Tuesday 9th June 2020
Two films, one risible the other invigorating. The first was very promising: Proximity, what looked like an indy Strange Encounters. Everything quite subtle and fresh, steadfastly unformed or formulaic, and that kept you guessing constantly – purposefully (?) redolent of a 90s film in style and format. At first I thought the crux of the tale was to be on the human condition, perhaps ignited by obsession, fear, misrepresentation and fame (the protagonist documents an alien abduction). The lead decidedly averse to Hollywood translation -a science nerd and his mates who genuinely look like ones, and not say Chris Hemsworth or Anne Hathaway with specs. Definitely a Canadian flick surely -like a version of Hollywood with more pathos, desolation and nudity, to a smaller budget (it is actually American).
But then midway through the stylus scratch. The minute the Men in Black showed up complete with wraparound shades and penguins suits it became a laugh-a-minute meme, so riddled with ham robots, ant-head aliens, odious villainry, bad FX and grossly inaccurate gunsights (‘lazer’ guns haha) it became unwatchable thereon. The jarring deus ex machina was too much -coming across an internet wizz in the Costa Rican jungle, and one willing to throw life to the wind to tag along, plus inveigling a brief flight from jungle to the Canadian Rockies without payment or passport. The fact the love interest is love interest (that’s like so pre-2017), falling coyly, titillatingly in love despite the fact they’re on the run from dark forces and share nothing in common but having been beamed up, her make up immaculate even waking up, or under interrogation. Others have called it a ‘film school film’.
The follow-up flick was The Hunt. Universally slated as it was offensive to both sides of the political spectrum, it portrays a group of right-wing nutters (the kind who shock jock) kidnapped and hunted down by sick left-wing elites (the kind who argue about representation during their deaths). All very tongue in cheek, but drawing criticism from the right (notably the Trump) for the premise of gunning down their compadres, and the left for the negative, comedic portrayals of hypocritical social justice warriors. Neither side ever noticed the balance it appears. When one such elitist is asked, gun to face, whether she should get deferential, kinder treatment for being a woman she starts off with ‘no…’ and is subsequently shot in the head.
This effect on the audience is its winning card. As a fellow SJW it was amazing seeing the change in my own reaction when realising midway through the killing, that those being mercilessly hunted down were from the opposing camp. That these previously hard-to-watch, violent scenes suddenly became camp and comedic, as intended. True to life, both sides never let up and give the other any shred of humanity, even after realising mistaken identity. They just have to win, at all costs. It is something to question what we deem human, humane and inhuman.
Hero of the movie is Crystal, played by the inimitable Betty Gilpin, whose name could not be more opposite to the character she portrays – a sociopathic, unrelenting southern ‘hick’ as brave and intelligent as can be against all societal and weapon-based odds: ‘Why’d they wanna kill us? Who gives a fuck.” We’re never sure what side of the fence she stands.
The film flopped thanks to being put back (after the ubiquitous monthly gun massacres Stateside), then released shortly before lockdown. It’s now on Netflix, having resorted to that as a debut. A must-see in my book.
Other films from the day before were Labyrinth (don’t remember it being so hammy, a bit queasy every time Bowie’s jockstrap hoves into view or the 15 year old Jennifer Connelly gets sexied up), and Muriel’s Wedding (hilarious, seminal coming of age for an entire generation, laying the ground rules we see in our Millennials today).
The weather’s shit, as always, and looks likely to stay that way until July. Life is a scroll of windows.