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Fantastic Fest 2007–Uncle’s Paradise/Persepolis/Son Of Rambow/Kiltro/Dai Nipponjin

2007 September 23
by profwagstaff

“It expands when you need it.”

MAQUINA (2006)

Directed by: Gabe Ibáñez
Written by: Gabe Ibáñez

A lonely girl gets visited in the night by an alien who puts a deadly probe in her uterus. Now she has the ultimate case of vagina dentata.

As far as mood goes, this short from Spain has a lot going for it. I was pretty creeped out for pretty much the whole run. It’s a really cool short with nearly an original story. And it fits with the next movie.

UNCLE’S PARADISE

Directed by: Shinji Imaoka
Written by: Fumio Moriya

The Japanese have issues. That’s all I’m sayin’. They have some major fucking issues. And major issues with fucking.

Uncle’s Paradise is about a dude whose uncle comes to visit. He can’t sleep because of terrible dreams. He also has problems with getting hard-ons at bad times. And, apparently, if he doesn’t have sex it gets worse. He falls asleep and jerks off until he bleeds.

And, somehow, there are squid involved. I didn’t really get that.

Basically, everyone in this movie has sex. Even the devil makes an appearance to fuck.

This is really not a good movie at all. The acting is pretty awful and the story makes no sense at all. There’s a lot of sex, but some of it is among the least erotic sex I’ve ever seen. (Never wanted to see a blood-soaked fat dude go down on another dude. Hell, even the blood-soaked hot chicks were pretty un-sexy because they had chunks of coagulate all over them.)

That doesn’t make it not worth watching, though, just for the sheer weirdness of the whole thing. The movie was so strange that it kept me entertained for it’s whole one hour run. But it SO is not for everybody.

PERSEPOLIS (2007)

Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud/Marjane Satrapi
Written by: Vincent Paronnaud
Based on comic by: Marjane Satrapi

I missed this one at Telluride, so I’m really glad that Harry managed to get it for Fantastic Fest this year. I kept hearing how amazing it was.

And everyone was right. This was a great film.

Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni) is a young Iranian girl growing up in the middle of a revolution. She loves her country, but the more she finds out about the Shah’s regime, the more she realizes that he is an evil man. But the Islamic fundamentalists who take over aren’t much better.

She grows up, goes to France and learns that life and love aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Don’t miss Grandma. She’s awesome. And Mom is voiced by Catherine Deneuve.

And, of course, the “Eye Of The Tiger” montage is amazing. And I’m not even kidding.

Like Y Tu Mama Tambien (but without all the sex and nudity), this is the story of a person and a country coming of age. We get all of the pains of growing up and of revolution and social injustice. I can’t help but love movies about war told from the eyes of a kid. It makes it that much more real.

But Marji isn’t an ordinary kid. She grew up to be a great comics artist and turned her story into a series of graphic novels. Now it’s a great animated film that she co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud. The animation is simple (almost Yellow Submarine-ish, though), but very good and fluid. It tells the story in an almost surreal way.

I seriously think that everyone should see this movie. Even though it’s about Iran in the late 70s and 80s, I wonder how far we are from what they ended up in: people trading their children for a “key to heaven,” being persecuted for being “too radical,” women being turned into second-class citizens because (they say) men are too animalistic to control themselves around them. (But why aren’t women constantly throwing themselves at men in tight pants?)

It’s probably the best film I’ve seen at the Festival so far. I’m SO glad I finally got the chance to see it. We’ll see if another one tops it.

SON OF RAMBOW (2007)

Directed by: Garth Jennings
Written by: Garth Jennings

A few years ago, they showed Raiders Of The Lost Ark: The Adaptation at the Alamo. It’s a remake of Raiders made by a bunch of kids from the time they were about 9 to around 19. It’s absolutely awesome, inspiring and about 50 other adjectives all meaning some form of “amazing.”

Well, they’re apparently pissed off at the makers of Son Of Rambow. Why is that? Because it’s about a couple of kids who decide to make a sequel to First Blood.

Honestly, I don’t really blame them for being pissed. The stories are pretty similar except for the fact that these kids pulled it off in only a couple of months. (Then again, it was a short, not a feature.)

Lee Carter (Will Poulter) is the school punk. He never does anything right, so everyone thinks he’s going to be an asshole his whole life. Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) sees something in Lee that others don’t…someone to emulate. Their friendship starts off, of course, tentatively. Lee gets Will to believe that he’s taking the blame for something that they both got in trouble for. He figures that it’s basically all over then.

But when he gets the idea to make the movie, he realizes that he needs a crew and cast. Will would be perfect for that because he’s so damn gullible.

The problem is that Will is a member of a cultish sort of Christian sect that rules out any kind of fun. His mom (and her possible new husband) sees the outside world as a threat to her family and the “brethren.”

And then there’s the French exchange student who is taking over all of the geeks in the school.

I’m usually a sucker for this kind of movie. I mean, Stand By Me is my favorite movie of all time. So it stands to reason that I would love this movie.

Well, yes and no. I did think it was a lot of fun and the kids were great. But, for some reason, it didn’t grab me like these coming of age movies usually do. I’m not really sure why. I liked it alright, but it wasn’t until the very end (the “Healing Power Of Cinema” scene) that I really bought into it.

Pretty good movie, but nothing really to write home about. As one of my viewing buddies said, “I wouldn’t have been pissed if I had spent money on it in the theatre.”

But it ain’t no Stand By Me.

KILTRO (2006)

Directed by: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza
Written by: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza

More mayhem from the Mirageman guys! This time, though, this is their first movie. The one they actually had a budget for. And the first martial arts movie made in South America.

Zamir (future martial arts legend, Marko Zaror) saved Kim (the absolutely gorgeous Caterina Jadresic) from certain rape two years ago. Ever since then, he has been obsessed with the young girl. She treats him like shit, but he keeps coming back. They’re friends…sort of. But he’s in love…and he’s a bit creepy about it. Anytime he sees her with another guy, he beats the shit out of that guy.

Soon, though, her father, the owner of a local dojo, is kidnapped by one of his old cohorts, Max Kalba (Miguel Angel De Luca). The sensai, Kalba and Zamir’s parents were all part of a group who kept secrets and protected the town. Now that Kalba has gone bad, they have spread out, Jedi-like, across Chile.

It’s up to Zamir to save them. Is he up for it?

Yes, this sort of has the same plot that all other martial arts movies have. Dude’s master/girlfriend gets killed/kidnapped, so he has to go after the guy who did it. But first, he has to get his ass beaten down by the bad guy, then go train for months in the desert/forest. Then, and ONLY then, can he proceed to kick ass.

There’s a bit more going on here with a lot of Kalba’s flashbacks to what these people did to him, but it’s essentially the same plot.

Lucky for them, they have Marko. He’s fucking awesome. Every fight scene is a ballet of death, even before he really learns how to fight. He keeps things light with the “love” story. (Love the Bowie scene, which is apparently from a French film called Bad Blood.) And he managed to make himself look like an idiot for much of the movie…which is always fun.

And that’s one thing that’s so cool about Marko. He has no problem being the idiot in a movie. Both Kiltro and Mirageman are full of gags at the expense of Marko’s characters.

When they finally figure out how to release these movies (Magnolia Pictures picked them both up), go see them. They are so very worth it.

DAI NIPPONJIN

Directed by: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Written by: Hitoshi Matsumoto/Mitsuyoshi Takasu

The second secret screening of the day was a Japanese film about guys in rubber suits.

Kinda.

It’s a mockumentary about a guy (Hitoshi Matsumoto, who apparently is a HUGE star in Japan…like, the biggest star) whose job is to save Tokyo from giant monsters…er, sorry. Baddies. The problem is that he’s not particularly good at it. In fact, he kind of sucks at it. And he doesn’t particularly like the job. He only does it because it’s what his dad and grandfather did.

That’s all I can really tell you without giving too much away. (And I probably already did, actually.) But I can also tell you that I’m very ambivalent about this movie. After the huge build-up that Tim League gave it (saying that it was the greatest creation under the sun, basically), I was very underwhelmed.

First off, this idea would have made a great short. Maybe a half hour at most. The fight scenes (which were, for the most part, all CGI) were very cool with some really creative baddies. And they were, for the most part, funny as hell. The interview segments had their moments, but they slowed the movie down to a crawl.

Now, I understand that we need to realize that this guy is kind of boring. In fact, he’s one of the most boring individuals on the planet. And that’s why I really didn’t want to spend two hours with the guy talking about his boring-ass life. I was tired of it after the initial half hour opening interview.

But, as the movie went on, the already pretty funny fight sequences got even better. In fact, by the end, I was pretty much loving the movie. Too bad they had to keep going to the fucking interview. Some of my friends left and I almost wanted to join them every time I saw Matsumoto. But I held out and was rewarded with one of the funniest fight scenes I’ve seen in a long time.

If only the rest of the movie had been that good.

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