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Month: June 2016

Pride+Prejudice+Zombis (2016)

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MONSTROMETER
MONEY   Monstrometer3
LONELINESS    Monstrometer3
BOREDOM    Monstrometer2
FEAR    Monstrometer2
TIME    Monstrometer2

 

Manslaughterfield Park

Jane Austen and zombis, an absurd mash-up? Think twice: the exiguity of an estate, the difficulty to find someone not already smitten/bitten, the iron rule of survival in the hostile environment of a meat market, social or visceral… Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 concept novel of the same name was killing to be clever and very successful, so a movie adaptation was to be expected. It is unfortunate that it took seven years to bring it onscreen, overfed as we are in 2016 by all things zombi.

It would be both herculean and meaningless to cross-reference Pride+Prejudice+Zombis with both its original sources or any or all of the previous Jane Austen adaptations, including, yes, The Bridget Jones’ Diary. No plot recap is necessary anyway: Elisabeth Bennet, elder of a sorority of five girls when the estate is bequested to a male heir, Parson Collins, Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley, both wealthy bachelors, are as familiar to most as Frankenstein and his creature. If it entices some of its audience to read Jane Austen, hell, this movie is no The Walking Dead. Perspective is all.

So, what about this particular piece of work? The trailer made one expecting the worst, a bodice-ripping Sucker Punch with zombi attacks as the alpha and the omega of the movie. Fortunately, it is much better than that. But no action movie this is. Successful at conversation pieces but quite lame at zombi mayhem, one suspects the movie achieves the exact opposite that it was aiming at: a clever adaptation of a classic by virtue of good dialogue instead of an doomsday invasion, its zombis more catalytic than apocalyptic. Lines like “It must have have cost a fortune to clean the zombi blood from this marble” are pitch perfect; recitation of Jane Austen’s lines during Shaolin training feels forced.

Some scenes are unintentionally hilarious, like the five sisters massacring a whole zombi hamlet with not a drop of blood staining their white ball gloves, or Mr Darcy tending at the topiary by moonlight, not once but twice. Some are just really well written, like Elisabeth Bennett (Lily James) laughing at an hideous painting or Parson Collins (Matt Jones) small talk during a quadrille. As is most unfortunately usual, the third act is a mess, almost but not saved by a final scene who says it all: fighting was useless from the get-go, see, and the movie has no qualms admitting it is. Is it irony or shamelessness, one wonders.

“I was in the middle before knowing I has started”, states one of the original novel’s most famous line. In this instance, one was in the middle when one hoped it ended. Too long at 1:47, Pride+Prejudice+Zombis is nevertheless much better than expected from its undead genre. One is fervently awaiting more of the same, like Henry James’ The Golden Cup of Blood or Charles Dicken’s Our Mutual Fiend.

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Psychoville Season 1 (2009)

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MONSTROMETER
MONEY   Monstrometer2
LONELINESS   Monstrometer2
BOREDOM    Monstrometer1
FEAR    Monstrometer1
TIME   Monstrometer2

 

Gas and Acid Are for Faggots

Best described as a crossover between Little Britain and American Horror Story, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s brainchild is brilliantly stupid and outrageously funny.

After their Inside Number 9 anthology has successfully mixed horror and slapstick, the guys take over the revenge murder party format, playing some of the characters themselves in the grand tradition of British vaudeville. They also have recruited comic talents like Dawn French, here an obstetrics ward nurse nurturing a plastic dummy baby.

She is one of the various characters receiving an extravagantly calligraphed letter saying only “I know what you did”. Among them are Mr Jelly, the clown with a thousand hands, Mr Lomax, a wealthy blind recluse ready to anything to make his collection of beany toys whole with Snappy the Crocodile, a dwarf with an embarrassing past in porn who might have telekinetic powers, and a man-child obsessed with serial killers, living with his mother.

The first episode establishes the blackmail plot and the five leads each in turn are given a more specific treatment on the course of an episode The seventh and last episode wraps up the season in a tight bundle of absurdity.

Nonsense abounds, from a Clown Court straight from a Lewis Carroll nightmare to obese siamese twins being “the foe of E-Bay”, with some The Avengers (the British one featuring John Steed) set pieces and multiple movie quotes. You hardly have time to recover from a The Omen staircase death parody that a giant teddy bear scares a nurse in the ICU, then there is a musical montage on an amputee clown trying on prosthetic hands. It’s relentless.

One particular episode is lifted from Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s The Rope and is filmed in one single take around a Queen Ann wood chest hiding a corpse. It’s brilliant. The last episode plays like Murder by Death, the American 1976 spoof on the old dark house genre. Cherry on the cake: there is a second season, that one keeps for later. Cherry on the cherry: the same authors have penned a third season of Inside Number 9, which they present as “more horrific”. One can’t wait to both laugh and be horrified!

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Fed Up (2014)

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MONEY    Monstrometer4
LONELINESS   Monstrometer1
BOREDOM    Monstrometer1
FEAR    Monstrometer4
TIME   Monstrometer3

 

School Food Is Good Food.

A trailer for the collapse of the United States under its own obesity during the first half of the 21st century, Fed Up is a nightmare. Produced and voiced over by Katie Couric, this documentary is serious investigative work, crammed with interviews of politicians (including Bill Clinton), a few representatives of the food industry, scientists and obese teenagers who sure are the most distraught of the lot, considering they are the victims of a deeply sick system who has conditioned them to crave for sugar since they were toddlers. Feeling like a dystopian movie? Look no further, the future is happening right now.

Four facts will help you measure up what’s at stake here:

  •  Sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine.
  • There are for the first time in history more obese people than starving people on the planet.
  • After intense lobbying from Schwan, a corporation producing 70% of industrial pizza consumed in the US, it was made official in 2012 that pizza was indeed a vegetable.
  • 51% of the US population is either obese or TOFI ‘Thin Outside, Fat Inside”, meaning they present the same metabolic symptoms than obese people, namely diabetes and an excessive fat ratio.

What happened to the tobacco industry at the end of the 20th century might be a glimmer of hope for those who revolt at the idea of their children being enslaved by the Sugar Lobby to eat always more; if nothing is done 95% of the US population will be overweight in the space of a generation. And it won’t stop here, as the middle East and North Africa face the same problem.

“In truth I had no idea what the truth was”, concludes one of the obese teenagers, demonstrating how solipsistic is a system in which a government subsidises an industry while launching programmes to lessen the impact said industry has on public health. These acrobatics have lasted for the last 40 years, and it’s a matter of time before the balls come tumbling down. Scarier than any horror movie, Fed Up makes one want to rage against the machine. But no one was fat in The Matrix, right?

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Revenge S1E08: Treachery

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Photoshop

Bringing on no social event but correctional facility flashbacks, this episode lingers on quite about nothing but try to impose on one to write sentences like “Daniel vindicates Victoria about having Emily investigated by Frank ». Again? What? Who?

We are now deep into Dynasty territory, behind enemy lines. Lydia is moved in by Victoria to “recuperate indefinitely”, which means it will take her half an episode to spill up the the beans. The Hamptons, see, is not only a dystopia but a time machine. And a dysfunctional one at that.

Nothing happens, really. Terminily asks Nolan to Photoshop herself into oblivion. Jack’s entire trade now relies on the Black Dahlia cocktail Amanda Clarck teaches him, think The Raffles and its Singapore Sling. Ashley feels enslaved by her employer and for some reason decides to turn it against her BFF, because Taylor is a snake with easy command on brainless women. But this is nothing compared this week’s big twist!

It takes only a siesta for Lydia to remember one thing of her recent past, and BANG, this is the New Year’s Eve party photo incriminating Terminily. This is beyond terrible writing, this is shamelessness cranked to art. Fortunately Nolan has Photoshopped her off said picture. Great timing.

Amanda refuses to be shipped in Paris and therefore put herself in Terminily’s crosshairs. Frank’s death triggers a short visit by the police, sent off track for now by way of a visit to the fish market to buy Nova Scotia salmon.

Most interesting (so to speak) character this week is Daniel, whose arc so far is beyond belief: in the same half episode he quits being a barman to join the family business while he leaves home to escape the same. All of the above after being briefly an alcoholic last week. Get a grip, buddy.

Obviously Taylor is not happy, as his sourpuss character requires him to be. All ends in pontoon wisdom as contractually required. Status quo maintained. Next!

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Are you member of a Loyalty Programme?

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  1. You are a diamond member and you want an upgrade.
  2. You were not upgraded. Fuming in the standard room you booked, you check on your tablet if club rooms or suites are available and since some are, you get back down to Front Desk and ask to speak to the manager, now.
  3. You devote a sizeable part of your time at calculating the value of your miles, conflicted between accumulating more or burning them before a devaluation occurs.
  4. You think this quarter’s promotion is lousy; it doesn’t fit your travel pattern.
  5. The hotel lounge is closed during the weekend. You vent your anger and frustration with like-minded travelers on FlyerTalk.
  6. Once having become Life Platinum, you start suspecting your life has just peaked and lost most of its meaning.
  7. The programme you are affiliated with is about to be merged with another offering less perks. You feel dead inside.
  8. You have been upgraded to your first Presidential Suite. You get lost on your way back from the jacuzzi and end up in the pantry.
  9. Cocktail time at the Club Lounge runs from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. You secure the best table by 5:30 and fiddle with your smartphone while the staff install the hors d’oeuvres and the bar. By 7:15 you slur your words when you get annoyed that there are no pistachio macarons left.
  10. You can’t fathom why laundry is not complimentary for top tier members.
  11. Your room was not turned down when you got back. You lodge an online complaint to Customer Service, asking for a compensation.
  12. You take part in your programme’s online community. It’s a thrill to be able to voice your opinion regarding bathroom amenities or resort fees. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  13. You check your point balance with great regularity. It comforts you as much as it frustrates you.
  14. In your most secret dream you wish staff would address you as “Your Life Membership”.
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Some Goldfrapp Videos

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Utopiates

Alison Goldfrapp is gifted. Not only she has a great name, but she’s very talented. Yet, she obviously has a problem with sex. She’s not the only one, for sure. But she’s issuing videos on a regular fashion, most of them attempting at sexy. And oh boy.

Miss Goldfrapp is nowhere near the sexy codes she tries to conform to. She does her best in an art installation like White Horse. She prances and beat her eyelashes for 3:40, dancing in formation with almost naked male dancers, whilst she’s obviously recapitulating her laundry list, a bit like Dusty Springfield on a much, much earlier gig. She’s Alison from accounting, given an extravagant budget to spice up the boss’ retirement party. As a French critic eloquently said about Françoise Hardy, “she sings like she’s vacuuming the floor”.

Utopia, one of the greatest songs of the 2000s, gets close to Metropolis but not quite, as it has nothing much to show but half the great album cover hairdo, glazed eyes and a good editing of parallel mountainscapes. Considering the subject matter, one will give it a pass.

Strict Machine has desperate “I’m in love” choruses while she dances with wolves. Sexy it is not, but let’s tolerate it while it lasts.

Train evokes more frankly an alleged home brand of sanitized bestiality. Everyone around her tries desperately to project a sexual vibe, but here she is, going through the moves but not there. This must be the reason why Goldfrapp remains a curio, albeit successful: the girl has much talent but no soul.

Your Lovely Head is a lovely song sung in a culotte. Madonna, dear.

So Cool she sings, brandishing a plastic chair, wearing white hooker boots. Terrible, terrible styling.

Rocket: Miss Goldfrapp steals an atomic rocket and looks as threatening as Avril Lavigne triggering Apocalypse with a bright pink penis and the help of a quatuor of lesbian dancers.

Happiness mainly display a guy who must have the strongest thighs in UK jumping around, with Miss Goldfrapp dispationately appearing in various cameos until people dance in the street. Yawn.

Number 1 is about more bestiality, except Miss Goldfrapp, a painted doll impersonating The Bride of Chucky, is unable to make it saucy.

Alive tries satanism, well its Eurovision version circa 1978. It’s aerobics on a pentacle.

A&E, Adam and Eve one presumes, is Mylène Farmer chance-meeting American Beauty, with Miss Goldfrapp as a nymph preferring the company of forest monsters to any human contact.

And finally, Twist is a ghost train vaguely inspired by Fellini’s La Citta delle Donne, diverted to crash in a wall when the Plaisir door opens. Desperate metaphors like snake mouth and opening apples can’t possibly make Miss Goldfrapp’s fake orgasm on the Big 8 credible.

Videos of the last album are a boring fare (and production) with B&W Terence Malick visual aspirations, and at least a lesbian serial beach killer. May one advise Miss Goldfrapp to call her video collection Train Wreck if she aspires so much as being the 21st century’s Bonnie Tyler?

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