>> Fantastic Fest 2008: Day One

Late Bloomer (Osoi Hito) / Japan / Directed by Go Shibata

Synopsis:  A disabled man has a psychological meltdown when faced with the possibility of unrequited love.

This is a quasi-experimental film that plays with digital video technology to create jarring images and buzzing electronic sounds, which is not exactly my cup of tea.  The film was interesting, but lost me, from an emotional standpoint, about halfway through by turning the main character, the mute Sumida, into a lunatic.  The movie ends up being a sort-of curiosity piece, along the lines of Crispin Glover’s films featuring real disabled people in strange situations.

6 on a 1 to 10 scale

Astropia / Iceland / Directed by Gunnar B. Gudmundsson

Synopsis:  When a no-good car salesman is arrested for tax fraud, his model girlfriend is out on her own for the first time and looking for work.  Fate leads her to Astropia, a comic shop where she not only learns what an “RPG” is, but also how to stand on her own two feet.

Astropia is a cute film–one that I could easily see remade for U.S. audiences with someone like Reese Witherspoon or Anna Faris in the lead.  There are a lot of in-jokes and references, but most of these feel natural and unforced, which is rare for a film that so specifically panders to the geek culture crowd.  Some of its plot points are a little half-baked, but there’s a sweetness to the film, and an almost infectuous love for role-playing games.

6.5 on a 1 to 10 scale

Fanboys / USA / Directed by Kyle Newman

Synopsis:  In 1998, four friends take a road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch and sneak a peek at The Phantom Menace before its theatrical release.

What hath Kevin Smith wrought?  This astonishingly unfunny film, with its parade of cameos from Pineapple Express and piles of humorless Star Wars references,  is almost a chore to sit through.  Inconsistent characters, glaring errors (Wi-Fi everywhere in 1998?  A desert between Ohio and Texas?), and toothless, psuedo-Smith dialogue (most of the worst stuff given to Kristen Bell) all add up to create a film that will only find an audience exactly like the characters depicted in this movie–people so blindly in love with Star Wars that simply stating “Star Trek sucks!” is enough to elicit a belly laugh.

4 on a 1 to 10 scale

I Think We’re Alone Now / USA / Directed by Sean Donnelly

Synopsis:  This documentary follows Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick, two fans of the 1980’s teen pop sensation Tiffany, and their crippling obsession with the singer that continues on today.

Walking a fine line between exploiting its subjects and casting a light on the psychological process that leads to celebrity stalking, this documentary is equal parts a disturbing expose and a heart-wrenching examination of delusional behavior.  Turner and McCormick are as different as night and day, but both reveal an unsettling fascination with the singer, as well as a troubling disconnect with reality.  Turner, an asperger’s syndrome sufferer, is friendly and intelligent, but also a delusional liar and braggart.  McCormick, a transexual lesbian–a man living as a lesbian woman, has a psyche fractured long ago by her parents, and an insecurity that hovers too closely to inner rage for comfort.  There are many unforgettable moments in the film, like Turner’s trip to the Glamorcon, a porno model convention, and his subsequent church testimony on the subject, along with his theory on Alyssa Milano’s time traveling ability.  McCormick’s moments are more subtle, like watching her frustration as she applies and re-applies make-up for her first meeting with Tiffany, or the moment she snaps at Turner when he talks about his connection with the singer.

8 on a 1 to 10 scale

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2 Comments

  1. I have to disagree about Fanboys. However there were two characters who are outstandingly flat, mean and obnoxious with no redeeming arch – hutch and zoe. Yuck! They’d make me wince every time they were on screen. That being said, I liked the movie and it did make me laugh even though I’m a trekkie and a Star Wars fan and never quite got the conflict that was presented in this movie. However, Zack and Miri make a Porno was priceless…and very similar in many ways including stars and movie geekiness.

  2. Sounds like I missed a good one with Zak and Miri,,,Fanboys got one single laugh from me–the Willow bit near the end.


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