Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ubu Roi (1965)

An evil giant man is persuaded by his nagging wife to usurp the King of Poland, and he is successful, until his extremely harsh new laws and the return of the former King's youngest son lead to a fight for the crown. (Imdb rating N/A)

Right off the bat, you need to know this is a French made-for-TV movie by Jean-Christophe Averty, based on Alfred Jarry's play Ubu Roi, a play so scandalous, that it's first performance in 1896 was stopped after the first word was uttered, because the crowd rioted.

The first word was "Merde", translated as "shit". I can't imagine how a crowd back then would have felt, if they ever got past the first word, at what quite possibly could be the lewdest, most lowbrow plays ever conceived. The amount of swearing in this puts Eddie Murphy to shame, and I have the feeling most of it wasn't properly translated to English either.

The main character Pere Ubu is just a vile human being, he's extremely fat, obnoxiously loud and egotistical, and acts like every petulant child you've ever wanted to punch. His wife is barely any better, and they spend the entire movie arguing or manipulating each other. The whole movie plays out like a pastiche of Shakespearean themes and plotlines, with bits stolen from other plays here or there. It's very predictable, but not moreso than most other movies.

I think some classical film students just had a heart attack.

The style is the main talking point here; I can almost guarantee you will never see another film that looks even remotely like this. The Forbidden Zone has some vague similarities, such as the black and white colours and mix of animation and live action, but that's it. Trying to adopt a more theatre based approach to film making, Ubu Roi dispels any types of camera panning, zooms and even moving the camera at all. At any one time, there could be three, four, six different mini-scenes onscreen, all interacting with each other in bizarre ways. Characters will pass things to each other, and the item will change size depending on where the camera is. It's visually disorientating, and cool as hell.

Ubu Roi has a unique way of word building, and by that I mean it barely exists. Half of the time, it's just characters over a black background. When there are props, they are flimsy at best, such as the cardboard horses, which look like something a five year old would strap into and race around in. Occasionally, there will be a solid setting, made from what looks like white tape. You are really forced to use your imagination, much like you would in a play.

Unfortunately, Ubu Roi does retain other play features; monologues. As a side effect of the visuals, none of the characters ever shut up, as they need to be constantly explaining what is going on action-wise so you don't get completely lost. This works well most of the time, but can start to grate. The ending is very flat as well, but I can't fault that, it's like that in the original play on purpose, to be as different to the usual 'classic' play endings as possible. Still, this is a crazy movie, and if you can get your hands on it somehow, it's well worth a watch.

Things I learnt:

  • 'Disembrained' and 'Hornigobolets' are real words.
  • 'By my green candle!' is a common saying?
  • You can kill people by them being turned into paper cutouts of themselves, then just ripping them up.
  • Or you can just threat to sharpen your teeth in their calves.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rock's Winning Workout Without Weights (1990)

Some tanned out Californian misfits attempt to conduct a workout tape, that strangely enough when considering the title, doesn't contain any weights. (Imdb rating N/A)

Rock's Winning Workout Without Weights is a workout tape sent from the level of hell where all of the schizophrenic serial killers exist. Or San Francisco. Either way, it's twenty minutes of non-stop muscly insanity.

But let us meet our crew!

Rock, the somewhat pudgy leader, with his Andre the Giant tights and ultra-high pants, leads us through the exercises. It's obvious that every part of the nutrients he's ever eaten and exercise he's ever done in the last twenty years has been devoted to growing an illustrious mustache, so he delegates moving to others. He also needs several tries at saying 'triceps'.

Zar, the bearded hippy slab of sinew! From what I can gather, he's been cryogenically frozen from 67' Frisco to specially appear in this video. Rock seems quite fond of him, except for the ten or so times that Rock has to correct him on how to do any basic exercise movement. Regardless, he's described as having "calves as his strength" and being "the great triathlete of the decade". The video ends with him lounging in a kiddies pool of what I can only guess is baby oil, before I assume Rock straddles him after the video fades out.

Dorral Silverthorn continues the run of having a stupid name. He's at least 130, regardless of the helpful text under his name saying he's 83, and he just shakes constantly. He convulses so much that Zar could place a bowl filled with vegetable juice and pot in his arms and he'd get a nutritious weedshake in eight seconds. He interrupts the video to throw his Christianity around, informing us that getting fit with this tape will "heal thy outlook on the Eternal Death". In a closeup, he warns that the Government is a two-faced hypocrite. 'Booze is a loser, and a loser is a boozer'. Strong words, but they are couched in old-man long winded bullshit, so no one cares.

What in the blue hell does 'In death, be happy like a child a few days before Christmas' mean, you old fuck?

Zaddy and Rick (or something) are the two goons that do the exercises that actually involve something even remotely hard. I give them kudos for at least being muscular, but I subtract the kudos plus five for Zaddy, who struggles to do fifty dips, but then blames the completely rusted bars for his near failure. Zar has a vertical jump that nearly enables him to headbutt the ceiling, and he tries several times! Stop whining! Rick(?) is just some punk from Portland, who uses his screen time to vacuum up any remaining non-interest, but he's otherwise a non-entity.

You know the worst thing about
Rock's Winning Workout Without Weights is, if you ignore all the bullshit, there's actually a reasonable starter workout tape hidden deep within. If you do this every day, it might work. But God help the person that would willingly watch this every day.

Things I learnt:
  • Your face during military presses should be similar to your face during orgasm
  • Sometimes it's nice to spice up any workout tape with RANDOM LION SHOT!
  • A hippy will always beat a gym junky in a footrace.