Thursday 24 July 2008

TIFF 2008 - Midnight Madness

The list is out for the Midnight Madness screenings (all of which will also play at more civilized times at some point during the fest). Films with screenshots are my current picks.

Acolytes (Jon Hewitt) - The synopsis of Australian director Jon Hewitt's latest film gives me hope that it's more of a tense horror film than a standard slash and thrill one (nothing necessarily wrong with the latter, but I do prefer the former). A young shy student comes across a mysterious man burying something in the woods. When he and his friends return to uncover it, they realize it's actually a body. They come upon the idea of blackmailing the apparent murderer in order to have him kill a local bully, but instead they end up getting pulled deeper into the world of a serial killer.

The Burrowers (JT Petty) - This combination of a Western and a monster film is described by Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes as a "terror take on John Ford’s The Searchers". When native tribes are blamed for recent murders and kidnappings, a posse finds more than they expected. The attacks are apparently coming from beneath the ground.

Chocolate (Prachya Pinkaew) - The director of "Ong-Bak" and "The Protector" brings forth yet another action packed, Muay Thai boxing spectacle. This time it's not with Tony Jaa, but 24 year old Jija Yanin who seems to aspire to be another Michelle Yeoh. Jija's character is a shy austistic woman out to collect debts owned to her Mom, but the picture above likely tells you all you need to know about the film - except that the story is probably not very good, the acting is likely weak and you'll be killing time between stunning set pieces. But I gotta see it.

Deadgirl (Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel) - Two teens stumble across a dead girl's body. When it shows signs of life, they have different reactions as to what to do with it that divide the two boys and create disturbing consequences. Might be good, but the concept isn't grabbing me. I'll wait and see.

Detroit Metal City (Toshio Lee) - This absolutely has to be a ton of fun...Based on a manga series, it's the story of shy Souichi who wants to be a pop ballad singer when he moves to the big city. As things turn out, he becomes a make-up covered, stage destroying singer for death metal band Detroit Metal City. As their popularity grows, he must keep his identity secret from his long time crush (now a pop music critic) as well as face off against another metal icon: Jack IL Dark (played by Gene Simmons - of course).

Eden Log (Franck Vestiel) - If you like your futures of the dystopic nature, this film looks to be right up your alley. A man wakes up at the bottom of a well next to a dead body and the film tracks his attempt to understand how he got there and how he can get out of the labyrinth under the ground. The washed out cinematography seems to be one of the most talked about features of this French SF tale. Might be worth a visit.

JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri) - I like meta-films. Self-referential stuff with layers within layers that turn back on themselves and try to bring an interesting new angle on filmmaking. Unfortunately, I really don't like Jean-Claude Van Damme. The new film JCVD has gotten some initial buzz which sounds positive - it pokes fun not only at Van Damme's own almost super hero character, but the whole genre itself. Within the movie he plays himself and gets caught as a hostage in a holdup. Even though he is just another frightened human being, he is expected to act as his movie self. So what can he do? I like the idea, but I just can't stomach the star. If the praise keeps steady, I'll have to reconsider.

Martyrs (Pascal Laugier) - Two victims of terrible abuse bond as one helps the other slowly recover. After 15 years, the recovering girl seeks revenge against one of her attackers with help from her friend, but strangely enough there are consequences. Apparently the film is deeply disturbing and difficult to watch, but does so without exploitive gore or shocks. It sounds like it may be a very well done film, but I'm not sure I want to experience it at the moment.

Not Quite Hollywood (Mark Hartley) - Australian grindhouse? Apparently, the 70s and 80s were filled with car crashes, low budget horror and bouncing female anatomy. This documentary captures the clips of these films as well the behind the scenes stories in order to give a picture of the industry at that time. I don't know how many of these films are even available, but one gets the feeling that you may walk out of the film with a very long list of new must-sees. As well as a big smile on your face.

Sexykiller (Miguel Marti) - Kinda speaks for itself, don't it?


Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

It's always so exciting when they release this list, I love that it comes earlier in the summer than the rest of the films.

I'm really looking forward to Chocolate and JCVD - sorry to hear you aren't a fan of him! Some of the bloodier ones have me a bit wary at the moment, I'll have to see on those but Not Quite Hollywood and Detroit Metal City look like a lot of fun.

Bob Turnbull said...

It's entirely possible I'll be turned around on the whole JCVD thing, but I'm gonna resist dammit! B-)

The other three you mentioned though, will be a ton of fun. For the ones with a high blood quotient, I guess it'll depend on how it's used...I think "Acolytes" might be a strong tense thriller and "Sexykiller" could be quite funny. I'm willing to risk it with the latter...B-)

Anonymous said...

Eden Log really impressed me. It's almost impossible not to be pulled in immediately by the first strobing, primal minutes, soon leading into the visually arresting facilities, practically decaying as the protagonist passes through, where much of the film takes place. What little dialogue there is comes in brief bursts, and we're introduced to the inner workings of the plot alongside the main character -- it nearly plays out from his perspective, so a large portion of the movie goes by before you've really gotten a fair grasp on what's happening. Some people might find this frustrating, but I couldn't pull away. The stellar sound design and music are just cherries on the top.

Bob Turnbull said...

Thanks Cosmic Bus!

Your description of "Eden Log" does indeed appeal to me. I like filling in the pieces as I go along and if you combine that with the minimal dialog, sound and music I could be all turned around on this one...