Even though the Film Festival has come and gone for a good week and counting, I still find myself looking back fondly at the films that I watched over the course of that event. I originally intended to do this whole thing as a consecutive-days sort of project during the festival, but in reality, I was overambitious in trying to balance my day job, watching movies in the evening, spending time with my girlfriend (which absolutely comes first nowadays), and somehow finding a spare moment to write. That said, even a week removed from the event, I still find myself singing praises for every film I’ve watched throughout its run.
There’s a rule in writing and blogging that stresses the importance of not using specific phrases, namely “there are no words” to describe something; if there really are no words, then you essentially fail as a writer. Could you really not come up with any sort of description for this particular concept that you are compelled to share with an audience? Even if the words don’t do the concept itself justice, at the very least, your words can do yourself justice; that is, if you can’t communicate details about the movie accordingly, you can at least communicate your visceral reaction to it. R100 is, above all other descriptions of the movie itself, a visceral reaction movie. The details in the movie itself are so outrageous as to lose a lot of its meaning to anyone who are only learning about the movie through word of mouth. I highly encourage people to learn of the movie this way, as a result, simply because “you just had to be there to understand” isn’t as fun as hearing their reaction to some of the details themselves.
In fact, I can imagine that providing no context to the details in this movie would have the largest effect on piquing an outsider’s curiosity. Imagine listening in on a conversation between two people who watched the movie as they leave the theatre:
Bill: Holy shit, that movie was just so fucked up.
Ted: I know right? Remember that scene with the fat dominatrix who spat on the main character?
Bill: I laughed so hard when the other dominatrix who could mimic voices made it seem to the MC that his comatose wife was spitting on him while blindfolded.
Ted: Yeah, he couldn’t even see a thing! And he totally loved it, too! That swirly thing that happens always cracks me up, haha!
Bill: I feel sorry for the fat girl though, how she had to die like that.
Ted: I kinda feel bad for laughing at how she broke the railing and fell flat onto the first floor.
Bill: Shit, man, that sucks.
Ted: I know. I feel bad for his kid, too, being tied up like that and hanging from the ceiling the entire time.
Bill: This is a fucked up movie.
Ted: I love it though.
R100 is one of those movies that just builds upon its own shameless (and sometimes irresponsible) outrageousness, making apparent at the lack of fucks it gives about how far it goes in its audacity. At the point where the plot just seems to be thrown out the window altogether, it is made apparent that the story of R100 takes place in another world in which the movie itself is test-screened in front of a group of critics who, in their hilarious exasperation towards the movie itself, are like a Greek chorus. The only difference here is that most Greek choruses (chorii?) comment on the story as summary; the screen-testers provide a semi-serious commentary at how dumb everything is, and that’s where the true comedy comes out.
Everyone has their “shocking” moment that they will remember and take away from the film, whether it is the dumbfounded screen-testers, the 100-year-old director, the myriad of weird dominatrices (the fat one, the one who spits, the one who eats people whole, the white leader, the legion of dominatrix-ninjas), or even the hideously masochistic main character himself. I imagine that most people watching the movie will have talked about the climactic scene, which I feel necessitates description without context. The scene itself is one of those Aristocrats stories, where everyone has their own version of telling the joke, and the story itself builds upon its own ridiculous premise with increasingly ludicrous and lewd developments. That said, here’s my take on the scene:
The climax of the movie involves the main character confronted by the queen of all dominatrixes, a boisterous, shapely fat white woman who drops F-bombs in her English while everyone else speaks in Japanese. He hides out in the house of his father-in-law, who was eaten by a dominatrix who had also swallowed the protagonist’s comatose wife. He huddles up in the attic as he looks out upon his father-in-law’s garden, occupied by the queen and her army of dominatrix ninjas.
She orders them to storm the house slowly, and they lurch forward like a legion of undead. The protagonist discovers a suitcase full of grenades, and uses them to bomb the garden, taking out domininjas left and right, turning the scene into some sort of deviant D-Day landing. Operatic music flourishes in the background as he continues to lay waste to the waves of domininjas; he cannot turn back on the murderous rampage that he has committed, as he already been dragged over the line when he was accused of killing the fat sitting dominatrix who had tied him up in his house earlier that night (in reality, she was winding up for a large loogie, but fell over the upstairs banister and down to her doom). The initial waves of ninjas wiped out, the white queen makes her dramatic approach to the house, and despite his attempts at raining grenades down at his adversary, the queen bats them away effortlessly with her whip, as if she were an invincible swordsman.
The queen finally infiltrates the house and drags him to a nearby shed, where she has her sadist way with her masochistic victim. The shot is outside the shed, paneled with horizontal pieces of lumber, with lights radiating through the cracks in between, creating a luminous musical score. The CGI swirls of pleasure that represent the manifestation of the protagonist’s sexual desires flash out repeatedly, compared to the single instances portrayed earlier in the movie; the swirls pop up in sequence on the score, and the different sound effects of each swirl play in different pitches, up to the point where the audience realizes that the entire shed has become sheet music through which Ode to Joy is played. The fallen dominatrix-ninjas rise up to life once again, and sing along to the Ode’s lyrics; others join as a shot of them in choir garb depicts a glorious symphony of pure ecstasy is visually represented. The protagonist has discovered true masochism.
My take isn’t the same as everyone else’s, but in sharing this unique take on the final scene (which will easily differ from everyone else’s), I feel as if I’ve witnessed something truly different. This is an experience that I have never had before in cinema, and it was only through TIFF that I could do so. For that, I am forever grateful.