Friday, July 17, 2009

Fantasia Daily for 16 July 2009: Slam-Bang, Gushing Prayer, Hells, and "La Tueur de Montmarte"

I think I was kind of sick on Thursday: I felt chilly in the de Seve theater, had a headache later on (and maybe a fever), my legs felt pretty weak, and this morning nothing tastes right. It sucks when you have a day like that on "vacation", although it didn't seem to affect me much at work.

In the "ain't that always the way" file: It took me longer than I wanted to get out of the office, as I was trying to upload a spreadsheet that was too big. I got on the Metro, did the transfer, found the wrong exit at Guy-Concordia, and arrived at the theater just as Rough Cut was scheduled to start... And then proceeded to wait a half hour because the previous show had a long Q&A going on.

"Très (très) chasse"

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 16 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre de Seve (Fantasia Festival)

A Quebec DIY short just good enough to also play in front of Slam-Bang, and it is a nicely-shot action piece, although once you get beyond the camera work and action staging, it's not so clever. The action gets started because the villain makes two crack shots to take out 2/3 of a hunting party, but then cannot hit the broad side of a barn thereafter. The twist at the end is kind of clever, but still requires the antagonists to be unreasonably stupid, even by inbred inarticulate redneck standards.


* * (out of four)
Seen 16 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre de Seve (Fantasia Festival)

I was kind of excited to see this one, as I'm curious about the chances of seeing interesting things coming out of South Africa. There's some money there (and also an appalling lack of money in other quarters), and that parallel-universe show that blipped on the Sci-Fi channel a year or so ago was an indication that they'd make things that might not come out of other English-speaking countries.

Sadly, Slam-Bang is just kind of unpleasant, from the voice of "the Chinaman" on the phone who always addresses the hero as "Lound-eye", to the casual violence that doesn't even provide much in the way of atmosphere, to the ending that just isn't satisfying in any way whatsoever. A lot more intestines than this sort of gangster/thriller film needs, too.

Funshutsu kigan: 15-sai baishunfu (Gushing Prayer)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 16 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre de Seve (Fantasia Festival: Behind the Pink Curtain)

I hope that the touring pink eiga film series included in Fantasia makes a stop at Boston, as the Nikkatsu Action! series did a couple years ago. I didn't love Gushing Prayer, but found it fairly interesting. There was a fairly involved discussion before and after about what sex was the stand-in for in this movie, but I think it works well enough if you just take it as it is - a story about kids who are experimenting with sex and trying to devise rules for it that will prevent them from being their parents.

It's an uncomfortable watch in places - the subtitle that has been dropped in order to cause less trouble with bookings is "A 15-Year-Old Prostitute", and lead actress Aki Sasaki does look young enough to make the sex scenes more than a little questionable. If the series does show up in the area, well, that's what you're getting into with this one.

Heruzu Enjueruzu (Hells)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 16 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

It's fitting that this adaptation of Sin-ichi Hiromoto's manga Hells Angels is produced by a company called Madhouse, because it is apparently the result of throwing in everything, plus the kitchen sink, plus any other sinks that may be around. The animation is hand-drawn and stylized, and some new crazy thing, whether it be a visual, an idea, or just a bit of crazy optimism from its blue-haired heroine Linne, pops up every thirty seconds or so. It's dizzying, but delightful, for ninety minutes, at least.

And then it's as if the filmmakers are utterly ignorant of the concept of "enough"; the thing just won't end! They're still pumping out creative and astonishing visuals, but the movie is dry on ideas; the final battle blasts through multiple logical endpoints, and it just gets repetitive: "You have to believe!" "I believe!" "I have doubts!" "Nooooooooo!!!!..." "You have to believe!" And so on. Maybe I'd have been a bit more tolerant if it weren't late and I wasn't feeling kind of under the weather, but there's a real strong vibe of "weren't we just here five minutes ago?" throughout the last half hour.

"Le Tueur de Montmarte" ("The Killer of Montmarte")

* * * (out of four)
Seen 16 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

Because as midnight approached, what I really needed was another featurette that ran nearly an hour. It's a nifty one, though, with fantastic character designs, pitch-black comedy, and a way of combining what may be traditional or digital animation (it can be difficult to tell with this sort of chunky character design) with photographic backgrounds that is much more effective than the technique usually is.

It also seems a bit strung out, and there were a number of walk-outs, though I believe that was more due to the lateness of the hour than the quality of the film. It's got a tendency to go off on tangents that are generally more nifty than tiresome.

Today's plan is GS Wonderland (if I can finish work early), Instant Swamp, "Outer Limits of Animation", Les Lascars, The Chaser (or maybe the other screening of GS Wonderland, if work doesn't co-operate), and Arcanum.

Saturday's plan is Paco and the Magic Book, the Hard Revenge Milly double bill, Yesterday, Crush and Blush, The Horseman, and Smash Cut. Alien Trespass isn't bad.

1 comment:

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