing turns, and I’m not about to ruin those for you by going on and on about the plot; I’ve probably said too much as it is.

As I mentioned before, I went into the theater not knowing at all what Nightcrawler was about. As the film wore on, I became increasingly excited about where it was going. The story is engrossing in and of itself, but it wouldn’t have been half the film it is without Gyllenhaal leading the way. His creepy intensity drives the entire film; I don’t doubt for a second Bloom’s ghoulish reverence for the health of his burgeoning company. Gyllenhaal has managed to play a character only Ayn Rand could love; a truly despicable human being.

I must say though, I’m left wondering what made Bloom the way he is. The movie is peppered with lines about how difficult it is to get anywhere in an economy like this. As has been well-documented these days, we live in a time of great income inequality, and Bloom, having just recently taken all those online business courses, must of course know the only folks who are successful are really fucking successful. He’s done his best to get by honestly, though perhaps he hasn’t exactly taken the smartest route, he is a man who wants to work. Why should making ends meet be so difficult for him? In the cut-throat, social-darwinistic world of business, it’s kill or be killed, and Bloom isn’t about to be killed. So who can blame him for not just wanting to survive, but to thrive?

Don’t get me wrong, I do not find Bloom’s character sympathetic in the least. What I do find sympathetic is his situation, and I think the film does a fantastic job of pitting our economic climate against an average Joe. Being educated and driven is clearly not enough to get by in today’s America; you must also be bloodthirsty and relentless. The story is shown to us almost matter-of-factly, like yes – of course these are the lengths a successful businessperson will go to in order to achieve greatness. What is highlighted for me the most is the idea that perhaps the most dangerous thing about steep income inequality is not need, but the desperation it breeds in those who don’t want to be left behind.

Nightcrawler is a difficult movie to watch (I got the Fremdscham more than a few times), but it is also riveting (yeah, I used that word, so what?) and rewarding. Though I must wonder what a true libertarian would think of it. Q had said he could envision Bloom being held up as a true hero of Modern Capitalism… but I think even he is a little too despicable for such people to laud. But hey, what do I know? I just watch movies.

08
Feb
15

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996)

kithposterA truly great comedy film is a difficult thing to find. The odds of finding an acceptably entertaining comedy are only slightly higher than the likelihood that any given horror movie will actually scare you. But finding a comedy that makes you laugh throughout the whole film, for years and years after you’ve seen it the first time? And one that only seems smarter the more you see it? That’s like climbing Mt. Everest and, you know, surviving. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed and laughed during a first-time watch of a comedy, only to show it to someone and realize: holy shit, this movie sucks. So naturally, when I feel I’ve found that needle in the haystack, it shoots right up to the top tier of my favorite films. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy is just such a film.

Look, I won’t deny growing up a relatively privileged kid. I had everything a kid could want or need, but perhaps more important than anything (except maybe a mother’s unconditional love), I had cable. Shit, I’ll do you one better: I had HBO. I was watching the Kids in the Hall sketch comedy show before I had any damn clue what their jokes were on about. For the uninitiated, at its core the Kids in the Hall are five Canadian guys who write and perform sketch comedy. They play most, if not all of the characters in their sketches, which naturally means half the time they’re in drag. Growing up with their quirky brand of comedy probably predisposes me to appreciating their film more than the average Joe would. I do have it on good authority though that folks who have never really ‘got’ the Kids‘ sketch comedy can (and some even do!) appreciate the film to the fullest.

God damn the pusher scientists!

God damn the pusher scientists!

The plot is simple: Roritor Pharmaceuticals’ research department is about to get gutted. After spending a great deal of time on top of the Big Pharma heap as the geniuses behind stummies, a prozac-like pill that you can pop like candy whenever you feel a bit down, they’re now facing the possibility of bankruptcy. Don Roritor, the ruthless madman behind the company, is personally interviewing each scientist about their research; not only is he out to separate the wheat from the chaff, but he is also on the lookout for a hot, new, marketable drug, like, yesterday. When they get to Chris Cooper, they find out that he and his team have discovered a drug that will cure depression. Though they’re still in the early stages of testing, Cooper is pushed into a corner: tell them the drug is ready, or he and his entire team get the axe. So naturally, he lies and says it’s ready to go.

Gleemonex, as the drug is soon dubbed by Roritor’s wacky marketing executive Cisco, works by latching onto a patient’s happiest memory. For instance, test subject Mrs. Hurdicure reminisces in the happiness of her last

Mrs. Hurdicure, a.k.a. patient 957, is reluctant to take the new drug.

Mrs. Hurdicure, a.k.a. patient 957, is reluctant to take the new drug.

Christmas, when her lovely family came to visit… for 30 seconds. She is the first of millions of Americans to “cure” their depression by reliving their happiest memories, which honestly folks, are all pretty damn pathetic. Sadly, it’s just a matter of time before the unfortunate side effects take hold…

I truly believe Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy to be one of the smartest, funniest comedies I’ve ever seen. I am quite honestly astounded that it’s not more highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes (38%?!) or IMDb (6.8). Not only are the laughs consistent, but as I said before, it really holds up over time. Almost 20 years on, the subject matter is still relevant; perhaps even more so now than ever, what with Big Pharma growing so ubiquitous we simply take it for granted. But the Kids’ take on Big Pharma is just a small slice of the biting commentary it has to offer on our fucked-up society, but I must admit it’s my favorite part.

Ah, the perks of corporate rulership.

Ah, the perks of corporate rulership.

For as long as I’ve watched Kids in the Hall, they’ve been mocking businessmen. From the sketch where a young boy brings home a Businessman to his mother hoping to keep it as a pet to the one where businessman-Bruce literally rips his heart out of his chest and pours coffee on it to keep it ticking, the subject is obviously one the Kids are quite familiar with, and frankly, very good at making jokes about. But with an hour and a half running time to work with, the Kids have a serious field day with it, not only mocking what an asshole corporate bigwigs tend to be (this one evidently resembling Lorne Michaels more than just a little bit), but exactly how dangerous and reckless it can be to keep one’s eye on nothing but the company’s bottom line.

The Kids of course don’t stop there, they have plenty to say about how pathetic all our lives are. The characters that inhabit the world of Brain Candy are naturally pretty miserable, but not outrageously so; most of them strongly resemble folks we know in real life. Our narrator, a nasty old curmudgeon who drives a taxi seems to be the only guy who really understands that you can’t have happiness without sadness. But all that makes it sound like the film is preachy; it isn’t. Sure it’s got something important to say, but I don’t think you can have good, lasting comedy without cultural commentary. The bottom line is, of course, whether or not the movie will make you laugh. The only way to know that is to watch it yourselves, I suppose, so get to it.

17
Dec
14

Taxidermia (2006)

Every time I see a list on the internet of “the 10 most disturbing movies you’ve never seen” I feel like I’ve been challenged; either to prove how many of them I have seen, or to see the ones I haven’t. Sometimes I surprise myself with how many on any given list I’ve experienced, other times I am disgusted with myself for clocking in at zero. Anyway, one such list had on it a Hungarian film I’d never heard of. Turns out, I don’t think I’ve actually seen a single Hungarian film in my entire life, so I was doubly interested in checking out Taxidermia. All I have to say is it’s a damn shame this was my first foray into Hungarian cinema. My gag reflex is triggered just at the thought of this movie.

Taxidermia follows three generations of Hungarian men. Our genealogic odyssey starts with the pathetic and desperate Morosgoványi, who I guess is some kind of military servant responsible for the Kálmán family somewhere that is cold and remote. Morosgoványi amuses himself by drinking flames and squirting fire out of his dick and screwing holes in walls and slaughtered pigs. He impregnates his superior’s wife, who gives birth to his son, who has a tail, which I guess is supposed to have something to do with those pigs that Morosgoványi screws, or doesn’t screw, or thinks he screws, or whatever. After Kálmán kills Morosgoványi, he treats the newborn baby as his own.

Morosgoványi reporting for flame-dicked duty.

Morosgoványi reporting for flame-dicked duty.

Christened Balatony, the boy grows up to be one of Hungary’s biggest and brightest competitive eaters. We watch as he induces his own vomiting, only to shove some other disgusting, viscous food product down his throat. He has a hard-on for the female competitive-eating champion, Gizi, but so does his top-rival in the competitive-eating world. Who will win her heart? Well I don’t know who actually does, but she ends up marrying Balatony and they give birth to a boy they name Lajoska.

Balatony eats his way to the top.

Balatony eats his way to the top.

Lajoska is nothing like his parents; he’s skinny, frail, and not even remotely interested in the fact that his father, now bound to a chair due to his morbid obesity, can digest food bars, wrapper and all, with no problem. Lajoska’s passion is taxidermy, he’s good at it and his shop seems to do decent business. But he’s constantly berated by his father for being a weakling. It’s only a matter of time before his father’s incessant badgering pushes him over the edge.

Lajoska attempts to muscle up.

Lajoska attempts to muscle up.

Holy. Fucking. Shit. This is, without a doubt, the most disgusting movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Maybe you think that’s an overstatement. Maybe you think I’m exaggerating. Maybe you just think I watch chocolate-chip cookies and rainbows on parade, and don’t know what disgusting is. But you’re wrong. This is more disgusting than Salò. Gory isn’t exactly the right word, though there’s a pretty solid, minutes-long scene of our taxidermist rooting around viscera. There’s also vomit. Lots and lots of vomit. And lots of glossy post-vomit chins. And competitive eaters going at a giant plate of caviar. And engorged penises alongside rotting animal carcasses. I mean. Really. Fucking. Disgusting.

Balatony as a vast, old man.

Balatony as a vast, old man.

What really made me interested in seeing Taxidermia is the rumor that the film is an allegory of Hungary’s history. Not knowing enough about Hungarian history to connect the dots, I read this spoiler-filled breakdown on IMDb that does a great job of making sense of the hot mess. I’m still not sure after a little education that the film had to be so fucking disgusting, though. I can only come to the conclusion that the writer/director György Pálfi is filled to the brim with self-loathing. It’s strange, because I’ve read his other film, Hukkle, is charming as fuck.

Of course it is important to watch films from other countries, to experience world views different from ours, to help us relate culturally to people whose lives are completely different from our own. But, dear lord please, don’t make this your Hungarian selection. I’ll go back to the drawing board and hopefully find something a little more palatable. Taxidermia should only be watched on a dare.

27
Nov
14

Blood Car (2007)

There is a great and varied selection of films that start with the word Blood. Some are drama films, like Blood Diamond or Blood Simple. Others still are nothing but muscle, like Bloodsport. More often than not, though, a film starting with blood is pretty likely to be a horror movie. And even more often still, it’s probably a shitty horror movie: Blood and DonutsBlood Diner, and Blood Feast immediately come to mind. I am happy to add Blood Car to the latter list: it is indeed a shitty horror-comedy that delivers just about what you’d expect; a movie about a car that runs on blood.

BloodCarTheVegTable

There’s always wheat grass aplenty at the Veg-Table!

Sometime in the very near future, gas prices have sky-rocketed to $50/gal. No one can afford to drive anymore, but there’s a young man out there who’s trying his darndest to change all that! Meet Archie (Mike Brune), a proud vegan pacifist who teaches elementary school by day and works tirelessly on his wheat grass car engine by night. He is a faithful customer of the Veg-Table, a vegan stand in an empty parking lot (because all parking lots are empty, get it?) specializing in wheat grass and other crunchy goodies. Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky) runs the stand and has a devastating crush on Archie, but he’s so focused on his engine he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. Either way, Lorraine always enthusiastically asks Archie how his engine is coming along, and the answer is usually a half-hearted ‘harumph.’

BloodCarMeat

Denise. Meat. Flesh. Desire.

Lorraine isn’t the only one monitoring Archie’s success: we get an occasional glimpse of FBI Agents who are keeping close watch on Archie’s progress. They’ll be ready to pounce as soon as his engine starts showing some positive results; after all, who could be more interested in an alternative energy source than the American government? Though his efforts have thus far been largely unsuccessful, Archie tirelessly pushes forward. One night while working feverishly to make his engine work, he accidentally cuts himself, and his spilled blood makes it into his wheat grass mixture. Right away, the engine starts working; it seems blood was the missing element all along! Archie feels an enormous rush of success when he starts up his car and drives it to the Veg-Table to pick up some more wheat grass. But when he gets there he sees Lorraine has some competition: a painted whore named Denise has opened up a stand right across from the Veg-Table, simply called MEAT. Denise doesn’t give a crap about Archie’s ideals, morals or politics, she just likes riding cars and will put out to no end just to be a passenger. Now Archie knows he needs a constant supply of blood to keep his new girlfriend interested, but how can this vegan pacifist reconcile his desire for fame and sex with his reverence for all living things?

BloodCarArchieandLorraine

Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky) is so excited to finally be alone with Archie!

Blood Car is definitely one of the most irreverent and offensive movies I’ve ever seen. It’s loaded with bare breasts, curse words, blood, guts and violence against children: in short, don’t watch it with mom and dad. Fortunately, it is also rather smart, and that’s what makes it a movie worth seeing. Without its intelligence it would be easy to pop this movie into the Troma-esque category of purposeless trash. Unlike so many of the Troma trash films I’ve seen that have nothing to say, Blood Car obviously has very strong opinions and is unabashed about sharing them with its audience.

BloodCarArchieAndGirlfriend

Archie begins to lose it.

What I like most about Blood Car is Archie’s transformation. It is easy for a person to tout their ideals and display them loudly to the world, and Archie is no different. He wears his political beliefs on his shirts, one day loudly exclaiming his veganism and the next assuring us that dolphins have feelings, too. All the while though, Archie is completely disinterested in the Lorraine, the woman who shares his politics 100%, and instead runs wild with Denise the pure-id MEAT girl. Worse still, of course, is Archie’s thirst for blood. Early on in the film we see him roaming around town with a baseball bat, weeping as he murders small dogs and wild animals to harvest their blood. Later on, after Archie’s murders have moved into the human realm, he stuffs his face with meat while crying “I’m a vegan! I’m a vegan,” like a loud vegetarian who still wears leather. At the very end, Archie’s hypocrisy reaches its pinnacle when (spoiler alert) he agrees to sell his engine to the US Government, knowing full well all of his friends will likely become victims used to feed his thirsty cars.

The biggest problem with Blood Car, aside from its sometimes too-irreverent irreverence, is it kind of flags a little towards the end. It could probably safely shave 20 or so minutes off of its running time and greatly improve its audience’s overall experience without losing any of its punch. And, if you ask me, its punch is all in its display of the idealist losing sight of his ideals. When your identity is so wrapped up in your politics, what happens when you abandon them?

17
Nov
14

Isolation (2005)

Nice guy Dan gets down and dirty with his livestock.

Nice guy Dan gets down and dirty with his livestock.

The yearlong abandonment of my Netflix queue has resulted in yet another surprise disc in the mail. I don’t remember putting Isolation in the queue, but I know for a fact I did so absolutely blindly; I’d never heard of the movie before or since, but surely it ended up on the list due to the phrases “bovine fertility” and “genetic study” in the film’s synopsis.

Dan is a broke-ass farmer who sold his livestock to the whims of a genetics company. He doesn’t know the nature of their experiments, really, but John, the scientist behind the operation, assures him it won’t cause his farm any trouble. Orla (Essie Davis), Dan’s veterinarian (and former lover, it would seem) is also in bed with the genetics corporation, and has reason to be suspicious the company’s experiments might not be as harmless as they’d like everyone to think. On top of keeping the true nature of the genetic experimentation secret, the company has made Dan promise to keep his farm isolated from strangers. The secrecy has yet to pay off, however: neither Orla nor Dan have been paid for their part in the experiments.

When one of Dan’s cows is about to give birth, Dan tries his damndest to aid the animal in the process. Unfortunately, the calf is far too large for it to come out naturally, but because Dan’s way behind on his phone bills, he can’t call Orla and must solicit the help of some guy named Jamie who is squatting on his property in a trailer hiding from his lover’s brothers, or something, to help him jerk the calf out of the cow. Needless to say, the Calf is fucked up in all sorts of ways,

Orla (Essie Davis) investigates a nasty situation.

Orla (Essie Davis) investigates a nasty situation.

and when Orla finally makes it to the farm (women’s intuition, I guess?) she discovers the calf was actually pregnant with six babies! Seems the geneticist’s interest in farm efficiency was taken just a little too far. Anyway, one of the calf’s calves not only bites the shit out of Dan and Orla, but also escapes. John believes it can cause a great illness and plans to quarantine the farm, and then you know, the search for freak baby calf thing is on.

Isolation isn’t a terrible movie, and it’s not a great movie. I guess that really just makes it unremarkable. I knew within the first fifteen minutes that it was going to be filled with a bunch of relationship drama that I didn’t care about, and it was, and that detracted a great deal from the film. Dealing with a large corporation’s big scientific secrets and inability or unwillingness to pay those involved sure sounded like a great opportunity for meaningful social commentary. Unfortunately it is totally squandered here, and really has little to say except the usual don’t-fuck-with-mother-nature-or-else-your-farm-will-be-destroyed-and-you-might-have-a-deformed-and-infected-baby. There’s just no complexity or surprise to it at all. Even the parts that are centered around relationship drama that could have been exploited to further our distaste for the corporation at hand here aren’t highlighted at all – like, what was the point of having the couple squatting on the farm? To prove that Dan is a nice

Squatter Jamie doesn't like what he sees.

Squatter Jamie doesn’t like what he sees.

guy? To make that cop that shows up that one time look like a jerk? Maybe, but to what end? All these could be achieved through other means. Honestly, it really seems like nothing more than a dangling, pointless plot line. Same goes for Dan and Orla’s former relationship: okay, they used to screw, now what? Now nothing, it seems. Some pre-fucking sexual tension would have served us better.

On the upside, the acting is all right; no complaints there, though I wouldn’t nominate anyone for any awards or anything. By far the best parts of the movie are those where the practical special effects are featured. There’s definitely tons of gory opportunities, and it feels like any lofty ideas about damning the man were eschewed in favor of grossing out the audience. Which I guess is fine, but only because the effects are actually good. Still, I’d rather watch a movie with more to say and shittier effects than one with great effects and nothing to say. So, if mother nature gone bad is what you’re looking for, there are much better movies around than this one! I can think of two that we watched just recently that far outshine this one. First there’s Bats, which isn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but is slightly more interesting and definitely far more entertaining. There’s also Kingdom of the Spiders, which is a super fun time that didn’t rely on special effects geniuses, to be sure. I’d definitely say give those a try over this one any day.




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