Cinepub


Zombie Month Repost: Pontypool by Jamie

Originally posted February 15th, 2010

Well, today is February 15th which means that, according to wikipedia, it is National Flag of Canada day which marks the day that the Canadians took down their old banner which featured the mighty Union Jack, symbol of the Great British Empire of old and chose a flag with a maple leaf on it instead. Seems like a bit of a step backwards but, you know, whatever.

Of course I kid Canada. ‘Tis a lovely flag and a lovely nation that just so happens to be home to my favourite film podcast, Film Junk. So it’s only right that we honour this day of proud heritage for the Canadian people by looking at one of the best damn Canadian films I have ever seen, the 2009 horror film, Pontypool.

Now, I don’t want to spoil this film but there are certain aspects that I simply can’t review without revealing a few little things that might be considered as spoilers so if you desperately want to see this film and haven’t gotten around to it yet then I would recommend you watch it before reading this review. Like I say, I’ll be trying to reveal as little as possible but I won’t be able to really write a review without revealing the cause of the events within the film. It’s up to you now if you read on. You have the power.

So Pontypool is named after the small town in Canada where it takes place. Perhaps the greatest thing about this film is that it takes place almost entirely in one location, a radio station where our main character, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), works as on-air talent. With him is his producer, Sydney Briar and her assistant Laurel Ann. Mazzy is a pretty fun character, a apparent former radio star who was known for having controversial opinions on things such as law enforcement who now finds himself in a small town, tin-pot radio station, constantly being told to try and reign his personality in a little.

The shit begins to hit the fan when the radio station receives a report from Ken Loney, a traffic reporter who travels the air in his Sunshine Chopper, of some extremely violent riots occurring outside the offices of Dr. Mendez. These riots soon spread throughout the town and it seems as though the rioters are somewhat dazed and confused, constantly repeating certain phrases over and over again. They also extremely violent, attacking people and apparently eating them as well.

Mazzy continues to broadcast, hoping to keep the people of Pontypool informed about the terrible events going on within the town but it soon becomes clear that the people within the radio station are quite possibly the only ones left unaffected by the strange things occurring outside. Or perhaps not. Laurel Ann suddenly seems to be incredibly confused, unable to string an entire sentence together and finally just repeating one word over and over again. Whilst this is going on, Dr. Mendez manages to find his way to the radio station and make his way inside. Upon seeing Laurel Ann he informs Grant and Sydney that it might be a good idea for them to get into the sound-proof booth and lock themselves inside away from the confused looking girl. He explains that she has been infected with a mysterious virus that is spreading around town which will cause her to hunt them and that their speech will attract her, hence locking themselves in the sound-proof booth.

That’s pretty much all the writing about the plot that I’ll do as things really start to take a turn for the worse from there. Instead I want to talk about the method by which the virus spreads itself. It is revealed throughout the course of the film that the virus is beginning to spread itself via speech, specifically the English language. There are certain words which are infected and the key is that understanding. Upon hearing an infected word and understanding it, the person becomes infected themselves. This causes them to repeat the infected word, apparently as some form of the body trying to fight the virus before finally succumbing to it and becoming aggressive whilst also trying to spread the infection.

It’s certainly a different way of trying to tackle a zombie-esque outbreak and one that’s incredibly effective. How do you fight an infection that can’t be stopped by things such as vaccines? Something that’s spread by such an intrinsic part of everyday human life as speech? I know I’d be screwed especially if the virus spread itself solely through the English language. I only know a spattering of unhelpful phrases in French and German and how to ask for a beer in Japanese. Yep, I’d either be fucked or incredibly drunk in a Japanese bar. I really hope for the later.

Perhaps one of my favourite aspects of this film are the comedic elements that are layered throughout it. There’s the revelation that Ken isn’t actually in a helicopter at all. The Sunshine Chopper is actually his Dodge Dart which he parks on top of a hill in order to give him an aerial view of the traffic situation below. There’s also an hilarious scene with the cast of a local theatre troupe who are putting on a musical version of Lawrence of Arabia. And I can’t talk about the humour of the film without mentioning the character of Grant Mazzy himself. The man’s brilliant and McHattie does an excellent job of portraying a man who clearly dislikes the idea of restraining himself on air.

Despite all this comedy, Pontypool remains a genuinely creepy movie. There’s an undercurrent of unease running through it, particularly early on in the film when it isn’t really clear exactly what’s going on, especially with Ken’s recurring reports on what’s going on outside. It’s a classic example of not revealing too much too soon and it’s masterfully done here. When the infection does reach the station, the film doesn’t shy away from the odd bit of gore and violence either, literally spraying the sound proof booth with blood at one point.

Unless you hadn’t guessed by now, I highly recommend Pontypool. It manages to achieve something that horror films rarely do these days, make me feel genuinely tense and that’s a very good thing indeed. Five pints out of five.



Review: Pontypool by Jamie

Well, today is February 15th which means that, according to wikipedia, it is National Flag of Canada day which marks the day that the Canadians took down their old banner which featured the mighty Union Jack, symbol of the Great British Empire of old and chose a flag with a maple leaf on it instead. Seems like a bit of a step backwards but, you know, whatever.

Of course I kid Canada. ‘Tis a lovely flag and a lovely nation that just so happens to be home to my favourite film podcast, Film Junk. So it’s only right that we honour this day of proud heritage for the Canadian people by looking at one of the best damn Canadian films I have ever seen, the 2009 horror film, Pontypool.

Now, I don’t want to spoil this film but there are certain aspects that I simply can’t review without revealing a few little things that might be considered as spoilers so if you desperately want to see this film and haven’t gotten around to it yet then I would recommend you watch it before reading this review. Like I say, I’ll be trying to reveal as little as possible but I won’t be able to really write a review without revealing the cause of the events within the film. It’s up to you now if you read on. You have the power.

So Pontypool is named after the small town in Canada where it takes place. Perhaps the greatest thing about this film is that it takes place almost entirely in one location, a radio station where our main character, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), works as on-air talent. With him is his producer, Sydney Briar and her assistant Laurel Ann. Mazzy is a pretty fun character, a apparent former radio star who was known for having controversial opinions on things such as law enforcement who now finds himself in a small town, tin-pot radio station, constantly being told to try and reign his personality in a little.

The shit begins to hit the fan when the radio station receives a report from Ken Loney, a traffic reporter who travels the air in his Sunshine Chopper, of some extremely violent riots occurring outside the offices of Dr. Mendez. These riots soon spread throughout the town and it seems as though the rioters are somewhat dazed and confused, constantly repeating certain phrases over and over again. They also extremely violent, attacking people and apparently eating them as well.

Mazzy continues to broadcast, hoping to keep the people of Pontypool informed about the terrible events going on within the town but it soon becomes clear that the people within the radio station are quite possibly the only ones left unaffected by the strange things occurring outside. Or perhaps not. Laurel Ann suddenly seems to be incredibly confused, unable to string an entire sentence together and finally just repeating one word over and over again. Whilst this is going on, Dr. Mendez manages to find his way to the radio station and make his way inside. Upon seeing Laurel Ann he informs Grant and Sydney that it might be a good idea for them to get into the sound-proof booth and lock themselves inside away from the confused looking girl. He explains that she has been infected with a mysterious virus that is spreading around town which will cause her to hunt them and that their speech will attract her, hence locking themselves in the sound-proof booth.

That’s pretty much all the writing about the plot that I’ll do as things really start to take a turn for the worse from there. Instead I want to talk about the method by which the virus spreads itself. It is revealed throughout the course of the film that the virus is beginning to spread itself via speech, specifically the English language. There are certain words which are infected and the key is that understanding. Upon hearing an infected word and understanding it, the person becomes infected themselves. This causes them to repeat the infected word, apparently as some form of the body trying to fight the virus before finally succumbing to it and becoming aggressive whilst also trying to spread the infection.

It’s certainly a different way of trying to tackle a zombie-esque outbreak and one that’s incredibly effective. How do you fight an infection that can’t be stopped by things such as vaccines? Something that’s spread by such an intrinsic part of everyday human life as speech? I know I’d be screwed especially if the virus spread itself solely through the English language. I only know a spattering of unhelpful phrases in French and German and how to ask for a beer in Japanese. Yep, I’d either be fucked or incredibly drunk in a Japanese bar. I really hope for the later.

Perhaps one of my favourite aspects of this film are the comedic elements that are layered throughout it. There’s the revelation that Ken isn’t actually in a helicopter at all. The Sunshine Chopper is actually his Dodge Dart which he parks on top of a hill in order to give him an aerial view of the traffic situation below. There’s also an hilarious scene with the cast of a local theatre troupe who are putting on a musical version of Lawrence of Arabia. And I can’t talk about the humour of the film without mentioning the character of Grant Mazzy himself. The man’s brilliant and McHattie does an excellent job of portraying a man who clearly dislikes the idea of restraining himself on air.

Despite all this comedy, Pontypool remains a genuinely creepy movie. There’s an undercurrent of unease running through it, particularly early on in the film when it isn’t really clear exactly what’s going on, especially with Ken’s recurring reports on what’s going on outside. It’s a classic example of not revealing too much too soon and it’s masterfully done here. When the infection does reach the station, the film doesn’t shy away from the odd bit of gore and violence either, literally spraying the sound proof booth with blood at one point.

Unless you hadn’t guessed by now, I highly recommend Pontypool. It manages to achieve something that horror films rarely do these days, make me feel genuinely tense and that’s a very good thing indeed. Five pints out of five.



Top Ten Podcasts by Jamie
14/03/2009, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, I decided it’s time for something a bit different today. I just can’t be bothered to watch a movie today, especially considering Battlestar Galactica Season 1 just came through the door. Awesome. So, while I work my way through that I’ve decided to do something which ties into movies tangentially, because most of them are about movies. Yes, podcasts have revolutionised the way I, at least, entertain myself. It’s because of them, perhaps, that I need to be entertained at all times. If nothing’s happening my brain feels like it’s starting to fade until I can find something to occupy myself with.

So here is a list of my ten favourite podcasts. If you have iTunes, and honestly who doesn’t these days, I order you to download them immediately.

10. Remember When

Hosted by Parris and Jay, Remember When is an erratically updated pod cast taking a look back at the entertainment of yesteryear. It’s a fun listen with segments like “Great Movies Jay Has Never Seen,” in which Parris has Jay watch a classic film he’s never seen before and then review it for the next weeks show. Generally it turns that Jay, much to Parris’s dismay doesn’t enjoy the film. It’s all good stuff. Especially worthy of note is their six episode specials regarding the Star Wars series.

9. The 10th Wonder Heroes Podcast

Ah, Heroes. It’s one of my favourite TV shows and so it’s only natural that a pod cast dedicated to it should appear on this list. Hosted by Graham Hancock and Derek Russell, the show is about everything Heroes and Heroes-related. There are generally two shows a week, one being a live recording directly after the show has played in the US, in which the pair give their reactions to the episode they have just watched and another later in the week which deals with all the news, spoilers and other such things that surround any major TV series. Don’t worry though, the spoilers happen at the end of the show and so can easily be ignored if you don’t want the show ruined for you.

8. Hometown Tales

I may be a sceptic but I still like hearing tales of the supernatural and Hometown Tales delivers that in a refreshingly level-headed manner. And what’s more is that the supernatural isn’t their main focus, they’re more concerned with tales of local legends, hence the name, and that can deal with anything from a local haunted house to a famous local sandwich. Brian and Gene cover it all in a straight forward yet often humorous way. In fact, this podcast is probably the first one I listened to and it’ll probably be on my ipod for as long as they decide to make episodes.

7. Filmspotting

Filmspotting, hosted by Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson, is a more cerebral approach to film than Cinepub can offer and it really is a quality film pod cast. There are usually at least a couple of reviews per episode and a Top 5 list, because, hey, if there’s one thing we geeks love it’s a list. I’ve never understood what mystical power a list holds over us but I certainly love them. Anyway, they also have other features such as marathons which is a multi-episode topic during which the hosts watch various films with a common theme and then review them. It’s really good for finding out about older films you’ve never heard of as well as some smaller indie films which might not get much press.

6.The Skeptics Guide To The Universe

Another stalwart of my ipod for as long as I can remember, the SGU promises to be your escape to reality and it delivers. It takes a scientifically sound yet also often humorous look at the ridiculous claims that people make throughout the week and reports and comments on them. The show, hosted by Steve Novella, Bob Novella, Jay Novella, Evan Bernstein and Rebecca Watson (And formerly by Perry DeAngelis until his tragic death in 2007), often has interviews with a variety of different sceptical personalities such as James Randi or Mythbusters’ own Adam Savage. The show also has a number of regular features such as ‘Science or Fiction’ in which Steve challenges the Skeptical rogues to guess which two news stories are true and which is fictional as well as the newest feature ‘Who’s That Noisy?’ In which the rogues challenge the listeners to guess who or what made the specially selected sound.

5. (Cool) Shite On The Tube

Cool Shite is awesome for a number of reasons. One is the sheer scope of their geekery. They review films, cartoon, television series and, more recently, sound tracks whilst also delivering at least one show a week dedicated to news and listener mail. The review shows generally focus on one topic which is discussed throughout the episode, though tangents are frequent, particularly at the opening of the show. At the end of the review, the subject is given a rating ranging from Shite minus all the way to Cool plus with Meh in the middle to denote something so unrelentingly bland that you can’t even say you hated it. Also they’re Australian and that’s fun. Good times.

4. Film Junk

Film Junk is hosted by Sean Dwyer, Jay Cheel and Greg Gaspari with occasional appearances from the Pilkington-esque Reed Farrington and is separated into many different segments normally beginning with a run down of the weeks news, followed by one or two reviews of current features and finishing with trailer trash, a look at recently released trailers. The whole show is hilarious and yet they still manage to keep on track most of the time and each episode is packed with a wealth of information. Also they’re Canadian and that’s fun. Good times.

3. Simply Syndicated

Simply Syndicated is a pod cast network with a myriad of shows such as The Definitive Word, …Or Do You Think That’s Just Bollocks and the flagship Movies You Should See. Simply Hear is all of their shows on one feed. I recommend it heartily as practically every show is worth a listen, even Make It So, the Star Trek show. Now, I’m not a major fan of Star Trek, only really liking the original series and some Next Generation, even when talking about later series Make It So is fun. Movies You Should See has really opened my eyes to some movies I otherwise wouldn’t heard of, including one of my personal favourites, Save The Green Planet. There are many hosts, as there are many shows but the one constant through most of them is Rich Smith, the Godfather of the Simply Syndicated universe and he is awesome. I salute him.

2. Smodcast

From the people that brought you Jay and Silent Bob and Zack and Miri comes Smodcast, a show hosted by Kevin Smith and (usually) Scott Mosier. There is no real fixed topic here, they generally just shoot the shit. Occasionally they’ll talk about the movie business but they’re just as likely to be talking about fisting dolphins and the still living decapitated heads of dogs. It’s all good fun and on occasion listening to it has caused me to burst out into laughter in public places. You have been warned.

1. The Bugle

The Bugles is the audio newspaper for a visual world hosted by Andy Zaltzman in London and John Oliver in New York. They cover the weeks news stories that most affect our great nations with tongues firmly in cheeks. Their own cheeks, not each others. I assume. There have been a number of features throughout the show’s history, most of which have since been discontinued, such as the Audio Cryptic Crossword during for which Andy would give one clue a week and, upon it’s completion John was heard to remark “I see the glorious history of the ‘Audio Cryptic Crossword’ as I see the glorious history of the Third Reich—a terrible idea that was rammed down peoples throats for far too long.”
There was also ‘Hotties From History’ during which listeners would send in suggestions for long dead people for inclusion in a pin up calendar including such suggestions as Joanna The Mad and the Toba eruption. When the feature finally came to an end, Andy and John began receiving (humorous) death threats. Ah, what fun. Seriously it’s a good show. Download it.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed that and maybe I helped you find something new to while away the pointless, pointless minutes, days and years leading up to the sweet release of death. Come back tomorrow for something hopefully a little more movie related. Laterz.




%d bloggers like this: