The Depress-A-Thon: Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father by Jamie

I’m not one for openly showing much in the way of emotion. There are times when I’ll waver between the ups and the downs but as for things like weeping openly, well, it just isn‘t me. This doesn’t seem to apply to movies however. I am, as I’m sure I’ve said before, a bit of a crier when it comes to film. For some reason the over-the-top reality of film just seems more realistic to me. I can’t explain why.

Then there are documentaries which are based on truly horrific real life events. They manage to combine the horror of having these things actually having happened and the over-the-top hyper reality of film. By mentioning the hyper reality of film I don’t in anyway mean that any part of these documentaries are not based in truth but rather I mean that the very nature of films means that you can have many years worth of tragic and terrible events condensed down into an hour and a half, making the experience that much more intense. Such is the case with the subject of today’s review, ‘Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father.’

Fuck. This film fucking broke me in ways that I didn’t think possible. It manages to be both a beautiful tribute to a human being that the people in his life genuinely seemed to love and an horrific recounting of a series of tragic events and for that I must say I was truly blown away. The film managed to strike such a perfect balance between two different parts of the story that just seemed to highlight and intensify both.

Right, now I suppose I should go some small way into explaining the basic story of the film without giving away too much. This could be difficult but is absolutely necessary because you simply have to see this film. Might as well just get that out of the way up front. Ok, so the story then. The basic premise is that the film maker, Kurt Kuenne, had a childhood friend, Andrew Bagby, who is murdered by his ex-girlfriend, Shirley Jane Turner. Kuenne decides to travel to visit and interview various friends and relatives of Andrew in an effort to create a kind of video scrap-book for his infant son so he can get an idea of the kind of man that the father he would never know was. Wow. That was a tortuous sentence.

So yeah, that’s all I can really reveal about the plot of the film without giving away many of the twists and turns that cause the emotion to run so high whilst watching this film. What I can say is that the director is certainly a film maker of some talent. He uses some pretty interesting editing techniques to just ramp things up at the appropriate times. In particular his use of dialogue from the various interviews and statements from those involved repeatedly throughout the film in order to massively emphasis a specific point is especially effective.

I’d also be somewhat remiss if I didn’t mention the true heroes of this film David and Kathleen Bagby, Andrew’s parents. Some of the things they go through in this film will have you on the very verge of disbelief. They seem to have the patience of saints despite the horrific trials they are put through on an almost daily basis. And the way they deal with the events of the film at the very end is truly, truly heroic.

If there is one complaint about this film that I could have, it’s this. The director narrates the film and there was something about it that just kept reminding me about the Primus song ‘Mephisto & Kevin’ from the South Park Chef Aid album. I’ve since re-listened to the song and the voices don’t sound that familiar, there’s just something about the talking style and delivery that seems quite reminiscent of it. It’s not really a criticism of the film, just something that bugged me slightly. It’s definitely a problem with me and not the film.

Well, it’s gonna have to be a short one today because going any deeper into it would risk revealing some of the plot points of this truly fantastic film. Was it depressing? Yes, massively so. Did it make me cry? I’m not ashamed to say that it did. Would I watch it again? Surprisingly, yes. There are certainly some films that have been featured in The Depress-A-Thon which I always be hesitant to watch again. The primary examples being ‘Threads’ and ‘Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door’. Still despite this being as depressing as it is, it is also a truly wonderful tribute not only to Andrew but also his truly amazing parents and, for that at least, it is certainly worth watching again. Five pints out of five.

Do The Birthday Cage Rage! by Jamie

Well, today is Nicolas Cage’s 46th Birthday and I completely forgot. So to celebrate here is a video I made a while back of Ragin’ Nic Cage dancing with a bunch of round-headed aliens to ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’ by The Smashing Pumpkins aka the song I use as theme for my Cage Rage vids. Enjoy and Happy Birthday, Nic!

Oh, it was originally a YouTube only trailer for the Christmas episode, so you can ignore that coming later this week bit at the end. You can view Episode 1 of Cage Rage here, and Epsiode 2 here

A Very Cage Rage Christmas by Jamie

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to look at a Christmas Cage film. Just click the picture below to play.

Last Year In Film: In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by Jamie

There are tales as old as time. Tales of bravery, of good versus evil, of kings and wizards. Then there are tales of people with plastic personalities, wearing plastic armour and fighting with plastic weapons against men in rubber suits who move as if there balls are always uncomfortably caught in their underwear. Uwe Boll’s In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is the latter.

I suppose I should begin by saying I’ve never played Dungeon Siege so I have no idea how faithful this film is to the game so there’s that. What I can say, however, is that I have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy and my guess is that Uwe Boll has certainly seen them as well. There are shots, costumes and even an actor directly lifted from the fantasy epic and as you watch it, there’s something you simply have to admit. Uwe has some massive balls. For it does indeed take massive balls to so relentlessly rip off a series of films that everyone has seen, received almost universal acclaim and then stand back and still consider yourself a director of any worth. Yet Uwe does and he’ll fight you if you say otherwise.

Anyway, the films about Farmer, a man so called because that’s what he is, who must rescue his wife and avenge his son after an attack on his village by the murderous Orc hordes… Sorry, I mean Krug hordes. The Krug army is controlled by evil wizard Ray Liotta who is playing Saruman wanna-be Gallian. He has a base in a volcano, like Mordor and beneath it is a big lava filled foundry, like Isengard. This is where Farmer and his companions, Norrick played by Ron Pearlman and Bastian played by someone else, must travel to if he ever hopes to see his wife again.

Meanwhile King Burt Reynolds decides to fight this new menace by sending out his armies and stuff. He’s betrayed by his nephew Duke Fallows, played by Matthew Lillard. Oh God, I’m getting bored just writing this synopsis. Anyway, Farmer finds out he is Burt Reynolds’ son and true heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Ehb or something. Then Fallow kills the King and the armies of man join up with the tarzan-esque Elves who go on to assault the land that would be Mordor. Farmer kills Ray Liotta and all is right with Middle-Earth… I mean Ehb. Oh, John Rhys-Davies plays Merick, the kings Magus. Yep, somehow he got roped into this shit. Maybe he just really like getting payed to LARP or something. Oh one more thing. There are ninjas in it too. Make of that what you will.

This film wouldn’t even be in the so bad it’s good if not for two people, Ron Perlman and Matthew Lillard. Ron Perlman always brings a smile to my face, no matter what piece of shit he’s in. Hell, he was the best thing about Alien Ressurection. As for Matthew Lillard, well, what can I say about Matthew Lillard. His over the top portrayal of Duke Fallow is so fantastically awful that you can’t help but enjoy it on some level, though I guarantee not the level intended. Everything he does is terrible. He minces through scene after scene overacting to a ridiculous degree, his accent not helping at all. In fact it’s the accent he puts on which reminded me of another performance that made another bad film so bad that it was good, the heroically stupid role of John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, my own personal yardstick by which all other terribly hilarious performances are measured.

Unfortunately, Lillard isn’t in the film nearly enough during it’s two hour running time to make this really worth watching but I will say this for Uwe Boll. Terrible as this film is, he did actually manage to make a film. It has a plot, actors and direction. All of them terribly, terribly poor but it’s still more than you can say for Meet The Spartans and Disaster Movie. Well done Uwe, you get a whole pint out of a possible five.

Review: He Was A Quiet Man by Jamie
17/11/2008, 8:59 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bob Maconel (Christian Slater) is an office worker, a faceless drone in a sea of many. His cubicle is his prison, his supervisor is his tormentor and his moustache is shit. There is one ray of sunshine in his otherwise meaningless life, Vanessa Parks (Elisha Cuthbert) whose smile lights up the office. Sure, she doesn’t know his name and he certainly has no chance of ending up with her but that doesn’t matter that much because Bob won’t be around much longer for Bob has a plan.

Bob is sick of his life and the way others treat him and so he brings his gun in to work with plans to kill his five most hated co-workers before turning the gun on himself. Unfortunately he chickens out and upon returning home is immediately berated for his cowardice by his pet goldfish. Yes, it seems as though Bob’s mental health problems don’t stop at depression alone.

The next day Bob tries again and as he’s loading the bullets into the chamber he accidentally drops one. Whilst he searches on the floor for it, another co-worker suddenly shoots up the office. Bob stands and turns his gun on the assailant after they both notice that he has accidentally shot Vanessa in the spine. Bob is hailed as a hero and is instantly promoted to Vice President of Creative Thinking. Meanwhile he begins to develop a relationship with Vanessa who has become a quadriplegic due to the shooting.

It is from this twist of events that most of the films very, very dark humour is drawn. The remainder displays Bob pretty much becoming a fully fledged human being over night without ever fully managing to fulfil that role. Conversely, Vanessa, who had stepped on many and slept with more just to get where she was in the company, suddenly finds herself lost and helpless, isolated from the world which had once embraced her.

It is a funny film though, tinged as it is with darkness and despair, it’s never really laugh out loud funny. Perhaps the closest it ever comes to this is whenever Gene Shelby, President of the company, played brilliantly by William H. Macy is on screen. Some have said he was under used though I think he played as big a part as the story necessitated.

Christian Slater is also on form here, playing the mentally disturbed Bob with aplomb though he is helped by the make-up department which transforms him into a tired, balding office nobody. It really is the physical acting, though, which makes Slater’s performance shine. Bob never seems comfortable in his own skin, always wringing his hands or grasping his fingers.

Elisha Cuthbert is also fantastic as Vanessa, someone who seems determined to make her way in life even if that means asking someone else to end it for her. She’s paralysed for most of the film and so most of her emotion is displayed without any kind of body language, making the scenes where she’s trying to explain to Bob how she feels that much more touching as the acting is almost all in the eyes.

The rest of the cast is filled out ably by a host of other actors who I don’t recognise, though wikipedia informs me that one of the detectives in the film is played by one of the dudes in the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne’s World which is awesome. For the most part the rest of the cast are pretty much stereotypes. You’ve got your bullies, your office slut and your deranged janitor. All par for the course.

The last thing I will say about this film are the surreal elements, all brought on by Bob’s own psychosis. There is the aforementioned talking goldfish, a scene in which Bob imagines the office tower blowing up, hummingbirds flitting happily outside his home and the odd effect of the traffic around Bob zipping by him as he drives at normal speed amongst many, many others. They all serve to help the viewer emphasise with how Bob perceives his life and it works amazingly well. Especially the fish. He’s awesome. If you ever wanted to hear a fish say “Fuck ‘em” then this is the film for you. Seriously, that fish swears a lot.

The film does have a downside though and it’s called the last act. Everything seems to change at such a rapid, con fusing pace that it’s easy to lose track of exactly what drew you into this film in the first place until your left with an ending that feels kinda unsatisfying. That being said I feel as though you should at least rent this. Then if you enjoy it you can make it a permanent part of your collection.

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