January 1, 2013

Netflix'ns: Pontypool

This is a movie I heard about a few years back but ever got around to seeing. Recently, since it landed on Netflix it has become a bit more prominent. The urgency with which I needed to see Pontypool reached new heights when coworkers began telling me how much I needed to see it, repeatedly. Well, I finally broke down and watched the movie. I am glad that I finally did. The movie is a fantastic example of what can be done with a familiar genre and a fresh idea.

Pontypool is am odd title, at least for those not familiar with the small Canadian town. You can count me among those who have never heard of the town, so, for me Pontypool is a curious title for a strange film that makes it instantly memorable while not giving any of the content away. This is a good thing, as good as the movie is, as engrossing as the tale is, I find it is a difficult one to describe. This is a blessing and a curse.

At first glance, I was reminded of another movie I have yet to see, Dead Air. The similarities seem to be surface only. Pontypool goes in directions I cold not have anticipated, and I may just be too stupid, but I am still trying to wrap my head around what exactly it was that happened.

Stephen McHattie stars as Grant Mazzy, a Recently fired shock jock who finds himself working for a small radio station in an even smaller town doing their morning show. He is not happy about the future of school closings, local news, and obituaries, and he does nothing to hide the fact that he is above it. He, decked out in glasses and a cowboy hat, sits in the sound booth with his producer, Sydney (Lisa Houle), and a young engineer, Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly).

While Sydney tries to keep Grant on track, he is more interested in waxing poetic on whatever topic suits him. Then things begin to turn towards the strange. A report comes in from their traffic copter (in reality it is a guy in a car on a hill with some sound effects) of a riot at a local clinic and some extreme violence being perpetrated.

Efforts to find actual details are tough to come by. Calls get cut off, garbled French messages play, the BBC calls looking for information, and then a doctor shows up at the studio and we get more information regarding what is happening.

Now, I am not even going to touch what is really going on. That may seem like a bit of a cop out, but I am not sure how to broach the the topic. Let's just say that it is unique. It is a fascinating idea for a cause, one that takes an look at the way we interact with each other and the importance of communication.

Pontypool is pretty much location locked. The majority of the dialogue heavy action is set within the studio. This means that the weight of the film is placed on the shoulders of the cast. Stephen McHattie is more than up to the challenge, delivering an electric performance. His voice alone carries a lot of said weight, like a snake ready to strike. He is just great to watch as he moves from poet to victim to potential savior.

Directed by Bruce McDonald and written by Tony Burgess (adapting from his novel), Pontypool is an original vision that just crackles on the screen. It is one that grabs your attention early and does not let go. They build tension by feeding bits and pieces and letting you try to fit it all together.

There is no way around it, Pontypool is a fascinating film. It takes the familiar genre and injects some new life into it. It is a movie I suspect will reward multiple viewings, allowing some layers to be peeled back. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot.

Highly Recommended.

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