/slash 2017 – Day 10: Zombiology – Enjoy Yourself Tonight

Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight
Hong Kong | China 2017
Written by Nick Cheuk
Directed by Alan Lo
Watched on 30.09.2017

“Zombiology” was ok. Despite a couple of unusual ideas, he doesn’t really bring anything new to the zombie-table. It takes a while to really get going (even though, for once, this was a Chinese movie that actually was considerably shorter than two hours, you still would have been able to trim this to 90 minutes with losing anything essential), a couple of plot developments are rather clichéd and thus predictable, the closer we get to the end the more melodramatic it all gets (after a mostly humorous beginning), and at the end it tries rather ham-fistedly to convey an oh-so-profound message. Furthermore, I once again had problems with the combination of serious and silly elements (like the “chicken”, for example). That’s simply a mix that rarely works for me. However, “Zombiology” is mostly entertaining, especially during the middle part, which not only offered some really gripping scenes, but even a couple of very effective emotional moments. It was well shot, the acting was ok, and it had a couple of cool scenes and ideas, and even though for me, the middle part is its highlight, I nevertheless also quite liked the showdown. Overall, it’s nothing special, but if you want to enjoy yourself tonight, you definitely could do way worse than watching this.
5/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 9: Female Trouble

Female Trouble
USA 1974
Written by John Waters
Directed by John Waters
Watched on 29.09.2017

As already indicated in my review for “Pink Flamingos”, as pleasantly surprised I was by how much I enjoyed that one, as disappointed I was to note how little use I had for John Waters’ follow up, “Female Trouble”. Yes, it was less about blatant shock value and followed a more satirical approach – which in general should be more my cup of tea – but somehow, it never really managed to grip me. I liked the inherent criticism of the mass media, as well as society in general, especially in regards to our fascination with crimes, serial killers and so on. But apart from that, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I found it to be considerably less funny – and entertaining – than “Pink Flamingos”. I was bored pretty much from the get-go, didn’t really care about any of the characters, and the story never managed to grip me either. I also liked Divine better in “Pink Flamingos”, even though she’s really good here too. And apart from her, the acting once again wasn’t all that great. Granted, there were a couple of nice ideas and good moments, and as said before, I like the message it entails. However, “Female Trouble” mostly misses the all-out craziness, the absurdity and the anarchistic charm of “Pink Flamingos”, which to me made it less funny, interesting and entertaining, and thus ultimately inferior.
3/10

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/slash 2017 – Day 9: Pink Flamingos

Pink Flamingos
USA 1972
Written by John Waters
Directed by John Waters
Watched on 29.09.2017

John Waters was the guest of honor at this year’s /slash filmfestival. One evening, they showed four of his most famous movies back to back, and I watched two of them. Beforehand, I expected to struggle through “Pink Flamingos” and was sure that “Female Trouble” would be more to my liking. Ultimately, though, it turned out to be the other way around. Despite the fact that “Pink Flamingos” relies heavily on shock value and tries to rattle the “establishment”, it did so with such an amount of charm that despite a couple of unnecessary icky scenes (Divine eating dog poo, the sex scene with the chickens – yes, I know, they ate them afterwards, but still the way they died didn’t really look very pleasant, and constitutes animal abuse) I found it hard to fault it for that. It offers plenty of weird, memorable characters and a couple of gloriously silly scenes and funny quotes (“What a day for an execution.”, “The couch rejected me!”, and, my favorite, “There are two kinds of people: My kind of people, and assholes.”) I also enjoyed the little commentary by Waters himself at the end of the film (shot and added in the 90s), where he presented a couple of deleted scenes. Granted, apart from Divine (who’s really good and has tremendous screen presence) the acting mostly isn’t anything to write home about, despite its short runtime it could have been even a little shorter, some (running) gags wear off rather quickly, and it’s obvious that this was shot for an amount of money that on other productions probably wouldn’t be enough to afford just one trailer. But it’s laudably anarchistic filmmaking that offers an experience that you couldn’t have had anyway (or -where) else. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how entertained I was, especially considering the fact that movies that rely mostly on shock value usually aren’t my cup of tea. This, however, to my own surprise, largely was.
6/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 9: Boys in the Trees

Boys in the Trees
Australia 2016
Written by Nicholas Verso
Directed by Nicholas Verso
Watched on 29.09.2017

Don’t get fooled by that godawful poster that’s reminiscent of the “Twilight”-movies. While there is a supernatural aspect to it, “Boys in the Trees” couldn’t be further away from those. This is a much more serious story that’s not about romance (albeit such a one is included too) but rather about growing up. How we sometimes – especially in the troubled teenager-years, with all the social pressures and insecurities – are in danger of losing ourselves. Of becoming something different from who we are, let alone want to be. It’s about this time of transition, where part of us still clings to (and starts to bemoan the loss of) the child that we were, while we are about to figure out the man/woman we’re about to become. This time where we finish school and are about to face the great big unknown that is life – and our view is equally directed to the past as it is to the future. Mostly, though, it’s about friendship. How we sometimes lose the people who once were most important for us, and why this happens. I also really loved the analogy of teenage boys being like werewolves, following the leader of the pack, and trying everything to be part of a larger group instead of being left out and standing alone on the sidelines. And how we sometimes betray our closest friends to reach this goal. Still, no one is demonized here; even the main bully is allowed to show his vulnerable, human side towards the end.

All this grounded stuff is further enhanced by a couple of scary stories that are well thought out, beautifully told, very well incorporated into the film, and which also say something about the world we live in. The acting is great – I was especially impressed by lead actor Toby Wallace – and Nicholas Verso’s direction is flawless, enriching his own story with a couple of beautiful, haunting images. It is a tad too long, though – especially at the beginning, and towards the end. Also, for whatever reason, I had a hard time finding my way into the movie. A couple of things felt rather random to me. And the big “twist” doesn’t really work as such at all, since it’s so painfully obvious from very early on. Mostly, though, “Boys in the Trees” was a very enjoyable and (especially near the end) also quite touching story about friendship, and the pains of growing up. Definitely recommended!
7/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 7: Victor Crowley

Victor Crowley
USA 2017
Written by Adam Green
Directed by Adam Green
Watched on 27.09.2017

“Victor Crowley” was this year’s surprise movie – but didn’t really come as a big surprise for me, since it was one of the three films (the others being “Leatherface” and “Raw”) that I had on my shortlist. To recap: I really liked the first one, was extremely disappointed with the second, and thought that the third one was ok. “Victor Crowley”, though, is definitely the weakest of the bunch. I was quite irritated that this was rather a reboot than a sequel (even though one scene during the credits suggest otherwise – and doesn’t really make a lot of sense in relation to the rest of the movie), but then again, that was the least of its problems. What’s way worse are the completely uninteresting characters, and the C-list-cast who don’t exactly give Academy Awards-worthy performances, to put it mildly (with the possible exception of Laura Ortiz, who did quite well, actually). In that way alone, “Victor Crowley” is a huge step down from what came before, and overall, it seemed to me like this time, they had a budget about the size of what the catering cost on the first one. The entire look of the film is extremely cheap (even though Adam Green throws in a couple of nicely lit, colorful images here and there). There’s no tension at all (since we don’t give a fuck about any of the characters), and even most of the gags fell flat for me. It’s also strange that it, while being mostly a fun-slasher, offers a couple of serious, emotional scenes which didn’t fit the tone of the movie. Granted, it wasn’t helped by the projection in the theatre (who played the sound far too loud for my taste), but I highly doubt that I would have liked it any better at home. At least it was short. Other than that, it didn’t have a lot going for it. Then again, I’m not the biggest slasher-fan to start with, so who knows, you might like it better than I did. As for me, however, I’ll continue to regard the first one as a standalone-film.
3/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 7: Mon Mon Mon Monsters

Mon Mon Mon Monsters
Taiwan 2017
Written by Giddens Ko
Directed by Giddens Ko
Watched on 27.09.2017

I liked the monsters (even though they were pretty much a mix of vampires and zombies), there were a couple of tense moments, and I loved the scene in the bus, which was absolutely awesome. Other than that, though, “Mon Mon Mon Monsters” unfortunately wasn’t my cup of tea. Apart from the fact that it – once again – was far too long, my main beef with the movie were the characters. I hated each and every one of them, and yes, that also includes the protagonist, because even though his development from a victim of bullying to a hanger-on was plausible, it didn’t make him any more likeable to me (and let’s not even get started on his final act). Thus, just like with the rest of the bunch, I just waited for them to finally get killed. However, it was equally impossible for me to care for the monsters, who ruthlessly kill other people. Thus, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, so to speak, not caring for either side of this conflict. Also, the “Who are the real monsters here?”-question that the movie asks (which, to add insult to injury, is actually spoken out loud by one of the characters at one time; just in case you’re dumb and didn’t get it) is far too common within the genre for the movie to gather any points for it. There were also a couple of scenes that were too over the top and thus implausible to me, and where they tried way too hard to preach their “all teenagers are assholes”-message (like when almost all the pupils film the… let’s call it “medical emergency”… of their teacher). Also, what kind of insult is “boobies lover?” Seriously, I’ve been called far worse in my time. Must be a cultural thing. Mostly, though, I had a problem with the tone of the movie. “Mon mon mon monsters” can’t decide if it wants to be a drama or a comedy. It wants us to be appalled one minute, and laugh out loud in the next. This constant shift in tone didn’t work for me at all. Overall, “Mon mon mon monsters” gets an “E” for effort.
3/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 6: Bitch

Bitch
USA 2017
Written by Marianna Palka
Directed by Marianna Palka
Watched on 26.09.2017

I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, in the end, “Bitch” proved to be not really my cup of tea. For what it wanted to be – especially with regard to social criticism – it was far too shallow, and also too on the nose, exaggerated and implausible, like the reaction of the kids, the – symbolic – broken chandelier that’s lying around for I don’t know how long, and especially the completely inept and clueless father. Even taken as the farce it was seemingly intended to be, that was too over the top for me. I was also rather taken aback that this film – written and directed by a woman, and about a woman who suffers a severe nervous breakdown – is more about her husband, and what this crisis does and means to him, than anyone else. And yes, I get it: He was the main reason for her to shut herself out from the world and her previous life like that, and had to realize this, and thus change his behavior, for her to being able to find her way back. But that didn’t make this any less disappointing to me. Furthermore, he starts off as such a complete and utter asshole that the later part of the film where he’s supposed to redeem himself didn’t really work for me. I didn’t like him as character at all, but also was pissed at Marianna Palka for writing him in this (extremely exaggerated) way. And to add insult to injury, movies where an overworked dad who neglects his family gets reformed is hardly anything new. Granted, it’s not all bad. It had a couple of great moments, the occasional joke that worked for me, and the acting was flawless all around. But the more I think about “Bitch”, the more frustrated I get, because of all the potential that – at least in my book – went to waste due to the fact how over the top and thus implausible it all was.
4/10

IMDB

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