Film Thought: Who Would Play You in a Movie?

How many of you have thought of the hypothetical question of who would play you in a movie of your life? It’s not the most unique query in the world. I assume there are a few. I gave it the occasional thought when I was younger, but never thought about it again until recently when asked.

More often than not I will admit I’ve considered what my life would be rated by the MPAA (can anyone get away without and R or higher knowing them?). I’ve also considered the end credits. Which are both very hypothetical and nearly metaphysical considerations. Who’s watching said movie to rate it or see the credits, is akin to the Theory of Size questions or other existential ponderings usually reserved for the very young.

Theoretically, someone making a movie about your life is a more feasible concept. What’s funny is that I have thought about this question more for people in my life than myself. Maybe the reason for that is how we all view ourselves, but I’ve had certain actors pinned down as certain family members for a long time: Melanie Griffith, Julia Roberts, Steve Martin and so on.

Casting a story based on my family is much easier. Myself? Not as much. If you want a reference point as to what I look like you can check out a photo on my Twitter. Let’s look through some of the ideas. One way to look at it is: who have people told me I remind them of? I can only readily recall two. When I was younger people used to say I reminded them of Fred Savage on The Wonder Years. However, I have a feeling a lot of kids got that around that time. Even if we did look like each other once upon a time, we no longer do.

A few people have told me I seem to resemble Roger Federer. I contest this notion, but even if I do, unless I wrote myself into some weird biopic/Tennis version of Space Jam that wouldn’t make sense anyway. The only actor that ever really came to mind is one I haven’t watched that much of recently, but was one of my favorites growing up, and one I’m looking forward to seeing in Maniac; Elijah Wood.

Now, to state the painfully obvious, I do not look like Elijah Wood. If this hypothetical film were to exist I’d be getting upgraded. If you’ve ever been introduced to a historical figure in a film typically the Hollywood edition is a bit of an upgrade to the original when you discover what they look like. My case would be that to the nth degree. However, another factor would be that we’re very nearly the same age. Yes, actors often stretch their range by a number of years, but since I have no obvious doppleganger I’ll limit it to people around my age. Second, his onscreen persona has always seemed somewhat similar to mine in life I feel. When he angers he may need to get louder, but I’m sure he can manage. Lastly, since he’s become a mature actor and gotten into social media Elijah has proven himself to be quite a film enthusiast. So there’s another reason.

Yeah, my choice isn’t a dead ringer, but it’s one I’d be pleased with. How about you? Who would play you in a movie?

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Samuel L. Jackson: The Unbreakable Avenger

Warning: if for some strange reason you have yet to see Unbreakable you should before reading this, there are spoilers within.

When I saw that Bubbawheat was doing a blog-a-thon covering actors in comic book movies, I thought it was very appropriate. Now there generally is a delineation between comic book and superhero films, and there is value at looking at individual actors who have appeared in this kind of movie multiple times. However, one of these roles played by Samuel L. Jackson is in a film that toes the line very carefully.

Now, when referring specifically to the superhero film it’s especially interesting because we are currently immersed in a seeming golden age of the the Superhero film. There were occasional bursts of greatness, but now these kinds of tales are attracting not only the state of the art techniques, not only A-List actors, but also top directors and writers to the cause creating richer, more human stories, that are still filled with incredible spectacle. In short, we’re getting a much more complete film than we ever thought we were going to get from the genre.

However, being in the midst of such an age sometimes we don’t necessarily stop and look around to see how we’ve gotten to where we are. Looking at some actors who have participated in many of these films can start to show us some of the indicators of the rise of this subgenre.

The Avengers (2012, Marvel/Disney)

Samuel L. Jackson is a man who has been myriad films from record-setting blockbusters to small indies he believes in and wants to help out. Sam himself may have a type and a persona, however, he doesn’t allow that to pigeonhole the kind of film he does. It’s funny that I find myself writing about Sam Jackson again so soon after I named him 2012’s Entertainer of the Year, but a line I wrote in that post came back to me as I scanned the list of candidates for this blog-a-thon. With regards to his still-ongoing portrayal of Nick Fury in Marvel’s Phase One, I parallel it to Alan Rickman‘s work as Severus Snape.

Aside from the fact that Rickman appeared in one series, and Jackson’s portrayal of Fury is part of a universe of franchise films, there are really a few similarities of note. If you’re looking just at the film textually, and not inferring any pre-acquired information from the comic books, Fury’s presences in each film is a necessity, but it’s nebulous. We try, as we go from tale to tale, to ferret out his nature and his intentions. Ultimately we see his main desire in Phase One is the creating The Avengers. However, and there is some follow-through on this in The Avengers itself, being the head of an intelligence organization he does dabble in a gray area much of the time, and that was set-up bit by bit in the films leading up to The Avengers and expanded there. I can only imagine that as the Marvel films proliferate that his character will continue evolve and become richer.

Now, make no mistake about it Fury is most definitely on the right side of the divide. The other of his comic book film characters I am taking a closer look at is Elijah Price in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. Now, this character brings to mind another statement I made in writing about Jackson’s entertainer of the year award, in the four films I cited in that award (The Good Samaritan, Meeting Evil, Django Unchained and The Avengers) he was a protagonist in two and an antagonist in the other two. He usually splits that fairly. Now, Price’s confrontational and difficult demeanor is apparent throughout. The twist, when Shyamalan still did them, is that views himself as the super-villain in his delusional relationship with David Dunn (Bruce Willis).

Unbreakable (2000, New Line Cinema)

This was a film well ahead of its time. There are quite a few reflexive superhero tales around now from the well-known and well-done Kick-Ass, to lesser known ones of lesser quality. However, Unbreakable, about which sequel rumors persist to this day is the kind of film that really could, and still can, have a sequel blow up and be something far greater than the original.

I’m not a critic of Unbreakable. I do like it, however, it’s not a film that’s impeccably rendered like The Sixth Sense is, or even like Shyamalan’s earlier film Wide Awake is. Jackson is a self-proclaimed comic fan, Ubreakable was his first title in the milieu and his filmography since then bears that out.

As either the persistent, hovering-around-the-periphery lynchpin on the Marvel universe or the injury-riddled, megalomaniac always seeking the yin to his yang, Samuel L. Jackson has always had an aptitude for injecting superhero films with life, for creating layered characters with quite a few notes to them. As the subgenre progresses one can only imagine Jackson going along with it and adding his own unique flavor to the entries to come.

Short Film Saturday: The Phantom Empire, Chapters 10-12

The Phantom Empire may be the most unique movie serial ever created. I was told of its existence by my favorite film professor in college and I was fortunate enough to have found it on VHS shortly thereafter. After having viewed it I was glad to have given it to him. Now I have since reacquired it on DVD. It stars Gene Autry in his usual singing cowboy persona but there’s also science fiction mixed in and quite a few other things along the way.

Through Poverty Row April I will likely watch a composite version of this film but I am glad to be able to present to you the serial version of the the film thanks to The Internet Archive. To view please visit the links below.

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Conclusion (Part 17 of 17)

This is the brief concluding chapter to a much longer series. If you would like to read the other posts in the series you can find links to all of them here.

Films from almost any period in time give off a certain feeling, a vibe. And if you weren’t there or at least don’t know of an eras circumstances you might not get that feeling. At least one can appreciate that the ’80s were a time of aesthetic experimentation and the images of the decade did have a certain warmth. There was no such thing as political correctness so characters were more honest and the scale wasn’t as big moneywise so a small film with big ideas had a chance, although the scale was growing. The ’80s will leave us with a lasting legacy good and bad as I have shown. There were great films I didn’t discuss in detail like E.T. or The Shining but they are movies that are ultimately timeless and aren’t marked but their era, notice I didn’t say dated.

While in the ’90s we were overwhelmed and barraged by violence and the mundane existence of suburbia and apathy. If there’s one thing that we learned from the 80s is that film is the only medium that can capture our dreams.

The MPAA’s Unshifting Malaise

I believe that in my manifesto on this blog I stated that I was both not claiming that I was providing consumer advocacy, for the most part, and I was also not a source for parental guidance. My intent is to chronicle my journey through watching films. I’ve also mentioned in introduction to certain themes that either things I am writing, plan to write, or my desire to minimize my massive pile of unwatched DVDs have influenced watching themes. In short, my goal is to have my blog be as diverse as my viewing options and interests. So at times I will get more technical, other times more fan-oriented.

My goal at either end of the spectrum is to stay on the more aesthetic end of the spectrum be it as a fan or filmmaker. However, the news of the MPAA’s new approach to ratings, though not really changing the focus of how it grades films, is noteworthy.

I think that the expanded rating box, where an explanation of what induced said rating, is an improvement. I could go on about what the deficiencies in the rating system are, but that’s not what I’m addressing. I think the quotes in this article to an extent show promise. There is no “X” branding. There is no barring rating in the US, not really.

Admittance to an R-rated film is still possible with a parent or guardian. What I like in the new system is that more of an onus is being put on the parent. The uniqueness of each child is being acknowledged, the reasons for a rating are being made more visible is parents can accept or dismiss causes for the ratings as ones that concern them when considering viewing options.

Now, the flawed criteria of the MPAA needs to be learned by parents. Themes aren’t counted as heavily as things that can be counted. That is to say that counting profanity is easy, and quantifying the pervasiveness of a theme isn’t. However, I’d dare say a film being ostensibly about something would matter more to a parent than how many bad words are in it. So “themes” is a word to look for.

And the fact that there will be PSAs geared towards instructing parents on how to read the new rating boxes and trailers is also good. However, the flaw is clearly that how films are rated hasn’t changed at all. It’s camouflage. Violence is still going to be rated easier than sexuality because no modification of the criterion was announced.

My biggest complaint, however, is not about the non-change change from the MPAA, but of reported “good news.” Granted, CinemaCon, where the announcements by the MPAA, exhibitors and studios are being made are mainly a self-congratulatory affair, and the gripe-fest is secondary, but I find it hilarious that we believe based on secret shoppers that underage ticket buyers are really being kept out of R-rated films 75% of the time.

Here’s a story of why I believe that to be so: My blog earns its name from when I was a teenager and I’d pay for a matinee and hang around for a second film and see that on the same admission – hence my friend and I would hang around the movies, we were movie rats. If I wanted to see an R-rated film I’d get a ticket to something else if I had to and just enter the theater where the film I wanted to see was playing. I don’t do these things anymore, but based frequenting my local theater a lot it can easily still be done. So I have a hard time believing as many kids are being kept out of R-rated films as the MPAA believes. If you don’t believe me just look at some of the recent Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award Nominees where the performance or film is one that technically one kids shouldn’t have been allowed to see and where they likely didn’t get their parents permission.

In the end, the MPAA’s change is nearly non-existent but it is a minor benefit. However, at this rate of change they be in the right vicinity at some point in the next century, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Django Unchained: Introduction and the Spaghetti Western Treatment

Introduction

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

So after having translated a post regarding Django Unchained here are my thoughts on the film, which will appear weekly in four parts. With regards to the translated post there is scarcely a thing I disagreed with that was being stated. However, the reason we read and the reason we write is that everyone has a slightly different perspective.

The reason I didn’t touch on Django at the end of last year was two-fold: first, there is the overwhelming crush of the end of year wherein I try to view as many films as I can and should to consider for my annual awards and list. The second reason is that I didn’t want to rush such a writing is that Django is a film that touches on enough raw nerves and opens enough old wounds, though skillfully, that a discussion on it should not be held in haste and cramming something in late December just because I wanted something to link to when I announced my awards. That wouldn’t be right.

Having said that I did want a few writings on my site with regards to the film because with Django being my favorite film of 2012, it earned it. And the class of 2011 with Super 8 and Hugo had quite a few write-ups along the way and since that documented a different facet of the film that appealed to me.

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

The next obstacle would be what specifically to tackle in such a sprawling an epic film. The dangers in doing so come from both ends of the spectrum; one could either be too broad or too myopic in one focus. I’ve decided to split the difference and give each topic of the film I saw fit to address some attention in a sort of epistolary fashion, with headlined sections below.

I have made some commentary on the film in my awards, but will augment some points and talk about some new ones here.

The Spaghetti Western Treatment

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

Tarantino has embarked on a seeming trilogy, if not more films, that deal in alternative history. When Inglourious Basterds rolled around I wasn’t sure before I saw it how far into an alternative history it would go. Some works of fiction that take place during World War II have told such microcosmic tales that whether or not they did happen, could happen, or could not happen, are academic points. With Inglourious Basterds it became very clear that the escalation wouldn’t end until a triumphant climax wherein the big wigs would be killed from Hitler on down. There would be no cowardly suicide for Hitler in this tale. Basterds was also constructed much in a similar way to some of Tarantino’s other films with chapters that seem disconnected at first, but form a whole when they combine and connect.

For a work like Django Unchained, one that would roundly explore America’s racist slave-owning past, a different approach was needed. In Basterds the heroes would clearly be the enemies of the Nazis both military (“The Basterds” in the US Army) and civilian, a Jewish girl and a black man. Here with slavery, a much longer running, entrenched and regulated system, a different tact was needed if it was to be an antebellum tale, which it is.

This tale predating the Civil War is very significant. It brings the story to a more personal place and takes much of the politics out of it. There’s no washing away of sin through a Union army whose “truth is marching on,” or a benevolent leader doing what he can to keep the country together and free the slaves. Not in this film.

Django Unchained (2012, The Weinstein Company)

However, the film must pay lip service to credibility, to borrow a phrase from Stephen King, which is where King Schultz comes in. King Schultz on the surface could seem to be the typical benevolent white character whose presence is nearly always a prerequisite in a film on race relations in the US. There are key differences here though: mainly, Schultz is German. Now, wanting to work with Waltz again I’m sure factored into Tarantino’s decision. However, when looking at the films in tandem it makes an interesting delineation: Nazis are the enemy, not Germans. Look at how King can see what’s right and wrong, how he uses the system to exploit it. The film goes further to incorporate Teutonic sensibilities by having Django’s wife, his motivation, be named Broomhilda and know how to speak German. Furthermore, one of the great scenes of the film is King’s relating the legend of Siegfried to Django. This by extension takes back a legend, made more popular by Wagner, from Nazi clutches.

Simply using something like the Underground Railroad or a white abolitionist plot doesn’t fit the script of the justified revenge that was built in to Basterds and was the goal here. So Schultz assisting Django to manipulate the system by buying his freedom, teaching him to be a bounty hunter and then concocting a scheme to find and free his wife is necessary so that revenge can play out in this film as well.

The way the scheme works out, the play-acting required by Django to succeed are all things that make the Spaghetti Western structure perfect for this tale. What made the Spaghetti Western so popular, for the most part, was the graying of the hero. The methods weren’t always honorable, both ends were played against the middle, even who was the villain was at times nebulous. All these things were for the most part new to the genre. All these things were things a black cowboy, a freeman, would need in order to be able to reclaim his wife in this era. Cinematically, however, it’s also an interesting comment. It took Italian filmmakers with new ideas and a fresh outlook on a beloved American genre to re-invent and re-invigorate it. It took those same cinematic precepts used by an American to give us one of the most brutally honest, compelling and refreshing looks at race in America for quite some time.

Hero Whipped: Hellraiser

Note: Images below are gory and may be found disturbing by some. Proceed with caution.

If this is your first time reading one of these posts this is where I discuss my return to the comics medium after a long hiatus. The journey to that return in chronicled in this post and this one. Since detailing that journey subsequent posts have usually been on topics surrounding one particular character and the depiction in various media.

Now in discussing Hellraiser as a franchise I do realize that I am not dealing with a hero. When you’re dealing in the horror genre, particularly as the franchises spawn sequels and spin-offs, you are more concerned with the villain. In the case of some truly unfortunate films it’s the antagonist you prefer because the protagonist(s) are lacking.

When discussing Hellraiser specifically one interesting aspect of the property is that it really does illustrate another area wherein prose, film and comics have some overlap. Specifically I am thinking of the connection between auteurs, or writer/director if you prefer, and comic creators. Naturally the link between those and author exists there too. For one of the films, a book and now a few comics series that title is held by one man: Clive Barker.

The Hellbound Heart (1988, HarperCollins)

The Hellraiser concept was first introduced in a novella by Barker entitled The Hellbound Heart. This story was first anthologized in November of 1986 and was released as a standalone book after the success of the film.

Clive Barker is one of the few artists working today that one can truly call a renaissance man. There is virtually no creative endeavor he hasn’t sought out – he writes novels; has written and had plays produced; he’s a photographer; and he paints, hundreds of his works now form the illustrations for his Abarat series. Prior to writing and directing Hellraiser, he’d acted as writer or director on a number of films including SalomSalomé, The Forbidden and Rawhead Rex. When the narrative of The Hellbound Heart was to come to cinemas he took on both challenges.

Hellraiser was one of New World Pictures most successful titles and a work of visionary horror. Though Barker did have input in the sequel and the third film his control over the film series was never equal to what he had that first time around. The results have never been the same again either. Considering that it’s a world of his crafting that he executed on film so brilliantly the first time around, it was folly. If you’re brave enough to watch the decline of the series, it is a sad thing; one I didn’t have the stamina to write about.

Hellraiser (1987, New World Pictures)

However, with horror franchises on film that tends to be the case. It’s a case of gradual decay and occasional slight resurgence after the studio takes control of its fate and the creator of the entity eventually moves on to bigger and better things. However, Barker’s name still has caché, and is so synonymous with Hellraiser, for obvious reasons, that Dimension has taken to using his name in sequels he had nothing to do with. This has caused Barker to publicly disclaim these assertions stating that the story did not come from his mind or any other orifice of his body, to paraphrase.

It is lamentable when a film franchise falls that far from grace. There is a reboot in the works, which he is producing that may right that, but there is all that wreckage in the past and only the original film stands as a masterful work of horror. That is, of course, if you limit yourself to film.

Recently, Barker has taken to writing for the comics medium for the first time. Since Hellraiser joined the Boom! Studios line-up he was the guiding force behind a 20-issue series, followed by a 4-issue mini-series and now a new Hellraiser ongoing series has picked up a different thread of the mythology. Barker is not always credited as authoring the script, but has been, and is definitely guiding these tales.

Hellraiser Annual #1 (Boom! Studios)

Just sating that creator/auteur urge of having someone who understands the world and how to tell new stories within it would be enough for most. However, the series have also been fantastic so far. I’m fairly selective about monthly titles and have never dropped them off my pull-list and more often than not these titles have been at or near the top of best issues of the month. Many times they show what the medium can do. The artwork, typically done by different artists, appropriately and seamlessly, is gorgeous and lush. The writing is smart and the structure intricate. It lends itself to re-reading, and reading in trade, but also works in single-issue format, I believe. That’s a hard trifecta to pull off.

Fans of the world, the antagonist Pinhead and the heroine Kirsty Cotton would likely be pleased by this run of books which is ongoing. Fans of Barker in general should be glad that there’s yet another outlet for his creative genius as in June Boom! will debut his first original 12-issue limited series called Next Testament.

It seems that both Barker and the Hellraiser have found a new place to call home, the comics medium. That’s a good thing for both of them, but it’s an even better thing for fans and we should all be reading.

Short Film Saturday: The Phantom Empire, Chapters 7-9

The Phantom Empire may be the most unique movie serial ever created. I was told of its existence by my favorite film professor in college and I was fortunate enough to have found it on VHS shortly thereafter. After having viewed it I was glad to have given it to him. Now I have since reacquired it on DVD. It stars Gene Autry in his usual singing cowboy persona, but there’s also science fiction mixed in and quite a few other things along the way.

Through Poverty Row April I will likely watch a composite version of this film, but I am glad to be able to present to you the serial version of the the film thanks to The Internet Archive. To view please visit the links below.

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Once Upon a Time in the 80s: Kidco (Part 16 of 17)

Note: This article features in-depth plot analysis that may contain spoilers, read on at your own peril.

Kidco is another one of those fantastical films although it has a very grounded theme. It was written by a man, well let’s just say this was his best work, because Bennett Tramer went on to create probably the most famous television show that’s “So Bad It’s Good,” called Saved by the Bell. This film tells the story of Dickie Cessna, played aptly by Scott Schwartz. I happened to have obtained a copy of the film’s script and I think Tramer describes the protagonist best: “Dickie possesses the all-American good looks of a Norman Rockwell cover: sandy hair hanging over his forehead, healthy tanned complexion, a big toothy grin…Combined with the shrewd eyes and alert demeanor of a junior executive who yearns to be running the company himself. Dickie’s only twelve years old — but he’s been looking for an angle since he was in the womb.”

We start off watching his Keno scheme at school which is busted by the principal. He also tricks some Japanese tourists to go on a moose trail when touring his father’s ranch and dangles a moose head from out of the bushes. He’s the quintessential 80s hero; anything for a buck, but he’s the little guy so who’s gonna come after him? The crummy feds, of course. We first meet with these agents when they come to inspect his father’s ranch because the Board of Taxation needs to appraise his assets. First, Dickie gives them bad directions and then when they arrive his sisters lead them to the barn where they supposedly live and put on an act of misery. 
 

Kidco (1984, 20th Century Fox)

Dickie’s father tells him he has to stop running scams in school so he takes him up on the loophole. Yet then he stumbles on to a legitimate business opportunity when he sees they throw away piles and piles of manure everyday and all the local companies are complaining that Orville Peterjohn, the town tycoon, is charging them an arm and a leg for fertilizer.

Their first client is the owner of a local driving range and they go on from there. Peterjohn starts to lose business so he gets in contact with the feds. He wants them investigated after he sees them on a talk show where they claimed to have made $30,000 in profits over the summer. They are then charged with not paying sales tax, not having a seller’s permit and not listing the contents of the product. Not only are they brought to trial, but Dickie and Bette Cessna (Tristine Skyler) decide to defend themselves. This provides for some of the most hysterical moments in this film.

Kidco (1984, 20th Century Fox)

At one point, Dickie decides he needs to deliver a speech to state his case and says closing with “The United States could’ve been the greatest country in the world but they had to go and bust Kidco.” This is also a film that deals heavily with the fundamental differences between children and adults and Dickie says “Youth is wasted on the young. Children should be seen and not heard. Your honor, if we believed in cruddy old sayings like that Kidco wouldn’t have made a cent.” While Dickie’s vocabulary is lacking he is always brutally honest and has no problems insulting a lawyer which is always fun to watch and what this film has which I think is great is a triumphant defeat.
    

They get out of the sales tax because their father has already paid sales tax on the hay and oats the horses ate that became the manure. It’s a great moment because you see it coming and Dickie says “Your honor we’re getting taxed at both ends!” The judge under heavy media and political scrutiny to be easy on the kids quickly dismisses the charges. Then the prosecutor reminds him the other charges still stand before the court. There is a plea bargain struck because there’s really no way they’ll be completely absolved. They’ll be given a special seller’s permit and must pay practically all their profit’s worth in fines. The triumph comes when they walk outside.

Kidco (1984, 20th Century Fox)

There is a gathering of thousands of kids and Dickie gets up before them and starts talking, riling them up. Neil (Tom Mackie), a cub reporter who’s been helping them out, gives Dickie a box full of orders for Kidco T-Shirts then Dickie grabs a bullhorn and says: “And we wanna tell you, you just made us enough dough to pay our fine…and buy supper for every kid in San Diego! Maybe now those bozos will pick on someone their own size” then he announces plans for a new shirt with his picture on it. And the kids chant “Kid-co, Kid-co, Kid-co.” Some of the details in this film are really what make it work. For example, instead of baseball pennants over his bed Dickie has pennants of Ford, Standard Oil and General Motors. And at the very end there are protest signs that read: “In Kids We Trust,” “Peter Pan Lives,” “Children’s Coalition,” “Kids Liberation,” “Suffrage for Kids” and “Equal Rights for Kids.”

These signs are fantastic. The whole tone of the movie is perfect. In many films made in the United States children are given little or no respect as people they are portrayed as stupid, whiny, troublemakers. Few and far between are the films that treat them with any respect. This film screeches for and demands that respect. Not only that but it’s a great portrayal of big business in the 80s where kids were also looking for money and identifying themselves with corporations. Kidco might be a strange and unusual little film but it is most definitely funny and it is definitely a film of the 80s.

Work Cited: Tramer, Bennet. Kidco. Screenplay. September 1982, Frank Yablans Productions.
 Ibid.
 

DVD Review – Allez, Eddy!

Introduction

This was a film I was initially going to discuss in my Mini-Review Round-Up. However, the review grew such that the ‘mini’ tag didn’t really fit anymore. This is a film that has not seen North American release and has only been out on Region 2 Blu-Ray on DVD. These titles are still viewable in other regions on computers or region-free players. I discuss that here.

I found this film through an importer on Amazon, and as I will describe below it goes above and beyond the seemingly simple call of its synopsis.

Film

Allez, Eddy! (2012, Benelux Film Distributors)

With a film such as Allez, Eddy! there are with its various components, which prescribe certain plot points and confrontations. However, what is unique about the film is the handling of said situations, not necessarily the situations themselves. Also, adding to the distinctive palate of the film is the combination of these situations.

To be a bit more specific, in this film you have: the tradition vs. advancement plot of the family-owned butcher shop versus the new supermarket, which in the setting of this tale is a new concept in an of itself. Then you also have the underdog sports story of a kid who comes out of nowhere to shock his hometown in emulation of his hero. Intermingled with those concepts is a family drama, but lastly you have the tale of an isolated child. The cause of his isolation is a malady that could be the cause for much potty humor, but is for the most part handled deftly and delicately. Already upon combining these things you can see this film is anything but run-of-the-mill.

All those items are tethered to one another so there’s no feeling of the film being disjointed as there is a unity to it all; a common thread. There are other subplots that could be touched upon, but its better that those be discovered in the film. Aside from their connection what makes the handling of these themes and plots unique is that things don’t always turn out as you expect or occur when you expect. The film sets you up believing there will be a clichéd climax or sequence and pulls a reverse on you at the last second.

So on a narrative, and more intellectual, level it is intriguing. However, it also captures you viscerally with the varied and wondrous performances of the cast. They elicited from me all the emotions desired. As viewers we are constantly put in a place of being ‘for’ or ‘against’ a character in a scene. Empathy and understanding throughout a film, even with character you dislike or are mad at, is rare. This film achieves that engagement. Regardless of how characters are designed to affect you, you understand them. And within a film that focuses mainly on a family dynamic that’s quite a feat, for even though you may not like the way a family behaves individually at times, or toward each other, the striven for reconciliations are stronger if you desire them for the characters as well.

Allez, Eddy! (2012, Benelux Film Distributors)

So this film engages on those two levels, however, nearly from the start it also engages the imagination, which combines the intellect and the visceral in a number of ways. It achieves this engagement through the stylized, self-contained, imagined depictions of stories Freddy’s mother tells him. They are mainly tall tales of her fashioning designed to reinforce her rules but they do have a resonance later, and do play into the pure wonder of storytelling, which should be the foundation of all cinema, and ultimately art.

Oh, yes, and if you look at the synopsis much of the initial conflict is not only caused by Freddy’s wanting to be out of the house unattended, which is forbidden, but also his entering a supermarket-sponsored bike race, which is doubly forbidden. Thus, there’s the sports element perhaps 5th or 6th down the pecking order of things that stand out in this film. This makes it a film that features sports rather than a sports film, but it does that brilliantly. It uses Eddy Merckx’s quest for a 6th Tour de France title not only as a backdrop for the events of that summer, but also at one point as a tremendously artful parallel in a cross-cut sequence. There are other ways in which cycling is folded into the mix that are creative, but I will leave those as a surprise as well.

Allez, Eddy! plays all the right emotional notes throughout such that it can even earn a more subdued end quite well. It is uniquely beautiful, at times touching and warm, at times hilarious, often sad and empathy-inducing film that’s quite nearly always spot-on. It’s one of those films I come across once in a while that got better as I sat down to write about it. An extraordinarily well made film.

10/10

Extras

Allez, Eddy! (2012, Benelux Film Distributors)

A case of caveat emptor for those who seek out foreign region discs is that typically bonus features are not subtitled. Another word to the wise is if you do start scouring resellers, or foreign Amazon stores, become familiar with the words for “subtitles” and “English” in each. It’s usually fairly apparent. As per usual, the deleted scenes here are in Flemish and not subtitled. I confirmed that fact, but may see if they translate visually. So if you speak the language the film is in, as I speak Portuguese, you’ll get by, otherwise it’s good to keep in mind.

One very great bonus feature is a compelling, quirky and original short film called Vincent. The short is vaguely reminiscent of the early works of Robert Rodriguez, and you can clearly see the seeds for Allez, Eddy! being sewn in the style, content and tone.

Unless, it actually comes to region 1 at some point it won’t be a cheap or easy find, but it’s well worth it if you’re compelled to see it.