Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fantasia Daily for 25 July 2009: Private Eye, Rough Cut, Embodiment of Evil, and Troll 2

If I had Twitter, sometime around 9pm last night I would have tweeted something about there apparently being "Coffin Joe" cosplay, which is something I can't un-see. The house was packed for director/star José Mojica Marins's appearance, to the extent that I almost didn't get in - for sold-out shows such as these, the number of tickets sold plus passes issued generally exceeds capacity, so they have to fit the last of the pass-holders in where they can.

Truth be told, if there was an English-language alternative across the way, I probably would have been in de Seve; I've got no particular interest in the Coffin Joe series in particular (horror in general is pretty low on my reasons for hitting this fest). If I hadn't been able to get in, it certainly wouldn't have been the end of the world. I had to be amused at some of the VIP/media types acting like it would, though. I mean, I've seen sixty movies so far, and haven't maxed out my pass as well as maybe I could. Should I really act entitled if I don't get to see #61 because some paying customer did?

The festival did put on a pretty nifty show for Marins, though - collaborator Dennison Ramalho and a number of ladies who I presume will be part of Fetish Weekend five weeks from now came out in full leather regalia to set the tone, including having him enter in full costume and a giant coffin. The award he was presented with after the screening was suitably grotesque.

Too bad I hated the movie. As in, it got me thinking about Roger Ebert's comment that he only pulls out the zero star rating for movies that are actually harmful. I thought it was just bad until they started talking about going for realism not just by shooting it in real favelas, but in how they shot some of the torture scenes. That's just messed up.

Geu-rim-ja sal-in (Private Eye)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 25 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

You know why we don't see as many private investigator stories as we used to? The rise in divorce rates. Sure, there are other reasons - it's almost impossible to do anything without leaving a data trail in the 21sst Century, for instance - but ever more people know what a PI's real bread and butter is now: Tailing unfaithful spouses to get pictures. Even in 1910 Korea. That's Hong Jin-ho's game in Private Eye, and he tends to add insult to injury by selling the pictures to the newspapers afterward.

No, the dangerous jobs are best left to cops like Oh Young-dal (Oh Dal-soo), just called to investigate the bloody murder of Min Soo-hyun, son of the Interior Minister. There's a snag, though - the body dumped in the woods was scavenged by medical student Kwang-su (Ryu Deok-hwan). When he realizes what he has, he also sees that there's no way he can report his find without suspicion falling upon himself. So, Hong Jin-ho (Hwang Jeong-min) it is - even if he likes to avoid danger, the reward money is more than enough to book him passage to America and a new start.

Despite the obvious similarities - a doctor sidekick, an early 20th Century milieu, and the use of forensic science and detection to crack cases long before they became standard police procedure - Jin-ho is not just Sherlock Holmes transplanted to Korea. He's far too cheerful and exuberant - imagine Holmes asking a confused Watson to give him a high five when they find an important clue! Hwang makes Jin-ho work not just as a genius, but as a bit of a hustler, unprepared for his first really big case but also up for the challenge.

Full review at EFC.

"No Escape"

* * * (out of four)
Seen 25 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

The eight-minute warm-up to Rough Cut is a quick, economically shot bit by Till Martinsen about a story that takes place off to the side in a hostage situation. Plenty of nifty, tense back-and-forth, although I think the end undercuts the tense situation set up earlier with a too-quick gotcha ending.

Yeong-hwa-neun Yeong-hwa-da (Rough Cut)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 25 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

I've got to be honest here... I kind of wanted the Hollywood ending to this. Part of what's so much fun about Korean movies is that they don't feel obligated to take even familiar genre films in the same direction that everyone else does, but would that have been so bad here. This one sort of feels like "nyah, I've proved my point, so here we are again."

Shame, because Jang Hoon (working from a screenplay by Kim Ki-duk) has made an extremely funny movie, one which manages to lampoon the film industry with love as well as hit on familiar gangster tropes. So Ji-sub and Kang Ji-hwan are excellent as the lead characters - a gangster who loves the movies and a movie star who often acts like a thug - and Ko Chang-seok steals nearly every scene he's in as the film-within-a-film's director.

Encarnação do Demônio (Embodiment of Evil)

* ½ (out of four)
Seen 25 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival - José Mojica Marins)

There's a big, international cult following for this stuff? Really? I haven't seen the original "Coffin Joe" films from the sixties - nor do I have any interest in doing so - but this is not electrifying horror that has some sort of especially subversive or scary idea behind it. This is fairly grotesque bloodletting, admittedly, although there are no images that stick with me the next morning, and a central character who seems more fitting as a horror host than villain.

Just a dismal movie, really; it's at its most lively before Joe is released from prison, and the warden is yelling into the phone about what a bad idea this is.

Troll 2

* ½ (out of four)
Seen 25 July 2009 at Concordia Theatre Hall (Fantasia Festival)

I can sort of get the cult following here - Troll 2 is sort of a cult movie perfect storm of lack of talent, lack of funds, and 1980s kitsch. I don't think I have any need to ever see it again, but as entertaining bad movies go, it does all right - especially since I was worried about it not being a fun movie so much as a thing, what with there being a documentary that exposes some of the cast as apparently being mentally ill and a roadshow. I mean, some friends in Boston had a little Troll 2 party last night and I'm half-convinced that the only reason George Hardy didn't show up was because he was already committed to Fantasia.

Sunday features Fireball, The Eclipse, and Breathless. I would have liked to make the 10am kaiju show (Mothra, a short, and the documentary Bringing Godzilla Down to Size), but it was just too early after stating up for Troll 2. K-20: Legend of the Mask is recommended, enough that I may see it again, depending how the day works out.

Monday will be my last day in town, and a short one - having seen the afternoon shows, I'll go with Fine, Totally Fine and Antique. Most of those shows are recommended - The Divine Weapon, My Dear Enemy, and Best Worst Movie especially. Dead Snow isn't bad, but four screenings? Really?

1 comment:

jaxrogue said...

Ha, ha. I had no idea there was a Troll 2. Usually I like those schlocky movies like the Leprechaun series.