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Fantasia: Days 12 Through 15

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)More highlights from the Great White North’s incredible film festival!

The world is an unfair place. How else to describe how a guy like Buddy Giovinazzo can make a film like Life is Hot in Cracktown, a year ago, and have it be rejected by every major film festival the world over, despite its being goddamn genius? We saw the international premier on Monday, and while not a horror film, it is the kind of movie fans of the genre need to embrace. Like Aronofsky’s adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr’s Requiem for a Dream, Life is Hot in Cracktown chronicles the lives of a number of lost souls and their crushing slide from streets to the gutter, and from the gutter, into hell. Unlike Requiem for a Dream, Giovinazzo’s film is not filled with pretty teen starlets, and does little to glorify hardcore drug addiction. Requiem for a Dream probably caused just as many people to try heroin than it did scare them away, but the same cannot be said of Life is Hot in Cracktown. Viewers will be shocked into submission, and puffing rock is going to be the last thing on their minds after watching this movie.

Giovinazzo has been said to be the anti-Brett Easton Ellis, and it shows. Rather than depicting the lives of the spoiled elite, and their cushy excess, Life is Hot in Cracktown variously follows a baby faced, hip-hop angel of death in hooded sweatshirt, a lunkish crackhead, with so little self worth, he waits for the day his black, pre-op transsexual, junkie girlfriend will leave him, an industrious, but doomed street urchin who rustles up change on the street corner to feed his little sister hamburgers, and a family struggling to remain sane in the midst of sleeplessness, daily death threats and a baby that just won’t stop crying…

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)

Given the shameful way in which festivals have scorned the movie, its unlikely you’ll get a chance to experience Life is Hot in Cracktown anytime soon. But, this is a movie that deserves to be seen, and another reason why Fantasia is the best genre festival in the world. Tuck this recommendation away in your brain, and when it eventually comes out on DVD, seek it out.

Tuesday we saw the always highly anticipated Fantasia shorts program, Small Gauge Trauma. Every year there’s a few stinkers, and a few films that end up sticking with you for the rest of your life (Garry’s Touch I’m looking at you!). This year’s highlights included:

Rite

Director: Alicia Conway

Website

Rite is a Bat Mitzvah home video from hell, with a sarcastic dose of Brian Yuzna’s Society thrown in for good measure. The short depicts a little girl, who is the center of attention, and clearly about to take part in an ancient ritual. What we don’t know is if it will be one of modern society’s accepted ceremonies, like marriage, or baptism, or will it be something, older, darker, and undoubtedly more violent? Rite perfectly captures an adolescent feeling of fear, curiosity, and mild repugnance associated with adults and adulthood. Your interpretation is sure to differ, as Rite is wickedly open ended.

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)

My Love Lives in the Sewers

Director: Manuel Arija

Website

Easily the most extreme thing at Fantasia this year, My Love Lives in the Sewers is one part anti-masturbation manifesto, one part romantic comedy, wrapped up in a grimy black and white package that feels like it could have been directed by Roman Polanski out on a bender with Frank Henenlotter. It tells the story of a lonely young man, who discovers coded messages on his recycled toilet paper, leading him to a mysterious woman living in the sewer below his house. Unable to consummate their relationship except via the filth encrusted piping leading from his toilet bowl, the young Spaniard begins sticking his heavily vaselined ‘Jamón’ places it ought not go. While it is filled with infantile dick and poo jokes (most of the film does take place with the lead actor naked in the bathroom after all), the last minute of the My Love Lives in the Sewer feels more like Repulsion than Porky’s, cementing the film as far more than just a simple gross out exercise.

The Scavengers

Director: Cory Bowles

Website

The Scavengers starts and ends very abruptly, but during the short 11 minute running time, it perfectly captures one particular adolescent memory so well that it really got inside my head. Just about every one has discovered a dead animal, out in the woods, away from the prying eyes of adults. Were you the type that wanted to honor the dead thing and bury it, or were you the type that wanted to poke and prod it until it was destroyed? In The Scavengers, a trio of young boys have this experience, but instead of a dog, or bird, they find a freaking mermaid! The film is a quiet meditation on the mystery and beauty of nature and our urge to simultaneously exalt, and destroy it.

Fallow:

Directors: Dave Alexander, Colin Landry

Website

Despite his high hipness factor (check that shirt!), Rue Morgue’s managing editor, Dave Alexander is not one of those slick, native born Torontonians you see sipping café-latte in between bites of sushi – he’s a western boy, raised on wheat fields and red meat, hailing originally from the heart of coldest dEadmonton, Alberta. Dave, and filmmaking partner, Colin Landry’s latest short, Fallow makes their lineage clear; the film being what you’d get if you crossed The Wicker Man, with RawHead Rex, and set it in the Canadian prairies. The central idea of an ancient beast that punishes infertility is creepy, the setting original, and overall Fallow had me wishing it had more time to flesh out the origins of the monster, it’s myth, and the curse it lays upon the unlucky inhabitants of Miracle Valley. Here’s an idea, whoever’s in charge of adapting the Books of Blood, why not let Dave and Colin direct the remake of Rawhead Rex? Stranger things have happened…

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)

Wednesday we took another day off. Sue us…

On Thursday we came out of self-imposed retirement, and boy am I wishing I could get that time back. Mitch heavily sold a lot of folks on Cryptic, based on the strength of his catalog write-up, where he exclaimed that it was “the rare kind of micro-budget indie treat we hunt through mountains of mediocrity hoping to find.“ I have newfound respect for Mitch, Simon, Nicolas and the rest of the Fantasia programmers if this is the kind of turd they consider a diamond in the rough. My synopsis? The Butterfly Effect 2 meets the S. Darko. Yes, like the sequels, except, less entertaining. I wish I could call myself on my magic cell phone to tell me not to go see this derivative stinker.

Tonight starts the final nicotine, booze and caffeine fueled weekend to Fantasia, where we’ll be watching Troll 2, and the documentary made about it, Best Worst Movie, on the big screen. We’ll also be watching (surreal to even by typing this), the latest Coffin Joe flick, Embodiment of Evil! I haven’t cut my fingernails all week in anticipation!

The end is in sight…Thank the Founder!

Evil Andy

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