Thursday, July 12, 2012

The 2012 Summer Screen Review (Part III)

A friend and I frequently schedule Stupid Movie Night, an evening to watch movies we expect to be bad and entertainingly so.  You know, those low-budget bargain bin movies, mostly.

Lately we've been in a bit of a valley, though, with the movies being generally dull, rather than amusingly terrible.  Tonight we hit what we hope was rock bottom.

Aegri Somnia.  Oh, Aegri Somnia.

What do you get when you have a writer-director who is smitten by his own ideas for "striking visuals" and his misplaced self-confidence as an artiste?  You get a pretentious mess that seeks to be an art film, but which stumbles blindly through a warehouse of black-and-white scenes and red scenes, overwrought use of reversed film, definitively unscary 'scary' images that seem left over from a failed Marilyn Manson video shoot, and some of the worst dialogue and delivery I've ever had the mind-numbing misfortune to endure.  What seeks to be a surreal and disturbing trip through confusion and disorientation (Aegri Somnia means the dreams of a sick man, after all), only succeeds in being an arduous and laboured journey to nowhere at all.  Never have I spent so much time looking at the counter on the DVD player so frequently.  (My viewing companion suggested fast forwarding, but I felt that would be cheating -- instead I cheated myself out of 91 minutes of doing something more interesting ... like the dishes.)

A message to independent filmmakers:  enough with stilted line delivery filled with what you believe are meaningful pauses.  They're not meaningful.  Don't highlight the entire textbook.

What is astounding is the number of online horror reviewers who gave the film a passing grade, lending credence to my suspicion that independent horror filmmakers and the web-community that supports them most strongly are just an inbred group of buddies.  (I don't mean inbred as in "incestuous hill folk", I mean inbred in the sense that they all have gotten to know one another through the world of the old inter web and rather blindly give each other high fives for sub-par work.)  The visuals, which were the hanging point of most praise, were not deserving of the credit -- generally trite reworkings of familiar tropes -- and were presented in a soup of watered down stock.

An utter waste of time in every sense.

Wait.  Perhaps I had better put that in bold so nobody misses that bottom line and accidentally punishes him- or herself by watching this vapid mess.

Aegri Somnia is an utter waste of time in every sense.

After a short break to shake out the cobwebs, we decided it best to watch something that was likely to be ridiculous but nearly guaranteed to entertain:  Aladin.

No, I didn't misspell that.  This isn't the Aladdin of Disney fame, this is Aladin, big budget Bollywood spectacular!

Let me be upfront: this movie is pretty ridiculous and sometimes manic, but man is it entertaining.  It's Bollywood!  I'm not sure India has seen so much CGI (and good quality CGU, particularly for a non Hollywood production, might I add).  Throw in some good old fight scenes and some utterly hilarious musical numbers and how can you not enjoy yourself?  Come on, the genie is a rockstar named Genius with fancy suits and a fedora.  Haha!  I was completely fascinated by the bilingual nature of the script, too.  Do they really snap that quickly and frequently between Hindi and English in India these days?  Wow.

Perhaps Aladin seemed all the more entertaining because it followed close on the heels of the digital lobotomy that is Aegri Somnia.  I don't care.  I was amused, and it helped to salvage what was otherwise shaping up to be a miserable night of viewing.  Thanks, crazy Bollywood movie! 

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