Vermin at the Movies

City of Ember

I’ve always been horribly disappointed with steampunk art. If you don’t know what I’m even talking about, do a quick google image search and get back to me. You can thank me for getting you addicted later.

Steampunk is the awesomesaucest thing since Luis Royo but for some reason, isn’t properly understood by anyone in the entire fucking world. If you’re going to re-write history and base our modern-day society on steam powered machines, you’re not stopping until you’ve got brains with cogs in them and skulls with fucking chimneys- it’s the fucking law and since you can draw and I cannot, you are hereby obliged to materialize my fantasies to scrape in the cash to feed your family. You should have thought twice about becoming an artist- there’s quicker ways into the gutter.

Steampunk is so damn underdeveloped, that it’s a breath of fresh air when something new comes along that dares to press the genre, if even a little. City of Ember is one of those somethings and will amaze you right until the moment when Bill god damn Murray walks into screen, after which it will proceed to blow your mind.

City of Ember is about an underground city, built by none other than “the builders,” who had planned to keep it running for 200 years while the whole world goes tits-up. After this period, a key is released and a series of instructions should be followed to free the population and start a brave, new world.

This raised a few questions with me. Especially inbreeding became a bit of an issue to consider, especially when taking into account that the whole city contains around three or four fuckable actors. 200 years is a long time for incest to stay productive, let alone crap out a whole new civilization after that.
But that is besides the point.

Both the key and instructions get respectively lost, freed, found and eaten. This kind of complicates the survival of mankind, especially since the city is way past its expiry date (kind of like Antwerp) and the generator that illuminates the city (they’re clever enough to build an underground city but too daft to use more efficient lighting than tungsten) is breaking down. Blackouts, aka “scenes under dim blue light” become frequent and shit’s breaking down all over the place. Time to go- but where?

What follows are a series of implausible events sort-of acted out by one-dimensional characters and a kid clinging to their back like Baby Monkey on a Pig (HA HA HA HA) as a metaphor for hope for survival as a species. Bo-ring.
No, what makes this movie awesome is that it’s steampunk to the fucking hilt. For once it’s not called that for a single cog spotted in the background like some Disney phallus making it a porno, but in fact a complete setting based on steampunk technology. Thank you, director whose name was too boring to read in the credits.

Grotesque machines with jets of steam everywhere, inefficient tungsten light bulbs, brass pipes, questionable tools, you name it: Steampunk at its best. Or, almost: still no fucking psychological terror through heat-powered four column beam engines built into the face.

Black Snake Moan

All innuendo aside, Black Snake Moan actually stands for an emotion, a voice that brings out the worst in us. It is also the name of a song sung by none other than the Samuel L. Jackson on guitar, with a blonde little chick “about yay high” clung to his crotch. Ladies and gentlemen: my introduction.

And whadoyouknow, Black Snake Moan is also the name of an epic picture about (are you sitting down?) love, hate, redemption, lust, past, future, BDSM, friendship, religion and a damn lot more.

A girl, or let’s call her “fuck machine,” screws around after her boyfriend left to join the army. He didn’t even have the chance to get into the car and she was already boning some black bouncer-type pimp. On that very same night she gets done by around three guys. A fourth, who is always giving her a hard time because he’s to chickenshit to get into her pants (I can seriously relate to this guy) tries, gets ridiculed for the size of his pork sword, and instead decides to beat her into a bloody pulp.

A black farmer finds her the next morning, still drugged out of her skull and barely conscious, and takes her in to nurse her back to health. In the few days that it takes for her mind to clear, he hears all kinds of stories (not to mention sees her trip out) and decides that her mental health too, is his responsibility. For convenience, he chains her to his plumbing and voila: a movie ensues.

I don’t know about you but besides the fact that girls in chains do it for me like redheads on a hot day, I also happen to be very intrigued to how the mind reacts to these situations. I once had a conversation with somebody who claimed to be “a slave” of her relationship. When I asked her how she could live with that, she said she wouldn’t have it any other way. Without him, she worries about the next day when going to bed: The chores she will have to do, what she’ll eat, and so on. But when he’s near, she doesn’t worry. She just takes care of him, and he decides the rest.
In a similar way, the girl in the movie (Rae I think? I suck at remembering names) eventually learns to accept the chain and in the end, even grows attached to it (har, har). It becomes part of her psyche and the physical restraint becomes a mental one, allowing her to keep her own emotions (read: horniness) in check.

The movie had 120% of my attention right up until the scene where he sets her free, and even the musical part (spoiler but so worth it) after that. It digs deep into the personalities of both characters and will grip even non-blues lovers like myself roughly by the hair.
After that, it all goes downhill.

Sure sure, the movie needed a conclusion and yes the psychological factor still plays in the rest of the movie, but ‘and they lived happily ever after’ would have worked, too. It’s like some assistant director was pulling the big man’s sleeve nagging “we still got 83 more pages in the script, and you keep going on about page 4 where she wakes up in chains”. And the director did his best, you can tell, but by then I no longer gave a fuck how Justin Bieber –No wait, the other guy- Justin Timberlake felt about this whole situation. I bet he’s not used to being the weakest link but there you go.

If you’re even remotely interested in the mental effects of physical restraint and dominance and submission, this one’s for you.

I wrote these two reviews in 30 minutes so if you find any spelling mistakes, please contact the Grammar Nazis who will send me to a warfront labor camp where I belong.


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