Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Wonderful Spirit of Time Travel

In 1918 a man shows up at the dilapidated London flat of a poor single mother and offers her a job as caretaker of a haunted manor. He doesn't tell her it's haunted, he entrusts this knowledge only to her two elder children. He's a lawyer and a ghost himself; he's The Amazing Mr. Blunden, which also happens to be the title of this delightful fantasy film from 1972.

Elmer Bernstein composed the score which has a wonderful, distinctively 70s charm to it with its rapturous strings and brass as Lucy (Lynne Frederick) and Jamie (Garry Miller) explore their enormous, creepy, and partly fire damaged new home. It's not long before they do encounter ghosts--a pair of children much like them, Sara (Rosalyn Landor) and Georgie (Marc Granger), from exactly a hundred years earlier.

It's arguably more of a time travel story than a haunting story but, then again, the implicit connexion between the two concepts is fun. It kind of reminded me of Inland Empire.

Sara and Georgie are being terrorised by their half brother's mother in law, Mrs. Wickens, played by Diana Dors.

One of my all time favourite actresses, Dors was well past her bombshell years, though she was only 40. On the one hand it's admirable she was willing to take these roles when so many former leading ladies would insist only on more flattering parts. On the other hand, it must have been liberating to be able to play such over the top characters as this and the brash matriarch she played on the sitcom Queenie's Castle. And, yeah, I'd still go out with her, even in the Mrs. Wickens getup.

The Amazing Mr. Blunden is a simple enough story about kids versus cruel adults while also having some intriguing and aesthetically pleasing subtext to its concepts. The form Mr. Blunden's (Laurence Naismith) buried conscience takes occupies a fascinating part of the story, especially since it turns out he has very little screentime. He's kind of a free-floating psychological preoccupation that outlived his physical body. I love it. I also love the method of time travel shown in the film, which is revealed to Sara and Georgie by the house's apparently sentient library.

It's a potion, the ingredients for which must be strained through a muslin cloth. Amusingly, Sara and Georgie test it on Mrs. Wickens first to make sure it's not poison.

With a cast that also includes James Villiers, Madeline Smith, and Graham Crowden, it's a fun film with a lot of atmosphere. Lynne Frederick is particularly good, the point of view character for much of the film. The Amazing Mr. Blunden is available on Amazon Prime. You could do worse for something to watch on Christmas--though only the beginning of the film is actually set during Christmas, most of the action occurs during April of 1918 and 1818.

Twitter Sonnet #1185

The eggs of ducks were blue as ships in space.
The careful paint would still escape the pod.
A grid between the suns creates a face.
There's nothing darker dwelling here or odd.
The hammocks creak and sway in inky seas.
Tomatoes lined the battlement and watched.
A drop of rain was just a cloudy tease.
A blade of grass was but a flower botched.
In constant glowing hands the sky was held.
In braided breads the ghosts were growing great.
The greatest lump in truth was soundly frelled.
A mob of ghosts would batter down the gate.
A cable carried out a hundred years.
Electric shows react with water tears.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Compulsive Correction

Many have drawn comparisons between some of the most extreme political rhetoric of to-day with Puritanism but 2018's First Reformed makes the connexion with extraordinary eloquence and consideration. Written and directed by Paul Schrader, it's a bit like a cross between Taxi Driver (which had a screenplay by Schrader) and Bergman's Winter Light. It's the story of a man coming to the end of a rope lead by demons of guilt and conscience, his every step defined by contradictions and seemingly solid, clear, deadly focused rational. Ethan Hawke in the lead role is better than I've ever seen him before and Schrader's filmmaking style is quiet, clear, and powerfully ominous.

Hawke plays Reverend Toller who's in charge of a small, two hundred fifty year old Protestant church in upstate New York. He's got a little bit of a swagger about him and an abruptness that seems out of place with his sincerity and kindness until we find out he used to be a military chaplain. We also learn he had a son who died in Iraq after Toller had encouraged him to enlist because it was family tradition.

One day a young woman, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), asks him to speak with her husband, Michael (Philip Ettinger), about whom she's very worried. Michael is a hardcore environmentalist activist. He wanted Mary, who's twelve weeks pregnant, to get an abortion because he knows there's no hope for the world, that climate change is now an irreversible downward spiral. He doesn't think it's right to bring a child into the world.

Toller, in voice over narration explained by a diary he's keeping for a year, says his discussion with Michael felt like Jacob wrestling with the angel. It is one of the more intellectually stimulating dialogues in recent film history as Toller tries to explain why Michael and Mary should have and care for a child for reasons beyond religious prohibitions on abortion. He explains to Michael that there can be no hope without despair, that life is about holding contradictory ideas simultaneously.

There's plenty about Toller that's contradictory. Like Travis Bickle, he likes to drink even as his judgements on others become less and less yielding as the film progresses. And like Travis Bickle, you can't argue he's all wrong. As Toller increasingly shares Michael's point of view, we can certainly understand the anger he feels at the businessmen and even the man in charge of the megachurch that now owns Toller's church, Joel Jeffers (Cedric the Entertainer). People who have profited directly or indirectly by the destruction of the natural ecosystem.

Schrader and Hawke never flatten Toller, we see the reasons for every step on the path he takes, the exact nature of the questions that torment him and why there's an irredeemable guilt he only half perceives. The problems of climate change and the Iraq war neatly translate into centuries old Puritan psychology in Toller. He's intelligent and wise but it doesn't keep him from abusing alcohol to the point of permanently damaging his health, nor does it keep him from pushing away people who care for him. That may be the greatest difference between Toller and Travis Bickle; Toller's compulsions are driven by a sense of inadequacy and hatred for anyone who does not share in that perception of his inadequacy.

The end of the film, I suspect, is a hallucination, though Schrader leaves it ambiguous. In any case, it makes clear exactly what he tries to tell Michael earlier in the film and what Jeffers tries to tell him--no perfect system or rationale has yet been invented to administer the fundamental needs of humanity. Ignoring this truth, even in the interest of justice, can have disastrous consequences.

First Reformed is free with Amazon Prime.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Aliens Hate Sleep

Having experienced some sleep deprivation lately, I watched one of the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the crew have trouble sleeping, the sixth season episode "Schisms". Not a great episode or a bad episode, it's kind of the epitome of average, but if you like TNG, it's a pleasant enough time on the Enterprise-D.

Watching the crew try to solve the mystery as to why some crew members are losing periods of time is much more fun than the solution. Why does Riker (Jonathan Frakes) feel like he's just gone to bed when he wakes up in the morning? How could Data's (Brent Spiner) internal chronometer be different from the computer's? What's happening? Everyone works hard to figure it out.

Spare a little effort for your hair, Riker. It's a visual indicator of his lack of sleep, yes, but it's a bit much. I think he'd at least run a comb through his hair once.

The episode's also known for Data's poetry reading, one of those things that shows how hard it is to deliberately write something exceptionally bad. "Ode to Spot" is actually cute, in no way justifying the boredom in the audience. Certainly not the fury shown by Picard's (Patrick Stewart) intense looking mystery date in the blue dress.

There's another unknown woman in this scene; Kaminer (Angelina Fiordellisi), whose name, reason for being on the Enterprise, or relationship with the main crew is never revealed in this episode and she's never seen again, despite playing an important role later on.

She's one of the people whom Troi (Marina Sirtis) gathers in the Holodeck to reconstruct repressed memories of being abducted. Everyone else is part of the main cast--Geordi (Levar Burton), Worf (Michael Dorn), and Riker. It's frankly distracting--whenever Kaminer was talking, I found myself wondering who the hell she is instead of thinking of the mystery. It's been too long since I first watched this episode but I think I thought she might have been like the extra crewmember in the season five episode "Conundrum", a similar episode where the crew had lost some of their memory, and the extra crewmember ended up being important. But Kaminer doesn't even seem like she was meant to be a red herring. She'd be one of those great, obscure subjects for cosplay, but if I saw any Kaminers at Comic Con I didn't recognise them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The End of Débuts

In 1958, Queen Elizabeth II decided to discontinue the long tradition of débutante balls presided over by English royalty. That same year, a Vincent Minnelli movie called The Reluctant Débutante was released, in which Sandra Dee became one of the last young women to "come out" in the ceremony. The film isn't wistful regarding the impending demise of the tradition neither does it relish its death. Instead it's a simple, delightful comedy with clever dialogue served very well by Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall.

Dee plays Jane Broadbent, daughter of Jimmy Broadbent (Harrison) from his first marriage, to an American. Her stepmother, Sheila (Kendall), abruptly decides Jane shall be a débutante in the middle of a catty discussion with her snooty friend, Mabel (Angela Lansbury).

Sheila forces Jimmy to improvise knowledge of the plan when he enters the room, the first of several brilliant scenes where one or the other of the couple is rapidly making do based on limited or false information. In one of my favourite scenes, Sheila decides to invite a particular boy to have dinner with the family in the hopes of bringing him closer to Jane. But instead of the desired but boring and sexually abusive David Fenner (Peter Myers) she invites the black sheep and social outcast David Parkson (John Saxon) whose number Mabel gives her, deliberately misrepresenting it as belonging to the other boy. Sheila never realises her mistake, even when Fenner happens to call next, and her apologising for wishing his mother well although she's dead is taken as an eccentricity by Fenner.

SHEILA: David, this is Sheila. About your mother, Darling . . .

FENNER: Well, I'm afraid she's dead, actually.

SHEILA: Yes, I know, Darling, that's why I'm so sorry about asking you to give her my love.

FENNER: Ah--I'm afraid I can't because she's dead.

SHEILA: I know, Darling, that's why I'm so sorry, it was such a silly mistake to make!

FENNER: Well, she couldn't help it, actually.

Fenner is the eligible bachelor girls are forced to dance with even though his conversation is limited to droning on and on about the state of roads and traffic in the London area and bragging about his route choices. This is hilarious until it turns out his other fault is getting too aggressive with young women when they're alone together, a crime which the other David, the one played by John Saxon, is widely considered guilty of after a girl was found passed out drunk in his bed.

This is all a misunderstanding, which we know well before it's explained, but to be fair, John Saxon never stops seeming creepy in this movie. It's a wonder his career of playing villains in genre films and television was still years ahead. There's an embarrassing conversation where he sincerely tells the Broadbents about studying drums "in Africa" and describes how "the tribe" have a wedding dance with a "shuddering climax". No-one thinks to ask, "Where in Africa?" or "What tribe?" Hadn't anyone seen King Solomon's Mines?

Rex Harrison has most of the funny lines, though, as the last act involves his delicate attempts to make the truth known despite Sheila's unshakeable impression of Parkson. The costumes are beautiful and while it might not be among Minnelli's best films his able had at the wheel nicely showcases the talents of the actors.

Twitter Sonnet #1184

Detectives follow cars to moons of coats.
The movie candy sticks to glass to-night.
The slinking hoods are all but passing boats.
A bridge's shadow plucks a hat from sight.
A dollar marker held the pages off.
A hundred watches marked the foolish road.
Between the warping wood the air would cough.
Bereft of players tables may implode.
The knives were hid in cans along the lanes.
The finished reel was soaked in tea and beer.
A wooden heel destroyed reflected stains.
A boiled mug ascends the fatal tier.
An axe reforged of lead collected rust.
The joint awaits a slow eternal bust.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

From the Street Sweeper to Kingpin

God minds the stable and Satan offers the only chance for a better life in the 1967 Spaghetti Western Day of Anger. Featuring some of the best music of the genre with a score by Riz Ortolani (borrowed by Tarantino for Django Unchained), the film features some provoking and unusual moral contemplations, a surprising and enjoyable plot, and some good shoot outs.

Its Italian title, I giorni dell'ria, according to Wikipedia, translates to Days of Wrath, a title that may have been avoided to avoid confusion with the Carl Dreyer movie, but the biblical allusion would've made more sense with the film's themes. The protagonist is a handsome young man (Giuliano Gemma) who's the scorn of his small western town, spat on by everyone but the denizens of the brothel, the town drunk, and a stable hand.

Forced to do all the dirty jobs around town and rebuked by the proprietor if he so much as thinks of sitting down in the saloon, it's unclear why the lad is such a scapegoat or why he puts up with it with so much humility. His name is Scott--his only name, he explains, because he's a bastard. Then one day a dangerous man rides into town, Frank Talby (Lee Van Cleef), and tells Scott he should use his mother's name, Mary, for a surname, and encourages him to have more pride.

Scott has two competing father figures--Talby and the stable hand, Murph Allan Short (Walter Rilla), who starts to feel sorry he taught Scott how to quickdraw a pistol, something Scott has been obsessively practising for years with a wooden gun. Talby takes him under his wing, gives him a real gun, and some lessons about how to survive while earning respect and fear.

It feels like there's more of a history behind the story than is ever revealed. Some critics have put down the abuse Scott's suffered to an anachronistic class consciousness but it seems more vicious than that. The fact that he doesn't know who his father was and that two older men seem interested in his well being seems to indicate one of them might be his father. That this information is withheld contributes to the tension in the choice Scott has to make between ruling the town as a subordinate to a warlord or serving the town as a sheriff. But it's clear he needs lessons from both men.

One of the ways you can tell the difference between a Spaghetti Western and an American Western is everyone is beautifully dressed. Even Murph Allan Short gets a little blue and magenta neckerchief.

The actors are generally good, particularly Van Cleef who, as usual, excels in an understated menace that carries an implicit wisdom. Giuliano Gemma isn't bad though someone who looked more like an outcast might have worked better. Day of Anger is free with Amazon Prime.

Monday, December 10, 2018

With Maisel Frosting

I'm three episodes in on the new season of The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel. Every episode is like a slice of cake. The pitch perfect snappy dialogue from Amy Sherman Palladino and the wardrobe are so sweet, both coming through as a loving rendition of mid-century films I really dig. The wardrobe was never this perfect in real life, of course, but who needs real life?

Burgundy seems to be Midge's (Rachel Brosnahan) favourite colour again but there's more to her wardrobe than that, all contributing to an overall look that's simultaneously intensely girly and sharp as fuck. I like this intensely pink outfit she wears when she gets to Paris:

The matching pink plaid hat and the little gloves--the little gloves have little bows!

They remind me of Grace Kelly's gloves in To Catch a Thief. Donna Zakowska, the main costume designer, is nowhere near as bold as Edith Head, Hitchcock's costume designer, but the perfectly pleasant combinations are delicious. The men's wardrobe is less exciting. Joel (Michael Zegen) has this nice enough blue and cream outfit until he puts a grey coat on it which somehow makes it all so plain.

Kevin Pollak looks good except very 2000s. The tie that blends quietly with the shirt seems much more this century.

Tony Shalhoub generally gets some disappointing blue and brown combos but I was impressed by this double breasted leather jacket he wears when he's trying out being Parisian:

It's the women who get the really nice clothes, though. Even Susie has something kind of perfect about her. I love how she rolls her pant cuffs like Marlon Brando in The Wild One;

This diner scene made me really hungry for french fries. Also the subtle sea scheme of Midge's blue and green outfit is a nice change for her:

The sets and locations are lovely too. I wish department stores still looked like the one Midge works at and that wedding was like a beautiful animated wedding cake. I felt so bad for her when she automatically went into stand up comic mode and ruined everything. She has both impeccable taste and then suddenly terrible taste. I can relate.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Doctor versus Tooth Face, Round Two

To-day's new Doctor Who was the season finale, delivering a plot with markedly less emotion than any in the Russell T. Davies or Steven Moffat eras. Generally I wished finales from the revived series wouldn't try to hit such high notes but this first finale by showrunner Chris Chibnall has shown me the folly of blandness.

Spoilers after the screenshot

One thing I'll give credit to "The Battle of Ranskoor" for is addressing the seemingly sloppy writing from earlier in the season. Whether it's because Chibnall was planning it all along (doubtful) or he engaged in some self criticism (probable and laudable) I like that Ryan (Tosin Cole) now calls the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) on using bombs while she lectures people about the use of firearms. The Doctor's explanation, essentially that she established rules so that she can break them--or people who've won her respect can--was a nicely Time Lady moment. You think this show's too liberal? The Doctor certainly has her Royalist side. I still think it would've been sensible to shoot the giant spiders.

And people certainly were happy to use guns in this episode. Yaz (Mandip Gill) even gives Paltraki (Mark Addy) a "Nice shot!" when he manages to shoot two thugs over her shoulder. Graham (Bradley Walsh) has meanwhile gone from quoting Pulp Fiction to quoting Die Hard and he and Ryan standing over Tooth Face at the end looked like a shot from Inglourious Basterds.

If Inglourious Basterds starred people from commercials for local retail. Graham's dilemma over whether he'll kill Tim Shaw in revenge for the killing of his wife lacked a lot of weight thanks to Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole's flat performances. Though it was also deflated for not making sense in the usual way heroes deciding not to kill two dimensional villains doesn't make sense. If you're talking about an anti-death penalty philosophy in a world where even murderers are complex, multifaceted beings with psychological problems that may be treated, it makes sense. But as Graham pointed out early on, all the Doctor did in letting Tim Shaw live was to give him opportunity to commit more atrocities. That's a really good point and no-one really brings up a sensible counterargument. Unless anyone really believes Tim Shaw is going to be stuck in that solitary confinement forever. Well, he was so dull, maybe the writers really won't bother setting him free.

I liked the concept of the two person species, it felt very old school Doctor Who, as did the concept of a villain stealing planets and miniaturising them (in fact that was part of the premise of the Fourth Doctor serial The Pirate Planet).

So that concludes the first season of the Thirteenth Doctor. Some really nice guest stars this season, particularly Susan Lynch and Alan Cumming; writing that ranged from terrible to average; dull companions (Yaz pretty much had no reason for being in the finale); bad music. Whittaker isn't bad though she's easily the weakest since Colin Baker. But I still think things could improve next season.

Twitter Sonnet #1183

Presented drums contain a secret gin.
The quiet sun delivered rain to class.
Reports were gathered late and promptly binned.
Connexions failed to see the noodle pass.
The quiet key contains piano sounds.
A glowing time configured fights for scrap.
Another name was picked to call the rounds.
Appearance spelled the crimson paper wrap.
A planetary orange withheld the seeds.
As harpsichords would tumble down the hill.
Instructive plants were rows of music weeds.
But nothing human wrote the final bill.
A tidy stream concludes with salvaged soap.
A cleansing froth replenished means to cope.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Low Fat Star Wars

There's a new way to digest Star Wars now with Galaxy of Adventures. A series of shorts released by Disney on YouTube, they use audio of the actors from the films to recreate or create scenes in a vaguely anime style but with cheaper 2D cgi. I watched them this morning--it didn't take long, they're all under two minutes, hopefully assuring even the shortest attention spans will be sold on the brand. Also this morning I read this article in The Atlantic about Andy Warhol and this quote seemed appropriate: ". . . Warhol’s great advance was collapsing any distinction between commercial and noncommercial modes of experience." Because Galaxy of Adventures basically seems to be fan art produced by the legal owners of the intellectual property for the purpose of financial gain.

This concept isn't new, of course. In the comments section of the io9 article on Galaxy of Adventures, many people have been sharing covers from tie-in comics from the 80s that, to say the least, played fast and loose with plot, character design, and basic concept of Star Wars. I remember owning a Return of the Jedi 7 inch record and book--I see someone's selling it on eBay for 19.99. It got all kinds of little details wrong from the movie though the impression I generally had was that this wasn't so much because the writer was asserting an alternate creative vision so much as it was someone looking to pay bills with spec writing who didn't necessarily have quick access to a copy of Return of the Jedi. A lot of people forget how hard it could be to see movies, especially new movies, in the early days of home video. The writer was probably working from a script or synopsis--many such things contained references to scenes deleted from the final film.

Of course, even incidental changes or changes based on haste or limited available source material are still artistic choices, choices that alter what's expressed in the artefact. For many people, these distorted hand me down narratives form an essential part of their experience with Star Wars--even if sometimes they didn't want it to. Say there's a difference between how Vader talks to the Imperial officer at the beginning of Return of the Jedi in the movie versus how he talks to him in the little record book I had--as I seem to remember there was. I remember at one point the memory of that scene as it plays in the book being closer to my impression of the "real" scene--and then one day seeing the movie again and experiencing a small shock at realising it's different. Over the course of a few rewatches, I'll always remember that shock and it'll always occupy a part of my reaction to the scene. I might think about how the alternate versions relate to each other, ponder which one is better, and wonder why the difference exists.

In this way it's different from an old oral tradition or myth proliferated by word of mouth. There's an official version that "wins". And that's another part of the story, too, the meta-narrative, if you will. It's all part of the psychological construct of "Star Wars" that the version on the big screen with the special effects and the actors is the "right" version. This is why George Lucas fought so hard to destroy the Star Wars Holiday Special--it looked too much like canon. But this dichotomy is increasingly breaking down, partly due to the fact that ownership of a property isn't quite as successfully translating to control of the canon as corporate owners had hoped. Star Trek fans, even ones who try very hard to, are having trouble incorporating Discovery into the Star Trek canon they recognise, and the fights over Last Jedi have been sometimes sad and nasty, and hopelessly infected with politics. Simon Pegg had a very interesting point recently:

There was an odd thing with [‘The Last Jedi’] in that the people who didn’t like it were sort of being gaslighted by the people that did like it, who were just dismissing their complaints about the film as being fanboy butthurt. And yet, the whole thing is just eating itself in a hideous cultural soup. It’s a shame because it’s just a film.

Speaking as someone who liked Last Jedi, one of the problems I did have with it is that its political messages aren't very well incorporated into the film. That's different from saying I didn't like the political messages, though there are some I disagree with, like the meme about letting old things die or killing them--though, to be fair, the movie leaves some ambiguity in this since it's the villain, Kylo Ren, who urges Rey to "Let the past die" and Rey, the heroine, saves the old Jedi texts at the end. I can enjoy a completely political movie even if I disagree with it philosophically--I'm not a Communist but I think Battleship Potemkin is a brilliant film. I think people complaining about Last Jedi's politics—and people defending them--are missing Oscar Wilde's very important point, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."

So that was a bit of a digression on what I intended to be a very short entry on Galaxy of Adventures. Which aren't very good. The animation isn't quite as bad as Forces of Destiny but it's close. The episode that repackages the famous scene from the end of Rogue One saps it of most of its power; the episode in the Death Star trench omits the shot of the Millennium Falcon, leaving it unclear where the shots are coming from that hit Vader's ship. The facial expressions and gestures are overwrought in a way more symptomatic of bad American animation than Japanese. The series brought me again to the thought, one that would probably be very worrying for Disney; can Star Wars really be bought and sold, even for several billion dollars? One of the themes from the George Lucas films notably absent from the Disney films is the conflict between humans and machines. Vader turns bad because he becomes "more machine now than man", Luke turns off the targeting computer to destroy the Death Star, even General Grievous is a sort of prototype of Vader. It might not be a comfortable idea for Disney who, with things like Forces of Destiny and Galaxy of Adventures, seem like they should be about to buy an audience with Star Wars Holiday Special quality. To just flip a switch and let the machine of the property do the work rather than foster artistic vision. But maybe not--I love Rogue One and I have hopes for The Madalorian. We'll see how the battle for the soul of Star Wars plays out.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Jekyll's New Sedative

So you'd like to see a Jekyll and Hyde movie but you wish it didn't have to be so darned exciting. Maybe you've wondered, what's with all the running around and shouting? Bah! Well, 2017's Madame Hyde just might be the Jekyll and Hyde for you. A French film, it was released this year in English speaking countries as Mrs. Hyde I guess because "Madame" sounds too foreign. An anaemic and directionless film, even the daring Isabelle Huppert in the lead roles is abnormally dull. It's streaming on Amazon Prime if you want a free sleep aid.

France is one of the countries that has already had a distinguished history of adapting Robert Louis Stevenson's original story--the best French version being Jean Renoir's Le Testament du docteur Cordelier but 1981's Docteur Jekyll et les femmes is also well worth seeing. Maybe it's the shadow cast by these films that prevented Madame Hyde's writer/director, Serge Bozon, from finding his own point of view on the tale. It kind of seems like he realised he had nothing to say halfway through production and then just went through the motions of making a movie.

Huppert plays Marie Gequil, a meek physics teacher, one of those people who rises to every troll's bait, to the delight of her unruly teenage students. She helplessly yells at them to stop harassing her and their fellow students at every provocation and seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There's an interesting moment where she overhears the students talking about Spider-Man and she mocks them for thinking you can become powerful quickly thanks to some magic potion. It seemed like this was going to be an ironic set-up for her ultimate transformation into Hyde but then the transformation ends up being an accident caused by an electrical discharge in her lab.

I thought maybe the film was going to be something like We Need to Talk about Kevin when she starts to get closer to one of the more disruptive students but this doesn't happen either. For some reason, the students stop being disruptive and become cooperative and they work on a group project together, assembling a Faraday cage. Were the kids changed by Gequil? Were they affected by her imperceptible transformation? Are we meant to be seeing some air of authority or assertiveness that wasn't there before? I don't know. If any of these things happened I missed the very subtle cues that indicated them.

Hyde's form manifests at night when Gequil gets out of bed, solemnly walks outside, and starts glowing. Instead of Mr. Hyde cavorting about town, casting off all moral inhibitions, Madame Hyde just walks around and any people or animals who get too close might be burned to a crisp, though surprisingly a lot of people don't seem to notice the glowing woman wandering about. At one point she comes upon a number of delinquents having a peculiarly well rehearsed and choreographed rap battle in a bad part of town. Is this meant to be a movie-ish musical number? I had the impression Bozon thinks this is how problem kids really act when they're on their own.

Gequil doesn't seem to have a philosophy or motivation beyond teaching her students physics. In this reality, art classes are valued above science classes for some reason and the dean is an obnoxious yuppie who dismisses physics as being too alien to the artistic temperament for the two ever to meet. Gequil never actually proves him wrong but he does start to kind of respect her. I think. There's a lot of shots of people just kind of standing around and looking at things. It's really hard to say what Bozon thought he was doing.