Today rocked and continues to rock in a headbanging till dawn kinda manner.
A look at the schedule had me wanting to catch four films and a stop by MONDO’s Gallery to check out the EYES WITHOUT A FACE exhibit that Quint reported on yesterday. I had to see that KONG painting in person – and it is pure fucking epicness! Since we spent all that KICKSTARTER money on an actual show, I don’t have the $9k to claim KONG as my own… Bummer. But I took this photo with it!
After that we headed down to ALAMO SOUTH, where Yoko and I enjoyed a couple of libations to put us in that great Alamo film loving mindset. There was a point, when the word leaked about the FURIOUS 7 screening at SXSW, where the two of us discussed, heading down to the PARAMOUNT and watching Apatow’s TRAINWRECK, Feig’s SPY and Wan’s FURIOUS 7… I’m anxious to see all three, that last one most of all, but That would’ve been 3 big studio films… versus being able to see 4 films that need writers to write about them. They don’t have guaranteed distribution, plus, we had AICNers at those screenings. We’ll have stories on them, but I was committed to seeing DEATHGASM at midnight, and I was confident in my instincts.
I never plan in advance beyond the night before. I don’t watch the trailers, I don’t seek reviews if they exist. I just read the capsule write up in the festival pamphlet and try to divine my way through the film fest process. As OB1 would say, “Use the Force!” Put the blast shield down and trust your instincts and let go.
When Yoko asked what we were seeing, I said… Something called A WONDERFUL CLOUD. Her face fell a bit, “I saw the trailer on that, it looked really low budget.” I simply replied with, “Have faith, I’m a film jedi!”
The director was aiming for Cassavetes film, and managed to capture that beautiful oddness and emotional resonance that the best of Cassavetes has. Personally, those are still in a higher league, but given there are too few filmmakers even chasing that kind of gold ring of filmmaking… AND… well the cast and story and dialogue had the packed theater laughing and feeling for these characters.
The basic premise is that the Moskowitz of this ex-couple, Eugene (Eugene Kotlyarenko, also the director) and his Minnie aka Katelyn, played by HOUSE OF CARDS/YOU’RE NEXT actress Kate Lyn Shell are being reunited to finished clearing up the last bit of business that the two have. Katelyn is in Los Angeles to get Eugene to sign over his half of the business they started together, to Katelyn… and he harbors an emotional attachment to her that is still quite prescient in his mind. Even if, he leads with his dick… or… actually, the film begins with him muffdiving on the girl he’s having sex with, but doesn’t really care anything for. Meanwhile, Katelyn is hiding a relationship that she has back home.
That said, they’re both trying to be cool as ex’s can be. Not wanting to rock the boat, have this be a good last hangout, that might mean future hangouts, but… who knows what will happen on this crazy trip. There are many many wacky characters that they run into, and you can judge this couple by the relationships that they introduce us to throughout the film. While funny, this has serious weight to the emotions that our characters are going through. Eugene fucks up, Katelyn fucks up… There’s angst, nudity, fondness… but the residual chemistry we’re watching feels to be in decay. As if the relationship had definitely found its half life. We never really see that side of them, there’s glimpses, but nothing you can fully wrap your mind around. Very cool little film. Yoko loved this, and I could feel her love it throughout the film. The characters and situations were constantly surprising and delightful. A WONDERFUL CLOUD is a kind of film that used to be what the Art Houses were about, till they succumbed to mainly MARKETABLE INDEPENDENTS. There’s no giant names here, but film lovers shouldn’t need those. This film has names we will come to know!
Next up was KTOWN COWBOYS, which is situated in KTOWN area of Los Angeles and is an American Korean Bromance between 5 best friends all struggling with their own issues. Produced by Ken Jeong and directed by Daniel Park… I bonded with the Korean leads in this film, simply because they’re guys, and while I might not love some of their jarheaded notions of how to act in the world, I recognize that too often, Men have no fucking clue how to act or react in the modern age. That’s just a reality.
I mean, seriously, but at the same time, I absolutely get the feeling of letting loose when a world of shit has been poured upon your head and all you have to hold onto is the friendship you have with the mates you share everything with. This isn’t a great film, it can alienate people, but as I’ve often said, you’re not supposed to ENJOY all films. Some films are made to make you uncomfortable, some are meant to disturb you, but I don’t deny the reality that Park was going for here. It felt somewhat honest to me. Now… here’s the real question… Is it something I’ll watch again? I’m unsure. Depends on the mood really. It’s nice to see Korean men in a movie that doesn’t involve fucking a relative, mass death and violence or special effects. A film that has a bit of humor, a bit of soap opera melodrama – and that does in fact have guys getting all EMO and shit.
It wasn’t outright beloved by anyone that I talked to at the fest, but I found what it was telling me about LA Korea Town was fascinating. I felt like a tourist of an alien culture, even if my wife is Korean. She wouldn’t be caught dead with these guys. They’re exactly what drives her crazy in Men that makes that 3 letter word feel like 4.
The turnaround between KTOWN COWBOYS and my next film was very tight and I barely got in, and Yoko decided to run home to play with Jeff Goldblum and take him out for a couple of walks. While I joined up with Father Geek for our first film of the day together.
Which was the fucking magnificent 70’s-esque Film Noir, THE FRONTIER!
This was the first phenomenal film I’ve seen of the festival. No shit, this film is exactly why I love divining my way through SXSW, not giving two shits about whether or not the coverage of the film in particular will bring more hits to my site, this is more about helping the upcoming generations of future filmmakers and if I can help announce them, well, that’s what I love doing at SXSW. Also – there are so many voices that will shout about those big films at the top of lungs. I like scouting for them to find the films they were missing, that they can still catch!
THE FRONTIER. I had no clue about the film. Nothing in the write up said FILM NOIR. Nothing. I knew there was a girl, some criminals and a deserted motel in middle of buttfuck-nowhere. So my brain thought… PETRIFIED FOREST with the Leslie Howard part going to Jocelin Donahue (from HOUSE OF THE DEVIL).
Instead… Imagine if you had an unsuspecting gang of criminals holed up at a rinky dink backroad Diner/Motel run by KELLY LYNCH, who is playing her Luanne as a fading might’ve been actress, watching the years tick bye in a shithole of a roadstop. She finds Jocelin Donahue’s Laine asleep in her car, blocking the entrance to Luanne’s place of business.
Now, the gang isn’t holed up there. In fact, folks seem to come and go and stay – and the one thing I was absolutely positive of was that Jocelin’s LAINE was the Duke Mantee of this fucking movie. She’s playing the abused woman card to deflect any suspicion of this femme fatale’s true intention or history. The outside world is looking into a murder, but that gets personified by A.J. Bowen’s Officer Gault, a white hat wearing cop in the town that his father had been Sheriff. He’s instantly attracted and seemingly suspicious of Laine. She’s very wary of him, but attempts to meet his interest with a degree of damsel in distress.
Classic Femme Fatale shit. The marks on her neck seem to indicate the fragility of this character, but think of them more like the sheepskin this wolf is using to invade this den. Once you see how the “gang” comes together, and the job they’re trying to pull… If you love Noir, you’re going to really dig this movie. Or, if you just love well told crime tales!
Now… There are several key things that make this film outstanding. One, is the full cast, they are… to a one, perfect. Two, is the screenplay that was co-written by New York Playwright, Webb Wilcoxen and first time feature film writer/director Oren Shai! These two have written a script that allows for so many twists and tells and backstabs and beatings and death and general mayhem… while giving every character the room to shine. Then Third and possibly the most important of all, was the style of direction. Oren Shai allowed a stillness to the film that allowed for the actors to find moments between them, while capturing it in a classic cinema style. You’ll see great silent moments between AJ Bowen and Jocelin Donahue – and when they come, they’re positively electric. Then you’ll see the same thing in Izabella Miko (Athena in the 2010 CLASH OF THE TITANS) and Jamie Harris’ (RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) couple. He seems like an aging Don Juan type having romanced the more ditzy, pill popping, cubic zirconium necklace cherishing doll. They’re great together. There’s also Liam Aiken (the kid from ROAD TO PERDITION and Klaus from LEMONY SNICKET) as a seemingly nice guy Eddie character. Then you’ve got Jim Beaver (DEADWOOD, upcoming CRIMSON PEAK) who is just our M Emmet Walsh in BLOOD SIMPLE type. Older, no nonsense motherfucker of the umpteenth degree. Love him in this.
I’m not gonna say another thing about the direction this flick takes, or where the big bag of laundered unmarked money will go… but I was electrified by it all! If you’re attending SXSW, do not miss this movie. It’s one to watch and own! So great!
Then Yoko came back for the Midnight Horror film from New Zealand. Called DEATHGASM, I had read a single tweet from someone that had mentioned BAD TASTE aka BRAIN DEAD by Peter Jackson, for the scale of the gore involved – and that was all I needed to know. This was a New Zealand first time director, who won a contest seeking a new horror film from New Zealand, where Tax Payer money was invested into the movie… and HOLY SHIT, I LOVE NEW ZEALAND!
The government there fully supported Peter Jackson’s early gorefests – and here we go.
DEATHGASM is the film gorehounds have been fucking tearing their hair out waiting for. We laughed throughout. We cheered throughout. And there was applause from the light audience (due to counterprogramming) that was amped by the power absolute elation.
SO – what is DEATHGASM?
After a hilariously grotesquely and giddily animated opening credits, we discover a peaceful mutant Ozzie & Harriet – God fearing folks – that take in a METALHEAD high school age kid, whom’s MethMom got arrested for blowing Santa in the mall… YOU’VE GOT TO SEE THE FUCKING PHOTO!!! Wow. When he arrives with all his Metal Gear – the Ricky Nelson of the family does the finger across his neck thing, that even Drax The Destroyer now understands!
Well… you can tell, this isn’t going to be easy. Not for our sweet young Metalhead. This kid isn’t in Satan’s Service. He simply loves the mental headspace that a true young lover of Metal all attest to. The way it simply takes over your body and mind – the visions of epic fucking ruleage pulsing in your mind’s eye! But his reality… not so much. He’s not drinking or doing drugs, at least that we see. We see him thrashing his guitar on his bed with headphones connected. At school, he’s an alien, that finds some fellow afflicted kids… these kids invite him to do something truly badass… you’ll see.
Still, the young man thirsts for some small quadrant of this town to call his own, he finds that in the Indie Record Store. There, he finds others. A band is born, it is called DEATHGASM. And they do rock, or will, if only they had inspiration. I won’t say how they find it, but it is inspiration in Latin and badass illustrations and musical notes. It’s like in EVILSPEAK, when Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard) inputs the satanic text into the amazing 1981 computer – and then Satanic Demon shit starts going down! And while that film rocks all sorts of ass, they didn’t have the ambition or the sheer dedication to the extreme that this filmmaker has put together.
I wouldn’t dream of ruining a single gag, even though… that would be a drop in a Bellagio display of gore. Careful about eating or drinking during this movie… you’ll laugh shit all over you.
So much fun. The film is proof that not all is hopeless. That we can have original New Zealand Horror Talent that tells a very very very very gross hilarious, shit and giggles goretopia of joy! IF you love CEMETARY MAN, DEAD ALIVE, EVIL DEAD 2 – this film wants to play in that wheelhouse. To give us something to howl laughing and shrieking at – and all that it asks of you is to pull whatever priggy stick you could have in your ass out – and love that nobody was hurt, it was all for fun, and it’s fricking bleeding hilarious!
This is a party film. A movie for your friends to watch over and over!
Jason Lei Howden wrote the script in 9 days, shot this on a small budget and created something with a fantastic energy and gory vibe that I’m giddily writing about at 5am – endangering myself of sleeping through my alarm to go see Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy at a screening of THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Sometimes, you have to feed the geek. Which is why I can’t wait for Moriarty’s Q&A with George Miller at the screening of MAD MAX tomorrow. George Miller, Molly Ringwald & Ally Sheedy in Austin! SXSW is making sweet love to us lovers of film!!!