Filming On A Budget

Ladies and Gentle Man; are you comfortable?

Fine, then we’ll begin. I need not remind you that our company is exclusively dedicated to putting Malta on the World Cinematic Map, with bells on.

The reason that you have been invited to this exclusive premier will soon become apparent… maybe not halfway through the film, perhaps not even at the end of it. But, as soon as you go home and watch a couple of inane news bulletins on local television stations, the pieces of the puzzle will begin to fall into place. Even then, it may take a while before you, well, get the picture.

The film you are about to watch is a Comedy of Numbers, with some Night Terrors thrown in for good measure. Think Seven meets Around The World In Eighty Days.

It seems that the writers and producers found a copy of Television Tropes and Idioms somewhere, and worked slavishly through it, ticking off the points one by one. This despite the fact that it was missing some pages. With a solution like this, who needs a script?

Incidentally, the names of five writers, five producers, and six editors appear in the credits listings, because apparently there were several “artistic differences” throughout the shooting of what I would say is a love of labour rather than a labour of love.

Doppelgangers of celebrities – unless my eyes deceived me and it was the personalities themselves, eager to inject new life into heir fading careers – appear unexplainably in cameo roles. Same old faces, more new hair and teeth, as they say. Some of them, as they do in real life, find themselves in ludicrous situations; but you have to be a follower of the gossip columns to grasp the connections.

If you’re quick, you can even spot split-second, quasi-subliminal shots of our more perfect-toothed parliamentarians.

I was nearly forgetting – the film is called The Good, the Bed, and The Ugly. The “Good” looks suspiciously like Agent 99 from Get Smart. Her mission, should she choose to accept it, is to thwart the wish of a Seven of Nine lookalike to become human. This, when you think of it, is rather far-fetched, because Seven of Nine was practically human the last time we saw her.

Incongruously, 99, without Smart, is lost. She wears a series of lurid crimplene dresses that come halfway up her thighs. It is obvious that, for modesty’s sake, the hems have been weighted down with the lead taping used to stop net curtains from fluttering about in the breeze.

The “Bed” is a humungous, curtained, four-poster affair. Like its peer in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, it can fly, and also hover over the sea while its occupants catch lampuki and cook them over the portable grill attached to the bedpost. The obscure references to Discworld and Stargate are too many too list here, but just when one is about to launch a tirade against plagiarism, the worm, so to speak, turns.

The “Ugly” is a dog that makes noises akin to those of Mr Bean. He looks like Lady Gaga on a bad hair day, which is not altogether surprising, seeing that he is an Afghan Hound.

There are hordes of children running about, with their faces painted in what are supposed to be national flags of different countries. However, the olive branches of Cyprus, the cedar of Lebanon, and the Maltese Cross are absent.

There is a lot of shooting, mostly at moose heads in pubs, and at stuffed birds inside glass cabinets. Seven of Nine, being still partly bionic, is a crack shot. But she has the disconcerting habit of touching the appurtenances on her face every so often, as if to check whether they are still there.

The running gag is that after each volley, someone comes in with a bucket of blood and gore and chucks it at the target, while shouting “Bingo!”.

This film is advertised as having been “Shot on Location”; but this could be either Bugibba or Bombay, since what we see are mostly interiors furnished with mismatched pieces, some of which begin looking gloomily familiar, albeit seen in different places.

The Good, The Bed, and the Ugly rides roughshod over all barriers of good taste. For all that, this is the next cult movie; The Rocky Horror Picture Show has just been demoted.

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