Thursday, January 7, 2010

Movie Review - The China Cup

I went to see this kiwi film at Matakana Cinema a couple of days ago. Having not heard anything about it, I wasn't sure what to expect.

First of all, it was a seriously low budget production. That alone is not a problem, but it was very clear that it was made by people who were totally inexperienced in making film. The quality was poor, and the acting was stilted and distracting. But I was still willing to forgive that if it was a good story...

SPOILER ALERT: I'm going to outline the essentials of the plot here... Stop reading if you don't want to know what happens.

Charlie is an alcoholic, and is well known for drinking Jack Daniel's from a china cup (his late wife's favourite china cup, to be specific). His daughter, Sam, shows up out of nowhere, there's some friction between them. He thinks she ran off after Mum died. She thinks he was never around when Mum was dying. She tries to talk to him about his drinking, and tries several times to speak to him about it. He's not interested in hearing it.

Sam's 'serious' talks with Charlie usually wind up as "come to church with me, Dad, it would mean a lot to me". Charlie's not interested in having religion shoved down his throat, so understandably he kicks up a big fuss and (maybe a bit more unreasonably) he storms out. This happens several times. At one point he even goes to church, but leaves before the service is finished.

By this stage I was getting a bit ticked off, and starting to suspect that it was a religious production dressed up as a secular kiwi film. In the meantime there were a lot of humourous moments involving other characters, and they were pretty entertaining. But then...

Sam finally admits to her dad that she lost her husband and son the previous year, in a car crash. They were killed by a drunk driver. Jesus helped her get through it.

Wait, what? She lost the two most important people in her life, a year ago, and she's like totally pretty much over it? Because of Jesus? Reality-check FAIL.

OK, so she has a bit of a cry, but she's talking about it as though it's all in the past and she's moved on. Totally unbelievable. AND THEN, she asks Charlie to come to church and he storms off again.

The next day she's driving round (with some bird who went on like two dates with Charlie) looking for him, coz he's been gone all night, and they have a car crash.

Guess what happens. Seriously. Guess.

Charlie feels crap for essentially being the reason that Sam had a car crash, and when she gets better he apologizes. Sam asks him to come to church again, Charlie calmly outlines that he's just not interested in religion, and Sam respects his decision.

JUST kidding. That was just my wishful thinking.

When he finds out she's had an accident, he's devastated. Next, he's sitting on the porch, waiting for news, and a friend of Sam's from church comes over and sits down next to him and starts singing "Amazing Grace". Charlie bursts into tears. When Sam gets better, Charlie apologizes and says "I guess I'll be coming to that church of yours".

That's it. That's the film's resolution. Presumably Charlie is a changed man and no longer goes near the sauce.

It's just so superficial! There are no alcoholics in church, right? Alcoholics don't need proper treatment, they just need to find Jesus, and he'll sort it all out, right? Un-be-lievable. Utter nonsense.

If people want to make these superficial films they can go right ahead, but I'd prefer a bit of a warning before forking out $15 to see it in an actual movie theatre. I googled the film afterwards, and still found no indication that it was secretly a piece of churchy woo.

When I pay to see a movie, I'm not just paying for the entertainment. I'm paying for a solid quality piece of film by people who know what they're doing. I don't want to pay for a movie ticket to endure some poorly disguised preaching.

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