As much as I always loved the first Fubar movie, I was very skeptical when I found out they were premiering the sequel at this year’s festival. To mix metaphors, I thought they were returning to the well to milk a dead cow. Fortunately there was enough water left in the well to keep the cow alive and ready to be milked for our viewing pleasure once again!
Director Wuershan’s feature debut, The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman is pretty much the epitome of a Midnight Madness film. A combination of period film, slapstick comedy, food film, love story, martial arts film and revenge thriller, with objects, images, and a contemporary soundtrack constantly being thrown at the audience, this is a film that should not work, but somehow it does.
In a strange alternative past set during China’s Tang Dynasty, a woman is about to ascend to the Emperor’s throne. She has ordered that a great Buddha statue be built in her likeness, and it must be ready for her coronation. But on a tour for a visiting dignitary, a high-ranking official mysteriously burns from the inside out. The soon-to-be-empress, Wu Zetian, tells her most trusted warrior, the beautiful lady Shangguan Jing’er, to bring back Detective Dee, who has been jailed by Wu for daring to oppose her, to solve the mystery.
The Illusionist is director Sylvain Chomet's follow-up to the hugely successful The Triplets of Belleville, and while he is able to top his previous efforts' aesthetic beauty and craftsmanship, the story is perhaps too subtle and minimal to really draw viewers in.
A recent trend in horror and science fiction films is examining the world not in the midst of disaster, but once it has begun to adjust to the aftermath of a disaster. This can lead to some very interesting examinations of contemporary issues. Winner of the Cadillac People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award, Jim Mickle’s Stake Land is set in a future that includes vampires. But these are not sparkly vampires, nor ones that have souls. These are vampires are little more than animals, and like George A. Romero’s zombie film series, society must adapt to the new world order.
Directed by Bruce McDonald (Roadkill, Hard Core Logo, Pontypool), Trigger tells the story of Vic (Tracy Wright) and Kat (Molly Parker), childhood friends who once had an extremely successful rock band until on stage argument signaled their demise. Ten years later, Kat works in the music industry in Los Angeles and Vic is still in Toronto. Kat returns home to attend a benefit concert and convinces Vic to accompany her. Through the evening, the two women battle each other and their inner demons. Which of them is happy? Can you go back to where you were or are some bridges burnt beyond repair?
Korean cinema has churned out its fair share of revenge thrillers, chief among them being Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy. Kim Ji-Woon’s I Saw the Devil might not be as good as these films, but it is a solid revenge thriller that abandons any pretence of satisfaction and keeps piling on the tragedy.
Quirky and original new film from Canadian director and screenwriter Daniel Cockburn. Its plot is certainly hard, if not impossible, to summate, as a traditional plot as such does not exist. But that certainly doesn’t mean the film has no story; far from it.
What do you get when you cross a Hollywood-style college sex comedy with a bizarre sci-fi-demon-cult adventure mystery? You get the latest film from Gregg Araki, Kaboom. Returning to the form of his earlier films such as The Doom Generation, Araki takes the audience on a strange ride through one teenager’s search for his sexual identity and investigation of a possible demon cult.
When Joaquin Phoenix announced he was retiring from acting to pursue a music career in 2008, people were right to be suspicious. Even if substance abuse or mental health issues had been involved, the actor's transformation from clean-cut talent to aloof hobo-chic seemed too drastic and too sudden to stomach. It was sad to see a person self-destruct so publicly, but we watched him do it anyways, and that's where the brilliance of Casey Affleck's mockumentary I'm Still Here comes in.