Thursday, June 7, 2007

Jason goes to Holehead--day 6

It just keeps on going. And so do I. Reviews below, but let me just say to my local SF bay area readers that if you can only make one night of Holehead, tomorrow (Friday, June 8) is a good one. I can't vouch for "Bad Bugs Bunny" (I won't see it until Sunday, but I expect it to be good), but "Special", "The Living and the Dead", and "Hazard" have been three of my favorites (and three of the least typical Holehead movies). Check 'em out ("Special" is reviewed at the bottom of this post).

Anyway, last night was 3 shows, starting with the Animation Program #1. This was supposed to be the kids-friendly program.
"Loom"--It weaves the fabric of life. Death is an old woman with scissors.
"Way"--The metaphorical spiritual journey of a young woman. A fascinating blend of evolving animation styles, but the snarling monster genitalia made me wonder if this was really supposed to be the kid-friendly program.
"Snail"--In Impressionist style, a story of a runner in the woods and the snail he meets.
"Box Cartoon"--Line drawing train of free-associations boxes.
"Yoga Noga Reyoga; The Enlightenment Competition"--Computer animated story of two monks trying to out-meditate each other.
"When I Grow Up"--A funny mix of styles by several artists, set to interviews of kids talking about what they want to be and adults talking about what they've become. Like "Fraught" in Animation Program #2, it's an example of animated documentary.
"Family Freud"--A boy and his mommy, his daddy and his castrating scissors.
"Los ABC"--A tribute to the needless death in war, by the guys who did "Deadtime Stories" in Animation Program #2.
"The Lost Bag"--A french stop-motion fable of money, religion, and honor.

And then the Holehead part of the night started, with another British horror-comedy, "Small Town Folk". A group of inbred hillbillies in Beesley Manor in the (literally) off-the-map village of Grockleton attack and kill any strangers (who they call "Grockles") who come to town. Along come a nerd who's into photography and wearing his helmet, a bully and his two girlfriends, and a young married couple. Add into the mix that the wife of the young married couple is pregnant--which gives the possibility of kidnapping a Beesley heir--and let the kill-arity ensue. Shot on the cheap on video and mostly in front of green screens, it creates a weird, other-world feel. Overall, I give them high marks for the idea, but middle to low marks for the execution. The townsfolk range from kinda scary to just ridiculous, and the trespassers didn't die at a fast enough rate. And the green screen is an odd match for the otherwise very cheap looking video. Of all the movies I've seen at the festival so far, this is most deserving of a remake. It has a good idea, and if you gave it money enough to make it look good and a little writing/direction to tighten it up and decide whether it wants to be scary or funny (I'd go funny, it's 70% there already) and it could be great. Oh, and it was also cool to see the opening and closing cameo by Warwick Davis ("Leprechaun", "Willow", and "Skinned Deep" from Holehead a few years back)

And the third movie of the night was "Special" (that was its title and a good description for it). But first there was "Grace", which was amazing (ha!). An eight months pregnant woman decides to deliver her baby naturally, over the objections of her husband (Brian Austin Green) who's driving her (rather recklessly) to the hospital for an ultrasound. When he gets into an accident (which leaves Brian Austin Green dead with a pen in his neck and his eye hanging out) her baby dies, but she decides to deliver it anyway.

By the way, pregnant women have become a little mini-theme in the festival (and bunnies are back, too. Drug use, both illicit and prescription, is also a major theme).

As for "Special", Michael Rapaport is perfect as an ordinary Joe who volunteers for a trial of a new experimental anti-anxiety drug, Specioprin Hydrochloride (brand name, Special). He's also a big fan of superhero comics. He hangs out with his best friends, stoner brothers who own a comic book store. So when the drug starts giving him superpowers--flying, walking through walls, telepathy...or maybe it just gives him hallucinations that he has super powers. Yeah, actually it's pretty definitely the latter, but it's really clever how he keeps the conceit. When the doctor running the trial tells him flat out that he's having an adverse psychological reaction, he hallucinates that the doctor is speaking to him telepathically, telling him the room is bugged, and he should keep taking the pills until his powers are permanent. When the businessmen running the trial show up to convince him to quietly quit (and for god's sake, stop running around tackling people while wearing their logo on his back), he makes them his evil arch-nemeses who are planning to use the drug to create an army of psycho-zombies (or something like that). But here's what I really love about it--he really, really is a superhero. The "suits" really are (or become) villains, and he really does have what makes all superheroes great--the will to never give up (and really, the drug gave him that, so it is the story of a drug turning him into a superhero). Blow them up, drop an atom bomb on them, hit them with an entire freakin' planet, and a superhero still won't stop fighting.

"Special" plays again Friday night, June 8 at 7:15.

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