Monday, September 28, 2009

FANTASTIC FEST : DAY 4

After a slow start, Fantastic Fest 2009 is shaping up to be the best one yet...

******

Buratino, Son of Pinocchio (Rasmus Merivoo)

Filled to the rim with inspiration, the sparkly Buratino, Son of Pinocchio ultimately has too many cross-wired problems to commit to the ambitions that it hints at in its first ten minutes. The intro - a baby hungry woman sings to the stars about wanting to be with child and gets her wish via a splinter that magically flies into her womb and sprouts a baby Buratino - is fun, wicked, and wise, but too quickly Buratino, Son of Pinocchio simply feels like a short film tacked on to a half done feature. Director Rasmus Merivoo discussed the difficulties in logistically pulling off an Estonian/Russian co-production, and, sadly, that is reflected on the screen. But props to Merivoo for standing by his efforts. His humility was refreshing. Merivoo knows he loves making movies, and he knows he didn't make a strong one here, but such is the process.


******
Down Terrace (Ben Wheatley)

If Fantastic Fest generally offers up films dealing in the physically extreme, Down Terrace was an alternative to that from the emotional department. Where, at first, it seems like a dark comedy out to debunk the myth of the sexy gangster lifestyle, Down Terrace turns on a dime and becomes something much more confrontational. A wave of shocking hard violence challenges the audience to question the laughter we were enjoying previously. Is this another winning British class conscious comedy, or the exploration of the sociopath gene being passed on from one generation to the next? Not sure yet, but I know this debut feature by Ben Wheatley engrossed me, and I expect it to be spilling out into some small run theaters very soon. Look for the performance of newcomer Robin Hill. He may be Britain's next big thing.


******
The House of the Devil (Ti West)

Ti West is a smart guy. From The Roost, to Trigger Man, and now with The House of the Devil, this young modern day jack-of-all-trades (he writes, directs, edits, shoots) just keeps getting better. The House of the Devil is so delicately constructed that it almost feels too beautiful to be a horror film. Save for perhaps the very end, and a little bit of its middle, The House of the Devil feels nearly note perfect. People have already been labeling this film as an homage to 1980's horror, but West nailed it in the Q & A when he rightly described The House of the Devil as a period horror film, not a retread. West now has an excellent handling of beats and a visual richness to go alongside his already economical craftiness. I'm so anxious to see what he does next.


******
District B13 : Ultimatum (Patrick Alessandrin)

If there's an on screen prologue to match the sentiments of current political and cultural situation, it is DB13:U's "A new government is in power, but nothing has changed". Looking like it will get a late 2009 release, District B13 : Ultimatum is the best remedy for wiping away the unpleasant memory that was District 9. Where District 9 was nihilistic, District B13 extracts hope from a dystopia (only four years in the future, mind you) that more naturally resembles our world than the limp-dicked allegory of District 9. How can you not swoon over a fight sequence that is based around the security of a rare Van Gogh painting... and where said painting is used as an acrobatic weapon? Or what about Alessandrin and Luc Besson's pacifying of lower-class racial tensions by bringing self-segregated groups for a unified goal? Sure, it all sounds a bit candy coated and idealistic, but in the realm of hero-led action cinema, it feels just right, right now.

12 comments:

Rick Olson said...

Sure, it all sounds a bit candy coated and idealistic, but in the realm of hero-led action cinema, it feels just right, right now.

I'm glad it comforted you, but was it a good movie? (Sorry, snotty remark.)

RC said...

son on Pinnochio sounds painful and a little be horrific.

Fox said...

Rick-

That didn't sound snotty. But yes, I thought it was good. Maybe not as good as some of the other Besson produced action flicks, but still tops. I think it's more a film that thrills with it's set pieces than as a whole, but I will definitely go see it again when it comes out and see how I feel then.

RC-

It's was painful. But sad too because the director was such a nice fellow. It's just too bad the vision that he has in his head didn't translate to the screen.

Although, he did mention that there were two versions (one for Russia, one for Estonia), but I'm not certain which one we saw. Maybe it's a work in progress.

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