Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pontypool: Wow... A Discman? I Haven't Seen One of Those In a Long Ages!

Pontypool began spreading like wildfire across the horror forums a few weeks ago- well probably months ago...actually I'm not sure because I keep track of nothing now that it's winter time. From it's descriptions and poster art and what have you- you've probably assumed that Pontypool follows the likes of contagion movies a la 28 Days Later style. Well I did anyways. As it turns out- Pontypool is amazing, head hurtingly thought provoking and just all around awesome.

I will start off by saying that I will not refer to this movie as a zombie movie. I firmly believe that it is not and that's how my thoughts will stay thank you very much. We begin with a news report about Honey the missing cat; spoken by sort of low scale shock jock Grant Mazzy. Somewhere between his morning banter a strange report of riots and violence has broken out close to the radio station. A correspondent reports on people babbling incoherently, and repeating phrases that mean nothing. Soon these reports get grimmer as people are killed and the answers to just what is happening get foggier and foggier. It is not long before the town is quarantined and DJ Mazzy, and his two radio biotches are trapped inside the studio- broadcasting and waiting to find out just what has happened.

The buildup that this movie creates is astounding. Hearing the callers and the correspondents talk about what is going on and just the overall sense of knowing that something very very bad is happening on the outside was almost suffocating in a way. Trying to piece together the what and the how is practically impossible and instead we are living on the exact moments and events that the characters are. When the action starts to develop halfway through, your breath is still being held because you literally have no idea where things are going because- you just don't know anything. We as viewers are as isolated as all three of the main characters- and I absolutely love that about this film.

Then we have the discovery of what the virus is- and the stunning message behind what it could all possibly mean. Trying to piece together how this "virus" supposedly starts is like an explosion in your head- or perhaps an explosion- projectile vomiting out of your mind (hehe get it?) (that was inside joke to people that have seen it BTW) The overall power of words and the majestic saving beauty of the French language has never felt so intense to me. Trying to delve into the meaning of the film in this review would be like trying to explain why I don't like Ringu very much and we all know what happened there. So rather I will just exclaim that you must see this movie. Sure it's light on the gore and the mayhem- but since when has gore and mayhem been a necessity to a fantastic film?

"Honey the cat is missing"- and the weight that those words start bringing by the end of the film is absolutely mind blowing. It's genius. Grant Mazzy's soothing voice and the chaos that happens coupled with the ending are just all kinds of awesome. Scariest moments include when we hear that teenage boy or whatever speak his dying words- the baby sounds caught on the edge of his breath? Holy cow. Crap my pants moment goes to when that little girl was in the chair. Yeah. Craaaazy.

Basically the message here is that you have to see this movie. Believe all the praise it gets and don't for one second believe that you know everything about this film. There are layers beyond layers of thought behind this- and after seeing it one time you may very well have to stop yourself from pushing replay immediately. If you've ever thought about the simple idea of words and their meanings coupled with how we come to those meanings and how words can mean different things just based on context- then this movie just might make your head explode.

Although I will say that there are several "theories" buzzing around that I don't altogether dismiss- for instance the very absence of the virus in the first place- and the hoax of making people fall under it's spell based on confusion, as well as the presence of love (Valentine's Day helloo!) and how love may be the ultimate cure. Personally that just makes my head hurt even more and I prefer to keep the confusion at a minimum and I am a firm believer in the theory that the virus began with Grant Mazzy's very first words of the film. But for real. See this movie please. You'll never think about words the same way- and let's hope you don't.

Here are those very telling first opening lines.

Mrs. French's cat is missing. The signs are posted all over town. "Have you seen Honey?" We've all seen the posters, but nobody has seen Honey the cat. Nobody. Until last Thursday morning, when Miss Colette Piscine swerved her car to miss Honey the cat as she drove across a bridge. Well this bridge, now slightly damaged, is a bit of a local treasure and even has its own fancy name; Pont de Flaque. Now Collette, that sounds like Culotte. That's Panty in French. And Piscine means Pool. Panty pool. Flaque also means pool in French, so Colete Piscine, in French Panty Pool, drives over the Pont de Flaque, the Pont de Pool if you will, to avoid hitting Mrs. French's cat that has been missing in Pontypool. Pontypool. Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean? Well, Norman Mailer, he had an interesting theory that he used to explain the strange coincidences in the aftermath of the JFK assassination. In the wake of huge events, after them and before them, physical details they spasm for a moment; they sort of unlock and when they come back into focus they suddenly coincide in a weird way. Street names and birth dates and middle names, all kind of superfluous things appear related to each other. It's a ripple effect. So, what does it mean? Well... it means something's going to happen. Something big. But then, something's always about to happen.



Dod said...

I have been wanting to see this for ages now - the previews I'd seen so many months ago still intrigue me. Now I really can't wait to see it - I don't think Netflix has it yet, unless I missed something...

Matt-suzaka said...

Great review! I LOVED Pontyool and did a review for it a little while back as well as it made the number three spot on my best of '09 list.

Wonderfully crafted movie, showing how much can be done with the simplicity and imagination. I just got the book for Christmas too and from what I know - what we see in the film is only a minor portion of what is in the novel. Like a chapter or some shit.

And Don: I know that Blockbuster carries it as an exclusive, but otherwise the DVD has not been released in the states as of this time, but IFC is supposed to put it out at the end of this month. Highly recommended.

Marc Patterson said...

Cool review Andre. Pontypool was one of my favorite films of 2009. I can't wait to snag this up on DVD when it finally comes out! I've provided a link to my review below if you're interested:

William Malmborg said...

Great review. I'll have to see if I can find this one. It sounds great. Plus is sounds like they focused on actually creating a great film rather than just trying to see how many times they can gross us out, which is always a thumbs up in my book.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks all! I think the majority of the buzz I heard was that it made most people's top 2009 list- which of course meant I had to see it. I will be reading both your reviews Matt and Marc thanks for the heads up!

JLG said...

Andre - I enjoy your blog, so I nominated you for an award.

Check it out on my page!

Chris H said...

Fantastic film! So cerebral!
I'm so glad I got to see it on the big screen where I could really ingest/digest without distractions.

Great review, Andre!

Andre Dumas said...

wow! Thanks JLG I'm flattered!!!

Thanks Chris! I'll be in contact with you tomorrow about Wednesday, can't wait!

Chris H said...

Another nugget of good news is that it looks like there might be a sequel called Pontypool Changes (the novel is call "Pontypool Changes Everything").

It would be cool if there was a trilogy that played upon the title.

Matt-suzaka, did you read the book. I can't find it anywhere in Boston. Neither book store nor library has it around. I might have to order from Amazon UK.

Andre Dumas said...

Ooh yes Matt tell us your secrets on the book. And also let me know everything once you read it.

Matt-suzaka said...

I haven't read the book yet, but hopefully will soon...I'm a bit of a book reading slacker, but I REALLY want to read it bad. It came from just plain old Amazon, so it should be available from there still.

Also, Andre - I am doing an award thingy too and you will be one of my picks! Should be up sometime tonight or tomorrow.

Andre Dumas said...

Ooooh! Jeeesh I am flattered all over the place. Thanks Matt : )

the jaded viewer said...

Great review Andre. I saw an early screening of Pontypoolwith Bruce McDonald in attendance. After the flick, I laid out my theories on what I thought the movie was trying to say and he shrugged and just kept being vague. He wanted me to come up with my own theories.

Nice guy BTW. It's on my list of the top movies of 2009.