Paid in Puke S2E3: Bombshell

In this episode, we defuse Jay Roach’s perplexing 2019 sexual harassment drama, Bombshell, a film that attempts to explain the #metoo movement to white CIS men. Does it succeed? Not particularly! The Hot Probs never end.

Also: In Kent’s Two Cents, Amy’s dad spills some Hot Goss about Gretchen Carlson via their shared personal trainer.

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Recorded on the day after Amy’s Rockin’ New Years’ Eve party (hence our outdated Oscar talk), we aren’t at full strength here. Regardless, we manage to find a couple of laughs in an otherwise vomit-inducing film. Speaking of vomit, Bombshell contains a scene in which a woman throws up but isn’t pregnant. Could Baxter’s most-hated female-centric cinematic trope be on the wane?

Paid in Puke S2E2: Bound

It’s no joke how well Bound holds up. Released in the golden year of American cinema, 1996, Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s lesbian crime thriller is a refreshing gem in a sea of films about women who get punished for standing up to men. With a (mostly) smart script, some fun scenery chewing from Joey Pants and Chris Meloni, and of course, the goddesses that are Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, we give Bound 0 Pukes (on a scale of 0-5, 5 being the worst).

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PLUS: We all try our hand at Jennifer Tilly impressions and we reveal our personal skills that Violet could exploit to lure us into her apartment (if we were lucky enough to garner her attention in the elevator).

Paid in Puke S2E1: Muriel’s Wedding

On our Series Two opener, we gush about P.J. Hogan’s 1994 very Aussie, ABBA-tastic comedy, Muriel’s Wedding, starring Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the Time of Valens (aka Galentine’s Day). Amy and Cristina count the film among their very favorites, and Baxter had never seen it.

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Regardless, this viewing brought up some stuff for all three of us! We touch on such topics as philandering fathers, emotionally battered mothers, body image issues, early adulthood besties, and inspirational musicians. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds? We also attempt Australian accents with varying degrees of success.

Paid in Puke: 2020 Oscars Special

It’s the off season but we HAD to do an Oscars Special! Hear our picks for who we think SHOULD grab the gold, who we think we get it instead, and who we think got snubbed for the big 6 categories (Best Pic, Acting, and Directing).

Lots of shit-talking Joaquin Phoenix in this episode, if you’re into that.

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Series 2 of Paid in Puke premieres on February 11th with Muriel’s Wedding!

Film Review: Night Sweats (2019)

42MdnaAJust in time for the Coronavirus, Andrew Lyman-Clarke’s second feature harnesses the anxiety of mysterious deadly diseases in his inconsistent thriller, Night Sweats. Allegedly based on true events that happened to his friend, Seth Panman, the story follows a young skateboarder and recent transplant to NYC, as he investigates the sudden death of his roommate. He slowly uncovers a pharmaceutical conspiracy tied to the self-help start-up True Healing, whilst pursuing a relationship with a dispassionate waitress. Lyman-Clarke’s script is compelling enough to hold a viewer till the end, but it’s ultimately disappointing and misogynist to boot.

The story kicks off with Yuri (Kyle DeSpiegler) arriving in the Big Apple from Colorado, wide-eyed and hopeful. His new roommate is Jake (John Francomacaro), a childhood pal who works as a videographer for True Healing. The clandestine company sells personal trauma interviews to Pharmaceutical companies and also purports to be creating a library for people who have experienced similar traumas. Yuri doesn’t think much of Jake’s job until one night when Jake inadvertently interrupts a Yuri’s date with MK (Mary Elaine Ramsey) by barfing all over his room and suffering a seizure. Yuri has only just dialed 911 when a neighbor claiming to be an EMT knocks on the door, does something unseen with Jake, and then leaves before the real paramedics arrive. Yuri thinks back on this man the next day when he learns Jake didn’t survive the night.

His suspicions grow when an eccentric woman from the CDC (Allison Mackie) shows up asking questions and collecting vomit samples. Dr. Freeman suggests that Jake took some bad Molly, prompting Yuri to check his room for the stash. Instead, Yuri finds a microphone hidden inside a trophy that True Healing “awarded” Jake for completing 100 interviews. This propels Yuri into Gittes/Chinatown territory, as he takes over his roommates’ job at True Healing to find out the truth at any cost.

Yuri suspects he’s in over his head when he meets Jake’s old boss, Nick Frankenthaler (John Wesley Shipp, TVs Dawson’s Creek, The Flash) who is not a nice man. His paranoia grows when he discovers that True Healing has a high employee turnover rate, and that whatever killed Jake seems to be spreading. Can Yuri unlock this insidious puzzle box before it’s too late?

The principal cast do their level best with a twisty, but otherwise unremarkable script. The camera work isn’t too distracting, except when attempting to show the first-person effects of the disease. Yuri’s motivations are not particularly clear either. He seems to get over the death of his “best friend” within hours and hardly mentions him again except in relation to his investigation. We don’t know anything about their relationship other than the fact that they met when they were 5. His single-minded mission to expose a conspiracy seems to have very little to do with avenging the death of his friend.

Despite these issues, a discernible micro-budget, and a poorly-realized degenerative brain ailment, the film could have worked were it not for the big reveal. I won’t spoil it, but it involves egregious slut-shaming that absolutely cancelled out any enjoyment I would have otherwise gotten from the mystery itself. There was truly no need for it either, and it suggests that perhaps Lyman-Clarke has some issues to work out with an ex-girlfriend. To quote the film, “Denial is a powerful thing.” Filmmaker, heal thyself.

Film Review: Buck Run

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Nick Frangione (Roxie) directs Buck Run, an indie drama loosely based on his lonely teen years in rural Pennsylvania. We meet Shaw Templeton (Nolan Lyons) during a pivotal period in his life. His mother has just died in her bed and he doesn’t know what to do. He’s estranged from his father, bullied at school, and ignored by his teachers. When he takes his frustration out on a stranger, he is arrested and eventually, they locate William Templeton (James Le Gros). Shaw can either go home with dear old dad or be turned over to the state. William convinces a skeptical cop that he’s clean and sober and has a place for Shaw at his ramshackle cabin. What follows is a slow-paced unraveling of a boy dealing with unimaginable loss, and a father forced to face a reality that he’s been putting off since his marriage ended. Buck Run isn’t a ton of fun, but it is a nice character showcase for the leads and a calling card for a talented cinematographer.

The title refers to the heavy hunting culture present in Shaw’s hometown. It’s so ingrained that kids are allowed to take a week off of school to hunt every winter. The film never seeks to explain the significance of the pastime, but does a fair job of incorporating it into the lives of the characters. When William’s not at the bar, or trying to make money at the swap meet, he’s in the woods with his longtime pal, John (Kevin J. O’Connor). William and John are close enough that John lent him $5000 to help “buy his wife out” of their marriage, but not so close that William actually used the money for that purpose. In fact, William never did get a divorce – a fact John learns after his wife’s death. John seems more annoyed than sympathetic, but he must not be too mad about it because he continues to socialize with William, only bringing up the money every other time.

When Shaw’s not napping under his hoodie at school, or hiding from bullies, he’s at the funeral home, trying to get some answers about what’s happening with his mom’s body. They’re not particularly sympathetic to him and even call the cops on him at one point. Basically, everywhere Shaw goes, he gets beaten, yelled at, or arrested, despite the fact that it’s a small town and everyone knows that his mom just died. Shaw’s lack of emotion exploding into fits of rage sometimes make it seem as though this is headed into David Fincher territory, but it never does.

Cinematographer Anna Franquesa Solano (The Farewell) holds your attention with her interesting composition. There’s not a lot going on in this town, so she has to find beauty where she can, and she succeeds more than once, whilst conveying the brown and beige world that Shaw reluctantly traverses.

First-time screenwriter David Hauslein leaves a lot to the imagination, particularly in regard to the family matriarch. We can work out that Shaw’s mother died of cancer after ailing at home for a long time. Flashback scenes show Shaw helping her to the bathroom and bringing her sips of water. But we don’t know what their relationship was like before she got sick. We don’t know why he loved her beyond the fact that she was his mother. We don’t know why William could never bring himself to finalize his divorce or why he visits her house without Shaw and sobs on the carpet. Her absence is palpable, but no so much her presence. Buck Run would have worked better as a short. But as it stands, the cinematography and performances carry the film and it’s worth a look.

Paid in Puke S1E8: Black Christmas (2019)

Sofia Takal’s re-imagining of the beloved 1974 horror film keeps our yuletides dark (but in a good way)! Black Christmas responds well to a modern social justice revamp, but you’ll never guess who DIDN’T like it (hint: #notallmen). Sure, there are some Hot Probs, but it’s nothing that hasn’t befallen a million dude-helmed horror movies before it. Black Christmas stars Imogen Poots and the absolutely dee-lightful Alesye Shannon.

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We also ask: What holiday object would be your weapon of choice when battling a group of enrobed misogynists?

This is our last episode of season (series) one! Please join us again mid-Feb 2020 for our next batch of episodes which will include such delights as Bound, Muriel’s Wedding, and the original Bechdel example, Alien!

In the meantime… lick it up, baby!