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November 23, 2015

VGFlicks: Hard Corner Le Film (Part 2)

Continuing where we left off, Benzaie has hit an all-time low, but his imaginary friend Alpha Man may just have the idea to get him out of trouble: Presenting the project to a bank and get the funds to open his store. Of course! This sounds so simple! But how? Well, Alpha Man has the answer to this as well: Why not a video to explain the project in thorough detail, to get investors? It would be fine, but Benzaie doesn’t have a camera. Oh, but wait: Alpha Man has an answer to this as well! When Benzaie’s father died, didn’t he leave anything for his son? Yep, an old camcorder! You know, the ones that worked with tiny tape cassettes before everything functioned with SD cards? Um... Alpha Man, are you sure you're an imaginary friend? Benzaie recovers the briefcase in which all this stuff is kept.

How convenient. A tape cassette recorder for a man who
has stunted his growth in the nineties.
...Damn I'm mean.

A tad too curious, Benzaie decides to view the contents of the tape currently in the camcorder… put simply, it’s his parents in the middle of something he never should have seen. Much vomiting ensues… Hey, I did say this movie delved into a lot of gross-out vulgar humor. I warned you in Part 1. After Benzaie is, ahem, done “viewing” the tape, he starts seriously working on his project video.

He who has never done anything like this may throw the first stone-

…well, as seriously as someone like him can be while doing this sort of thing. But the passion is there! That’s all that matters, right? …right?

Kill them. They have very little HP...
and they reward with a ton of EXP.
And thus we get a preview of what Benzaie hopes to achieve: A semi-apocalyptic world where casual gaming has brought the end of hardcore gaming as we know it. Okay, I just said that line and it already feels ridiculous. So much so that I feel like reviewing casual games next month just to prove it wrong. The video shows him as a badass hero about to save Bibiche from a trio of giant evil... uh… Jean-Guy? Although, "evil Jean-Guy" is a pleonasm. On the other hand, it’s pretty impressive that he got Jean-Guy to star in this- Wait a moment, this doesn’t make sense. When the three giant Jean-Guy turn to Hero-Benzaie, our long-haired protagonists throws NES cartridges in the giants’ mouths. After which he jumps behind them and shoves NES controller plugs up their asses. …After which he starts playing, one controller in each hand, another in his mouth… and somehow this causes the giants to burst into pixels.

I… I… I... I have no idea what I just saw. Words fail me. Every time I try to read the last paragraph to find a shred of sense and sanity in it, I find myself unable to. I’ll make a guess and say that this was intentionally surreal and cheesy. Yeah, that’s probably it. That will be my mantra to escape insanity. Just... just see it for yourself. 

Hey, the hero gets the girl. I mean, this is no Furiosa,
but I can settle for a Peach or a Daisy.

After which, Hero-Benzaie goes to help the girl, and then drives off into the sunset, possibly to kill more trolls who prefer casual gaming to hardcore gaming… or something. This either makes me glad not to do drugs, or wishing I were doing drugs. I am a very confused viewer right now.

The bad green-screening around his right arm represents well his
chances at getting funds from investors: Fading... fading...
Though, this turns out to be Benzaie’s dream video – in that it’s all in his dreams – and the actual video he came up with is… less than good. Seriously, is "being less than good" a theme in this movie? A commentary on the quality of the movie itself? Let’s count the problems in Benzaie’s real project video: Bad editing, bad green-screening, using figurines for nothing else than quick jokes, shaking the camera when he’s holding it, shaking the items he’s trying to show to the viewers, burping on-screen, low quality, bad focus, using his usual voice instead of a serious one, tossing a box at a girl for no reason, stopping halfway to read his script, trying to burn something on-screen, picking his nose on-screen, insulting the investors he’s trying to reach… and he mistakes Waluigi for Luigi! Gasp, the horror! How the Hell can he claim to be serious if he can’t make the difference between a tall, slender guy wearing purple, and a small, sorta-slender guy wearing green????

He should take a moment to think... but Benzaie doesn't
take moments, and he doesn't always think, either.
Needless to say, the banker is not impressed. Said man, who shares an uncanny resemblance with the employment guy from earlier, starts explaining a bunch of economical elements that make a load of sense if you understand. But if you’re like Benzaie, you don’t, so this is like talking gibberish to a kid, or speaking Klingon at a renaissance fair. Still, after the banker gets some of it cleared up – in a slightly more menacing way – Benzaie is left with a paper to sign. Will he? Won’t he? Should he? If he doesn’t, he’ll go back to cleaning crap. If he does, he puts all of his possessions on the line. Can he? Oh my, you could cut through this tension with a butter knif- What’s that ringtone? Who dares call while these guys over here are filming a movie?

Oh, it’s in-universe? The banker is getting a call from his brother? There’s another video game store already? The banker swoops the contract away from Benzaie, explaining that due to this being a small town, there can be only one specialty gaming store… and they already have one: Jean Gaming. Okay, allow me to call bullcrap on Benzaie’s city not being populated enough for him to open a second gaming store. On the other hand, that’s all contrived for the sake of an epic final confrontation, so I guess I’ll let that slide. Sigh, the things I’m willing to let slide for the sake of a finale…

The hardest part for a comedian is to make the viewer sad.
I can say he succeeded... at least for a minute.
Unable to open his store, Benzaie spends a while moping. I’ve got to admit, some of the shots in that scene are pretty great; we get to see more of the surrounding décor of this so-called “small city”. Sadly, the city shots are quickly replaced by Benzaie playing on a children’s playground, probably to hammer it in for the umpteenth time that our protagonist isn’t the most mature man around. You can enjoy its relative artistic value, or you can see it as what it is really - padding - and mock Benzaie for wasting the audience's time with pointlessness.

As he heads back home, Benzaie has a surprise encounter with Bibiche, his dear girlfriend. Of course, she’s pissed that he still isn’t at work, so she attempts to use her lady-charms another time to get him to join the ranks and do as she pleases. But as she’s in the middle of uncovering her twins, Benzaie looks away and time stops. He desperately asks Alpha Man for help, and the cartoon hero suggests that he looks at her… in the eyes! Those two things that are up there. A little higher. You know, the thing you’re looking at on a girl if you’re not a big pervert or if you have some sense of self-control. And right now, the expression on Bibiche’s face is… um… how can I describe it best…

Now that you mention it, there IS a resemblance.
Yeah, that. Now that he is no longer affected by her charms, Benzaie thanks Alpha Man. But wait, Alpha Man transforms into Benzaie’s father, explaining that he was always there to help his son become a better man, and gives a final farewell before vanishing? I guess this explains a few things… though the bathtub scene has just become a thousand percent creepier. Finally, time returns to normal, and instead of being mesmerized, Benzaie delivers a verbal beatdown to his now-ex, and he says goodbye to Mireille… a name he hates, which is why he kept calling her Bibiche. Our hero, everyone!

With a renewed self-confidence, Benzaie is ready to challenge the world! And thus we get a long sequence of him dancing in all kinds of places. I could have lived without your twerking, dude. This obvious padding lasts for about 90 seconds. A minute and a half of him dancing, in a movie that is barely 66 minutes in length. That’s 2.32% of the film!

This impromptu bout of dancing ends as soon as Benzaie sees the Jean Gaming store. I guess the bitter souvenir of Emperor Palpatine dancing to RnB totally threw off his groove. And Jean-Guy is still in there at this hour. Time for a showdown! To quote Benzaie from earlier, “let’s rock and roll”!

Bullcrap! They're not fighters, and they're not in the street!

After telling each other a bunch of insults, Benzaie and J-G are suddenly dressed as Street Fighter characters, and the fight is on. Benzaie receives a few kicks to the face, then attempts a Hadouken that goes so slowly Jean-Guy can just step back to avoid it.

Wow. So much epic. Compared to this, 300 is a documentary
on knitting aficionados, and The Hunger Games are a
hot-dog eating competition.
But we’re back to reality, and the two are now slapping each other in one of the sassiest man-fights in the history of cinema. Jean-Guy, being a dirty bully, uses the ancient art of nipple-twisting on his opponent. The two immature men fall to the ground, Jean-Guy on top of Benzaie, and the bully prepares a final green, mean booger… but Benzaie blows it off his finger.

Their battle causes an Xbox 360 to fall off its table, and soon sparks from the plug start a fire in the store. Finally, Jean-Guy admits his deep hatred for Benzaie. And why? One week he didn’t get his candy because his mom gave that money to Benzaie. And why? Because that was the week Benzaie’s father died.  And somehow Jean-Guy pigging out on candy the next week led to him becoming fat? Ah, yes, the old “never my fault” rhetoric of bullies everywhere, in schoolyards and on the Internet! It’s so good to know that certain things never change.

Some people want to watch the world burn. This guy here just turns
away from the fire and spouts stupid hatred.

Meanwhile, the fire has grown, and Benzaie finally gets himself and Jean-Guy (or Jean-Guillaume, whatever) out of the store. They look at the result of their little fight, but Jean-Guy feels fine in knowing that the store insurance is with him, in that envelope… that Benzaie was supposed to mail… which he didn’t do… Now broke, Jean-Guy falls to the ground, and for a moment, our protagonist starts feeling guilt over what just happened. Despite being such a jackass, Jean-Guillaume was still a human, and it would be very selfish of Benzaie to use that opportunity for his own ends. But then again…

“Welcome to THE Hard Corner!”

Benzaie got his store, and this was the start of a legend. The ending credits roll some of the best moments of the (French) web series, including a cameo by famous French gaming YouTuber Joueur du grenier. I guess this movie does explain everything there was to know about Hard Corner’s Benzaie. How he came to own a store, why he still uses VHS tapes, and plenty of other stuff.

Mais bon sang que c’est con! C’est jusse pas croyable, c’est un film avec un humour tellement cave par bouttes qu’on peut jusse l’apprécier. Blagues de cul, blagues sur les gamers… C’est stupide, c’est épais, mais maudit qu’c’est drôle! C’est drôle en tabarnak!

Oops, wait. *turns switch from “French Canadian” to “English”* Not sure what happened there. Anyway, it’s time for my final thoughts: It’s not a very good movie. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy it! The main problem is that you need to know a bit about Benzaie’s series Hard Corner – I mean, this IS the origin story of the show's main character! And you also need to be a gamer, to speak French – sorry, no subtitles! – and to know a number of geek references. Oh, and of course, you must not be embarrassed by sex jokes, because those are legion. But if you’re used to the slightly trash humor from a lot of review shows, you should be just fine watching this film.

Though, as trash, ridiculous and silly as this movie may be, it’s a great ride. I should mention that Benjamin Daniel made this film so as to please the fans who bought T-shirts from his site. He pretty much sums it up in the Making Of featurette on the DVD; he got the budget to make this film, he now had to make it. But you can tell that the crew enjoyed every moment of it.

As for me, though, I have to admit that the vulgar comedy (boogers, farts, vomit, piss and crap) tends to get old by the end. There are also many moments of bovious padding. In the end, this feels a bit like a long episode of Hard Corner, which can be a good thing if you're fine with the humor, but it can also be a bad thing if you feel like such humor doesn't translate too well to a feature-length film.

The soundtrack and the image quality are great. The animated bits from the Alpha Man cartoon and the 8-bit intro are also quite enjoyable. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went in the title sequence alone. The entire film breathes this passion, even in the sillier parts.

The main theme is epic.

You know what? Don’t buy the DVD… but the film is freely available on YouTube, so watch it there. And if you don’t understand the French language, just use my review to know what’s going on. And feel free to donate to Benzaie. Who knows? Maybe at one point he’ll post a version of the film with English subtitles on YouTube. That would be pretty great. Hell, this seems to be a popular movie, as it has been viewed over a million times on YouTube! Either way, don’t go watching this film expecting high art. If you like it, good! And if you don’t, well, as I’ve proven, there’s plenty to make fun of, so keep it around as snark fodder.

I guess that covers all I had to say about this film. Give it a try. Worst case scenario, you’ll waste an hour of your life. Best case scenario, you discover a movie you may have never heard of before!

Now let’s hope I didn’t anger Benzaie with this review.

Alright then, next Friday: A WiiWare game! Don’t miss! (Or do. WiiWare games aren’t really all that great.)