FILM EXPERIENCE: HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT – ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SEASON 2

So a tragic occurrence!

I am almost done with Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black – the only Netflix original series so far to actually keep me coming for more and more (Maybe I’m just too attached to Ian Richardson, but House of Cards‘ lead performance from Kevin Spacey is the only thing that compelled me) – I’m on Episode 10 and suddenly…

The account on Netflix I’m mooching on ends up being put on hold for payment.

Dammit!

Still Hit Me With Your Best Shot at the Film Experience demands I select a shot that defines the season for me and I will have to go with what I have seen so far…

Very well…

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From the episode 40 Oz. of Furlough, this selection has less to do with composition of the shot as it does with metaphors layered within the content of the shot. We’ve got many different facets of the show embedded in this shot.

  • We have the ensemble cast with the numerous amount of characters inhabiting this shot.
  • We have the sense of community among them in a very enclosed and sort of sketch surrounding… four dirty walls keeping them away from the rest of humanity with a big smile on their face.
  • We have the very structured hierarchy portrayed within the prison via Captain Janeway, er, I mean Red standing at the head of the table, leading the toast.

At the same time, we take the bad with this…

  • You can’t really see it out of context but at the opposite end of Red is a character who refuses to toast, portraying one of several feuds that occur within the show.
  • Speaking of feuds, these characters are all white. There are no black or Hispanic characters in this scene, despite these three races making up a good amount of the cast of the show. There is a very heavy race separatism in the characters, which proves problematic.

Anyway… I’m hoping I can find a way to finish the season but GODDAMMITI’M CRANKY GIVE ME MAH ORAANGE!!!!RAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Friday the 13th (1980/dir. Victor Miller/USA)

You know what day it is. I know what day it is.

I feel compelled to address this movie that is so well endeared to the horror community as a classic that it is irreversibly attached to the day of Friday the 13th.

Shit, it’s in the movie’s fucking name.

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In spite of becoming a cultural phenomenon over the past 34 years and having made an icon out of hockey masks and machetes, I have to admit I, an unabashed fan of horror fiction and non-fiction to an obsessive state, think very little of the Friday the 13th series on an objective standpoint and I especially think little of the debut film – which features very little of Jason Voorhees and is completely devoid of hockey mask. And really there’s not much of the film that comes of as necessarily anything more than an attempt to get some money…

You get Sean S. Cunningham, producer and father of the franchise, who decides he wants to drum up money based on the success of recent slasher films on the coattails of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween and he makes it without any intention of rising up above the rising white noise of [Insert Generic Teen Slasher 80s Flick Here] (though that criticism is unfair and I’ll explain in a second) and matching the quality. So he goes ahead and grabs probably the first name he can grab to direct, Victor Miler, and, in possibly the only show of inspiration out of the whole production has gore magician Tom Savini, straight from Dawn of the Dead to create a bloody whirlwind with bland substance.

The substance can be easily translated as: Friday, June 13th – Robbi Morgan, trying to be a character, arrives at Camp Crystal Lake to help Peter Brouwer, pretending to be a guy named Steve Christy, and a few other soon-to-be counselors into re-opening the camp, 20 years after a young boy named Jason Voorhees drowned and the camp closed down.

Except Robbi Morgan never makes it. She is killed in hilariously outrageous fashion on the way and the film instead focuses on the seven people who did make it to the camp, as they go through their repairing shenanigans while being warned by the only convincing performance in the whole movie, “Crazy Ralph” (played by Walt Gorney, a man on a bike who is exactly what I picture when I hear Chamillionaire’s “Riding Dirty”).

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HATERS GONNA HATE.

It doesn’t take long before his warning of a death curse proves true as every single character starts losing themselves to the designs of Savini’s comic-book-red glee and we’re meant to ponder as to which of the survivors is the killer, before each suspect is murdered as well.

Until Pamela Voorhees – a small little woman who won’t shut the fuck up about how her son died here in a sycophantically smiling fashion – shows up out of nowhere, at which exact point, we know she’s the killer. You don’t need to be familiar with the series to realize that they are introducing her so that she can be revealed as a villain and motherfucker, I gots words about that shit.

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When I read Arthur Conan Doyle’s works of Sherlock Holmes in high school, I was very quick to pick out how the dirty secret of the stories were that some detail would only come up after Holmes would find it and reveal, leaving us to find the mystery unsolvable until Holmes solves it first. It got on my nerves fairly quickly, but I forgave it because it was a deliberate trick with only the intention to heighten Holmes’ skills as an observer.

This shit, pulling that shit where we don’t get the killer introduced until the last 20 fucking minutes of the movie, this shit is unforgivable. Especially when the movie has barely anything going for it to begin with.

Honestly, Savini’s kills, as realistic as they are in this film, are very underwhelming and not in a graciously low-key manner, but like I feel he must have been frustrated with how small his scope had to have been for the designs in this movie. Even if he had as much fun as we knew him to have, the camera does it no favors – among its many shots of total dark with no possible knowledge of how to reasonably light a night scene… It’s the sort of crap I made when I was a little kid with a camera, not knowing why my camera didn’t work at night.

And the plot is boilerplate: Nothing is meant to be taken out of it except for a situation for kids to do bad things and get bad things done to them. And if you’re going to say that slashers are only meant to be watched for their sex and suspense – First off, you have got to put a higher standard to film, brah! Second, disappointment there too… The suspense is not there at all and the sex is condensed to one flash.

And there’s no Jason until, well, I’ll leave that appearance to surprise you if you haven’t seen the film yet. But even then, the basis of his appearance is so frustratingly ambiguous that, given how shitty the script is, I’m to assume Miller had no idea what he was doing rather than making it deliberate.

It’s the sort of bad movie I would’ve been into back in middle school when I was fascinated with the slasher genre of films and listened to Slipknot and such (I still listen to Slipknot, but you get my point). Its only intention is to exist with a killer, killings and the only shock being the revealing of the killer, like a dimestore EC comics knockoff that you still feel ripped off by buying.

Part of what I hold against Friday the 13th is that those white noise relatively-sleepy not-really-scary generic 80s slasher films, they came out after the movie. You know why?

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Because Friday the 13th showed you don’t have to care how you make your slasher film movie. Its unwarranted success by being grade-school racy in a semi-conservative time basically said “Hey, guys, you can make it cheap… you can make it shitty… and you can still make money.” Roger Corman had better respect than that.

But, there is one credit that is to be owed from Cunningham not knowing what he was doing: The movie is pretty savage. It is clunky in a very brutal way, it only knows how to show the gore in close-ups, it only knows how to rawly grab the dark rain in little lines of white light poking through the darkness…

And it does have a certain garish aesthetic that probably would have never been found if not accidentally by cinematic buffoonery. It’s worth keeping in the back of the mind when a slasher movie is made by someone who does have a semblance of cinematic talent, like John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper.

But, that doesn’t outweigh the blandness of the film – the brute peeks through once in a while, but it doesn’t pass over the whole film, which is way to stuck in its very obvious 80s feel. In spite of its attempted vibes as a slasher film worth its weight in bloody gold, Friday the 13th as a film and its series remains a bad omen in the back of my mind as what horror filmmakers are used to doing with a genre that can terrorize people when done right.

It can smash a reflection of the beauty of the fright and then try to imitate the original in the cracked and fractured glass. Well, you may get your money that way…

But remember, you bootleggers, a broken mirror is seven years bad luck… And this franchise’s luck ran out relatively quick.

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Une Voyage dans la Lune (1902/dir. Georges Melies/France)

I so so so so mean to boost my usage of this thing, after being beaten down to only using it once a month. So, when I have to reboot my output in anything, I always figure to start from the beginning…

No. No. No.

… not the very beginning. Because, what the hell can you say about Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon other than that it’s a bunch of guys leaving a factory.

No, you want to be shown something you’ve never seen before. Something fantastic. It’s why people want to be told stories. They want to be surprised and amused.

But hell, you run that same risk in the likes of A Trip to the Moon. It’s so short and straight and to the point, not so covered in nuance and theme deliberately, that the idea description is just to say it is about scientists who happen to go to the Moon and fight aliens before returning. That’s the main content of the film and essentially the only thing it is about.

But its imagery is unforgettable, completely engrained into the idea of what science fiction film and what a dreamlike surrealism film allows to be a “reality” for the viewer. I mean, an image from cinema that is as engrained as that of Death and the Knight Playing Chess or Harold Lloyd Hanging Out of the Clock Tower lies below…

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BOOM!!!!

With a little touch of the fantastic and the magic, the moon is a face with a rocket ship sticking out of its eye. This is undeniably unforgettable imagery and this was well in the beginnings of celluloid, something which is practically cinema’s endangered species now.

You see, it’s the little technicalities like that that truly make it easy to love Une Voyage dans la Lune. It’s fun and pretty to look at. It’s such an obvious little fantasy, even when you ignore the fascinating magic tricks Melies obviously put together to bring it to life… the falling of the rocket ship, the costumes of the Moon Aliens… Those are eye-catching, but also eye-catching is the obviously novel aspects – the woman in short shorts being the workers to shoot the moon out, the professors being such long-bearded old men in robes that make them look more like Wizards than Scientists, oversized ships and rocket guns and staffs and one large-eyed moon…

What more can I say beyond that without going into the intricacies that bore my friends whenever I talk about them? When you’re wowed by magic, you don’t immediately find out the magician’s secrets. So, why should I ruin a magician’s secrets this time around just because I happen to be writing a film blog?

It’s human nature to dream and Une Voyage dans la Lune happens to be the first dream captured in film and shared with everyone.

Why don’t you check it out?

Pure Magic…

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008/dir. James Nguyen/USA)

So I was recently subject to the poignant little picture of Birdemic, a Forrest Gump esque account of a handicapable savant named Rod, who in between his struggles to take charge in an aggressive world, finds time to share his best friend’s dreams of Basketball stardom. However, his world is shaken when bird flu starts causing rabid birds to attack people, threatening the people he loves most. Among the brilliant, avant-garde cinematography and acting that comes direct from the Brando/Strasberg School of Method, the literary, thought-provoking script sends a subtle and well-considered environmentalist message. It’s a very important picture.

Nah, jk, this is a crappy movie. Go see it. I dare you.

0/10.