Saturday, March 20, 2010
An Agreeable Film
Despite the fact that I could've gone my whole life without seeing Paul Sorvino raise the roof, I didn't think Repo! The Genetic Opera was so bad. It shares some producers with the Saw films and is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed Saws II through IV. I've only seen the first Saw, with Rifftrax accompaniment, and while I enjoyed Repo a lot more than that film, I admit that's certainly not saying much. Though I suppose the only thing Repo shares with the Saw movies, content-wise, is somewhat whimsical, conspicuously artificial violence. Repo benefits from not taking itself as seriously as Saw, working mostly like an old fashioned haunted house at a Halloween fair, minus the scares. At the same time, its full throttle post-modernism can become somewhat tedious, though bits of genuine creativity save it from being the obnoxious borefest of a Baz Luhrmann film.
My least favourite part of the film was this guy;
The whole movie I kept thinking, "What's he doing here?" He looks like a fan who won a contest to appear in the movie. His face, uninterestingly settled between soft and chiselled is, for a man, unsuited for long hair, and his performance, while enthusiastic, lacks any particular texture or complexity. It occurred to me at one point, "This guy's either one of the composers or the director." Sure enough, I discovered later that he's Terrance Zdunich, one of the film's composers and also the artist responsible for another of my least favourite aspects of the film, its intermittent bits of exposition dumped on the audience in the form of comic book art. I would actually like to see a cut of the film without that stuff, most of which is repeated in dialogue anyway, and the absence of the rest of which wouldn't particularly harm the music video quality of the rest of the film. Truly, it's a movie that would've benefited from a little surrealism and less of a literal narrative.
That being said, the guy's music's not too bad. It's all pretty peppy and moves things along at a fun pace.
My favourite part of the movie was Sarah Brightman, who in addition to having a wonderful voice, has a face that looks particularly good with a lot of eye makeup. Having some knowledge of actual opera, she must have been a little amused by these kids thinking they were making something particularly shocking or transgressive.
Almost all the beauty of the film comes in the form of aesthetics, as is demonstrated by my favourite scene, where Brightman uses her false eyes to display a hologram of the main character's, Shiloh's, deceased mother, a la R2D2. This fascinating scene is here to serve a rather mundane plot about a young girl kept locked up by her father, played by Anthony Stewart Head, whose back-story, revolving around his mistaken guilt over killing his wife, prompting him to become a government sponsored assassin, actually had the potential to be a far more interesting tale of identity. Sadly, it's totally abandoned for Shiloh's humdrum, stilted progression from child to adult, though maybe I'd find it more interesting if I were a 17 year old. The banal story surrounded by grandiose trappings might actually be just the thing for your typical teenager, whose normal troubles with self esteem need to be flattered with the ascription of cosmic proportions. Shiloh even gets a whole opera audience to express awe at her liberation at the end.
Not my least favourite part of the film is Paris Hilton, who apparently won a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress for this, which I think goes to show the Raspberries are as much controlled by politics and phoney social interests as the Oscars. Hilton may not be perfect, but she hits all the notes when she sings and she looks good. I know for a fact there were far worse performances in supporting roles that year.
Paul Sorvino's not bad, roof raising aside, adopting a more bombastic menace than his famous, taciturn performance in Goodfellas.
The visuals of the film aren't terribly original--the shots of the city, with its circular arrangement around a central tower, looked remarkably like Final Fantasy VII's Midgar;
With floating screens announcing things in voices echoing throughout the city in a manner causing me to expect to hear, "Live the good life, in the off world colonies!" A lot of the lighting reminded me of early coloured lighting in 3D video games, distractingly over the top, making things look cheap and television sized, but a lot of the bits of gothic architecture, wrought iron fences, and high contrast hair and makeup, are exactly the familiar items a lot of people want to see, which I found nice to see as well. The movie has a certain target milieu which it hits well enough.
Last night's tweets;
There's no right time to tell a clock to change.
The worst news is delivered via flies.
Sunlight off marble tames Minotaur's rage.
Cashew juices flow off fluorescent thighs.