Welcome to Gino’s school of film art. Today I’m going to teach you how to make a modern art film. You know the kind. The type of film that no one really likes, but a lot of folks pretend to like because they think it makes them look cool. Just think how cool you’ll look when you can make one of those pretentious pieces of crap and watch phony critics go on and on about how brilliant it was. Meanwhile you laugh your behind off and cash in on the phony baloney. You might even grab yourself a film festival award, which along with $5 will get you a coffee at Starbucks. Follow these quick and easy steps and pretty soon you’ll be the talk of the town…
The first thing you need is a script. Can’t write worth a dang, you say. No problem. In fact a carefully crafted clever story is exactly the kind of thing you don’t need. Your script needs to have no conceivable story at all. You’ll need to spice it up with a lot of backward and forward in time. Sprinkle in plenty of characters. The more the better. You don’t want to take a chance that your audience will actually get to know any of them. To really make the thing incomprehensible, write in a disjointed narration. That’ll really confuse those idiots. Remember. If they leave your film without a single clue of what the thing was actually about, they won’t be able to tell if it was good or not. They’ll simply assume you know what the heck you’re doing, and they’re simply too stupid to have figured it out. No one likes to admit they didn’t get it, right?
Once you have a bad script, it’s time to find a cast. Find a few washed up actors that once were in pretty good films. You get them cheap because they’re desperate for work. Meanwhile your audience will figure it’s a top notch film because they’ve heard of the players before. A good example might be Dee Wallace Stone. Hey, everybody knows E.T.. She can’t act herself out of a pantomimed paper bag, but what do you care? Another good idea is to find actors who have spent time in either the can or rehab. You could get someone who’s done both like Tom Sizemore. He’s gotta come cheap. Those lawyers don’t work for Hershey Kisses, you know. And presto, now you’re hooked into Saving Private Ryan. Don’t forget to put in a few babes. They don’t need to act, just look good. This will be your diversion in case a few viewers start to realize their watching crap. Faces like Dominique Swain and Charity Shea would be excellent choices here. Lastly, get yourself a one-dimensional character actor who always plays the same part in every film he’s ever been in. That gets you some authenticity. I’d go with a guy like Danny Trejo. He’s a great hood. Now you’re ready to film this baby.
When you start filming, it’s best to go with an amateurish shooting style. Don’t worry, the critics won’t catch on. You’ll give some interviews and talk about how gritty and real you wanted things to appear. That will excuse a plethora of tragic camera issues like shakes, rattles, and rolls. Today’s filmmaker has a lot of fancy gadgets to work with when filming today. All kinds of effects like blur, strobe, color correction, and jump cuts are now at your fingertips. Remember that the filmmaker who uses the most in one film always looks good to the artsy crowd.
Finally, in the editing room, be careful not to have any scenes that might actually make sense. This is the most common trap the artsy filmmaker will fall into. Hey, even an idiot can fall into a good idea, right? Put in some loud urban music. It’ll numb the mind just enough to add to the viewers gullibility. Hey, loud is hot, and if your music’s hot the film must be hot, too. Follow these simple steps and….well… you’ve got Toxic.
Toxic is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It’s awfully hard to rate this video. There are so many fancy camera crap effects that I never really got a solid read on how it was intended to look. Colors are quite dark and often oversaturated. Bai Ling wears a very deep red dress that is a great example of the saturated texture of the print. Black levels are only fair, and there is a lot of unnecessary noise present on the print. I’m assuming we’re talking compression artifact here, but who knows. Maybe someone thought that looked cool.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers. I do have to admit there’s a lot of sound going on. Surrounds and sub are always popping, and the music often rushes through like an approaching freight train. Dialog is not always easy to catch, but I’m not sure it makes any difference here.
“One girl. One Curse. 17 Bodies”. That’s the tagline for the appropriately named Toxic. They forgot to add: One really bad film. I’m not afraid to admit I didn’t get any of this. From the first frame to the end credits, I have no idea what this film was about. The tagline gives me a clue. I guess I’ll just have to take their word for it. If you write to tell me you got it, you’re lying. Don’t watch this film. “It’s very very bad for you.”