Tag Archive: filmmaking


The Misandrists: It’s… interesting…

The Misandrists by director Bruce LaBruce is… interesting. I’ve been mulling it over in my head for a few days now and I think in a way it needs to be taken more as an experience than a traditional story-driven film. By virtue of its director alone it is a transgressive film and an almost conceptual one. The closest analogy that comes to mind is Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, which was about the death dream of a dying drug dealer. Both films are intense, visual, helmed by extremely creative outside-the-box artists and films I have no intention of ever seeing again. This is not so much because I don’t think highly of the films. Rather it is because now that I’ve seen each once, I just don’t need to do it again. I think for those, like myself, who are raised on a relatively mainstream diet of cinema, watching these kinds of films is a good exercise. It is a way to view the world of cinematic storytelling through a new lens and be exposed to new ideas. A nice place to visit, but perhaps you don’t want to live there.

What follows in this article is a breakdown of things I noticed as I was watching the film, supplemented a bit by an after-film interview by the director himself. Because I came to the theater expecting a more traditional work, I kept trying to figure out how everything fit together. If the film is understood as a more abstract work, however, perhaps the traditional complaints will fall away. It will still be an intense experience, but there might be fewer questions about what is going on.

Storytelling

Dancing Nun

My issues really revolve around choices in scenes that appear during the film. These choices, for me, amounted to a lot of unnecessary misdirection. This might be partially my fault as I tried to understand where the film was going. As I mentioned before, a better strategy might have been to just absorb the film and mull the overall meaning later. That said, the first scene to take note of was the “Dancing Nun” scene. This was a moment when a nun, whose face isn’t seen, walks very purposefully and slowly before looking around and then breaking into dance. This happens for a moment, then the nun returns to walking purposefully and slowly again.

A couple things to note here. First of all, it’s established earlier in the film that the nun outfits are mostly just ruses. Unless there’s someone in authority nearby, the outfits are never worn. Secondly, there’s no real connection in this scene to the rest of the film. It’s just a strange non-sequiter. Perhaps it could be taken as a symbolic moment (perhaps some idea of being reserved and disciplined, but being unable to prevent loosening up once in a while.) Even if that were true, however, there seems to be no immediate connection to the rest of the film. As mentioned earlier, the very idea of wearing a nun’s outfit on a regular basis seems odd given that it was clearly initially worn by characters in the film as disguise.

Secret Nun

The next issue revolves around a cameo by the director himself. In one scene, a nun’s face appears and looks out into a courtyard where an event is taking place. That “nun” is the director in a nun’s outfit. The pupose of this moment made sense in the interview after the film, but it completely misled me prior to that point. In the interview after the film, Bruce LaBruce mentioned that he liked to make the audience part of the film. This “secret nun” moment was part of that. Essentially, the camera watches the nun look out the window and then cuts to view the courtyard from the nun’s perspective. The problem here is that, without the benefit of the after-film interview, it appears as if the secret nun is an actual character. I certainly took it that way. Until the interview, I really kept trying to figure out who this nun character was. I kept expecting to find out that this secret character was in fact controlling the events of the film while hidden way. Watching the film in this context made me feel there was a real unresolved storyline.

Big Mother

Speaking about unresolved, I feel there were some issues surrounding the character of Big Mother that were not properly laid to rest. In particular, there were a number of cues that seemed to me to indicate that Big Mother was heading towards failure. The first indication is very early in the film when one of the girls, Isolde, openly voices opposition to Big Mother’s policies. Doing this so early in the film sets the tone for a tale of authority versus resistance. This thread continues on with a discussion of rules about smoking. This is forbidden by Big Mother in the film, but everyone, including Big Mother herself breaks the rules casually. Thus Big Mother’s authority is false, even to herself.

To be honest, the whole environment Big Mother has set up feels cultish and artificial. The girls are regularly told stories that revolve around mythology and could easily have been made up. The exercise regimen includes pseudo-militarized chanting. Educational material is delivered with such heavy modification that it is reduced to propaganda. In a replay of the false authority issues mentioned earlier, the girls are shown as not even listening to the teacher. In the meantime Big Mother is extolling the virtues of prostitution as she prepares to enact a plan to create a pornographic film. One she admits needs to be done for money while declaring that it will also be her group’s manifesto.

The Ending

The above issues seem to mean the film is headed to an ending of disappointment for Big Mother. In reality, the plan ends in complete victory. Big Mother makes her film resulting, among other thigs, an ending scene showing the audience of her film inspired into an orgy. This didn’t make much sense to me from the standpoint of a logical plot, but the reasoning behind it was made clear in the after-film interview. The interviewer noted that Bruce LaBruce tends to end his films with orgies. LaBruce confirmed this and indicated that he likes to end films on a positive note, which for him would be an orgy. This is fine, but it is a significant break from all the cues being delivered throughout the film. This more than anything else brings the film into the world of magic reality. Essentially, it is a confirmation that the film is a conceptual exercise rather than a more conventional tale. Were I so inclined to see the film a second time (I really don’t think I will be), I would try to view the film through that perspective.

Conclusion

None of the above should promote the idea that I think the film is bad. It’s certainly the product of strong creative vision. I also think it was worthwhile to see the film if for no other reason than to step outside my regular diet of cinema. It’s important to be exposed to new and alternative ideas once in a while. For purveyors of mainstream films, I would recommend taking The Misandrists as a magic reality film. I feel, after some thought on the subject, that it is more of a presentation of a particular idea or theme rather than any traditional narrative. Audiences, particularly mainstream audiences, should absorb the film as an experience and try to understand the events seen in a somewhat symbolic or non-literal manner.

Please be aware, however, that no matter how you approach the film, it will be an intense and, in some parts, deeply unsettling experience. If you’ve seen Bruce LaBruce films before, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, well… good luck.

Godzilla’s Nuclear Fury

Shin Godzilla Nuclear FuryShin Godzilla isn’t just a monster movie, it’s about one man’s revenge on humanity. View full article »

Dark Seduction is a terrible film the story of which should be an inspiration to filmmakers. View full article »

Goodbye to Language, Hello to 3D

Film history books are going to point out the film Goodbye to Language as the first significant moment 3D stopped being a gimmick and started being an actual storytelling tool. Other films outside the range of action or blockbuster movies have tried the technology, but Goodbye to Language is a film from a respected director who inspired the great mainstream directors of our time. The film, being an experimental, abstract work, will not be accessible to the average film enthusiast, but the thought put into using the 3D technology to draw out the emotion of the moment should make the film a study piece for other filmmakers to examine and build on.

The film’s director, Jean-Luc Godard, came into his cinematic power in the 1960s and 1970s as part of an upstart movement of filmmakers referred to as “New Wave”. This movement rejected the technique of mainstream French and American (Hollywood) cinema. The feeling was that this type of mainstream film work focused too much on established technique and rejected innovation and experimentation. The most radical of his group, Godard’s films were unapologetic in their abstract and political nature. Because of this, his works carried power appreciated by many of the great filmmakers of the 1970s onward such as Martin Scorsese and others.

In a way, the push to bring 3D out of gimmickry could only have come from someone like Godard, whose drive to experiment would have allowed him to think of way to truly touch a viewer using the technology instead of using it to provide “wow” factor. Suddenly a drawn out shot of a woman clutching the bars of a fence has more resonance because we see the hand reaching out of the frame towards us. The direction towards the audience has more emotional impact. Long views of flowers in 3D make the viewer examine them more closely, pondering their significance in the film.

It doesn’t all work, of course. In particular once scene involved a merging of two different camera angles in one shot. The audience reaction was almost immediately one of confusion. People were trying to figure out if something had gone wrong with the projector. Further, while the film was shot entirely in 3D, it must be said that there was still the old issue of “forgetting” that the 3D was there. The technology simply became irrelevant unless a shot occurred that specifically relied on it.

That said, it’s clear that the technology was more than just a gimmick to the film. Godard has found a way to add to the visual vocabulary of the genre by using dimensionality to draw out emotion and attention to detail from the viewer, adding depth as it were, to the film experience. One hopes that other filmmakers are inspired to build on this further.

Robert Redford on why he worked on the new Captain America movie

Entertainment weekly posted an interview with Robert Redford where he spoke on why he agreed to work on the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier film from Marvel. In essence he was attracted to the idea of a CGI-driven film. He wanted to see what the process was like to be a part of computer generated fantasy. Those weren’t his words, specifically, but you get the idea.

The interview has been making the rounds to all the comics-related sites, so we won’t re-hash it here. The important thing is that Robert Redford, at his age, is open to experimentation, which we at Quantum Pop think is fairly exceptional. It’s all too often that one sees the stars of yesterday get swept aside because they don’t understand how their art is changing, be it music, film or anything else.

Film is a visual language. Like many spoken languages, the exact dialect shifts and mutates as society changes and trends come and go. We see this all the time with music. Music is a language, but Renaissance music is a different dialect than Punk, which is itself a different dialect to, say, Trance. Likewise, the dialect of film has changed, at least for the big budget films. Redford recently starred in the film All is Lost, which was a decidedly low-budget film with a very personal and emotional story of dwindling hope. This requires a specific visual language that is similar to, but differs significantly from, the upcoming Captain America film. The latter being heavily CGI-driven, and far more spectacular in visual presentation.

For Mr. Redford to be willing to learn new things means that he will be able to pick up on the dialect of this type if technologically-backed film, and perhaps bring some of it into the other dialects that he works in more frequently. That sort of thing is good for everyone concerned as cross-pollination is vital to creative growth.