1. Dungeon Masters
An attempt at eye-level documentary of three still-operating Dungeon Masters. One is an active American Reservist who has a wife one would assume to sway the army from examining his obvious need to come out. Another is a part-time apartment manager living in Torrance with a wife and kid who just can’t find a way to make a living doing what he does best – running a D&D campaign. The other is a lonely intelligent girl from Mississippi who paints herself black from head to toe to become a Drow Elf and frequently participates in LARP (live-action role-play). The score is by Blonde Redhead. The film is great, one of my festival favorites, but there is so much more to mine, that I left feeling a bit cheated and curious if it was really as neutral an eye as the introduction claimed. I felt a like the director was mesmerized by the nerdiness of it all. I think there is more to the culture than nerddom. But that’s just me.
2. Who Do You Love
Bleh. What is it with German directors who can’t grasp what it is that makes American music as cool as it is? An outside-in fanboy look at the Chess Record label, it misses every opporunity for nuance, subtext and so on and defaults to the same shitty Lifetime Network Movie of the Week about [Insert Blues/Rock Icon Here] growing-up-in-a-small-time, having-affair-on-his-small-town wife,-seeing-the-error-in-his-ways, trying to -to-get-her-back,-left-onstage-at-the-end-with-the-fans, but-was-it-really-worth-it? formula that we saw in Ray, Walk The Line, etc etc ad nauseum except to the point of caricature.
Stop-motion. Using almost Bunuelesque surrealism, a freaky fallen angel character who I am still contemplating, great voice work from Geoffrey Rush and company, eerie winsome soundtrack, a refreshing and candid fiction about the meaning of life.
Recommend if you can ever find it in distribution.
4. American Swing
Some documentaries are just plain archaeological digs that endeavor to retroactively reassemble a story from the few bone fragments discovered. This one feels like that and does a remarkably good job considering the short order of barely viewable beta 3/4″ footage they have to intercut between the HD interviews they shot with the old-folks who once moshed around in a couple of club basements in New York in the ’70’s fucking everything that moved. Then AIDS and coke came into the picture and the scene crashed and roll credits. Cool enough I suppose, if I cared a little more.
For a slow night, or if you need more insight into why people dig the Lifestyle.
Sunday night was all about celebrating blood, boobs and bombs as the Midnight Madness pirates stormed the bastilles, er, whatevs, and we were introduced to Mark Hartley’s self-proclaimed “rockumentary” Not Quite Hollywood – about Ozploitation cinema – that is to say – the non-existent Australian film industry doing whatever it could, back in the late 1960’s and 70’s to get even a modicum piece of the Hollywood pie.
Thinking they were at the edge of a wave of a global revolution that was really only happening on a farm field in Woodstock, the Aussies took to disrobing like it was the job. Then, when a little horror and post-acid-trip surrealism was the where the registers were clinking, the blood was introduced, in bucketloads. Add some semi-retired bona fide Hollywood star power to the mix and you had to have a recipe for cinematic world domination, rendering such masterpieces as Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000 in the US), Dark Age (really bad alligator horror flick), The Man From Hong Kong, and ultimately Long Weekend and Mad Max.
The beauty of it all of course was that there really were no scruples. It was – whatever it takes to get the shot, even if it meant firing live ammo at the actors (I guess squib explosives attached to rock-faces were out of the budget range?) or hoisting a guy 70 feet in the air on a cherry-picker without anything to fall back on (um, no pun intended?) since helicopters were definitely out of the question.
But as Quentin Tarantino, who claims the lion’s share of the commentary in this doc states – Aussies can shoot car chases without equal. Their cars look nicer than American cars, their chase scenes are way more fucking crazy, and the shots are without equal.
Anyway, it was a good romp, director Brian Trenchard-Smith was in attendance and the audience applauded at the suggestion that a revival festival should be erected at Cinematheque (as opposed to grindhouses) for this pioneering ouevre.
The Rock-U’s visual effects were terrific, the pace was good, we laughed, we cried, we missed Russ Meyers.
My only question is – 8am screenings – what?
Friday September 12 | 06:15PM | VARSITY 2
Monday night – the Ecstasy Films Inc. party at Empire in Yorkville was bloody crowded. That’s about all I can say about it, except for the free drink ticket and Bedouin Soundclash who sounded amazing despite the fact that we ultimately had to enjoy their set from outside in the rain because literally, not a deflated blow-up doll could fit in that room.
As I mentioned previously, Ecstasy, adapted from the book by Irvine Welsh (who wrote Trainspotting, in case you are just on a short stay to planet Earth) is a film about to go into production directed by Rob Heydon and set to star Richard E. Grant (yes he of Withnail and I), Billy Boyd (of hobbit fame) and Erica Durance (of Maxim cover fame).
In non-TIFF film news – the very long awaited sequel to Boondock Saints that will star the original cast and be directed by Troy Duffy himself is gearing up for production. Holy f$%in s%$^!!!