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November 20, 2015

VGFlicks: Hard Corner Le Film (Part 1)

Have you ever heard of Benjamin Daniel? …I don’t blame you if you haven’t, he isn’t the most known guy on the Internet. Maybe you know him more under his reviewer name Benzaie. Does that ring a bell? The Frenchman from Kickassia who travelled around with a talking teddy bear? The one who dressed up as some Conan type guy in Suburban Knights? …Maybe you know him for this kind of comedy (warning: not quite safe for work)…

…Don’t worry, I had pretty much the same reaction as Angry Joe.

Those were things my straight eyes were never meant to see.

Probably not the most recent
photo, but whatever.
Okay, let' go back to being serious. Benzaie is the creator of a video series called Hard Corner, where he reviews collector’s items and other video games-related merchandise and media. Is he still making videos, long after his departure from Channel Awesome? Heck yes he is. I think he releases a new Hard Corner every two or three weeks, And that's not counting his game streaming on Twitch, his quick movie reviews, and everything else. But you probably don’t watch any of this unless you understand the French language. Which I do; my first language is Canadian French after all. His new videos are almost exclusively in French, so that may be why you're not watching them. Also of note, Benzaie doesn’t shy away from sexual comedy, whether it's about a flamboyant gay alter-ego (as the earlier video showed), or fetishes, or unusual preferences. So if you’re uneasy with that, just skip this review.

His character is the Hard Corner storekeeper: A dirty long-haired guy who gathers collector items and gaming memorabilia and makes VHS videos about them. Of course, he’s a hardcore gamer who refuses casual gaming and prefers the challenges of old-school arcade and console gaming. This guy’s got issues. On the other hand, which reviewer doesn’t?

As this review's title card can attest, I actually met Benzaie when I went to the G-Anime convention, back in January. Awesome guy, super friendly, I can only say good things about him. Among other things, he was there to promote his little independent movie called Hard Corner Le Film, which is meant as an origin story of sorts for his metalhead hardcore gamer character. It’s not long, just 66 minutes long, perfect for a two-part review. And besides, this movie is too funny to remain unseen. It’s got Benzaie’s personal brand of humor and touches on a lot of interesting topics… which, of course, are all crushed by the massive amount of sex jokes. It's not for everyone, and it may be too vulgar for some, but it's still a thing to witness. Yeah, sure, I’m gonna be making fun of this film in this review, but Benzaie is an Internet comedian and reviewer himself, he’ll understand, right? Okay, let's start!

If you want to watch this film while reading the review (which will give a detailed description of the plot, as usual), it's available on YouTube. Just go here. And don't worry; for those who wish to learn how to say these characters' names, a pronunciation guide has been added to this part of the review.

The movie opens on crappy animation presenting to us an old 80s-ish cartoon titled Alpha Man. A He-Man pastiche with all the innuendo that the original series was known for, such as doubtful dialogue, phallic and spherical objects placed in suggestive ways, and- Dammit, a dick already? With this tower and those domes? We’re six seconds into the freaking movie! Six seconds, and there’s already a suggested dick onscreen!


Anyway, main character Alphonse Alpha reveals his super persona Alpha Man, summoned in a manner eerily similar to He-Man. We cut back to see a young Benzaie watching the show with undying passion, asking his mother if he can one day be like Alpha Man. …Which is not really a thing to aim for when you’re into video games and crappy 80s cartoons.

Young Benzaie, also portrayed by Benzaie, in case it wasn't obvious.

High school sucked? I already relate to that.
Time for an intro! A nice-looking 8-bit intro with neat 8-bit music to listen to. It’s basically a fast-forward from Benzaie’s childhood to his adult life, showing young Benzaie being sent to school, getting bullied by a nasty redheaded kid, and then growing up into the dirty long-haired hardcore gamer we know. He’s eventually found lying on the ground by a girl who takes pity on him and brings him home. “Can I change him?” Uh… don’t dream. This is Mireille (Me-r-ey), one of the important secondary characters in this film. Yep, Benzaie has a girlfriend in this. She drags him back home by pulling his hair, which is also known as the Cave Woman Way. And then Benzaie ends up behind a counter, to be tortured again by the schoolyard bully from earlier, also all grown up.

Benzaie: Played by Benjamin Daniel
Jean-Guillaume: Played by David Chabant
Mireille/Bibiche: Played by Laura M. Hirel
Alpha Man: Voiced by Bob Lennon (Actually played by Jonathan Daniel)
Just getting this info dump done.

Well, at least he's working in his domain of expertise...
Back to the real world, we find Benzaie asleep behind the counter of a game store. Oh cool, I tend to dream past events of my life in 8-bit graphics too. He gets awoken by his boss, Jean-Guillaume (purely French name if there ever was one - pronounced Juh-*solid G*ee-Yohm), who also happens to look an awful lot like the bully from Benzaie’s dream. Some coincidences, huh? As it turns out, Benzaie is actually working at a very clean, very white, very modern game store called Jean Gaming. Because it’s the bully’s store, and he hired Benzaie out of pity. And out of eagerness at bullying him well into adulthood. And stick disgusting large green boogers to Benzaie’s glasses. Blecchhh… Jean-Guillaume then tasks Benzaie with taking care of the last client for the night, then do the closing of the store and mail an important envelope. J-G then leaves.

The client walks up to the counter, and Benzaie does his welcoming intro, only stopping short when he remembers that this isn’t his store and he has to say Jean Gaming. Yeah, that’s a pretty ugly name. It fits the guy who found it. The client demands to get the latest Mario game… for the PlayStation… the one that plays with a camera…

I always seem to be picking images of the characters in the middle
of something normal, yet the freeze-frame gives them a stupid expression.
Gotta love when it happens.

Wait, are there really such stupid clients out there? I mean, this request is so stupid that it instantly causes Benzaie’s nose to bleed. Normal reaction. After getting the client to leave, Benzaie takes out his anger on a Goomba plushie (I take it that even in the real world, those are deceptively easy to defeat), and then prepares the store for closing before going home.

A geeky guy with a non-geeky girl.
This can only end well.
And he still lives with his girlfriend. For an adulescent with such a crappy life, he sure is lucky. Although, he’s starting to feel fed up with all the abuse he gets from Jean-Guy. And that's not counting the stupid clients! This vulgar quote from the movie sells it:

“One of the clients asked me if he needed Internet to play online! That’s like asking if you need an asshole to take a shit!”

I guess anyone who has worked any length of time at a store has seen at least one client like this.

I call this screenshot "Manchild Marveling at Mounds".
Benzaie seriously considers giving up on this job, but his girlfriend (who he amorously calls “Bibiche” (Be-beesh) all the time) quickly puts him down. Thankfully, she has two ways to convince him. And thus she makes sure that he sees her lady-charms… No, Benzaie, look away! It’s a booby trap! And somehow, every time she uses this technique to get Benzaie to listen to her, that particular part of her anatomy starts glowing white. Well, I knew the expression “headlights”, but I never thought it was literal. It has a hypnotizing effect on our metalhead, and she gets him to forget about resigning from his job at Jean Gaming.

After “Bibiche” leaves the room, Benzaie prepares to play Solstice, a classic NES game. He expertly puts the cartridge in the console, closes the lid, and turns the console on, all with his foot. Too bad his pediatric skills don’t have a use anywhere else.

That's a throbbing - er, I mean, troubling - image.
On the next morning, Benzaie tries to enjoy some of his girlfriend’s sweet assets, but she turns him down. Still, he has to get ready for work, so he gets up, letting us see all that wood that won’t be used to make a girl feel hotter. Sorry Benzaie, I guess it was too early to erect your monument for her.

Dammit, the innuendos just keep on piling up.

Well, he sure knows how to put on a Stepford smile.
Benzaie opens the store and clients start coming in, while Jean-Guy, still at his home, prepares himself for the day and takes his sweet time to disgust each and every one of the film’s viewers. Intentionally. Meanwhile, the clients at Jean Gaming ask for really dumb questions. Does the 3DS work with the television? Do you need Internet to play online? Do you have a dance game based on Star Wars? Of course, Benzaie manages to reply as politely as possible to them, while also mocking their stupidity. I mean, a Star Wars dance game? What are the odds of that ever happen-

Well, fuck.

Though, still lacking in the subtlety department, Benzaie has the careless habit of insulting these clients as soon as they leave the store… just as Jean-Guy steps in, to being unwelcomingly called a Magikarp. For his troubles, Benzaie gets another green booger stuck to his glasses.

I swear, this shit is so green it's like Jean-Guy's nose is radioactive.

Well, yuck.

I mean, I’d feel insulted too if I was called a Magikarp, but still, yuck.

Jean-Guy is not impressed by your tantrum.
Quick, Benzaie, punch him in the face!
Benzaie finally goes angry and tells Jean-Guy off, though his boss defends himself, saying that he just did a favor to his elementary school friend… Well, aside from the fact that Jean-Guy and Benzaie were never friends and the former is still a bully to the latter, like a Tannen to a McFly, yeah, this sounds like a good favor. …Not! Jean-Guy then tasks Benzaie with mailing that damn envelope from yesterday, but in a fit of rage, instead of doing so, Benzaie takes the envelope-

Okay, this is gonna get vulgar, the kind of vulgar humor that wouldn’t be out of place in a Seltzer and Friedberg film (sadly), the kind that makes you wonder whether you should laugh at the gross comedy or shed a tear in the name of all the revolutionary comedy producers that came before, the Brooks, Marx and Chaplin of this world. Just get ready. It won’t be long.

-and holds it near his ass, lets out a prolonged flatulence, then brings the envelope close to Jean-Guy’s face and pops it, sending a very disgusting scent into his soon-to-be-ex-boss’s nose.

Well, yuck, again.

And thus Benzaie gets fired. In the current economical context, this would be a bad thing, but nobody should stay at work with their schoolyard bully.

Next we see Benzaie at a local diner, talking to a good friend of his. He’s starting to think about opening his own gaming store, and is ready to do anything possible to achieve this dream; though he’s scared of his girlfriend’s reaction when she’ll learn about him getting fired from Jean Gaming. But who is he talking to? Well, to his imaginary friend, Alpha Man, of course!

...Maybe there's a convention nearby?
Okay, that’s a whole new level of pathetic. I mean, most kids would come up with an imaginary friend from scratch, he picked his from an old TV show. …Oh, sure, and the fact that he still has an imaginary friend at his age, too… Well, at least Alpha Man looks a lot like his cartoon self, and even has the same voice, odd echo included! This Alpha Man convinces Benzaie to go for his dream, and when the adulescent – let’s not hide it, this is an adulescent – leaves the diner, he sets out to tell his dear Bibiche about his project. “But wait!”, you might ask. “What the Hell is that word you keep using, ‘adulescent’?” It’s a French term, but it can be applied to English.


Etymology: Portmanteau term comprised of the words “adult” and “adolescent”.
Definition: An adult man or woman who has never matured or grown much out of adolescence. This term can be a quick way to reference the situation of many young adults, mainly geeks, who have never quite outgrown the cartoons, video games and other items of nostalgia from their youth. It can also be used in a derogatory fashion; therefore, please use this word carefully.

Relationship level: Downgrade.
Anyway, Benzaie goes home, and finally tells his girlfriend that he resigned from his job. She takes it about as well as you’d expect. Though, one can tell that Benzaie is trying to salvage his relationship, as he finally agrees to going with Bibiche to see some friends of hers. Though, when she suggests that he start doing (gasp!) SPORT, perhaps soccer (which is called football in Europe if you still don’t know), Benzaie makes sure to let her know that this is one sport he never plays. Too many bad memories. Benzaie leaves and slams the door behind.

Benzaie's father. It's incredible how little an age gap
there seems to be between them.
No, I'm not implying anything...
You know what that means: Flashback! A young Benzaie playing soccer with his dad. Young Benzaie sends the ball on the other side of the street. His father goes to get it, in a slow-motion that would make the Matrix films feel artistic. Then a car comes towards him… and we get three reaction shots, which are all of Benzaie’s dad. Thankfully, the car goes past the father, who picks up the ball and readies to toss it to his son. …Then he gets struck by thunder. So wait, is that a soccer accident, or a thunder accident? I’d play Thunderstruck, but it’s terribly inadequate for the situation.

The awkwardness levels are OFF THE CHARTS!
The loss left Benzaie into a naked crying mess in the bathtub, hopelessly asking his Alpha Man figurine what to do. Then, as miraculous as it sounds, Alpha Man materializes in front of Benzaie – who’s still naked in the bathtub, mind you – and starts giving him life advice to get through his grief.

...Huh, this explains so much. Wow, this origin story also encompasses the origin story of Benzaie’s imaginary friend. Now let's hope he doesn't just vanish into the memory dump like other imaginary friends do...

On the next morning, our couple has to get ready for their brunch with friends, but Benzaie is in the mood for something else. Thankfully, his girlfriend convinces him to get out of bed with her hypnotizing breasts. …Those are two words I never thought I'd put next to each other on this site.

"Fuck Your Relationship Up In 8 Easy Steps",
written by Benzaie No-Family-Name.
The date is… um… less than good. For starters, their hosts are the perfect example of the hipster type, and no, not the fun kind. The guy is the complete opposite of Benzaie; nerdy, not into gaming at all, and... uh... that's about it. Looking for an excuse to get out of there, Benzaie claims he has a rendez-vous to find a job and leaves in a rush.

The interview with the employment bureau guy is, also, less than good. Benzaie’s curriculum vitae is the worst I’ve ever heard. Though he does end up finding something to gather money… as a technician of evacuation spaces.

Well, yuck, yuckity-yuck.
...Seriously though, fuck you Jean-Guy.
Or, if you prefer, public bathroom janitor. You can’t get any less crappy of a job than that! And then Jean-Guy adds another layer to the shaming Benzaie is going through, with the ever-present booger that goes with any of the schoolyard bully’s on-screen appearances. Be thankful that I’m sparing you the description of what else Jean-Guy does in that scene. Trust me, I won’t feel any shreds of sympathy when this guy gets his comeuppance. And things aren’t much better at home, with Bibiche getting seriously tired of Benzaie promising things and not respecting them, not respecting her, their relationship crumbling and… and… you get the picture. However, Alpha Man may just have the solution…

Oh, this has been going for a while already… Let’s stop here for today, and continue this review Monday. Be there! If you can.