Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Fantasia Daily, 2012.06 (24 July 2012): Punch, Hemorrhage, Alter Egos, and Jackpot

Does anybody know how to actually get offline maps to cache on an HTC Rezound? Blasted thing has been saying "Queued for Download" for days, and as great as Google's free applications are, you get what you pay for, support-wise.

But, that's today's problem (and will likely be solved by me buying a laminated paper map). Time for yesterday's highlights!

I wound up missing Headshot - just didn't get down to Concordia in time. A shame, as it was the second and last screening, but given that it's directed by noted Thai auteur Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, I've got a feeling that it will eventually play Boston. It left time for fish & chips at Sir Winston Churchill's and a trip to the drugstore to get shaving supplies, as well as the thing a writer needs most after a pencil and paper - an eraser!

That made Punch the first movie of the day, and it's kind of not the greatest name - the main character's kickboxing plays a relatively small part in the picture, and it's much more comedic - but it was a surprisingly fun movie. It kind of joins Starry Starry Night in the category of stuff that I wouldn't mind recommending to certain younger viewers (there's a lot of subtitled profanity), and there were a few kids there, which made that ZombiU trailer ahead of it even more uncomfortable. Niftily put together, but I think I've seen it enough, especially ahead of things that aren't hard-R-type movies.

Mitch Davis, Braden Croft, Benjamin Mallin, Fantasia's Mitch Davis with questions for "Hemorrhage" director Braden Croft and producer Benjamin Mallin (?)

Hemorrhage wound up being the second film of the day, and a good one. I'm not usually a fan of serial killer movies, but this one was well-executed, creepy, and oddly compelling. It was made for a song with a small cast in Edmonton, Alberta, which isn't one of the big filmmaking centers of Canada, but the cast they put together was very good.

Especially noteworthy: The film's leading actress, Brittney Grabill, was apparently just sixteen at the time of filming, despite playing an adult part. It is pretty darn unusual to see it work that way, but she was actually quite good.

Short film directors, The directors of "Superegos" and "Alchemy and Other Imperfections" (Zachary Rothman)

It was a noteworthy day for short films, with two pretty decent ones before Alter Egos and one great one before Jackpot. Unfortunately, I didn't catch the name of the gentleman on the left, who is part of a Montreal filmmaking group called Kino that created "Superegos" specifically to play before Alter Egos at its world premiere. It's a funny little thing about superheros on blind dates with a girl who is not hugely impressed with their powers, getting plenty of laughs. The other one before Alter Egos was "Alchemy and Other Imperfections", an amusingly steampunkycreation that seemed a little puffed up, but was nicely put together for an $800-in-eight-days contest shoot.

The short before Jackpot was "Zakariassen Must Die", an amusingly mean-spirited slow burn from Norway that builds a lot of black comedy before hitting the audience with a sentimental stinger. Its makers should try to convince whoever gets the US rights to Jackpot to make them a pair, because they combine well and Jackpot is on the short side.

Jordan Galland, Brooke Nevin, Joey Kern, Kris Lemche, Danny Masterson, "Alter Egos" director Jordan Galland with stars Brooke Nevin, Joey Kern, Kris Lemche and Danny Masterson

Apparently this was the world premiere of Alter Egos, and one of the toughest tickets for the festival. I was literally the last person in; the festival crew not only had the usual throng of press and VIPs to deal with, but promotional passes as well. I wound up sticking the line out because I was sort of blocked in (the VIP/guest/media line at Hall isn't so much a line as a throng), and wound up moving toward the front as others bailed to try their luck with Amok. I only got in because one person who was on the guest list failed to show and the people ahead of me were a pair.

Anyway, funny movie, and it's unfortunate that the Q&A couldn't last longer - getting everybody in and the extra short meant that the tail-end of the movie was starting to press up against the start time of Jackpot - because it's a fun one. Left to right, you see director Jordan Galland with stars Brooke Nevin, Joey Kern, Kris Lemche and Danny Masterson, and they're a bunch of funny people. Kern, Lemche, and Masterson more or less had their parts written with them in mind, and that was pretty evident when you saw them just being themselves. Of course, that unfairly leaves out Brooke Nevin, who described making the film as like "movie camp", since they were shooting more or less in one location for the most part and staying in a house together.

So, on to Day Seven. My plans are Black Pond, Reign of Assassins, Resolution, and As Luck Would Have It.

Wandeuki (Punch)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 24 July 2012 in Concordia University Cinema J.A. de Seve (Fantasia 2012, DCP)

What a pleasant surprise this turned out to be - a movie that looks for all the world like standard "neglected student/inspirational teacher" fluff but turns out to be quite funny and self-aware from start to finish without ever becoming too sappy. The closest thing its got to a fault is its length - it has a lot of episodes to its episodic structure - but it never seemed to go on too long.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 24 July 2012 in Concordia University Cinema de Seve (Fantasia 2012, HD)

Very interesting little movie here, as it seems very rare for this sort of serial-killer movie to be so carefully framed in terms of mental illness, to the point where the main character seems sympathetic long past what would logically be the point of no return. It's the sort of movie where you know that there's going to be some sort of realigning of perspective toward the end, and you hope it's of the "horrible misunderstanding" variety as opposed to something else.

It's got a very nice fly-on-the-wall perspective, too - occasional bits that seem like documentary footage create an extra bit of urgency without forcing it into that structure and its limitations.

Alter Egos

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 July 2012 in Concordia University Theatre Hall (Fantasia 2012, HD)

It would have been really easy to make Alter Egos little more than a feature-length series of jokes made at the expense of comic book clichés loosely connected by a standard story template. And there's a lot of that going on here, but there's also an actual story that doesn't suffer despite the silliness around it.

In a world much like ours, except with superheroes who work together as part of the government-supported Super Corps - though there's a movement to de-fund the organization - Brendan (Kris Lemche) is having a bit of an identity crisis, in that his superhero alter ego Fridge is having an affair with his girlfriend Emily (Christine Evangelista). So when friend and colleague C-Thru (Joey Kern) calls him to participate in a mission to help transport notorious supervillain The Shrink (John Ventimglia), he's in. However, when he arrives at the deserted motel in the Hamptons where C-Thru and Shrink are located, its soon clear that there's more going on than meets the eye, even before you consider Claudel (Brooke Nevin), the cute girl at the front desk, and Jimmy (Danny Masterson), the local cop who holds a grudge against the Corps for rejecting him.

The screenplay for a movie like this doesn't have to do a lot - in practical terms, it's got to find a way to keep the concept cost-effective without necessarily feeling cheap, while also delivering some jokes and ideally a through-line that keeps a bad joke from stopping it dead. So, it's kind of impressive that Jordan Galland's story both does that and goes for more; the story with Shrink sets itself up to be potentially twisty and suspenseful early on, and delivers on that, while the parallel romantic comedy/farce story with Claudel and Emily has a lot of funny material. What's impressive is how well C-Thru fits a different purpose in both without it being a seeming contradiction, and that the serious story has comic relief of its own while the funny one builds to a climax with a bit of tension, and the intersections don't feel forced.

Full review at EFC.

Arme Riddere (Jackpot)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 July 2012 in Concordia University Theatre Hall (Fantasia 2012 Spotlight Denmark/Norway, HD)

So, it looks like I'm going to have to start putting Jo Nesbø stuff in my Amazon basket, as any guy who comes up with the raw material for both this and Headhunters is my kind of darkly funny. Proper credit must also go to Magnus Martens, though, who took the original story and made a fast-paced, very funny movie out of it. At some point, someone could have seen it running short and asked to bulk it up, but I don't see how making this longer would have helped it any.

The cast is also pretty great across the board, especially the scene-stealing investigating detective (Henrik Mestad), who is just as incredulous as the audience at what's going on but has just enough smarm to him to make sure that suspect Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) is the guy the audience identifies with.

Also, I dig that Martens kept the important hint toward the finale visible enough throughout that he didn't have to do a late flashback. If you don't get what happened, that's your own problem.

Full review at EFC.

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