Tuesday, June 30, 2009
JCVD (bad dubbing meets art cinema)
When our house signed up for phone/internet/cable recently, we received some free "on demand" rentals - one of which we used last night to watch JCVD. I'm not sure we would have gone out of our way to rent it, but at least with a free rental you can take a risk. I won't lie though, I have not-so-secretly wanted to watch this film since I first saw the trailer, and I heard it got good reviews at TIFF.
So we watched, and to my surprise I only had one major complaint: our on demand provider only offered a dubbed version. I will say this once and for all:
To me, there is nothing I hate more in the cinematic world than a dubbed film. Give me subtitles or give me nothing.
It wasn't the best film I've seen (it wasn't supposed to be), but it was more than expected. When you thought it would be stunts and action, it was quiet introspection on the ugly side of international fame and glory. When you thought it was quiet and morose, it sandwiches you with offbeat and inglorious action. I will give Van Damme credit - he managed to poke fun at his entire canon, spoof himself, and pull off his greatest acting effort in... well... ever.
Amidst the slow moving chaos of the film, Van Damme is elevated above set - out of scene and in front of the camera - and gives a fantastic monologue on all the roads his life has taken, and the different realms of brokenness each led to. He acknowledges that this is a film, and the reason we're watching is because of his former stardom, and his crash and burn. For a moment I thought I was watching Liv Ullman's Alma in Bergman's Vargtimmen - speaking beyond the scope of the camera.
Here's something I never thought I would write: Van Damme was moving and poignant as he spoke about how he became addicted to drugs (because he loved a woman who did them), and how much he's lost to women and multiple marriages (each one took a different part of him). I'll let others decide if he's waxing biographical or hamming it up for the lens.
I think the following people would enjoy this film:
1. Andrew Chambers, Lars Janssen, and Mark Wierzbicki (ol' Central folk).
2. Jeff Biggs
3. Anyone who enjoys film for film's sake.
Here's something else I never thought I would write: a blog post about Jean Claude Van Damme.