Couch Trip

Jul 1, 2009 at 12:00 am

Le Jupon Rouge 

A bizarre love triangle with niche interest, Genevieve Lefebvre's Le Jupon Rouge centers on the crippling jealousy suffered by an aged linguist and Holocaust survivor (Alida Valli) when her secretary (Marie-Christina Barrault) falls in love with her young protégé (Guillemette Grobon). There are a few levels of potential interest here, but this dreadful lesbian snoozer fails equally as an artistic achievement, a taboo provocation and even as a mere entertainment. The conflicts are shuffled aside by a screenplay of rote philosophical pabulum and dirge-like soliloquies; onscreen relationships are developed through little more than dreamy-eyed gazing scored by soporific piano tinkling. At just 82 minutes, it moves at a molasses pace. It's the kind of film that'll make you want to lay on the fast-forward button like a car horn in a traffic jam. The editing rhythms are as inept as the cinematography is uninspired -— Le Jupon Rouge is an unwatchable bust even from an aesthetic production standpoint. —John Thomason

The Brøken 

The annual horror film festival 8 Films to Die For (or After Dark Horrorfest) is a racket. Now in its third year, it limped into theaters in January with little or no fanfare. The fest is geared to highlight lost horror gems deemed too "graphic" for mainstream audiences, but in reality it's a bunch of crappy frighters destined for direct-to-video. Sure, The Abandoned, Reincarnation and Frontiers are worthy exceptions, but just when horror fans thought it couldn't get worse, along comes a new cinematic 8-pack including Sean Ellis' The Brøken.

On the surface, The Brøken looks like it might exceed the festival's low standards. There's Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins and Lena Headey (FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and it's stylish — nice set design, interesting lighting, creative camera work and unusually creepy audio. Unfortunately, it's all a facade for what could be the most plot-free film ever created. 

Ostensibly it's a body-snatcher flick that sees a London family supplanted by doppelgängers who break through the mirrors in their homes. The first hour is a slow, snooze-y journey, followed by an infuriating half hour in which absolutely nothing is explained, expounded upon or makes a modicum of sense. Talk about scary! 

Who are these duplicates? Are they only targeting this family? How come Dad has no UK accent? Worse, what's with the puzzling use of the slashed zero that only sometimes appears in its title? If only Ellis had penned a proper story, then The Brøken wouldn't be such window dressing; instead, his flick is but another turd that the After Dark fest pawns off on us horror buffs. — Paul Knoll