Sunday, March 18th 2012
Now having made sure we knew the correct time for the first movie to start and having some yummy Chinese buffet before (they also had fries, I was tempted, but it kinda felt weird, maybe next time) we were looking forward to 5 more movies (or at least I was, with an all-included-ticket you just watch the weirdest stuff, otherwise I’d left out some…for good reasons).
The Prodigies 3D
(France/UK 2011, director: Antoine Charreyron)
An animated movie by the makers of the boring Renaissance film-noire-sci-fi-flick? My expectations weren’t that high, only that at least it would be over with less than 90 minutes (but who can say how long this can last, e.g. with another movie which will be reviewed later).
A group of highly intelligent young people with superhuman powers might not be the most original in the sci-fi-book, but the idea of having them all in a superstar-idol-show at least shows some degree of difference. Not every character is a fleshed out and interesting to watch, but it pretty much covers all the major problems of child abuse, bullying and what have you.
The story itself then isn’t that highly complicated (Renaissance wasn’t either, it was just too long), but entertains most of the running time. Still at times it is on the verge of being a bit too reliant on showing violent scenes broken by dialogue which is rather dull.
There sure is something about the aesthetics (not counting the character animations themselves which are subpar), but nothing very distinguishing or new. What Renaissance had for it was its black-and-white, Sin-City-esque imagery, but then again this movie here is more action-packed and at least at the end delivers plenty of that, even though it’s perfectly watchable without the 3D which doesn’t add anything to the experience.
(USA 2011, director: William Eubank)
Yes, that’s the one movie I was talking about before, the one with a runtime which feels even longer. Even with 90 minutes, it’s more like 2001: A Space Odyssey, only without any particular scenes, characters or what have you to make it stand out. It’s one of those cases when someone does art for art’s sake, for forcing a specific perspective into the audience’s mind.
In this case it’s isolation, loneliness, coping with reality. As if other filmmakers haven’t done this before, and to quote my friend Axel “In space no one hears you snore” fits perfectly, or maybe not? It’s weird, but if you expect nothing much to happen, the movie can actually be endured, borne with a lightness of being, that is if you close your eyes it has a nice soundtrack and if you close your eyes and don’t listen to what is said it has some nice visuals.
It might sound a bit too superficial a review, but then again this is a movie which I felt only wanted to leave everything open to the audience for the openness’s sake. It’s all good and well to make you think about what you see, but if it’s all a jumble of different scenes without any real connection, you get easily bored or won’t care after a while.
The inconsistency is pretty obvious when some interviews of random people (or aren’t they?) are cut in between the astronaut’s lonely voyage in a space shuttle which has lost contact to earth. This could have worked in a short movie, but with 90 minutes runtime one should expect at least some kind of progress and involvement with the character. Moon (which unfortunately I still haven’t seen whole) is a perfect example how you can have something happening in space and feel for the character.
Oh well, if boredom is the feeling the director wanted to convey, then I’d say: Mission accomplished.
Rating: 3/10 (o for the music, one for the images and one for the acting)
(France 2011, directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury, original title: Livide)
After one decent and one boring movie it was about time something with a bit more…blood and guts would get on the screen. But this wasn’t it, or at least only in parts, many parts which were soon detached from people, strewn about and not really fitting.
Not really fitting would summarize the movie. Again with a running time of about 90 minutes, the movie (or rather the filmmakers who also did the bloody, but not that exciting Inside) makes the mistake of having 30 minutes exposition of characters the audience couldn’t care less. Maybe at the beginning there’s still hope this could be a satire on health insurance, growing old in a careless society as one young woman is shown around in older people’s private homes, how her “boss” shows her the fastest and most efficient way to get out of there.
Then there’s the mystery of a treasure in a house where an almost-dead-but-not-really-willing-to-die lady lives. Nothing really new, but intriguing enough for the audience to find out what’s going to happen to the rather flat and especially unsympathetic group of young people (who of course want to break out of their mundane lives, explored in boring detail in the first half to forty-five minutes) who enter that place.
The change of genres is welcome and there’s quite some creepy atmosphere…until it all goes a bit overboard and the directors don’t really seem to decide if they want to tell a drama, a ghost story or just want to have a splatter film.
Annoying to say the least, leaving the spectator with a dissatisfied feeling…and the gorehounds probably slept after the first 30 minutes anyway. Could have been quite something, but there’s more to cinematography (just like Love) than nice images and music.
We Need To Talk About Kevin
(UK, USA 2011, director: Lynne Ramsay)
A drama with a running time of almost 2 hours, being advertised by the Fantasy Filmfest team as “strong stuff” (they ALWAYS seem to say), I didn’t expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Or let’s rather say, uncomfortably surprised. This is really quite a shocking movie, told in many flashbacks, not much dialogue at some points, about the hardships a mother (Eva, played convincingly by Tilda Swinton) has to face when being confronted by a boy (Kevin, played scarily by Jasper Newell as a six-year-old and even more scarily by Ezra Miller as a teenager) who doesn’t give back love, but indifference, later even hatred.
It’s a pretty disgusting and shocking movie, not because it shows lots of blood, but because it’s the unspoken truth, silence behind all the characters, especially how society treats Eva. It’s difficult to watch all the humiliation she has to bear without having a clue why, only that there’s something about her son Kevin.
Even with a slow pace (and some scenes would could have been cut as the movie is already pretty long), there’s always tension because one needs to know what happened or what is going to happen.
This time the Fantasy Filmfest team really nailed it with “hard stuff”, only I still wonder if the movie fits into the program. I’m happy to have watched it (otherwise I’m not sure I’d given it a try as there are so many dramas out there and I haven’t been that interested in Swinton’s other endeavors), but maybe the film festival should rather think about a new name to give themselves as there’s simply nothing fantasy about it, only the horror which is sadly based on a true story (it’s better not to watch the trailer til the end actually as it gives too much away). With An American Crime and Elephant, this is one of the most moving pictures I’ve seen for a while.
The Theatre Bizarre
(USA, France, Canada 2011, directors: Douglas Buck (“The Accident”), Buddy Giovinazzo (“I Love You”), David Gregory (“Sweets”), Karim Hussain (“Vision Stains”), Tom Savini (“Wet Dreams”), Jeremy Kasten (“The Mother Of Toads”), Richard Stanley (frame))
A collection of bloody horror short films at the end of the Fantasy Filmfest? Finally something which makes sense, only with the last Get-Shorty-contributions of the summer festival, expectations again weren’t that high (how many times do I use that expression? I guess I have to find another synonym, like EXP, no wait, that’s for something else…whatever).
6 stories I won’t go into much detail, but suffice it to say that it starts pretty badly with a amateur-video like H.P. lovecraft story about the mother of toads. Yes, seriously there’s not much there except gratuitous sex, gore and no story or satisfying surprise ending (the other stories have plenty of the former and luckily more with the latter).
The next one, which is in most parts in German (with German actors you’d expect that, and did I mention there’s Udo Kier who presents the stories in the Theatre Bizarre? One of his more wooden performances, but it fits in the context of his character) doesn’t start well, but gets more interesting with some funny dialogue between two lovers (him passionate, her not so) and some nice situation comic relief.
No. 3 finally hammers the disgusting comic violence down. Maybe it’s because Tom Savini (the never-getting-older Special FX-Make-up splatter virtuoso) wrote the sick story? Who knows, but it’s pretty interesting in how many ways an unfaithful husband gets punished with every dream he has which becomes more and more real and gory.
Then the quality goes down a bit, not because it’s badly done in amateur-style like the mother of toads, but because one (about a child who has to cope with death in a tragic accident he is confronted with on the road) is out of tune with the funny stories and another (about a woman who steals memories from the eyes of tragic women) is more gross and serious than necessary.
The final short film then again closes the bizarre collection of stories with another quite disgusting, but funny little anti-appetizer about how food can be too much for one man. Not really a movie one should watch with a full stomach.
It seems the filmmakers really tried to be to everyone’s taste or rather distaste. In general it works pretty well, even if some stories could have been left out and be substituted with a better (funny) alternative. Not something groundbreaking, especially since Chillerama set the standard of what short movies can achieve pretty high. The frame story is, btw, not worth mentioning as it’s just a lame excuse for having a narrator (Udo Kier I mentioned before) presenting all kinds of puppets (him being one as well) in a show. As the stories aren’t really connected, it could have done without that device.