Tuesday, April 10, 2012
BIFFF Day #4 (Monday, 4/9)
Later start to Day 4, as the early slots were taken up with Dutch and French language screenings of The Lorax (which I had little to no interest in seeing, even in my native tongue) plus we were slated to partake in Barbara Steele’s press conference at 2pm. I’d say that the conference itself went pretty smoothly, and since I’d situated myself down front and center, I got to make sweet, sweet goo-goo eyes with the Queen of Gothic Horror for the better part of an hour. The lone American voice amidst a sea of French and Dutch-accented reporters, I think we had a little connection there (wishful thinking perhaps, but hey, you weren’t there, you don’t know!) I got her to pose for a quick snapshot with me afterwards, and then got out of there before things got ugly. I say this because you could tell that the Reele Steele was growing tired of dealing with the rabble, especially when they started pulling out DVD covers for her to sign and blog banners to hold up for pictures. Truth be told, it was pretty evident that she was DONE with us and wanted out of there even before the interview ended, so I can’t blame her for being annoyed when the press corps refused to pick up on the signals she was putting out. Ah well, the price of celebrity, I suppose. And not for the first time, I found myself hoping that I would be more gracious should I ever find myself in such an enviable situation.
Only one horror flick among the four that passed the Foolish eyes today, the others being more fanciful in tone and one even more seemingly out of place than Saturday’s Himizu. The fanciful Swiss comedy, Der Sandman, was an absolute delight and my biggest regret was that it was shown as early in the day as it was since fewer people were able to enjoy its goofy slapstick charms. Likewise, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible presented an agreeably raucous spin on the superhero mythos much the same way as the similarly titled Pixar flick, only in a non-animated, feudal China setting. There’s really nothing genre-related at all in the Rachel Weisz-starring human trafficking drama The Whistleblower, though the political thriller’s subject matter certainly qualifies as horrific. Tetsuo director Shinya Tsukamoto’s latest, Kotoko, suffered mightily at the hands of the heckling, mocking crowd, but I was able to not get too annoyed by this as it was one truly bonkers flick from the get-go. I may have even enjoyed parts of it more because of the crowd interaction, although again, I don’t feel like the film was able to cast its intended spell under the circumstances. Be interesting to revisit it at home under more serene surroundings. Then it was another damp ride home for a few hours of shut-eye before the madness started anew. And we’re not even halfway there yet!
Sandman, The (2011) (1st viewing) d. Luisi, Peter (Switzerland)
Fabian Kruger stars as a sharp-tongued boor who wakes up one morning with sand in his bed, which he quickly discovers is coming from him. As the days tick by, the finely ground quartz (containing increasingly soporific properties) continues to cascade from his sleeves and cuffs, with nightmares of lovestruck encounters with his downstairs waitress neighbor (the charming Irene Brugger) growing more and more vivid. Hilarious, touching and deeply romantic, this droll little surreal Swiss comedy instantly secured a spot as one of my favorite flicks of the fest.
Mr. & Mrs. Incredible (2011) (1st viewing) d. Kok, Vincent (China)
A pleasingly raucous spin on the superhero mythos much the same way as the similarly titled Pixar flick, only in a non-animated, feudal China setting. (Yeah, I realize I just cut/pasted what I wrote above – sue me.) Louis Koo and Sandra Ng star as a pair of retired do-gooders who enjoy their easygoing everyday married lives, but when a martial arts competition comes to town, it brings a wealth of strife into the mix. With quarreling sect leaders and attractive ingénue assistants, it’s not long before the formerly masked marvels are either at each others’ throats or fighting back to back. Breezy and enjoyable Asian fantasy fun.
Whistleblower, The (2010) (1st viewing) d. Kondracki, Larysa (Canada/Germany)
Rachel Weisz is a divorced police officer struggling to secure a transfer to be closer to her daughter, so when the opportunity to accept a lucrative international peacekeeper gig in Bosnia arises, she accepts the job. It’s here that she learns of a human trafficking syndicate, one that involves numerous UN officials and hordes of American citizens protected by international immunity. As you might assume from the title, Weisz takes it upon herself to bring down said organization in this “based on true events” political thriller that will have you shaking your head at humanity’s astonishing capacity for cruelty and how bureaucracy almost always chooses the bottom line over morality. Not a feel-good movie, but still an odd choice for the BIFFF (you can bet I’ll be asking them how it got in when the moment is right).
Kotoko (2011) (1st viewing) d. Tsukamoto, Shinya (Japan)
Japanese pop star Cocco lays herself bare as a young mother afflicted with a very specific (fictionalized) brand of schizophrenia, experiencing dual versions of those around her – one real, the other is an aggressive doppelganger. It’s an amazing, raw performance in a challenging film, and she’s well paired with editor/producer/director Tsukamoto, playing an eternally patient author seeking her companionship against all odds. (The two also co-wrote the script together.) Frenetically filmed episodes of brutal paranoia are counterbalanced by extended melancholic sequences of Cocco wistfully singing to herself (the latter of which did not go down well with the crowd, as mentioned above). A contemporary urban body horror psychodrama with powerful imagery that sears into your brain and lingers, from the man who gave us, among other masterworks, the Tetsuo trilogy.
2012 Totals to date: 141 films, 121 1st time views, 71 horror, 29 cinema
Pick of the Day: The Sandman