Monday, April 23, 2012

Boston Underground Film Festival 2012.04 (1 April): Gandu, Some Guy Who Kills People, and Klovn

Sorry, folks, no Horrible Photography; as great as BUFF is, it didn't quite draw Bengali and Danish filmmakers out to do Q&As, and I have to imagine that everybody involved with Some Guy Who Kills People is onto their next project by now.

As I mentioned back when I recapped the weekend for This Week In Tickets, it's not a proper Underground Film Fest if things don't get a little freaky, and while the rough economy means that the days of sex toys being tossed to the audience are past, Gandu delivered the Sex More Explicit Than I Bargained For, which was made doubly uncomfortable by coming at the point in the movie when people in the audience were starting to abandon the theater. It stopped one of them in his tracks, and he just stood there at the end of the aisle so that those of us left in the theater could watch him watch the sex scene. Awkward! But it finished, and he left; I guess it held his interest while it was going on but didn't instill the desire to see more.

Anyway, this was a long day of movie-going - it kicked off with a 10am screening of Monsiur Lazhar at the Coolidge followed by a little dawdling before seeing Intruders at Boston Common. Good stuff, both of them. I actually wound up saving a little for later, picking up a couple of $10 movies at the merchandise stand (The Stunt Man on DVD and the original Inglorious Bastards on Blu-ray).

Anyway, good festival as always, and here's hoping that it did well enough (and the world around us is doing well enough) that they can scale themselves back up again next year. I didn't like everything I saw there, but as I've said many a time, it would be a lousy underground festival if I did, as I've actually got very mainstream tastes (I just don't mind looking around to satisfy them). It is one where you can absolutely feel the enthusiasm, and the risk-taking means that for every lousy movie you see, there's likely an incredible one to counter it.


* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 1 April 2012 in the Brattle Theatre (Boston Underground Film Festival, digital)

Gandu is almost more interesting for what it is - an "anti-Bollywood" movie - than as a movie with characters and story and all. Shot in stark black-and-white, and musically propelled by hard-edged Bengali rap, it focuses on everyday life rather than a strong plot or story. It's not likely to be similar to any Indian movie the audience has seen before, for better or worse.

"Gandu" means "asshole" in Bengali slang, which makes it kind of a crummy nickname for a guy to have, but that's what the title character (Anubrata Basu) is stuck with. He spends his days hanging out with Ricksha (Joyraj Bhattacharya), the neighborhood's aptly-monickered Bruce Lee-worshipping rickshaw puller. His mother is the mistress of a wealthy man, and while they're screwing Gandu picks the man's pocket, although he mostly spends the money at the internet cafe owned by the same man. He dreams of making it big in the hip-hop world.

And repeat. Early on, Gandu falls into a sort of rhythm, and that's not exactly a bad thing. Filmmaker Kaushik Murkherjee - credited as "Q" - does an impressive job of showing the characters' lives basically going nowhere without feeling slow. Part of it is how he uses music; where Bollywood musical numbers come in predictable patterns and tell are generally fluffy filler, Gandu's raps are angry, direct, and serve as exclamation points. They're a thudding bass-line to the rest of the movie, with subtitled lyrics leaping right to the center of the screen and keeping it moving for quite a while.

Full review at EFC.

Some Guy Who Kills People

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 1 April 2012 in the Brattle Theatre (Boston Underground Film Festival, digital)

Funny thing about the festival circuit; a movie can be there for a while - I missed seeing this at Montreal's Fantasia Festival last July, catching The Innkeepers instead. I don't regret seeing that at all, but I was lucky to get a second chance to see Some Guy Who Kills People on a big screen with a crowd, because it is hilarious. Heck, it would be a pretty darn entertaining movie even without all the murder.

Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan) has recently returned from an extended stay in a mental hospital, and he's living a quiet life - working at the local ice cream shop with his high-school buddy Irv (Leo Fitzpatrick), drawing comics in his spare time, and enduring the withering sarcasm of his mother Ruth (Karen Black). He's about to have his quiet routine thrown by a pair of ladies entering his life - Stephanie (Lucy Davis), who is just out of a bad marriage; and Amy (Ariel Gade), the twelve-year-old daughter he's never had any contact with. And if that's not complicated enough, the Sheriff (Barry Bostwick) is making time with Ken's mother, and he can't possibly miss the correlation between Ken's late-night excursions and the dead bodies of the guys who tormented him in high school forever.

This movie has a lot of things going for it, but tops among them is the ensemble cast. Barry Bostwick, for instance, has been playing puffed-up doofs for years, but his sheriff is a masterpiece of the form. He hits every joke square on the nose, but also makes a character that could be nothing but a deadpan goof surprisingly well-rounded as the movie goes along. Karen Black absolutely kills as the mean mom character, which can often be played as just nasty, but here is genuinely funny as well. And Ariel Gade is absolutely fantastic - she pours boundless energy into Amy, making the precocious girl everything that's wonderful and optimistic about kids without ever getting on the audience's nerves and occasionally showing us the character hurting. They all play well against each other, too - Bostwick's banter with Eric Price is fantastic, while Gade bounces off Black and Davis just as well as she does star Kevin Corrigan.

Full review at EFC.

Klovn: The Movie

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 1 April 2012 in the Brattle Theatre (Boston Underground Film Festival, digital)

Speaking of stuff that played Fantasia last year, I saw this there and nearly busted a gut laughing. It absolutely holds up to a second viewing, even when one is somewhat prepared for just where Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen are willing to go. The initial shock is perhaps gone, but the anticipation of the forthcoming wrongness makes up for it.

Someone, get the TV series on Region 1 DVD/Region A Blu-ray, because this is hilarious. And not just because Danny McBride is apparently going to remake it, which is... Man, I don't know. It's not like the comedy here is too sophisticated for McBride, but I've yet to see him demonstrate the kind of precision the comedy in this movie displays. It's crudity married to great skill, and I just don't see McBridge as the guy for that.

Plus, if you want to cast based on looks, you want Drew Carey in the Frank Hvam role. Or you could just go with the fantastic original.

Full review at EFC.

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