December 15, 2005

etriganReviewsBNAT(Butt Numb A Thon) VII


It’s hard to have perspective when you’re lucky enough to attend an event as wonderful and (due to the venue size) exclusive as BNAT. Add to that the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to attend the four years before this, and that I haven’t slept for over 30 hours, and that for the first time I spent the whole Thon in a wooden chair on the side of the theater — why, you ask? Well, apparently our submission never made it into Harry’s Santa-like hands so Becky and I waited for the stand-by lottery. I was chosen as the next-to-last lottery winner and my poor sweet long-suffering wife had to return home without the joy of a 24-hour movie fest — and it all means that I may be even more biased than normally. However, I will lay before you the menu we feasted from and you can judge for yourself if I am loopy or, if you believe as I do, that BNAT 7 was the best BNAT ever.

  • Apocalypto trailer - At the very least, you have to respect Mel Gibson making his own sub-genre of film: the talkie that only a select few PhD linguists could actually understand, a film that might as well be silent, that communicates without spoken word — something you wouldn’t expect the US audiences to adhere to. The Passion of the Christ release leveraged three powerful tools, some of them possibly unintended, to garner enough attention and pack in the audiences: Mel Gibson’s fame, a built-in religious audience, and controversy. The Passion of the Christ was in Aramaic and Hebrew, and Apocalypto is in Mayan. He was absolutely able to pull off The Passion and he created a film that will go down in history as being important and great. The trailer for Apocalypto certainly leads me to believe that he may prove himself again in the same manner.
  • The Most Dangerous Game - Harry pointed out the interesting bit of trivia that Fay Wray almost didn’t do the 1932 King Kong because she was committed to this film. She ended up doing both, and the studio also shared audio and sets between the two films. (Remember this tidbit when you go to see the new version.) This film translates possibly the most well-known short story into a good little film. Oddly (for it’s time) the film seemed very heavy-handed about killing for sport, and I quote: “Those animals I hunted…now I know how they felt.”
  • The Pit and the Pendulum short film trailer - Famous stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen is producing a series of short film stop-motion versions of Poe short stories and one of the executive producers and the lead animator brought in this trailer and it looks stunning. I think stop motion (when it’s done well) is the best style of animation, and with the advent of CGI the predictions of the death of stop-motion were disheartening. Short films like this are a refreshing reminder that the art form is alive and well.
  • King Kong - The summation is that, living up to it’s expectations, this film is a gorgeous blockbuster epic…that clocks in over three hours long. Peter Jackson has earned a spot next to Spielberg and this film can sit on the shelf next to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Jack Black’s role was written for him and Adrien Brody does his usual good job but the real power behind this film is, just like the original one, the female lead. Naomi Watts is nothing short of stunning in every scene. She is even more impressive than any of the special effects, and those come attached with their own self-explanatory adjective. I don’t have to shill for Kong since it will earn every dollar that was spent making it and many times more at the box office, but be sure to get a padded seat when you see it.
  • Footlight Parade - James Cagney plays a producer of musical shows during the advent of talkies. His portrayal of an overworked dedicated creative force who is getting screwed by his partners while he ignores his pretty secretary who adores him is completely perfect and unexpected for those of us who only know his gangster films. Good stuff with several classic silver screen song, dance and swim numbers.
  • Masters of Horror ‘Sick Girl’ - The people who brought us the twisted film May that was screened a few years ago at BNAT 4(?), the director Lucky McKee and of-local-origins actress Angela Bettis, this year brought their episode of Masters of Horror — a show that started on Showtime just before Halloween. It was certainly very creepy and followed the kind of weirdness that I would expect from Lucky , but it came off feeling very low budget.
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - Chan Wook Park visits BNAT again and follows his similar themes of the Asian violence genre, the Solondz style uncomfortable relationships, and his own take on vengeance. He is an amazing storyteller and in this film he extends that ability by adding a feminine touch to the storyline, giving the film a hint of Crouching Tiger or House of Flying Daggers.
  • The Professionals -
  • District B13 - This was my second favorite film of the night. As many reviews indicate, it suffers because the secondary characters come off cartoonish but it is the newest fu sliced bread since Ong Bak (which was the newest fu sliced bread since Jackie Chan). I still don’t understand where the French found two great martial artists who deliver the goods over and over again. Bootleg this film until they find a US distributor, then go see it on the big screen to get the full effect.
  • Harry’s 80’s Horroromedy 2gether 4ever teaser - Harry is teaming up with Clive Barker to give us a little 80’s style horror fun. Yay!
  • Masters of Horror ‘Cigarette Burns’ - Two of Harry’s most prominent AICN contributors wrote this vingette directed by John Carpenter about trying to track down a ‘dangerous’ screenprint. If you only see one episode or Masters of Horror, this is the one.
  • Hostel promo clip - Eli Roth (who was escorting someone who I think was Barbara Nedeljakova, the female lead for the film) presented a clip from his upcoming film which is actually not a bad film. Eli is typically violent and gory but he is really getting a handle on plot and character development.
  • The Descent - Six female spelunkers make a lot of bad choices that get them trapped underground where they come across some scary stuff. Unfortunately, the scary stuff comes nearly an hour into the film and other than a shocking opening scene I was bored most of the time. Add to that the nigh impossible chance that the viewer can keep up with who is injured, dead, alive or even psychologically traumitized due to poor editing and this doesn’t make the grade.
  • Stunt Rock - The trailer for this film has been a BNAT classic from way back. That means the hype was too big for this to be anything more than a laughable let-down. The film cycles between a stunt, some conversational adhesive, and concert footage of Sorcery — a heavy metal / magic act/band. If the story arc were hooked up to a heart monitor it might be accidentally declared dead.
  • Drum - Practically a parody sequel to Mandingo, this exploitation film — picture lots of boobies, man-ass and insinuated sex — tries to highlight the insanity of post-emancipation racism, but it may just be racist.
  • X3 trailer - I can’t wait.
  • MI3 trailer - I can’t stand Tom Cruise…but I still can’t wait.
  • V for Vendetta - This is the big one. I can’t honestly be expected to give an objective review of this film since the book on which it’s based is important to me. It represents a lot of my beliefs about governments and citizen responsibility and the hard to distinguish line between (yes, I’ll say it) terrorism and revolution. That said, I was nearly in tears several times during this film and I think Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving are amazing. My only small nit-pick was the (obviously Wachowski-influenced) decision to make the fighting more fu and less swash-buckler. When this film is released in March, it may stir up a lot of controversy and certainly a lot of conversation. Like Orwell’s 1984, some will think it heavy-handed or even silly while others like myself will cling to the belief that “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.” (p.s. Buy the book before the film and read it.)

As usual, I will probably take a few days to update this post with descriptions and reviews, plus pictures of the schwag bag and posters we were gifted.

Posted by etrigan at December 15, 2005 6:00 PM
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