Spoiler Alert

Posted March 30, 2005 at 6:20 pm No Comments

I remember finding it very funny when Dennis got an email from Netflix suggesting that, based on his past selections, he would probably enjoy MVP 2: Most Vertical Primate. Note that not only is this a movie about a monkey who wins a skateboarding competition; it is actually a sequel to a movie about a hockey-playing monkey.

What’s kind of embarrassing is that when Dennis told me about his recommendation, the first thing I did was add the movie to my own Netflix queue. You see, like Dennis, I have a morbid fascination with really bad movies. A horrible movie is like a car accident; you know you should look away, but sometimes you can’t help but watch. And so my Netflix queue fills up with movies like Bubble Boy and Freddy Got Fingered.

Meanwhile, Jen, who shares my Netflix account, will add her own movies, which must confuse the Netflix recommendation algorithm to no end. I sometimes imagine a bewildered Netflix recommendation robot thinking, “what kind of person would rent Blade II and then follow it up with Sabrina? Perhaps I should suggest Me, Myself, and Irene, since it touches on multiple personality disorder.”

Still, occasionally I see a trailer for a film that looks so horribly bad that even I can’t stomach it. The problem is that even the worst trailers are designed to leave you intrigued, so later that day I find myself wondering about burning questions like “who wins, Freddy or Jason?” and “does Britney ever take off her top?”

Incidentally, I sat through both Freddy Vs. Jason and Crossroads (in the theater, no less), and the answers to those questions are (CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!) “Jason” and (more predictably) “No.”

Anyway, for those movies that you can’t bring yourself to watch, but you still wonder about, The Movie Spoiler is a great resource. You can read a detailed plot description of the movie in question, and it will tell you exactly how the movie ends. Anyone can submit a spoiler to the website, so the plot descriptions are not always particularly well written, but they succeed in satisfying your curiosity for free in about five minutes, which is much better than wasting nine dollars and ninety minutes.

A while ago I went to the San Francisco International Film Festival with Ethan, who suggested that we watch a collection of short films called Motion Studies. I submitted a spoiler for Motion Studies to The Movie Spoiler website, but for some reason they didn’t post it, so I decided I would just post it here. CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!


“These cutting-edge experimental works feature manipulation of appropriated footage,
creations of alternate parallel worlds, abstractions of reality and meditations on the meaning of family.”

It’s Not My Memory of It: Three Recollected Documents

Secrecy, memory, classified documents and how conspiracy can be pitted against propaganda. (Julia Meltzer, David Thorne, USA 2003, 25 min.)
Something about the CIA blowing up a truck. I’m not sure because we came in late. There were a lot of weird breathing sounds and extremely up-close shots of a television monitor displaying a grainy photograph, interspersed with captions describing a missile being fired at a truck. THE END.

Papillon d’amour

A mesmerizing manipulation of Rashomon that expresses the horror that can lie in beauty and pure love. (Nicolas Provost, Belgium 2003, 3 min.)
The film opens with this woman in a flowing white robe sort of dancing around while a song by Korn plays in the background. Only the catch is that instead of seeing the whole woman, we only see half of her and the mirror image of this half, so she goes from having four eyes to two to one as she moves her head around across the axis of reflection. I guess it looks vaguely like a butterfly with the symmetry and all. Then we see a man mirrored the same way, but he doesn’t do anything. Then it’s back to the woman until the song ends. THE END.

imAgo

Modern psychoanalysis tells us that as children, we form an internal idealized image of someone, usually a parent. Does television now provide this image for us? (Nikos Veliotis, Greece 2003, 11 min.)
We initially see a blurry, desaturated photo of someone’s face on a solid black background. After a few seconds, another blurry photo gradually fades in on top of the first one, not quite aligned. New photos continue fading in like this very slowly for what seems like a very long time, but the photos are all too blurry to make out any of the details. There is no sound whatsoever throughout the entire film. The audience is totally silent. Then finally the screen goes black. Nobody is sure if it is over or not until the credits roll about 20 seconds later. THE END.

You Define Single File

Is it a cryptic symbol-laden message from space, or an earthly occult message from the past? You decide. (Random Touch, USA 2003, 6 min.)
We open on a guy in a white lab coat dancing around in a wheat field to some crazy chanting music. Then we see the negative image of the dancer overlaid on the original image. Next we cut to the inside of a barn, where several men in white lab coats wearing identical creepy masks are dancing in unison, circling around as they hold what appear to be water balloons in their outstretched hands. The crazy chanting continues, mostly unintelligibly, but occasional the name “Dick Cheney” can be heard. Now there are only two dancers, but they have water balloons in both hands, and hula hoops around their waists, with helium balloons tied to the hula hoops. Oh, and they don’t have any legs, just glowing energy spheres where their legs should be. We see a dancer up close but with holes in his body like he was in front of a blue screen but had splotches of blue paint on his clothing. A water balloon splashes on the ground. THE END.

The Greater Vehicle

An ode to group salvation through public transport. (Robert Fox, USA 2003, 7 min.)
We see a bunch of road signs overlaid on a grainy nature background. Then a lot of static, and then something that looks like maybe train tracks. Yes, definitely train tracks. There is the sound of a train in the background and lots of trees floating around on top of the train tracks. Then a bunch of babbling voices on top of train track noises and steam sounds, and a lot of train car logos flash up on the screen in rapid succession, overlaid on the image of the blurry train tracks. THE END.

Martin

A formal study and a sociological vignette combined as metaphor for experience. (Bill Basquin, USA/New Zealand 2004, 5 min.)
A farmer enters a barn and grabs a sheep. He starts shearing it quite expertly as he talks about sheep shearing and his farming community. He continues shearing the sheep until it is completely bare. Then he releases the sheep and it wanders off to another part of the barn. The farmer puts on his boots as the narrator says something about how when he hangs up his laundry to dry in his San Francisco apartment, it reminds him of this farmer, presumably because the farmer also dries his clothes this way. It sounds like the narrator may be sexually attracted to the sheep farmer, but it isn’t totally clear. THE END.

Not Too Much Remember

The nature and power of storytelling and how narratives form our consciousness. (Tony Gault, USA 2003, 11 min.)
We begin with what looks like archive footage from the 1970s of a man named Richard talking to a therapist about committing suicide. “Is there anything to your life other than kicking your own ass?” the therapist asks. Then we see grainy home-movie footage, also circa 1970, of a little boy (also Richard?) and his mother. The mother asks the boy to put a block on top of a box, which he promptly does. Then we see the same boy being yelled at by his father. Cut back to the therapist’s office, where in a striking new development Richard reveals that he works in a germ warfare lab. Next we see a clip from an old McGraw-Hill instructional video about the CIA testing LSD on people without their knowledge. “Sometimes it makes you think you can fly,” says the video’s narrator, “and sometimes it makes you think you are God.” Back to young Richard, hugging his father and making up. Then the therapist, this time without Richard, expressing his sorrow that he will never be able to see Richard again. THE END.

Papa Blue

A combination of live action, documentary and animation—a father and daughter’s journey through depression. (Charlene Shih, Taiwan/USA 2003, 16 min.)
This film begins with a series of calligraphic captions in Chinese (with subtitles) that say something like this:”Imagine what it would be like to be at the bottom of a well with smooth walls. You can never climb out no matter how hard you try. Nobody knows you are there and nobody can ever rescue you.”Next, we see a shot out the window of a commuter train as city scenery flies by. All of the video is processed with a filter that makes it look like ink drawing on coarse textured paper. We see a young girl on the train, who hugs an old man. Zoom in on the old man’s tattoo of a dragon. Suddenly, the tattoo comes alive and we see an animation of a dragon flying around. A man in a yellow robe with a pointy yellow hat grabs the dragon’s tail and is pulled around. We hear a series of sound bytes in Chinese, subtitled as follows:

“TAIWAN HAS GREAT SPIRIT.”
“BRIGHTEN OUR DEMOCRACY.”
“STRONG OUR NATION.”
“LONG LIVE THE SANMIN DOCTRINE.”

Then the man in the yellow hat falls in the ocean and starts to drown. We cut back to video of the old man sitting in his underwear on the couch, watching TV. We hear him complaining about how he hurts and he has to take medicine all the time. Then the man in the yellow hat is drowning again and “LONG LIVE THE SANMIN DOCTRINE.” I think that’s about it. THE END.

The Happy Three Family

A surreally delightful spin on the biblical tale of the three wise men and the paintings of the Flemish Primitives. (Karen Vanderborght, Belgium 2003, 16 min.)
Three women in long robes and plastic crowns are walking down the street. There is a sporadic beeping sound in the background that is quite annoying, and its pattern is irregular enough that it is impossible to tune out. The women enter a house and are greeted by a bald man who welcomes them as the three kings, Balthazar, Kaspar, and Melchoir. The old man takes Balthazar’s coat and hangs it up. Then he complains for a while about immigrants taking jobs away. Meanwhile there is some guy spinning around holding two plates. Also there is someone lying prostrate on the ground whom the man keeps walking over as he complains about the job market. Melchior asks him about Marie, his daughter, who they say is having a baby. The man becomes angry. “Are you calling her a whore?” he shouts, and kicks the three women out. The man’s wife comes outside and apologizes, explaining that this is her husband’s way of missing their daughter. Meanwhile the man is still shouting out the window, calling the three kings “bitches” and “whores.”The three women walk down the street and the incessant beeping is revealed to be a cell phone. We then cut to a scene of Kaspar doing yoga at her apartment. A man with wings shows up at her door and tells her to go on her quest.”Where?” she asks.”You know where,” he replies.

We then change scenes to Balthazar’s apartment, where we hear an annoying buzzing sound in the background. Balthazar has just broken up with her boyfriend. She retrieves a big knife to cut her sandwich as the buzzing continues. Finally she picks up apartment intercom and yells “leave me alone!”

But as it turns out it is not her estranged boyfriend; it is the man with angel wings.

Next we see the three kings in a deli, where they overhear old people complaining about getting moved to a nursing home. One of them is also upset that her daughter is a lesbian, and offers the questionable argument that since neither Adam and Eve nor Romeo and Juliet were lesbians, her daughter should not be a lesbian.

At last the 3 kings arrive at a television studio where Marie (Mary) is holding her baby (Jesus) in front of a blue Chromakey screen. The TV crew breaks for lunch and Marie asks the three kings to help raise the child, as she is a single mother. They agree. THE END.

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