Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Fantasia Daily, 2013.06 (23 July 2013): Bounty Killer & Son of Sardaar

Remember how I said the other day how glad I was to be seeing more shorts this year? I skipped the "Small Gauge Trauma" program even though it was the only thing playing at the time. What can I say, I can be squeamish when something is specifically promising trauma. Instead, I took advantage of a long(ish) afternoon to head down to the old port and make the annual visit to Pointe-à-Callière and see the new exhibits, which this year included features on tea and the Beatles, centered around the band's one (extremelly brief) visit to Montreal. It also gave me time to stop into Future Shop and buy a spare power supply for my work laptop next week, and grab a couple slices of pizza before settling in for a couple of movies.

Bounty Killer's Christian Pitre and Barak Hardley

Say hi to Christian Pitre and Barak Hardley of Bounty Killer; they seemed to be having a great time up there, which I get the impression carries over from the making of the film. Well, I hope so, anyway. I kind of wish I'd had the presence of mind to pull my phone out while waiting in line, as I don't know if anything illustrates a good festival's lack of put-on-airs than the stars of the next movie screening getting out of a cab and taking pictures with their own phones rather than some elaborate red-carpet ceremony.

I considered going home after that, but I figured why not stay for Son of Sandaar, and I'm glad I did; it had me from the sheer exaggerated manliness of the opening shot. Granted, I really didn't recognize that it was basically Our Hospitality until they went through the "Do you have a gun I could borrow" bit, and I do have to admit it had me a little annoyed from that point. If you're remaking something, say so in the program or something, because feeling like someone is trying to put one over you can make you feel a little hostile. The really crazy part is that this isn't the first or last time Our Hospitality is being remade in India - this article shows one for each of the subcontinent's major languages (about five in all) in a four-year period. Doesn't mention Buster Keaton at all, though.

Anyway, that got me home late and maybe had me feeling lazy today. The plan is Uzumasa Jacopetti and OXV: The Manual at de Seve and Black Out at the Imperial. I'm tempting fate with the "SCIENCE!" t-shirt even though the Red Sox play the Rays again tonight.

Bounty Killer

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 23 July 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival: Action!, DCP)

The world may be a ruined desert in Bounty Killer, complete with the usual settlements built entirely out of wreckage, elaborately made-up bands of wandering savages, and the like, but it's also one where the one percent have jetpacks. That's a fair way to describe this movie, I think - built around a Mad Max template but with a bit of The Rocketeer at its center.

The world is a wasteland in the aftermath of the Corporate Wars, and the Council of Nine is looking to clear the slate by taking out all white-collar criminals. These "bounty killers" are celebrities, most notably Drifter (Matthew Marsden) and frequent partner Mary Death (Christian Pitre). But just after they've brought in an office party's worth of execs, new bounties are sent out - one for Drifter's source, and one for Drifter himself. And if having Mary chase him while trying to clear his name isn't bad enough, Drifter and new "gun caddy" Jack LeMans (Barak Hardley) run afoul of a band of "gypsies" led by Mocha Sujata (Eve).

As you can see, there's some fun twists on the standard post-apocalyptic set-up there, and that doesn't even get into how Drifter and Mary are celebrities in this world (which, even more than usual, seems to have a weird economy, in that beer is rare compared to bullets and gasoline and there are glossy fan magazines for Mary to autograph). It's not anything close to great satire and we've seen businessmen with guns before, but it does let the filmmakers give the movie a laid-back, humorous vibe without it really seeming like a parody of its often-grim genre.

Full review at EFC.

Son Of Sardaar

* * * (out of four)
Seen 23 July 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, HD)

I've got to admit, I felt like I had let someone down when it took me until Son of Sandaar repeated a fairly specific gag to recognize that it is much more than less an uncredited remake of Buster Keaton's silent classic Our Hospitality; even not being big on "spot the reference", that's one I've seen fairly recently. If you're going to steal, though, you might as well steal from the best, and this particular version has plenty of laughs of its own.

Jassi Randhawa (Ajay Devgn), born in Punjab but raised in London, where he's a bit of a troublemaker, receives a notice that he has inherited some land back in India, so he resolves to fly there and sell it, only then learning that his family has a long-standing feud with another, and Billoo Singh (Sanjay Dutt) was especially keen to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of Jassi's father before his mother left the country with her son. A genial optimist, Jassi figures that this must be completely forgotten by now, and things are looking up when he meets a cute girl on the train. Of course Sukhmit (Sonakshi Sinha) is going to be from the Singh family, and Jassi will wind up in the Singh house before anybody realizes what's up. Fortunately, no host would murder a guest in his house - a fact Jassi is determined to use to his advantage.

This is almost exactly the plot of Our Hospitality, right down to the train and the friendly-seeming guide who stops in various houses along the street to ask if they have a spare weapon. To the credit of writer/director Ashwani Dhir, he doesn't attempt to re-stage any Keaton gags with Devgn (how close things are to immediate predecessor Maryada Ramanna, a Telugu-language take on the material from 2010, I can't say), although I wonder how much Jassi's constant grin and imperatives to the rest of the characters to try smiling more is meant to be a twist on Keaton's great stone face. One of the more entertaining characters, Billoo's long-suffering fiancée (he has pledged to delay his wedding until the Randhawas are stomped out, you see), is new to the story and the ending tilts more to romantic declarations than daring stuntwork.

Full review at EFC.

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