Goldberg & Eisenberg (dir. Oren Carmi)
There are all sorts of stories that can come out of a meeting of two strangers. They could become lovers. Friends. Or most interestingly, enemies. In Goldberg & Eisenberg a chance encounter between two strangers sets them down the road to unfortunate consequences. The film starts with the nerdy awkward Goldberg having a chance encounter with brutish Eisenberg. Eisenberg is needy at first, but with their repeat encounters his overeager friendliness turns to aggression and intimidation. Goldberg’s fear of Eisenberg increases, and rightly so. The film plays out like an Israeli Cape Fear, though without the nuance and overwhelming sense of dread that the classic film expertly creates. It is not that Goldberg & Eisenberg is poorly made, it is just that it does not have the same heavy atmosphere. The film is solid, though not groundbreaking. I did enjoy the soundtrack, which would have been just at home in a Guy Richie who-done-it as it is here. My one technical issue was with the film’s visuals. The entire film had a soft focus and was over-lit. I nearly thought that there were projection issues with the film, except for the fact that occasionally the interior scenes did not suffer from the same issues.
Green Inferno (dir. Eli Roth)
Eli Roth has always professed his love for Italian cannibal films loudly. Heck, Hostel II even features a cameo by Ruggero Deodato, director of Cannibal Holocaust. With Green Inferno Roth pays homage to this subgenre by creating his own disgusting and indulgent cannibal flick. It starts with a group of college kids traveling to the Amazon to stop deforestation, which would in turn destroy a local untouched tribe of natives. Roth here demonstrates his well-established ability to create an entire group of privileged college students that we just can’t wait to see killed. It is clear with Green Inferno that Roth is sticking to what he knows. You do not go to one of his film’s expecting to see cultural sensitivity. You go to an Eli Roth film to see plenty of gore, some eyeballs, and crying coeds begging for their lives. In that respect, Green Inferno absolutely delivers. The film is bloody fun, and you will be disappointed if you expect much else.
Coherence (dir. James Ward Byrkit)
Just when I thought I had seen the best and most original science fiction film at the fest, I saw Coherence on Monday and was amazed. This is another thoughtful, inspired made with little to no money that easily surpasses most larger budget, and more largely distributed films. Director Byrkit shot the film over five nights in his own house. All eight actors in it are his close friends, and there was no script- everything was improvised. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the film is brilliant. I would hate to give away too much of the plot, but you should know that it takes place over a single dinner party with old friends. They are catching up and enjoying the company, and making light talk of the comet that is passing overhead that night. As you can guess, the comet affects the night more than they could have guessed. The film shows alliances being created and broken, mind games, and alternative realities crashing together, all from Byrkit’s living room. The film never loses you in the complicated story, but it does come together in such a way that will make you want to re-watch the film as soon as it is over. The film assumes the audience is intelligent, and it also shows characters acting intelligently. The approach to filmmaking and storytelling is a needed refreshment in cinema today. I cannot wait for the opportunity to re-immerse myself in Coherence.
Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (dirs. Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani)
Certain films are not really intended to make sense. They are intended to be visual and sound experiences. Unfortunately, these films can get pretentious and boring. Fortunately, Strange Color of Your Body’s Tearsis well done and worth experiencing. The film’s very loose plot is based around a man returning to his apartment to find it locked from the inside and his wife is missing. From here the rest of the film is an opportunity to see beautiful images. Characters get trapped in walls, and there are a number of frames showing knives with nipples. The visual styles alternate, ranging from classic giallo lighting to American noir. While watching the film it struck me that the film felt like Dario Argento collaborated with Jean Luc Godard. Neither director is known for cohesive plots, but the marriage of their styles is quite interesting. As long as you ignore the attempts at plot, and let the film wash over you, it is really beautiful.
Patrick (dir. Mark Hartley)
Never having seen the original Ozsploitation film, I cannot compare this version to it. I can, however, confirm that this Patrick is a fun throwback horror film. The titular Patrick is a patient in a hospital for severe brain injuries. He cannot speak or move, and does not respond to anything…or does he? The first 45 minutes of the film contains more jump scares than you can count, and the soaring score and creepy hospital setting make for a loving ode to horror’s roots. Throw in an evil doctor who is experimenting on Patrick, with little concern for Patrick’s well being, and we are on our way to a fun, slightly cliché story arc. Though the nostalgia in the film is really thick the film never veers into parody. Patrick maintains that it is a horror film, and stops short of being a merely an homage to horror films.
R100 (dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto)
From time to time a concept for a film comes along, and you know that if the film is only half as wild as the concept, that is will be a great film. R100 is just that film, but the end result is better than you might think. A regular business man is sexually frustrated. His wife has been in the hospital, and his son is a bit much to handle. Seeking some excitement he hires a dominatrix. But not just one dominatrix, he hires a dominatrix subscription service. For a full year these latex clad women surprise him with a world of pain and pleasure. The only rule of the service is that he cannot cancel the service. Part Netflix with whips, part Russian roulette with platform heels, R100 is surprisingly well made. The emotional balance of home life and the sexual exploits is handled in a gentle manner. The film itself is beautiful, and the variety of dominant women is hilarious and inventive. I never thought I would recommend a film about this topic, but there is a lot to be surprised by in R100.
Confession of Murder (dir. Byeong-gil Jeong)
Classic cat-and-mouse films can be formulaic and predictable. Confession of Murder is anything but that. This is a fast action film that has many plot twists, chase scenes, and stand out performances. Just days after the statute of limitation for a string of serial murders has passed, the murderer reveals himself though a profitable tell-all book. The killer is incredibly handsome, fit, and charming. He captures the nation’s media and heart as he asks for forgiveness from his victim’s families. A scathing satire of paparazzi, the film shows the flailing police unable to charge the confessed killer with a crime. The lead detective, whose fiancé was the assumed last victim of the killer, tries to maintain composure under scrutiny of the cameras, with mixed success. When surviving families band together to try to create their own justice, the plot really takes off. Were this film from Hollywood, I have no doubt that it would break box office records over a nicely-timed weekend over the Summer. But as a Korean film, it is a gem you should make a point to hunt down.
Grand Piano (dir. Eugenio Mira)
A real-time film can be incredibly difficult to pull off. Real life can be boring, which is one of the reasons we go to the movies, right? Edits and jumps in time make the film much more exciting than my everyday narrative. Combine that with a film being set at a classical music concert, and it is a feat that Grand Piano is not a snooze fest. Elijah Wood starts in the film, which takes place during the comeback concert for the world’s greatest pianist. After choking five years ago he retreated from the spotlight, only to emerge for this one concert. He will be playing on his deceased mentor’s own piano before it is sent abroad to be put on display. Soon after the concert starts the pianist is told, on his sheet music no less, that he needs to play the rest of the concert without playing a single wrong note, or else he and his beautiful wife are dead. Gimmicky and melodramatic, the plot to Grand Piano surprisingly pulls off an entertaining flick. However, my major issue with the film was that the writing was not nuanced. We were told all of this, rather than shown. The beginning of the film is very verbal, and we are simply told everything that we need to understand the characters’ motivations, rather than letting us see the situation through performance and setting. Had the nuances been left to the audience, rather than thrown in our face, I would have enjoyed the film more.