Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fun with Blood and Song

Released on DVD this week was 'Repo: The Genetic Opera.' This film hardly seemed to have any press when it was first released. In fact, I would have never known about it if it weren't for The Bloor cinema (refer to 'Toronto is Godless' posting below) when they were advertising their upcoming run of the film (to my knowledge the only theater in Toronto to even show it outside of a festival program). Even though key descriptives like 'goth musical' or 'from the Director of Saw II-IV' wouldn't normally catch my attention, the trailer did.

The story was originally a play mounted in New York and L.A. Darren Lynn Bousman had directed a stage version in 2001 before cutting a ten minute trailer to pitch it as a film. The existence of this cool trailer proves it was a successful pitch. Unfortunately I wasn't in town for The Bloor's first run of the film in November, but I did catch it on its second run a few weeks ago. Now, normally for something to obtain 'cult' status it needs to fail upon its initial release and be dubbed thus after some time has passed for it to gather a loyal following, but there's no other word to describe what has happened with this film. I went to a matinee screening, but had I known what was happening at the evening show, I would have rearranged my schedule. The Bloor was hosting the world's first shadow cast of 'Repo.' This is where a fully costumed cast of characters re-enact the film onstage, in real time as it screens. I always associate this with 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' of which The Bloor hosts shadow casts monthly. But keep in mind, the DVD was just released this week, which means that these dedicated fans are going from memory of however many times they saw the film in theatres (as I write this I recognize my naivety with regards to the downloading options, but I'm still confident we're dealing with multiple cinema presentation attendees here). For the occasion, one of the film's stars and co-creators Terrence Zdunich was flying into town for a Q and A following the shadow cast.

Well I missed that, but in retrospect, it's probably not the best way to see a film for the first time anyway. I did however see some of the elaborate make up and costumes, as well as the surprising line-up forming early for the event. Though I knew there was no way I would like it as much as the trailer, the film definitely had some good stuff in it. What I enjoyed most was the dark humour of it. Paris Hilton was well cast; her part has little acting required and benefits from her persona, as she is 'addicted to the knife' (plastic surgery), which has ironic consequences. My mistake was not taking the 'Opera' part of the title literally, as there is no spoken dialogue, which I find off-putting at times, particularly when coming from non-singers like Paul Sorvino. The third act Opera staged within the film is a great way to complete the theme though. Overall, a pretty cool affair, though certainly not for everyone. I'm not surprised those that like it, really like it. It will be interesting to see if the almost oxymoronic claim of the "instant cult classic" holds with time.

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