When something good is too immensely successful it always results in a gaggle of a******s trying to knock it down a few pegs either out of sheer greedy possessiveness or their inability to accept that sometimes the public does have good taste. “Blair Witch Project” was like that. It was a solid horror film that everyone liked… at first. Then the elitist film geeks noticed that it wasn’t solely their private cult thing, so they tried every way that their tiny little nerd brains could think of to take a steaming s**t on its popularity. First, by calling it a rip off of other films like “The Last Broadcast” (which is kind of true) or “Cannibal Holocaust” (which is kind of not) and then by picking it apart, posting their ramblings online, and ruining it for the rest of us.
Still, “Blair” weathered the assaults and went on to be the most profitable indie film of all time, grossing 4,000 times its budget and ending up in the Guinness book of Records as the film with the highest profit-to-cost ratio of all time.
Such success could not go unpunished of course. Hollywood’s elite are nothing if not petty and jealous and they don’t like being one upped, so it comes as no surprise that none of the cast or crew’s careers really took off in the way you might have expected. Case in point: “The Objective” is the first theatrically released film that director Daniel Myrick has made since “Blair.”
Story wise, it’s not a huge leap. Instead of a bunch of film students lost in the woods trying to make a documentary about a legendary witch; it’s about a bunch of black operatives lost in Afghanistan three days after September 11th trying to find the source of radioactive material detected by spy satellites. Both groups find themselves trapped in a shifting landscape and pursued by something inhuman. However, I was never a big believer that story is the be-all, end-all. I think that what makes a breaks a film is how it’s told, not what it’s about. (Thank you, Marshall McLuhan. -MM) Also, Wesley Clark’s son co-wrote this, so if for no other reason that pure curiosity, I wanna see this.
However, if the ultimate theme of this film is another p***y “War is Baaaaaaad” bunch of bullshit I will very very disappointed.
MM: I’m also dying to see this one, but unfortunately it looks like I’m going be out of town when it plays the festival. Stupid grandma and her stupid 80th birthday. Tell me if it’s any good, ’cause I’m a huge “Blair Witch” fan and a horror movie set in Afghanistan sounds mighty intriguing. I have a feeling it could touch brilliance, but I’m gonna hafta wait until I see it myself.
“All the Boys Love Mandy Lane”
Like a cross between “There’s Something About Mary” and “Halloween,” “All the Boys…” is about a sweet girl named Mandy Lane who is the object of lust and desire for much of the male population at her high school until the day where it looks like one of those boys decides to eliminate the competition. This could be a very decent slasher, or it could be a derivative bunch of drivel. Still, the trailer looks real decent. So I’ll try and check it out.
MM: Yeah, I was starting to buy into the buzz around this one, but I’m not sure about the trailer. Sadly, I’ll be out of town for this one too, so let me know if it’s worth checking out when I get back.
I have to admire a film that has an alternate trailer that consists solely of audience reaction shots taken with a night vision camera. You don’t see a frame of film, barely hear the soundtrack. Instead, all you see is people jumping and screaming. Genius. There’s also another trailer, because you know damn well that no distributor in the Universe would let THAT be the only marketing strategy, which does show more of the film. Which… ehh… I dunno. It’s a zombie movie where a news crew is trapped inside an apartment building, its shot “Blair Witch”-style on handheld cameras. My brain tells me that this is just a Spanish “Diary of the Dead,” but my gut tells me that it isn’t and sometimes you got to go with your instincts and not your head.
MM: I have it on good authority that this is scary as hell, so I am totally looking forward to it. Again, huge “Blair Witch” fan and I love it when horror is played straight. The Spanish angle is also selling me on this one because I think Spanish genre cinema is very strong right now. Don’t worry, I’ll hold your hand if you get too scared…
“Tokyo Gore Police”
Sometimes I worry that the popularity of Asian cinema will soften up the genre, make it lose its edge. Whenever Hollywood turns its unhealthy attention towards something genuinely cool it has a habit of ruining it completely by trying to leech away some of the latter’s genuine cool to make money. Then I see something like “Tokyo Gore Police” and am immediately cheered up because I realize that the Japanese will never lose that slightly mad edge they have; and that no matter how mainstream some of their stuff gets, other stuff will never ever be mainstream.
I can’t even guess that the storyline is about by watching the trailer. All I know is that I want to see it.
MM: Is it bad that I’m feeling burnt out on Japanese extreme cinema? Maybe I’m just not doing as many drugs as I used to. I’ll admit my curiosity was peeked, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. But I’m out of town for this one too, so the point is moot.
I have always been a big supporter of French Canadian films because, almost without exception (The exceptions being Cronenberg and Egoyan in case you were wondering), they are superior in every way to English Canadian films. This isn’t a bias, it’s merely fact. It’s a sad state of affairs, but most Canadian directors aim very low and are encouraged to be as bland as possible; hence the state of film in the Great White North. However, us Frenchies like to piss off the squareheads at every opportunity and our films are no exception. So if you wanna see something Canadian that’s made with soul and passion, the French films are usually your best bets. Sad, but true. However, I do have one beef with the Frenchies, and it’s that there’s never anything made that’s outside the norm. Oh sure, there’s plenty of unique and well made movies, but usually its comedies or dramas or horror movies; very straightly played, specific types of film. For all my harping about English Canadian films, at least a guy like Cronenberg can make a “Videodrome” or a “Scanners” or a “Naked Lunch,” films that defy description and are in a class by themselves.
Thankfully, “Truffe” (Which is the French word for Truffle) looks nice and f****d up. It also stars Quebec’s best actor of all time, Roy Dupuis. You all probably know him from “La Femme Nikita” TV series, but don’t let that trick you into thinking that he’s so-so. He’s always been amazing in his French roles even if he hasn’t been as lucky in the English ones.
MM: Yeah, after starting out as a heart-throb on “Filles de Caleb,” Roy Dupuis has turned into quite the actor. I highly recommend checking out “Memoires Affectives” if you haven’t already. As for “Truffe,” it’s opening the festival and I am totally psyched. In a way it manages to be both Canadian and French, in that it is both absurdist and mannered. It looks expertly shot, I love black and white and the director, Kim Nguyen is clearly a man with a unique vision. My one fear is that it will rely too heavily on local in jokes to be successful outside of Montreal, but I have a feeling that the madcap nature of the thing should carry it quite far.
“Sukiyaki Western Django”
Takashi Miike… nuff said. Actually, that’s not true. There’s more. Sukiyaki is a sort of, but not quite remake of the Sergio Corbucci Western “Django” taking place in an alternate universe (Which I will now call the “Sergioleoneverse” whether you like it or not) where the Genpei War of 1180-1185 never ended and the Taira and Minamoto clans are still at each other’s throats seven hundred years later.
I’m half disappointed that Miike didn’t just have it take place in the 12th century and say: “F**k it! Let ’em have guns and cowboy hats!” We’ve also seen the whole “Nameless antihero comes into town during a war between two gangs and pits one against the other” story done before, but this is Miike so it’ll be good for a laugh at the very least.
MM: The relationship between samurai movies and westerns is well documented, so a samurai western seems like the next logical step. And I love both genres equally, so I’m very interested to see what Miike comes up with. The trailer looks like pure b-movie joy, and I should be embarrassed to admit that the Tarantino cameo has me intrigued but I’m not. Old crushes die hard, even if he is quickly becoming a talentless hack, sigh.
“What We Do is Secret”
I have a theory about punk rock that a lot of people vehemently don’t like. Know the Sex Pistols, Siouxie and The Banshees, The Clash, The Damned, Bauhaus?
I don’t think they’re punk.
No no no… WAIT, let’s all calm the f**k down and put away the torches and pitchforks and listen for a minute. Hear me out. The bands I listed (and many others from the mid to late ’70s) are not punk, or at the very least they never meant to be as punk as they ended up looking. Remember how in the 1990s every goddamn band was called “Grunge” or “Alternative” regardless of what they played? Soundgarden, which was basically a retro ’70s Metal band or Type O Negative which was Goth. Well, the same thing happened in the late ’70s where everything that wasn’t f*****g Disco was Punk. Elvis Costello was supposed to be punk for Christ sakes. Yeah, right. Let’s put him on a double bill with The Anti-Nowhere League, see what happens.
Okay, so I’ll concede that the Sex Pistols were punk for the duration of their existence, but going by what happened to The Damned and The Clash, they wouldn’t have stayed that way for long. A lot of the raw raucous sound that defined the “punk” of the era came about because none of the bands could play worth a f**k, rather than because it was recorded that way on purpose. You’ll notice that, once the guys learned more than three chords, the music went from “London’s Burning” to “London Calling.” It may have sounded punk rawk, but what it was intended to be was angry glam music made by disfranchised David Bowie fans. The soul of punk was there, no question, but they were too talented, too smart, too refined. To me true punk started with the Hardcore movement, which was music made by kids who really believed that Johnny Rotten was super serious when he was screaming “DESTROYYYY!!!” and who thought songs shouldn’t take more than two minutes to write and one minute to play.
Darby Crash certainly was one of those kids and he certainly took the spirit of punk to its ultimate conclusion by killing himself, poor misguided bastard, but then again how else could his life have ended? One of the tragedies of Hardcore was just how f*****g wasted the bands were. So many greats of the era are semi-retarded basket cases now because of drug use. Ever watch “American Hardcore”? It’s f*****g sad man. You can’t do that many drugs and turn out okay, Iggy Pop notwithstanding.
So a biopic of Darby Crash is certainly long in coming since he was at the forefront of the whole thing and arguably a pioneer. Hardcore has been ignored a long time by the mainstream, mostly because none of the music can softened down or used to sell sneakers in commercials. It’s found a bit of a second life in skating videos and as B-side covers for shitty Emo bands trying to gain street cred. But there’s just no way to really pussify it. A lot of the bands from 1981 still sound as outrageous today as they did back then. That’s a hell of an accomplishment if you think about it.
Anyway, about the movie, it seems good, except that the guy who plays Darby looks way too old. Crash may have lived hard, but he always had a little babykin face. I watched some live Germs concert footage today and dude looks about eight years old. No wonder he was always depressed.
Biopics are an iffy prospect for me because they’re not reality, as much as the filmmakers would like us to believe otherwise, they’re legend and hearsay. They always make their protagonist look a little bit better than they were and everyone else always looks a little bit worse. The best you can hope for out of a biopic is that it won’t turn into cult of personality propaganda for the person it’s about. However, Eric Campos says it f*****g rocks and his word is good enough for me.
MM: Oh god, are we going to get into a semantics argument about the different between punk, new wave and hardcore? (Yes, yes we are. -JK) ‘K, never mind, that’s not the point. But the Darby Crash story was cinematic even while it was happening, and I’m glad that the movie was made by someone with real passion for the material. Also, getting Shane West to play Crash is an interesting choice and I’m keen to see whether he can pull it off or not.
“I Think We’re Alone Now”
I’m not going go see this. Just the trailer made me want to take a shower. I know it’s highly snobbish of me, but I can’t watch s**t like this. I just can’t. If there’s one thing that makes me totally go bananas, it’s stalkers. I cannot for the life of me understand the mentality. Being totally smitten by a chick (or a dude) that doesn’t know you and wouldn’t like you if he/she did, is retarded. Being totally smitten by someone famous is doubly or triply so, because famous people meet about ten trillion, billion people a year and wouldn’t remember you from f*****g Adam.
“I Think We’re Alone Now” is a documentary about two obsessive types who seek the love, attention, and… God help her, eventual marriage of ’80s pop star Tiffany. Which brings up another peeve that I have; which is that stalkers always go after reasonably nice people who are fairly open with the fans. You never see someone stalking Lara Flynn Boyle or Naomi Campbell or Courtney Love. Guess they’re afraid of being found dead in an alley with their eyeballs and testicles switched places.
Anyway, this seems a little bit like “General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait” by Barbet Schroeder where the subjects being filmed are so out of it that they haven’t the slightest clue whatsoever how unflattering they look.
With that said. Let’s meet our Stalkers!
Stalker #1 is named Jeff. He’s in his 50’s, has Asperger Syndrome (A form of Autism) and looks like the cheerful old man who likes to give kids candy and watch them wrestle. He seems like the type of guy who’s harmless and would never hurt a fly, but it’s what’s going on inside that alien brain of his that’s disturbing. He smiles a lot, but it doesn’t look quite… right, if you know what I mean.
Then you have Stalker #2. Kelly, he/she is a Hemaphrodite and is in his/her 30s and looks disturbingly like Buffallo Bill crossed with Aileen Wuornos, which I’m sure is by total f*****g accident right? I hate to judge a book by its cover but Kelly looks like the type of person who puts “Goodbye Horses” on a mixtape for a lover and writes “Would you f**k me? I’d f**k me.” in all his/her love letters. Instead of being subtly creepy he/she is much more overtly shudder inducing.
And I got all that just from the f*****g trailer. Not my thing, but hey! GO NUTS. The people in this movie obviously are. So if you like that sort of thing, watch away.
MM: I am going to see this, because one of the more positive (or negative, I’m not really sure which) things my ex-hubby gave me was an appetite for human train wrecks. That said, the film actually looks like a very compassionate and oddly moving portrait of two damaged people and the unlikely place they found comfort. I’m sure I’m going to emerge shaken and stirred, but I’m afraid I’ve just got to rubberneck.
“Repo! A Genetic Opera”
This is one of those things that can go either way. Films adapted from plays usually have the benefit of having gotten a thorough shakedown, but at the same time they occasionally don’t adapt well to the cinematic medium. On paper it looks good. Director Darren Lynn Bousman is anything but a rank amateur. One of the things that impressed me about the “SAW” sequels is that they were always very competently and stylishly made. I wanted to watch them and loathe them. I wanted to be able to call them stupid torture porn, but they’re just not, and a lot of that is because of his directing skills.
So that’s one good thing about “Repo.” Then there’s the casting, which is totally nuts. When did you ever think you’d see Sarah Brightman, Paul Sorvino, Alexa Vega, Bill Moseley, Nivek Ogre and Paris Hilton doing anything together, ever? Another good thing is the awesome looking trailer. It’s got a “Sin City” meets “Rocky Horror Picture Show” vibe to it.
Granted, it may get on my f*****g nerves in the span of about 1.7 seconds, but I have to remember that it’s about a future world where you rent the organs that you got in a transplant and if you miss payments a Repo Man comes to collect them. F**k that sounds cool.
The only reason I might not like this is if, halfway through, I start to wonder if this wouldn’t be better without all the singing and dancing. Films tend to go through stages: Original, Sequel, Bad Sequel, Ripoff, Prequel, TV Series, Remake and finally Musical. I might feel like “Repo” skipped a few necessary steps, I dunno… but I got a good feeling about this so I’m not worried I’ll hate it.
MM: As a self-admitted closet goth, I also have mixed feelings about this one, mostly positive, oddly enough. I think I just wanna check out the positively psychotic castings. Also, I am a girl and I like musical.
Not to mention Anthony Stewart Head singing covered in blood. Mmm, singing Giles…
“Mother of Tears”
“Suspiria” is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s the quintessential Argento film: Loud, stylish, borderline incomprehensible but beautifully done. I didn’t like the sequel “Inferno” as much, it featured way too much exposition for its own good, but it had its moments and is a fine film nonetheless. So the fact that the latter two films are a part of a trilogy, whose third chapter has finally been made after I’ve been waiting for it since about, oh… 1985-86, is enough of a reason for me to want to see this. Argento is part of my cinematic education. I’ve grown up with his work and, whether or not it’s good, watching “Mother…” will be like closing the book on a chapter of my life.
MM: I’m pretty sure I’m going to hate this, but I’m going to see it anyways because everyone and their monkey is going to want to talk about it and I want to be able to say why I hate it. I’m not a huge Argento fan, but his early works cannot be beat and I know better than to expect that now. Also, it’s a midnight show and seeing it with 300 screaming Argento fans might just sway me into liking it. You never know.
“Fear(s) of the Dark”
I love animation. I think it’s a vast and untapped style. People have done some real good stuff with it, but you always get the feeling that the majority of animated films are too grounded by the rules of live cinema. It’s as if they can’t think outside the box and simply draw scenes as if it were a movie with actors.
“Fear(s) of the Dark” looks as if it was made with a different mindset though. Damn different. Here’s how the filmmakers describe their own film:
“Spiders’ legs brushing against naked skin…
Unexplainable noises heard at night in a dark bedroom…
A big empty house where you feel a presence…
A hypodermic needle getting closer and closer…
A dead thing trapped in a bottle of formaldehyde…
A huge growling dog, baring its teeth and staring…
So many scary moments we have experienced at some point in our lives – like the craftsmen of this journey straight to the land of fear.
Six of the world’s hottest graphic artists and cartoonists have breathed life into their nightmares, bleeding away colour only to retain the starkness of light and the pitch black of shadows.
Their intertwined stories make up an unprecedented epic where phobias, disgust and nightmares come to life and reveal Fear at its most naked and intense…”
I have to tell you a true story about me: I used to tune in to PBS’ “Mystery!” when I was a kid, not to watch the show itself, but just to see the animated opening. “Fear(s)…” has that same kind of Edward Gorey vibe to it. So you know I’m gonna be there. This just looks too incredibly cool.
MM: The “Mystery!” opening was actually done by Edward Gorey, explaining the Gorey vibe. I also watched it all the time as a kid and that animated opening scared the poop out of me when I was little. I’m intrigued by this one, but I’m not sure if it fits into my schedule. Damn choices!
Read Mariko’s picks in Part Three of Handicapping Fantasia 2008>>>