“St. Valentine’s Day is an excuse to express our most intense or obscure passions. But words can be a frail tool to capture the complications and complexities of this thing we call love: the sweet blush of infatuation, the kinship and kindness of true companions, the frenzy of unfettered lust, the torments of jealousy, betrayal, or heartbreak. So perhaps it’s no coincidence that three films set on Valentine’s Day hinge on the fragility and feebleness of words, creating worlds where meaning and reason fall apart.”- Kiss is Kill
Today at The Toast, my guide to three Valentine’s Day films where meaning falls apart: Pontypool, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
From indie director Bruce McDonald (The Tracey Fragments, Hard Core Logo) comes Pontypool, a deliciously taut, intelligently told thriller that breaks all the rules of zombie outbreak films, starting with the most important one: there are no zombies.
What do I mean? If a zombie film has no zombies, what the heck does the word even mean? Well, exactly.
Grizzled veteran actor Stephen McHattie exercises his gruff charm and silky-rough voice as washed-up radio host Grant Mazzy, who starts the morning with announcements of missing cats and snow day rosters, and ends it as the lone broadcaster detailing a mysterious outbreak of violence and illness. The tale is a masterpiece of mediated storytelling: Mazzy and his crew are glued to their helm in the radio station, receiving updates from reporters and civilians in the field, which means that the tension is built by voices and words, not gruesome action scenes.
And it works. Not only does it work; the tension becomes a self-feeding cycle as it gradually dawns on the radio troopers that their reports may be compounding the disaster. This is a lean, elegantly economical piece of storytelling that builds to a horrific crest by allowing us to invest in the players, to piece together their relationships and characters and to imagine for ourselves the horrors offstage… and then the action starts to spill over.
[This review is cross-posted to The VideoReport.]
Oh hell yes! Red glitter Schoolgirl mary janes from Pleaser, USA
To be more specific, I want to wear them as wedding shoes. I want I want I want, even though:
a) they clash horrifically with everything else I’ll be wearing;
b) they’re a tiiiiiiiiny bit too ridiculous even for our ridiculous wedding;
c) periodically throughout the reception, I’d randomly snap, “I would’ve killed for ‘tappa tappa tappa’!”
edited to add
As a nod to those friends and readers urging us arrange the details of our wedding to please ourselves: thank you, and thank you, and thank you, but have no fears on that front. Though I’m giving up my bouncy castle and my spangly shoes, and The Fella and I gave up our zombie cake, we gave them up for us.
For one reason or another, we decided that these elements don’t fit with our plans. But we have no question that the wedding day will reflect us, our taste, our humor, our silliness.
And! Our happiness and gratitude that our friends and loved ones embrace the silliness in us. Thank you.
As a bonus for those who are heartily sick of my wedding frippery, note that the final link uses “tappa tappa tappa” as a jumping-off point for a discussion of simplistic educational models. For those readers not thoroughly sick of my wedding frippery… oh, you will be.
I have nothing to add to this summary of the upcoming film Pride and Predator:
The new film from Elton John’s Rocket Pictures will have the seven-foot extraterrestrial give the characters from Pride and Prejudice something more immediate to worry about than making advantageous marriages.
Well, nothing except this link to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which “features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action.”
I couldn’t let another day go by without acknowledging our very first engagement gift, which Gaoo and niece A. delivered wrapped in silvery-white wedding paper months and months ago.
We’re considering using two of the figures as caketoppers, if only our hoity-toity fancypants boutique baker will tolerate such foolishness. I’m thinking she will, since she gave ‘em to us.
update: The Fella and I originally toyed with the idea of having a zombie graveyard cake as our wedding cake. As I envisioned it, this would be quite simple: an embellished sheetcake, its frosting punctuated with headstones (tuiles sunk into the cake itself) and disturbed graves (crumbled chocolate cookies or cake crumbs) and zombie figures staggering here and there. When I vaguely mentioned our zombie-cake daydreams to Gaoo, our wedding cake maker extraordinaire, she immediately suggested something grander and spookier. Though we’ve now settled on a different design, that moment made me realize once again the difference between a dilettante (me!) and an artist (that would be Gaoo).
A friend pointed me toward this Salon article comparing Sarah Palin’s simpering simulacrum of feminism with the powerful (and for some unpalatable) personal and professional presence of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
We began this history-making election with one kind of woman and have ended up being asked to accept her polar opposite. Clinton’s brand of femininity is the kind that remains slightly unpalatable in America. It is based on competence, political confidence and an assumption of authority that upends comfortable roles for men and women. It’s a kind of power that has nothing to do with the flirtatious or the girly, nothing to do with the traditionally feminine. It is authority that is threatening because it so closely and calmly resembles the kind of power that the rest of the guys on a presidential stage never question their right to wield.
I don’t think this article even begins to uncover the gender politics that have been lurking, half-submerged, in the rhetoric of this political season, but it’s a starting point.
Last night, I dreamed of persuading the neighbors how valuable The Fella and I will be in the coming zombie apocalypse: him for his imposing strength, his first-class brain, his stalwart defense of those near to him, and his legendary knowledge of zombie arcana, and me for my smarts, my foresight, and my unmatched ruthlessness.
Previous entries about zombies, brain-eating, cannibalism, or monstrous beasts (hey, one of ‘em is me!) arising from the grave/slumber/oneself are here, here, and here. A few more here, here, here, and here. Also here and here.
Hey, why are you inching away?
I am participating in NaBloPoMo.
Days are moving like hours, or so my father-in-law said recently. It’s true; I wake up, I blink, and then it’s evening. It must be the shortening amount of light each day, but I’ve never felt it so acutely.
Still I did manage to get quite a bit done this week during that blink. I cut my cast off myself on Monday because my toes started tingling again and it was past the two-week mark prescribed by the ER doctors. De-casted, I hobbled around with worsening pain until my Wednesday doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately the doc said my ankle was definitely not on the mend and set me up to see a specialist the next morning. Eight o’clock Thursday I met the most verbose doctor of them all, finally leaving with prescription in hand after an hour (somehow he was still preferable to the five-minute-dismissive type). The prescription was for a pair of künzli boots that give me a very pronounced walk, bringing to mind the stilted locomotion of both Frankenstein’s monster and zombies. I feel pretty.
An open letter to Whole Foods:
Thank you for providing wholesome and delicious online recipes. Please don’t take it amiss when I tell you that the name of your It’s Alive salad gives me the shudders, for not one but several obvious reasons. Do you not have a horror movie geek in the whole PR department?
I’m assuming the reader isn’t currently experiencing a zombie outbreak. If you are, skip to the next section.
Finally, the comprehensive DIY guide to surviving the zombie apocalypse. I differ with the author on a few strategic points, and I notice that pub isn’t a choice on the poll for best refuge sites, but in general it’s sound advice.