Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fantasia – Day 12 (Monday, July 30)

A dozen days in. Playing the back nine, as they say...

Yesterday was unique among my experiences thus far, in that it involved venturing outside the five-block radius of Montreal I’ve been occupying for the last two weeks. Following my interview with the gentlemen of The Human Race (co-stars Paul McCarthy-Boyington and Eddie McGee, writer/director Paul Hough and co-producer Trip Hope), they invited me to tag along on a visit to On Set Stunts , a Montreal stunt team’s workout space. Hey, who’s going to pass an offer like that up?

Not only did it allow me a couple more hours in the company of some very cool cats (Mr. Boyington originally hails from the Bay Area, so we chatted amiably about our childhood love for the Oakland A’s, as well as his involvement in the comedy music group Galactic Flo), but it was a treat to see the stunt team behind Tarsem Singh’s Immortals in action.

Sadly, I'm unable to recall the names of the oft-blurry images onscreen, but we were all sufficiently impressed with their derring-do and skill, as well as their generosity in allowing us within their inner sanctum for a spell.

Much appreciated, my agile lords and ladies.

After we got back to the “mainland” (yes, OSS’s “home office” is located on an island just off the big island. You knew that Montreal was an island, right? Don’t worry, it didn’t occur to me either...), I was too late for the screening of Toad Road in the Seve Theater, but was able to get over to the media screening room in time to watch it on DVD and get back on schedule without missing a beat. As fate would have it, Paul (Hough) ended up sitting at the viewing station to my right, watching The Victim. Truly a self-contained microcosm, this Fantasia thing…

From there, it was documentaries about French pornographers, eloquent Spanish animated meditations on aging, and the evening wrapped with the annual SMALL GAUGE TRAUMA short film showcase, highlighting the most disturbing and impressive horror shorts of the year. I was pleased to see my buddies from Vitamin Pictures continuing their festival streak with their outstanding body horror short Other, as well as the appearance of The Golden Twilight, which I encountered at BIFFF a few months ago. The directors of five of the seven shorts (due to unforeseen circumstances, an eighth, Crown, was not able to be shown) were in attendance:

Sam Walker (Bite Horse)

Jason Noto (La Ricetta)

Xavier Hibon (The Golden Twilight)

Jorge Michel Grau (72)

Richard Powell (Familiar)

Not in attendance but still awesome:

Daniel DelPurgatorio (Other)

Pau Teixidor (Leyenda)

I opted out of the final screening of the day (a toss-up between Schoolgirl Apocalypse and the Bollywood action flick Singham), in favor of sharing a beverage with Entertainment Maven’s Matt Hodgson and actually getting to bed before midnight, something which hasn’t happened since I arrived. Gotta say, those few extra Z’s were niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. We live to fight another day – should be breaking the 50 films barrier before noon.

Toad Road (2012) (1st viewing) d. Banker, Jason (USA)

Aimless small town stoner James Davidson falls into a romantic entanglement with good girl Sara Jones, a surprise to everyone (not least of all himself). But while he gets high merely to escape a mundane existence, Jones sees within the chemically induced euphoria a “bigger picture,” one that offers a tangibly different plane of existence. Discovering an urban legend about the seven gates of Hell located nearby, she urges the smitten Davidson to help locate them…an expedition that forever alters their relationship. More rambling character study than horror film, this will likely prove tedious for anyone looking for cheap chills and thrills; it seems a shame to market Road as a scare flick since it’s geared more toward fans of Gus Van Sant than George Romero. That said, for patient viewers, the material resonates and the lived-in performances (all characters sport the actors’ real names) are authentic to the point of discomfort, with standout turns from the star-crossed leads.

Il n'y a pas de rapport sexuel (2011) (1st viewing) d. Siboni, Raphaël (France)

“There is no sexual intercourse.” A rambling, amusing and occasionally poignant examination of one man’s career as a director/performer of pornography. This behind-the-scenes look at the skin flick trade and its prominent purveyor, who goes by the moniker HPG, reveals the trials and tribulations that go hand in hand (or shaft in slot, as the case may be) with the creation of said material, such as getting money shots, shooting around anatomy for soft porn gigs, and coaxing reluctant amateurs to perform as the clock is ticking. Culled from 10 years of oh-so-very-unerotic footage, renowned visual artist Siboni shapes an intriguing portrait, one that never glorifies or condemns its subject or his chosen profession.

Wrinkles (2011) (1st viewing) d. Ferreras, Ignacio (Spain)

Based on the graphic novel Arrugas by Paco Roca, this animated dramedy (about a former bank manager relocated to a retirement home by his frustrated offspring) packs a surprising emotional punch within its two-dimensional world. As a chapter closes and a new one begins for Emilio (voiced by Álvaro Guevara), we experience not only his frustrations as body and mind slowly lose their former vigor, but also his warm companionship with newfound fellow “inmates” who intrinsically understand what the outside world cannot. Expertly executed, eloquently communicated.

2012 Totals to date: 345 films, 298 1st time views, 192 horror, 123 cinema

Fantasia Totals: 49 films, 47 1st time views, 24 horror, 45 cinema

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