|FantasticFest 2010 (09.23.10 - 09.30.10, 29 movies)|
|09.23.10||Enter the Void||Gaspar Noe||Another fantastic fest! Yay for that, although I'll say up front that these notes probably won't be as thorough as they usually are. For the second year, I'm working mornings and attending films in the afternoon/evening so I'm writing these up at work and, unlike last year, I actually have tasks assigned so i'll have to do these on the sly.|
But anyway, it seems the festival is busier than ever. My sign-in synopsis:
-online ticketing a great idea, horrible execution. Maybe one of these years B-side will cover ticketing and there will be a "reserve" tickets button for each day that automatically grabs selected films from the schedule. I guess this is an OK first start but honestly it needs more dev time.
-poster's pretty awesome; shirt's pretty crap.
-The Paramount seating is stll FUBAR. I'm changing my schedule to avoid it after tonight.
-feels weird seeing so many people i either used to know or used to half-know. Has it really been a full year since I've even been to this theater? ouch.
So this film fake sold out due to the ticketing. It was still pretty full though and I was lucky to get a decent seat.
So... the beginning titles are online and I urge everyone to watch those. Seeing them in a theater is a real experience. It completely sets you up for anything... blanks the slate with an overwhelming attack of typography. Rad.
And the film is superior on a technical level. The blend between photography and CGI is clever and his work with depth and focus is pretty amazing.
However, like Irreversible, Noe sticks to his idea fervently, refusing to let it go kind of like how some movies (cough Machete cough) start off super grainy and after about 15 minutes revert to a normal movie. I admire his dedication, but feel the film also suffers for it.
After a while, I'm just tired of looking at the back of this guy's head or looking down on people from above. Again, I admire his thought of giving the audience an immersive death-like experience but... with a little thing called editing this movie could be half as long and all the more effective.
oh well. I liked parts, but by around the 2 hour mark I was waiting for it to end.
|09.23.10||Golden Slumber||Yoshihiro Nakamura||I didn't see A Fish Story last year despite Victor and everyone else saying how great it was. I did watch the song performance at the end but without the film to put it in context I was a little lost. But still, based on the reputation of that film I thought I'd see this.|
I'm really happy that I did. I had no clue what it was gonna be but it ended up as a Hitchcockian innocent-man thriller filled with great acting and spectacular writing and solid direction. It made me almost choke up as well, which can be tough to do with subtitles and surrounded by tough film festival buddies.
Maybe the thing I like the most about this movie is that Good wins. It's one of those It's A Wonderful Life films where... despite the odds, thanks to the main guy being a good guy and having good friends, things work out alright. A very human optimistic movie, which I found pretty refreshing. I mean, even the creepy serial killer turns out to be like Dexter on happy pills... way more moral than anyone who was ever in an Abel Ferrara movie ever.
So I pretty much loved this. In contrast to Enter the Void, this 140 minutes flew by for me. Awesome.
|09.23.10||Let Me In||Matt Reeves||Off to the Paramount for a gala double feature of movies that are about to come out nation-wide. Huh, Parking's gotten worse in downtown, and standing in line to get a second ticket is no fun, especially when you end up being obstructed. I guess most people would prefer that to somewhere closer like... row A seat 7, but not me. Oh well, guess I'll just deal with the tight seats and the obstructed view for a few hours... great.|
Despite the physical discomfort, this remake was pretty good. I liked but did not love the original and feel about the same for this one. As always, Richard Jenkins and Elias Koetes were amazing. The boy looked like a perfect American equivalent to the original actor to me. The girl was a bit more American and less weird.
So, my own trifling differences between versions. If you haven't seen either then this is worth watching and stop reading.
-i liked Jenkins' car scene more in this one but - maybe this is the film and maybe this is just me knowing the story already - I actually felt more weirdness from the original dad; I feel like they drew out the mystery of what was going on there for longer. In this one, right after the first kill you hear the girl yelling at him saying "what, do I have to do it myself?" which I think leads people directly to here right off the bat.
-I probably liked the hospital room fire scene more in this one although I remember it being great in the original as well.
-I definitely liked the end pool scene more in the original.
-I generally didn't like the CG movement they gave the girl. I guess it's an American thing (or a having-a-budget thing) but blah... didn't need it. I also didn't need the vampire eyes and weird teeth.
|09.23.10||Buried||Rodrigo Cortes||Row Q seat 10. Awesome. Well, this whole movie is a guy in a box so I don't need to see the right side of the screen, right?|
Again I was reminded of Hitchcock, this time Lifeboat due to the set constraints. This one takes it a bit farther in that it's just one actor... sort of like Phone Booth but without the crappy direction, performances, or script. I have to say they pulled it off. A whole theater of people spent a few hours with Ryan Reynolds in a wooden coffin and I for one didn't really get all that bored. I also respect the ending. And I love how even in a voice-only performance, Steven Tobolowsky is still typecast as a nerdy slimeball.
Ryan Reynolds in person... it's kind of a deal where he's really funny and charismatic and personable and that makes me hate him that much more. Like with his career and health and bone structure and everything else, couldn't he at least be an asshole? Nah, he seemed like a cool dude. Fucker.
So even without staying for the midnight movie, I still didn't get home till 1. I'm sure this will make Friday morning's work that much more productive. Yay!
|09.24.10||Gallants||Clement Sze-Kit Cheng, Chi-kin Kwok||Alright so I've made a pretty huge mistake. Since I actually had work to do during work hours this year, my time each moring to write these notes was not there and I ended up doing almost the entire fest without writing a single word. Furthermore, the next weekend I had a wedding to attend (yay, Ryan!) so as I sit down now to fill these in, it's been a good two weeks since I've seen some of these films. It kind of goes against my original intent with this site, since I've now had time to reflect and see which movies stay with me and which don't so my reactions may not be the original that I felt on the day, but oh well. this is better than nothing.|
So this movie... basically a town full of old action stars where some minimal plot forces them to fight one another. It's a movie where I liked the idea more than the execution. I like that these older guys got a juicy role again and it's fun to see old guys kick ass but... the movie is not very memorable to me. Just OK.
|09.24.10||A Somewhat Gentle Man||Hans Petter Moland||This movie is built around Stellan Skarsgard, who plays a recently-released convict trying to re-enter society. His performance is great but doesn't completely make the movie because the script is pretty good and all the other actors do a good job as well. In particular I like the guy who played the older gangster who you get hints of maybe once having some power but any more these days all his crew are now old and he doesn't understand the new generation. He plays it with a cheap gold tooth that's great. There's also a mechanic who speaks in fantasically long sentences. I missed a lot of his performance because i had to read tons of subtitles whenever he talked but I was still aware that it was funny.|
|09.24.10||I Saw the Devil||Ji-woon Kim||First secret screening. Korean cat and mouse thriller where a serial killer makes the mistake of killing a supercop's wife. The cop goes vigilante and torments the killer by beating the crap out of him and making him swallow a GPS pill then letting him go, showing up whenever he's about to start trouble to kick his ass some more. The dude from Oldboy is the serial killer and is pretty great at being a hulking unstoppable monster. I was reminded a lot of Russell Crowe for some reason... he had his hair longer and is a bit stouter like Crowe in that newspaper movie... plus all the violence.|
Anyway, this is a pretty awesome movie. Great storytelling and the crowd really loved it, myself included. Can't say it's my favorite though because already a lot of details have left my mind, but I definitely enjoyed the hell out of it.
|09.24.10||30 Days of Night: Dark Days||Ben Ketai||So after my crappy seats and rough parking and lines and the general overall experience of the Paramount last night, I decided it was worth missing the philipino doc that the Not Quite Hollywood guy did just to avoid leaving south lamar. Unfortnately, the only show left with tickets was this. I tried to be open about it, remembering my experience with Wrong Turn 2 and how that has turned into a really solid movie in my mind.|
It sucked pretty bad. It's especially hard at FantasticFest when a movie sucks because the filmmakers are more often than not in the house and super psyched to be playing their movie at the fest and in the theater and thanks to how Tim et al treat the filmmakers with special trips involving automatic weapons or late-night karaoke or whatever i imagine it's a really fun fest to be a part of (several filmmakers have said that they have made or want to make another movie just to get to come back to the festival, which I think is cool), but when your movie sucks it sucks. Sorry.
Setting a sequel to 30 Days of Night in Los Angeles... I really shouldn't have to say any more. I didn't love the first film but will say the thing that made it interesting was that it took place in Alaska. LA is pretty tired. Actually, the vampires in this movie are pretty tired. Screaming pointy-toothed goth dudes do not interest me at this point. Especially screaming pointy-toothed goth dudes in a random ship where the danger we're trying to stop is the ship leaving to go somewhere more interesting and do something you want to see more than what you're watching.
Nothing new with this. Boring.
|09.24.10||The Violent Kind||Butcher Brothers||Another movie where the filmmakers were there and psyched and they got internet porn girls to hand out free Pabst Blue Ribbon to everyone before the show (except the poor UT student sitting next to me. sorry, dude!) and they were really excited that people showed up and everything but I thought the movie was terrible. It was kind of like three movies one right after the other. At first it was a biker movie, which I was kind of alright with, then it turned into a weird Dark Hours abduction movie which kind of lost me but then it turned into an alien movie and I kind of dozed off.|
Didn't like it much at all. oh well. From what I understand, most of the midnight movies were pretty weak this year. I think this is the only one I saw.
|09.25.10||Sound of Noise||Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjarne Nilsson||Micah gave me this recommendation. I watched about half the short online then realized that it screened before the movie so saved the rest for the big screen. The short is really great. Basically, these 6 people break into an apartment and turn common household items into musical instruments. They have a song for each room and that's all the short is. It's awesome. So this movie is from the same dudes but this time instead of music for an apartment it's music for a city. And there's a story with a cop who hates music because his douche conductor brother gets all the acclaim within his family.|
The story of the movie is pretty good but it's really the music numbers that make this movie special. There are four main movements within the film and one introductory piece involving a van hitting the shoulders of the road at different speeds to make different tones while a guy with a full drum set in the back of the bus keeps the beat. It's so awesome I can't even say. Instead I'll post the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qct3nBWlNTA
So if this movie had two or three more music sequences it might be my fav of the fest, but as such I think it's firmly entrenched as my number two. A really great expression of how universal and primal music is to us as a species. I recommend it to anyone who likes music.
|09.25.10||X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes||Roger Corman||They brought Roger Corman into town this year. I didn't see Sharktopus last night at the Paramount but really wanted to get a rare chance to see this movie in a theater. the Corman Q&A was icing on the cake.|
The print was gorgeous. The prismatic effects of early 60s special effects have a really unique feel to them and I think work quite well. Ray Milland is pretty great as well. I especially liked the party scene where the girl asks him to dance and he looks at her like she's a complete nutball for even thinking that he even entertains the thought of the possibility of him dancing ever in this world, much less with her. Then his subsequent dance is also pretty great. I've co-opted it into my repertoire and even used it at a wedding this past weekend. I think I didn't do it quite right because my friends said it looked kinda cool.
Anyway, the ending kind of threw me for a loop. I first saw this movie a long time ago when I read Stephen King's book Danse Macarbe. So I remembered there being a final line after Milland plucks his eyeballs out of him yelling "I can still see!!!" but apparently I only remember that because King wrote about it in his book! I guess it's just such a cool idea and fit so perfectly that my brain made it truth. Weird!
Really good movie though. One of the best saturday-matinee-sci-fi yarns I think.
|09.25.10||Red, White & Blue||Simon Rumley||I didn't really know anything about this movie or how Tim League hosted the filmmakers while they were here or how Alamo regulars helped out with it or anything like that. So when I learned all that right before the lights went down I thought i was in for a pretty bad movie that was overcompensated due to friendships. I'm happy to say that that wasn't the case. This would be a pretty good movie even if it weren't shot in austin.|
But since it is, I think it's pretty funny how... it's like the most Austin movie ever. They cover like 16 locations all around the city representing the hippest or coolest places in town. It's kind of like when LA filmmakers go to a location city like New Orleans and shoot scenes at every major landmark just to get their money's worth. So they have scenes at an Alamo Drafthouse, Toy Joy, Austin Diner, Broken Spoke, Beauty Bar, everywhere... it's pretty crazy and seems like overkill to me but that's just because I live here. I bet this is how all Los Angelenos feel about every movie.
Anyway, Noah Taylor is great in this movie. The girl is just ok I think but the main guy plays a douche pretty well and Noah Taylor is great. Solid movie.
|09.25.10||I Spit on Your Grave||Steven R. Monroe||Again with the Wrong Turn 2 ethos in mind, I approached this one with hope. The original - or rather the box art for the original - is pretty important in my cinematic history. I remember spending hours at the local video store when i was in middle/high school (B&B Video, later Hilltop video) looking at literaly every movie they owned. Some were just too overt to even trying to pass by my mom. Slumber Party Massacre was one. Stripped to Kill was another. But perhaps the one movie that I most wanted to see and that I most knew there was no way my mom would let me rent was I Spit on Your Grave. The title alone... but add to that the image of a woman walking through the woods in torn underwear, one ass cheek showing, holding a knife... no way. too much. And to my surprise, when I moved to Austin and kind of re-ignited my love for all the odd and mostly crappy horror movies I saw at that age and rented it through netflix, The original holds up quite well. It's brutal and intense and maybe the most distilled entry in the rape revenge genre that I can think of (I often compare it to Last House on the Left just because they share castration but Last House on the Left is so muddled in tone and weak in plot that this one really stands above).|
Anyway, so I like the original quite a bit.
So the producer of this remake really impressed me. She said they wanted to go for it right from the beginning and never considered toning anything down which I admire. I also like how they're trying to release theatrically unrated and it completely sucks that it will probably not work. I will say that this movie is way better than Hatchet 2 which seems to be making a huge thing about doing the same thing.
So I liked the movie. I thought it was true to the original and suffered from modern sensibilities more than any kind of neutering or studio interference. That said, I do think it's not as good as the original due to the current state of horror. While it's true that there's still basically a 20-minute rape scene in this movie, it's nowhere near as uncomfortable or intense as the original. Where the movie really pales is in the revenge killings though. I can see why they wanted to change up from the woman having sex with her rapists before dispatching them (it does seem like a pretty male outlook) but the elaborate nature and poetic irony of each revised revenge strikes me as movie-ish and fake and therefore more unbelievable than the direct nature of the original. The original could be real, this was a movie. She can't just kill the dudes, she has to make satisfying statements akin to the pain they put her through... so the guy who filmed the whole thing has to have some sort of camera-related death and stuff like that. it would be stronger if she just took them out but whatever... movies aren't like that anymore.
so in the end i was happy with this although it's not a classic or anything. Still, solid and could've been a million times worse.
|09.26.10||Outrage||Takeshi Kitano||I haven't really seen any Yakuza movies and I have to admit to not being familiar with Takeshi Kitano at all. That said, I liked this movie. I thought it was fun to watch and although it's ultimately just the same scene over and over again, it was fun to see how things turn out and how all the loose ends tie up. I was actually reminded a lot of the Italian mafia movies like the Di Leo stuff, how all the gangsters are dirty and vile with no morals whatsoever and everybody backstabs everybody, except with an added layer of etiquette and formality that comes with Japanese culture. Really well-made and well-executed. I feel like I'm typing this word a lot but it was solid.|
Actually this movie is indicative of most the movies I saw this year. I feel like in previous fests I saw a bunch of movies I was pretty lukewarm about or movies I barely liked but didn't blow me away. This year the vast majority of movies I actively liked. I don't know if I just got lucky or am better at guaging my tastes or the programming staff kicked ass or there was just better movies made this year but whatever combination of the above occured I'm happy about it because the end result was that I liked most everything I saw. It's a really great feeling when you see good movies all day.
So yeah... maybe I'll check out more Yakuza movies at some point if they're like this. I liked this one a lot.
|09.26.10||The Housemaid||Ki-young Kim||I picked this because it was old and I generally like older movies more than newer ones (especially in a festival setting), and because the write-up said that this was regarded as one of Korea's finest films. I've seen some pretty damn good films from Korea so I figured this was worth a watch. This was screening in a double feature with the remake which apparently switches the whole premise around and I wasn't interested in the remake at all so who knows if it's any good; I heard it wasn't.|
So the story is this guy has a happy family and he gets a housemaid to take care of... the house because he's busy and his wife is pregnant and whatnot. Stuff happens, they have an affair, then this malevolent dynamic sets in where he confesses to the wife but the housemaid's preggers and because of society they have to take care of her or something so she exerts her power and basically steals the husband against his will all in the same house with the couple's first two kids watching on. It's one of those slow build type of movies that never gets like... blood and gore horrific but just very very uncomfortable in the situation kind of like an anxiety dream. So you still have tension building and building and the housemaid goes nutsier and nutsier and it builds toward this end where she forces him to take cyanide with her or else she'll kill his wife and kids and he's crawling to his wife who he loves and with his dying breath apologizes for making such a mistake... SPOILERS AHEAD!
...and then it turns out this has all been a conversation that they couple has been having over dinner because they read about a similar situation in the paper. So there's that... but then! THEN! The father looks directly at the camera in full PSA-mode and tells up about how as men get older they think about young girls more and more and that we should be careful not to act upon them. Then he points to several people in the audience and laughs at them saying "I know you're thinking about it, and you too!" HE LAUGHS AT THE AUDIENCE. The end.
What a crazy random amazing ending, especially considering the power and effectiveness of the entire film beforehand. It was truly bizarre and made the movie for me.
|09.26.10||Hatchet II||Adam Green||Ok so I'll be honest. I feel like during FantasticFest 2 they deliberately played the first Hatchet in the smallest theater just to say they had a sold out screening that were standing in the aisles to get to see it and all that. I remember Harry's "review" that year and thinking it was utter bullshit and that the movie was ok but certainly nothing special. I felt that Severance was way better that year, but anyway.|
Then I didn't see any other Adam Green films but heard they were boring to bad. I did see a few shorts that I didn't like.
Still though... Wrong Turn 2, man! I loved Wrong Turn 2 and sometimes quick sequels work way better than originals!
So They added a second screen to this show due to demand but again, i was routed into the smallest theater in South Lamar, running the film to simultaneously project to the middle-sized theater next door. And Green comes in and tells us that people told him not to go back to horro because he was a real filmmaker now but he loves it so he did it but really he did it as a reward to his fans so this movie is really for us and by the way it's the kind of movie that is better if the audience gets into it so he'll be walking back and forth between theaters to see which one is louder. There were like 15 warning signs in his intro for me. So I took a deep breath and realized that I was now probably set up to not like this movie so I should just try to be open and take it in.
It didn't really work. I remember being really impressed that the swamp in the first Hatchet was all filmed in a studio and thought that Joel guy did a good job of basically carrying the story between the kills (which were decent). In this one, somehow the swamp looks a lot worse and the story relies on... well ok the main girl is decent i guess but her uncle... I don't think he's an actor I think he's a friend who found himself in a movie or something. And Tony Todd's weird face and voice falls flat when he has to spend like a half hour covering all the exposition for both movies (because of an extended origin story and the set-up for the second movie). I Like AJ Bowen and thought he did a great job with The Signal and was really solid in a short I saw several years ago called Maidenhead and I'm glad that he's getting work but he has nothing to work with here and seems to make some weird choices. I don't know why but it looks like he's wearing a fake beard for some reason. He's not stand-out bad in this though because everyone else seems similarly lost.
Anyway, so I know I'm not supposed to care about the writing or acting or any of that because the kills are great, right? Ugh. I get it, you mixed up a lot of fake blood. That doesn't explain why this supernatural dude who nobody's seen for decades has a gas-powered belt-sander. I just didn't go for any of it and some of the kills kind of insulted me. I guess I wasn't with it at all because some people in the audience hooted and hollered right on cue whenever a gallon of fake blood was tossed onto a wall; I looked around and feel like others were more like me but I can't be sure. Maybe I just didn't "get" this movie.
30 Days of Night 2 was pretty terrible and boring, but at least it was a real movie. It had a beginning, middle, and end. Here's how the plot of Hatchet 2 goes.
girl: Quick! I need to go back to the swamp!
Tony Todd: Ok, but we have to wait until 5.
Tony Todd: talk talk talk talk talk talk talk
girl: it's 5! We're now surrounded by fodder with weak side stories, can we go now!?
Tony Todd: ok.
-they go to the swamp-
-they kill the bad guy-
The only thing to really think about during the whole movie is why they have to wait until 5 to leave. Aside from the obvious reason (running time), here's what i came up with while watching cheap make-up effects and tired death scenarios.
-hatchet dude had to get more gas/oil mixture for his ancient power tools that he stores in the swamp
-the one actor had to talk himself into believing that his twin brother was in fact alive despite everything in the entire world (except Tony Todd) telling him otherwise
-Tony Todd had to take his elaborate morning "eye clown" make-up off.
-Danielle Harris had to go baby Gap for replacement wardrobe
-the uncle had to try and memorize his lines
-the pompous self-important director had to find a way to put himself vomiting in the first scene of the movie.
So for as much as I hated this movie, Green said something in the end Q&A about whether you like his work or not you have to respect that he, the son of a janitor or something like that, had the determination to get out there and make a movie. That's admirable I guess...
|09.26.10||Class of 1984||Mark Lester||So Alamo Zack finished his book of Punks on film and to commemorate the event he got to show Class of 1984. I figured I had to go for a few reasons: 1) I'm always up for supporting Zack and really wanted a copy of his book, and 2) I wasn't sure if I'd seen this or not.|
I pretty quickly realized that I had. Tim Van Patten, now acclaimed TV director, giving nerdy Michael J Fox a really hard time. I liked it ok. It really reminded me more of movies I saw around that time that I have weird disconnected memories of seeing on cable but it's a good movie I think and really showcased evil punks quite well. Poor nerdy kids, man... so bullied!
Before the movie, Everything is Terrible made a montage of punk footage that was pretty epic and amazing. Mostly I'm happy for Zack and his book. I've spent a little time with it at this point and am really impressed not only with the thoroughness of the content but also the layout and design. It's a pretty slick book and I'm really glad I got a copy.
|09.27.10||The Man from Nowhere||Jeong-beom Lee||People said this was pretty close to Man on Fire which I'd agree with (I also got a bit of Leon but without the creepy love stuff) but whatever... it's a really solid Korean effort... I have to say though it's already kind of left my mind. Can't really think of many details other than the main antagonist brothers and how one has fancy hair and phone ornaments. It's weird to pull off dangerous while looking like such a dandy. What's that weird kung-fu movie with the super-skinny philipino dude where his boss grabbed his crotch and smelled it? oh well.|
Anyway, this was good, if not a bit forgettable. Still a good in my book though. Way to go, Fest!
|09.27.10||Re-Animator||Stuart Gordon||So, Re-Animator was a pretty seminal movie for me. My neighbor Cameron turned me on to it. I'd always been into horror movies (i remember trying to get my parents to take me to a drive-in double feature so I could see Friday the 13th part 7.. maybe playing with License to Drive? anyway) but Cameron was the guy who got me into the hardcore stuff like Faces of Death and Frankenhooker. We shared a love for fangoria gore, the movie Hardware, comics, and making crappy home-video renditions of our favorite movies. Re-Animator was one of our favs (hopefully the tape with us throwing glow-in-the-dark glop around in my basement is lost forever). I must've rented that movie a half-dozen times throughout middle and high school. Then watched it a few more times through college, then bought it on DVD and watched it a hand-full more times with the commentary and whatnot. So it has a personal spot in my film history.|
So when Fantastic Fest announced that it was bringing Jeffrey Combs and Stuart Gordon in and showing this theatrically, it was the first film added to my schedule (they also showed From Beyond which didn't have as much personal history with me but I still like a great deal, but it was programmed up against a secret screening so I didn't see it).
I'm not sure there's much else to say. Great movie. I loved getting the chance to see it in a theater, much less to have the actor and director in house to talk about it. It was all just great and a real treasure of a memory for me.
|09.27.10||Never Let Me Go||Mark Romanek||You know... I like Mark Romanek a lot. It's just a shame that I don't really care for his movies. Who knows, this could be good but it's so far outside my area of interest that I was pretty bored by it. For me, the emotions never resonated and I suspect Romanek is just too intellectual to pull it off. Who knows if he'll ever make a movie I really love but I am still primed for it.|
Since so much time has passed, I can't really think of anything else to say about this. It's already left my memory. I can share an anecdote though that happened at some point during the fest. It was an early show on an early day... and although there was no verbal confirmation I figured i'd be a good guy and save my buddy Ryan a seat. So people are filtering in and I have to deny several people waiting for Ryan and he never shows! I know he's seeing this movie so i look around and see him down in front way off to the side. I figure I should go over and tell him that I have a seat for him so i go to flip under the bar table and somehow dump a full large glass of ice water directly into my face. Shockingly cold, completely saturating my entire face, half my shirt, and one entire pant leg. A full house of festival-goers waiting for the show to start sees me, hears the cup empty itself into me and spray ice cubes all over the floor. I dash over to Ryan - at least I can tell him about his seat now - and he says he's ordered food and prefers to stay there. ugh. I go into the men's room and try to dry off while Harry Knowles cracks a joke at me while waiting for the handicapped stall. I figure I had a decision to make: cower home and dry up or return to the theater and eat the pride. fuck it. Miraculously, i didn't get the dude sitting next to me wet. deep puddles are still on the floor and the table just for my seat. it was almost like in the comics where a single rain cloud douses one guy in the middle of a crowd. I spent the next two movies drying off, telling the story to anyone who'd listen in an attempt to own the humiliation. Looking back I feel almost good about the whole ordeal, although you know... i wouldn't recommend it.
|09.27.10||Rubber||Quentin Dupieux||I had high hopes for this one. All i knew was that it was about a tire and it was by the Mr. Oizo dude. I like Mr. Oizo, and find tires fascinating so hey!|
The result is kind of a two-joke film. The tire itself is amusing for about 15 minutes but the real movie is a very meta excercise involving a group of spectators watching the tire from afar. Both threads feel overlong but the main cop actor gave a pretty good performance so overall I'll call it a decent film, but I was fully prepared for it to be in my top 5 and it just wasn't.
It's also a shame that Olly Moss made two great posters for the fest (Rubber and Let Me In) but I didn't like either of the movies enough to pay 50 bucks for them or whatever.
|09.28.10||Corridor||Johan Lundborg, Johan Storm||Swedish Hitchcock knock-off very much in the vein of Rear Window. I was with it for the most part although this did more to solidify my love for Golden Slumber than anything else because this movie was so heavy-handed in its "influence" whereas Gold Slumber adopted the familiar Hitchcock territory of an innocent man framed but absorbed that inspiration and digested it into its own completely unique tone. Corridor stuck pretty close to the formula that Hitchcock did better.|
Still, it's a decent movie and I was entertained. I remember sitting next to Karrie League and we got to the one point where the movie lost me - the protagonist is so freaked out with his paranoid fear that when he hears someone walking in the apartment that he's broken into, he blindly thrusts with his knife or screwdriver or whatever and runs and *shock* it turns out that he inadvertantly mortally wounded an innocent - we looked at each other and shook our heads. That was a nice little moment... not for the movie but for my festival experience.
|09.28.10||Drones||Amber Benson, Adam Busch||a mundane office worker with snappy screwball dialog discovers that his co-workers are aliens and the fate of the world comes into question. Angela Bettis, Samm levine and Gruber Allen all play white collar aliens pretty well. Actually I quite liked this movie. The co-director said in the Q&A that the writers are from radio and that makes sense because the dialog is unrealistically smart. It's kind of a choice that you have to make a consciouss decision to go with but I did and enjoyed myself. It's also a bit of a Deus Ex at the end but whatever, for an interesting take on a comedy it's decent enough. I liked it.|
|09.28.10||Hell Driver||Yoshihiro Nishimura||It's a real shame that this was a secret screening because i'm sure there were plenty of people who wanted to see this but they were not also the people who got into the theater. Typical Japanese weird fare: lots of fake blood and interesting monsters strung together with a terrible narrative and super-cheap production. As a movie it's pretty terrible but if you watch this kind of stuff for a specific purpose I can see how you'd find enjoyment in it. I did think that some of the "boss" monsters were interesting but the overall effect of the film was deadening so it came off as boring to me. The first 40 minutes or so is clunky exposition explaining some weird flammable zombie gland that sticks out of people's heads then the titles appear then it's like an hour-long action sequence with no break. This movie was pretty hard to get through... maybe the worst movie of the fest for me, definitely the most amount of walk-outs I saw.|
I don't necessarily blame the film so much as the presentation. if there was some way the fest could differentiate the early studio secret screenings from the obscure interesting screenings, perhaps more of the film's audience would get a chance to see the stuff. I would've much rather seen From Beyond than this but oh well. Such is the case with Fantastic Fest secret screenings.
|09.29.10||Bedevilled||Jang Cheol-so||Really good word of mouth on this. It's about an isolated island where the men kick the shit out of this woman until she snaps and kills them all. There's a hell of a lot of rape and violence toward women in the first hour. When she finally does snap and starts fighting back it's incredibly energizing to the audience but... seeing it this late in the fest where the theme for the year seems to be rape, i think a lot of people were over it. It's a very powerful film though and surprising from a first-time filmmaker. His broken-english Q&A was hilarious - he said all of us in the audience looked like movie villains and was afraid for his safety - until i heard he gave the exact same statements for the other screening. Then it's slightly less hilarious and somehow more prepared.|
The most interesting thing I got out of this actually came the next day when a couple sitting next to me got into a discussion with me about it. She was really really on the side of the main girl who visits the island rather than the one who gets abused (for me, the movie had a downer ending. for her it was a happy ending), like to the point where i think she was projecting or something. So adamant that the character's apathy was justified. I didn't see it that way at all and was actively rooting for her to die at the end. Different strokes!
Anyway, probably one of the better films of the fest although it's hard to say because in hindsight really only a few of them remain clear in memory.
|09.29.10||Red||Robert Schwentke||Kind of surprised that this wasn't a secret screening. Either way, it was fun to get to see something early and tell people at work about. Luckily, I liked it and had a good time with it. Fun popcorn action movie. I only remember having one problem with it, which involves spoilers so beware.|
why was there nothing after the end credits!? The movie sets up perfectly that helen mirren deliberately shoots morgan freeman in a non-lethal place but they never bring it back at all. Either it's a huge missed opportunity in which case it sucks because it's lame to give Morgan Freeman such a messy and random death, or they're really confident that they get to make a RED 2: Even REDder which is pretty damn ballsy and maybe kind of cool. Maybe. Probably still crap though. I couldn't've cared less when Adam Green mentioned having Hatchet 2 all written out while shooting Hatchet 1 and that's why we see the chainsaw in the first movie or whatever (whether it's in the first movie or not, what's a fully-functional gas-powered belt sander doing in the middle of a swamp?) and if I liked Hatchet 1 enough to remember it I probably would've been irked at all the unresolved stuff they made me wait for. So bad move, RED. You should've had Freeman pop up after the credits.
Other than that, I liked it. Good fun. Kind of a palate-cleanser from all the rape and subtitles and whatnot.
|09.29.10||The Troll Hunter||Andre Ovredal||The last secret screening: some unheard-of Norwegian mockumentary supposing trolls were real. I kind of had a groan when I learned that this was the secret film but you know... as I watched it it kind of grew on me to the point now, like a month later (jesus I'm late on these write-ups) I have pretty fond memories of this film. I thought it was cool if not expected how they gave realistic treatment to some of the fairy tales i was familiar with (I'm sure there are a ton of Norwegian ones that I'm not but I definitely recognized the billy goats gruff), and the whole Christian subplot was pretty fun and not at all American and... I dunno, it was just a well-executed take on the idea. Certainly could've been a lot worse. I liked it.|
It's been a pretty good festival for me. I feel like several previous years I had a feeling where I started off seeing a lot of crap, then later years I saw a lot of mediocrity, but this year I pretty much liked most of what i saw. Sure I liked some things more than others but I'd count them all as more than adequate. Did I already write this? damn.
|09.30.10||14 Blades||Daniel Lee||Typical kung fu film. I should've stayed at work I think. I was completely bored by this. I don't care about ancient Chinese settings, boring quests that make no sense, or flat characters that I don't understand. The kicking and punching is all polished to the point of familiar choreography to me now so it's not exciting at all. At least with Gallants it was old people to kind of mess with the formula a bit. This was completely by the numbers and I was bored as shit. I don't know if the movie was bad or good; all I can say is that I didn't like it.|
|09.30.10||Red Hill||Patrick Hughes||Australian cop-on-his-first-day-in-a-new-town thriller starring the brother from True Blood. I really wanted to like this because I typically like Australian movies especially their unique brand of modern western that they can kind of still get away with (No Country for Old Men had the same vibe here in America) but this turned out to be a little more typical than I would've hoped. Not bad by any means, but not surprising or great either. Some dude that the whole small town fucked over breaks out of prison and comes for revenge and Jason Stackhouse has to realize that his boss is the bad guy. It was ok. Kind of a mediocre movie to be the last of the fest...|
...but luckily I saw one more thing! It's not a film per se so it doesn't get it's own entry but part of the reason why Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs was in town was to do a weekend of performances of Nevermore: a one-man play starring Jeffrey Combs as Edgar Allen Poe. It was kind of a special thing. They had a curtain over the screen in one of the auditoriums, didn't allow food service during the show, and Gordon had a set of stage lights set up that he sat with a tech triggering cues on (i know this because I sat at the end near him and kept an eye on him because I wondered how one "directs" in theater). The lights went full dark and we hear Combs silently enter, take the stage, and start talking to us. He strikes a match and lights a candle as a spotlight takes its place and he sets the candle down on his desk and proceeds to give about a 80-minute monologue as Poe, reciting poems (heart-breaking Annabel Lee) and stories (amazing reading of The Tell-Tale Heart), getting drunk and lamenting about his new invisible bride's departure from the audience, and ending with a reading of The Raven.
In short, I thought it was amazing. The direct energy of live performance coupled with my awareness that this was Jeffrey goddamn Combs and Stuart motherfuckin Gordon collided in a shock of sparks for me. They might as well have been acting out Re-Animator in my living room just for me, except I imagine several other people in the audience felt exactly the same way. It was a really special thing to get to see and I'm really glad I did. It made a perfect last screening of the fest for me, and will hopefully live on in my memory for quite some time. Great stuff.
I almost went home after that but Victor persuaded me to check out the party (him offering to drive helped). So we went out to this ghost town and ate some of the whole cow that they roasted and watched Arc Attack perform with their tesla coils (a dude dons a chainmail outfit and stands between them letting the electricity touch his head or hands or whatever) and robo-powered drum kit. Later they put a metal cage in between the coils and saw Nacho Vigalondo all but Rape Elijah Wood in front of everyone. Mostly the party was a good time because I got to hang out with most of the old movie friends one more time without a movie to seat for interrupting us. It made me all sentimental for my old life a bit but also feeling good about where i'm at now. I made a vow to see everyone before next September.
So... looking back, a few things seem interesting to me. This was the first year that I didn't get at least half-sick. That's awesome. I think I only saw one midnight movie and it wasn't that great. I actually went to the closing night party for the first time since, like, year 2. And I actually had fun! I saw way more good movies than bad, and met a bunch of people who I only vaguely knew by twitter. I got Zack's awesome book and got to say hello to Lars and Tim and managed to make it to work every morning (except the friday after closing night. I was mysteriously "sick" that day). My favorite movie by far was Golden Slumber, followed by The Sound of Noise then probably I saw the Devil. And I got a VIP badge for next year! sweet!
And now, I'm even finished with these notes. So awesome. Time for lunch.