For movie watchers, few things can be more frustrating than films that begin with a sequence of immense promise, only to show over the remainder that the emperor truly wears no clothes. Two new examples come from the horror realm.
Until now, Ethan Hawke was having a wonderful year. Before Midnight, the third leg of his trilogy with director Richard Linklater and actress Julie Delpy, brought waves of critical acclaim and talk of another Oscar nomination for their collaborative screenplay, while The Purge turned a meager investment into a highly profitable box-office take.
Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Movies aren't all dreary and eerie at this film festival. A few are pure
comedies, and so far, I've caught two, neither from these United
First, "New Kids Turbo," a Danish delight about five slackers with
mullets who are too lazy to get and/or keep a job, and welfare checks
just don't support their beer-swillin' lifestyles, so they decide to
stop paying for anything anymore. Not only does this attract the
attention of the authorities, but the idea catches on with the
recession-weary populace. Politically incorrect slapstick ensues, and
the jokes are lobbed at rapid fire. The quintet of rude, crude losers
breaks several rules of things you should never do in movies (i.e. kill
the dog), but they get away with it and have you laughing all the way.
Nothing gets lost in the translation.
And then there's Japan's "Karate-Robo Zaborgar," equally as silly and
satisfying. This one's both an update and a spoof of a kiddie
live-action series from yesteryear, à la "Ultraman," so the approach is
both reverent and respectfully raunchy (think "The Brady Bunch Movie").
It's about the love story between a man and his fighting, transforming
robot, and all the enemies they fight (or attempt to) along the way. One
of them is Diarrhea Robot, so named because of ... well, you'll see
when this hits USA DVD before long. —Rod Lott