Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fantasia Day Six: Jade Warrior, Minushi, Exte: Hair Extensions, et Right at Your Door

Updated yesterday's post with a revew of Roommates (D-Day).

Yesterday wound up pretty nice outside, so I went up Mount Royal to try and burn off a heavy breakfast from Eggspectation. Nice, as always, then I came back down for four pretty good movies.

I also met Kurt Halfyard from Twitch and we compared notes. It was cool to talk to someone who writes for a site I read every day. I made the Boston film scene probably sound a bit cooler than it is (though it ain't bad), and I hope I didn't make too bad an impression on him by my obvious disdain for some of the Q&A sessions for Hair Extensions and Right at Your Door. I think Sion Sono and Chris Gorak each got asked the same questions several times, but I was also amused by how the need for a translator in Sono's case highlighted just how dumb some of the questions were - she would seem to struggle to find a way to interpret the question so that it didn't seem like a complete waste of time. Major props to Sono for answering "I don't care" to questions about American remakes of Japanese horror and the state of J-horror in general (the first after an extended exchange between Sono, the translator, and host Mitch Davis). I got the impression that he was a guy who just had an idea for a wacky horror movie, and the rest of the industry didn't matter to him.

To close the day, I probably slightly disappointed my father who asks if I'm taking advantage of Montreal's fine dining when I see him online in the mornings by grabbing a 12.30am supper from Burger King. One of the side-effects of having three screens this year is that there seem to be far fewer times without something I want to see playing and fewer gaps between films long enough for me to actually sit down in a restaurant. I'm actually looking forward to just being able to sit down and eat when I get home.

Today's plans: I recommend Right at Your Door to those who are up there; I'll probably be seeing Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society, Km. 31, Big Bang Love: Juvenile A and The Tripper

Jade Warrior (Jadesoturi)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 10 July 2007 in the J.A. de Sève Théatre (Fantasia 2007)

Some of the hype around Jade Warrior is that it's the first martial arts film from Finland, which kind of misrepresents it - there's a few nice martial arts sequences, but what really makes it tick is everything around the martial arts. We get a story of the destructive things people do to themselves to try to make their love work, and a reminder that Finland's great, epic story, the Kalevala, seldom if ever left its lovers happy. The idea of connecting bits of the Kalevala to Chinese legends is also a pretty nifty idea. I have no idea how it works anthropologically, but if there's anything to it, that's fascinating.

To give the martial arts its due - the big fight scene involves sledgehammers. Don't see that very often.

Full review at EFC.


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 10 July 2007 in the D.B. Clarke Théatre (Fantasia 2007)

As I said to Kurt while waiting in line for the next movie, Minushi is a nice start. I think Tyler Gibb has a way to go on writing dialogue, and the decision to release it online in bits as segments were finished gives the story a very episodic feel, but it also lets us see him developing as a filmmaker over the four years it took to finish the film.

Not bad for a guy working in Flash on his home PC. I think Gibb's still got a way to go before he's in the same category as Makoto Shinkai as far as being a one-man band, but he's on his way (and this film could also help him hook up with some good collaborators).

Full review at EFC.

Exte: Hair Extensions (Ekusute)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 10 July 2007 in Théatre Hall Condordia (Fantasia 2007)

I remember Ned Hinkle calling the likes of The Ring and The Grudge "hair horror" a few years ago. I'm not sure how mainstream the term ever got, but I do dig what Sion Sono has done with the subgenre here. It's the kind of parody that will likely make it hard to do play it straight for a while, because Sono hits the clichés in a way that is both merciless and also, perversely, more effective than a lot of straight horror movies done by less talented people.

I hope it gets a theatrical relase in the U.S. before DVD. It's the rare movie that works very well as both a horror movie and a comedy, both for people who like horror films and those who don't.

Full review at EFC.

Right at Your Door

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 8 July 2007 in Théatre Hall Condordia (Fantasia 2007)

No-one uses the word "terrorism" in Right at Your Door, but that's not because it's irrelevant to the movie. It's all about terror, and the fear that comes from not knowing what just happened, what's going to happen, and what to do next. What it isn't about is terrorists - there's plenty of action movies for that.

Brad (Rory Cochrane) and Lexi (Mary McCormack) have just moved into a new place in L.A., and this morning she's off to her job while he waits for the cable guy and makes some calls to try to help his music career. A fairly ordinary day, until a series of explosions rocks the city. Brad tries to get through to Lexi, but all the circuits are jammed, and police are setting up roadblocks. It gets worse: These were not just explosives, but some sort of chemical/biological/"dirty" bombs, and the authorities are advising citizens to seal themselves in their homes. Brad wants to wait for Lexi, but his neighbor's handyman Alvaro (Tony Perez) shows up needing shelter...

Early parts of the movie move in something close to real time, with what at least feels like unbroken shots of Brad and Alvaro trying to do whatever they can to deal with the situation actively. Whether it be Brad's early attempts to get into the city or the near-panicked attempts to get the house sealed off, there's not a lot of talking, and filmmaker Chris Gorak avoids anything that pulls us away from the immediacy of the situation. Some time must pass between Alvaro's arrival and when they start sealing the house, and by a similar token we don't see them sealing every single window, but it never feels like a montage or as if they've had time to stop and think.

Full review at EFC.

1 comment:

Kurt Halfyard said...

not exactly fine dining, but try the Chorizo sausage Quesadilla's at Brutopia. Spicey but not crazy and comes with well made salsa.

Just left Fantasia. Enjoy the rest of the fest. It was a pleasure hooking up.

Disagree with you on Tazza: War of Flowers though, one of the worst films I caught at the festival...and this from a guy who is addicted to gambling films...I just felt there was NOTHING there except pretty faces and well shot scenes, not an ounce of substance, originality or tension in the film...