Right, looks like I’m back to what I kind of asked for… Slating a couple of rubbish films I’ve seen lately, god knows who recommended them or where I got the idea to check them out from, there’s a lot of movies I’ve heard of and want to see, and now I’m glad they are firmly in the DONE pile, but seriously… utter crap. Both films took me like 3/4 goes each to not fall asleep during, which should have been a sign now I think about it.
Calling this a documentary is probably incorrect, and actually a bit of an insult to the term. A documentary implies that a team of interesting (well, usually) people have researched into a subject, found a wealth of information they feel needs to be shared, and used their knowledge and talents to entertain and audience by telling a true story . When you think of documentaries you think of the unknown, the shedding of light, exploration of the universe, nature, and human behavior… You do not think of some kid crying into the camera for 2 hours.
Tarnation is the ‘story’ of Jonathan Caouette growing up, and dealing with his mother’s mental illness, as he chronicles the events over the period of around 2o years through home movies and found footage. This actually sounded pretty interesting, and the inside peek into somebody’s very close and rarely seen family life, dealing with a ill parent, could have made a hugely compelling piece if handled differently.
I don’t know if it’s because Jonathan is obviously an amateur/first timer when it comes to telling such a huge story over such a long period of time, and editing it all together… In theory that actually makes the film sound more interesting to me, the idea that some kid has been filming himself and his mental illness suffering mother for years and years, filling in the gaps with explanations and summaries, using the endless hours of interesting footage he has shot himself for entertainment as kid as montages and almost like story telling music videos, that all sounds good. Also, mainly thanks to Harmony Korine, I love the home movie/DV/Super 8/grainy and shaky look of “unprofessional” footage. It all SOUNDED good.
It wasn’t. For a start the editing sucks… It just straight up does. He often cuts to a montage of footage he obviously wants to use, as a lot of it looks great, but has no idea what to do with it, which is done whenever this moving story starts to run out of steam… Which eventually starts to drag all the emotion out of it! It seems like we should sympathize with Jonathan, his mother Renee, and the rest of his family as soon as we hear the basic facts of the story, but after SO many shots of him pointing the camera at himself, and hardly any of his mother, who I thought was the subject of the film, we start to wonder whether there’s actually anything of interest going on here. I thought we would learn about Jonathan’s upbringing and how he has grown to deal with everything as a second hand by-product of learning about his mother and her life. I thought the story of family life would unfold through footage OF family life. Instead we get regular and way too long on screen explanations through horribly transitioned titles, intended to make us feel oh so sorry for Jonathan, when instead we very quickly want him to shut up. I thought Renee was the subject, and Jonathan was the film maker. Turns out he wanted to be both.
The film is basically WAY too self indulgent. There’s just too much of how HE feels and how HE is dealing with it, and not enough of what he’s actually dealing with. It sucks to say, because the subject of mental illness is one that we could probably never over tell, as hardly any of us have any understanding or experience of it, and idea of seeing into someone’s very personal home movies is also quite attractive, especially over such a long period of time. Unfortunately, most the footage if of Jonathan faffing about as a child and wannabe actor in his bedroom, rehearsing plays, singing into a hairbrush, generally doing what kids with a camera would do… We just don’t need to see so much of it, then when it gets to the actual story, cut to some words on a screen with yet more random footage of his face and boyfriends in different locations over the top of his favorite song. Self indulgence, that’s all it is.
I feel bad slating this film (I think I said that?), but if it’s crap, what else can you do? No offense to Jon or his family, but something that could have been an impressive and unprecedented inside look from a young family member’s point of view just becomes very bland very fast.
Not sure where I got this one from either, but I think I saw something like “FINALLY this unmissable cult classic is available remastered” and realized I had never heard of it, which I thought was strange as I do enjoy my Sci-Fi, especially if it’s got a bit of 70s/80s cheese to it. Turns out there was a very good reason I’d never heard of his mess, and Sean Connery is one of them.
Before I start, I can’t exactly admit to having properly seen this film. I feel asleep to it about 4 times, so some parts I’ve seen 2/3 times and some parts I haven’t seen at all. I’d say I’ve peeped about 80% – all crap.
The story is some guff (and the film itself obviously doesn’t care what the story is either) about miners in space taking drugs that make you work really hard and earn up some big bucks, for the small price of going completely mental and killing yourself in the most horrific way the special effects dudes can come up with. So you’ll die, but rich. James Bond, in his least convincing adventure, isn’t happy with that shit, even though every single other person is turning a blind eye, and decides to take on pretty much the entirety of all known space because… drugs are bad?
During his hissy fit and demand for attention, his wife and kid leave him, but fuck them, they didn’t do any drugs anyway so he didn’t take any notice. He tells the owner of the entire… thing that they are in (space ship/station/planet/jungle gym?) that he has found some of his super expensive kill yourself drugs and flushed them away, to which his response is oh well, i’ll just send over a team of trained assassins to be taken out by your slow ass, one by one, for the duration of the rest of the film.
Sean Connery is pretty cool with this, at least he seems to be, as he sits and watches a giant timer count down to the exact second that the killer crew will arrive. When he has around, i dunno, 10 seconds left, he makes a mad dash to set up some little traps and tools which will obviously come perfectly in handy exactly when he’s facing certain death otherwise. I would say yes, that is the case, but I was unconscious. Nevertheless, I am pretty confident from the other parts of the film I’ve seen that is EXACTLY what happens. Also, one of his set ups is to leave a loaded shotgun in the middle of a busy corridor used constantly by civilians.
This film is obviously just some way to cash in from the wave of success that probably followed another sci fi film released very recently before this. It’s also just serves as a platform for some special effects and visuals which I must emphasize, even for someone that loves old science fiction, have not stood up to the test of time at all. I suspect this would be the case if the test of time lasted a day.
I’m going to start watching good film again soon, there’s an amazing independent cinema scene in Vancouver, but i’ll say the tasty details of that for my summery of things that are pretty rad about living here but not THAT big a deal part 2. Also, I could not find a photo again.