…and the quest to see everything

Archive for April 10, 2010

Seminal Television: 30 Rock

(Put your hands in the air! watermarked)

Canadian Movie: The Wild Hunt

(Viking strumpet. via twitchfilm)

The movie opens with a gritty, grubby scene of the Viking princess Evelyn-ia (Tiio Horn) being kidnapped. A few exchanges of cheesy lines about bravery follow just before they pull the curtain down. It’s a tragicomic look but not the definitive story about Medieval live action role-playing that just so happens in Canada. The switch between fantasy and reality is seamless after that first scene I just described, and it becomes emotionally poignant as some players take the game too far.

Erik juggles handling his ailing father and Evelyn, his very flighty girlfriend. He becomes paranoid about Evelyn being the sole female amidst Medieval nerds on steroids, so he naturally goes up to the rural area where the role-playing happens. He enters the “realm” in a t-shirt and jeans, breaking everyone’s willing suspension of disbelief. He then gives Evelyn a really unglamorous speech about being patient.

But then she gets to be on his side since he shows her and a few other players how unglamorous the past is, despite the nostalgia they try to attach to it. Women weren’t respected, the infrastructure was shit, people didn’t clean up after themselves, too many people died. The latter also effects this masculine bravery that was supposedly innate within the Vikings and the Celts, etc. And those aspect of early civilizations linger within this replica.

Evelyn is the centre of the drama, as both Erik and Shaman Murtagh (the familiar looking Trevor Hayes) woo her. The flirtation between Evelyn and Murtagh is well shot, snowflakes falling on Evelyn as they make out around saturated fall and winter foliage in the Canadian forests? Breathtaking. I can only imagine how Medieval role players can’t even think about the real world because they’ve retreated within nature. Drama and role-playing always gets a boost from a great mise-en-scene. Everything else is captured in perma-dawn, and there are inconsistencies – it would get darker or brighter at certain times within the night scenes.

Going back to Evelyn, she’s both Helena and Cressida on how Shakespeare understands these characters. As a Helena, she’s both the woman who launched a thousand ships although Evelyn’s status as a Viking Princess is constantly questioned. One of the other Celts tells Murtagh that she’s a slut, while one of the female tour guides mock the title that’s given to Evelyn. As a Cressida, her defiance ironically makes her a strumpet. She is forced to choose between fantasy and reality, and some might negate her for not being able to choose. These are aspects of her life and she shouldn’t have to choose between Murtagh pushing her around or Erik tying her to domesticity.

Since there’s a Helena/Cressida in this narrative, there’s also a Troilus. I may have already spoiled the ending by saying that. I’ll go further by saying that the movie ends like “The Departed.” Some of the audience actually got a laugh at the ending. Hours after I saw the movie I started questioning whether anything in the movie had to happen if everybody just calmed down. But then that’s what tragedy is in the earliest sense, and the impulse that drives humans in more violent times also lingers in modern characters.

Hot Tub Time Machine

(Not Colin Farrell. ph. clothesonfilm)

Anything to avoid the Kraken, right?

The movie has sharp, dirty dialogue that will make United Artists founder Mary Pickford roll on her grave. And it’s that kind of humour that’s actually effective. Surprisingly, the off-putting homophobic lines actually come from Lou (The Daily Show alumni Rob Corddry), a character really comfortable about crossing the lines of sexuality. I also like how the one who’s supposedly Adam (John Cusack) and Nick’s a-hole friend steals and carries the show. And just like Corddry, the cast knows how to mix serious dialogue into the punch lines without making it see contrived.

I talked about emo before, and “Hot Tub Time Machine” has related themes. It’s all about emasculation. Nick’s wife cheats on him, Adam gets divorced, Lou is drunkenness makes doctors put him on suicide watch, Jacob is the 21st century version of “It’s Pat.” It follows the comedy genre in a way that there’s a happy ending, but in this movie they never intend to get that good ending and instead tried to do everything the same when they got the chance to go back to 1986. It’s like trying to get your dick back while you’re blindfolded. And they don’t try to be the jocks but as the tradition of the genre dictates, they’re in the middle ground, becoming content, competent men.

This movie feels like a better version of “The Hangover” with time travel, which thankfully means I don’t have to see “The Hangover.” And if you wanna feel nostalgic about the 80’s, this is the go to film for that.

Someone’s probably gonna overthink this and overblow the Reagan/Communist references. Ooh, Nick represents Obama since he spoke a little Russian. But I’m too tired to do that now.

And speaking of which, the people who go to the Scotiabank Theatre are fucking idiots. I was howling at the Reaganite and 80’s pop culture references, the bros were hooting at the women’s hooters and the dick jokes. A member of the audience put his hands like a Jay-Z symbol in front of the projector. Sure, the dick jokes and the pee jokes and the seminal discharge humour were well done for what it is. But the movie was peppered with different kinds of humour and I don’t understand why the basest jokes within the movie stand out. It’s a smarter movie than it seems.

Image: Darwin’s Nightmare

(Coming back to Toronto April  30th)