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Selena on RENAISSANCE, THE HOST, BLOOD TEA & RED STRING & UNREST at FANTASTIC FEST

Hey folks, Harry here with Kijo lurking through screening after screening at FANTASTIC FEST - here ya go...

BLOOD TEA AND RED STRING This is a strange little animated film directed and scribed by Christiane Cegavske. It’s a handmadetop motion fairy-tale, which she constructed over the past 13 years in her basement. It chronicles the struggle between the aristocratic White Mice and the rustic beak-faced creatures who dwell under an oak tree. I went into this screening without even knowing this much. It’s a testament to independent filmmaking as well as animation that this film ever got completed. Cegavske produced it entirely on her own. She handcrafted the costumes, sets, characters and manipulated all of the stop motion movements. That aside, it’s is a very difficult film to become immersed in. There is no dialogue. It features only primitive grunts and cawks from it’s characters. Because of this, the story is hard to follow and borders on being incomprehensible. It would benefit very much from hallucinogenic drugs, or Cliff’s Notes. I suppose it’s nice to see old school animation in a CGI dominated arena, but it sort of reminded of why Pixar is as bad-A as it is. RENAISSANCE From the most rudimentary of animation to the most innovative methods today, RENAISSANCE shot me into the future to the year 2054. A lot of people have been comparing it to Sin City, and it’s really not fair to the filmmaker. The style of the films are completely different. Sin City was filmed with real actors in front of green screen and the backgrounds were painted on in post production, whereas this employs motion capture to attain the character’s movements before animated everything. At first, the beauty of this method had me separated from the narrative of the film. It took me a little while to settle into it’s awesomeness and stop thinking about how flipping amazing it looked. I’m glad that the director used this brand of animation as opposed to live action, because of the constraints that would have taken hold of his originality of camera direction. As far as story goes, RENAISSANCE is a case of style over substance. I wish that they would have taken more time with the script and really nailed an engaging, plot twisting episode of film noir, but it’s just not there. The second act of the film struggles to come up with surprising twists and I found myself accurately predicting what would happen next. Without the hyper-stylized animation, I don’t think this film would be getting as much attention as it is. That aside, there were a number of action scenes that unexpectedly blew me away. These were staged in a way that left me with soiled pants. This was another instance when I was excited about the animation because of camera movements that were pulled off which would have been otherwise impossible. Despite the shortcomings in the story department, this is a film that I will most definitely drool over again. If not for the animation, for the computer generated nude women, of which it features several of. UNREST A note to all Fantastic Festers, do not try to eat during this movie. I saw it first thing in the morning (12pm) and was still a bit hung-over. I consider myself relatively tolerant when it comes to gore and the exposing of organs, but UNREST really challenged my gag reflex and had me squirming. I’m not even quite what it was that did it. Possibly knowing before hand that portions of the shooting used real cadavers, or the fact that the filmmaker used to be a surgeon, but it was awesome. The film is about a group of first-year medical students, who while working on dissecting their first patient, begin to experience strange “feelings” emanating from their particular body. People start dying mysteriously and Alison, the protagonist, must uncover the strange goings-on and hidden past of her cadaver. Besides one instance of over-acting, the performances are fairly solid and play out well. It has all the obligatory factors of good horror: a hot lead, dead bodies, gore, a British professor, and a booming soundtrack. At times the music and effects were a little over the top and manipulative but they definitely had a creepy effect. If you’ve got an open timeslot in your schedule, I would highly recommend seeing this film. THE HOST I was going to wait to see if Harry or any of the other AICN peeps would review this, but since they haven’t I’ll give you guys my take on it. If you haven’t heard anything about this Korean monster/comedy/sci-fi/political movie, it’s the latest from MEMORIES OF MURDER director, Joon-ho Bong. Conflict arises when an American doctor stationed in Korea forces his Korean assistant to dispose of formaldehyde down the drain. The assistant resists at first but obeys a “direct order” from his superior. Flash forward a couple of years and a mutant has formed as a result of this illegal dumping. The monster ransacks a nearby park, kidnapping Hyun-Seo, the daughter of our dim-witted hero, Kang-so. Kang-so and his family are arrested because of the proximity they had with “the host,” or mutant mix of frog, gator and newt. The rest of the film is about Kang-so and his remaining family battling the monster, nature and the government to retrieve his daughter. The film confused me a bit at the beginning. It’s hard to really understand the tone of the film until the ball really gets rolling. As it begins, it is mostly dominated by elements of physical comedy. The character of Kang-so in particular has a lot of hilarious moments. The way that government is poked fun at was subtle and even though it is a very strong theme throughout, it doesn’t overshadow the pure human emotion that the audience feels for the Park family. Also, the beast is shown full-on in the first 20 minutes, which I thought would kill any possible suspense to come later. I was wrong. As the movie unfolds, we start to better understand the characters and identify with them more and more, which for me, made the beast that much more threatening. At it’s heart, THE HOST is an urge for both governments, American and Korean, to open their ears to it’s citizens and listen to what they have to say but it does this in a sardonic and comical way that doesn’t ever hit the audience over the head with it’s message. This is easily one of the best films I’ve seen at Fantastic Fest. I would recommend it to fans of any of the genres listed above. Props to all who worked hard to program this film.
Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 27, 2006, 5:07 p.m. CST

    first?

    by maximusdecimus

    Am I?

  • Sept. 27, 2006, 5:33 p.m. CST

    Seeing the Host on Friday the 13th

    by Garbageman33

    At the Chicago Film Festival. In other news, I think I'm having lasagna for dinner.

  • Sept. 27, 2006, 8:31 p.m. CST

    dude is right about renaissance

    by reckni

    Well worth seeing after after some bong rips.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Perfect take on Renaissance

    by michyfergi5

    It's a very cool looking movie, and the story isn't bad. It's just that the story is slightly predictable, and you need an engaging story to go along with how awesome the movie looks. And the action sequences are truly bad-ass. Plus, the nude women are great. I wanted to see more of them.