Yesterday was crazy at Fantastic Fest. I wound up partnered with Cole Bradley and the guys who made a short film named “The Last Video Store” for Geeks Who Drink trivia, and we wound up winning the whole shebang. (Free beers! Yay!) The final event of the day was Karaoke Apocalypse, which is like normal karaoke, except where you only sing punk and metal, and you are backed by a live band. And after everyone got kicked out of the theater at 3 AM, there was an impromptu beatbox dance-off outside the doors. It was the sort of day where the crowd just suddenly bonded together, and the fun factor exploded through the roof.
My friend Holly has started calling Fantastic Fest a summer camp for film nerds. It’s kind of true. Tonight is the final night of the festival, and we’re soon going to be saying our sad (and drunken) goodbyes at a party that promises stunt men, fire, and free tattoos.
But until then, here’s some movie talk.
Dir. Fernando Cortizo
O Apostolo is a stop-motion animated adaptation of an Andalusian legend about a town that traps travelers and feeds their souls to ghosts. The animation and design are gorgeous, and the atmosphere is spooky. It’s probably a bit too dark for kids, but it’s an eerie diversion for adults. It’s a bit like a European woodcut come to life.
Dirs. John Lundberg, Roland Denning, and Kypros Kyprianou
Mirage Men is a documentary that posits that the US government created the UFO conspiracy culture as a method to cover real government tests with disinformation. I still don’t quite know how to feel about the film, as it is essentially countering one conspiracy theory with another. The Q&A with the filmmakers after the movie confirmed that they agree that the film never gets at the truth, and is instead exploring the people who have fallen down the rabbit hole of disinformation… but the film itself never seems really clear about that. The film’s structure (which starts from a point of “truth” and then slowly reveals that nobody really knows what they’re talking about) runs in a structure counter to most documentaries (which generally start from confusion and lead into clarity). It’s interesting, but to me, it wasn’t a terribly satisfying experience.
OUR HEROES DIED TONIGHT
Dir. David Perrault
Our Heroes Died Tonight is a French film noir about masked wrestlers. It is achingly gorgeous — every shot is a work of art, revealing the story in breathtaking black and white. But oh, this film is slow. Slooooooooow. I don’t mind films with a less-than-speedy pace, but this film tried even my patience. The Pitch Drop moves faster than this thing. It’s too bad, because this film is great in every other respect.
What makes the pacing’s failings especially galling is the fact that the film erupts to life for five minutes in the third act, when a character named The Finn briefly enters the movie. The scene shows exactly what the rest of the film could have been.
Dir. Michel Gondry
The new movie from the guy who made Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is perhaps the most whimsical and bizarre thing he’s ever done. Mood Indigo is a surreal toy of a film, a romance surrounded by strange clockworks, bits of animation, and random whimsey. Every moment, every shot is chock full of little wonders: plates of food that whirl with color, amusement rides that fly through Paris while dangling from a crane, a room full of people writing on moving typewriters, a tiny guy in a mouse suit. It’s like Amelie on hallucinogens (right down to the casting of Audrey Tatou).
The film’s strange, joyful beauty eventually creeps into deep sadness, which is also beautiful. Many folks at the film festival exited the film with a shellshocked look on their faces. Impromptu support groups formed outside the theater. The film didn’t quite hit me as hard as others, but it is nonetheless quite impressive in its emotional impact.
My only beef with the movie is that this film features one of those fairy tale romances where the man and the woman don’t know each other at all when they fall in love. The guy just says, “I want to fall in love,” and then falls in love with the first woman he sees. But the film itself is an abstraction; in this isolated case, it kind of works.