Harry's Day 3 of FANTASTIC FEST: COME OUT AND PLAY, THE ABCs OF DEATH, TAI CHI ZERO
Hey folks, Harry here.... I started off Day 3 of Fantastic Fest 2012 by going to see NO REST FOR THE WICKED - a film that swept the Goya awards in pretty much every significant category. The film is about a fairly morally corrupt cop that starts the film off in a terrible situation which he handles terribly, but that sets him upon a series of motions that would take us through a pretty incredible crime/terrorism story. I saw about the first half of the film before leaving. There was something wrong with the codex on the print and it seemed to visually stammer for me - we were warned at the outset, and this is a distributor issue, I would believe... but I was loving the movie too much to allow myself to continue watching it through a migraine that the print issues were causing. Both Father Geek and Yoko completed the film and liked it quite intensely. I'm going to work to get a screener of the film, really annoyed I couldn't finish it.
I didn't mention the title in the headline, because I can't formally review it without having seen it all. As a result, my first full feature of the fest today was COME OUT AND PLAY, a remake of the 1976 Spanish film, WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? A wonderful horror film about an English couple visiting an island populated by children who have slaughtered the adult population and seem hellbent on continuing to slaughter the grown people of the world. I bought the film on DVD from SCARECROW VIDEO in Seattle a long time ago. I'm quite taken with the original and there are not a ton of differences between the two films... But I have to say, I loved COME OUT AND PLAY today.
First off, you need to know something. This film is directed by MAKINOV. Who is MAKINOV? Nobody knows. This is his recorded debut film. He does not travel, so instead he sent a video. How can NOBODY know who MAKINOV is? Because MAKINOV wears a mask... at all times. He feels empowered by his anonymity. Preferring to fuck life rather than be a slave to social media. I know this, because he told us this in his video intro. I have to admit, I kinda loved the glorious freak of it all. There's a degree of PT Barnum in him - but oh my god, it raised my concern that he could be terribly pretentious - and I immediately became curious and worried about the film that would follow.
The main character is a man named Francis, played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach... he's a tourist that is traveling with his wife who is VERY pregnant. This is Beth, played by Vinessa Shaw. They're both excellent. They rent a boat from a man and head off to this wonderful island they've heard about. The man tells them that they will need to get gas before returning from the island as the boat doesn't quite hold enough for a round trip. (Warning #1 - and possible fore-shadow - unless I'm actively deceiving you)
Now - I knew what was going to happen - I've seen the original, but I can't help, but play what would I do if I were the husband in question. First, I would never travel during the third trimester if Yoko were preggers. Secondly, first moment of knowing, these kids are killing adults... me and the wife would be off the fucking island - and upon recognizing killer children - it is important to run them over, decapitate them and basically killing kids that are like wielding machetes and old men's canes. But I can also pretend to cherish child life and not instantly transforming myself into Freddy Krueger, now that's the remake.
Ok - they begin hiking all over the seaside town without sign one of adult life - and frankly, very little kid life. Once we see a kid actively killing another adult... the movie starts getting REALLY INTENSE. Vinessa Shaw - when she's pregnant and trying to runaway from these crazed little munchkins. It's terrifying. I mean, late pregnancy running from psycho children... that's a reasonable phobia. Packs of evil children are amongst my favorite things. Much like those evil bastards in the HOSTEL movies. These kids seem linked, there's a mass something going on. It feels CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED in terms of a possible controlling intelligence that is never even hinted at... and a LORD OF THE FLIES brutality and savagery.
I loved the remake. Yoko did too. I really really dug it. In fact, at this point in the fest, it's my favorite I have seen. Definitely worth checking out if you love evil children movies. Remember that STAR TREK episode? MIRI? Always loved that. These kids don't have that kind of sass... they just... giggle. Fucking kid giggle whilst stabbing you. Fuck that. Evil children are so much worse than Zombies - because we're supposed to love kids. But I remember when I was a kid. I totally recognized BAD KIDS. And well, fuck them. I did my homework, read comics, watched movies, tended to livestock, herded cattle, drove tractors and backhows and shoveled shit out of barns and hauled hay in a field as a kid. I do nice things for people just because I love em. And in life, I'm very anti-violence. BUT COME THE APOCALYPSE, pinko-liberal urges give way to Bruce Willis & Arnold Schwarzeneggar Republican Fascist annihilation. My humanity would probably kill me right off, cuz I'd need to kinda know that the kids were evil from a good shotgunning distance. I need to work on that morality in the hours between reading the first 10,000 tweets about evil children twitpicing their parents slaughter. Right? Isn't that how it would go down here? On this little island, this thing goes down and it's basically short-wave and CB technology. I mean, they're kind of seriously fucked. It's just NOT THE VACATION THEY WERE LOOKING FOR - and it's good to watch films like this with your spouse. I find it very rewarding talking with YOKO about what happens come the evil kids. She's pretty adamant about using a vehicle to go Evil-Kid-Version of GRAND THEFT AUTO.
You should know going into this though, the film isn't tongue in cheek. It doesn't ever pull its punches and this MAKINOV guy, he's got some serious chops. I loved the flow of this film. Love the boat ride to the island and his use of dissolves. And in combination with the film, I really dig the Masked persona. He seems artistically dangerous in a good insane way.
The Second film I saw today was THE ABC's OF DEATH. Now this is a film project conceived by two of my favorite film buddies in the world. Anthony Timpson and Tim League. Timpson hit upon the notion that getting together 26 directors and small $5000 budgets, that they would go through the alphabet and shoot short films of varying short lengths - formats ranging from animation, CG, Stop Motion, Claymation and mainly Live Action. Multiple languages and regions of the planet Earth. Realistic and actively absurd. There are sequences that are just insanely violent and disturbing, but because they were all very short - it never felt like it was dragging - and we were watching an old cut of the film.
Now, I can't say I loved every letter. I think it would be fun for Tim & Ant to produce new versions of this film every year - and like the original intent for FANTASIA, you'd cycle new letters and short films and hold onto some of them. Mix it up. I mean, essentially THE ABC'S OF DEATH happens to just be a thematic short film compilation. Hell, you could add to it simply by making your own YouTube video. It's a very fun project. I found myself amused and tense and laughing and being grossed out and staring at the top of my shoes during some of the "weight loss" episode.
The most fun part of the film though isn't even on the screen or during the film. It's the post film conversation. You instantly have 26 different subjects and notions to debate the merits of, to suggest your own, to laugh with your friend about a swastika transforming into the Japanese symbol for United States during one particularly perverse section of the film.
You'll even see one of you people die. Yup, one death actually concerns a reader of Ain't It Cool News. Is it... you?
The final film was the title I was most excited to see today. TAI CHI ZERO. Yeah, that was a pleasantly sucky fucking waste of time... except, I just love these kinds of films. Not this one. But when Sammo Hung martial arts choreography is going on... I can't help but smile. Though the filmmaking decision to make the movie like a Pop-Up Video wore it's welcome thin awfully quickly. Every leap having a chart calculating angle and trajectory of mystical leap, the defining of every pose and move... The film is an Attention Deficeit Disorder's wet dream. And if you're epileptic, you should probably steer clear. As every new character is introduced, you see their film credits and character relation. It was amusing at the beginning, but quickly became... annoying and distracting from a story that was unfortunately kind of half-told. No, in fact it is half told. TAI CHI HERO is reportedly coming soon - thus completing the story - but man... I almost totally don't fucking care. Maybe I was tired, but frankly I'm wired awake right now writing this... so I'm pretty sure the problem lays clearly upon the writing and the direction choices. The performances and artistry of the actual physical work was exemplary. Sammo Hung does not disappoint... but the hyperactivity manic footnoting of the film made it easy to get turned off from investing yourself in the actions of the characters on screen. Frankly, I kind of wish I had my time back from this one.
That's it for today. Tomorrow I hit it again.
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Sept. 23, 2012, 4:30 a.m. CST
I'm curious how it is. After all, how the hell do you follow up A SERBIAN FILM? Unfortunately, no review so far has offered a detailed breakdown of all 26 entries. Guess I'll have to watch it myself, then?!?
Sept. 23, 2012, 4:52 a.m. CST
His is one of the most visceral of the entries. Abstract and powerfully unsettling.
Sept. 23, 2012, 11:06 a.m. CST
For that contest last year where we had to make an entry for the letter T. Got some good feedback on that one. It was a hell of a lot of fun. Im planning on making a short for my first "T is for ____" idea soon, but that's going to require a bigger budget and lots of FX prep. Hopefully one day. Looking forward to seeing the final ABCs of Death project! Love the idea!
Sept. 23, 2012, 12:50 p.m. CST
Walrus will be the death of us all.
Sept. 23, 2012, 2:31 p.m. CST
It's been a while.
Sept. 23, 2012, 3:10 p.m. CST
@wampa_one ... It's time for Butt Numb prep, and when he ain't busy with it, he's making cheapo webcasts to show off all his cool stuff. Every excuse possible, including "I was up all night but I ain't done." I mean, how long does it take to throw up a JPEG with a link to Amazon and write he hasn't watched it yet but he's looking forward to it...? Which is all half his reviews for years have been. All we want is a list of what came out this week, Harry. Your reviewing skills are not the prime attraction.
Sept. 23, 2012, 3:20 p.m. CST
Sept. 24, 2012, 1:25 a.m. CST
The mighty Joe Hallenbeck
Sept. 24, 2012, 3:57 p.m. CST
by I am the most horrible
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