Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) (part 6 of 7)

Repo’s off getting ready, Rotti has somehow slipped a now-conscious Shilo one of her mother’s old dresses and sent a car for her, Mag walks through the graveyard musing about how she’s still gonna perform despite the looming reposession, and Amber crawls the streets looking for a hit. Graverobber, appropriately, relaxes in a Dumpster, causing me to look around hopefully for Mr. Boring. Meanwhile, Rotti, Luigi, and Pavi stand around and kill time, waiting for the opera to start.

Caption contributed by Mark

”You out there. Do you have any idea what’s going on?”

Repo takes a shortcut through Shilo’s secret tunnel, inexplicably killing a few cops along the way, while Mag leaves a rose at the door of the crypt and Graverobber reads us a newspaper (with misspelled headlines no less), actually daring to imitate the cliffhangers from Batman, despite the fact that the end of his song and the next part of the story are mere seconds apart.

Dear Darren S. and Terrence Z., It only takes one hand to pat yourself on the back, so between the two of you should’ve still had enough hands to write a decent script. Sincerely, M. Novelli

Caption contributed by Mark

”Hm, this is interesting. It says in here that Rotti is afraid of the Philistines.”

If you were curious, the song reuses the melody from earlier, when Shilo was out catching bugs. Why just repeat the words and backstory, when recycling music is just as fun?

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And now, the climax, the pinnacle of Repo! The Genetic Opera: the opera itself. Backstage, Amber literally puts her face on, while out in the stalls a huge crowd of ordinary folks waits excitedly. The show begins. We see a masked rock band on stage (if only Joan Jett had had the same sense of self-preservation), while a flamboyant conductor with an attendant hoochie train of geneterns makes his way down the aisle.

Caption contributed by Mark

Did you hear GeneCo’s having a plastic surgery sale? Everything’s half off! Ha ha, thank you, thank you, I’m here all week, and whatever you do don’t try the veal.

Meanwhile, a very cool old lady is cutting records in a balcony. No kidding, the credits actually list her as ”DJ Granny”. It’s the most natural performance in the film.

Also, this song is what’s playing during the DVD menu, and is responsible for more profanity-laden tirades around the Novelli household than Sinead O’Connor.

Caption contributed by Mark

Okay, show of hands. How many people want the plot to forget everyone else and follow her for the rest of the movie?

The show devolves into a tent revival pretty quickly, with everyone “testifying” about how needless cosmetic organ replacement has made everyone’s lives better. Actual excerpts:

Jonathan Frakes: GeneCo helped me upgrade my second-class heredity!
Maestro: Testify!
Jessica Simpson: My liver was wrecked, but now I can drink whatever I want!
Maestro: Testify!
Novicorp Chairman: Before GeneCo, my anatomy was completely repressed!

Um, so… what? You’re better at being fat, nowadays? I’d think that sort of thing would come naturally.

Caption contributed by Mark

”GeneCo even removed Thunderbirds from my CV!”

The geneterns take the stage and begin dry humping each other, which somehow fails even to be sexy on a superficial level, which might have something to do with the fact that these girls are nowhere near as hot as they seem to think they are. Even less sexy is a single mother in the audience, who, after explaining how her kidney transplant led to a boob job, proceeds to strip down and display her completely ordinary-looking nakedness for all to see, while singing about how she looks great on television. By this point, even John Waters would be saying, “Dude, hire some professionals, for godsakes.”

Rotti enters, while a fat black woman in a bustier pole dances behind him. Shilo arrives on the red carpet outside the revival—er, opera—wearing a hideous black dress with a gigantic pile of layered veils that looks exactly like something you wear to a funeral, and was, earlier in the film. While Rotti and his freakazoid sons cavort onstage, making humiliating raise-the-roof motions while the demented maestro squeals “Testify!!” for the umpteenth time, Shilo is taken up in an elevator by Archduke Franz Ferdinand to a dark room where a film starts playing.

It seems Rotti has prepared a grindhouse-style preview to explain how he will only cure her if she helps him capture the Repo Man, who—thanks to a little revisionist history—is now being positioned as merely a disgruntled former employee, and not an iconic harbinger of death that Shilo already knew about. One would think that if Rotti told her something she knew wasn’t true, she might be a little suspicious, but thankfully Darren Smith has a fatal allergy to beta readers, so nothing will ever come of that.

Caption contributed by Mark

Even Alexa Vega can’t bear to look at the movie anymore.

Grindhouse Rotti sings, “You saw him… in the graaaaveyard,” while the same words play as a caption across supergrainy footage from earlier in the movie. Wow, so this whole time, Uhura was singing about Repo. I figured it was the bugs.

Down in the revival, Amber does a brief but memorable song involving a patently synthetic voice and her fucking face falling off of her skull! Which is met with boos and lots of thumbs-down signs, as if this were a Roman amphitheater. A recorded message chants “You didn’t see what you just saw.”

I’m trying to think of a joke about Vladimir Putin, but I can’t shoehorn a critique of censorship into this mess any better than these idiots can. Instead I’ll just say that if this had happened in another Paris Hilton movie, the face would have immediately been eaten by a small horny dog. So, we should be… grateful?

Caption contributed by Mark

There’s Butterface, and then there’s Chunkysalsaface.

Amber quietly picks up her face and leaves, while Mag is lowered from the proscenium into a snowy mountain set where, for the rest of the scene, she’ll perform suspended from ropes like the Queen of the Night. To everyone’s credit, her song is actually something one might hear in, you know, an opera, her being dressed like a feathery hooker notwithstanding.

And just as soon as we’ve started thinking they might stop trying to prove they went to film school and just do a normal sequence for once, they, well, do. Then they punish us by having Mag gouge out her own eyes with her insanely long, Curse of the Golden Flower style nails. So that means—what, she slept with her mom? I’m lost again.

Caption contributed by Mark

Here’s looking at you, kid. (Sorry, sorry.)

So, she’s foiled Rotti’s plan to repossess her eyes by, um, ripping them out herself. I hope she realizes that definitely voids the warranty. I guess she recknons that her little self-repo will prevent the maniac serial killer Repo Dude from snuffing her out, but clearly Mag hasn’t figured out she has the Tragic Ancillary Victim role in this whole travesty.

Sure enough, Rotti gives her the Saruman treatment by using his cane, which evidently doubles as a cutting tool, to slash the ropes offstage that are suspending her over the set, dropping her onto a spiked fence directly underneath. The audience, and evidently the entirety of Gothamtropolis watching on early-Gilliam-era TVs, gasp in dismay, but Rotti jumps out in front of the curtains (which close so fast they practically slam shut) and plays off Mag’s gruesome death like it’s part of the show. He even declares that, for an encore, he’s going to cure Shilo’s illness. Wow, medical drama! This is the best opera since La Traviata!

Multi-Part Article: Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

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  • So yesterday it was hot, and I was having a beer or two.  This movie had been festering in my queue for a while out of morbid curiosity.  So my brother and I clicked it on since we were both slightly buzzed and felt like something entertaining (and with music).  The greatest crime of this movie, to me, was not all the problems you listed here, and they were huge problems, the greatest crime is the lack of memorable songs.  They had Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, she’s a fantastic singer, and yet not one memorable song emerges except, possibly, the pirates singing the advertisements for GeneCo.  I think the advertising blurb was the only thing I wanted to sing along to. 

    I felt the need to reread this to decompress what I had just experienced.  Fantastic recap, thanks!

    • MichaelANovelli

      We aim to please!

  • Cecil_Trachenburg

    Pish posh, this movie was glorious. 🙂

    • MichaelANovelli

      I disagree…

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        I know, just messing around. Good stuff, I didn’t know Repo was on here.
        (I really need to go back into the archives more) Even though I
        disagree with almost all of it, I still enjoyed your take. Oh well, at
        least we can agree on Juno being something that should be fired into the
        sun.

        •  I actually caught Juno at one of those test screenings and enjoyed it for what it was.  The life its own it took on afterwards was unwarranted.

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            I hated Juno. Not so much because of what it became but it just enraged me. I like Ellen Page (she was great in Hard Candy) but her character was insufferable. I think what got me the most was the horrific dialog. For someone (Cody) who was trying to be hip and cool she could have at least gotten her references right.

            The whole thing just felt like it was trying to hard. Although I liked JK Simmons character. He was the only one that didn’t feel fake.

          • To bring it full circle, I kind of felt this movie was trying too hard and was one of the things that put me off :).

            Juno, to me, was inoffensive and flowed amusingly.  And I thoroughly agree RE: Ellen Page and JK Simmons character.  She has done some good things, and that character was enjoyable.  I remember fondness for him being a strong consensus among the screening. 

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            Fair enough. 🙂

    • Now Cecil… Glorious in a good way, or glorious in a so bad it’s good way?  Cause I could see the case made for one, but not the other ;). 

      Additional question – did you enjoy the music in this musical?  It honestly lost me, and I enjoy most musicals that come across my path.  I even have a fondness for Bollywood and Lollywood flicks based on their musicality. 

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        I genuinely loved the film. Not in a bad way either. It was one of my favorite films of that year. I think it reminded me a bit of the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

        I liked the music very much and even bought the soundtrack. If I had to pick one weak thing in the movie it would be Paris Hilton. I understand they needed a spoiled heiress type but they could have hired just about anyone else. She didn’t ruin the movie (she was barely in it) but I just can’t stand her and would have preferred someone else get the part.

        I can understand the film not being for everyone though, it is for more of a cult or niche audience.

        I also like Bollywood films, they are absolutely lavish and insane. Their use of colors are amazing. While some of them the film is somewhat lacking, the musical numbers and production are stellar.

        • That helps.  I mean I love a niche movie as much as the next guy, I can just honestly say this wasn’t my niche and I honestly thought it would be, otherwise I wouldn’t have kept it in my queue for such a day as Sunday.

          I don’t, however, see the similarity to ‘Once more with feeling’.  Mostly based on the songs, which in that were really imitable.  Just none of this music in Repo really clicked with me with a few brief exceptions. 

          • Sofie Liv

            Just to be really annoying, I stand middle-ground on this one actually.

            There’s stuff I like in it, the operatic structure, the design, the no holding back, the mood. I like all of that a lot.
            And there’s stuff I don’t like, specific plot points, lack of focus and… the music. I mean, the music isn’t bad but, I literately don’t remember a single tune out of that movie, I honestly forgot all tunes the moment they were over, and for a musical, that aint really that good.
            I also think RENT is overrated, but at least I remembered a couple of tunes ones the movie was over.

            This is a movie where a whole bunch of my friends turned to me and almost yelled. “OMG how can you not have seen this? and you of all people, the musical girl, this movie is sooooo amazing!”

            So I watched it, and… while I wont trash it right away neither can I say it’s that good.

            I admire the attempt here, and I love how they really went all the way with it with every frame of the movie, nothing was half assed. So yeah, I stand middle ground.

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            Perhaps it was oversold? I know some movies were ruined for me because people told me how awesome it was and built up unreal expectations.

            Oh, and I liked RENT. I wasn’t crazy about it but I enjoyed it. I only saw the movie adaptation, never the show. My wife saw the show and said it was amazing and blew the movie away. Even though the movie had the same actors the show had a certain magic that didn’t make it to the film.

          • Sofie Liv

            Maybe.
            Also when it comes to musical movies specifically, my rule-set kind of changes by default. It’s not because I mean for it to do it, it’s just that I really really love good musicals. And want the world to see what they can do, but that’s not what is usually given to me with modern musical movies. What I get is actors whom are not singers, and not dancers, having a six month dance and singing course doing some-thing that impresses people whom doesn’t know better. (Rent is obviously not like that, but.. I talk mainstream here.)

            Your wife is corrected, and I didn’t say it was a bad movie, just overrated because all the people I talk to whom seen it always yells. “Omg! greatest movie ever! greatest musical movie EVARR!”
            and… no.. no it’s not.

            There actually is a recording of the stage production you can buy, and I highly recommended that, it blows the movie out of the waters, as your wife so rightly put it.

            Honestly, it’s just very very rare that the transition from Stage musicals doesn’t take away from the original productions and leaves it less vibrant.

            From the top of my head, only musical movies I can think off that genuinely adds to the stage production instead of taking away from it.
            Cabaret, Jesus christ superstar, Reefer Madness, Rocky Horror picture show… and that’s sort of it.

            my favourite musical movie is “All that Jazz.” and that’s an original story that’s clearly a movie not just a transitioned stage show 🙂

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            It just worked for me. I think part of the reason why it reminded me of “Once more with feeling” was because Anthony Stewart Head was in both. It was enough of a connection that it makes me think of Buffy whenever I watch it. (and reminds me of how Giles can belt out a tune)

          •  Interesting Fact, Murray Head, Anthony’s Brother was responsible for the song “One Night in Bangkok” from the Musical Chess among many others.  Both brothers are incredibly musical, which is definitely one of the reasons I was interested in this movie. 

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            Holy crap, I never knew that! Murray Head, wow I didn’t put the two together.

            I did know that the pop cover tune was by Robey of Friday the 13th the series fame.

        • Red Wolf

          The only song I didn’t like was Mark It Up. It was bad on so many levels.

  • Red Wolf

    Here’s a bag of dicks. Suck them at your leisure. And it’s “rock and roll all night and party everyday”, numbnuts.

    • MichaelANovelli

      You know bisexual men don’t consider “suck my dick” to be an insult, right? I’d suggest choosing some of my other personality flaws as the basis of insults. They’re much riper targets. ^_^

      • Red Wolf

        A bisexual male? Now that is a rarity. You still got the song lyrics wrong. I don’t even like the band and I know that.

  • frankie09

    I find this musical enjoyable and the segment of Zydrate Anatomy was a masterpiece that shows
    the examples that people are so willing to get hooked on to surgery in order for eternal beauty
    and that’s half of Hollywood after seeing this people will think twice before going under the knife
    and it is true to say the side effects that follow and the negative reviews of this masterpiece
    is both vulgar and vile but I enjoyed it and will see it again on BLU RAY.
    frankie smales
    smales television uk.