Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Fantasia Daily, 2013.09 (26 July 2013): The Complex, How to Use Guys with Secret Tips, Big Bad Wolves, and Zombie Hunter

You know what stinks? When you do some laundry and the dryer doesn't quite get everything dry, and the damp blue jeans that were in the middle of the basket sort of sit while you see movies all day. Yeah, that did wind up rather literal. I'll have to remember this for next week.

Mitch Davis, Aharon Keshales, and Navot Papushado photo IMAG0418_zps1dd5ad0f.jpg

Say hi to Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, the directors of Big Bad Wolves, along with Mitch Davis, who gave them the sort of patented enthusiastic introduction that seemed to make them worry about letting the audience down. Not likely, but they were very excited to be here, even pulling out a video camera to document that, yeah, there are festival audiences that really go nuts for this sort of movie. They joked that it was going to play on the 8pm news in Israel, and, man, I hope not - I'm not the most enthusiastic applauder most of the time and I was in the center of the second row - and the guy in front of me had left his seat to take pictures. So, uh, hi, Tel Aviv. I really did like these guys' movie.

Also - I don't know if it's a rule of thumb that you can tell the good movies by which one the other filmmakers are excited to see, but I spotted Bobcat Goldthwait and Buddy Gravaziano in the audience for Big Bad Wolves. Sure, it's pretty close to their type of movie anyway, and they both seem like guys who don't just go to film festivals to hawk their wares, but the support was really cool to see.

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That's Zombie Hunter producer (and guy who had a half-dozen credits in the visual effects part of this movie) Chris Le, and though I didn't really go for his movie, I loved the genuine happiness he felt at having this sort of audience - he said that as he walked down St. Catherine Street, he saw the line and asked what it was sure, surprised that it was to get into his movie. It sounded like there were a lot of first-timers working on it, and while I'll get into issues when full-review time comes around, you do have to love people who love making movies.

Today's plan looks like a lot of crisscrossing: Zero Charisma (if I can get in) at de Seve, Bushido Man & Machi Action at the Imperial, back to de Seve for L'Autre Monde, and then (maybe) The Demon's Rook at the Imperial for midnight. OXV: The Manual is highly recommended. I'm the guy in the Red Sox shirt that says "Wily Mo" on the back.

Kuroyuri Danchi (The Complex)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 26 July 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, HD)

Hideo Nakata's new one seems to start out with such promise - creepy visuals, a likable lead, the possibility of a whole apartment complex haunted with ghosts, and a knack for building tension out of small, real things - that it's disappointing to see just how bland it becomes by the end. It doesn't quite descend into the "random creepy things" school of lazy horror, but just becomes the sort of ghost story whose twists are all too familiar. It's the sort of thing that, if movies were filmed in sequence, would tell a story of a talented filmmaker who started out enthusiastic but just lost interest by the time he had to move things to a climax and wrap them up.

Namja Sayongseolmyungseo (How to Use Guys with Secret Tips)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 26 July 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, HD)

As much as this sort of candy-colored Korean romantic comedy can be little more than silly, How to Use Guys with Secret Tips is a little gem. It reminded me a bit of 200 Pounds Beauty in how a thoroughly winning lead performance can help avoid some of the questionable thinking in its premise, but is better in almost every way: The jokes are darn funny, the cast of characters is enjoyably eccentric, and the bright colors and tangent-filled storytelling give it a great screwball energy.

And, most of all, Lee Si-young is fantastic: She's cute as anything, genuinely funny, and gets across the slight disgust Choi Bona feels resorting to these sort of feminin wiles to get ahead. She's a heroine that it's very easy to root for even when she's doing something kind of awful.

Mi mefahed mezeev hara (Big Bad Wolves)

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 26 July 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, DCP)

Even if Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado were just one filmmaking team out of many people making this sort of movie in Israel, Big Bad Wolves would be a pretty terrific movie, a step up from their already impressive Rabies. But they're not; this kind of movie doesn't show up homegrown on Israeli screens much at all, and maybe that's why they seem like such a clear and unique voice, and their movies events not to miss.

The story itself doesn't seem like much new: A little girl goes missing during a game of hide-and-seek, only to be found horrifically mutilated. The police have soon pinned their hopes on a suspect - mild-mannered schoolteacher Dror (Rotem Keinan) - but when they are caught trying to beat a confession out of him, the case is assigned to by-the-book detective Rami (Menashe Noy) while instigator Mickey (Lior Ashkenzai) is reassigned to traffic. Well, technically; their boss Zvika (Dvir Benedek) has suggested he do everything possible off-the-books to solve the case. Unbeknownst to him, the victim's father Gidin'ka (Tzahi Grad) is also looking to get answers out of Dror.

The first parts of Big Bad Wolves crackle and move: The opening credits seem to tell a nifty, stylized story on their own before ending on the cliffhanger that gets the rest of the story going, and what comes after doesn't sell out the high expectations it creates. Keshales & Papushado create a set of pointed scenes that aren't rushed through individually but tell their portions of the story with no waste. Unimportant bits are skipped so that each major event leads directly to the next, but also sneakily fine-tuning how that second half is going to play.

Full review at EFC.

Zombie Hunter

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 26 July 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, DCP)

Good news, independent filmmakers: Recognizable character actor Danny Trejo will be in your movie. He may not do a whole lot to elevate it, but does this thing get into festival midnight showings without him? Maybe - it's got an actress with some potential and some decent gore & CGI effects - but it's very much the sort of thing you watch to laugh at, rather than love. The script is ridiculously amateurish, the acting is poor, the mythology silly.

But... Danny Trejo. Having him there doesn't make it worse, but it did mess around with expectations a bit- instead of being a movie by beginning filmmakers where you say "hey, good job, build on that", it's a disappointment. Although, still, I hope they build on it. Their movie's a mess, but there is potential.

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