Films: something old, something new, something bonkers, nothing blue

Posted by Lou. The time is 12.20pm here in London, UK.

I totally forgot another of my festival outings - French-Senegalese film The Absence. After 15 years in Paris a successful scientist comes back to see his grandmother and hearing- and speech-impaired younger sister in Senegal. His sister is a stranger to him but is desperate for him to learn to communicate with her - he however has no interest and is heading straight back to Paris. Then out that night with a friend he discovers that his sister is working as a prostitute and embroiled in a dark underbelly of the city. She gets in trouble with her pimp lover and goes on the run, and it is up to her brother to find her before the bad guys do.
The sister is treated in an unrelentingly bleak manner - by her brother and the bad guys. I read the film as her being a metaphor for the country itself - desperate for help from the ex-pats who have the education and resources but who aren't interested, and caught in a web of violence and corruption of the criminal underbelly. A noteworthy aspect is that the film was entirely introspective in terms of the state of the country and its future - whilst there were the nature signs of imperialism from the west, it was kept in the background to what is told as essentially a Senegalese story, situation and solution.

I attended a bad film club screening of Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, surprised to find out the film actually exists and isn't just a piss-take fake trailer. Whilst it does certainly exist, it is probably the worst film ever made - but utterly hilarious from start to finish when viewed with the live comedic commentary provided by the two people who run the bad film club. Do not ever watch this film in any other circumstance - it is just awful: the effects suck, the acting is appalling, it is the worst script and plotline of all time, and it is made in an horrifically amateur and gobsmackingly crap manner. Let me tell you the plot to help convey this:

A maverick marine biologist played by Debbie Gibson (yes, the '80s pop-singer) is in a stolen submarine (we don't know why) and comes across a giant iceberg that whales are smashing themselves against because the American military have dropped a charge down there which goes off and shatters the iceberg away into nothing immediately releasing and enlivening a mega shark and a giant octopus that have been frozen for 17 million years. Mysterious things are happening: you know, a giant octopus destroying an oil rig, a mega shark leaping out of the water to take a passenger jet out of the sky, and a giant whale turning up dead with big chunks missing. She meets up with her ridiculously Irish mentor to go "hmmm" whilst looking into microscopes and pouring liquids into each other trying to figure out what killed the whale. But then they are sent a DVD of her submarine trip in which a fuzzy freezeframe reveals the shark and octopus, which she apparently didn't notice at the time. They join up with a Japanese scientist and the navy and in a cardboard set, I mean high-tech US navy sub (coincidentally identical to the big navy ships and the Japanese subs (where they speak English, by the way)), they pour coloured liquids into each other trying to figure out how to get rid of the threat posed by the giant beasts but strangely the coloured liquids just aren't revealing an answer. After our maverick and the Japanese scientist have sex in a broom cupboard (navy subs do have broom cupboards apparently) they realise the key is pheromones. So they decide that naturally they should plant the shark pheromones in San Francisco Bay, and the octopus pheromones in Tokyo Bay (because choosing two of the most populous bays in the world is the obvious thing to do). Things go badly (who'd've thunk) and death and destruction occurs (mostly off-screen) and so they decide to lead the beasts to each other. Somehow they all very quickly get to the original site of their finding (this is merely coincidence) but whilst the mega shark that can travel at the speed of a jet is chasing their submarine they stop to have a gun stand-off between the driver and the captain. Eventually the shark and octopus fight to the death, the end.

Yeah, I know.

I finally got round to seeing the classic tale of Joan Crawford's hideousness as a mother, Mommie Dearest. It's quite interesting to watch now, seeing it as a cult classic, knowing that at the time it was meant to be a serious drama. As a serious drama it is ludicrous, but seen with the perspective of time it's brilliantly over-the-top. And I know what Halloween costume I'm going to have next year. There's only one more thing to say really: No wire hangers!!

One thought on “Films: something old, something new, something bonkers, nothing blue”

  1. Oh all these films sound great! (Well, one of 'em sound awful-but-a-great-experience.)

    I recently watched Love The Beast, Eric Bana's documentary about his life-long love(/obsession) with his car.
    You don't have to be a hoon to get into this movie (though I'm sure it would help, and add a whole deeper layer of appreciation), because Bana is so charismatic and it is very well structured for narrative drama and excitement - as well as being damn funny.