Film Review: The Pink Cloud



The pandemic has inspired loads of films about isolated people because isolation is where we’ve all been for a year and a half. Surprisingly, The Pink Cloud was filmed pre-COVID, but you wouldn’t know it by the way it poignantly captures the maddening nature of being stuck inside. This quiet Brazilian sci-fi feature posits: What if, when the deadly thing hit, you were immediately confined where you stood indefinitely. You’re at a slumber party with your fellow tweens and one single dad. You’re at the grocery store with strangers and your partner is at home, alone. You’re spending a leisurely morning with the person you picked up in a bar the night before, expecting them to leave soon. No walks around the block to cool off. No therapeutic trips to Trader Joe’s. These walls are now your entire world. 

That’s what happens to the protagonists of The Pink Cloud, a meditative, understated disaster film from writer/director Iuli Gerbase. In this case, the McGuffin is a toxic, pink cloud that inexplicably rolls in all across the globe and kills anyone who breaths it in within 10 seconds…

Read the rest on Hammer to Nail!

Film Review: WYRM

It’s difficult to impart a sense of Christopher Winterbauer’s feature debut, Wyrm without making it sound like a bit of a drag. The films’ own synopsis compares it to Yorgos Lanthimos (presumably The Lobster) and Todd Solondz, (presumably Welcome to the Dollhouse). The film also lends itself to comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite, but again, this is unfair. Winterbauer’s film, based on his 2017 short, isn’t nearly as nihilistic as Lanthimos or Solondz, and it’s much more nuanced than Jared Hess’ breakout smash. On its face, the script is about the mortifying awkwardness and quiet indignity of junior high sexuality, but underneath, it’s a poignant exploration of grief and the myriad ways it manifests. 

Wyrm (Theo Taplitz) is the unfortunately-monikered titular protagonist and his origin story is tragic. Born with a heart condition, he is the latest of bloomers, and literally the last kid in his 8th grade class to complete his Level 1 Sexuality Requirement. Until he’s kissed by a willing romantic partner, Wyrm must don a bulky, chafing collar around his neck, telegraphing his predicament to everyone he encounters. His twin sister, Myrcella (Azure Brandi), was once his closest confidant. But now that she’s “popped her collar,” she wants nothing to do with him and is even angling for her own room…

Read the rest on Hammer to Nail!

Paid in Puke S5E10: Fast Times/The Anniversary Party

On our series 5 finale, we’re doing a double shot of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates, with Amy Heckerling’s 1982 comedy debut, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, written by Cameron Crowe, and 2001’s Mumblecore template drama, The Anniversary Party, written and directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Alan Cumming. These two films are spiritual sequels, linked by JJL and Cates’ twenty year friendship. Fast Times is also Amy’s favorite movie of all time! Both of these films find a perfect balance between the realistic struggles of women in these respective places in their lives, and belly-laugh comedy. Plus hella abortions.

Two movies means we double your pleasure on Meaningful Passages and Lunchtime Polls!

Paid in Puke is taking a break but we’ll return soon with Series 6!

Download the episode here!

SFFILM Review: Censor

Most Americans probably don’t know that before Tipper Gore wreaked havoc on the United States music industry with her crusade against profanity in art, the UK had their own epidemic regarding the world of straight-to-video slasher films. Prano Bailey-Bond sets her directorial debut in a Thatcher-steeped 1980s Britain, when the BBFC (the British Board of Film Classification) demanded to run so-called Video Nasties through a rigorous screening process that resulted in mandatory edits and a viewer rating. Censor never namechecks the BBFC, but it’s clear that the film’s troubled protagonist, Enid (Niamh Algar), works for the organization. For her, it’s more than just a job – it’s a calling. That’s why she’s shocked when a brutal murder makes headlines for being linked to a film that she herself screened and rated. Soon, Enid is the victim of sinister phone calls and other harassment. Meanwhile, she is disturbed by a film that eerily resembles an incident from her childhood which resulted in the disappearance of her sister. Is Enid the victim of a sinister conspiracy, or is there something more internal at play? 

Read the rest at Hammer to Nail!

Transference: A Love Story

Transference: A Love Story

Raffaello Degruttola wrote, directed, and stars in Transference: A Love Story, a romantic drama loosely based on his own experience with his father, who suffered from Bi-Polar Disorder. The story is told through the eyes of Katerina (Emilie Sofie Johannesen), a young Norwegian nurse new to the staff of a London hospital. Katerina is smitten after a handsome older nurse, Nik (Degruttola), consoles her through a hard day at work. She comes onto him and at first, he resists her advances. But once he caves, the two embark on a torrid affair that they elect to keep secret from colleagues. Katerina soon begins to suspect that Nik is also keeping a very big secret from her. 

This is also a fish-out-of-water story for both Katerina and Nik, who are first generation immigrants to England. Katerina’s roommate, and many of their co-workers are also immigrants. Degruttola’s script spends a little time on how immigrants struggle more because of language barriers and prejudice. Katerina’s roommate is also very prudish and judgmental and there’s an implied rift between her and her family so Katerina really has no one to talk to about her struggles. Nik would prefer not to talk at all, if he can help it. In contrast, there is a lot of unnecessary voiceover from Katerina but it doesn’t tell us anything new. If anything, it further drives home the notion that Katerina doesn’t really want to know what’s going on with Nik. She prefers to remain frustrated in the dark rather than face an ugly truth. 

Degruttola often relies on the score to embody the characters’ emotions. The music is habitually intense, and sometimes it feels like he’s telegraphing a plot development from a Lifetime movie that never comes to fruition. I kept expecting Nik to hit Katerina or to murder his pregnant ex-wife. Though this is not that kind of film, occasionally the music betrays Degruttola’s true intentions for his characters. It’s unfortunate because music for films can be so cost-prohibitive but it’s important to make sure the music is sending the message the director intended. 

Transference is often boring or frustrating. Katerina and Nik are not fun Hollywood damaged. They like to ignore problems and keep things from each other, which often makes their interactions as terse as they are tense. They frequently storm away from one another with no resolution to their conflicts. I’m sure this is very true to life but it doesn’t make for a good time at the movies. 

Degruttola’s feature debut is an authentic portrayal of the complications that arise when two people enter into a relationship before they’ve properly healed from their respective traumas. Transference is a difficult watch, but those who seek veracity in their romantic dramas, or wish to study a cautionary tale for therapeutic purposes, will find the film riveting and perhaps even refreshing. 

Paid in Puke S5E9.5: Oscars Special 2021!

It’s Oscar Season!! Join the Paid-in-Pukettes for lamenting snubs, ragging on Aaron Sorkin, loving on Lakeith, and worrying that people will get the wrong message from Nomadland. Stay for some very opinionated commentary on movies we didn’t see and equally opinionated commentary on the ones that we did see!

Plus! 

Hot Props: Who will be the In Memoriam Hammer photo? Who will bring their mom as a date?

Fun Facts: Which Best Picture winner is the lowest rated on IMDb?

Hosts: Is the non-problematic host a myth?

And the funniest description of David Fincher’s Seven that you’ve ever heard!

Download the episode here!

Film Review: The Power

Corrina Faith’s debut feature, The Power, is a haunted hospital story with social justice overtones. Set during the real-life planned power outages in 1970s Britain, it follows a fledgling nurse called Val (Rose Williams, Changeland), on her first day at a hospital in the East London neighborhood where she grew up. But her fortune quickly turns when a vindictive supervisor assigns her to the night shift. Val soon becomes aware of a malevolent supernatural presence that may hold the key to a conspiracy within the staff to cover up abuse. It’s part classic ghost story, part intricate commentary on the myriad power dynamics at play in the healthcare system, even in a country with socialized medicine. 

It’s a busy day at East London Royal Hospital, as the staff prepare to transport most of the patients to a nearby facility in anticipation of the scheduled overnight blackout. The only patients left behind are a handful of newborns and those on life support. When Val accidentally angers her new supervisor, Matron (Diveen Henry, Grow Your Own), she is sentenced to the night shift – which is especially problematic for Val because she has a fear of the dark brought on by a childhood trauma. Nevertheless, Val knows this is her one chance to prove her worth, so she stiffens her upper lip, pulls her skirt 3 inches below her knees, straightens her head piece, and prepares for a long night in a definitely haunted hospital. This dilapidated behemoth boasts pitch-black corners, creepy murals, and a utility closet that just won’t stay shut. As the night wears on, Val becomes increasingly certain that everyone is in danger, whilst her incredulous and condescending colleagues take her warnings as a sign of her mental deterioration…

Read the rest at Hammer to Nail!

Paid in Puke S5E9: Hard Candy

On today’s episode, we’re cutting our teeth on David Slade’s 2005 directorial debut, Hard Candy, starring Elliot Page in their breakthrough role. We discuss Elliot’s electric performance and the perplexing ways in which critics received this film at the time. (Looking at you, Roger Ebert!) We also learn about what castration really does to an erection and briefly touch on some famous predators and how their crimes have done little to effect their careers.

We keep it light on the Lunchtime Poll, revealing our early screen names and shouting out some cool people we met on the internet.

Download the episode here!

Paid in Puke S5E8: The 40 Year-Old Version

On today’s episode, we’re losing it over Radha Blank’s 2020 semi-autobiographical comedy, The 40-Year-Old Version, written, directed by, and starring Radha Blank. This film fills so many cinematic voids for us, and we love the way it pays tribute to the male auteurs who influenced Blank, whilst simultaneously subverting their genre. It’s all about reclaiming artistic spaces for women of color and of a certain age and we’re here for all of it. FYOV!

On the Lunchtime Poll, we reveal our hypothetical hip hop names, and the history of the “My name is ______ and I’m here to say” cliche. 

Download the episode here!

Paid in Puke S5E7: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar

As far as we’re concerned, Josh Greenbaum’s 2021 comedy, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is an instant classic. Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumalo wrote the script and also star as the titular middle-aged mid-westerners who danced their way into our hearts and our lexicons. 

So, have a couple of wheat thins, slide into your most comfortable culottes, and join us in gushing over this silly, good-hearted musical tribute to women of a certain age. Also, Jamie Dornan is there, nailing the himbo role and giving Wiig and Mumalo plenty of room to do their thing.

On the Lunchtime Poll, we reveal ways in which we stepped out of our comfort zones and were all the better for it.

We love Barb and Star with all our farts!

Download the episode here!

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