“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – (2017, France, 2hrs 17mins – PG13)
Luc Besson takes us on a trip through Space and Time with personal meaning. Those unfamiliar with the “Valerian & Laureline” series of comic books, and other materials referenced in this film, might hopefully find it to be good escapist fare. Good offerings in the Space Opera genre are too rare and having grown up reading them I am just as fond of “Valerian & Laureline” as the director, Luc Besson.
A disclaimer: although I read the comics the film is based on, I read them between 35 to 45 years ago, and my review is based largely on personal recollection.
They could have titled this one “follicle follies”. In the vein of eco-inspired horror flicks of the ’70s, the premise of “night of the lepus” makes your hare stand on end: in a single night and starting with a single wabbit injected with some experimental hormone shot, the rabbit population of southern Arizona ‘splodes into hordes of 150 pound ravenous long-hared mofos eatin’ and a-killin’ and a-screwin’ anything and anyone in their path.
Dilemma: coyotes have all been keeled by some dude who did his job too well and now the ranchers’ lands are ravaged by wild rabbits running even wilder…
Loosely inspired by part of an H.G. Wells story, “food of the gods” begins with a cautionary monologue by the protagonist, Morgan (Marjoe Gortner), about the wrongs done by man against nature: “just let man continue to pollute the way he is, and nature will rebel”, his pop used to say…
As the saying goes, ‘first I was like OMG, then I LOL’d’… On this side of the ring, the good guys: Daimon and his motorcycle , the titular Zaborgar thingamajig. The Zaborgar thing transforms into a robot which fights bad guys and bad robots alike with karate. It’s also made from Daimon’s dead brother’s DNA, extracted and mechanized by Daimon’s Nobel Prize winning scientist dad.
If this wasn’t enough baggage, while training in karate years ago, Daimon witnessed the death of his father, who had been captured by the evil Sigma organization, trolling about in the sky aboard what looks like – well, a gigantic ass.
Thankfully, Daimon was spared the spectacle of his father’s humiliation (his word) at the hands of Dr. Akunomiya’s cyborg henchmen, who inflicted titty-twisters on the venerable scientist, before he leaped off the giant ass in the sky and got nuked in mid-air by a laser blast, exploding above Daimon’s karate class… Did I mention the professor used to breast-feed his sons..?
I know. At this point you might think an aspirin is in order but perhaps a stiff drink is more apropos. We still have to discuss the bad guys, the Samurai robot and the Diarrhea robot. That’s right: the Diarrhea robot, an ant spewing acid from both ends. As for Samurai robot, he has giant lips designed to kiss politicians on the mouth, stealing their DNA. Their karate skills are no match for Zaborgar, but Miss Cyborg and her missile-launching bra is another matter. Why, she even manages to steal Daimon’s heart (not literally)…
With Daimon’s loyalty tested by corrupt politicians he’s sworn to protect and his heart divided between Zaborgar and Miss Cyborg, which path will he take? To find out, let’s kill a few people and flash forward twenty-five years…
This is more than a revival of ’70s Japanese television, “Karate Robo Zaborgar” is a comedy well off the beaten path, in the same vein as “Gentlemen Broncos“. “Karate Robo Zaborgar” pits high-school misfits (both the good and bad guys) against the true villains: lecherous, corrupt politicians, with slow-mo explosions, Bruce Lee moves and moos, ludicrous subtitles and very weird innuendos…
How this film came to be is very easy to imagine, as described by the writer/director: a typical awkward teenager browsing video stores in the ’80s, staring at video jackets of R-rated films his parents won’t allow him to watch, conjuring visions of what the movies are like.
‘Struth… But what makes it a little more unusual is that the kid’s father was George P. Cosmatos (1941-2005), who directed some popular movies in America and abroad, such as “the Cassandra crossing“, “Rambo II” and “Tombstone“. There isn’t much to find online about either father or son, and the elder Cosmatos’ decision to move his family to Victoria, British Columbia, reflects a strong desire for privacy and normalcy well away from Hollywood.
[…]1983. Dr. Barry Niles (Michael Rogers) runs the Arboria institute, created by his mentor Mercurio Arboria (Scott Nylands).
Dedicated to the development of human potential through technology and experimental medication, the facility houses a young girl named Elena (Eva Allan) with telepathic powers reined in by drugs and electronic voodoo in the form of a pulsating pyramid…
This is about as much of the story behind “beyond the black rainbow” which I’m willing to tell, because going further would only be laying out my own interpretation of a very personal film. “Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing. It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different.” – Sherlock Holmes in “The Boscomb Valley mystery”.
Although “beyond the black rainbow” is very interesting visually, some would argue it isn’t anything particularly new. When I first saw the film’s trailer, I wondered: is that an early De Palma I missed? The stark decors with deep shadows and bright blue or red light, the mirrored surfaces and characters’ look…
But “beyond the black rainbow” is not imitation it is reflection, Pan Cosmatos’ imagined version of what 1980’s films were like, and an attempt at coming to terms with the loss of his parents. I suspect that a viewer’s take on the film will be very personal: much of what happens on screen, as well as the back story, is ‘hinted’ at.
Watching “beyond the black rainbow” is an experience of sorts, the combination of sharp visuals, slow pace and tonalities made me feel as though I was in some altered state. The unfortunate result being that I fell asleep twice trying to finish the film.
This in itself makes it somewhat difficult to recommend the film: it certainly doesn’t fit the usual “midnight movie madness” mold of entertaining weirdness. It does however has an appeal shared by “the Lathe of Heaven” (the 1980 version), and “altered states“, exploring themes which are not readily translatable to the screen.
I want also to single out the performance by Michael Rogers as Dr. Barry Niles, whose strange, androgynous appearance becomes clear in the last few minutes of the film. His interpretation of a brilliant mind pulled between different realities, with muted lassitude, disgust and rage was subtle and fearsome at once.
Like all industries, Christmas is made up of many businesses, the more unsavory and dangerous ones, the more “interesting” the folklore.
While NORAD pretends to track Santa’s sleigh every year, the real hunting takes place on the frozen ground of Northern Finland, Lapland to be exact. There, rough men practice skills honed over generations, working in groups of three: the tracker, the marker and the sniper. Their quarry is the Wild Father Christmas, an elusive and savage predator pouncing on reindeer and naughty children alike. The following video is NSFW:
In “Rare exports: a Christmas tale“, Mount Kurvatunturi, the site where Father Christmas was entombed is being “excavated” with explosives by an American company, Unwittingly, they unleash the ancient evil. It is now up to local reindeer herders and father and son Rauno and Pietari Kontio (Jorma and Onni Tommila) to capture the beast and sell it to the Americans.
… Father Christmas is out there, ravenous, nasty and lethal. Until the tame final product, result of hard work and hours of beatings, is fit for shipment around the world. “Rare exports: a Christmas tale” is where it begins…
Irish writer Bram Stoker was born 165 years ago today on November 8, 1847. He is best known for his gothic horror novel, Dracula. There’s not a lot more to say as words would be wasted. This man gifted us with a wonderful genre of horror that inspires people to this day.
When it comes to movies, my favorite one is the great silent film, Nosferatu (1922) directed by E.W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck. Since Murnau knew he would be sued by Stoker’s widow, he changed the ending and it became the first time that a vampire was killed by sunlight. That detail was NOT in Bram Stoker’s book. A good later movie about Murnau and Nosferatu is Shadow of the Vampire (2000) starting John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. That one is based on the myth that Max Schreck was a real vampire.
My other favorite movie is Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella. I’m fond of this one only because Langella made for a rather attractive vampire. Ok, I’ll admit it. He made me drool. He still does, come to think of it. Age hasn’t hurt him one bit.
As for cats inspired by Bram Stoker, please go see Adventures of a Naked Cat. It’s a blog written by Nofuratu, a hairless kitty. He has brothers named Count von Count, Vampir, and Vladimir. He also has a wonderful Facebook page. He’s a great adventurer and fashionista.
Drummers Magnus (Magnus Borjeson) and his pal Sanna (Sanna Persson) are speeding along Swedish freeways in a van, when Sanna’s rythmic (erratic?) driving prompts a motorcycle cop to give chase, which all ends up looking like a terrorist plot after the crashed van is found at the German embassy’s gates and the tick-tock of the metronome on the dash sounds like a bomb to the cops.