Spoilers for Killjoys Season 4, Episode 3, “Bro’d Trip,” follow.
Last week on Killjoys, Johnny got greened, we discovered that somehow the Company has competition in the dystopian capitalism field, and Delle Seyah realized that (Hullen or not) trusting the person whose fiancée she murdered maybe wasn’t the best of ideas.
This week opens up with the Jacobis brothers on a road trip, and it is fantastic. Killjoys hasn’t really explored the relationship between the Jacobis since the end of the first season. We’ve seen flashes of both their good and bad sides – from their easy joking banter to Johnny’s dislike of being under his brother’s command – but it’s also been a pretty stable dynamic. At the end of the day, Johnny and D’av’s relationship with Dutch has been more important than their relationship with each other, and they aren’t together on missions that often either.
There’s something deeper to this as well. Johnny is the heart of the team, a foundation for those around him. Throughout the show he’s tended to help others above helping himself, and the only one who can really bring out his true feelings is Dutch. By contrast, Hullen Johnny gives us an unfiltered look into his darkest thoughts, and… hoo boy, the poor guy has some issues.
Everyone around Johnny has always regarded his ability to give a damn in an uncaring universe as his greatest strength. As Khlyen saw in episode one of this season, Johnny’s heart may be the key to stopping the Lady, but the problem is that Johnny appears to disagree with this assessment. This isn’t exactly new. Last season, we saw just how pissed he was that Dutch had been holding him back to prevent him from being “corrupted,” in her view. Johnny has clearly wanted to be something more than just the caring little sibling to Dutch and D’av, especially since Pawter’s death. The past two episodes have given him what he wanted, but at the expense of his heart – and it’s been fascinating.
It’s D’avin’s reaction to Johnny finally getting this power that really makes this episode tick. Throughout Killjoys, D’av hasn’t ever really reckoned with his brother’s insecurities. The primary tension between the two has always been D’av’s abandonment of their family, which has shifted over time into D’av’s anger at Johnny’s seeming inability to forgive him or fully recognize that he has changed. It was great to finally hear D’avin open up to Johnny about this anger as his little brother recovered from saving the two from the warden’s men. But the fact that D’av just walked back into Johnny’s life and was automatically better than him once again, the original sore point? That’s been more of a silent problem until now.
“Bro’d Trip” is where D’avin finally reckons with what Dutch realized last season – that maybe Johnny wants to be something else. Towards the middle of the episode, he recognizes that Johnny is now supernaturally strong while being even smarter, and realizes that maybe this Hullen version of his little brother won’t want to give it all up to go back to being “a hug wrapped in a puppy.” The fact that he thinks this is a “maybe” rather than a certainty until the end of the episode goes to show how blinded he is by the vision of who he wants his brother to be.
The final fight between the two at the pool of green serves as a fantastic capstone to the episode and a nice callback to their fight in the first episode of the series. Whereas at that point it was Johnny trying to bring his brother to his senses, now it’s D’av trying to force Johnny to go back to being someone he might not want to be. It’s also the first time we really see Johnny get the upper hand on his brother. And, if there’s a line that summarizes Hullen Johnny, “Now I have the charms, the smarts and the muscle – what do you have?” is it.
While this review has so far mostly focused on the Jacobis brothers, “Bro’d Trip” also deftly weaves Delle Seyah into their dynamic. Johnny treats the road trip as a sort of “babymoon,” a last ride for the two before D’av’s baby changes their relationship forever. He also addresses a problem I’ve had with the show since the last episode of season three.
The relationship between Delle Seyah and the brothers has been surprisingly cozy so far, considering how utterly vile of a person she’s been. As first this had worried me a little bit, as Killjoy’s treatment of Jellco last season had never sat right with me. However, this week we finally see Johnny vocalize what we’ve all been thinking, as he reminds D’avin that – surrogate mother of his child or not – this is the woman who kidnapped Dutch, killed Pawter, and whose girlfriend stole his genes for her alien baby. Even more importantly, we also see D’avin fully acknowledge the damage Delle Seyah has caused Johnny. With the episode ending on the impeding birth of D’av, Aneela’s and Sayah’s child, it’s exciting to see where Killjoys takes the relationship between the two.
By contrast to the brothers, Delle Seyah’s plotline is a pretty simple one this episode, if a little bit problematic. Much like in season three, she finds herself at the mercy of a truly vile character and manages to maneuver her way to safety (and get a little revenge while she’s at it). She also shows some flashes of kindness for once, giving one of the organ farmers a ticket off the planet as part of her deal with the authorities. If Delle Seyah was a fresh character introduced in season three as Anneela’s love interest, this turn at being a protagonist would likely work a lot better. The problem is that Killjoys is a show that has always had a strong emotional continuity throughout. Conversations between the main cast are interspersed with references to prior episodes (including last week’s hilarious tease for the potential need of D’avin to… “Sabine” Johnny). This strong continuity makes it incredibly difficult to watch Seyah in any other role than a pure villain.
This is the woman who (beyond murdering Pawter in cold blood), tried to turn Westerly into a world of eugenic death camps. Yet the showrunners have been increasingly portraying her as an anti-hero since season three, despite the fact that she’s still the same murderous, power hungry, amoral snake she’s always been. The villain/ally turn worked in shows like Farscape because the villains were often sympathetic from the start, and usually showed some kind of remorse or evolution. Delle Seyah has shown neither, and it results in her statement in last week’s episode that “oh God, we are a family” feeling hollow and unearned. As entertaining as she is, and as slimy her opponents are, the feeling still remains that it’s probably better that she loses, especially since (as Johnny noted in season three) her child may be the harbinger of the death of all non-Hullen life.
To catch up with the rest of the crew, we see Pip (the bribe taker) and Pree (the side taker) experience their first mission as newly deputized, neutral and non-corrupt Killjoys by helping Zeph take back control of Lucy before the ship kills them. Pree continues to shine as one of the most joyful characters on television, with his idea of a funeral (singing, booze and burly men) sounding like one hell of a time. However, it’s Pip and Zeph who see the most development here. While they were entertaining last season, they were also pretty one-note – Pip was the goofy mercenary hacker and Zeph was your classic awkward geek. Here, the show continues to flesh the two out, with Pip serving as a conscience for the somewhat colder Zeph as they muck about with a Hullen’s brain. It’s also nice to see that Zeph has retained her tendency to overlook Johnny, with Pree having to remind her that (after, or even before, Dutch) the most likely person Lucy would listen to would be Johnny, not D’avin.
However, where Zeph and Pip really come into their own is when they are discussing what their relationship means now that they are safe again. Their first conversation clearly expressing desires and setting boundaries was incredibly refreshing to see. Zeph’s fusion of copious sex into her thinking process is a fantastic addition to her character, while Pip showed a lot of maturity in the way he expressed his wish for something more while also respecting Zeph’s emotional boundaries. As always, Michelle Lovretta remains one of the best portrayers of sex and relationships in television.
In short, “Bro’d Trip” serves as an excellent emotional foundation for the rest of the season. Even if took an alien parasite, D’avin finally knows what his brother is going through and how his relationship with his child will impact the crew. Meanwhile, the Killjoy family continues to grow as Pip and Pree join the team full-time. The best part is that all of this lies under the shadow of the struggle for Johnny’s soul, a struggle that may be the key to stopping The Lady. With the episode ending with a wounded Dutch stumbling out of the green, and Delle Seyah about to give birth, things are really picking up in the J.
CUFF 2019: Director Rob Grant on the tension (and dark comedy) of HARPOON
Adrift on the seas on a luxury yacht, three friends find themselves stranded without food or supplies and quickly realize their survival is less than assured. An official selection at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019, Harpoon will make its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) April 28.
The Mutt spoke with director Rob Grant prior to the film’s screening at CUFF. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.
THE MUTT: Can you tell me a bit about the genesis of Harpoon?
ROB GRANT: I had a great relationship with my producers (Knuckleball director Michael Peterson and Kurtis Harder) from a film called Fake Blood. I pitched Mr. Peterson on this idea that was a mix between Polanski’s Knife on the Water but by way of Seinfeld characters on the boat. I grew up in Vancouver, and the original idea was, “Well, I spent a lot of time on a boat, we could go take a boat out to the ocean and try to isolate ourselves out there.” Once a budget came into play and the idea grew, suddenly we were shooting the interiors of the boat in a set in the middle of freezing winter in Calgary, and shooting the exteriors on a boat in tropical Belize down south.
TM: Was it difficult for you to balance those comedic elements and still find a way to ratchet up the tension?
RG: It was very difficult, and there were a lot of discussions about that. When you have to give the elevator pitch, you have to say: “This is the genre and this is what it means.” But I subscribe to the logic that in life you can feel in one moment that you’re in a love story and the next minute in a horror movie, and that’s the way real life actually works. But it seems a little more rigid in movies. We were aware of potentially disrupting viewers’ experiences of watching the movie. (We thought) a movie could, or should, be multiple things at once. We’re willing to accept that there’s going to be some audience members that are going to reject that as a movie experience, but we wanted to try it.
TM: Can you tell me more about those influences you mentioned? I’m curious about how you mixed something like Seinfeld with more traditional thriller elements.
RG: Hitchcock’s Lifeboat was definitely in there, as well as Polanski’s Knife in the Water. But I had to still find the dark humour in it, and Seinfeld came up specifically because as much as we all find the Seinfeld characters enduring, they’re very much in it for themselves. They’re worried about their own outcomes. So I tried to use a lot of that. As much as these people like to say they’re looking out for each other, the second it becomes a survival story they’re all kind of in it for themselves. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia was another one, not only for mixing drama and humour, but definitely because the narration was less focused. It sets up what’s going to happen without speaking to much on the nose about what you’re about to see.
TM: I understand there’s some great gore and effects in Harpoon. What was your approach to that, and what effect do you think that has?
RG: I’ve explored the effects of violence in cinema with Fake Blood, and this was an extension of that. The entire movie, these people speak very casually and aloof about the things that potentially will need to be done without actually considering what that entails until suddenly when it happens. I felt like it would be a good idea to make sure that was extremely violent and horrible, not only because we’ve been teasing up to this moment, but I do believe there’s a certain element that people do not consider the actual realities of having to do something like that. So it’s very shocking, very brutal, it’s like, “ha ha ha this was all funny to discuss” and now that it’s happened it sucks the wind out of you. That was a very intentional decision.
TM: What do you think Harpoon does in a unique way when compared to other similar films? What do you hope the audience walks away with?
RG: I hope when people leave the cinema that it wasn’t the movie they were expecting, that it was a little bit of a different take. I do think it’ll challenge them depending what their expectations are. I just hope they’re expecting something interesting in the genre, and that they’re along for the ride.
Harpoon makes its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 28. For tickets, click here.
Click here to read our roundup of 9 Canadian films playing at CUFF 2019.
CUFF 2019: The story behind Uwe Boll, the so-called “worst filmmaker” ever
Director of the critically-maligned video game adaptations Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead and BloodRayne, Uwe Boll has long held a unfavourable reputation in the film industry not only due to the perceived quality of his films, but also due to his antagonistic response to his online “haters.”
But a new documentary, F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story, seeks to better understand the firebrand filmmaker, diving into Boll’s past through a series of interviews with colleagues, critics and Boll himself.
The Mutt spoke with F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story Vancouver-based director Sean Patrick Shaul prior to the film’s Alberta premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 27. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.
THE MUTT: How did you first become acquainted with Uwe Boll?
SEAN PATRICK SHAUL: I first met Uwe Boll on the set of Assault on Wall Street. I worked as a crew member with him. Seeing him work was so fascinating. The way he directed was like no one I had ever seen before. He was such an interesting guy. That was almost 10 years ago and I ended up working on a TV show that was shooting in his restaurant. That was how I came across the idea for the documentary. The idea was to look at someone who is widely known as the world’s worst director. It was more asking, “Why was he considered that? How did he get that title, and whether or not he was.”
TM: As his persona on the internet developed, did that mesh with what you knew of him? Did you feel he was being portrayed in a way that was inaccurate?
SPS: I had seen some of his movies and I understood the reputation he had. He also fuelled that himself through the internet, engaging with all of these trolls and these critics. He takes it head on, which is fun to watch. But I had no idea what he would say when I pitched the documentary to him. Within five minutes, I realized we had a lot in common. He was excited about the documentary, excited to have that side told of it.
TM: How does Boll feel about being referred to as the “world’s worst director”?
SPS: He thinks it’s very unfair, which I guess I would agree with. Art is subjective, so it’s hard to say whether something is good or bad. But I think he’s also aware of the type of movies he was making. He didn’t think he was making The Godfather. He knew these were video game adaptations movies, so his expectations were low with those. But he has made more personal films (since then), but he already had this black cloud following him around. It stalled his career in that way. I thought that was really interesting – he made 32 movies, but by his fifth movie, people had already written him off.
TM: Why do you think Boll feels the need to respond to his trolls and his critics online?
SPS: I think he’s a very proud guy. He’s aware of his accomplishments and I don’t think he can let a comment like that go. If someone has the motivation to go after him online, he has the equivalent motivation to fire back at them. He hasn’t really calmed down on that too much. I think he’s currently banned from Twitter for going after trolls. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek for him when he goes after these people. He enjoys it, he likes engaging with them. It became part of his personality. As much as it hurt his career, it also helped his career in a way.
TM: In spending time with Boll, what surprised you about him as you got to know him better?
SPS: Before, I thought he was kind of an asshole, from his online persona, I thought he was just kind of a jerk. Through meeting him, I realized he’s a super sweet guy, he’s a really, really genuinely nice guy. He cares about films, he’s a real film guy. He knows all of the classics, he’s seen all these foreign films – he’s a real cinephile. But there’s something about him not being able to pull that off. All his favourite movies are the classics, but for some reason he can’t make those films himself. He was kind of handcuffed by all these tax loopholes and funding schedules, that he would have to pump these films out in a certain timeframe to get the tax credit. There’s a lot of reasons his earlier films turned out the way they did. They didn’t turn out the way he envisioned.
TM: Given that he knew the documentary wasn’t going to be all positive, why did Boll want to participate?
SPS: I think he just wanted someone who was looking at the larger picture instead of comparing him to a Tommy Wiseau or a Ed Wood. He wanted to explain himself a bit. The articles and the small kinds of podcast interviews don’t really give him enough time to explain himself, or they ask the same five questions. Almost every headline is “world’s worst director” – I think he wanted to look at something deeper. But he wasn’t shying away from that title. I told him early on in production that we’d be definitely looking at that angle and talking about it. He was more than happy to look at it. Most people would want this buried, but he looked at it head on. “I have that title, but let’s look at why.”
F*** You All: The Uwe Boll story plays April 27 at the Calgary Underground Film Festival. For tickets, click here.
Click here to read our roundup of 9 Canadian films playing at CUFF 2019.
Acquainted takes a raw and honest look at modern love
In Acquainted, a new romantic drama from Toronto-based director Natty Zavitz, high school classmates Drew (Giacomo Gianniotti of Grey’s Anatomy) and Emma (Laysla De Oliveria of The Gifted) reunite with each other at a bar and instantly connect, discovering they share some serious chemistry. Problem is, the pair are both in serious, long-term relationships.
The script for the film was partly inspired by the deterioration of Zavitz’s last major relationship, said producer Jonathan Keltz (Entourage, Reign), who also plays Allan in the film.
“(Zavitz) sent me the script almost four years ago and I just connected so deeply and was so blown away by his script,” Keltz said. “(I was blown away) by how defined his voice was. I was completely moved by it.”
Inspired by films such as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset trilogy, Acquainted is an honest look at relationships and adulthood, exploring the subject matter with introspection. Keltz said the film examines fidelity and infidelity from a judgement-free place.
“The characters are not villains or victims. It’s a raw and honest look at being in relationships, to have these type of things happen and how to deal with that,” he said. “The relationship with the self and the seeking to find out who you really are is really what’s crucial to the building of a relationship with somebody else.
“It’s about taking the time to do that work that puts you in the best position to be a partner with somebody and to be an adult in this world.”
Many of the cast and crew on Acquainted have worked in Toronto’s film community for years, making the set of the film a reunion of its own.
“In front of the camera and behind the camera, (the film involves all) kinds of amazing artists. It’s really a Canadian film and a Toronto film,” Keltz said. “It’s not trying to either hide that or beat you over the head with that.
“I think that’s done in a very unique way, and in a way that is both Torontonian and Canadian but also universally and commercially viable.”
Keltz said he thought the film would be emotionally affecting to audiences, offering perspective that could help to contextualize modern love and relationship.
“I think this is a really raw and honest and beautiful film about what it means to be in love, to be heartbroken, to be devastated, to be inspired and to try and build a life for yourself and figure out what that means,” Keltz said.
Acquainted is now playing at Cineplex Movies Yonge and Dundas in Toronto, International Village in Vancouver and at Landmark Cinemas nationwide.
Next up on The Mutt: With maturity and depth, An Audience of Chairs reflects on mental illness