Feb 20, 2021

"The Boarding School: Las Cumbres": Pallid Supernatural Goings-On at Boarding School/Dungeon


This morning Amazon Prime is flashing El Internado: Las Cumbres, with some young adults in high school uniforms arguing and being scared in the woods.  I could use another Spanish paranormal high school, although I wonder why they translated the title as The Boarding School: Las Cumbres.

Scene 1: Close ups of crows in a snowy woods.  One crow fllies to a Medieval castle on a cliff, with barred windows and a statue of a crow in the courtyard.  

A bell rings: we're in a modern school coridor.  Paul (Albert Salazar, left) and Manuel fight while the other students cheer (why are kids always delighted to see their classmates beating on each other?).  While the principal tries to stop them, a girl breaks into her safe and retrieves some papers.  So the fight was just a distraction!

Guards take Paul and Manuel through darkness to a Medieval dungeon, and lock them in. 

Scene 2:
 About a thousand students run out of the school and do calisthenics in the courtyard. Meanwhile, a girl rides her bicycle to small Medieval chapel, goes inside, and hides a box and some papers under a grate. She peers out the window at the students exercising (so the school is much bigger on the inside than on the outside?  Are these the same papers from Scene 1?  Why steal them, and then return them to the school, and then hide them?

Someone sinister  is peering down at the kids exercising. A boy stays behind to stare, but not at the person peering down.   Only five minutes in, and I'm already confused by the reduplicated mysteries.

Scene 3: The  girl retrieves the box, goes to the girls' locker room, and distributes packages of cigarettes to her friends!  Psych!  Why hide the carton, only to retrieve it five seconds later? Scary Staring Girl doesn't want a pack.

Scene 4: Church. Scary monks in robes that hide their faces. All except the Coach from Scene 2, who stares ominously.  goes to his room, takes off his robe, and incongrously checks his computer.   What he sees makes him angry.  

Scene 5:  The Principal is giving the students a pep talk: "The reason you are here is that no one wants you. Society and your families quit believing in you."  Cheery!   Adele, yet another staring girl sneaks out, rushes past the guard dog, and sneaks into a Medieval-looking arched doorway to a run-down apartment, where Sra. Virginia is watching tv.  She's there for a French lesson! Psych!

On tv, a talk show.  A woman has written a book about a boarding school that burned down.  Are these people all ghosts?

Adele asks to go to the bathroom, and instead steals a bottle of medication from the bedroom.

Scene 6: Bell rings.  Students march out in regimented lines.  Adele is called to the principal's office.  On the way, she throws out the drug that she stole earlier. But it's not about the drug; her Uncle is ont he phone.  She can't tell him "Help!  This is an abusive nightmare!" with the Principal right there, so she just says "Fine...um...yes, Paul's fine too."

She leaves the office and tries to retrieve the drug, but it's gone!  Someone swiped it from the waste baseket!

Scene 7:
  Coach Monk(Alberto Amarilla) is talking to Love Interest about the alchemists who practiced black magic in these mountains years ago. 

Meanwhile, Paul and Manuel, still in the dungeon, are passing the time by discussing an old Ray Bradbury story, "Mars is Heaven," about astronauts who land on Mars and find what they think are their relatives.  Actually they are Martians planning to kill them.  Is this a metaphor for their situation?

 The night monitor checks the girls' dorm and finds Paz with a forbidden cell phone, so he drags her into the bathroom and cuts her hair off. 

Scene 8: In the morning, everyone stares as Paz martches into class with short hair.  Coach Monk -- named Elias --  is reminded that the boys are still in the dungeon, so he gives the class a Latin translation assignment and rushes to release them.  

Coach Monk Elias bursts into the principal's office to complain about the inhmane punishments being doled out to the students.  Principal counters: the students are not human, they are murderers and thieves.  They are not here to be helped; they are here to suffer.   He disagrees: they need compassion.  So she fires him.

Scene 9: Heavily regimented dinner.  Paul and Manuel recite: "I deserved my punishment and I promise not to break the rules again."  

Later, Manuel smooches with a girl.  They discuss what they are going to do when they have escaped, in less than 15 hours.  Paul and his girlfriend, Adele, arrive, and they discuss the escape plan: 

Boo!  I thought Paul and Manuel were a gay couple, and they both suddenly have smoochy-woochy girlfriends!  A one-two punch in the gut!  

Oh well, on to the plan: they will use the drug that Adele stole to sedate the guard dog, hot-wire a van in the parking lot, and drive to the bus station, where they will use the bus tickets that Manuel's girlfriend bought with the money she stole from the safe,, and then hid under the grate with the cigarettes.  All the mysteries resolved, except for who stole Adele's drug vial.

Scene 10:
Music class.  The teacher (Joel Bosqued) is discussing how music causes chemical reactions in the brain that last forever.  So that's why I can't get the them to "The Brady Bunch" out of my head?   He asks them to connect a song to their best and worst memory.  Paz bursts out of the classroom.

Scene 11: At the monastery, Coach Monk Elias complains to the Head Monk, also Director at the School, that horrible things keep happening.  He's tried everything possible to help the kids, but the Principal and her minions insist on torturning them.  Head Monk insists that he stay. Wait -- if the Director doesn't agree with the torture, couldn't he fire the evil principal?  

Scene 12: Music Teacher is writing in his diary about how hot one of the girls is. Darn, I figured he must be gay.  He sees a crow at the window.

Scene 13: Night.  The four friends sneak out of their dorms and climb onto the roof.  Then they lose the steak for the dog, and Paul and Adele wimp out.  

Meanwhile the principal discovers the stolen money and bursts into the dorms to screech at the kids.  She discovers that four are missing, and has an apoplexic fit, but the studens are overjoyed.  

Manuel and his girlfriend run through dark woods, chased by the school faculty,  Manuel tumbles into a ravine and is knocked out.  Some mysterious figures wearing crow masks scoop him up and walk off in slow motion.  The end.

Beefcake: None.

Other Scenery: The castle-school and monastery are beautifully creepy.

Supernatural: Not nearly enough, just little hints here and there.

Psych-Outs: Lots.  Big mysteries turn out to be not mysterious at all.  Red herrings and dead ends everywhere.

Gay Characters: None, darn it! The boys are a gay couple until Scene 9.  Even Monk Elias seems to have a love interest.

My grade: D

The Wizard of Id

During the early 1950s, Brant Parker, a political cartoonist living in Binghamton, New York, befriended high school student Johnny Hart, and encouraged him to submit his cartoons to magazines.  Hart placed a few in The Saturday Evening Post, but his big break came in 1958, when B.C., a comic strip about sarcastic cavemen (modeled after his friends), was picked up by Comic Creators’ Syndicate.  Soon he was being lauded as the most promising of the new crop of hip young comic artists.  Always an iconoclast, he presaged Doonesbury in introducing political satire into his daily strips, and even had characters voicing his evangelical Christian beliefs, a taboo during the period.  A few years later, Hart approached Brant Parker, who had remained a close friend, and again breaking tradition, asked him to collaborate on a strip about the sarcastic residents of a Medieval kingdom; The Wizard of Id and the partnership has endured ever since.    

Though named after the inept Wizard,  Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s Wizard of Id is an ensemble strip, involving the daily interactions of many strongly drawn characters: tiny, blustering King Id; Troub, a hippie troubadour; Bung, the drunken court jester; Spook, who has been in the dungeon for so long that he is a mass of  hair; the Lone Haraunger, who scrawls his slogan, “The King is a Fink,” under the King’s nose; Robbing Hood, who “takes from the wretch, and gives to the peer”; and Rodney, a cowardly knight.  Id is a decidedly male preserve where women are demonized or simply ignored: the Wizard’s wife Blanche is the fat, ugly harridan who figures so prominently in the sets of Borscht Belt comedians, and the Lady Gwen has no strong personality traits, and seems to exist simply to express an unrequited love for Rodney.  Eschewing the heterosexual hijinks that preoccupy the minds of most characters in non-nuclear family strips, from Peanuts to Garfield and even Johnny Hart’s earlier B.C., residents of Id spend most of their time buddy-bonding.  When Rodney is released from a curse that turned him into a statue, it is Bung, not the Lady Gwen, who joyfully reunited with him.  Yodey, a dumb but massive squire, treats Rodney with an admiration that treads the line between hero worship and romance.  Even the King, who never expresses interest in women, rarely appears without Rodney or the Duke at his side.

The buddy-bonding alone would make The Wizard of Id a rarity on the comic page, where men usually treat each other as competitors and enemies in their incessant quest after feminine smiles.  But during the 1970s, Rodney failed to express much heterosexual interest.  In The Wizard of Id: There’s a Fly in My Swill (1973), a shapely woman passes him in the castle courtyard, while he stands oblivious.  She turns back and slaps him.  “I didn’t do anything!” he protests.  She exclaims “Don’t let it happen again!”

The Lady Gwen spends her life ardently pursuing Rodney, who acquiesces to a few dates, but otherwise displays no interest in her.  Generally in comic strips unrequited love is the domain of crude, fat, and ugly women, but Gwen is quite shapely and sophisticated.  In a world where every man is explicitly attracted to every women (except for fat and ugly ones), Rodney’s lack of passion is singularly puzzling.  In The Wizard of Id: Long Live the King (1975), Rodney takes Gwen out for a movie and a sundae, and “in appreciation,” she kisses him.  He walks away unimpressed, thinking “Now I wish I’d gotten the butterscotch.”  It is a puzzling punchline.  Does he wish that he had ordered a superior flavor to make up for Gwen’s tepid kiss, or does he believe that he might have avoided the kiss altogether by ordering for a different sundae flavor?

In The Wizard of Id: The Peasants Are Revolting (1971), at the end of another date, Rodney refuses the kiss.  Exasperated, Gwen exclaims “I’m a girl, you’re a boy!  Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”  Rodney responds: “Yeah, you can beat the draft.”  He nicely demolishes the presumption that the desire must adhere in sexual difference, that if we are boys we can only ever be attracted to girls.

  Of course, Rodney’s distinguishing character trait, cowardliness, has been code for gay since before the Cowardly Lion sang about being a Dandy in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but occasional strips go beyond code or a simple lack of interest in the other sex to suggest more overtly that Rodney’s interests may lie in men. In The Wizard of Id: Yield (1974), Rodney and Gwen are sitting in a bar when a tough approaches them and asks “How about a kiss?”  Rodney asks him to step outside.  We assume, of course, that he is going to fight the tough for flirting with Gwen.  But he returns a short time later, sits down, and says “If I had kissed him in here, people would have laughed at me.”  Did Rodney merely misunderstand the request? But he is never characterized as stupid, and besides, the tough would certainly have objected if he wanted a kiss from Gwen and got Rodney instead.  Did he kiss the tough because he was too cowardly to fight him?  Again, surely the tough would have objected.  The most logical conclusion is that the tough was flirting with Rodney, not Gwen, and Rodney knew it.

Feb 18, 2021

"Millenials": Are Any of the Argentine "Friends" LGBT?


is an Argentine series about six young adults negotiating jobs and romances in modern-day Buenos Aires.  Like Friends, but with serious plotlines, a lot of people developing apps, and constant hooking up.  

Benja hooks up with Juanma's girlfriend.  Juama has sex with Alma. Benja and Ariana have a three-way with Gaby. Either they are all lesbians, or it is commonplace in Argentine society for boys to have feminine names. I can't tell by looking if there are any gay or bi men.

I'll have to correlate the names with the actors listed on IMDB/  

Whoops, only a few.  Ok, I'll try wikipedia.

1. Benja(boy)  hooks up with the girlfriend of Juanma (boy)  Juanma is played by Juan-Manuel Gullera (top photo), and Benja by Nicolas Riera (below). 

2. Benja (boy) and Ariana (girl) have a three-way with Gaby (girl)

3. Flor (girl) kicks out her boyfriend Benja,  then hooks up with Brian (boy)

4.  Benja (boy) hooks up with Fabi (boy), unaware that he is actually Fauci's alter ego.  Fabi is played by Santiago Talleda..

5. Fauci (boy) dates Mirko (boy).  Mirko is played by Facundo Garibande)

6. Ariana (girl) and Flor (girl) try to seduce Luca (boy).

7. Juanma  (boy) and Rodri (boy) practice their seduction skills. Rodri is played by Mattias Meyer.

Looks like there are some gay/bi plotlines in the second season, after you sit through a lot of boy-girl-girl hookups. But second season is better than nothing.

Robert Ellis: Gay Best Friend of the 1950s

This rather buffed young man looking rather unhappy at being hugged by a girl is Robert Ellis.  He was famous during the 1950s as Dexter Franklin on Meet Corliss Archer (1951-52), the first of many sitcoms about unconventional young women (others included A Date with Judy, Meet Millie, My Little Margie, and Too Young to Go Steady).  

Corliss Archer was first introduced in a series of short stories by F. Hugh Herbert (published in book form in 1944): a bright, sassy teenager who kept trying to involve her unwilling best buddy Dexter in her wild schemes. Dexter was not interested in girls, but he liked hanging out with Corliss because, in spite of his grumbling, he enjoyed the excitement and adventure.

The various versions of Corliss included a stage play (1943), two movies starring Shirley Temple (1945, 1949), a comic book series, and a long-running radio series starring Janet Waldo (1943-1956). Dexter was shy, quiet, and feminine, a gay-vague best friend, though sometimes the Fade Out Kiss requirement pushed him into a grudging admission of his romantic interest.  He was played variously by Sam Edwards, Dwayne Hickman, and Warren Berlinger, but Robert Ellis was best at providing a "Holy Cow!" unwillingness.

Robert Ellis had many guest spots on 1950s tv series, including The Loretta Young Show, The Bob Cummings Show, Jim Bowie, Wyatt Earp, and The Lone Ranger.   

As Ralph on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1956-58), he buddy-bonded with Ronnie Burns and tried his best not to get "snared" by a girl, in spite of his scripted girl-craziness.

In Gidget (1959), he played Hot Shot, a gay-vague surfer boy whom Gidget hires to make the Big Kahuna jealous.  He didn't go through with it, but he did manage to display some impressive muscles and a spectacular bulge.

Robert's last screen appearance was in The Jackie Gleason Special (1973).  He died in 1973, at the age of 40.

I just heard a story about Drake dating Robert Ellis in 1956, until Ricky Nelson stole him.  See Tales of West Hollywood.

Feb 17, 2021

Searching for Non-Heterosexist Movies on Amazon Prime, Part 3: When is a Drag Queen Not a Drag Queen?


Time for another search through the "movies we think you'll like" on Amazon Prime.  

The rules:  if I can get through the cover blurb without a "to win the Girl of His Dreams", "After the Death of His WIfe," or other heterosexist set-pieces, 1 point.  

Thr trailer, 2 points.  

A review or plot description, 3 points.  

1. Danny's Doomsday:
  Teenage Danny and his brother must help each other during a monster apocalypse.  Sounds like a lot of buddy bonding.  I'll just watch the trailer to make sure....

Whoops.  The first second shows Danny in class, staring gape-jawed at The Girl of His Dreams.  That was fast.  Next!

One point

2. The Trap Door at the Edge of the UniverseA film noir detective takes a case from a blonde femme fatale.  Next.

No points

3. Nobody
Not the 2021 action-adventur move, the 2007 thriller, the 2007 tv movie, or the 2007 movie about "finding yourself."  Enough with the one word titles that have been used over and over throughout cinema history!  

Ok, this one is a comedy: Lindeman, a 25 year old art student, struggles to find his inspiration, finding himself in one ridiculous situation after another.  Ok so far.  Let's check out the trailer. 

He' talks to a girl about his trouble finding his inspiration, assaults a giant block of granite (how did he get it into his apartment anyway?), talks to her again, attacks the giant block again, and then, at the 1.0 minute mark, his jaw gapes as he sees The Girl walking in slow motion down the stairs. 

One point 

4. The Outcasts: A female high school version of Revenge of the Nerds, starring former Disney teen Victoria Justice and Eden Sher from The Middle, filmed in 2014 and released in 2017.

The trailer shows  one semi-shirtless boy, one boy girl kiss,  and a lot of people walking in slow motion to demonstrate that they are now empowered, but no Girl of His Dreams. 

Plot description: the nerd crew includes a musician, a scientist, a depressed loner, two science fiction fans,  and a lesbian Girl Scout (30 years since Revenge of the Nerds, and LGBT people are still outcasts).  Brock Yurich (top photo) is on the popular squad, but apparently switches sides.  

3 points

4. Forbidden Empire
I thought this was a Chinese movie set during the Warring Kingdom era, but no, it's a Russian movie, based on a story by Nicolai Gogol:  in the 18th century, cartographer Jonathan Green finds a small village that has built a moat to keep out the dangers of the world.  

 "From the classic immortal story comes a fantastic journey of mythological proportions."  Didn't you ever read Strunk and White?  Adjectives are not your friend.  And "empire" might be a bit of an exaggeration for a small village.

Trailer: a half-naked woman at 21 seconds, another at 35 seconds, The GIrl at 1.17 minutes, and the kiss at 1.37 minutes, right after: 

One point

5. Demon Squad:  A local Alabama production: paranormal investigator Nick Moon finds himself thrust into a hidden world of monsters, artifacts with ultimate power, yada yada yada. I'll bet there's a girl.

Trailer: A guy dressed as a 1940s detective.  A Femme Fatale at .10 seconds.  Monsters, magic sword, more monsters, guy and girl fighting the monsters, but no kissing.  

Plot Description: "A beautiful woman."  Falling in love.  Next!

Two points

6. Pork Pie
: "A trio of young misfits in search of lost love learn about life."  So they all have different lost loves, or is it the same one?  And is this lost love a pie of any sort?  

Trailer: Two cute guys, one white (Dean O'Gorman), the other Maori (James Rolleston), on a buddy-bonding  road trip. through New Zealand.  Pursued by the police.  Buddy-bonding is ruined when they pick up a waitress -- close up shot of her butt as she climbs through the window into the car (she doesn't know how to work a door handle?).  Dean sees the  Girl of His Dreams at minute 1.21, James and the Waitress kiss at minute 2.01. 

One point

7, Madame:
Anne and Bob "have just moved to a manor house in romantic Paris." When they host a dinner party, they have more male than female guests, so to even things out, they recruit their maid to pretend to be an aristocrat. But she falls in love with a male guest and runs off, so they have to chase her.  Why?  She's an adult-- let her do what she wants.  

In the icon, the maid looks like a drag queen, so I watch the trailer.  Everyone dresses in 1930s costumes but it appears to be modern or almost modern Paris.  The character is named Maria, obviously intended to be a woman.  But is actor Rossy de Palma male, transgender, binary, or just a masculine woman?  An internet search reveals that she uses "she/her" pronouns, but she gets written up in an article about the Mallorca Gay Men's Chorus, and  another on "pretty dresses are no longer just for women."  

So I'm stumped. It's really no one's business except for people who want to date her.

Two points.

8. Still Waiting: Apparently a sequel to Waiting, about the waiters in a restaurant called Shenaniganz.  I didn't see the original because the reviews discussed its homophobia in detail.  Maybe they've toned down the homophobia.  

Trailer: A double take at a girl at second .01.  Next!

One point.

9. Love the Coopers.
A feature length version of Young Sheldon, about Big Bang Theory's resident weirdo as a child in East Texas?  

I guess not; it's about a "chaotic family reunion", actually Christmas, that begins with arguments goes on to "a little denial and a few big lies," and ends with caring and sharing.  Maybe there are some gay characters among the denial and lies.

Trailer: I definitely did not expect John Goodman and Diane Keaton as the parents. They argue, prepare dinner, argue.  The denial is a dad and his toddler daughter.  No wife in the scene: maybe he's gay?   The big lies are about a young male-female couple arguing and granddaughter's fake boyfriend (Jake Lacey).  Maybe she's a lesbian? 

Plot Synopsis: No one is gay.  The denials and lies are about 15 or 16 couples having marital problems, all of whom get reconciled at Christmas. 

Well, how was I to know "denial" and "big lies" usually means that one of the sons is gay. Two points.

10. Ripped: I thought this was a movie about bodybuilders, but "ripped" also means getting high.  Two buddies smoke top-secret CIA weed in 1986, and wake up 30 years ago, old, fat, and perplexed by things like cell phones.  Wouldn't they also be devastated to discover that they've lost half of their lives?  Maybe some buddy bonding.

Trailer: One of the guys winks at another guy at the urinal in the restroom, eliciting a homophoic response.  They hit on a girl at minute 1.20, but there is no kissing. 

No plot synopsis, but IMDB keywords include: female ejaculation, girl in panties, woman moaning in pleasure...yuck!

I don't care if I sat through the trailer, this is still getting No points.

Ten movies, with only one possibility, and it got terrible reviews.  And Sunday's episode of Bob's Burgers still hasn't dropped on Vudu. This isn't my day.

Feb 15, 2021

"Riverdale" Time Jumps 7 Years to Archie and the Gang in their 40s


For four years, Riverdale has had the 16- and 17-year olds of Archie comics acting like they're in their 30s.  Veronica runs a nightclub where alcohol flows freely.  Cheryl runs a maple syrup empire.  Archie owns a gym.  Jughead gets a job ghost-writing novels.  Betty investigates serial killers (more than one) with the help of her FBI Agent brother.  No way is any of this possible.  For one thing, they are too young to sign contracts.  

After four years of organized crime, drug dealing, cults, serial killers, and miscellaneous covfefe, the gang finally graduates from high school in a retrospective episode that thinks we love the show a lot more than we actually do.  In the next episode, there's a time jump of seven years.  So the gang is 24 or 25 years old, right?  Except they are acting as if they are in their mid-40s.

1. Veronica is channeling Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.  She's a middle-aged dowager trapped in a faltering marriage with a middle-aged 25-year old mafioso named Chadwick (Chris Mason, left).  "What happened to us?" she asks.  Well, after 20 years....what, it's only been one year? She longs for the days of her youth, 20 years...um, one year ago, when she was the She-Wolf of Wall Street.  

2. Betty is channeling Clarice in Silence of the Lambs, an FBI agent haunted by the Trash Bag Killer, the biggest failure of her career, who escaped to kill again.  Her career?  You need four years of college plus a year of training to join the FBI, so she's only had two years to have all of these successes and failures, and live in the shadow of her past.  

She is apparently dating her boss or partner (Grayson Holt), although in one scene when he touches her, she recoils in disgust.  

3. Jughead's first book got him accolades as the new Kerouac.  But he hasn't published anything since (if he went to college first, no more than three years ago).  Now he's a middle aged failed writer at age 26, an alcoholic with bill collectors calling and an eviction notice on the door.  He brings home a fan, who then blackmails him into getting her novel published.

4. Cheryl is channeling Miss Haversham from Great Expectations: she's an elderly recluse at age 26, ruminating on the past and dismissing her friends

5. Toni, her ex-girlfriend, is now running the nightclub in the basement of Pop Tate's as a sleazy dive bar, performing for rowdy truckers.  Kevin and his boyfriend Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner) help out.  

5. Archie is a war hero, single-handedly rescuing all of his soldiers during a battle in what looks like a modern American town, including Corporal Jackson, who lost his legs.

Sommer Cabuccia has a prosthetic leg in real life, and may be gay.  At least he is posing with a Pride Flag on his Instagram site.

After a long, stellar career of less than seven years, Archie is forced to retire.  He's either injured, or too psychologically traumatized to continue.   He gets a job running the JROTC program at Riverdale High, his old alma mater.

He returns to Riverdale to find that Hiram Lodge has backslid from his earllier redemption, and has destroyed the town for the fun of it.  Everyone is  unemployed and homeless; there are no public facilities except for Pop Tate's, and no buses stop in town because it's too dangerous.  Especially stay away from the road where 3,000 women disappear every year (whoops, wouldn't you know it, a waitress with the ridiculous name Squeaky decides to hitchhike at night on that very road, and accepts a ride in a truck with a skeleton attached to its front window.)

6. And what about Pop Tate, who runs the diner?  When Archie asks about him, the gang looks at each other, all nervous and sad.  "You didn't know?  We thought that was the reason you came back"

You mean Pop Tate is dead?  No, he's retiring.  The gang just has a completely imappropriate reaction.

Well, what do you expect?  They're getting close to retirement age themselves.

Feb 14, 2021

"1917": Laughable Torture Porn with a Final Heterosexist Dig

I went to a church once where the pastor was obsessed with death and dying.  It was in every sermon, regardless of the topic.  Every reading.  Most of the prayers.  It got ridiculously obsessive.  Finally one mornng, the pastor said "Today's reading is from a gem of a book about a nurse who works with terminally ill babies." I burst out laughing.  

I also burst out laughing during the war movie 1917 , which won three Oscars, seven British Academy Film Awards, four Critics' Choice Awards, and two Golden Globes.  I have just one question: did George MacKay read the script before agreeing to this?  The poor guy endures  countless hardships and tragedies, one piled atop the other, not to mention being killed at least three times.   The script writers must have gone through a list: "Ok, next a rabid wolf?  How about a space alien?  Well, why can't he be bitten by a vampire?"

The only reason I watched was for the gay subtext, which was intense and probably deliberate.  We begin with young World War I soldiers Will (George MacKay, below) and Tom (Dean-Charles Chapman. left) lying under a tree in an idyllic meadow, far from the trenches.  Why did they sneak off?  What had they been up to?  

Their commanding officer calls them in and tells them that there's a problem.  Colonel Mackenzie of the Second Battalion thinks that the Germans are retreating, and plans an attack tomorrow at dawn.  But it's really a trap, and all 1,600 soldiers will be killed.  The telephone lines are down, so Will and Tom must travel nine miles across the hostile German-occupied countryside to give him the order to stop the attack. In less than 24 hours.

They start out.  And the terrible things start piling onto each other.

1. They cross a no man's land of mud and corpses that look like zombies from The Walking Dead.

2. Will hurts his hand on barbed wire.

3. They look for food in abandoned German barracks (didn't they pack some rations?), but it's a trap.  A bomb explodes next to Will, killing him.

4. I guess not.  He's fine.  Next, they stop at an abandoned farmhouse.  A disabled German airplane crashes into it.  They rescue the pilot, who stabs Tom.  Long, agonizing death scene. 

For his final wishes, aside from  "Stay with me while I die!", Tom asks that Will write the letter to his mother announcing his death, and give his brother Joseph, who is with the Second Battalion, his rings and dog tags.

5. Will catches a ride with some sarcastic comic-relief soldiers.  The truck gets stuck in the mud, so he helps them push it, and is covered in mud.

6. The bridge is out, so he has to carefully tight-rope his way across the river, and gets soaked.

7. The abandoned town is not abandoned.  Will encounters a sniper, who shoots and kills him.  There are about 30 seconds of darkness while I wait for the closing credits to start.

8. He was just knocked unconscious (by a gunshot?)..  When he awakens, it is nearly dawn.  After giving a refugee girl some milk for her baby, Will runs, chased by about a thousand German soldiers who are really bad shots, to another river.

9.  He falls in, struggles against the current, and finally plummets over the world's biggest waterfall to his death.

10. I guess not.  Somehow Will survives, and is finally stopped by a dam of floating corpses.  He hears a male voice singing "The Wayfaring Stranger," and makes his waty to a clearing in the woods, where the Second Battalion is...um...enjoying a concert? 

11.  Now he has to rush through about a hundred miles of soldiers, pushing people aside, yelling "Where is Colonel Mackenzie?", and being told "Farther up" so many times that it goes beyond funny to ridiculous.  Finally he reaches the Colonel and convinces him to read the order and stop the troops.

12. Where's Tom's brother (Richard Madden)?  Oh, he was in the first wave, so he's already rushed into his death.  

Psych!  He's fine.  Will gives him the bad news about Tom, delivers the rings and dog tags, and shakes his hand.  

Then Will finds a meadow and sits under what looks like the same tree from the first scene.  

He takes out some photos of someone's wife and daughter.  His or Tom's -- I can't be sure, because neither of them mentioned a wife, or looked at a photo of a wife, or expressed any intereste in women whatsoever, not even in a dirty joke. 

What's going on?  Did the writers say "Oh, wait, we forgot to demonstrate that Will and Tom are straight."  So two hours of obvious gay subtext are ruined by a final, fleeting shot of  The Eternal Feminine. 

And I sat through two hours of torture porn for nothing.  

I should call my old pastor.  He'll definitely find this movie "a gem."

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...