Everything has been undone, everything has been forgiven

<sobri> just went and saw battle royale at the film fest
<robyn Oh yeah, I saw the trailer for that on Thursday. How was it?
<sobri> good. fourth time i’ve seen it i think. but good to see it on the big screen
<sobri> actually i’m pretty sure they cut one bit. a bit which changed the story subtly too :-/
<robyn> I saw “Irreversible” today.
<sobri> what’s that one about?
<robyn> Anal sex.
<sobri> excellent
<robyn> The whole film is a metaphor for anal sex.
<robyn> And it’s told in reverse, a bit like “Memento”.
<sobri> might have to see that one then
<robyn> It was only on once
<sobri> arrr
<sobri> was it good?
<robyn> Very very very very very controversial.
<sobri> why, because it’s about anal sex??
<robyn> Mainly for two reasons:
<robyn> 1. A woman is brutally anally raped. It’s a 9 minute scene in which the camera remains still while she’s raped and then beaten. There are no cuts in that part, no diversions. It’s like actually watching a woman being raped.
<sobri> heavy
<robyn> 2. Later (earlier), her boyfriend finds the man who raped her (except he gets the wrong guy) and tries to give him the bash. The guy ends up beating him a bit, but the boyfriend’s friend comes along and repeatedly hits the guy in the face with a fire extinguisher.
<robyn> The guy’s face ends up looking like something from rotten.com
<sobri> christ
<sobri> very graphic then huh
<robyn> Oh yeah, it’s really intense. A few people walked out (but not as many as overseas reviews have reported)
<sobri> so what’s your opinion, was it justified? was it necessary to have the harsh scenes? did they add to the story?
<robyn> Ant Timpson got up on stage before the film and warned people what kind of film it was.
<sobri> were you shocked by them?
<robyn> It was really horrible to watch
<sobri> can imagine
<robyn> But the interesting thing was that as the film goes on and earlier stuff is shown, it’s happier, less troubled. It ends up with the guy and his girlfriend fooling around in bed, happy, in love. Then she discovers she’s pregnant.
<sobri> so these are flashbacks to before the rape?
<sobri> ?
<robyn> No, the story’s told in reverse.
<sobri> ah
<sobri> so .. but .. you see the rape before you see the guys beating the shit out of the supposed rapist?
<robyn> No, you don’t know exactly why they’re beating the guy up.
<sobri> ah.
<robyn> So it’s like “woah, what’s he done!”
<sobri> did the backwards story telling work?
<robyn> Yeah it was easy to follow. The happy scenes at the end of the film were almost sad because of the fact that the happy couple would end up only hours later with the woman raped and the guy being a killer.
<sobri> hm. interesting
<robyn> The last thing in the film was a blank screen that flashed like a strobe and pounding noise, like a helicopter that got louder and suddenly stopped. Then people were kind of staggering out of the Civic not really knowing what to think or feel.
<sobri> so what do you think about the graphicness of it though?
<robyn> You know how sometimes watching a violent movie can be exhilarating?
<robyn> Like “woo, yeah, smash him!!!”
<sobri> uh huh
<robyn> It wasn’t like that. It was almost like “Shit, stop him!”
<robyn> It also meant that it wasn’t really glamourised violence or rape.
<sobri> interesting that they had it on the same night as battle royale then. in that battle royale is the opposite sensation from graphic violence. you watch these kids brutally kill each other, and laugh
<robyn> That would have been fun.
<sobri> good point. deglamourising the violence is something that should be done so much more in movies
<robyn> There was a small moment of humour in the film: The nightclub where the beating took place was called “Rectum”
<sobri> so .. how does it all relate back to anal sex
<sobri> or were you just having me on
<robyn> No no, it’s a metaphor.
<sobri> how so
<robyn> There were lots of red tunnels in the film.
<robyn> Anal sex can be simultaneously painful and pleasurable.
<sobri> uh huh
<robyn> It was kind of about that.
<robyn> Like, if a man has anal sex with a woman, he’s getting something out of it and she’s getting very little out of it.
<sobri> but .. how does the plot fit with anal sex? i don’t see the connection
<sobri> well, depends how much she enjoys anal sex
<robyn> Ok, it keeps coming up. Like, there’s the Rectum club (a gay S&M club), the guy asks his girlfriend if she’ll have bumsex with him, and little things like someone describes a situation as being a “pain in the arse”.
<sobri> so .. it sounds as though anal sex was a theme of the movie. but i don’t see the metaphore
<robyn> Maybe I’m using the wrong word?
<robyn> Like, it was a literal theme, but also a metaphorical theme.
<sobri> did the rape and beating scenes have any message? was it like it was saying it’s a shit world, and we make it worse by reacting to it? or something else? or no message at all. just raw experience?
<robyn> Well it wasn’t “Rape is not kewl!!!”
<robyn> I think it was “This is what it’s really like.”
<sobri> heh
<robyn> This is how shit things can be.
<sobri> mm. kinda like kids, but more graphic
<robyn> Yeah, it is a bit like that.
<robyn> The Salon reviewer talks about how it ends on a happy note: “[The Director] Noé has fucked us up the ass and made us like it.”

Chur bro

I went to the opening night extravaganza of the Beck’s Incredible Film Fest. The costume theme was ’80s, and there were some really excellent costumes. The fake pearls, big hair, ripped lace Madonna look was popular for the ladies, and a lot of fellows went for the spiky hair and sweatband look. There was a woman wearing a green leather skirt and jacket – complete with big, big shoulder pads and another woman was clad in hot pink Lycra workout gear. One couple were dressed as Young Republicans, and wielded a sign supporting the Reagan-Bush ticket.

Before the opening night movie the BIFF crew performed a skit. “Nikki”, the porn star who had planned to give birth on camera, was going to give birth to a second baby live tonight. She was joined by the dodgy director (who looked suspiciously like fest organiser Ant Timpson), a fellow porn star playing the doctor (gay, classically trained in Hamilton’s live theatre scene), and a dirty old camera man who was more than ready for his close up. At one stage Ron Jeremy came out and jizzed all over the stage, which was disgusting and yet delightful. Ok, so Nikki’s in labour and as an experiment the baby is subjected to selected highlights of the last ten years of the film fest. After that harrowing experience the baby pops out and – OMG – Nikki’s given birth to David Wain, the director of “Wet Hot American Summer”!

Mr Wain spoke about how he’d been entice over to New Zealand to come to the fest, but he didn’t realise he’d have to enter a vagina when he got here. Then Mr Timpson gave a brief introduction and everyone applauded because, let’s face it, ten years of a film festival like this is well worth applauding.

“Wet Hot American Summer” was introduced by a special filmed bit where Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo and [another guy who was in the film] talked about the film. Rudd said he liked Crowded House, and that he thought Hunters and Collectors were from here too (Wrong! But Nick Seymour was in Crowded House, and his brother Mark was in H&C, so that’s close enough.) Ms Garofalo said that people kept recommending she move to New Zealand because it’s so nice and liberal here [and half the audience thinks “Yes! Come here, oh cool one!”). I can’t remember what [the other guy who was in the film] said.

Ok, the film itself was really funny. It’s a really naughty parody of all those American summer camp movies of the late ’70s, early ’80s. All the cliches are dragged out and perverted. And Paul Rudd wears short shorts. It really enjoyed it and I felt sorry for all the people who’d chugged down the free beer and had to keep leaving to go wees.

Famous person sighting: Marc Ellis. Woo!

After all that coolness I went to the Dog Bollix to see the WBC play. They are going to be playing on Space next Friday (10.30 pm, TV2), so you should watch that. Also, their new EP “Ease Your Mind” is coming out in about three weeks, so buy that because it is full of good songs.

But anyway. The w00da were good. The Bollix has such a tiny dance floor that it always seems awkward dancing, so I sat on a stool. I was right by a speaker and was hit by some great wall-of-sound moments. Their two new songs sounded much better this time around.

Famous person sighting: MC OJ – and he was all dressed up like a gangsta.

The Incredible Film Fest 2001

It’s 7.50 am on a Sunday morning. A group of tired, dazed, bleary-eye people wearing pyjamas are standing outside the Civic theatre. Some wander off to a nearby Burger King for some breakfast, other start the long walk up Queen Street. All have just spent the last eight hours inside the Civic watching a bunch of B-grade movies.

But wait, let’s stop and go back four weeks to where I find myself grabbing five copies of the program to the Incredible Film Festival.

At home reading one of the five copies of the festival program, I concluded that all the films were lame and I didn’t want to see any. For the first week of the fest I ignored it, hoping that it would go away.

Then a friend of mine said “I saw “Sex: The Annabel Chong Story” last night. It’s really interesting.” So I bought a ticket. To recall that is like a junkie recalling their first hit of heroin.

I saw “Sex”, and had another look at the program. Some titles appealed to me. I figured I’d go and see a few films. Then I considered buying the festival pass, which would let me see all the films for only $88. I reckoned there were at least eight films that were interesting enough, so I plonked down $88 and the ticket lady gave me a huge pile of tickets – one for each film.

It was like a challenge. “Go on,” the tickets were saying. “I dare you to go and see every film in the festival.” I took up the challenge. It took up my life.

I alienated friends, family and flatmates. My life revolved around the films. I had to remember to eat first, or rush out between films and grab something quick. I found myself relying on coffee to stay alert during some of the days where I saw three films in a night.

At first it was hard seeing two films in a night. It was almost physically exhausting. But by the third day when I saw three films in a row, I had adjusted and could cope.

I figured out where the best place to sit was, how viewing a film with subtitles is better with no one sitting in the seat directly in front. The music played before and after the films became familiar. The guy who ripped the tickets, the dude who made coffee, they were all part of my cinematic whanau. I even saw the same faces in the audience – other people like me who’d come to see all the films.

On the final night, I saw the four remaining films. The movie marathon was at midnight. I was originally not going to see it because it seemed too difficult – eight hours of movies straight. Then I considered seeing the first film and calling it a night. But after the first I realised I could manage a second. Then, after sucking down cans of V, eating chocolate bars and a mince ‘n’ cheese pie, I realised that the junk food fuel would keep me in the elevated state required to make it to the end.

My legs ached, I was tired, whenever someone in a movie said something about needing sleep I knew exactly how they felt. On screen sex and violence provided no thrills, but I would have gladly sat through a film with people going to sleep in it. I sat there through five B-grade movies, two of which were pretty terrible. I did it and I burst out onto the street and took in the early morning sun and made my way home.

I don’t think it’s possible to devote two weeks of your life, including eighteen hours in one day, to seeing truckloads of films if you hate movies. The sort of person who sees seven films a year, or whatever the national average is, doesn’t do bad-arse festival stuff like that.

It’s about love of movies, and the joy a good film brings and it is completely accurate to be called the Incredible Film Fest, because it was an incredible two weeks.

The Incredible Film Fest 2001 – My Reviews

Anatomie
A German thriller about some bad behaviour going on at an elite med school. Starring Franke Potente, a.k.a That Chick From “Run Lola Run”. There were a bunch of Germans sitting in the row in front who laughed harder and longer at the humour. Also, while lame stand-up comedians might say that German is not a sexy language, “Anatomie” proves that wrong.

Audition (Odishon)
I loved “Audition”! It started out so nice. A widower seeking a new wife sets up a fake audition to meet chicks. The one he picks turns out to be really messed up – bad touching in her past made her a crazy lady. The horrible finale of the film was so gruesome (but a lot of it was never shown, just implied) that about six people walked out rather than face it. But the bit I loved was when after being savaged by his dream girl, who in turn is pushed down the stair by the widower’s son, the widower turns to her and says something like, “One day you will realise that life is wonderful.”

Butterfly and Sword (Xin Liu Xing Hu Die Jian)
Part of the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” tribute, and also starring Michelle Yeoh, but less serious and more fun and funnier than “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. The sub-titles were sometimes badly translated, but that added to the charm. Plenty of crazy martial arts. I’m not a huge martial arts fan, but “Butterfly and Sword” was fun and entertaining. A couple of days later I heard a girl describe it as “so bad it’s good”, but she’s a deluded fool if she thinks that.

Criminal Lovers (Les Amants Criminels)
I got really excited because “Criminal Lovers” was the sole French film in the festival. I like French films. The trashier, the better. “Criminal Lovers” was kind of like Hansel and Gretel meets “Deliverance”. Y’know, young lovers on the run get lost in the woods and are taken hostage by a crazy woodsman who has a thing for the young man. In a parallel universe, it would be an excellent date movie.

The Curious Dr. Humpp (La Venganza Del Sexo)
So there’s Dr Humpp and he needs to capture the sexual essence of attractive young men and women in order to stop decaying. He has a monster who he sends out on errands. One time he was operating on the monster, inserting a smoking thing into the monsters brain, and suddenly smoke started to come out of the monsters eyes and nose. Such are the production values of this Argentinean exploitation classic. A soft-core porno film (which means naked people feeling each others bums) that features a brain in a jar can’t be a bad thing.

The Devil At Your Heels
Crazy Canadian stuntman Ken Carter wants to do a jump one mile from Canada across the St Lawrence seaway to the USA. It takes him five years, he builds a big-arse ramp. Near the end of the film, building up to the actual jump, it was so suspenseful. My palms were all sweaty and I was almost sitting on the edge of my seat. It almost had the sort of feeling that those “In Search Of…” TV shows did. In search of a crazy guy.

Divine Trash
At one point in “Divine Trash” John Waters is talking about how he and his friends used to take speed and go and see all-night movie screenings. I had to rely on energy drinks. “Divine Trash” is a documentary that looks at the making of “Pink Flamingos”. It was pretty entertaining, but might have been more interesting if I’d seen “Pink Flamingos”. I think, though, that it shows that making a good film is not reliant on technical genius, wonderful actors and money. Or perhaps it is?

Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!
I think to appreciate this film you have to think of it in its historical context. (Oh wow, I just wrote that sentence). Basically, in these post-Xena days, seeing women kicking arse on screen is nothing special, but back in 1966 it was, so there. But the film isn’t just about large-bosomed racer chicks. It’s beautifully shot, and the acting isn’t too bad either. Leaving the film I overheard a bunch of lesbians discussing the film. One of them said “It was great – lots of crotch shots”. Does that make lesbians the new pervy old men?

The Girl Next Door
A woman lies on an operating table. Her nipple has been cut out, leaving a hole in the centre of her breast. A surgeon pulls out a bag of gel through the hole. Half the audience giggles, the other half sucks in their breath. And the best part – it’s real. The breast belongs to porn star Stacy Valentine, and “The Girl Next Door” is a documentary on her life. She escaped an abusive marriage and became a porn star. We get a behinds-the-scenes look at fakes orgasms, porn awards, and the mundane stuff that goes on.

Green Snake (Ching Se)
“Green Snake” is a really beautiful film, filled with rich colours. Everything looks good. It’s about two snake sisters who take human form, and a monk who is on the lookout for animals trying to pass themselves off as human. I think when I first saw it, it annoyed me, but thinking back, I really liked it. It’s like watching visual contentment.

In China They Eat Dogs (I Kina Spiser De Hunde)
Funny! Sexy! Violent! Immoral! Danish! “In China They Eat Dogs” is typical of the new kind of films that the Incredible Film Festival plays. If this film was American, it would probably get a cinema release and be really popular. But as its in Danish, we have to settle for occasional festival screenings. It’s not high art, it’s just fun, the story of a mild mannered (i.e. boring) man pushed to the limit and turns to a life of crime!

The Loved One
One of the two good, old films in the festival that attracted old people to come and see it. Old people laugh differently to younger people. It’s a more restrained, polite laughter. They say the film is about the young British man and his adventures in the Californian funeral industry. But really, it’s about the dead body make-up lady, Miss Thanatogunos. It’s about her and the two men vying for her affections. A classic love triangle story.

Legend Of The Wolf Woman (La Lupa Mannara)
Like Dr Humpp, it’s an exploitation classic dubbed into English. There’s a girl who experienced some bad touching and now she thinks she’s a werewolf (or maybe she really is…!). There’s a flashback where an ancestor of the girl frolicks naked in the moonlight, then turns into a werewolf, and oh my golly gosh, her were-nipples are more frightening than Stacy Valentines’.

Nowhere To Hide (Injong Sajong Polkot Opta)
There was a woman in the audience who laughed too much during this film. She would laugh at stuff that wasn’t funny (e.g., a title card reading “Day 17” HAHAHAHA! Not funny.) And in one scene a cop was taking a piss and she said “Oh, come on!” Yeah, wees are yucky. But apart from her, I managed to like the film. The basic plot: a group of cops go after a criminal. But what makes it cool was how the film was so stylish. It was like a cartoon with real people, yet didn’t feel cartoony.

Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos)
Y’know, this film is being remade in English with Tom Cruise and directed by Cameron Crowe. Crowe makes really good romantic films. “Open Your Eyes” is not, however, a romantic film. See the original! It’s about a man (played by Eduardo Noriega who is a spunk) who is horribly disfigured in a car accident. His life is crap, then things start going well for him, almost too well. Is he crazy or is the world crazy? And, as I scribbled on a piece of paper, are we supposed to feel sympathy for Nuria? Who knows!

Peeping Tom
It’s a horror film, and it does it without cheesy fake spurting blood. The horror, dear viewer, is in the mind. A man, whose scientist father constantly filmed film growing up, as a film fetish of his own. He films women, and kills them being filmed. But the horrible thing about “Peeping Tom” is we see what he sees through his lens. Watching this film makes you an active participant in the goings-on. It’s an absolute classic and it was such a thrill to see it in the wonderful Civic theatre, up there on the big screen.

Paradise Lost 2: Revelations
Three teenagers were arrested for the murder of three boys. One was sentenced to death, the other two imprisoned for life. But did they do it? Perhaps not. Mark Byers, the bizarre step-father of one of the dead boys seems suspicious. Damien Echols, the one on death row, is like poster boy for the West Memphis Three. At one point in the doco, his mother is talking about how she goes and visits him and he puts his hand up on the glass, and how she likes Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” because he’s the only thing that really matters. The song starts to play, then as it builds to a climax, the film cuts to Damien in jail, behind the visitor’s room glass, with his hand up on the glass, staring soulfully with his beautiful brown eyes. Free the West Memphis Three!

Sex: The Annabel Chong Story
Waiting for the movie to start, I heard a guy say to a friend of his, “hey man, we should have brought a protective screen for the, uh, splashes”. But anyone expecting a pornographic film would be sadly disappointed. Grace Quek was gang raped in London. A few years later in Los Angeles she became Annabel Chong, pornstar, and engaged in a 251-man gang bang. Like Stacy Valentine she also wants to give up the porn industry, but she goes back to it. Watching the film, especially the part where her mother finds out what her daughter does, is harrowing. It’s about as erotic as a car crash.

Son Of That’s Exploitation
A collection of classic exploitation film trailers. It started with Oliva de Havilland introducing her new motion picture, “Lady In A Cage”, about a woman who gets trapped in a private elevator (“Help! I’m trapped in a private elevator!”) and a bunch of loonies invade her home. A taste of 1968 hippy culture film “Psych-Out” was a favourite. The collection ended with the trailer for the 1994 film of “The Fantastic Four” that was never released. It was a little sad to see that trailer end with “Coming soon to a theatre near you”.

Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival Of Animation
A mixed bag of animations. In “Coco The Junkie Pimp 2”, one puppet hit another puppet and that cliche movie hitting noise was heard. An audience member drew his breath in sharply in empathy. Yeah, ow, that must have really hurt the puppet. There was some really vile, offensive stuff near the end. Just because you can make animated poo coming out of an animated bum, doesn’t mean you should.


Starwoids

Another doco, this time about hard core Star Wars fans. It focusses on two groups of fans who are living on the streets outside two movie theatres so they can be first in line for the opening night screening of “The Phantom Menace”. The highlight of the film is some guys who wrote “Star Wars: The Musical”, which is a bunch of songs from other shows with lyrics changed to be about Star Wars. Tears of laughter. Another cool bit was the leader of one of the groups queuing was this 17 year old fat-arse, then in the epilogue a year later, he’d lost a whole lot of weight, and there were gasps of astonishment from the audience.

Tell Me Something
Plastic rubbish bags filled with body parts and a whole lot of blood turn up and the hunt for a serial killer begins. There’s a twist at the end. At the time it was a shock, but when I think about it, it was a fairly standard film noir ending. I guess it seemed unexpected because I wasn’t used to a Korean femme fatale. Another film where a woman is subjected to bad touching as a child and turns into a psycho when she’s an adult.

The Tex Avery Cartoon Collection
The cool thing about these cartoons is they don’t rely on dialogue to tell a story. Much fun is had with the limits of cartoons. There were lots of kids at this screening, and there was one group of about six children and the dad in charge would walk along the front of the row with a bag of popcorn and they’d all take some. He was also wearing a bum-bag under his beer belly. Fortunately the cartoons started and he sat down.

The Toy Box
There’s a young couple called Donna and Ralph. In the beginning there are lots of scenes where Ralph is talking but we never see his lips move. Donna is all hot ‘n’ bothered and wants Ralph real bad, but he says, “I’ll let you know when I’m ready for your slobbery mouth!” Then our young lovers go to the house of Uncle, a horny corpse, and hang out with a bunch of free-lovin’ hippies who take turns in performing for Uncle. In one scene a woman is lying in bed and the sheets start feeling her up. Then a voice says, “Your body and my sheets are one!” It’s like a surreal soft-core porno, with a slight “Rocky Horror Picture Show” feel to it, only with Janet being Frank-n-furter. Don’t look for sense. There is none.

Wonderwall
I didn’t see “Wonderwall”. It was only on during the first week of the festival, when I was ignoring it. Damn.

B-Movie Marathon

The Undertaker and His Pals
So there’s this undertaker and he and his two pals who run a greasy spoon diner (“The Greasy Spoon Diner”) go around on their motorbikes and kill people. The pals get to keep a limb, while the undertaker gets the business generated from the funeral. The victims have names like Miss Lamb, so the pals get to have “leg of lamb” as today’s special. Then in the end all the dead people came back to life and everyone was happy.

Bigfoot
The festival organiser dude, wearing pyjamas, described this as a “piece of shit” and he wasn’t wrong. Big Foot abducts some guy’s girlfriend and he goes looking for her. Only he takes along a really large group of people and they spend most of the time walking from one side of the screen to the other.

Dead Kids
An early ’80s horror film about some groovy teens who kill other groovy teens because an evil scientist is controlling their minds. The cool thing is, the film was set in Nebraska, but was filmed in Auckland. In one scene a car drove through the entrance gate to the school, and everyone laughed because it was a gate at One Tree Hill. Then one of the teens was hanging outside a school building and crossed the road and there was the Auckland University clocktower building. It brought the house down.

Pieces
Another groovy horror film. A killer with a chainsaw is terrorising a university. A studly young fellow (who even walked around naked for a bit, oo-er) helps an attractive lady cop investigate. Meanwhile the killer, who as a child killed his crazy, domineering mother, assembles a blood-stained nudie jigsaw puzzle. The killer has trouble doing this because he is wearing thick leather gloves. But I guess if he took them off it would reveal his identity. There’s screaming and titties and tons of that fake blood around the place.

Girl from Starship Venus
An alien comes to earth and takes the form of a naked lady. She wanders the streets of London investigating human life. All the places she visits are in the dodgy, seedy areas. She goes into a porno theatre, a massage parlour, and a strip club where she drinks alcohol and turns green and grows an afro. Then a man tries to have his way with her, but the force-field that has been activated in her nether-regions means he’s not gonna get any hot alien lovin’. I don’t really have an opinion on this film. It was on at around 6-7.00 am, and my mind was fuzzy.

I learned this:

  • If the film is fiction, abuse in a person’s past turns them into a psychotic killer.
  • If the film is a documentary, abuse in a person’s past turns them into a porn star.
  • Movie marathons are better with comfortable clothes, good food and lots of leg room.
  • Seeing naked ladies in ’60s sexploitation films is weird because they have non-surgically enhanced boobs.
  • Audiences get really quiet during soft-core sex scenes.
  • It’s going to take a while before people get used to the idea that the Incredible Film Festival is not “the best of the worst”.
  • No matter what film you see, there will always be someone in the audience who thinks it’s the most bizarre film they’ve ever seen.

And I’d do it again!