Saturday was an evening of contrasts. On the one hand, here on Parliament Hill, we had the final evening of three nights of what's called Fortissimo, a military marching beat retreat ceremony. A group of marching bands plays music across the large lawn on the Hill, with a combination of brass instruments, bagpipes, and drums. Accompanying all of this are foot soldiers, cannons, horses, and the bells of the Peace Tower. Everything's done with such precision and skill, and it's the sort of ceremony that you should see, if you get a chance to attend one of these ceremonies. The central part of the evening is an arrangement of the 1812 Overture. It was a pleasant evening, and a fun one. The crowd enjoyed it.
Then I got home, and lo and behold, stupidity personified lurked on television.
Every once in awhile a film comes along that lowers the bar for monumental stupidity. There's a piece of cinematic refuse out there called The Room, a film often called the worst film of all time, which has no sense of consistency, logic, storytelling, or characterization. It was directed, written, and produced by one man, who also starred in it, a guy who looks like Ozzie Osbourne's dumber, uglier brother, a chap by the name of Tommy Wiseau. It's been called the Citizen Kane of bad movies. A rep theatre near my home runs it once a month, for some inexplicable reason.
I tend to avoid what obviously looks like a stupid movie when they turn up in the theatres. I might pick up a DVD if I see it on a library express shelf, but I won't waste dollars on it. Hence I've seen something like Battleship, which represents a couple of hours I'll never get back. That film saw Liam Neeson wasting his time, Taylor Kitsch playing a complete screwup Navy officer who somehow manages to step up at the last minute and become a commander, and Rihanna prove decisively that she's a horrible actress. Oh, and lest we forget, we're supposed to accept that an advanced aggressive alien race with Transformers technology wants to engage in naval war like a game. And the final act features the mothballed USS Missouri saving the day, commanded by Officer Screwup and manned by retired veterans. It's a sequence so stupid that it's a disgrace to the real Missouri. Of course, that fits in with the rest of the film.
Syfy in the States is a channel we fortunately don't have on this side of the border, though some of its movies turn up on our cable too. It has a policy of making profoundly cheesy films with horrible special effects, actors who pretty much need to take any role they can get, and shoddy writing and directing. Recently they came out with Sharknado, a film of such tacky stupidity that of course it went viral. The audience is supposed to believe that a tornado could scoop up sharks out of the ocean and onto L.A., wrecking havoc with civilians, particularly some characters played by actors desperate for a paying gig. I had managed to avoid it.
Last week, Discovery had its annual Shark Week. The channel here is much like the one south of the border, with some Canadian content, but sure enough, plenty of shark related material. I'd use the word documentary, but Discovery has really set the bar low for the term documentary. It's mostly what we call Shark Porn (no, not sharks copulating, though it wouldn't surprise me). By Shark Porn, I mean rapid fire editing of sharks swimming through the water, chewing up whatever, banging into shark cages, baring their big teeth (side note to the editors at Discovery Channel: rapid fire editing is visual clutter. You people are idiots). And this goes on all week.
Well, the other night, to finish off the week, our Discovery Channel aired Sharknado. I was home late, but it started late as it was. I was watching something else, flipped channels during a commercial, and found this embarrassingly bad program going on. It didn't take long to realize... Ian Ziering turning up on screen confirmed it. I didn't linger to watch... just momentary looks during commercials was enough to leave me rolling my eyes. Horribly wooden acting, bad script, and a complete inconsistency in the story. One moment you'd have clear rain. The next moment, dry and somewhat sunny. And very confused characters trying to avoid falling sharks. All while trying not to look right at the camera and apologize for the bad effects and story.
I did see the end, which had my eye rolling going on hyperdrive. We're supposed to accept that a woman can be swallowed whole by a shark in mid air and survive the crash to earth (to be rescued a few minutes later). We're supposed to accept that an animal like a shark, caught up in the air in the heart of a tornado, would still be alive long enough to fall to earth (as opposed to being dead of massive trauma). Come on! If the shark found itself falling to earth, thrown out of a tornado, I'm more inclined to think it might be thinking something like this:
"I'm falling! I'm falling! I don't want to die! Oh, great Shark-Ra! By The Sacred Sharp Teeth, I pray thee, save your loyal servant from falling into the..." SPLAT!!!!!!
As opposed to, oh, hitting the ground, attacking a human, and getting in one more bite before their deaths. And seriously, are we supposed to expect that a guy with a chainsaw could cut his way out of a shark's body (and save the aforementioned woman who got swallowed whole)?
Ian Ziering, who years ago started out on Beverly Hills 90210, looked in the scenes I saw as if he was thinking, "You know, I wonder if I had never taken that role in the first place, if I might have had a chance to slowly build an acting resume of character roles, instead of spending years living down being a star of that show, not getting cast in anything, and being forced to star in a piece of dreck called Sharknado. Who knows? Maybe I could have been in Breaking Bad if I had passed on Steve Sanders. Damn, I hate my life..."
And of course, Syfy is already making a sequel to this stupidity. So more actors desperate for any part will feature prominently, more lapses in common sense will ensue, and more horrible writing and directing will result. And since such production companies have never heard of doing too much of a bad thing, expect even more stupidity to come. Perhaps like some of the following?