Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Fantasia Daily, 2013.17 (3 August 2013): Berserk Golden Age Arc II & III, Discopath, The Rooftop, HK: Forbidden Superhero, and You're Next

One thing about Fantasia that becomes especially striking on the weekends is how, while many of the fans have broad tastes, there are certain narrower constituencies that come out for certain films and then are rather less present afterward.

For instance, the day started with an anime double feature at 10am, and the Imperial Theater was packed, almost as much as the lobby as when they ran a quick test between shows. After Berserk Golden Age Arc III, though, I was one of just a small number standing in the lobby - as folks who saw one show are allowed to do if they have tickets/passes for the next so they can keep their seats rather than be penalized for seeing multiple movies by being sent to the end of the line that stretches around the block - but the theater filled up again, this time with folks looking to see that locally-made-by-friend-of-the-festival Renaud Gauthier. Some cast and crew was in attendence:

Cast & Crew of "Discopath"

Gauthier is the one with the microphone; I couldn't tell you who the rest are with the exception of the fellow with the mohawk. That's make-up artist Remy Couture, who was actually the subject of a documentary that played Fantasia a couple years ago (Art/Crime) about how he was arrested and prosecuted under the city's blue laws for some grotesque photo shoots he did. I believe it was last year when word came down that the case was finally over, and he's been able to go back to building things like what the lady next to him is holding. He actually did the make-up work for two movies in the festival, but I didn't catch Thanatomorphose, which looked a bit too intense for me.

FULL Cast & Crew of "Discopath"

As you can see, that first photo only scratched the surface; pretty much everybody who makes a movie locally can come out for the premiere. A lot of them were sitting in the second row with me.

The lobby cleared out again after Discopath for The Rooftop, but after that it was pretty much business as usual for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I wound up sitting next to the guy who decided that HK: Forbidden Superhero needed him responding loudly with words to every joke, and I won't lie - some of his gags hit. That doesn't make him any less of a twerp, though.

My last show of the day was 24 Exposures, which had co-star Joe Swanberg there to answer questions about what he could. It was a real shame director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett couldn't be there as well, both for this and 24 Exposures on Sunday, because both screenings basically had Swanberg talking about them, and hearing stuff from the horses' mouths might have been nice. But they are shooting another movie - this group is rather prolific - so that's not how it turned out.

After that, I suspect there was a fair amount of turnover for the DJXL5 vs. Orgazmo Sonore show, but I could feel myself hitting a wall, and went to hit the sack.

Today's plan: At the Imperial for 009 Re: Cyborg, Imaginaerum, and Tales from the Dark Part 1; de Seve for 24 Exposures and 5-25-77. Number 10 Blues/Goodbye Saigon is interesting, Cheap Thrills not so much.

Berserk: Ohgon jidai hen 2 - dorudorei koryaku hen (Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 3 August 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival: AXIS, HD)

The first of Toshiyuki Kubooka's three Berserk movies did not quite end just as things were getting good, but it was quite obviously just the opening act of a trilogy set to climax in part III (Advent). This second part, The Battle for Doldrey, more or less uses that event to build a bridge from start to finish, but does so well enough to not just feel like killing time.

In the last movie, ferociously strong mercenary Guts (voice of Hiroaki Iwanaga) joined the Band of the Hawk, led by General Griffith (voice of Takahiro Sakurai), who hired them on with the Kingdom of the Midlands, engaged in a 100-year war with Chuder. As this one begins, the two sides are pitched in battle, with Chuder's Lord Adon (voice of Rikiya Koyama) paying particular attention to the Hawks' second-in-command Casca (voice of Toa Yukinari). Not at her best that day, she and Guts get separated from the group, but return in time to be healed and ready to fight when Griffith pledges to take Castle Doldrey, a nigh-impregnable fortress with 30,000 men defending it compared to the Hawks' 5,000.

The titular battle takes up the middle third of the movie, and what goes on around it can perhaps be described as Guts's and Casca's love story. These two are not particularly romantic types, so don't expect pretty words, lingering glances, or heartfelt pleading not to leave - it occasionally plays out in fairly crude fashion - but it's a chance to consider them as human beings who do something other than fighting, relating as men and women as well as warriors.

Full review at EFC.

Berserk: Ohgon jidai hen 3 - Kôrin (Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Advent)

* * (out of four)
Seen 3 August 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival: AXIS, HD)

The Berserk franchise takes a heck of a turn right here, and it's hard to judge the movie as a result. If Lucent and Studio 4°C make more movies - the manga series stands at 37 volumes and counting, so there's material - this is a turning point given the epic treatment it deserves. If not, it's a radical departure from what came before which ends the previously harsh series on a note that's just ugly.

It's been a year since Guts (voice of Hiroaki Iwanaga) left the Band of the Hawk, which was soon after betrayed by the King of the Midlands. Now led by Casca (voice of Toa Yukinari), they have been trying to rescue their founder Griffith and may just have had two breaks: Their scout Rickert (voice of Minako Kotobuki) has discovered where Griffith is being held, and they have once again crossed paths with Guts, who would certainly be a boon to any rescue mission. A dark vision of the Skull King, however, portends that this reunion could end very badly indeed.

Though supernatural elements had been present in the previous two Berserk movies, they've mostly been in the background, but they take center stage here, and it's quite the change-up in every way: Not only is magic not something that Guts & Casca are not used to dealing with, but the visual style of the movie suddenly becomes very different as the characters are pulled into environments have the look of obvious CGI rendering to them, but the creatures they encounter there are out-of-scale large and often have a simplified or monstrous style that clashes with the look of the familiar characters. In some ways, that's right and proper - this should feel like the protagonists are suddenly in a very different movie - but it's undeniably jarring.

Full review at EFC.


* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 3 August 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, HD)

What is there to say about Discopath that matters to anybody outside its relatively narrow target audience? It's a slasher movie with a simple but absurd concept and some impressive effects work to show the mayhem. Writer/director Renaud Gauthier does an impressive job of recreating 1980 Montreal and the grindhouse aesthetic, but in doing so, he aims pretty low with the characters. There's nothing particularly interesting about these people, and the actors don't add much. The flashback-heavy structure is needlessly complex, and almost obscures just how cool the first kill in the movie is.

I've said it before, and I'll likely say it many more times: When you set out to recreate what bad movies did, you generally make bad movies. There's been worse than Discopath, but it doesn't always even clear the low bar it sets for itself.s

Full review at EFC.

Tian Tai Ai Qing (The Rooftop)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 3 August 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, DCP)

The Rooftop is overstuffed, like Jay Chou had a half-dozen ideas for his 1960s Taiwanese musical project and couldn't decide exactly which ones he wanted to use, so he threw in all of them, even if they don't always do much for the main story of Wax (Chou) and Starling (Lee Hsin Ai), two lovebirds from different sides of the tracks. There's too many sidekicks and subplots and characters mentioned as important who only get brief moments.

But that's a big part of the appeal. The world Chou creates in the Rooftop district of Galilee is so rich, filled with bright colors and musical numbers and martial arts action, that it's an utter delight to let it envelop the viewer completely. It's a relentlessly upbeat movie, even when the end takes the heightened reality a little too far, and it kind of makes me wish I understood Mandarin at times so that the songs could get properly stuck in my head.

Full review at EFC.

HK: Hentai Kamen (HK/Forbidden Super Hero)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 3 August 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, HD)

Look, I'm not going to make Hentai Kamen out to be anything other than it is: It is a deeply silly, tacky, crude spoof of the superhero genre that takes Warren Ellis's description of their outfits as "pervert suits" to its illogical extreme. It's got roughly one joke in it and it hits that gag relentlessly.

But, man, does it do that well. There's a bit at the end that even the jackass next to me who thought he was part of the show couldn't mess with because director Yuichi Fukuda and his cast set the punchline up so that the audience is laughing in anticipation but aren't laughed out when it finally delivers. The budget is just high enough that the filmmakers seem to be getting away with something rather than just making a crude Z-movie. It's a wrong riot that really has to be seen to be disbelieved.

Full review at EFC.

You're Next)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 3 August 2013 in le Cinéma Impérial (Fantasia Festival, HD)

This crazy thing works, and if there's any justice in the world, it's going to make Sharni Vinson a star as the wild card in what was probably too slickly filmed to be dismissed as just another home invasion thriller. It's a bloody good time that springs its surprises with admirable precision and I can't wait to recommend it in a little more detail.

Full review at EFC.

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