Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Fantasia Daily 2014.16: Steel Cold Winter, Kabisera, Miss Granny, Bros Before Hos, WolfCop

Running a day behind again, because, honestly, midnight movies and morning anime are just too much.

Filmmakers!

BROS BEFORE HOS guys Tim Haars, Steffen Haars & Flip Van der Kuil

Meet Bros Before Hos stars Tim Haars and directors Steffen Haars & Flip Van der Kuil. Maybe they're in a different order; I recognize Tim from the movie and the next guy sort of looks like his brother, but they've all got their badges turned away from me, so I'm not totally sure.

Chief bit of information to come out of this Q&A: The Netherlands has a ratings system that filmmakers in other countries must envy. This movie scored a 12-and-up rating despite a metric ton of swearing, violent slapstick, jokes at the expense of the mentally ill, and frontal male and female nudity; they basically had to cut one joke to get down from a more restrictive rating. Not that any of that should actually be scarring for actual teenagers, but go ahead and try to pull that in the US.

WOLFCOP director Lowell Dean

And here is King-wei Chu introducing WolfCop director Lowell Dean, whose film was produced as part of a Project Greenlight-type contest and has actually been rolling out in Canada over the past few months. The end credits promise a WolfCop II in 2015, so that was the "next project" question answered.

Sonyeo (Steel Cold Winter)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2014 in the rented apartment (Fantasia Festival: The Best Years of Our Lives?, DVD-on-laptop)

Not a bad little take on the "new kid comes to school, finds himself attracted to the outsider" drama canon. I like that it's very much winter in this Korean village; oftentimes filmmakers will set a movie like this during the school year but have the weather be perfect, it seems. The chill helps here, both in general attitude and the image of Hye-won (Kim Yun-hea) skating in her school uniform that naturally grabs the attention of Yoon-su (Kim Shi-hoo).

The way they draw closer is sketched out very well, natural enough that when the movie takes a last act detour into especially disturbed territory, it's pretty easy to buy into. I kind of wish I hadn't been watching that last act with a clock at the ready rather than in a theater, because that way I sort of felt the question of whether the filmmakers would find the sweet spot was between this different part of the movie being long enough to not be a tack-on but short enough that the bulk of the film wouldn't be just a warm-up. It mostly works, though, leading up to a fine conclusion.

Full review on EFC

Kbisera

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2014 in Salle J.A. de Sève (Fantasia Festival, HD)

Does any good ever come from finding something with obviously criminal origins? There's generally only one way for trying to profit by it to go right but many to go wrong, and a lot of people motivated for the later to happen. Makes for good movies, though, and this entry from the Philippines is a pretty decent example.

It starts out with Andres (Joel Torre), a fisherman in Zambales with a wife, two kids, and a steady business underwritten by his friend José (Arthur Acuña). Things aren't perfect - mostly because he and his kids have different ideas about their future - but they're fairly good, all things considered. But when his boat crosses paths with a couple hundred kilos of meth that went overboard in a bust, well, that's a new opportunity, even if it does mean teaming up with José, a corrupt cop (Bernard Palanca), and other unsavory types to actually move it.

I wonder how derivative this would feel if I had been watching Breaking Bad the past few years, rather than figuring that a drama about Malcolm's dad dealing drugs was a silly idea at the start. The broad outlines of a relatively ordinary-seeming man entering the drug business and having it bring out his own heart of darkness seem to be about the same, and writer/director Alfonso Torre III makes it fairly clear early on, despite a few scenes that hint at Andres's wife Dindin (Bing Pimentel) having Lady MacBeth potential, that there's already a monster inside the fisherman. It takes a while for it to fully engage on the "business" side, but his demands for respect and obedience from his family are chilling enough to set up an obvious question: Does being in the drug business horrify him to the point of accepting his daughter's decisions or does it smother his better qualities?

Full review at EFC

Susanghan geunyeo (Miss Granny)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2014 in Théâtre Hall (Fantasia Festival, DCP)

Sitting down for Miss Granny, I had a horrible fear - what if this was 200 Pounds Beauty again? The template, right down to the newly-cute protagonist becoming a singer, was sort of the same, and it certainly had the chance to play into cruel stereotypes. The idea further solidified as Shim Eun-kyung proceeded to be just terrific as an “ajumma” made fifty years younger.

Fortunately, this movie tends to back off from the really questionable issues, even as it has fun with a grandson's unknowing infatuation. A big part of it is Shim's performance; she does little things like retain hints of how Oh "Doo-ri" is used to shuffling without looking ridiculous, playing into stereotypes without going overboard. Part of it is how, like the character itself, the movie is tart but not really mean, and how it sort of gets that Oh looking like a sort of hipster pixie in her 1960s-inspired outfits is funny but not really a target. The last act softens up a bit to play with the idea of assimilation as well as just oddity, and does it well. Apparently there's a very funny cameo at the end that I don't know my Korean heartthrobs well enough to really get.

I laughed, and given how successful this is in Korea, I figure a sequel wouldn't be a bad idea. I'd see it.

Full review on EFC

Bros Before Hos

* * * (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2014 in Théâtre Hall (Fantasia Festival, DCP)

Wasn't really looking forward to this one - I kind of hated the first New Kids movie enough to skip the second - but it was the only English-friendly thing playing and I wanted to see what came after, so I stuck around. I think it might have been better with about 80% less guys calling each other "niggah", "bitch", and "faggot", as I don't know that the gag of them looking stupid for it is worth them not being called on it, but you've got to admire the Farrelly Brothers-and-then-some enthusiasm.

And that enthusiasm is generally put to pretty good use; there are some riotously funny gags in this movie, many of which don't rely on simple obnoxiousness. It also doesn't hurt that the couple the audience wants, Max and Anna, are played by a couple of very charming actors in Tim Haars and Sylvia Hoeks. Haars manages the neat trick of being right there with his co-stars in terms of being obnoxious but making him feel a bit different, while Hoeks takes a "nerd fantasy woman" part and makes it feel like someone you might actually meet.

Full review on EFC

"Paisley"

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2014 in Théâtre Hall (Fantasia Festival, HD)

I feel like this has been a really good festival for horror movies made with obvious puppets. "Paisley" isn't quite the complete delight of Zombeavers, but it's similar in taking a good basic idea and running with it while keeping a smile on its face. Landing Barbara Crampton is fun, cool casting as well, what with her 1980s scream written credibility and having agreed perfectly to play the cheerful but sort of ditzy middle-aged widow heroine of the piece.

It winds up amiably goofy, with a puppet monster that looks adorable until the teeth show up a fair number of good gags around everybody's relative competence and effects that are just goofy enough to be kind of fun

WolfCop

* * * (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2014 in Théâtre Hall (Fantasia Festival, DCP)

This maybe doesn't live up to the title's implied promise/threat of "RoboCop, but he's a werewolf", but it's an enjoyable bit of supernatural action-comedy - I don't think it's actually trying hard enough to scare anybody to call it horror. It's got a surprise or two more than you might expect, though, which is not something you can say about a lot of comedies which use these tropes. The gore is decent. The main character is actually named "Lou Garou", and is played by an appropriately hairy guy.

And despite not really being terribly experienced as a lead actor, Leo Fafard holds the movie down pretty well as its lazy, alcoholic hero. He plays well against everyone who has a scene with him, particularly Jonathan Cherry as the local conspiracy-theorist gun nut and Sarah Lind as the vampy bartender. He has a goofy but convincing enough makeup job to deal with, but does okay.

Full review on EFC

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