It’s a great disappointment this year that I’m not getting to the midnight screenings. I’ve attended only one, the awful Frontiere(s). (About which I successfully avoided getting in an argument with Brad from Bloody Disgusting, who loves it. What’s wrong with you, man?) Today was the day that a bunch of the midnight flicks were on the press schedule, so I saw three. Originally, I’d planned to see four or five, but that didn’t work out.
This is a good time to admit that I didn’t get to see Stuart Gordon’s Stuck at all. The lone press screening was at a theater too far removed from everything else. Word isn’t very good so far, but I’d still like to catch it eventually.
First today was Dainipponjin, a languid mockumentary that tweaks the nipples of shows like Ultraman. The title means (basically) Big Japanese Guy. The Dainipponjin is a sad sack whose wife has left, daughter in tow, and whose apartment is routinely vandalized by people sick of having their houses stepped on when he grows large enough to fight Japan’s weirdest foes.
Third in the family line of oversized warriors, he’s facing falling ratings, fewer Baddies to fight and a persistent interviewer. In our real world, we face a movie that goes on a half hour too long. Some of the interview clips are softly funny, and the battle scenes are wild (with an insane final credits sequence) but blindfolded I could point out a dozen cut points to make the film more watchable. Currently it’s cute, but hardly unmissable.
I wish I’d had more than an hour to see Chacun son cinéma (To Each His Own Cinema). I missed the Cronenberg and Wong Kar Wai segments, but I did get to see a few I was interested in. The contribution from David Lynch opens the film and frankly, it’s awful. Evidently he didn’t get it done in time for Cannes. TIFF is the segment’s premiere; I wonder if he finished it on the plane to Toronto.
But praise the Lord, redemption is at hand afterward. For Chacun at least — Lynch will have to find his own. Takeshi Kitano’s bit about a farmer going to see a movie (Kitano’s own Kids Return) is saturated with color but exudes a wry rural attitude and humor. Loved it.
And the Coen Brothers knock it out of the park with World Cinema. Josh Brolin, essentially playing a version of his character from No Country, is in a cinema trying to decide between two foreign flicks with advice from a stuffed shirt ticket seller. Brolin’s cowboy routine and the Coen’s love for these people and the films in question killed me.
I’m being totally straight with you when I say World Cinema might be worth ten bucks for admission. As a bonus, there are other good segments: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Nanni Moretti and Atom Egoyan all turn in memorable additions. I’ll be hitting this again to see the other half as soon as I have a chance.
In reality, I would have been happier staying with Chacun instead of catching Flash Point. Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip destroyed in 2005 with S.P.L.; this is their unrelated follow-up. Being honest, S.P.L. is trash when no one is fighting, but those fights are so good that it doesn’t matter. Not the case this time. Flash Point is a barely endurable drag during the plot, and the fight scenes regularly fail to bring the noise. Three or four moments stand out, no more. That ain’t enough.
Meanwhlle, Inside is the horror film you’re soon going to see programmed in every single horror festival that can put hands on a print. I don’t remember the last time I saw so much blood on the screen. Serious Grand Guignol, people. Alysson Paradis is Sarah, about to give birth just months after her husband is killed in an auto accident. Then crazy Beatrice Dalle shows up at her house on Christmas Eve and things get bad. Really, really, really bad.
I don’t mean Dalle is just crazy. She’s desperately, awfully unhinged in that way she does so deliciously well. Inside tames Trouble Every Day and makes High Tension look like a movie you’d show your grandmother on Sunday. I’ve attended two press screenings at TIFF where I thought someone might actually puke. A Hole In My Heart was the first; this is the second.
That should either warn you off or make you absolutely desperate to see the film. Dimension has it; pray for a chance to see it properly in cinemas.
I had a big chunk of free time after that gushing artery, so I jaunted over to the ROM (Spaceknight) with Ned to see some of Julian Schnabel’s other festival film: Lou Reed’s Berlin. I think I’ve knocked concert films on the site before, with the anknowledgement that the few good ones are very good indeed.
If while watching a concert film you feel compelled to stand up and applaud after a number, it’s probably a good one. Berlin was like that, and I’m not any sort of Lou Reed fan. I know I’ve heard Berlin, but don’t own it. This movie documents Reed’s first full performance(s) of the album, released in 1973 to big commercial disappointment. Reed never toured the record. These 2006 performances mark the album’s live debut.
‘Men Of Good Fortune’ was great, but after ‘Caroline Says (1)’ I had that near applause moment. I had to leave afterward to have dinner and write, and I’m looking forward to seeing the other 50 minutes.
I’d planned to see Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django late tonight. I’ve heard unimpressed comments, but figured I’d do it anyway. Then I did a bit of cinematic soul searching and realized something: I don’t care. He and I are like strangers after a one night stand. I don’t want to take him to breakfast, or get any calls, or see his two hour fucking revisionist dubbed and subtitled western that I know could use thirty minutes trimmed.
Realizing this made me feel so much better.
Instead I saw Sidney Lumet’s Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead. It’s almost a heist movie, with Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman as brothers who plan to knock over their parents’ jewelry store. Despite clunky timeline transitions, this is a tight, mean film. (At two hours, it feels like 90.) Turns out the heist aspect is just the shallow end of the pool. The deep end is a bitter, nasty family drama where old jealousies and resentments get the better of everyone. Never an Ethan Hawke fan, I’m nearly converted after this flick. It’s great. ThinkFilm has it. Buy a ticket.
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