Visitor Q

By Adam Lippe

visitor-qThe difference between the Farrelly brothers movies and Visitor Q is the difference between the necessity involved in slapstick gross out humor and darker black humor. Gross out humor requires that the characters have no self awareness of their situation, if they know exactly what’s going on, if Ben Stiller knew he had cum on his ear, if the blind kid with the parrot in Dumb and Dumber knew that the head had been taped on, it would cease to be funny. In Visitor Q the dad has to deal with the fact that he’s paying to fuck his own daughter, and the guilt is apparent in his behavior and her reaction. When he’s fucking the dead woman, he knows what’s going on and is choosing to ignore how disgusting and awful it is. And when she shits on him, the humor isn’t in the event per se, but his reaction to it. The characters in Visitor Q react with a matter-of-factness and a hard reality and just accept their horrible circumstances. The Farrelly Brothers humor is based on obliviousness and how long the characters can go without realizing the insanely disgusting reality around them. This tends to dictate the pace of their films, you cannot have the characters repeating themselves over and over without the audience getting a little tired of it and noticing the repetition.

Despite that, the first four movies they made are basically the exact same thing. Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself, and Irene. All of them are road movies about a pair of creepy idiots trying to involve themselves with a girl who is way out of their league. In the case of Me, Myself and Irene that pair just happens to be the same person. Each film has a scene in which an animal suffers in a way that either causes its death or outrageous amount of torture and/or pain. The pacing also works in the same way as well. Opening with a silly joke, then five minutes of exposition. Followed by a huge gross-out gag/setpiece that stops the movie in its tracks. Followed by 15 minutes of plot. Big joke. 10 minutes of plot. Smaller gross out gag. 15 minutes of plot. Big joke. etc. Apparently each of their movies were each well over three hours in their initial versions, and that’s why each one has several musical montages which are just gags that had to have their setups cut for time. They don’t seem to understand that movies such as these have no excuse not being between 80-95 minutes and even the theatrical versions go on for almost two hours.

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Visitor Q is able to vary its tempo and increase the number of shock scenes because each character has its own calamity to go through, which seems to get worse as it goes on, and only when they begin to accept the situation as one to possibly be enjoyed, the funniest shot in the movie is when the wife enthusiastically goes to get oil for her husband at the supermarket, can they truly be happy. Somehow Miike managed to squeeze this all into 84 minutes.

Visitor Q was the sixth in a series of experimental DV shorts, and I think Miike was getting at a sort of parody of The Real World style TV, and its supposed realism. A story isn’t relevant, it’s simply supposed to be a flow through of family atrocities.

I have seen it twice all the way through, the first time was in the theater, and that didn’t really work. It eliminated the intimacy of the material, and I was just left with sporadic laughter and long dull patches. The second time was on DVD, and the raw pain of each character was much more evident, and somehow made the movie not only more moving but also funnier.

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Roadracers

By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]


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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.