Friday, June 20, 2008

Day Two: "Deadly tarantulas. For sale. In vending machines."

Featured review of the day: A Complete History of My Sexual Failures.

Good Dick

Offbeat indie romcom starring Jason Ritter as a video store clerk who becomes obsessed with one of his erotica-renting customers (writer-director Marianna Palka).

Written and directed by Marianna Palka (who looks like she could be Sigourney Weaver's daughter), Good Dick stars Jason (son of John) Ritter as an unnamed video store clerk in Santa Monica who becomes obsessed with an attractive customer (Palka) who rents erotica (not to be confused with hardcore porn) every day. Ritter's not quite your usual obsessive though: first he follows her home, then he pretends his aunt lives in the building and has recently died and then he ends up moving into her apartment, even though she doesn't really like him all that much. To give much else away would spoil the pleasures of the sheer weirdness of this film. Suffice it to say that it's the total opposite of any romcom you've ever seen: everything takes place in the wrong order; characters say one thing and do the opposite; sexually charged scenes unfold in completely unexpected ways and so on. Ritter and Palka are terrific together, even if it takes you a while to work out just how much of a nutter Ritter is at the beginning. There are also weird little cameos from the likes of Charles Durning and Bryce Dallas Howard, while there's strong support from Eric Edelstein, Martin Starr and Mark Weber as Ritter's colleagues. This is quite possibly my favourite film of the festival so far. Terrific final shot too. Four stars.


Spanish-Peruvian co-production starring Jason Day as depressed slacker who goes on a roadtrip with his step-sister (Elsa Pataky) and her husband (Enrique Murciano) following his father's suicide.

Co-produced by co-star Enrique Murciano (aka Danny from TV's Without A Trace), Mancora stars Jason Day as Santiago, a depressed slacker who goes on a roadtrip to Mancora in Northern Peru with his step-sister Ximena (the gorgeous Elsa Pataky) and her husband Inigo (the not-exactly-beaten-with-the-ugly-stick Enrique Murciano) following his father's suicide. The film has drawn comparisons to Y Tu Mama Tambien, because of the one-woman-two-men road trip plot and the fact that there's quite a lot of sex in it, but it lacks the heart and the depth of Cuaron's film. Part of the problem is Jason Day as Santiago - sure, he's really, really good-looking (as Zoolander might say) but he barely even speaks and we don't really care about him all that much. Similarly, Inigo is a bit of a shit and it's also hard to sympathise with Ximena, cute as she is. Still, the scenery is lovely and there are a handful of good scenes, but overall it's slow-moving and light on plot. Three stars.

Of Time and the City

Terence Davies' heartfelt documentary about his personal history of Liverpool.

A stunningly beautiful film. Davies (together with a loyal team of researchers) has assembled a wealth of gorgeous archive footage of Liverpool from the 1940s onwards and its overlaid with pieces of classical music, Davies himself quoting poetry and reading famous quotations, as well as giving his own recollections about growing up in Liverpool, going to the cinema for the first time and, in one particularly enjoyable sequence, ranting about the monarchy. It's beautifully edited and flows together seamlessly, so that it's almost dreamlike in places, especially in the way it shifts topic so easily. Four stars. Davies also gave a highly entertaining Q&A afterwards. Someone please give this man money to make his next film. I for one can't wait to see his "romcom with a happy ending".

Blood Car

Black comedy horror about a man who invents a car that runs on blood, with predictably grusome results.

This was a huge amount of fun. It's in extraordinarily bad taste but I laughed like a drain throughout. There was also a hilarious short beforehand called "Web Site Story: An Internet Paedophile Musical", with the songs set to the music from West Side Story ("Luvhorses! I just met a girl named Luvhorses!" etc), which you can watch here). Blood Car was written and directed by Alex Orr. Set in a future where petrol is incredibly expensive (ring any bells?), it stars Mike Brune as Archie Andrews, a vegan primary school teacher who is trying to invent a car that will run on wheatgrass. Instead he accidentally invents one that runs on human blood (not, unfortunately, animal blood, which he only discovers after he's slaughtered a sackful of cute puppies). Even more unfortunately, the car tends to run out of fuel pretty quick, so he's constantly topping up, in order to impress slutty Meat Stand employee Denise (Orr's real-life girlfriend Katie Rowlett). The script is very funny with several extremely rude and outrageous gags, plus sex scenes that are, shall we say, a little more risque than perhaps we're used to seeing. Orr (a self-confessed film geek) told me in the bar afterwards that he'd never seen a Russ Meyer movie before making the film but frankly I find that hard to believe - the busty hitch-hiker sequence alone is straight out of a Russ Meyer movie. He also amusingly revealed that all the girls who bare their breasts for the movie were recruited from Craig's List. I'm dying to spoil the film's most shocking gag, but I can't really do it. Suffice it to say that Orr succeeds in getting laughs from situations that you would never expect to find yourself laughing at. I hope he gets to make his next project, Black Hand, a film about a white supremacist who loses his hand and gets a black hand. Four stars. No distributor yet either...

The excellent Blood Car poster:

Director Alex Orr, giving out post-screening Blood Car t-shirts (and yes, I got one and have already worn it with pride):


Paul said...

Blood Car sounds kinda...special. I'm very jealous you've seen the Terence Davies before me - but he's been talking about making that damn gay romcom since before Distant Voices Still Lives...

robbie said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.