First up was this wonderful Sardinian oddity, THE LEGEND OF KASPAR HAUSER. It's kind of important to know the true story of Kaspar Hauser, otherwise you'll just be lost in the weirdness. Even with a brief and very informative introduction by festival programmer Kier-La Janisse I still get lost in the weirdness, and I loved it. It's shot in Italy, but set in place X, time Y, and opens with a shot of UFO's flying overhead. Vincent Gallo practically hijacks the movie with his dual roles as a rockstar-sheriff and drug pusher. Kaspar Hauser (played by Silvia Calderoni in a bit of gender-bending casting.) And it's powered by an overbearing and fittingly inappropriate electronic music soundtrack. Time means nothing, place means nothing, gender means nothing, everything you see and hear is a lie, and yet the Legend is still true. You know, every year I designate one film as my "reward for seeing everything"--the movie I had no idea what to expect going in and ended up loving. It's never happened before, but maybe this year I found my reward for seeing everything in my second screening.
Not to be outdone, the next film was also from Italy, also very weird, and also brilliant. BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO stars Toby Jones as Gilderoy an English sound mixer brought in by eccentric Italian director Santini to work his magic on his film. He didn't know what to expect, but discovers that he's actually working on a horror film...check that, it's not a horror film, it's a Santini film! Or, to be specific about the genre, it's a giallo--that particular style of Italian horror thriller, with it's distinct style, look, and (especially important for this film) sound. And as Gilderoy starts working on the film as a fish out of water (both as an Englishman living and working in Italy and as a non-horror fan working in horror) life starts imitating art. He's browbeaten by the heavy-handed producer and soon the line between his work and his life starts blurring. But this doesn't exactly go where you'd expect a horror film to go. Sometimes it's tedious and pointless to dissect genre, and this might be a case of that. But I think it's useful to point out that while it's steeped in giallo style, it doesn't fall into the easy thriller cliches. There isn't a sinister killer/monster stalking him. It's more of a character study--one man isolated with his thoughts, immersed in his work until that's all there is.
And finally, I ended the night with an old (1972) super-sleazy exploitation flick, TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN (part of programmer Kier-La's spotlight on her new book, HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN.) Jamie (Marcia Forbes) is a young lady with an absentee father whom her mother denigrates as worthless scum who spends all his time with whores. All she gets from him is regular gifts of toys, which she idolizes and fetishizes while dreaming about her father. Seriously, in the opening scene she's fucking a toy solider that was a present from him. And it gets weirder and sleazier from there. A loveless marriage, a friendship with a prostitute named Pearl, and an ingenious plan to become a prostitute herself in order to find her father. Nobody really gets away clean in this movie...including the audience. A great way to end the night.
Total Running Time: 271 minutes
My Total Minutes: 313,433