A Few Words on Government Funding brought to you by Black & Decker

I’ve never given much credence to the idea of trepanning, but I watched a horrible movie last night that gave me an opportunity to think this thing through.

For the uninitiated, trepanation is an ancient and, by all accounts, barbaric “medical” procedure that consists of drilling a hole in the skull to allow the brain’s dura mater an opportunity to breathe. Once upon a time, this was thought an even-handed approach to disease treatment, one in which evil spirits were allowed a convenient escape hatch and thus leaving the afflicted free of discomfort, to say nothing of a skull fragment.

No surprise that the practice of boring a blowhole into a non-aquatic mammal’s head met with vigorous debunking once humankind decided that the sun was not a fiery loogie spewed from God’s angry nose every morning. Perhaps even less surprising that a voluntary version of this goofy endeavour has attracted many adherents in modern day. For those who believe that tattoos and genitalia-percings are too vanilla and mainstream, leveling a Black & Decker into the frontal lobe is the marshmallow and almond in their rocky road.

The only thing more distressing than intentional perforation of the head is the existence of a movie like The Third Eye. I remain unmoved by the standard knee-jerk reaction to Canadian film as dull, boring, self-indulgent tripe…until I see a production that ticks off all those boxes with exuberance. What might provide depraved Saw-like degradation in a production from any other country, winds up a lifeless, maudlin dirge. Clips from the documentary A Hole in the Head did little to jar me from the mournful narcosis induced by the film. And when actual footage of a good, old-fashioned trepanning fails to rouse the spirits, you’re in trouble (I think I stole that from Khalil Gibran).

I am not one to throw ill will toward anyone who gets a feature film made in Canada, and I hope the makers of this tragedy move on to better things. That this film managed to acquire government funding is the true travesty. Early in his career, Telefilm and others of its ilk received withering criticism for funding the early films of one David Cronenberg. And yet when an ersatz psychological thriller is made (masking as mock-horror), mum’s the word. Perhaps the less said about crud like this the better. What kind of innovative artists are refused public monies while this kind of programming trash gets the green-light? Is the next Cronenberg writhing in obscurity while poorly-shot hokum gets a wide pass?

Meh. Who am I to complain? I’m the one who watched the piece of shit. Although in my defence, I will say that this is one of the more punishing compromises one makes in a marriage.

Moral: Government funding bodies should exert greater courage in the movies they back. And to that end, I put forward my idea for “Old People Fucking”–light on plot, but heavy on characterization…if you know what I mean.

Secondary moral: don’t drill a hole in your head.

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