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There are two ways in which a movie can succeed.
Oneit can have a fully realized plot that works to explain some larger subtextual moral. It can demonstrate a mastery of technical and thematic areas and create an emotional response in the viewer. This is the route that most critics look for when giving a positive review. Films like Schindler's List. On the Waterfront. A Streetcar Named Desire.
The other way in which a movie can succeed is with ideas. This type of movie doesn't have to make sense in the same way that a traditional film does. It simply has to take you somewhere you have never been, and hopefully throw your mind through a few loops along the way. Films like El Topo. The Fountain. Eraserhead. Gummo. The Exterminating Angels.
Repo! The Genetic Opera definitely falls into the latter category.
The story, told entirely through song, details the intersecting secrets of people living in a world where a mysterious virus has caused random organ failure and forced people to resort to leasing cloned organs, at a very high price.
There is so much whimsy in this film that it almost becomes an absurdist fairytale. It skips and jumps from one homage to the next, cribbing notes from Rocky Horror in one scene before moving on to Rigoletto in the next. Genres and archetypes are thrown up against one another and mashed together with reckless abandon mixing Grand Guignol with Sondheim and Disney with Faces of Death. It cuts together the pieces of our collective pop culture consciousness the same way that the antagonists cut together new forms for their bodies.
And it's wickedly funny too.
Picking up where the ultimate consumers of Romero's shopping malls left off, Repo! makes for a brutal satire of consumer culture where human flesh is a commodity bought and sold with government approval. People have designer spines and get upgrades on their bodies when they go in for maintenance on their artificial organs. Starlets don't forget to wear panties, they forget to sew on their new faces.
Darren Lynn Bousman has made a name for himself as a go-to guy for over the top, operatic gore and he doesn't shy away from it here. Repo! is often tremendously bloody with sanguine spilling left and right, often directly on top of naked flesh. He takes what he learned making Saw II--IV and pushes in into overdrive as he uses it to skewer one satirical target after the next.
Normally I am one to shy away from sexualized violence. I find it repulsive and saddening, but here, Bousman has found that perfect mix between sexy and grotesque. Though the bloodletting is vicious, it never spills over into elaborate rape fantasy. It is a shame that he is no longer attached to the Hellraiser relaunch.
The cast, made up of a bizarre collection of geek favorites, musicians and world famous opera singers is almost weirder than the movie's central conceit. Paul Sorvino is brilliant fun as the patriarch who controls the world but finds himself unable to defeat cancer. Sorvino is fascinating to watch when he is let loose and he has a singing voice to rival any star of stage. Sarah Brightman is also quite good in a small roll that is entirely divorced from her signature turn in Phantom of the Opera. The rest of the cast is a bit of a mixed bag. Alexa Vega is strong as the cloistered daughter of the eponymous organ ripper and Anthony Stewart Head outdoes his Buffy singing, even as his role is too close to that of Giles. Meanwhile Bill Mosely is obnoxious and all over the place, playing his seventh version of Chop-top while Paris Hilton is actually shockingly watchable as Amber Sweet, a heightened reality version of herself. But the real standout is Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy. The man steals the show as a deformed lothario who has a nasty habit of killing his lovers.
At a point, the film becomes as scattershot as the cast list with some moments hitting it out of the park while others miss wildly. By the end of the film one would be hard pressed to explain how the characters all end up in the same place, but it has long since ceased to matter because you've either accepted that the film is fairly divorced from reality, or else, you've walked out of the theater. I stayed, and loved every minute of it.
When I see a movie like this, I want to be taken to a new world. Somewhere strange and alien. The futuristic retro-chic of the Repo's alternate dimension is vibrant and dazzling, it's a whirling dervish of colors and styles. And though it never comes together, the overwhelming strangeness of it is intoxicating. The music is not for everyone, and the bloodletting is extreme, but Repo! offers something rarely seen at the multiplex--originality.
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We just got from seeing the Repo premiere and now I can't wait until
November to see it again. The film was phenomenal! It was beautiful to
watch and extremely entertaining. Repo far surpasses the Saw films in
originality, creativity, and artistic integrity. This is not simply a
slasher film, although there is plenty of violence to keep gore fans
happy, there is a very interesting and unique story being told here. In
fact, a whole world has been created in Repo and there is plenty of
room for more stories to follow. Unlike many sequels, a sequel to Repo
would be completely justified in respect to its content.
The music was catchy and I walked back to the hotel with it running through my head. There is a nice variety of songs featured in Repo and, as is natural with a collection of songs, fans will have their favorites and their least favorites. I can honestly say that even my least favorite songs were still necessary in the context of the film and I didn't really mind them. I was slightly caught off guard by how pop a couple of the musical numbers were, but again they were appropriate for the part of the film they were featured in.
Another surprise was the size of roles in the film. The roles played by Ogre, Bill Moseley, and Paris Hilton were not as prominent as I had imagined them being (and yes Paris gave a good performance). They seemed to have less screen time than the rest of the stars. This is not a serious complaint of the film itself, just a desire for more (especially Ogre). Skinny Puppy fans have never seen Ogre quite like this (just wait until you hear his voice). Other personal favorites (aside from Ogre) were The Grave Robber, Anthony Head, and Sarah Brightman.
Darren, the Cast and Crew, and the Producers of Repo the Genetic Opera have created a beautiful thing here. This is a horror movie with true originality in story and in visuals. They went out on a limb to make something new, something that hasn't already been proved to work and that type of effort needs to be supported; otherwise we will continue to be given "New" movies that it feels like we have seen before. I know the wait has been long, but I can now tell you with certainty that it is well worth the wait.
If originality is not supported it will continue to disappear.
Please support Repo the Genetic Opera.
Darren Lynn Bousman has cojones. Big brass ones, it would appear, after
viewing his twisted eclectic musical known as Repo! The Genetic Opera,
which was given its world premier at Montreal's Fantasia film festival
months in advance of its November release date.
The Director of Saw II, III and IV is hardly a person you'd associate with a rock opera, and when you factor in a cast that includes such artistic polar opposites as Sarah Brightman and Paris Hilton, you could be forgiven for feeling that the stink-o-meter would be going off the chart. And yet, it doesn't.
Set against a futuristic backdrop where an epidemic of organ failures is plaguing humanity, people turn to the unscrupulous Geneco Corporation to purchase replacements for their failing vitals. Not everybody makes good on their payments, however, which is where Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) goes into action as one of Geneco's "repo men", brutally reclaiming defaulters organs at scalpel-point.
The movie has a visual style that both works to its benefit and runs against the grain of conventional movie telling (comic strip look, richly colored and stylized sets, heavily filtered camera shots) and much of the music is surprisingly good. Even those sung by Hilton, who blends surprisingly well into the mix as Amber, the vain, plastic-surgery obsessed daughter of Geneco's president (Paul Sorvino). While Sarah Brightman's career as a pop-opera singer makes her, on paper at least, the best casting choice, it's Head who's really surprising. Sure he an act, but in a movie with no spoken dialog he not only shows he can sing, but is actually able to change his vocal style from controlled, when in character as Wallace, to raunchy when he dons his Repo Man persona.
Among the movie's flaws is the performance of Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects) as Luigi Largo, the scheming son of Geneco's president, whose singing talent can charitably be described as "lacking". Then again, considering the nature of the story, its roles, and ambitious scope, you'd have to expect that Bousman was going to break a few eggs en route to making his omelet.
The folks who run the hype machines at Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures are spinning this as another cult classic along the lines of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Phantom of the Paradise. That's a bit much. Musical cult classics aren't instantly created, they assume that mantle as a result of fan approval, and the cultivation of a following something not easily done given the demise of repertory cinemas and weekly midnight screenings. Right now such corporate accolades are nothing more than hyperbole. Even though a lot of the prerequisites are in place, only time will tell if Repo will allow Bousman to reserve a permanent spot shilling to character-dressed fans on the convention circuit.
This modern, actually futuristic, opera is unlike anything I've seen. Many of its qualities remind me of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' a film that was never on my list of favorites. This is better simply because it's able to hold together a more plausible and serious story yet still present itself in the aesthetic of a psychedelic musical. It blends brutality with comedy and music very effectively, in fact, there were far more laughs in our theater than anything else. The interactions between the characters as they sing their parts make for great character development and story progression simultaneously. The character's themselves are all well performed, including Paris Hilton (what happens to her needs to be seen, not described). I'm not the type to like weird, cult films but this held my attention. It's definitely worth a viewing, and if you have time to immerse yourself, then it's definitely worth some good applause.
A lot of films have interesting trailers. Repo! The Genetic Opera has a few music videos available for viewing at http://repo-opera.com. Those are small teasers for the experience you'll have when you see this movie in theaters! A superb surround mix and amazing talent are displayed in this film, which combines several genres with acting talent from Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman, Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Ogre (of the band Skinny Puppy), Bill Moseley and newcomer to movies but not to his role Terrance Zdunich as the Graverobber. It feels like you've gone to a huge rock show and seen an amazing supergroup in concert. The only things that could make it better are having the show be sold out by fans that know the words to every song and can sing along, having the show be on tour and hit every major city in the world and having several encores after the crowd demands it! Repo! The Genetic Opera is a film I encourage everyone to take the time to experience, and if you can, be sure to see it on the big screen.
It is a superlative movie through and through, what a phenomenal piece of work. It is such an amazing and very cool artistically rich and collaboratively ingenious of characters with rich metal Gothic and opera soul. I absolutely, positively, inequitably loved all of Sarah Brightman's performances, it was not only rocking hot, she was a phenomenally endowed character in this movie. I think she had an epic role in this movie. This is a hot movie. Must be seen and it is more than just blood and guts indeed. We were singing along with the songs the second go round and it was absolutely fantastic. I am in awe that it is so much better, no exquisite, than I had foreseen. Here's a salute to our magnificent (Blind Mag) star and all the collaborative stardom, specifically the writer Terrance and Darren director and the greatly cast stars among them that also enriched this movie with such superlative talents, work and dedication. It is a masterpiece. It would be shameless to let all of it go unnoticed and unappreciated. I'm quite positive there would be a huge following if marketed to appeal to viewers from many genres. I am an open minded viewer of many things and quite honestly wasn't sure that I would like this movie in it's entirety given the bits of news, trailers, clips, advertisement but I was completely detoured from this idea not once but twice seeing this richly written, sketched, musically infused, fully fulfilling outstanding vocals, and directed by a master artist this piece of artistic collaboration come to be known as Repo-The Genetic Opera. Darren, Terrance, his musical sidekick, friends, Lionsgate representatives and phenomenal crew are astounding characters, down to earth people, kind, generous, and appreciative of the reviews of their expanded efforts to bring this to many a movie goer of music, rock, futuristic, comic book character lover, fashion lovers, horror story tempting embellisher, Sarah Brightman fan, Darren fan (director of Saw movies 1,2,& 3), and so much more. Not only is it written with perfection, been brought through stage production, to movie script, to now a movie of fully enriched characters and character sketches that deserve any movie screen. All of you here and about, don't miss the chance to see Repo on it's maiden voyage road trip across the US and hopefully much more. I truly think there is something for everyone to love about this movie and it indeed deserves to hit the big screens and more. I must say I don't profoundly pitch or push quite so personally for many a thing but I do think such rare and beautiful talents should not go unnoticed and unappreciated.
I have been to cult films, I have been to great grand openings of
everything from movies to books to games to this and that. If there is
an opening, I will go to it. This movie... this entire experience, it
was like nothing I've ever been to in my life.
People are asking whether or not this type of movie will gain 'cult' status, but the fact of the matter is... it already has. To quote Darren: "I'm standing up here, and I see that seventy percent of you are in costume, and the others are saying 'Damnit, why didn't I dress up?'." Dressing up isn't all that makes a cult, the fans are. The fact of the matter is, this movie has a rabid, feasting fanbase that would gladly hog-tie and grapple you to the movie just so that you have the experience of seeing it.
Those who say that this movie is crap, that it doesn't have an audience, and that the music is (my personal favorite) 'atonal', either weren't watching, listening or paying any attention to it at all. This movie is worth far more than anything I've seen in theatres for years. It is easily the most unique experience of my life.
I'd rather see something completely unique, even if it's offensive, gritty, shot with hand-held camera and staring sock puppets than watch anymore of the 'wannabe' good movies that have been coming out. These 'Masterpieces' that people consider to be SO amazing have nothing on a movie like this. This movie is untouchable, it is completely beyond all words.
Everything about this movie has a unique touch that is completely noticeable in absolutely every scene and song. It is an insult to creativity and artistry that a movie such as this should be shoved into only seven cities and outcasting all those who want to watch it so badly.
Myself and two friends drove down from Canada to watch it in Seattle, and we weren't the only ones, and some of the people at our showing were from Texas. This movie will surpass any movie this year through the years, simply because of the fans.
Do NOT miss watching this movie. If you can watch it, even if the theatre is three or four hours away... DO IT. Go in costume, shriek and have the best time of your life.
I attended an advanced screening being held at my university. It was
one of the few shows that director Darren Lynn Bousman didn't know
about. I had spoken with him briefly on the repo-opera.com official
chat rooms about an hour before the showing. It was a cool few minutes
that consisted of him telling me the showing might have been canceled
and then his informing me (and the rest of the room) that he was
yelling to get it going, and he never yells.
I got to the campus theater about 10 min before it was set to start. First thing I noticed was that there were other people there, which was a major worry of mine as Montana State University is relatively small and the advertisement for the screening was pretty sparse. Then I saw the security officers. That got my eyebrows a-raising. It was cool though, Lionsgate taking this much of a precaution even in a little city like this one. After getting my ticket, I wandered in and took a seat. There were about 5 of us to begin with, but as we got closer to 7:00, we ended up with around 30 people. That alone exceeded my expectations.
Then the one of the theater workers came out and spoke with us, made us aware of the security and told us basically not to F*** this up with cameras. Then it was movie time.
When if first began the audio wasn't syncing properly and the screen was projected a little too wide. But after about 5 min the audio got straightened out and the screen width only affected some of the captions on the vignettes showing backstory.
Overall, I was very impressed. Alexa Vega was amazing as the main character of Shiloh Wallace. She has really grown up and away from the girl who played in Spy Kids. She's not this awkward little kid anymore. She's a full blown woman who's shown her acting and singing abilities. I hope to see a lot more from her in the future. Anthony Stewart Head as Nathan/Repo Man was just as amazing. His baritone had the perfect inflection to show the torment the character was dealing with emotionally. When he switches to his "Repo" voice, an oddly smooth yet gravelly take on his singing, it details the change in personalities. Sarah Brightman shined as Blind Mag. Her gorgeous voice and regal demeanor added mountains of formality to this amazing production. Terrance Zdunich was a treat as the morally ambiguous Graverobber. His narrating skills balanced the movie in a way. Addressing the audience as a sort of gatekeeper to this experience was a needed flavor to the film.
Now onto the Largos. Paul Sorvino, like Ms. Brightman, added an air to the movie. His very operatic voice was a perfect counter to the more modern sounds of his on-screen spawn. Bill Mosely, a genre favorite, was well cast in the role of Luigi Largo, Rotti Largo's violent son. His face added a brutality to the roll. Nivek Ogre, of Skinny Puppy, was a very mellow character in his take on Pavi well, mellow compared to Luigi, choosing to seduce and womanize instead of kill and murder. And finally, Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet. I think everyone was a bit wary of her role in this movie. But I can't imagine anyone else in the role.
Overall, the performances were very well done. Only Mosely and Hilton seemed to struggle and only at very brief times. The music was stellar. I was expecting it to be a total musical overload of 100% song, but instead it was interspersed with regular dialog and sing-talk, but it never got old or tired. The filter they used to color the movie was wonderful; the soft glow gave it a wonderful ambiance. The story itself was very well done, showing the dynamics of two families, one a little more functional then the other. Definitely a very original and wonderful piece of modern film. It really is an event. And an event that should be experienced in a theater with other people with an appreciation for the quirky and the musical. It fully deserved the claps it received at the end.
Very well done, Darren. Thank you, to you and your cast and crew.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I got a chance to see Repo! at the Austin showing last night. I'd been
keeping up with the forum, like most of ya'll have, and listening to
the soundtrack on a loop. I thought I pretty much knew the whole plot
before I'd seen the movie, and had a good idea of how it would end.
I was wrong.
For those of you who haven't been following the Repo! phenomenon, Repo! is an audacious rock opera (completely sung, with some occasional atonal, rhythmic dialogue) that takes place in a Gothic not-too-distant future. An epidemic of organ failures has broken out, but luckily, GeneCo, a massive genetics company, has a solution- They start harvesting organs and offering them to consumers with easy financing options. However, these organs are subject to default, and if you start missing your payments, GeneCo sends out the Repo Man to take back GeneCo's property.
Guiding us through this macabre world is Graverobber (Zdunich), a drug-runner who sells a cheap, black market version of Zydrate (a futuristic anesthetic that's like a glow-in-the-dark mix between codeine and ecstasy) to drug-and-surgery addicts on the street.
The movie largely takes place from the point of view of one of these Repo Men, Nathan Wallace (Head), and his daughter, Shiloh (Vega), who is suffering from an unnamed blood illness that makes traveling outside of her home dangerous, and possibly deadly, and who is unaware of her father's profession. In order to keep her safe, Nathan keeps Shiloh locked in her bedroom. Longing to explore the world outside, and bitter towards her mother for passing the blood disease on to her, Shiloh embodies one of the underlying themes of Repo!- Are our destinies sealed by fate (by our genetics), or do we have a choice in the matter?
Early on in the movie, Rotti Largo (Sorvino), the owner and founder of GeneCo, learns that his time is running out. Without skipping a beat, his two sons, the hellishly-tempered Luigi (Moseley) and the freakish playboy, Pavi (Ogre), begin to fight over who will take over when their father is gone. Meanwhile, the third Largo sibling, and poster child for the Zydrate Support Network, Amber Sweet (Hilton), dreams of being in the spotlight after the popular opera singer, and GeneCo spokeswoman, Blind Mag (Brightman), gives her upcoming farewell performance.
The film explores the connections between each of these individuals, and gives their backstories in comic book style vignettes that show how their lives were all once intertwined. Even if you've been following the Repo! site, these short stories provide shocking twists (I heard more than a few gasps when one such twist is revealed). They're an ingenious way of providing these back stories in a stylized manner without having to stretch Repo!'s already thin budget.
One of the things that really struck me about Repo! is how surreal the whole atmosphere is. The colours are very garish (lots of reds, blues, and yellows), and a very hyper-polished finish to the picture. Your computer screen really can't capture just how amazing it looks on the big screen.
And, of course, the other thing that stands out is the music. It's an eclectic mix of rock, punk, pop, electronica, and, of course, opera. I was a bit worried that since I'd been listening to the Pre-Surgery Sampler on a loop, and listening to the theatrical CD as well, that I'd pretty much heard the outstanding numbers in the movie, and that there wouldn't be many surprises. Again, I was surprised. One of the stand-outs for me was "Things You See In A Graveyard", with Rotti Largo's voice echoing throughout the atmosphere over a ghostly chorus of funeral-goers and thrashing guitar riffs. My other favorite is "Chromaggia's Lament", Mag's haunting, operatic farewell song.
While Repo! is VERY unique, and has some very colorful characters, it isn't the camp fest that I was expecting it to be. It's actually a very GOOD movie, and definitely has a heart behind all of it's badassness.
It's also VERY graphic. It was actually a bit more violent than I was expecting. While the violence typically occurs during songs that lessen their impact, and make them more humorous than scary, it's still very over-the-top, and several scenes in particular caused people in my screening to gasp and scream.
My only complaint about the film is that it occasionally appears a bit conflicted about what emotion it wants to elicit from you. I'll give you an example (and forgive me if it comes off as vague, I'm avoiding spoilers)- In one scene in particular, the gorgeously eery song being sung leads up to an act that is both powerfully moving and deeply repulsing. If it were a bit more tastefully executed, it would have come off as a beautiful, empowering scene, and a highly memorable one at that. However, rather than going for that particular emotional impact, the camera lingers on the extremely violent act being committed, without cutting away, to the point of being completely over-the-top, snuffing out its emotional aspect and causing it to be remembered as one of the most disgusting scenes in the movie, rather than one of the most beautiful.
Overall, I would definitely say that I enjoyed Repo!, and I'm looking forward to buying the soundtrack on September 30th. This movie is something that needs to be experienced on the big screen.
For anyone concerned about contented-related issues (if you're wondering if you should take your child, or if you have problems watching certain film content), here's how I'd rate it:
Violence: 9/10 (not pervasive, but when it happens, it's very graphic) Sex: 4/10 (some dialogue, situations, and mild nudity.. nothing to write home about) Scares: 5/10 (some disturbing situations... but it's mostly darkly humorous, rather than scary)
I went to the Austin Fantastic Fest previewing of this film and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were unexpected twists, as well as great character dynamics that made it interesting, fun to watch, and the story line (with the help of great graphics and comics) was easy to follow. The music is catchy and incorporates several ideas that are often taken for granted in popular music. Many styles of music mixed together engaged the listener and the lyrics were full of life and zest. The casting was very well done (where else could you find Paris Hilton and Sarah Brightman in the same cast?) and allowed each character to have their outstanding quality that made them memorable. This movie easily could become a cult classic, as it's right up there with "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"! Go see it, it's totally worth the time. More than worth it, actually.
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