Thursday 31 Jul
 
 

 

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Topic: rod lott

Fantastic Fest: Prologue

Follow Gazette managing editor Rod Lott as he live-blogs Austin's Fantastic Fest all weekend long!

Got into Austin at 3 p.m. Thursday and went straight to pick up my press badge. You can tell that Fantastic Fest isn't your average film festival because they required everyone to pose with a "shaky face." You achieve that by letting your face go really loose and limp, and whip your head back and forth fast. It hurts; now I understand the whole shaken baby syndrome thing.

Worse than that is that it's hot here. Back-sweaty hot.

Since my first screening wasn't until 9 p.m. ("The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence"), I killed a lot of time at the neighboring Highball bowling lounge, where Fantastic Fest is holding its Arcade, showcasing some really wild indie games (example: "Jesus vs. Dinosaurs"). Most of the games are housed in classic arcade stand-ups, but one was projected on the wall.


Around happy hour, the Fandago mascots crashed the place. I didnt know they had mascots. One looks like a Chinese dragon; the other, a paper sack. I don't know, but they gave me some free koozies.


Speaking of free, the Highball happy hour party was sponsored by PlayStation 3, so I got a free T-shirt for some game called "StarHawk." Although I know nothing about the game, I like the shirt — mainly because it's not black. The other two free shirts I got upon check-in were black. It's a terrible color on me. But no, you can't have them.

Finally, while waiting for "Centipede," I got to test Mitsubishi's new 3-D TV, via scenes from the '80s schlock Western, "Comin' at Ya!" The movie looks fun; as for the TV, save your money. —Rod Lott




by Rod Lott 09.23.2011 2 years ago
at 07:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Fantastic Fest: 'The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)'

Oh. My. God.

I can't imagine a more appropriate movie to serve as Fantastic Fest's official opener than "The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)," a near-immediate sequel to the instant cult hit that entered the pop-culture lexicon before it even saw release.

Last night's 9 p.m. crowd was pumped, but perhaps not quite primed, for whatever in-attendance writer/director/producer Tom Six had conjured up this time. Anyone who has read my original review of the first "Centipede" may recall that I think that film's events weren't as graphic as everyone expected — that they could've been much worse.

Well, welcome to the "much worse." But more on that in a moment.

Awaiting each viewer was an official "Human Centipede II" Survival Kit, a branded barf bag containing a staple remover and a peppermint. I ate the peppermint.

We also each received a "Human Centipede II" T-shirt, bearing the pun tagline, "The Deuce Is Loose." Anyone who didn't get the reference would within 90 minutes. Naturally, the shirt is brown. No, you can't have it.

Before the show, FF and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League coerced lil' "Lord of the Rings" star Elijah Wood to join him onstage from his spot in the audience. Wood complied, soon giving way to an all-audience re-creation of the actor's now-infamous "Puppet Master" dance from kiddie show "Yo Gabba Gabba!" The sight was surreal, especially since — this being the Alamo — subliminal shots of exploding heads from "Scanners" and the like made their way into the footage before taking over completely.






Then we experienced the movie. When Six promoted the original film by saying the sequel would make it look like "My Little Pony" by comparison, that wasn't just a good soundbite. Part two makes part one look positively innocent. To Six's credit, he didn't simply remake his own movie. Instead, he completely flipped it and went meta.

"THC II" begins with Martin (newcomer Laurence R. Harvey), a sweaty, bug-eyed, obese parking garage attendant in London, watching the tail end of the first "THC" on his laptop at work. When it's over, he watches it again. He's obsessed with it, to the point that he keeps a scrapbook of the film hidden underneath his bed, as if it were porn.

Martin doesn't utter a word. He doesn't need to. His story is so simple — a lifetime of abuse and ridicule — that he doesn't have to. The gist of "THC II" is that he begins to wonder about testing the movie's "100% Medically Accurate" advertising claim, so he seeks out some unwilling test subjects from the labyrinthian parking garage. Whereas the movie's Dr. Heiter had but three victims, Martin seeks a dirty dozen.

Whereas the first film was clean and antiseptic in look and design, this sequel is bleak and grimy. Whereas the first film was in color, this sequel is in black-and-white — except for one scene, à la the girl in the red dress from Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List," but I leave it to your imagination. Whereas the first film showed next to nothing, this sequel shows everything. I do think it goes too far, and from a guy like me who has a strong tolerance for horror, that's saying something. (However, I should note that most of the audience members were more troubled by a pre-show short of a medical education film about the vasectomy procedure, step by scissoring step.)

I'm still processing "THC II." Six has made the darkest of black comedies, set in "Eraserhead"-type surroundings of societal misery, and then stitched on a Grand Guignol grand finale that had many unsure whether to laugh or recoil, so they did both. Harvey gives a remarkably brave performance; we alternately feel sorry for him and want to kill him. I think I liked the movie — it's arty, clever and unique — but so much of its third act crosses the line that the angel on my shoulder tells me I shouldn't. You'll never look at sandpaper the same way again.

Actually, the afterward appearance of Six, Harvey and four lovely centipede segments onstage took some of the sting out of it. There's a reason why they call it "special effects." Those butts sure looked real to me.

The highlight of the Q-and-A was when League asked Six about how he found Harvey, who resembles Alfred Hitchcock by way of Batman comics' The Penguin. Six said Harvey walked into auditions, "and then I asked him to rape a chair. He went at it full-force." And the rest is cinema history. —Rod Lott


by Rod Lott 09.23.2011 2 years ago
at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Fantastic Fest: 10 things I hate about you

Because everyone loves a list, amiright?

This is a fun weekend, so much so that I wish I could clone myself to catch more screenings, and I'm already raring to come back in 2012. That said ...

10. The ticketing system is several levels too difficult.
9. Much of the audience is hygienically challenged.
8. Much of the audience is hygienically challenged.
7. Much of the audience is just as rude, loud and inconsiderate as regular moviegoers — just with better knowledge of obscure nude scenes and dragon sequences.
6. Much of the audience is hygienically challenged.
5. Despite hot Austin weather, the in-theater A/C isn't cranked as high as I'd like.
4. Much of the audience is hygienically challenged.
3. Much of the audience is hygienically challenged.
2. Most of the free T-shirts are black.
1. Much of the audience is hygienically challenged. And combined with No. 5, that's a recipe for ick. —Rod Lott
by Rod Lott 09.24.2011 2 years ago
at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Fantastic Fest: 'Livid'

It may French-fry your mind.

Writers/directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury finally follow up their 2007 hit, "Inside," with another French horror film in "Livid." While not a sophomore slump, it doesn't pay off on their debut's promise. Most of that is because the new movie makes so little sense.

On one hand, that's good, because you're not quite sure what's going to happen next. On the other hand, when stuff does happen, you may ask yourself, "Qu'est-ce?"

Appealing young actress Chloé Coulloud is Lucie, a new home-care nurse being trained by a jaded veteran of elderly diaper-changing (Catherine Jacob, "Who Killed Bambi?"). On day one, the most memorable stop is that of the Jessel mansion, where a 100-year-old lives in a vegetative state by herself (credibility alert!) on the top floor. The pro tells the newbie of a rumored treasure somewhere within the massive estate.

After sharing this news with her frustrated boyfriend, Lucie find herself as part of a trio breaking into the place amid the witching hour to hunt for the riches. They find something else. If a senior citizen in an oxygen mask is the stuff of your nightmares, prepare to soil your drawers.

From there, the story unfolds in a manner audiences may not expect, but "Livid" becomes less lucid. The nonsense speeds up as the pacing slows to a near-crawl. I'm all for acts of the supernatural, but not without some context as to what is occurring before our eyes. Bustillo and Maury are unclear, perhaps in an attempt to be arty. The team pulls off some outstanding visuals, but ghost stories cannot work on those alone.

The title "Livid" has no proper connection to the movie's events; it's as if someone wanted a word that sounded like "Insidious." Now that's a flick that yielded fright while containing all other necessary ingredients. As for "Livid," let's chalk it up as a somewhat noble misfire. —Rod Lott
by Rod Lott 09.24.2011 2 years ago
at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Fantastic Fest: Funny stuff

LOLin' at FF.

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 States.

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

by Rod Lott 09.25.2011 2 years ago
at 09:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode

What’s up, doc? You didn’t put me in the Halloween mood.


Documentary

Rod Lott
There's a great documentary to tell the true story of Bram Stoker and his enduring creation, but “Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode” isn't it. What’s a “voivode”? You’ll find out, but that should be one indication as to this film’s lacking level of accessibility.
 
Monday, September 26, 2011

Scream 4

More like a whimper.


Horror

Rod Lott
To place “Scream 4” within its franchise, let’s talk superlatives: It’s the bloodiest, the shortest and the least satisfying.
 
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fantastic Fest: One I was too tired to see

Because I felt like a zombie.

by Rod Lott 09.26.2011 2 years ago
at 09:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

What a Rausch

On display in Norman, the prints of Robert Rauschenberg contributed greatly to the history of American modern art.


Visual Arts

Rod Lott
ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG: PRINTS FROM UNIVERSAL LIMITED ART EDITIONS, 1962-2008
6 P.M. FRIDAY THROUGH DEC. 30
FRED JONES JR. MUSEUM OF ART
555 ELM, NORMAN
OU.EDU/FJJMA
325-3272
 
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Buck

It’s the cowboy way.


Documentary

Rod Lott
Love horses? You're going to love "Buck."
 
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
 
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