Fantastic Fest Day #3

I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. If you’re going to have a pie fight in an alley, don’t just bring a change of clothes. Do the pie fight after all the other stuff you want to do.

In the photo above, I’m the one with the pie tin on her head. Even though I washed my hair and extremities with hand soap in the Alamo Drafthouse bathroom, and even though I changed clothes, I smelled real interesting for the rest of the day.

It was still worth it, because, dammit, I’ve now been in a pie fight.

Why was I in a pie fight, you ask? Well…

The first film of the day was a 35mm print of Bugsy Malone, the bizarre 1976 gangster Paul Williams musical with an all-child cast. Not only does it star miniature versions of Scott Baio and Jodie Foster, it also contains guns that fire whipped cream at foes. The pie fight at the end is pretty epic, and there’s no better way to cap that than with a real proper pie fight.

I’m pretty sure there is still chocolate sauce in my ear.

Anyway, moving on…

The Astrologer was a helluva thing. Also from 1976, this film was pretty much unknown until the American Genre Film Archive dug it up from a collection purchased from, of all places, the Kinsey Institute. Only one 35mm print is known to exist, so AGFA transferred it to 2K, which is what we saw. So, in true Fantastic Fest fashion, we saw a gorgeous transfer of earnest, bizarre, egotistical, exquisitely inept outsider art. The audience adored it. The blood brothers I gained in that theater are now walking around the fest screaming things like, “ANGULAR URANUS!” and “You’re not an astrologer, you’re an asshole!” If I manage to bring this thing to B-Fest next year, I would be hailed as a conquering hero. It’s amazing.

That was followed up by In Order of Disappearance, the latest film from Hans Petter Moland. Moland is the guy who made one of my favorite crime films, A Somewhat Gentle Man, so to say I was excited to see this new offering is an understatement. In Order of Disappearance, I am excited to say, is at least as good as Moland’s previous film. The film stars Stellan Skarsgard as a snow plow driver in rural Norway. When his son is murdered by a drug cartel, he starts picking off thugs one-by-one, climbing his way up to the boss. The film bears a lot of resemblance to A Somewhat Gentle Man in that the plot feels fresh, the characters — even the small roles — are vibrant, and the whole thing is shot through with a streak of delicious black comedy. LOVED IT.

After that, I went in to see Spring without knowing anything about it, and I am pleased to report that I found it to be thoroughly engaging. In general, I find romance films to be tedious, but this one centers on two nicely-written characters, and one of them is secretly a monster, so that’s cool. Bravo to the filmmakers for creating a completely new mythology for this thing; it’s so refreshing to see a monster movie that isn’t based around vampires or zombies. Also, bravo to the film’s two leads, who have extraordinary chemistry together. Good stuff.

I was so close to having a full run of top-notch films yesterday, that I’m truly disappointed that I didn’t care for Local God. It could be that I was just tired or simply not game for a serious boogeyman movie at that time, but Local God just turned me off. The premise is that an arty three-piece metal band goes into a cave to record a video, and instead find themselves individually stalked by — hallucinations? manifestations? — of their deepest fears. It sounds like a great premise, and the film contains occasionally impressive setpieces and narrative tricks, but ultimately, 80% of the movie is people walking through the dark with flashlights while things occasionally jump out at them. The movie plays like ambient music; it just repeats until it just becomes a dull buzz. That said, the guy next to me felt it was the most effective horror film he’d seen in ages, so your mileage may vary.

Okay, it sounds like my laundry is done. It’s time for me to take my pie-free clothes and self back to the theater. Ta!

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