Hey folks, Harry here... it's 3am and I've just cleaned out my right ear after it was tongued by a very hairy mouth Argentinean director of MEMORY OF THE DEAD. I do wonder if Javier Diment will remember this tomorrow, but he spent quite some time sitting on my lap making out with the right side of my head whilst telling me he loved me passionately. Sigh. Fantastic Fest. Yes, Fantastic Fest is an experience.
Tonight I talked to a pair of first timers coming to Fantastic Fest. One was a lovely 23 year old movie fan girl from Tampa, Florida - and she just couldn't believe the feeling of family and friends that she experienced here. Then a young lady from New York that has gone to all the major film festivals in North America and thought she had a grasp for what was in store... But her mind was completely blown. What is it that does this? It's a combination of things. Never having to leave the theater for another theater, never having to go anywhere for food, coming out of screenings to hit a throng of people coming out of other screenings all enthusiastically sharing their experiences. The tented waiting area where people genuinely become close friends. We endeavour to make this festival seem like a home away from home. We have hiccups, all festivals do, but we share the nightmares with a laugh and a mighty toast for our audiences.
Sunday began for me with a screening of I DECLARE WAR a film about two groups of 13-year old kids playing WAR with fake guns, given power and an awesome upgrade via the powers of their imaginations. This is a game, there is no gore. This is a very tactical and emotional game of WAR - and Directors Rob Wilson and Jason Lapeyre have knocked this film over the big green wall and that film is still soaring in my estimation. This is a movie that evokes the very best of those nostalgic kids films. Stuff like STAND BY ME and SON OF RAMBO. Honestly, I don't want to go into too much detail, because this is a movie that is about the glorious discovery of the film. It basically got an equivalent of a PG13 in Canada - but I'm sure our MPAA will slap it with an R for Language - as the kids use language as though they were real kids beyond the eyes & ears of adults.
Every kid in this film is amazing to watch. The film has the power to transform you into a 12-13 year old with your best friends in the woods working to kill each other as only war playing kids can do. The audience cheered throughout - the film felt like a celebration of youth, while also being quite a great action film. And the one girl in the mix. FUCK HER! LOL. She's awesome, great actress - but I love/hate her character's tactics. Totally DARLA style moves. A major studio should pick this up and create an amazing marketing campaign for the film. It deserves and warrants it.
After that, Yoko and I split up for most of the night. She wanted to see LOOPER, which I had already seen - and given the demand to see it at FANTASTIC FEST, I decided to see another film instead. I'll get to that in a second, I'm going to talk about LOOPER first, since I haven't really spoken about the film on AICN yet.
Rian Johnson's third feature film, after the brilliant outtings of BRICK and THE BROTHERS BLOOM comes Rian's most accessible and commercial film yet. Starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt playing the same person in the midst of a scenario that could only come with Time Travel. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a Looper - this is a mob hitman that goes to a specific place at a specific time and a future human is sent back in time and space to this spot where the Looper blows them the fuck away, burns the body and collects his silver blood money. The future MOB doesn't like loose ends, so if you decide to be a Looper, you know that at some point in the future, you'll be captured and sent back in time to be executed by your younger self. When this happens, you get a big GOLD pay-off and retire from Looping until your ultimate self-termination.
There's a lot more to this story. One of the great Time Travel hypotheticals is... if you could go back in time and kill Adolph Hitler before he did the damage he did to the world, would you? To a degree, that same question is being answered here, only not with Hitler, but a future person that could best be compared to Tetsuo Shima... I'll say no more, but trust me - badassness is throughout.
This is also an R-rated film with nudity, violent gore and incredibly disturbing Time Travel body issues that I love dearly - and is just flat out creepy. There is a paradox to discuss - but frankly that's a big heaping load of the fun of talking about a Time Travel movie. I have my own series of theories. When the screening let out at Fantastic Fest tonight, people were just glowing as they exited the theater. It really is that great.
So if I loved it so much, what was I doing while everyone was enjoying that?
I was watching the latest film from the great Ernesto Diaz, the director of the Marko Zaror classic Fantastic Fest films, KILTRO, MIRAGEMAN and MANDRILL. Ernesto also has taken part in THE ABCs OF DEATH. But his latest, BRING ME THE HEAD OF MACHINE GUN WOMAN... well, it's his first feature that I've seen that didn't star Marko Zaror. However, it does take place in the same cinematic universe as MANDRILL. It is out about an assassin/bounty hunter like Mandrill - but this incredibly delicious hot asskicker is played by Fernanda Urrejola, who spends pretty much the entire film in something resembling a more lacy version of Taarna's warrior outfit from HEAVY METAL. And yeah, she wears the fuck out of that thing. But, the Machine Gun Woman isn't the main character of the film. That's a DJ, who whilst taking a shit accidently becomes discovered by a Very Bad Man and his Men - and is almost killed until he promises to deliver the Machine Gun Woman to... her death.
Now, mind you. He's a DJ. His most valuable possession is his iPod. One of the aspects of Ernesto's films that I love, is the portrait of Chile that he paints. Like the topless Tango Bar. I mean. How fucking awesome is that? A Topless Tango Bar, where beautiful women dance with men that can do the Tango. Very well could be one of the most brilliantly conceived scenes in history - and one of the actors just kind of happens to OWN the place and does that. So, sequence in film. The film is shot for a song, but like Ernesto's Zaror films... the film just exudes charm. The characters, the environment... the music, even the style of the action. It just puts you in a happy place as you watch it. You know there's no CG here. It's low budget, but entertaining as hell. OH - did I mention that the film is kind of a tribute to GRAND THEFT AUTO? Cuz, it totally is.
This is another Fantastic Fest hit for Ernesto Diaz. Can't wait to see his heist flick that he's almost done with. There's a moment in the film where we realize that Machine Gun Woman and Mandrill can be hired from the same assassin website. Oh dear god, that movie... NOW! Fernanda is beautiful both in person and upon the screen. BTW - you can fully disavow everything I say about the film, because when Fernanda Urrejola arrived at the Drafthouse tonight - she bestowed a kiss upon my cheek. As the girl in I DECLARE WAR stated. This woman has tactics. Thank God.
For my 9pm block, I decided to see the British thriller horror film, TOWER BLOCK. I love British genre films. There's bad ones, but the good ones. Like the two I saw tonight, well it gives me faith in the future of film. Written by SEVERENCE's screenwriter, James Moran... I saw two more of his films tonight and I give big thumbs ups for both.
TOWER BLOCK is a nightmare situation. Imagine you were living out your lease as the final tenants on one of those big Tower Blocks there in London. It's basically a high rise apartment. Now, imagine you'd gone out last night. You're recently single, you hook up with a lovely other. You're hazy on the details from the previous night. Truth be told, you woke with a start when you discovered them in your bed. You get dressed, you make some coffee. They come out in some of your cloths, you laugh. You are having the morning after conversation and when they begin touching your hand and you feel that maybe this is the start of a beautiful relationship... Sniper bullet tears off their face as you're drenched in blood.
The entire top floor of the Apartment complex is under siege. The place has been rigged for death and capture. The joint is basically a death trap - and the sniper is basically fucking Bullseye. He ain't missing anything.
The character drama between the tenants, all of whom are stressed out, having lost people... having their whole world locked down at gunpoint - and these people never liked each other. One is a hoodlum that shakes them all down for protection money. One is a terrible fucking mom that slaps her children around the hallway - and leaves them alone with no supervision. Drug dealers. Alcoholic. Old married couple.
They collectively work the problems, die and it's all rather entertaining. It isn't the most graphic film, but it is fucking scary. This sort of nightmare scenario would just suck. I love great sniper stories because the tale of the sniper and the tale of those under his watchful eye... it's scary. A great sniper can feel like a thunderbolt from Zeus.
Such a great little film.
Then my final film of the evening was COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES.
Before the film though, a hilarious Zombie short film called BRAINS? played. It begins with four friendly zombies enjoying a nice platter of brains, as they grunt and moan & exclaim BRAINS! Question BRAINS? - but the subtitles are just priceless here. Truly hilarious fun stuff.
Now, COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES, if you've seen the trailer promises tough thuggy type West Enders giving Zombies a very brutal what for. It's a comedic and satiric look at how that culture is perhaps doomed to die. And perhaps rise again. This film starts out life about a pair of brothers that have hatched a robbery scheme so they can find a way so that their Grandfather can stay in the West End with his friends, the way they love. Meanwhile, the entire area is being threatened by fresh development... for a squeaky clean pleasantfied version of an ideal West End. While digging a foundation for an epic future construct, a Back How operator uncovers a stone slab saying this was placed there by King Charles II. They of course open it up. The of course go into the place looking for GOLD! Then very ancient Bernie Wrightson esque desicated cadaver zombies attack - and it begins to spread. Everywhere... fast.
The film is about the robbers, the hostages and the old folks. Coolest thing about the movie? Seeing Pussy Galore mow down Zombies with a fucking machine gun. Yes, that's right... Honor Blackman plays an old retiree that isn't afraid of kicking zombie ass to keep on living!
The zombie gags throughout the film are outstanding, as are the gory dispatches. The film is hilarious, gross and scary. A fun edition to the Zombie Wave Collecton that we're all assembling, right?
After that, I joine the Nerd Rap Party at the HighBall. Things were crazy. Everyone was in a haze of reality. Lots of great zombie walking... subconsciously. People are so damn happy at this fest. Especially at like 2am. And the party didn't end then. Filmmakers from around the world introducing themselves, loving the film festival. Film fans doing the same. Yes, even I was enjoying the party tonight. I hope any of this is coherent in any small fashion.