Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fantasia Daily for 10 July 2009: Must Love Death, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, and Lesbian Vampire Killers

As I was walking through town yesterday, trying to find an ATM machine that would give me my lodging money with few hassles, I noticed a big hole in the ground where I think Ben's used to be. I guess it's about time for that - it's been a zombie storefront for my last couple Fantasias, standing empty but still covered in its old signage, but I guess I'd been holding out hope that someone would buy it and re-open it as basically the same thing: A place where you can get great smoked meat sandwiches and cherry cokes from countermen in snazzy white uniforms and red bow ties. Smoked meat is supposed to be a local thing, but walking down Maisonneuve and Ste. Catherine, I see a lot of pizza and kebab places, but not much with that particular specialty.

(And, yes, I put in six or so hours of work around that errand. I never said they'd be consecutive!)

Today's probably the last day of getting reviews for everything done, and that only because my schedule doesn't include much I haven't seen or can fit in before 2pm. I look forward to falling further and further behind!

Must Love Death

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 10 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival: Flirting with Chaos)

I liked Must Love Death well enough, but even though I'm the target audience - someone reasonably fond of both its genres and likely to laugh at the in-jokes besides - I had the same reaction that I figure a lot of people will: I wanted one or the other. In my case, I would have been happy to get the romantic comedy without the torture scenes, and I can see people wanting the opposite. Both? I'm not sure.

The comedy has Norman (Sami Loris), a heartbroken and suicidal studio musician, meeting waitress Jenny (Manon Kahle) after she hits him with her car. That doesn't seriously wound him, although the fact that she already has a boyfriend - Foxx C. Bigelow (Philipp Raffery), star of the sci-fi show her uncle produces (and who is set to record a single) - may. The horror comes from Norman driving to rural New jersey, where he thinks he's part of a suicide pact, not knowing that Sean (Jeff Burrell) and Gary (Peter Farkas) have an internet TV show called "Torture or No Torture" and are looking to upgrade from furry animals.

Writer/director Andreas Schaap actually does an impressive job of running Norman's two storylines alongside each other. The ways it could go wrong are myriad: A strictly chronological approach might mean a jarring shift in tone halfway, but it would also be really easy for cutting back and forth to render one thread a foregone conclusion. Or maybe the movie could get over-cute trying to keep the audience guessing. None of htis winds up happening; Schaap keeps a good balance between the two halves, even managing to plant an item in thread A that will pay off in thread B without it seeming too obvious.

Full review at eFilmCritic.

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

* * * (out of four)
Seen 10 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre J.A. de Seve (Fantasia Festival: Documentaries from the Edge)

I sympathize with the Boone County D.A. who, in the opening reel of The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, asks why the White family should get so much attention. There's a boy in the county from humble circumstances who just got accepted to MIT, so why not follow him with a camera? After all, Jesco White has already been the subject of one documentary (1991's PBS production Dancing Outlaw) and there's also a fictionalized version of his life playing this festival, White Lightnin'. Why continue to focus on the family that is responsible for so much of the area's crime?

I don't have a good answer for that. I can say, truthfully, that this sort of spectacle is kind of fascinating to watch for those of us who have the kind of lives that allow us to travel to film festivals and only have fleeting contact with it outside of theaters. It does remind us that groups we might dismiss as freaks are human beings with all the desires and complexities that entails, even if we want no part of them. Most of us certainly wouldn't want to do what director Julien Nitzberg did, follow them for a year to see how they tick.

The answer may be "like time bombs", although most of the explosions happen off-camera. Susan "Kirk" White tells us how she stabbed her boyfriend Dennis, which is a lucky break for him because she was trying to slit his throat, while her hyperactive pre-teen son from a different relationship, Tyler, screeches about how he'll do the same if he ever sees Dennis again and flips the camera the birds to say how he really feels about him. Her cousin Mousie is just getting out of jail, and is on the hunt for her husband Charlie, who, during her four year incarceration, cheated on her with Kirk and is now shacked up with his pregnant girlfriend. Just going into jail is another cousin, Sue Bob White's son Brandon, who a few months earlier went on a rampage that ended in a man's gruesome injuries and a three-week standoff with police. We hear these stories in the Whites' own matter-of-fact words, and though we don't actually see any violent crime, the clan is also matter-of-fact about their drug use, reeling off their drugs of choice, partaking on camera, and describing their activities as dealers without much apparent worry that the footage will be used as evidence against them.

Full review at eFilmCritic.

"The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon"

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 10 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

It's a one joke movie - a faux trailer for a movie about a man being chased by a demonic killer who intends to do him in with a spoon - but in those ten minutes, writer/director Richard Gale hits a lot of good jokes. During the Q&A, he mentioned that, although he wouldn't make the complete nine hour cut referred to in the movie, a DVD release might contain a "feature" version that lasted an hour... Which should be torture enough!

Lesbian Vampire Killers

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 10 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

As you might expect, the title came first with Lesbian Vampire Killers. Unlike a lot of high-concept movies, it delivers on that title, both literally - there are vampires, they are lesbians, and our heroes are going to have to put them down - and by being as much tacky fun as that title implies.

The history is laid down in a prologue: Hundreds of years ago, vampire queen Carmilla (Silvia Colloca) terrorized a village, and as she and the local baron fought to the death, she laid down a curse that all the village's women would become lesbian vampires on their eighteenth birthday. Flash forward to the present. Jimmy (Hathew Horne) has just been dumped by his girlfriend Judy (Lucy Gaskell), again, and his best mate Fletch (James Corden) has just been fired from his job as a children's clown. They opt to go hiking in this village for a holiday. Fletch doesn't think much of the idea until he sees a vanload of hot German tourists - Lotte (MyAnna Buring), Trudi (Ashley Mulheron), Anke (Louise Dylan), and Eva (Vera Filatova). Of course, they doesn't know about the curse. The local vicar (Paul McGann) does, and it's rather important to him that something be done about it, as his daughter Rebecca (Emer Kenny) has her 18th birthday tomorrow. But all hope may not be lost - he believes Jimmy may be the prophesied last descendant of the baron, able to put an end to the curse once and for all!

Lesbian Vampire Slayers is gleefully exploitative - the ladies are all beautiful and busty, and becoming vampires often seems to also change their clothing to something even wispier and more revealing. Kind of unfair for the ladies in the audience, as Corden and Horne aren't exactly equivalent slices of beefcake, although Paul McGann's vicar compensates with a rugged masculinity. There's plenty of vampire attacks and vampire-slaying, as well, although not a whole lot of the red stuff; dead vampires tend to explode into sticky white foam. Read anything you want into that.

Full review at eFilmCritic.

Today's plan: Queens of Langkasuka, Infestation (I remember the director from before Project Greenlight, when they were making and screening movies in Portland, ME), Love Exposure, and Sweet Karma. If you're here, I can still recommend Dream (de Seve, 2:50pm) and Ip Man (de Seve, 7:00pm), and Dead Snow (Hall, 11:45pm) isn't bad for what it is.

1 comment:

seo Chandigarh said...

this blog is related to movie ,I like movie as action , love story , and comedy .........