Simon’s Bullshit

The Gift (2015)
Dir: Joel Edgerton

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When Joel Edgerton sat down and made this film did he literally just think “Hmm….how random and absurd could one plot twist be? Let’s find something a bit far fetched, roll with that for a bit, and then, right at the end… lets just fuck shit up completely”

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Don’t get me wrong, I love and have a lot of time for Joel. To begin with I think he’s pretty hot (normally…definitely NOT in this). Not that its a prerequisite to what makes a good film (it helps), he’s also an incredible actor, and credit where it’s due, it’s actually a very well written movie.

But man did this escalate…quickly.

Bless Robyn

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Robyn, “the wife”, is so painfully awkward, and middle class that watching her glazed and slightly delayed interactions on screen was a disclaimer in itself. Robyn had the misfortune of marrying an absolute douchebag (spoiler alert) which she miraculously failed to spot for years, and now she just exists, goes jogging and just exists. You desperately wish she would grow some balls and leave her narcisstic excuse for a spouse, (you grow to wish, Simon tricked me at the start too, sneaky fuck), but obviously she doesn’t. She just sits and wonders what having a kid would be like, and jogs, and drinks electrolyte water and jogs some more. All the while you sit there in frustration knowing that if she did just leave him, she would never have to deal with any of his shit ever again. Which essentially is what this film is about…Simons bullshit.

Ladies be carefully who you marry, run a full CRB check, speak to some people he went to school with, contact his doctor, contact his priest, speak to the local authorities DO YOUR DAMN RESEARCH or you’ll end up with a nasty piece of shit like Simon. This isn’t even a horror movie about a stalker, it’s a cautionary tale about marrying an arsehole.  Unfortunately for poor Robyn, she did marry an arsehole, and had to forever live with his unfinished business ruining her otherwise placid existence.

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When Gordo turns up (Joel Edgerton),  Simon acts like he doesn’t know him; acts like he’s some creep from school who’s somehow obsessed with him. For about half an hour I was like “Ok, maybe this guy is just a recluse who’s into forced friendships”, but then it slowly dawns one you that the situation is making Simon feel way too angry for it to be “some dude”.  Then you wonder WHY Simon would entertain it. Here’s a guy you went to school with, claim you barely know, and yet here you are again having another passive aggressive dinner with him. What’s up Si? got something you wanna share?

Now I’m starting to worry less about Gordo (let’s face it psychos are everywhere), and more about Simon and why he’s being mad shady. At this point I’m getting a little angry because I know I’m being lied to and I don’t like it.

And I was right.

Gordo stops being the issue, and shady husbands do. Although this film does top the OTT factor in more ways than one, (bringing in complex storylines that date back to prom night 1925), the message is clear.

Sometimes the bad guy, isn’t really the bad guy. He’s just the messenger.

oh and heres a pic of what Joel Edgerton really looks like…

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Lobster Claw

The Lobster (2015)
Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos

I’ve been banging on about this film for weeks because it’s very rare I get REALLY excited about something, and basically force everyone around me to watch it like a woman possessed.

“Have you seen it yet?” I hissed at my colleagues this morning. I could actually SEE their thought process as they politely tried to tell me to fuck off. NO WE HAVEN’T SEEN THAT WEIRD FILM ABOUT SINGLE PEOPLE BEING TURNED INTO ANIMALS BECAUSE WE’RE NOT ALL PSYCHOPATHS LIKE YOU.

Next it will be be that Josef Fritzel film (which no doubt I’ll probably really enjoy), but luckily I haven’t gotten round to that yet so you’ll just have to hear about how groundbreaking i thought this was instead.

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The premise, of what is essentially a very simple film, is life in a horrifying modern dystopia, which enforces  traditional values down all their citizens throat in the most bizarre fashion.

Citizens of “The City” are punished by law for failing to be part of a couple. There is a time limit on how long you’re “allowed” to be single, and once you have failed to find a partner on your own, you are then forced to check into a hotel where you have forty five days to find someone. Think very extreme version of “take me out” meets Wuthering Heights. Thats the vibe.

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The hotel itself is similar to a care home or even a school, in its regimented, clinical and militant approach to matching up its guests. The process is very mathematical, practical and unbelievably depressing. Should you, the single man or woman, fail to find someone within the forty five day time frame you are turned into an animal of your choice (yes, animal), and sent into the woods to live the rest of your life as the waste of air that society now deems you. No pressure.

The powers that be (in this weird modern world) essentially require you to fulfil your basic human duty to find companionship and live as part of a couple. If you don’t, you basically die being left to fend for yourself.

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Now, I really enjoyed this, even though hands down… bleak as fuck. Bleak, as i often try and explain, is actually good sometimes; it’s often required to balance out all Netflix originals, Taylor Swift songs and American Idol auditions constantly rammed down our throats. It’s like a much needed reflection of the shit world we live in, that we should never really forget.

Selling it?

ok, so you have to remember that this is a surrealist film… ACTUALLY a surrealist film, not just like a bit of an odd movie. For starters Colin Farel isn’t his usually sexy self; he’s weedy, asexual and a bit pathetic. He sports a creepy paedo tash and awkwardly fumbles everywhere, making him kind of unbearable to watch. The dialogue and interactions between the characters is eerily calm, unnatural and bizarre, and the resounding oddness of the whole situation is given to the viewer in a very “matter of fact” way which makes it all the more bizarre. If this film were an elephant in a room it would be a florescent elephant in a basement flat at 2am.

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The setting is familiar, there’s nothing Sci fi or other worldly about the aesthetic whatsoever. In fact the aesthetic is actually very dreary and grey. Nothing futuristic, no flo mo technology, no flying, no hovercrafts.

I won’t ruin it by telling you anything else apart from the fact that it’s probably one of the most chilling films I’ve seen in recent years. There are scenes which made me actually wince, and considering I wrote my uni thesis on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it’s pretty hard to make me wince.

Highly recommend

Sara

Vice Docs gone wrong

The Sacrament  (2013)
Dir: Ti West

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Three flannel wearing, New York hipsters who work for Vice (stay with me), go to the middle of nowhere to find some dude’s sister (“Patrick” being dude in question). In short she joined a cult dressed up as a rehab center, found God, and sent her brother a letter about it, which raised some alarm bells.

Patrick, Vice’s very nonchalant fashion photographer, hasn’t seen said sister (Caroline) in years. Contrary to what the film intends to convey, he actually seems highly inconvienanced by the idea of making such an elaborate journey to check on her safety, because it involves going all the way to Africa, and not hanging out with models in LA as he is used to. Great guy

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In the letter he’s given a non specific place in Africa to fly to, (maybe because TI West didn’t feel a geographical context was necessary), to then get picked up by a random guy in a helicopter and head to a secret location which he and his friends may or may not die in.

Cue another found footage movie.

At this stage you’ve gotta question how forced this initial interaction is. Now before anyone slams me with the “true story/Jonestown speech” I am perfectly aware that it’s based on the Jonestown Incident THANKS (click Jonestown Massacre if  you are unaware of the incident and for whatever reason and want to depress yourself and ruin your day with some nasty historical trivia). For the sake of simple narrative its just their basis for the journey and sudden concern over Caroline’s safety which remains a total mystery to me.
If I had a sister who turned into a junkie and went to rehab in Mississipi I may call in every now and again to check in on her progress, because it’s a bit extreme to move from NY to Mississipi in the first place. Then it might occur to me to possibly visit if I haven’t spoken to her in a while, like on a flexible quarterly basis (like a gas bill). What I wouldn’t do is just WAIT until I randomly  got a letter one day inviting me to an undisclosed location on the opposite side of the world before I thought “oh yea….my sister.”
If it’s gone THAT far without a visit, an email is sufficient…maybe Skype on a special occasion.

On their way to the location,  which we later find out is called “Eden Parish” we get the feeling that they’re really not fully comprehending  this whole “danger” thing. The people responsible for picking them up and dropping them off begin the pleasant exchange by pulling out a gun and threatening to shoot them if they carry on filming. Luckily super chirpy Caroline pops up to let everyone know it’s just a precaution because of where they are, and it’s all peace and love and they’re in Paradise now.

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Caroline then takes them on a very anti climatic guided tour of the “grounds”, which looks more like a handful of scattered shacks then paradise, and explains that Eden Parish is lead by “Father”. Father is a man who “saved” her, and seemingly did the same for dozens of other people living there. She tells them in a highly exaggerated charles manson-esque monologue that everything was built from scratch and they are the happiest people on earth.. BUT it wouldn’t have been possible without some level of secrecy.

And this is when the questions start….

I don’t really need to bore you with a spoiler alert, because you know what happens in Jonestown and that’s literally what happens here (sorry kids). Theres no axe welding killer in the commute,  no satanic worship, no supernatural forces, just some old creep who’s sadly managed to rob and manipulate a bunch of people and successfully detach them from all contact with the outside world.

There are times where his rhetoric and vision actually seems quite socialist and profound. Like a slightly nutty more religious left wing leader, but then you remember he’s literally just an opportunistic mentalist who’s using people for money, sex and to stroke his ego. Like a political leader, but with cyanide.

There are points where it’s slow, and a bit “where the fuck is this going” (basically like a Vice documentary), but then it gets really good when they have a one-on-one with father, and he manages to shit all over Sam’s questions. I don’t know why I found that so satisfying, guess I obviously like rooting for the bad guy.

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I will admit when I initially heard “Hi I’m Sam Turner….Vice….Williamsburg…Brooklyn…beard….fashion photographer….ginger beard…” I was like ok I hope you die soon.

Sadly you’ll have to watch the film to find out

Official Trailer