Friday, August 03, 2012

The Fantasia Daily, 2012.15 (2 August 2012): Citadel, You Are the Apple of My Eye, Replicas, and Ace Attorney.

Three very busy shows where it (at times) looked like a press pass wasn't necessarily going to get someone in, and only one of them (Ace Attorney) had an extra screening scheduled. In fact, it's the only thing that's picked up an extra screening this year, which is kind of surprising; Fantasia has been pretty good about responding to demand in the past. However, the schedule has been so packed that there were none of the usual TBAs listed.

A bit of horrible photography before I go murder a burger somewhere:


Replicas director Jeremy Power Regimbal, who tried to get his co-writers, producers, and even a cast member to come down to face interrogation with him but no dice. Nice chat, though. The movie is pretty self-explanatory, so it wound up being pretty short. IFC picked his movie up for distribution at Tribeca and here's hoping that it gets a theatrical release as well as playing on demand.

If it does, though, I've got to hope it looks a lot better than it did here. The projection at Fantasia is usually pretty good, and I was (as per usual) sitting toward the front, but this looked like a DVD, to be quite honest. Lots of jaggies, anybody who was standing in the middle distance looked very pixilated, and fades to black were really rough. Supposedly DCP tends to be 2K or so, but it didn't look it.


King-wei Chu introduces Patrick Désilets, whose "MULVAR IS CORRECT CANDIDATE!" animated short played in front of Ace Attorney. I laughed. It's not complicated, cutting-edge humor, but it works. I suspect that it will be online at Mulvar's website soon, and I find it very sad that only eight of us are following @VoteMULVAR on the twitters.

It was, in part, promotion for the "Fantastique Week-End de court-métrage québécois", which will be taking over the de Seve theater for the bulk of this weekend. It's cool that there are enough good shorts being made in Montreal and Quebec for that sort of showcase; it's bad that it limits the options of us non-francophones a bit. So, my plans today are Isn't Anybody Alive, Carré Blanc (which, it has just been announced, will screen with "La Jetté" as a tribute to the late Chris Marker), Game of Werewolves, New Kids Turbo, and Dead Bite. See you there!


* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 2 August 2012 in Concordia University Cinema de Seve (Fantasia 2012, DCP)

What to make of the apparent growing terror folks in the British Isles seem to have of their cities's poorer neighborhoods, at least when seen through the prism of their movies? There seem to be several Harry Browns for every Attack the Block, and I'm reasonably certain that I've seen another film with a very similar premise to Citadel at this festival a year or two ago. As familiar as its themes may be, though, Citadel is a darn good one.

The terror of the council blocks starts early; Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) and his nine-months-pregnant wife Joanne (Amy Shiels) are moving out where three hoodie-wearing marauders attack her while he can't escape the balky old elevator to help her. Nine months later, Tom's an agoraphobic basket case, a condition not helped when the town's crazy priest (James Cosmo) tells him that "they'll come to get her", apparently referring to his baby daughter.

Writer/director Ciaran Foy does an excellent job of creating a fear-driven urban hell, in part by using some of the standard tricks - draining the color from the picture, making every location a mess - but it's particularly clever how he squelches hope over the course of the film even though it covers a fairly short period of time. Tom's support group shrinks from something official and organized to one friend; services like the bus and even electricity become less available and reliable; and, of course, an obviously symbolic (but no less effective a horror-movie-moment for it) coup de grace. That we're told straight-up how to watch for fear makes its signs no less effective.

Full review at EFC.

Na xie nian, wo men yi qi zhui de nu hai (You Are the Apple of My Eye)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 2 August 2012 in Concordia University Cinema de Seve (Fantasia 2012, DCP)

I double-dog-dare some American studio to remake Giddens Ko's (semi-autobiographical?) teen/youth comedy and keep all the boner and nudity jokes in. It's not that there'd be nothing left without them, but they are some of the movie's funniest bits and would give an American director trying for a PG-13 fits.

It's actually a nice little coming-of-age/romance, despite having a character or two too many. As much as the ending seems inevitable from the set-up, there's real charm in how main characters Ko Ching-teng and Shen Chia-yi come together in an unconventional way. It's a very nice look at how their relationship makes both better, more complete people individually as well as together.

Full review at EFC.


* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 2 August 2012 in Concordia University Cinema de Seve (Fantasia 2012, DCP)

A lot of the press for this seems to be categorizing it as a "home invasion" thriller, and while it certainly fits the profile, I kind of like that I came into it (without having dug my way into the "R" section of the program yet) thinking it was going to be something a little more fantastical. That's fine; it had me looking at the characters for signs of weird behavior which was awarded in spades.

No matter what's actually going on, this is a tense little movie that establishes its atmosphere early - and finds ways to balance gloom and something intrusive while doing so. Director Jeremy Regimbal does a pretty nifty job of playing the two families in the movie as mirror images of each other, showing them tightly wound and then letting loose in the final act without ever letting the tension go slack.

Good stuff.

Full review at EFC.

Gyakuten saiban (Ace Attorney)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 2 August 2012 in Concordia University Theatre Hall (Fantasia 2012, 35mm)

I've never played the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney video game, but I gather it's just as deeply silly as Takashi Miike's adaptation, which I submit must be a good thing. I also suggest that it's quite possible that by adapting something that is all plot and self-awarely silly, Miike has perhaps made the best video game adaptation yet, without undermining what makes the game popular.

It's a bit long, in large part because video games have repetition built into their structure and the screenwriters don't exactly get around that, but that's not too objectionable, as it gives the audience a great deal of Hiroki Narimiya as Phoenix Wright (Ryuichi Naruhodo in the original Japanese). Believe it or not, this may be one of the great comedic performances of the year; Pheonix is a guy who looks like he should be incredibly confident but who is in over his head and knows it, and Narimiya just nails it delightfully.

The actual plot? Sure, it's an offense to the legal profession, law enforcement, and anybody who has ever seen an episode of Law & Order, but it gets the characters running around in fine fashion.

Full review at EFC.

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