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Love Actually...Sucks!

Love Actually...Sucks!

Christepher Wee and Sherry Li take it to the next level in Love Actually...Sucks!

Chinese: 愛很爛
Year: 2012
Director: Scud
Producer: Scud
Writer: Scud
Cast: Winnie Leung Man-Yi, Jackie Chow, Ryo Van Kooten, Osman Hung Chi-Kit, Linda So, Haze Leung, Christepher Wee, Sherry Li, John Tai, Tang Wei, Lareine Xu, Celia Chang, Alice Chen, Owen Lee, Betty Chan, Calvin Wong, Byron Pang Kun-Kei, Thomas Price
The Skinny: A mixed-bag omnibus of unusual or extreme love stories, Love Actually...Sucks! gets points for its occasional out-there image or performance, though its not really a quality endeavor. Blurred frames, blocky mosiac and cuts-to-white are the highlights. The most watchable and entertaining Scud film so far.
 
  Review
by Kozo:

Self-financed Hong Kong filmmaker Scud isn’t known for his unassailable works of art, but he attempts personal projects that are so ambitious that they’re usually worth checking out. Also, even if his films aren’t quality, there’s always some other form of entertainment on offer, like rampant nudity or out-there emotional insanity. So it is with Love Actually…Sucks!, the latest Scud production and easily his least self-referential. Sure, there’s an Amphetamine music video on display in a karaoke scene, but nobody in the film talks about Scud or his movies verbally. Scud, you get a point right there.

Love Actually…Sucks! features a number of crisscrossing stories illustrating how love kind of sucks, though each also celebrates unusual, unconventional love. Opening with a ripped-from-the-Internet vignette about a bride (Winnie Leung) who outs her groom’s (Jackie Chow) infidelity at their wedding banquet, the film proceeds to trot out each of its love-sucking stories in almost aimless fashion. A nearly-mute free-climber (Osman Hung) can’t handle rejection from his girlfriend (Linda So), who dumps him for a cop (Haze Leung) who's really good at darts. Meanwhile, the cop works with a boyish lesbian (Lareine Xu), who shields her girlish lover (Celia Chang) from numerous fraud charges arising from her illegal use of cosplay.

Elsewhere, an older fitness instructor (John Tai) becomes enamored with one of the young bucks (Tang Wei) he sees naked in the gym shower. A dance instructor (Owen Lee) is caught between his dog-obsessed girlfriend (Betty Chan) and an older client (Alice Chen) that insists on monopolizing his time. And finally, a pair of siblings (Christepher Wee and Sherry Li) takes their mutual affection to the next level, and start to engage in graphic onscreen sexual activity. If that last situation sounds like it’s the capper on this love omnibus, well, you’d be wrong because one of the other situations involves the sight of a guy hanging out naked in the mountains with a severed human head. Yeah, you read that right.

One thing at a time: yes, he’s got a human head, but he’s also naked. True to Scud’s filmography, Love Actually…Sucks! is filled with full-frontal nudity, mostly while characters are showering. The shower activity is par for the course for Scud, who may believe that love begins, continues and even ends in the shower. When it’s not shower nudity its raw sexual nudity, with some explicit sex but even more fellatio, most of which is covered by obvious blocky mosaic. Hong Kong censors didn’t object to only erect penises or oral sex, they also required that all sexual content between supposed siblings be removed, so Scud uses full-frame blur or even white screens to shield sensitive audience eyes during the incestuous trysts. The choice is a form of protest (Scud didn’t trim the film's length, he merely obscured the visuals), but in practice it almost seems as if Scud is slyly emulating a Japanese pink film.

The sudden mosaics add a level of humor to the proceedings, but so does the sight of a naked guy wandering the wilderness with someone’s head in his motorcycle helmet bag. There’s an obvious idea here about love taken to its twisted extreme, and Scud gets some credit for not ratcheting up the pretension with his visuals or pacing. However, the dialogue is given to pretentiousness, and the actors sometimes make things worse with lousy line readings. The mix still trends towards humor, however. Scud’s work is basically serious, but he sometimes punctures his own work with humorous, knowing asides. Add to that the film’s final over-the-top image and you have faux-art that’s so loony that it becomes entertaining.

Overall, Love Actually…Sucks! comes out on the high end of the Scud scale, as it isn’t distractingly meta or self-indulgent. Though some of the stories really go nowhere, the situations themselves are decently observed, and do offer some occasional food for thought. Also, the pure out-there craziness of some sequences beggars belief, with the severed head in the mountains storyline turning into an inspired cross between existential romance and Japanese kaidan. It’s hard to rate Love Actually…Sucks! as quality, but it’s got entertainment value and probably camp classic potential. That a self-financed independent filmmaker strives to realize these particular visions should be commended if not really applauded. Really, if Scud ever stops making films, I might be sad. (Kozo 2012)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Language Track
Dolby Digital EX
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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Image credit: Artwalker Ltd.
   
   
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