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Halloweak: Horny House of Horror by Jamie

Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year again, Halloween, and that can mean only one thing: Watching a huge amount of shitty horror movies in order to get you in the right mood. Sure, you could watch a bunch of good horror movies, and I’ll certainly be doing that after I’ve finished this week of bad ones in order to cleanse my palate, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of horror films aren’t worth the film they’re printed on.

It’s a genre plagued with crap largely because many people who make horror films think you don’t need to rely to heavily on plot. A couple of gruesome effects shots, a few gallons of blood and zang, you have a horror film. Another thing that contributes to the glut of truly awful horror films is the fact that, compared to some other genres, they can be done relatively cheaply. So with all that out of the way, let’s get on to the first entry of this cavalcade of crap, the Japanese offering ‘Horny House of Horror’.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this before but the Japanese can sometimes seem a little weird to our Western sensibilities, what with their ultra-violent cartoon porn and their robots and what have you. But fair enough, each to their own and all that. I’m sure they find the prospect of NASCAR or uncensored hardcore pornography equally as weird. And sure, the Japanese never didn’t come up with some of the crazy shit that we have like the ‘Saw’ films, the ‘Hostel’ films or indeed ‘A Serbian Film’ (more on that later in the week) but they certainly have a certain talent for taking the term torture porn and really running with it. Just look at ‘Audition’ for example. And it’s kinda in this vein that ‘Horny House of Horror’ falls though with a bit more of an (attempted) comic twist.

The story begins inside Shogun Massage Parlour where a customer is receiving a happy ending of the oral variety from an employee, Nagisa (Saori Hara) and he excitedly tells her to suck as hard as she wants. She smiles, descends on his penis and proceeds to bite it of, much to the man’s chagrin. It tunes out that this is a most decidedly unhappy ending. Cue unrealistic amounts of blood and cut to credits. So yeah, this pretty much tells you what you should be coming to expect from this film.

After the credits we are introduced to three friends returning home after a baseball match, Nakazu (Yuya Ishikawa) a man about to get married, Toshida (Wani Kansai) and Uno (Toushi Yanagi). Besides Nakazu (and I might be being a bit generous), none of these characters really have much in the way of characterization. The two friends actually kinda seem to have the exact same personality which can be best be described thusly: They are both douche bags. Still, the three friends come across the Massage Parlour and Toshida and Uno decide they should get Nakazu a girl as one last gift before he is married. This makes Nakazu incredibly nervous as he’s never paid for sex before. In fact it’s hinted that, even though he’s a man of forty, he might still be a virgin. Also, he’s incredibly faithful to his wife to be even though she forced him to quit the baseball team and seems to ring him constantly to check up on him. Still his douche bag friends force him to go in there anyway. Because they are douche bags.

Upon entering the men are confronted with three holes through which the three female employees stick their arses so the men can judge just which one they’d like to be getting a “massage” from. This leads to fondling, pinching and farting causing much hilarity. No, wait. Not hilarity. What’s that thing that’s not hilarity? Oh yeah, boredom. Seriously, just get to the genital mutilation already… Hmm, never thought I’d find myself typing those words.

Finally after a short period of waiting during which Toshida and Uno continue to mock Nakazu, the action finally gets underway. It’s Toshida’s turn first and he get’s his revenge for the girl, Nonoko (Asami) farting in his face earlier by cumming in her mouth. She takes great offence to this and proceeds to cut his penis of with a metallic pair of jaws she has stashed away in her vagina. This results in an amount of blood that can only be described as biologically unfeasible, especially since Toshida survives this assault.

Next, it’s Uno’s member that’s on the chopping block, quite literally this time as he has been chained to a wall and has to resist getting a boner whilst Kaori (Mint Suzuki) does a sexy dance for him. If he manages to stay flaccid, he gets to keep his member and go free but if he fails and becomes aroused, his cock will be sliced off by a samurai sword. Of course, he fails leading to yet more crazy amounts of bloodshed.

Meanwhile Nakazu is managing to resist the charms of Nagisa and finally realises the danger that he’s in when he hears the screams of Uno as he is de-membered and he narrowly avoids Nagisa’s hand job with special acidic lotion. He attempts to rescue his friends but they both die along the way, as long as the two hookers who had so grievously wronged them. So in the end it’s down to Nakazu and Nagisa, both trying to escape as it turns out that the poor girl only worked there to raise money for her brothers. Unfortunately Nakazu is shot by a gun that emerges from the wall and Nagisa is left to confront the Big Boss who has been watching this whole time. He claims to have some grand scheme for removing all of the brothel’s client’s genitals and, as it turns out, keeping them in jars of formaldehyde but Nakazu accuses him of doing just because he has a small penis and is just jealous of every other man on the planet which I guess kinda makes sense but seems to be a bit of a harsh way to go about resolving the issue.

So what to make of a film about a whorehouse where customers are lured in with the promise of cheap sex on to get their members dismembered? Well, I kinda wished they’d made up their mind about whether they were making a horror or a comedy. Yes, horror and comedy can mix really well together but there needs to be a delicate balance. I suppose that if I had to call it, this tried to be far more of a comedy but it just wasn’t funny enough for that. As for the horror side, well, because of the continued attempts at humour it really wasn’t particularly scary either. It really needed to be a bit more over the top, violence wise, which is kinda odd for me to say because I’m generally not one for what has been dubbed ‘torture porn’ but when the film’s about something like genital mutilation then tortuous and hard to watch is exactly what those scenes should be. In the end it’s kind of like this old advert from America. Just imagine that instead of chocolate the guy is saying ‘genital mutilation horror’ and the girl is saying ‘cheesy sex comedy’ instead of peanut butter. Also imagine they are both incredibly disappointed by the outcome of the combination of both of these things:

 

On the plus side I suppose, the girls are hot and the acting is fairly competent throughout. The effects are, again, kinda underwhelming mainly because of the ridiculous amount of blood that ends up spurting everywhere. I know that this is kind of a hallmark of Japanese horror films, particularly those of these type but it just serves to pull me out of what is already a pretty ridiculous affair even more. All in all, the whole thing was just really, really unsatisfying and overall quite boring which is disappointing in something that probably should have been just a cheesy, fun film. Still, I’m sure this film will have it’s fans and bless their little cotton socks for getting something out of it that I just couldn’t find myself. One pint out of five.

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Review: The Troll Hunter by Jamie

A short one today because I’m feeling a little under the weather.

Norway is a country that I know very little about so let’s just get into the review. The Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren in it’s native tongue) is a Norwegian film shot in the found footage documentary style. It follows the story of three college film makers as they try and make a documentary about a possible bear poacher, Hans, operating in Norway. Initially the man is resistant to there attempts to interview him but they follow him into the forest at night where they are attacked by something and one of the film makers is bitten. After the attack Hans relents and allows them to film him and his work as a Troll Hunter and explains that yes, trolls exist and they are kept in check and kept secret by a shady government organisation. Recently they have been leaving there territory and getting closer to human settlements meaning his work load has increased substantially lately. He destroys the trolls by using bursts of simulated sunlight which enough of can cause the trolls to turn to stone or explode. They then go on several hunts with him, discovering the true nature of trolls and trying to figure out the mystery of why they are venturing outside of their territory.

First of I want to say that this film is pretty goddamn awesome. It manages to be quite tense at times but really quite funny at others. I can’t really remark on the quality of the acting because it’s always hard to gauge when people are talking in a foreign language but it seemed as though everyone was doing a pretty good job.

The special effects of the trolls are generally pretty good but there were times when they did seem very fake, particularly when the first troll on screen and the stone troll it became. There is a band of smaller trolls later on that looked very good and the biggest troll you see is also exceptionally sweet.

There was one other major problem that I had with the film. They seemed to go out of their way to try as hard as they could to make the trolls seem as scientifically viable as possible. They state that the reason that trolls turn to stone or explode when exposed to sunlight is due to an inability to process calcium which causes them to calcify (Ok, maybe not that scientific but they’re doing the best with what they have). There is one trait that the trolls possess which seems impossible to explain away with even pseudoscience and that is their apparent ability to detect Christians by their smell. It just doesn’t make sense and I’m sure it comes from old legends from the area but they discounted other legends claiming that the trolls were essentially long lived, large mammals and didn’t possess substantial intelligence so why not just dispell the Christian smelling myth as well? As far as I can tell it was for a certain part of the story which is understandable but it just seems to not make sense within the context of the reality the film is trying to establish.

Still overall it was a pretty enjoyable film and a pretty nice addition to the admittedly overburdened found footage genre. Three and a half pints out of five.



Review: True Grit by Jamie

I’ve been on a real Western kick lately and I think ‘Red Dead Redemption’ is entirely to blame. Yes, I’m still playing it, although to be fair I didn’t have my Xbox for about three months after Undead Nightmare was released. And so I went through and watched a few westerns like ‘3:10 to Yuma’ and kind of Westerny things like ‘There Will Be Blood’. To be fair, I loved those two films the first time I watched them but I’d never really liked Westerns as a kid. My thing was dinosaurs. Show me a cowboy who can beat up an Ankylosaurus and I’ll call you a liar. Still, they’ve weaselled a small way into my heart of recent times (and my head because I can’t get the fucking theme to ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’ out of it).

So I was really looking forward to ‘True Grit’. Was I disappointed? No sir, I was not. As such, this may be my shortest review in some time. I literally don’t wanna spoil anything in this film. I’ll say it’s very similar to the 1969 version that was based on the same book though there are some pretty big differences which I won’t get into, again, for fear of spoilers.

The story revolves around Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a headstrong fourteen year old girl who is determined to track down her father’s killer, Tim Chaney (Josh Brolin), and see him hanged. She seeks the help of a US Marshall who she hears has true grit, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and the party has an on-again, off-again third member in the form of Texas Ranger LaBouef (Matt Damon and here it’s pronounced LaBeef). They travel far and wide, dealing with nefarious outlaws from Lucky Ned Pepper’s (Barry Pepper) gang as well as growing closer together and learning a lot about each other… kinda.

That’s all I’m gonna give you synopsis wise. Seriously, go see the damn film. OK, so everyone is brilliant in this film. Jeff Bridges plays the gruff, drunken yet world-wise Cogburn perfectly. He grumbles and mutters his way through rambling stories about his past just enough that you get to learn about the character and how he came to be where he is but still manages to retain an air of legendary status… at least until a certain point in the film where you kind of get the sense of the kind of man he really is… or is he?

Hailee Steinfeld is truly incredible as Mattie. She portrays the character as someone who’s incredibly wise beyond her years, determined and willing to be just a little bit underhanded in order to get what she wants. In fact, you almost get the impression that she’s exactly what Cogburn himself would have been like at her age, before drink dulled his senses somewhat. Normally a young character who is so good at getting what she wants and goes about it in such an intelligent way would pull me out of the film a little. I’d find them a little bit unbelievable but Steinfeld managed to have me believing that such a character could exist from the beginning. I’m genuinely shocked that Natalie Portman beat her at the Baftas because, as I think I addressed in my Black Swan review, Portman’s good but the character was sometimes just a little too pathetic to the point where it stretched all reason. Steinfeld is literally just perfect. It’s also criminal that she’s been nominated as a Supporting Actress at the Oscars. As Mark Kermode said if she’s the supporting actress then that must make Matt Damon the lead actress.

Speaking of Matt Damon he’s also incredibly good as LaBeouf. He infuses the character with a kind of douchiness (and occasionally a kind of paedophilic creepiness) yet never pushes it to the point that you don’t like the character. Kind of like what Robert Downey Jr did in Iron Man (and if you wanna see what happens when it gets pushed to the point where you don’t like the character, watch Iron Man 2). He’s incredibly big headed and thinks that he deserves some kind of special respect because he’s a Texas Ranger much to the amusement of Mattie and especially Cogburn. There’s a turning point for this character as well where he kinda redeems himself though and it’s done very well.

As for the other aspects of the film, well, it looks great as we should probably all expect from the Coen Brothers by now. From big, sweeping Western vistas to close ups of characters standing silently and waiting in the snow for someone following them to catch up, it’s all shot perfectly. It looks bleak but somehow beautiful. And it all serves to tell a pretty damn interesting story of vengeance in the old west.

If I did have one problem with the film, it’s that occasionally Jeff Bridges mumbling was so severe that it could be kind of hard to understand at times. It’s just a little thing really and doesn’t take anything away from the awesome that is this film. Five pints out of five. Right, that’s all the Oscar season films I’ll probably see for now. Time to get back to reviews that aren’t gushing and terrible. Time to hopefully watch some films that I can really rip into… Oh Shyamalan, where are you when I need you most? Laterz.



Review: The Fighter by Jamie

Boxing is a sport I’ve never been that interested in. After watching this film, I think I understand why. If boxing was shown on TV in the same way it’s shown in films with great close-ups and dramatic camera angles, I would watch it every time it was on. Sadly it’s generally just watching two people punching each other. So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t really like boxing but I really enjoy films about it.

So, The Fighter is based on the true story of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), his half-brother Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale) and the various other people in their life. Dicky was known as ‘The Pride of Lowell’ (Lowell, Massachusetts, the town where they both live) after he fought Sugar Ray Leonard. He’s currently having a documentary about him being made by HBO which he hopes will enable him to make a comeback. Micky on the other hand has been that successful in the boxing world. He’s managed by his mother Alice (Mellissa Leo) and trained by Dicky a combination that probably hampers his chances more than helping them.

You see, having tasted success and not really doing much with it, Dicky has slipped into using crack, something which his mother seems to ignore, at least at first, because it’s clear that Dicky is her favourite son. Because of his addiction, Dicky is regularly late for training sessions with his brother leaving him at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to fighting. Also his family don’t seem to know exactly what is best for Micky’s career, convincing him to fight an opponent who is heavier and taller when his scheduled opponent drops out due to illness. Micky loses badly which prompts him to give up on boxing altogether so he can focus on real life and a relationship with Charlene Flemming (Amy Adams).

Alice arranges another fight for Micky but he brings up an offer he’s received to be paid to be trained in Vegas. Dicky, desperate to keep his brother nearby so he can continue working with him, offers to raise the money and pay Micky instead. He goes about this in a… let’s say technically very illegal manner which leads to a brilliant chase scene where he’s pursued by the cops. Micky get’s involved when he sees his brother being brutalized by the police and the two brothers are arrested though not before a policeman breaks Micky’s hand with a truncheon. Micky is freed and Dicky is sent to jail.

That’s about where I reckon I’ll leave the synopsis since it’s pretty much where the trailer gets up to and going any further is going into spoiler territory.

So what can I say about ‘The Fighter’? Well, it’s a pretty amazing film to be honest. Yes, it’s Oscar season so you’re probably gonna see a few of these reviews around here at the moment (Although the only other one I’ve really seen is True Grit so maybe just one more). The performances are amazing and much has already been said about Christian Bale. Yes, he is brilliant in this and deserves the nominations he’s gotten but I’m quite surprised that Mark Wahlberg’s performance seems to have been overlooked somewhat in all the things I’ve read about it.

It’s Wahlberg and the relationships he has with the other characters throughout the film that provide the real depth to the film… Hmmm, that’s not fair. Bale is indeed a massive part of it, especially his addiction to crack. I suppose a better thing to say is that this is both actors doing what they do best. Wahlberg is very good at being understated and it can be hard to see how good of a job he’s doing compared to the much more frantic and bombastic character that Bale is playing.

Adams and Leo are also great, particularly when they are on screen together (along with the seemingly thousands of sisters that Dicky and Micky have). The tension between them is so thick you could cut it with some kind of cutting device. They both feel as if they know what’s best for Micky and they genuinely seem to hate each other because those ideas are in such conflict.

The plot of the film is actually pretty much secondary to the development of the characters which, to be honest, is probably a good thing. The story is interesting and all that but it plays out quite predictably. Of course, it is based on a true story so I suppose that was the way it had to play out but without the great depth giving to the characters this would have honestly been a rather standard sports film that probably wouldn’t be getting as much attention as it is.

Right, that’ll do. Man, I hate reviewing films I liked because I have to reign myself in from giving too much away and then I feel as though the reviews are short and lacklustre. Ah well, never mind. Four pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: The King’s Speech by Jamie

Royalty. As a British person I spend at least twenty-three hours a day thinking about it, even whilst sleeping. My morning begins by sorting out my pound notes by denomination and saluting the picture of the Queen on each one before singing the national anthem to the government issued poster of her that comes in a variety of different versions including a tasteful swimsuit edition.

As such it was my duty to go and watch The King’s Speech, a film about our current monarch’s father, George VI (Played by Colin Firth in the film) , who took over the position of King of England after his brother (Guy Pearce) abdicated the throne to marry a twice divorced American woman. The story of the film begins long before the abdication crisis, though it certainly plays a pivotal part in the plot, at the 1925 Empire Exhibition where the then Prince Albert, Duke of York has to give a speech at exhibition’s closing. Unfortunately the speech is a bit of a failure thanks to the Prince’s severe stutter.

After several unsuccessful attempts to try and fix the problem with various different treatments, his wife Elizabeth, the Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) gets him an appointment with an Australian speech therapist by the name of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The film then follows the two as they try and fix Prince Albert’s condition both through exercises and trying to get to the psychological root of the problem. It also charts the growing friendship between the two, overcoming difficulties together such as the aforementioned abdication of Edward VIII, the Prince becoming a King and just what such a position means in a time when the title doesn’t really denote any kind of real political power.

That’s pretty much all of the synopsis I really feel like going into because I honestly want to spoil as little of this film as possible. I know some will say that you can’t spoil a film based on a true story but fuck you. Not everyone knows the story. I knew elements of it like the whole abdication thing but I didn’t even know that George VI had a stammer so that was new. It’s not really the kind of thing that’s taught in history class.

So how was the film? Well, I was honestly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it. Everything just seemed to come together. The acting was of the highest order, though I’ll concede the fact that there were times when Colin Firth could have reigned things in a little bit better but that’s a very, very small criticism of an otherwise near perfect performance. It was certainly nice to see Helena Bonham Carter playing someone who wasn’t bats hit insane or just weird for the sake of being weird and Geoffrey Rush was insanely likeable as the Australian who started of as a simple speech therapist and became the friend of a King.

It was also shot and directed wonderfully as well. There are a lot of shots of people just talking without much else going on but that’s fine for me. I’ve always been someone who has valued good story telling over flashy visuals and this film was put together in exactly the right way for the story being told. Not that there aren’t some interesting things going on. There are two scenes in particular that stand out, one where Albert is talking to his brother about Hitler during a party and another when Logue and the Prince are walking through a park in an incredibly foggy London discussing the possibility of Albert becoming King.

Also I don’t if it’s simply because I am British but found the subject matter far, far more interesting than I thought I would. I’ve always been interested by history but when I first heard about what the film was about I’ll admit it sounded a bit boring but I was very, very wrong. It’s fascinating to see the days of Britain gone by, back when we still had the last remnants of an Empire, so-called ‘colonials’ were looked down upon somewhat and things in Europe were starting to take a turn for the worst. It was also interesting to see get a glimpse into the private lives of the Royal Family, even one from the past. Of course, some things are changed for dramatic or artistic reasons. For example I did think it was a bit odd just how involved Winston Churchill was during the films climactic scenes considering he wasn’t Prime Minister yet and, indeed, wikipedia reveals that he wouldn’t have been involved at all but he’s a historical character that the audience would recognise far better than most of the people who were actually there so I can understand his inclusion.

If I have one criticism, and to be honest it’s not really this films fault, it’s just how many good British actors have been involved with the Harry Potter franchise and therefore show up in this film as well. I suppose it’s not really a criticism but it was somewhat distracting and it just took me out of the film a bit. I mean you’ve got Dumbledore, Bellatrix and that dude who turned into a rat all in this film and yeah… I suppose it’s my problem, not the film. At one point I was half expecting a flash back to the King’s younger years where he was being played by Daniel Radcliffe or something. Again, just a thing that bugged me personally.

Oh, and one final thing before I forget, the film is very, very funny. A hell of a lot funnier then I was expecting but it also has a lot of heart and at no point is the stammer itself ever really used for a cheap laugh, though some of the techniques used to attempt to cure it certainly are. Well, not cheap laughs. Good, awesome and I assume expensive laughs or something.

So yeah, when all’s said and done, I really, really enjoyed this film and heartily recommend it to everyone. Everyone. And the Queen enjoyed it as well saying she was “touched by a moving portrayal of her father” so I am literally duty bound to give this film five pints out of five. Laterz.



Documental: Prodigal Sons by Jamie

Some may consider this review a touch spoilery but it’s really not to be honest. There’s stuff that may be considered spoilers if you haven’t seen the trailer I suppose.

Kimberley Reed is a magazine editor based in New York but she was brought up in Helena, Montana and is headed back there for her twenty year high school reunion and she’s excited if somewhat apprehensive about seeing her old friends. Part of this apprehension derives from the fact that she’ll be seeing her estranged brother adopted brother Marc who she hasn’t seen for a decade. There’s also the fact that the last time she was in her hometown her name wasn’t Kimberley Reed. It was Paul McKerrow

Yes, Kimberley was born a boy and had suffered with gender identifications for her whole life. In her school days as Paul, he had been one of the co-captain’s of the football team, was popular and had girls chasing after him. When he finally made it to San Francisco after leaving her home town she had the gender reassignment surgery that would make her into the person she would want to be. Marc, on the other hand, didn’t have such a privileged life, at least from his point of view. He was popular but he was also considered hyperactive during pre-school which caused him to be left back a year, putting in the same class as brother Paul.

He was popular enough but he preferred the partying life rather than buckling down and excelling at anything. Then at the age of twenty-one he was involved in a car accident which left his brain scarred and caused him to suffer from seizures. He underwent a couple of surgeries to remove the scar tissue but unfortunately this had other side-effects. Left with a damaged brain that affected his short term memory and ability to control his emotions, Marc began to dwell on the past and the sibling rivalry that he felt characterised it, feeling as though life had cheated him even though out of his siblings in his mind he had turned out normal (He also had another younger brother, Todd, who was gay). Combine this with said difficulty with regard to controlling his emotions and Marc would sometimes lash out, uncontrollably violently at those around him.

Another aspect of Marc’s life that caused him difficulty was the fact that he was indeed adopted. In his eyes, his siblings had another advantage because they were genetically related to their parents, meaning they should have had a better idea who they were. As for Marc, he was always left wondering just who he was supposed to be and just where his innate ability for the piano came from.

So it’s with all this going on that Kim decides to film her reunion and hopeful reconciliation with her brother. At first things seem to be going well but before she’s due to go home, Marc snaps and begins going on about the past and begins tearing shit up. Still, they do part on somewhat good terms, Marc feeling incredibly guilty about his inability to control himself. Some small ground has been made but it’s not really the reunion Kimberley had been hoping for.

Then Marc receives some fairly incredible news about his birth mother. It turns out that she was Rebecca Welles, daughter of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Yes, the man who had been jealous of his siblings’ genetic connection to their parents turned out to be related by blood to Hollywood royalty. He’s flown out to Croatia to participate in a documentary about his grandfather by Oja Kodar, Orson’s “soul-mate”. Still it seems that despite these sudden revelations about his famous relatives, Marc is still unable to let go of his past with his adopted family, particularly the brother who became a sister that he had envied so much growing up which causes Kimberley some embarrassment when he shows a picture of the three brothers as youngsters to the crew of the Welles documentary.

That night the siblings have a discussion and Marc says something that suddenly makes Kim rethink her life. He makes her realise that she can’t be true to herself as a whole person if she completely tries to erase Paul from her past. This sends her on a kind of pilgrimage to rediscover her past and confront the transition that she’d tried to bury deep inside herself. She goes back to San Francisco and visits haunts that she’d frequent both before and after her sex change as well as meet up with an old friend of Paul’s.

And so the film continues on but sadly, Marc’s behaviour continues to become more and more erratic and violent until it finally reaches a boiling point during a family Christmas and events transpire that end with his arrest.

I think that’s about enough of a synopsis there. What I can say about this documentary is fuck! It twists and turns like a twisty turny thing. Every time you think that everything might finally be resolved and this family might have a chance at something approaching normality something else happens! It’s truly a pretty fucking incredible story that I promise will keep you hooked from start to finish.

What amazes me the most is that I came to this film thinking it would mostly be about the son of Orson Welles’ long lost grandson, and when you look at Marc the relation is obvious, particularly when you see his nose in profile. There are times when there are sideways close ups of that you almost think Welles has been brought back to life somehow. The fascinating thing, as I was saying, is that I went into this thinking that that would be the most interesting part of this whole film but it turns out it’s actually a fairly minor part of the story in relation to everything else.

No, this isn’t the story of Orson Welles’ long lost grandson. Rather it’s the story of a family and the members of it struggling to find out their true identities, trying to find out just who they are and how they fit into this mental world. Hell, even when Marc finds out who he’s related to it doesn’t seem to change his identity crisis. If anything it’s probably the catalyst for his condition worsening. Imagine if you had grown up jealous of your seemingly superior brother only to suffer brain damage and feel as though you’re completely unable to fulfil your true potential. Then you find out that you’re related to one of the most revered men in cinema history and yet the news basically comes to late for this new information to really change who you are or who you can be. That would probably eat a person alive inside. Of course, I’m just speculating but that’s certainly how I’d feel about it.

All in all, this is a truly incredible documentary that I don’t think I can possibly recommend further. Find it and watch it. Five pints out of five. Laterz.



Documental: Winnebago Man by Jamie

I’ve said it before, the internet is probably the greatest thing mankind has ever created that isn’t directly responsible for saving lives. It allows for almost instant communication, instant dissemination and sharing of news and information and, of course, mountains and mountains of pornography. So much pornography. It also unites people across borders through that most simple of pleasures, the humiliation of others.

Yes, for every internet success there is the other side. For every internet entrepenuer who has amassed billions of dollars, there are those who have become the subjects of ridicule because clips of them that they thought would never see the light of day have become viral video sensations. For every Mark Zuckerberg there is a Star Wars Kid or, indeed, a Winnebago Man. Who is the Winnebago Man? Well, hopefully this clip will clear that up. It is most certainly not safe for work…

That is the Winnebago Man. That clip of outtakes from a 1989 industrial film for the Winnebago company would become a viral video sensation thanks to copies of the original video tape being passed around and eventually reach millions more with the invention of YouTube. It would also become something of an obsession for a film maker by the name of Ben Steinbauer who became determined to find the star of the clip, a man by the name of Jack Rebney, a determination which would give rise to the documentary ‘Winnebago Man’.

He begins his search by investigating a number of avenues. He asks around people who have passed around copies of the tape in the first place and some crew members who worked on the original film. On this journey he also investigates the effect that the viral video had on individuals and on pop-culture in general, including a number of references to it in movies and TV shows. He also investigates the effect that a viral video can have on the often unwilling subjects such as the case of Aleksey Vayner whose boastful video resume ‘The Impossible is Possible’ became a viral hit much to the humiliation of Vayner himself. He apparently even received death threats via e-mail. Yes, the viral video world is not for the timid, which is a shame because often the star has no choice.

But what of the Winnebago Man? His obscenity-laced tirades certainly didn’t seem to indicate he was a timid man. Did he even know he was an internet star? Was he even still alive? After coming up with nothing but dead ends regarding Rebney’s current location, Steinbauer turned to a private investigator to hopefully shed some light on the subject. The PI found a number of post boxes in the man’s name and so the film maker decided to send a letter to each of them. Eventually, he got a response.

And so he got his chance to meet the man, the mystery, the enigma, the Winnebago Man himself, Jack Rebney. And he got to interview him and ask him what he knew about the video and all that. And he found Rebney to be an affable, charming old man, perhaps a little odd because he had become something of a hermit living alone in the mountains but other than that, a perfectly likeable older gentleman. So Steinbauer left after getting his footage, somewhat disappointed that even though Jack Rebney was still alive, it seemed as though the Winnebago Man was dead.

Then he got another message from Jack. In it he explained that he had basically put on a front for the camera and he was actually incredibly pissed off about his internet fame and the world he felt was falling into absolute disrepair. It turned out the foul-mouthed Winnebago Man was very much alive and so Steinbauer finally got his chance to meet him.

And that’s pretty much where I’ll leave the synopsis. I’ll just say that Jack is perhaps even more of the curmudgeon you’d expect him to be from the Winnebago Man clips. He’s sweary, angry and yet also strangely charming and seems able to switch between the two with the flip of a switch. His temper never really seems particularly malicious or at least not overly so. It’s just the way he reacts to the world around him. He views the fans of his outtake clips as a bunch of slack-jawed morons and can’t understand what they possibly enjoy about the video. This all comes to a head when he’s flown out to the Found Footage Festival in San Francisco and he’s brought face to face with his fans.

Now, Winnebago Man isn’t necessarily the most well made or most structured documentary in the world but I don’t think that’s really the fault of the film maker. I think it’s merely a side effect of making a film with a person like Jack Rebney, a man who seems completely unwilling to talk about himself or his past, for the most part, preferring instead to get his message about the evils in the world like Wal-Mart or Dick Cheney. He just seems like a difficult person to work with though ultimately a rewarding subject for the documentary. Throughout the whole film you can’t help but like Jack because, like I said, there doesn’t seem to be anything malicious behind his outbursts. That’s just who he is. The film also has one of the sweetest endings I’ve seen in sometime from a documentary and it honestly brought a few tears to my eyes.

If I had to compare it to another film I’d seen in recent times, I’d probably say ‘Best Worst Movie’ the documentary about the cult following of Troll 2 except kind of in reverse. In that film the main subject, George Hardy, is delighted by his fame and is eager to meet his fans. Jack Rebney, not so much. So all in all it’s an engaging documentary about an intriguing and interesting character but also a nice little study on this new world of viral video fame and how it effects their often unwilling or even unknowing stars. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.




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