>> Fantastic Fest 2008: Day Two

Just Another Love Story / Denmark / Directed by Ole Bornedal

Synopsis:  A forensic photographer ends up playing along with a case of mistaken identity during a hospital visit to a comatose girl with a troubled past.

This plays out like some alternate reality version of While You Were Sleeping, in which nobody really cares about the romantic comedy part, and instead wants to see the characters run through a darkly emotional wringer.  The cast is quite good; everyone gets some nice character moments (and by “nice” I mean “meaty”.  This film is anything but nice).  While the film is weighted down slightly with artsy intentions (pretensions?), the twists and turns of the plot, and the well-drawn characters make this worth seeing.

7.5 on a 1 to 10 scale

Tokyo! / France / Directed by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Joon-Ho Bong

Synopsis:  Three different fantastical stories of Tokyo life are told in this anthology film–Gondry’s tale (“Interior Design”) explores a relationship between a filmmaker and his directionless girlfriend, Carax’s (“Merde”) is a bizarre satire on Western tourism featuring a slovenly wildman wreaking havoc in downtown Tokyo, while Bong’s story (“Shaking Tokyo”) explores the life of a hermit, and in turn tells a larger story about the insularity of Japanese culture.

Tokyo! is an interesting art film, and like most anthologies, some stories stick better than others.  Both Gondry’s and Bong’s tales, while stylistically different, feature engaging, realistic performances.  Gondry impresses with some unforgettable imagery, while Bong’s story feels the most distinctly relevant to Japanese life.  Carax’s oddball story, sandwiched between these two pieces, drags an idea out for far too long.  While it’s amusing to see this red-headed, gangly bum stomp around like a bully to the Godzilla theme, while Tokyo residents look on in horror, its long scenes of dialogue in a made-up language, with no subtitles, were extremely taxing on my patience.

7 on a 1 to 10 scale

Repo!  The Genetic Opera / USA / Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Synopsis:  This sci-fi horror musical takes place in a future where every citizen’s body contains new and improved parts, and those parts can then be repossessed upon failure of payment.  The man responsible for this business hatches a revenge scheme against one of his own repo men that involves the repo man’s dying daughter, Shilo.

Ambition and style can’t make up for Repo!’s failure as a musical, or make me shake the nagging feeling that this was created specifically for girls in their early teens who love Hot Topic and decorate their myspace pages with hot pink skulls.  Don’t believe it?  Check out the song “Seventeen”:  “Something’s changing/I can feel it/I’m seventeen now/Why can’t you see it?/Seventeen and you can’t stop me/Seventeen and you won’t boss me!/You cannot control me, father/Daddy’s girl’s a f***ing monster!”  And if you thought those lyrics were a little too on-the-nose and witless, then imagine a movie filled with songs like that, set to some of the least memorable melodies of any musical in recent memoty.  It’s unabashedly childish in its approach–campy, convoluted, and almost always annoying.  Only Sarah Brightman survives this goofy mess unscathed (even if her character doesn’t), with a God-given set of pipes (unlike Paul Sorvino) and the only scene in the film that absolutely works 100%, a creepy cool moment in which she projects ghostly images of Shilo’s mother from her glowing bionic eyeballs while singing.

4.5 on a 1 to 10 scale

Feast 2:  Sloppy Seconds / USA / Directed by John Gulager

Synopsis:  The sister of one of the poor souls killed in a monster attack on a small town bar, goes on a quest for revenge, leading to the fight of her life as she’s trapped on a rooftop with strangers in a town full of monsters.

If Feast 2 is lacking the zippiness of its predecessor, it more than makes up for it in the goo department.  This vile, repugnant piece of trash cinema quite literally soaks its cast in every bodily fluid known to man, and may feature more individual characters vomiting than any film in history (and they each vomit multiple times).  This is basically a Troma film, if Troma would grow up a little and care about things like production values.  It makes a heck of a midnight movie, playing mean with its characters and the audience, but lags when the focus moves from cheap thrills to any attempts at actual suspense.  While I may have liked this movie, I also understand it’s appeal is limited strictly to those with a taste for splatstick horror comedies.  If you’re one of those folks, then this is a nice, moist way to spend an evening.

6 on a 1 to 10 scale

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1 Comment

  1. Great reviews. I am quite intrigued with Tokyo! and Just another love story.


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