Sunday, March 27th 2011
The day didn’t start that well. Going back by train after The Hole around midnight I realized that this was exactly the night when our clocks were changed from 2:00 am to 3:00 am. Considering the fact that my train was at 2:53, the train company decided to make the train leave at 1:53. This was a weird situation, as I was standing in front of the computer boards, trying to understand that 1:53 and “due to clock changing” meant actually 1:53. But another passenger was just as puzzled as me. Fortunately a train company guy showed up who had to take the same train. On the one hand, this was good news as I didn’t have to wait 1 1/2 hours at the station (I arrived around 1:20 am), on the other hand I didn’t have any time to get myself something to eat as everything in or around the train station was closed. I wandered around for a bit to find an open food store, but in the end I just wasted time and got back for the train.
Now of course I didn’t really save any sleeping time as I had to get up around 9 am, so arriving at 3:30, being in bed at 4 was the same situation even after changing the clocks and taking an earlier train. So I wasn’t in the best of moods, especially with the first screening that day, some sort of war drama…
(Poland/Norway/Ireland/Hungary 2010, director: Jerzy Skolimowski)
Anti-war movies are not my cup of tea. There, I said or rather wrote it. So I wasn’t really looking forward to this (just like with 13 Assassins), but who knows. Maybe it would be good. Unfortunately it wasn’t. I see the point in presenting a character who stands for the universal idea of a man being hunted, pushed to the limits and having to kill in order to survive. But in my opinion, the movie failed miserably. Short flashbacks to the past don’t work if they don’t tell you any story and don’t build a relationship with the character. Then there is no story in the first place, no progression except someone running through the woods, eating what he can and killing everyone on his way. If the movie tried to present some realism, some scenes were too gratuituous (like the chainsaw scene or some pointless woman abuse) and the overacting didn’t serve any purpose than just being ridiculous. So if you can’t feel for this man, don’t have a story which carries the suspense, there’s not much left to like. It’s movies like this which try to communicate some deep feelings which in the end are nothing more than a showcase of a director’s narcissism. Of course not everything needs to be explained. Gus Van Sant’s Elephant clearly shows how you can care for some characters’ predicaments even though you only get to know the surface of them in less than an hour. But at least they are real characters and there’s a point to the whole storytelling. Unfortunately there was no point in watching Essential Killing.
Burke & Hare
(UK 2010, director: John Landis)
Another John Landis movie after so many years? Just like with Joe Dante I was really looking forward to this one, and I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed. From start to finish it had so many funny scenes and great humor, not to mention actors/actresses who had fun themselves in their roles, it was a pleasure to watch. The humor might not be to everyone’s taste, but I found the balance between slapstick, funny dialogues and the overall story progression very good. It’s difficult to name even one scene which stands out. Of course the plot itself isn’t the most sophisticated, the characters don’t have much room of development, but then again this is more in the tradition of Monty Python or even Charles Dickens’ caricatures of society. And as long as it’s entertaining throughout, why delve on some incongruences if the whole package is just right? One of the festival highlights! And of course Isla Fisher (the redhead psychopathic eye candy from Wedding Crashers) is always a pleasure to watch, this time even with an Irish accent ;).
(USA 2010, director: Darren Lynn Bousman)
Like I Spit On Your Grave, another remake of a controversial movie, at least in Germany where the original is still on the Index and can’t be bought/promoted officially… which is actually pretty funny because as with the rape/revenge remake, this one offers more dramatic/realistic violence and it’s going to be released uncut on BD/DVD. But that’s German censorship for you. You don’t have to understand it, but you have to live with it :(. The movie itself was directed by Bousman who also did Saw II-IV. It’s not as obvious as in Dead Silence with the soundtrack and twists, but the violence and idea of games people have to play in order to survive make it clear there’s a connection. It’s a bit difficult to describe what sort of movie it is. There is some sort of revenge/torture topic prevalent, but there’s also a lot of humor in it. The mother in particular, very well played by Rebecca De Mornay, delivers some lines which are funny and terrifying at the same time. All in all it’s a twisted take on motherhood and family values and you get the feeling that it’s done justice to Charles Kaufman’s original trash version. I haven’t seen it, though, so I can’t say if it’s completly accurate (by the cover it looks a bit sillier and more demented). What I can say is that the look of the movie is a bit clean and some (modern) parts don’t seem to fit (like a bank robbery), so it feels a bit too long at times. But all in all it’s mostly entertaining in a fast-forward storytelling way. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.
I Saw The Devil
(South Korea 2010, original title: Akmareul boatda, director: Jee-woon Kim)
Advertised as one very violent and controversial revenge thriller and praised by so many people… I was a bit scared that it would turn out bad, and unfortunately it did. Not only did it drag on and on for 141 minutes, there were no suspense, no likeable characters and the violent scenes didn’t really shock but got boring after a while, especially since some went contradictory against the realism: If someone gets beaten on the head I-don’t-know-how-many-times and he just wakes up with some bruises, that’s simply ridiculous. Another problem was that the main villain talked way too much, so you couldn’t really take him serious. Same with his antagonist, a flat character whose loss of his girlfriend was just not enough to care for him or justify his actions. I usually don’t have anything against graphic violence if it serves a purpose. Here it simply doesn’t. Adding to the meaningless violence there was also no story progression, so it was more a follow-up of killing full of clichéd characters’ reactions (which even leads to some ridiculous Chainsaw Massacre kind of family). Another annoying thing was how the soundtrack was off at times, so that it felt more like a Hollywood action movie, but it didn’t add to the experience, it just annoyed the hell out of me. One of the worst Korean or Asian movies with no point whatsoever to it. Highly disappointing, but then again I didn’t expect anything…
(UK/Ireland 2011, director: David Keating)
Being one of the new Hammer Film productions I thought this could be a nice final movie to watch. Unfortunately the 90 minutes running time were more like walking or crawling time with no real highlights. The first scenes are pretty graphic and in a way touching, the story itself has some interesting ideas, but the medicore acting, some pointless gore scenes and some slow-paced story progression don’t offer much to remember it by. It all feels like a short story which would have been more successful as a short film. It only ends up as being uninspired and boring, borrowing too much from other movies like Pet Cementary. Nothing to write home about.
It’s a shame that after a really good start on Saturday with four very good movies, the last day didn’t deliver (except for one movie) and offered more mediocre and disappointing movies. 5 out of 10 movies is not the best thing. It’s like last year when I bought single tickets, but at least I saved on buying some BDs (like I Saw The Devil). Then again this was one of the very few occasions that I ordered two movies (The Hole and Burke & Hare) right after I saw them :).