Friday, September 19, 2014

The Fantastic Fest Daily 2014.01: Hardkor Disco, As Seen by the Rest, and Cub

Not a whole lot of time to relate yesterday's airborne adventures, since FF's lottery system means that there must be consequences for missing a movie beyond actually missing the movie. Maybe come T.W.I.T. time.

Today's line-up: Force Majeure, Redeemer, Over Your Dead Body, Necrofobia, and Wyrmwood.

Hardkor Disco

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 18 September 2014 in Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar #7 (Fantastic Fest, DCP)

Krzysztof Skonieczny seems to want the audience to assume the worst in Hardkor Disco, although he and co-writer Robert Bolesto are very careful not to tip us off completely as to what it all means. Which, combined with the very precise way that Skonieczny goes about putting it together, it's got the potential to be a great "no, this is what's really going on!" movie.

After a few scenes that are most definitely up to the audience to interpret, a good-looking young man (Marcin Kowalczyk) - though one who had been playing with a knife a few scenes earlier - approaches an apartment and seems a little surprised when a young woman (Jasmina Polak) answers the door. He follows her, scares off the guy she's with, and lets her bring him home, thus meeting Aleksander (Janusz Chabior) and Pola (Angieszka Wosinska) at breakfast the next morning.

Interspersed with all of this are old videos of a young girl, possibly Ola and possibly not. Is there something about her that would explain why Marcin (the name he gives) would be coming to Warsaw to kill Aleksander & Pola? Possibly. Skonieczny and his cohorts drop enough hints that the viewer can continue to refine their theories throughout the film without often contradicting whatever is going on in the viewer's head - or, at least, that's how it worked for me. That's a delicate business; too often it can lead to audience frustration as filmmakers seem to go out of their way to give information, but Skonieczny just plays things close to the vest in a way that seems natural and invites the viewer to collaborate.
Full review at EFC

Ulidavaru Kandanthe (As Seen by the Rest)

N/A (out of four)
Seen 18 September 2014 in Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar #8 (Fantastic Fest, DCP)

Whenever I travel, something gets sacrificed to the cruel gods of jet lag made worse by an unusually early wake-up time, and hopefully this will be the only thing I punt review-wise or just plain getting-through-wise for Fantastic Fest. A two and a half hour Indian movie that requires close attention just may not have been a bright idea for this slot, and I don't remember whether it was my first, second, or third choice and thus something I can blame on the festival's random number generator.

That I was in an out is a shame, because I liked a whole lot of what I saw. The Rashomon hook of trying to piece together a crime through the individual and contradictory accounts of those involved never really gets old, and it allows writer/director/star Rakshit Shetty to do a lot of stylistically vey cool things, including some downright nifty-looking shots which seem to be inspired by some combination of comics and video games. Other eye-popping images, like the tiger dancers or the chantin fishermen, are great uses of the local color to dress the movie up. It's not quite a musical with people breaking into song, but it's got the feel without derailing the more realistic aspects.

There were a couple of moments when things got a bit too silly for my taste - the blatant Pulp Fiction reference that didn't serve to do much but reference Pulp Fiction, for instance, and the earnest wrappers with Sheetal Shetty as the reporter putting the story togther were kind of wobbly. I must admit to being curious as to whether this played at Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond earlier this year, because if it did, it's another example of how I know I'm missing out on some good stuff there both because it isn't subtitled and because what I can dig up about many Indian movies that play makes them look far more generic than they possibly can be.

Welp (Cub)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 18 September 2014 in Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar #5 (Fantastic Fest, DCP)

Cub (or Welp, as it is called in its native Belgium) initially seems premised on the sort of attitude that makes those who aren't into horror movies rightfully squeamish: That if killing college kids who go out into the woods doesn't get a rise out of the audience any more, maybe killing cub scouts will. The good news in this case is twofold: One, filmmaker Jonas Govaerts does have more on his mind than cheap exploitation when all is said and done; and two, he and co-writer Roel Mondeaers are coming up with great horror movie bits from minute one.

Speaking of minute one, the newest member of an Antwerp cub count troop, Sam (Maurice Luijten), is running late for the camping trip, which means lots of push-ups and such, as he is far from the favorite of the older troop leaders, Baloo (Sef Aerts) and Chris (Titus De Voogdt), with Baloo and some of the other kids particularly seeming to have it in for him. Only his friend Dries and Baloo's girlfriend Jasmijn (Evelien Bosmans) seem to care for him at all. But when a couple of local punks racing their go-kart around the planned campsite sends the troop deeper into the woods than they had planned... Well, could there actually be something to those stories about werewolf boy Kai that Chris and Baloo were telling to make things more exciting?

Well, there's something; we see Kai in the first shot. The fun thing about that shot is that while it seems to give a lot of the game away - not just that there is a kid who is at the very least feral in the area, but that there are some impressively elaborate mechanics going on as well. It may give too much away - the desire to start the movie off with an action beat (and presumably not build to something most will have already seen on the poster or in the trailer) can under cut a later reveal - but I don't think that's necessarily the case; by the time the film circles around to those images being particularly relevant, the audience should have enough to occupy their minds that they're not just waiting impatiently.

Full review at EFC

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