Saturday, January 26, 2013

Swap Meat

Movie: The Casserole Club

Where: my sofa on Netflix Canada

Reason for seeing it: the title got my attention obviously, and bonus when I found out Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys was a lead actor.

Holy cocktail weiners Batman. Where to I start on this one.  When I heard about this film's title, of course I went looking for the trailer.  It made it look like a really low budget film.  But so many movies are being done lately that are so, nothing new. Then I read the reviews others had of it on Netflix Canada, and most were just nasty.  One person had something nice to say about the film. Mostly about how the settings and costumes were bang on for the decade it's set in. They even went on to talk about how it's faded in that style of a 1960's/1970's film, which is the time frame of the film.  Which, I have to hand it to the film maker, is brilliant. If for no other reason see this film for the set design and costumes and take it as a really great slice of history in review.

Then I watched the film. And seriously, I wasn't sure I was going to make it past the first 15 minutes, but ironically, I'm glad I did.  I think if it had been me, I wouldn't have edited it in a liner form but done it with intercutting flashbacks...but that's getting off the point.

The first 15 minutes is the big set up for the film, and is just a cocktail party of drunks who are acting like fifteen year olds.  So you think at first. 

plot: Five couples living in the same suburb neighbourhood, get together one night to have a casserole contest, with the wives cooking and the husbands picking the winner. After supper, everyone gets extremely drunk and decide to have an orgy in the pool. The next day, as everyone tries to pretend it didn't happen, we start to see the break down of four of the five marriages. Over the course of the next few weeks, they all decide to have another dinner party, which ends with one wife having an affair with one of the men in the group and ends up pregnant. One more party happens a few weeks later, this time they've introduced another couple, which doesn't go well with half the group, and someone ends up dead.

Seriously, at first glance, this film seems like just a made for tv porno. But once you get past that first party scene and into the grit of the dynamic of the couples, you understand why the film was made. Everyone of them have major insecurities that seem to affect how they treat each other (from the husband in couple A being a self mutilator and rejecting his wife over and over, to the husband of couple C who is a bisexual trying to convince everyone he's a straight stud because of his wife) the cruelty they subtly and not so subtly inflict on each other at times, all leading to the breaking down of most of their marriages. 
This is an excellent story of pulling away the curtain to see the plastic forest for what it is, and the masks they all wear.

Were this set in this decade, it wouldn't have worked as well as it did.  Just the use of the casserole scenes themselves were a great metaphor. (the women talking about the easiness of canned soup and spam which little to no real prep time but yet no one discussing anything of real value)

I know some of the reviewers were talking about how bad the acting was, and yes the first party scene I think had some lame ducks in it, but as the movie continues, you see it for what it is; following a recipe laid out in the 1960's/1970's  when acting really was that cardboard and flavourless. It really feels like you're watching something from the Exploitation era.

I only wish there were more dinner table scenes.

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