FlixChatter Review: DEERSKIN (2020)

If you look at the review quotes all over this poster, calling it ‘demented,’ ‘bat-shit crazy’ ‘unhinged’ … well in many ways this French film lives up to those descriptions. I was curious to see this because I had heard of Quentin Dupieux‘s 2010 film Rubber, which is about a homicidal car tire. This time, it’s another inanimate object that seemingly has supernatural power to wreak havoc on those who came into contact with it.

This horror comedy stars Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin, who most people know in The Artist, as a middle-aged, recently-divorced man. Right from the start when he frantically got rid of his corduroy jacket at a gas station–in a wholly stupid & irresponsible manner–we know Georges is suffering from a mental breakdown. He then visits a friend where he impulsively buys a vintage fringed deerskin jacket, and after paying a huge sum of money (too much I’d say for a used jacket that isn’t even in style anymore), he was given a digital video recorder as a bonus. He then drove to a sleepy French alpine village and took residence in a motel.

And so it begins… Georges’ descend into madness. He starts talking to the jacket, taking endless videos of it, and displaying all kinds of weird, obsessive behavior. It made me think of how actors often say that once they put on a costume for a role, that’s when they feel like can inhabit their character fully, and perhaps they’d even feel invincible, like they found a new purpose in life. In the case of Georges, this aimless man is possessed by the jacket in a truly bizarre way. There’s definitely a streak of toxic masculinity, as he walks around feeling like he’s the bee’s knees with his new killer style. He came up with with a crazy mission that he wants to be the only person in the world to wear a jacket, which gets more and more extreme as the film progresses.

I’ve seen Dujardin only in half a dozen projects, and he usually portrayed a slick, charming gentleman with a gregarious personality. Interesting to see him in a much more subdued, even deadpan performance, barely flashing his mega-toothed smile. The film didn’t really kicked into gear until he meets Denise, played Adèle Haenel (recently seen in Portrait of a Lady on Fire), a waitress with great aspiration as an editor. Somehow Georges managed to convince Denise that he’s an indie filmmaker who’s being abandoned by his producers in Siberia. Not only that, he even got to make her feel sorry for him that she’s willing to fund his film AND also edit it!

The whole filmmaking aspect of the story is quite amusing and surreal. There’s one memorable scene where Denise grills Georges about his film and what it’s about. He can’t come up with a real concrete idea (naturally, as he just makes stuff up as he goes along), and it’s Denise who plants a brilliant idea in his head.

Amidst all the absurdities however, the performances of the two leads, managed to hold my attention. Their relationship surprisingly isn’t salacious, but it’s definitely unsettling. I find it intriguing to see a constant shift between them as to who is actually in control. At first I thought Denise has fallen prey to Georges, but as she continues to remain committed to his film project, I wonder if she knows more than she let on. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but trying to figure out her character and whether she has her own agenda proves to be increasingly more suspenseful to me as Georges’ deranged behavior gets more and more gruesome.

I’m not a horror movie fan, but I’m sure fans of the genre notice some nods to serial killer movies like Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the way some of the violent scenes were filmed. Yet there’s an alarming nonchalant, devil-may-care attitude that Georges displays that makes it absurdly comical. He might as well has his whole face covered up like those famous horror characters as he barely displays any emotion.

Deerskin is certainly a weird movie, but reading about some of Dupieux’s previous work, this one seems to be the most accessible. The ending still manages to surprise me, despite the fact that it followed a horror genre trope. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend this movie to casual moviegoers, I feel like Dupieux’s movies are an acquired taste. I’m glad I saw this one and it was entertaining enough for reasons I’ve mentioned above, yet I don’t know that I’d be clamoring to see his other movies.


DEERSKIN OFFICIAL WEBSITE


Have you seen DEERSKIN or Dupieux’s other films? I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

guestpost

Review by Vitali Gueron

One of my favorite comedic slasher movies came out in mid-October 2017. Happy Death Day, from Blumhouse Productions and directed by Christopher Landon, was a breakout hit that year and earned big bucks (over $100 million) for the studio when it only cost less than $5 million to make. Flixchatter’s own Laura Schaubschlager reviewed Happy Death Day when it came out. She had just seen some other fresh horror movies and was ready to be thoroughly disappointed. In her review, Laura said that “…despite its problems, Happy Death Day is a surprisingly fun movie, although if you’re looking for a more typical horror movie, you might want to skip it.” She gave it 3 out of 5 stars and said that it didn’t disappoint her. When I learned that they were planning on making a sequel, I wasn’t at all surprised based on its box office success and relatively positive critical reviews.

The sequel, titled Happy Death Day 2U, stars the same set of actors as the original. In the leading roles we have Jessica Rothe as sorority girl Tree, and Israel Broussard as her nerdy classmate Carter. As we remember in Happy Death Day, Tree wakes up in Carter’s dorm room on her birthday, and he tells her that he brought her to his own room because she had passed out from drunken partying the previous evening and could not make it back to her sorority house. Carter’s roommate Ryan (played by Phi Vu) interrupts them as Tree is getting dressed and she runs out of the dorm to make her way back to the sorority house. On her way she encounters several strangers and acquaintances, all in a sequential order, before she makes enters her sorority house and meets up with her housemate Lori. She eventually ends up being lured into a campus overpass tunnel and there she is murdered by a figure shadowy figure wearing the school mascot’s creepy baby mask. (More on that later….) She wakes up in Carter’s room, only to discover that the previous day’s events are repeating themselves.

The start of Happy Death Day 2U is a bit like the start of the first movie, but unlike its predecessor, the movie starts with Carter’s roommate Ryan sleeping in a van parked down the street from his dorm room. We soon discover that it’s the day after the events in Happy Death Day, and Tree and Carter are back together after spending the entire previous day fending off Tree’s would-be killer. Ryan goes to his lab where he meets up with fellow science students Samar and Dre (newcomers Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin) who are working on their experimental quantum reactor. (Cue Back to the Future music with Doc Brown and Marty McFly powering up the DeLorean time machine)

What follows is less of a comedic slasher movie but more of a sci-fi/thriller with less killing and more comedy. We are introduced to the University’s Dean Bronson (hilariously played by Steve Zissis), and Tree’s mother Julie (Missy Yager) as the movie takes us in Tree’s alternate dimension where her mother is alive but her new boyfriend Carter is dating her sorority sister Danielle Bouseman (Rachel Matthews) instead of Tree. She then must choose whether she wants Ryan, Samar and Dre to configure the experimental quantum reactor with the correct algorithm to stay in the current dimension or go back to the previous one. Because of the time loop she has once again found herself in, she has to die several times (again being chased by the killer in a creepy baby mask) in order to help the group find the correct algorithm.

The ending of Happy Death Day 2U is not as surprising as you might think, and easily sets up for another sequel, banking on this one being another big box office success with it only costing $9 million to make. In fact, there is a mid-credits scene where a government official from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) whisks Tree, Carter, Ryan, Samar and Dre away for what can only be considered the start of the third movie. While Happy Death Day 2U does not have the same originality or horror elements that the original had, there are other things that it does do well. They use the new characters well, especially Dean Bronson and Danielle Bouseman. The scene where Danielle distracts Bronson while Tree and the others successfully recover the reactor that the confiscated is hilarious and well written.

Overall, the sequel to Happy Death Day is more predictable than the first but also more comedic at the same time. I’ve even grown to enjoy the school mascot’s creepy baby mask…well maybe I shouldn’t go that far. I am looking forward to what Happy Death Day 3 (or whatever they end up calling it) brings to the table and how it (hopefully) concludes the story.


Have you seen Happy Death Day 2U? Well, what did you think? 

TCFF Day 5 and 6 Highlights: MN Shorts, Ghost Light, The Armstrong Lie documentary, They Will Outlive Us All

TCFF_2013CoverageBnr

Here are what’s in store for Day 5 and Day 6 at TCFF. As you can see, there’s something cool to look forward to every single day, and there’s always something for everyone! I’m a bit sidelined by a cold today so I had to skip one of the films I had gotten a ticket for. But hey, there are still a bunch of films in store for this week so I’m taking LOTS of vitamins so I can be on the up and up again covering for TCFF 😀

DAY 5 Highlights – Oct 21

MN Shorts Part 1

Showing: Monday, October 21st at 6:15 pm

A collection of best shorts from the state of MN

  • The Tale of Cuthbert – 5 minutes
    Cuthbert is a zombie who just doesn’t fit in with the other zombies. His brother is the leader and tries to teach Cuthbert the techniques to being a better zombie. But can Cuthbert change who he is? Or will he be banished?
  • DeadOfWinter_ShortDead of Winter – 8 minutes
    Running low on supplies needed for her survival, Bethany Stevens (Lisie Krohnfeldt) is forced to venture out into an inhospitable world full of frozen zombies, bitter cold and loneliness.
  • The Gold Sparrow – 13 minutes
    Set in a crumbling black-and-white futuristic metropolis, void of creativity and color, the city is traversed by The Gold Sparrow and her nefarious side kick, The Ring Leader.
  • The First Date – 36 minutes
    How far will fate go? Jack and Rachel are about to find out. Destined to be soul mates, these two are embarking on a lifelong love. There’s only one problem – they have to get past their first date. 
  • A Letter Home – 4 minutes
    An isolated man maintains hope in a hopeless situation. A LETTER HOME is Karl Warnke’s directorial debut.
  • Clutch – 4 minutes
    Tommy has been made an offer he literally cannot refuse. “One ball, one strike and I’ll let you live”.
  • Duluth is Horrible– 17 minutes
    A series of vignettes chronicling a few lonely people in Duluth, MN searching for a connection in a bleak winter. 

Ghost Light

GhostLight_MNfilm

Showing: Monday, October 21st at 8:45 pm

Special Guests: John Gaspard (Director) & Cast and Crew

When a key prop goes missing during an amateur theater company performance, the actors suspect the theater ghosts are acting up. The group decides to spend the night in the eccentric old building, watching for paranormal activity.

This feature was filmed at Theatre in the Round here in Minneapolis. Here’s the 30-second preview:


Joe from the MN Movie Man Blog calls it ‘…an enjoyably well-put together film… Though its pretense may suggest a spooky ghost tale, this is a delicate, well-observed drama that has its heart, mind, and earthly spirit in the right place.’  Read the full review »


DAY 6 Highlights – Oct 22

The Armstrong Lie

TheArmstrongLie

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:30pm

Directed by Alex Gibney

Four years ago, Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks) was commissioned to film Lance Armstrong’s second comeback, for the 2009 Tour de France. Years later, following Armstrong’s cheating confessions, Gibney returned to his original source material, discovering in the process an electrifying, red-handed portrait of a liar in action.

This is one of the documentary I was looking forward to the most and certainly is the most high profile playing at TCFF. Gibney is an Oscar winner and is no stranger to tackling a hot-button topic (ENRON, Wikileaks) and has won an Oscar for Taxi to The Dark Side, an exposé on the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba. I find the shift in focus of this documentary from a comeback story to one of the biggest scandal in the world of sport is particularly intriguing. It’s interesting that the producers of the film were initially big fans of Armstrong.

They Will Outlive Us All

TheyWillOutliveUsAll

Showing: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 9:30pm

Directed by Patrick Shearer

In the years since Hurricane Sandy, New York has been brought to its knees by a series of “Frankenstorms”.  Roommates Margot and Daniel attempt to survive this “new” New York by avoiding it at all costs. But with the advent of three strange deaths in their Brooklyn building, the world they’ve been hiding from is knocking hard on the back door. It’s time for our heroes to kill their TV, lay off the booze, and put out the roach… Or all of NYC could fall into the clutches of something that can’t even clutch.


TCFFTickets

Ticket Prices are as follows:
General Admission $10; Opening/Closing Gala $20; Centerpiece Gala $20; Sneak Preview Galas $20. Festival Passes can also be purchased: Silver $50 for 6 films; Gold $70 for 10 films; or Platinum $120 for 12 films + 2 tickets to Opening, Closing or Gala. (Silver and Gold Packages do not include Opening, Closing or Gala Tickets).

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.twincitiesfilmfest.org.


Any one of these films caught your eye, folks?

Weekend Viewing Roundup & Warm Bodies Review

It’s a pretty uneventful weekend for me movie-wise, but I got to meet up my old college buddy I haven’t seen in years! So it was a lovely weekend in that regard though she’s as far away from being a cinephile as it gets. The last movie she saw at the theater was Nacho Libre, ahahaha.

TheFamilyPosterWell, I didn’t get to the theater nor any screenings this past week. I’m definitely NOT missing out on The Getaway based on Terrence’s review, ahah, it looks so darn awful from the trailer alone. I am looking forward to screenings in the next two weeks though, I’ve rsvp-ed for Don Jon, Gravity, and Runner, Runner. Oh and also the mafia comedy The Family w/ Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones. Trailer looks meh but I’m hoping it’ll still be good with a cast of THIS caliber.

So this weekend I only watched Warm Bodies and rewatched one of my fave Bond films, The Living Daylights. I guess I was inspired by Zoë’s excellent review recently where she praised Dalton’s take as Bond (atta girl!) So yeah, TLD AND Dalton as 007 is still as awesome as the first time I saw it.

Here’s my review from this weekend:

WarmBodiesPoster

I’ve been curious about this zombie comedy for quite some time as lots of people seem to love it. Now, I’m not a fan of the popular Zombie sub-genre, I think I’ve only like one zombie movie and that is Shaun of the Dead (I love 28 Days Later too, but that one is SO much more than just a zombie movie).

As with most zombie movies, some sort of plague has come over the world which render most humans to become walking corpses. This movie still pretty much subscribe to what we typically assume about zombies: they walk slowly, they eat brains and of course they look like decayed corpses, though the zombies in this movie seem to look far less gory, and sometimes they’re pretty agile too. One twist in this story, which was based on a novel by Isaac Marion, there are certain levels of being undead. There are Zombies and there are Boneys, which are zombies who’ve lost all traces of their humanity and flesh, so basically they’re skeletal zombies, preying on anything with a heartbeat.

Being that it’s a zombie romance, of course it’s entirely predictable that the protagonist R (as he no longer remembers his real name), falls for a human girl and saves her from a horde of fellow zombies. The first meeting of R & Julie amidst a zombie attack isn’t exactly a meet-cute, but it’s certainly amusing. After having eaten up her boyfriend, R ends up saving Julie (Palmer) and takes her to his house, which was a discarded plane. Because zombies talk like lobotomized Tarzan, the VO narration helps us get into R’s head. He a pretty astute thinker for being a zombie, ahah. Of course this being a fantasy horror flick, absurdity is to be expected, but even so I feel that Julie is way too soon to be so comfortable with R. I guess I could see it with vampires as they have this cool, sexy vibe about ’em, but flesh-eating zombies are just gross. In any case, R & Julie got on pretty quickly. The scenes of them playing together, listening to records, etc. reminds me of 80s/90s rom-coms. The soundtrack is a hoot, I grew up listening to songs by John Waite (Missing You), Guns N’ Roses (Patience), Bruce Springsteen (Hungry Heart), etc. which gives this movie a retro feel of sort.

WarmBodiesStills

So what happens next is also predictable. The warm relationship he has with Julie somehow revives his humanity and there’s a scene where his heart actually starts beating once more. It’s an interesting twist on how our heart ‘skip a beat’ when we’re in love, ahah. Not only is this change affects R, but this odd transformation ends up spreading to the undead population like a virus. None of this is explained very well in the movie, just like we never really know how they got infected in the first place. Now, some critics call this a Romeo & Juliet story with zombie. Heh, apart from the balcony scene, and that ‘R’ might stand for Romeo with his Julie(t), it’s not exactly an apt comparison.

Thankfully, some of the inconsistencies and clunky dialog didn’t derail the movie. Both Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer (a Brit & Aussie sporting believable American accent) are more than serviceable. In fact, Hoult is a bit better — and ironically more soulful — here than in the abominable Jack & The Giant Slayer. Palmer’s face & lithe figure at times reminds me of Kristen Stewart, but she’s a hundred times more expressive! John Malkovich is entirely wasted here though, he probably could do this role in his sleep, ahah.

I enjoyed this enough but I’m quite puzzled by the high rating (81% Rotten Tomato score?) as overall it’s just ok, but not great. It’s not in the same league as Jonathan Levine‘s previous film 50/50, which I’d think is far more challenging project given the difficult subject matter. I do appreciate the fact that this one is reinvention of a popular horror genre, but I don’t think it’s all that groundbreaking. In terms of a novelty twist in a classic genre, I actually like the vampire thriller Daybreakers a lot more than this one. This one does have some fun moments though, that scene where R told Julie to walk like a zombie so she doesn’t get eaten is hilarious! It’s definitely better than Twilight (but what movie isn’t?) and the humorous tone makes it all the more watchable.

3 out of 5 reels


Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. What did YOU watch this weekend?