Going back to work and some semblance of the real world meant that I had to curtail my movie-watching a little bit. But I still caught the Fantastic Fest Awards program two films on Monday that could not have been any more different.
Clown – Though it stretched the boundaries of ‘fantastic’ to be included in the festival (no ninjas, zombies, time-travel, fantasy creature sex, or home invasions,) Clown was hands down the funniest movie that I saw and apparently most people agreed. Clown nearly swept the comedy awards for the festival in a move that seemed to take the filmmakers by surprise. I love to see that look of genuine shock and bewilderment when a director takes the stage at a festival to accept an award that they had no idea was coming. Julian Gilbey had that look when his film, A Lonely Place to Die took home the top honors at ActionFest this year.
Clown is apparently based on a Danish television show that hundreds of people in Austin are now trying to track down on DVD. It looks a little bit like The Office, exploits some seriously adult humor a la the wave of recent R-rated comedies from the U.S., and it has its own particular sensibility that makes even the most dickish characters somehow charming. When we were told that the two lead characters are well-known comedians in Denmark, the film’s effortless humor made a lot of sense. The leads not only have a ton of chemistry but they play every beat perfectly. In fact there were several moments in the film where I could imagine the same scene going down with people like Steve Carrell or Seth Rogan in those roles and I cringed at how bad an American remake of the same exact script would likely be.
I don’t find much to like about movies like The Hangover and Wedding Crashers, and while Clown could play to the same type of audience, it was somehow at once smarter and just as profane as those films.
Beyond the Black Rainbow – I wrote a ton about this film already because I found it incredibly striking. I was waiting for a movie that really swallowed me up in a complete experience for two hours and on Monday night, I finally got one. It can be frustrating to see so many good movies at a festival because after a while, Great gets dulled to Good, Good turns into Pretty Good, and everything begins to feel sort of middle-of-the-road. On their own, most of the films I saw at Fantastic Fest would be amongst my favorites of the year, but when played back to back, many of them lost some of that magic.
Thankfully Beyond the Black Rainbow played by its own rules so much that it even worked as the midnight show on a Monday. In fact, I walking out of Black Rainbow and into something like Karate Robo Zaborgar would have been incredibly disorienting, so it made sense as movie to end the day. I’ve had a few days to reflect on the film now and I still feel strongly about it, but it’s no longer creeping me out. I assume that it’s going to get an arthouse release of some sort and I would highly recommend catching it on a big screen if you can stomach the slow, hypnotic menace. If you always liked the “Beyond the Infinite” segment of 2001 but felt like it could be more terrifying, then Beyond the Black Rainbow is probably up your alley. Now I just need to figure out what the fuck is up with the poster that gets everything wrong in an attempt to lure people in with some kind of retro stalker vibe.