Fantastic Fest - Day 2

As I did on Day 1 - wanted to recap some of the films I've seen that played during Day 2 of Fantastic Fest. It's going to continue to be a grab bag as I'm relying on the grace of others to determine what films I can catch remotely. So jumping off in no particular order...

Monsoon Shootout (India) - a tight and satisfying take on first day on the job law enforcement dramas while layering in a metaphysical treatment of the power of choices we make in each moment of our lives. Clocking in at a fast 88 minutes a lot gets packed into this one. If you threw The WireTraining DaySliding Doors, a class on ethics and drenching rainstorm into a blender you'd get Monsoon Shootout. And if you could I'd advise you to take a long deep gulp of that cocktail. I assure you that 88 minutes will scream buy punctuated only by a couple of excellent WTF? moments. Drink up! [Full Review]

Detective Downs (Norway) - Within the guardrails of a pretty standard noir detective tale exists the very unusual Detective Robert of Detective Downs. Limited by his Down's Syndrome - and complete lack of experience with a case he plays on his strengths using his "own method" to get to the bottom of the disappearance of a former Norwegian speed racing champion. More specifically listening to the emotional state and cues of all around him - something he's remarkably well attuned to. When it becomes clear that the missing man's family doesn't want him found (and therefore hired him) he barely misses a stride in his relentless uncovering of the double dealings of everyone around him. Occasionally enlisting the aid of his more traditionally detecting father on the local police force, Robert makes time to drink in trashy strip clubs, seduce women, plant tracking devices, and generally be an incredibly likable star. It's hard not to grin as he unsettles those around him first with his mere existence and then with his unstoppable confidence. I didn't expect much going in, but Detective Downs turned out to be both amusing and utterly charming.

A Field in England (UK)- Four deserters during a war run into each other and take refuge in a startlingly un-war stricken field (in England). They engage in a bit of self justification / delusion ("We're not running away we're going for a beer") and chat away the time as they seek out an ale-house one of them claims to have seen nearby. They meet some other traveler and things get weird as they're compelled to search for buried treasure. Along the way they eat mushrooms, trip out some and not surprisingly for director Ben Wheatley engage in a bit of violence. All the things you'd expect from the creator of Kill List.

The film is shot beautifully - in sharp, crisp black and white. Much of the dialog (when I could make out the accents) is clever and engaging ("It does not surprise me that the devil is an Englishman. But I'd thought perhaps a bit taller"). Problem is that I wasn't especially engaged in what was going on or why. Perhaps because there was no character to latch onto as especially interesting. Which is a prerequisite for me to want to untangle the strangeness, symbolism, and perhaps historical references that make A Field in England near completely inscrutable at first glance. Many will love the complete respect for the audience in suggesting nothing. Others will find it maddening. Me, I just found it a less than thrilling watch - though with enough bits that reminds one there's a lot of talent at the root of this thing even if the end result didn't quite work personally.

She Wolf (Argentina) - A dangerous women roams the subways looking for willing men. Three actresses play the same character, or more specifically three aspects of her fractured psyche. She's a serial killer who likes to go all praying mantis after sexy time with strangers picked up on the Buenos Aires subways.The black and white fits visual sensibility perfectly matches the high concept noir subject matter. Things get complicated when one of her intended victims turns out to be a pervey cop assigned to her case. Not to mention when she starts to establish something approximating a healthy stable relationship. Inventive camerawork and presentation makes it hard to look away and the film effectively plays the game of making your root for a person who's clearly terrible. Delivering more depth than is usually brought to this sort of exploitation subject matter She Wolf marries well art film complexity/sensibilities with genre violence. I'm sure there's more than one statement in there about women, sexuality and violence for the most analytically minded amongst us. In the meantime it will certainly make you second guess your decision to have sex with that random person you picked up on mass transit. Though perhaps that's just me...

1 comment:

The Fashion Potato said...

Helloo mate great blog