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Masterpiece Cinema - Series 7: The Contenders

 article about Current movie reviews
Hi, everyone. Due to some technical problems I've been experiencing
with my internet connection, this weeks installment might be a bit more
brief than others. Hope you don't mind!

Series 7: The Contenders

Starring Brooke Smith, Glenn Fitzgerald, Michael Kaycheck, Marylouise Burke.

Written & Directed by Daniel Minahan

Genre: Action / Comedy

Released: 2001

Running time: 86 mins

Rated: R (American rating for strong violent content and language)

IMDb link: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0251031/

When
I first heard the premise for Series 7: The Contenders, I was instantly
jealous. It was just so brilliant, I wish I'd thought of it and the
thing is, its so simple, I actually could have.

Released in
2001, when the reality TV craze was really starting to take off, Series
7 was not so much a mockumentary as it I was a mockureality show yeah,
I'm stretching there, aren't I? But its still a fairly accurate
description.

Basically, the story is this; its the seventh
season of the hit reality TV show The Contenders. On this show,
perfectly normal people are selected at random by the government to
take place in a kill-or-be-killed, survival-of-the-fittest competition.
Each of the contestants are given a gun. If they survive, they win.

The
contestants range from an elderly widow who turns out to be
surprisingly ruthless, a teenage girl whose parents have supplied her
with her own high-powered rifle, a man with terminal testicular cancer
who doesnt care if he lives or dies and the reigning champion, a woman
who is nine months pregnant. Yes, its a black comedy. Could you tell?

Series
7 is one of those social satires thats so brilliant and so witty, its
almost painful to watch. Every now and then youll find something thats
so funny, so terribly dead-on, that you just cant laugh. To laugh
wouldnt be an adequate expression of how biting the humour is, how
relevant and completely accurate it is.

But in addition to its
black humour, Series 7 also has a great deal of heart to it. The
greatest example of this is the relationship between Dawn (Brooke
Smith), the pregnant woman, and Jeffrey (Glenn Fitzgerald), the cancer
patient who, it turns out, were high school sweethearts and havent seen
one another in years. Their struggle against the nature of the game
theyve been thrown into is desperate and heartbreaking, providing the
film with its most memorable scenes.

Like most movies
discussed in this column, Series 7 isnt for most viewers. But if you
have a fairly dark sense of humour, and you cant stand reality TV, rent
this and quietly chortle to yourself. Or you could just wait for the
producers of Survivor to hear about it and decide that its not such a
bad idea for an actual television show.

God, I just scared myself.

Next week: Ooh! Alternative rock and/or roll! Sounds smashing!


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