I am going to tell you about one of the weirdest but most interesting pieces I have run into lately: REPO! The Genetic Opera. This is a piece that can garner lots of moralizing and tut-tuting due to its gore, but I ask you to read to the end before dismissing this. I'm glad I didn't dismiss it out of hand: I absolutely hate gorey stuff and will not watch horror flick commercials, let alone the movies. But listen.
Repo! The Genetic Opera is the creation of two Canadjyun boys, Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich who have put together a movie of their long-developed eponymous stage play. It is attractive on many levels, even if you don't want to watch disembowellment (more on that later). Here's the deal:
GeneCo is a company that will give a postapocalyptic society necessary (or just fashionable) organ transplants OAC; that is, you have to pay up or they will repossess them. This film is presented through various media: comics, animation, CGI (cell phones of the future are cool!), film and opera. It gives a HUGE nod to the Rocky Horror Picture Show visually, and yes, it will not only be a cult classic, after its Toronto premiere they were already talking about a shadow cast for screenings at the Bloor when it returns, just like at RHPS now. It is a relatively respectable rock opera musically and put together with some comic relief--to deal with the retrieval scenes, shall we say--and it turns out to be a big, fun picture. Rolling Stone and Variety trashed it; well, poo on them--what were they expecting, Evita??? They missed the point completely. It is camp, it is intense (as all good horror and rock and roll should be) and it is a moral tale ("My legacy is not left up to my genes", sings the enlightened Shiloh).
Which brings me to more serious criticism (in the artistic sense of the word). I am a symbolist, so I found the use of the name Shiloh, as in its Biblical meaning, to be very interesting; was it the writers' intention? I doubt it. The other thing I get excited about, aside from the post-apocalyptic as setting for art, is the morality. Ok, so it's not quite a medieval Morality Play, but it has some interesting points. It examines: addiction, especially when it results from lack of direction in life; the issue of personal debt and its toll; organ donation/reuse/retrieval; genetic issues (enuff said); the obsession with vanity and the multi-faceted costs of plastic surgery;and very beautifully, the notion of celebrity and its ridiculous place in our society's psyche. I actually found it a bit cruelly ironic to cast Paris Hilton as they did. (And no, you shouldn't avoid it coz it has Paris Hilton in it). I don't think I'm stretching it here. Yes, it has very trite lines and undeveloped elements. They took a risk with casting Paris, but it works. I was determined to dislike Sarah Brightman whom I refuse to consider a 'real' opera singer, but she worked the part well. They had some fun cameos (no spoilers here!). If nothing else you'll recognize the Backwards 7 casino guy who's in about three commercials at the moment. And it's got Paul Sorvino as a lead (is that really his voice???) and who doesn't like Paul Sorvino for pete's sake? (Alexa Vega is good too, fyi).
So, should you see it? It is not my goal to sway you one way or the other. I just wanted to present one fairly kind review of this movie in cyberspace before you hear anything else. You decide.
Do you like horror flicks? Check.
No problem with minor nudity? (Remember, MTV is worse!) Check.
Films noirs with comic relief? Check.
Movies that will keep you thinking about them afterwards? Check.
Well, there's a lot worse crap out there you could spend your $13 on, so it's worth a shot, out of curiousity if nothing else. Better yet, support the Bloor Cinema and see it there when it comes back. That's a real theatre with real people and they don't rip you off there.
Check out more about the film at the Repo! website. Then make an informed decision. This is definitely not standard fare for the conservative Christian, but the artsy-fartsys might be willing to give it a go.
98 mins. [Now available on dvd but the Bloor might be a more satisfying venue.] Rated a well-deserved R for some offensive language, the gore, drug use and sexual references. The Sound of Music it ain't.