Fright Nights at the Projection Booth hosted by Kelly Stewart
March 2nd 2012
Starring Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza and Cathryn Hostick
Written and Directed by Richard Powell
Battle Royale (2000)
Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama and Takeshi Kitano.
Written by Kenta Fukasaku based on the novel by Koushun Takami
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Once again I get to talk to you about the fantastic series from the Projection Booth known as Fright Nights. Kelly outdid himself this time by landing the first “official” Toronto screening of Battle Royale for this month’s outing. This happily affords me the opportunity to talk about one of my all time favorite movies. It was preceded by a world premiere of the new Fatal Pictures production Familiar. I was unfortunately running late for the screening and missed the mass of humanity socializing prior to the screening as this was a highly anticipated and heavily attended event. I did however get to sneak in while Kelly did his intro at the front of the cinema, in front of a giant Battle Royale symbol on the screen no less.
The night started off with the psycological thriller Familiar. John Dodd (Nolan) is a troubled man. He is plagued by thoughts of dissatisfaction and murderous impulses directed towards his family while he counts down the days till his daughter departs for college and he can finally just leave. Slowly we become aware that the inner monlogue may be more than just John’s inner rumblings as events occur which will prohibit his plans of escape. The inner struggle continues to a grisly conclusion. A strong cast keeps you enthralled throughout the entire film, and Nolan’s performance in particular is mesmerizing. During the Q&A after the movies, director Powell mentioned he’s looking towards a feature of one of his other films starring Nolan “Worm” as Fatal Pictures next production. Things are definitely looking bright for the future of Fatal Pictures.
And now our glorious feature presentation.
I should provide some of my history with this film. It starts with me scouring Chinese owned video stores in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, as this is where I was living at the time. After much searching I found a VCD copy (basically a VHS quality copy on disc), but even that could not dampen my excitement. After watching the movie for the first time, I immediately watched it again. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Over the years I have owned different versions of this film at least 8 times, with Anchor Bay’s upcoming set due to be my 2nd copy on Blu Ray and 9th overall. Yes I love this film that much.
For those non-indoctrinated few let me summarize the film for you. Japan’s society is crumbling due to overpopulation, youth gang violence and overall apathy. The government devises a plan to both keep the population and youth in check and this is the BR ACT. The BR ACT states that once a year a class of students is selected to participate in Battle Royale, a ” fight to the finish” where only one may survive to be declared the victor. This is the environment this year’s “winners” are placed in as they are drugged on the way to their senior class trip, only go wake up surrounded by soldiers with strange new necklaces on. Our protagonists are Shuya Nanahara, whose best friend Nobu once attacked a former teacher which leads to a early exit from the game. And then there is Noriko Nakagawa, desperately infatuated with Shuya, and the object of Nobu’s affections. This leads to Shuya vowing to protect Noriko throughout the game out of his loyalty to Nobu. As loyalties break and deception rules, Noriko and Shuya stay true to each other and their hope that their new friend Kawada is right when he says he can get them all out alive.
Going into any more detail would be giving away too much. Needless to say, finally seeing this on the big screen with a crowd was a special treat. After 20 times, seeing this on the big screen for the first time I saw certain things I had never seen before for the first time. Man I love this movie. I will be one of the first in line for the Blu Ray set on the 20th.
On a quick side note, those who may be familiar with the story behind this year’s high profile release of the Hunger Games movie will notice obvious similarities. Keep in mind that Battle Royale’s origins lie a full decade prior to Suzanne Collins’ novels. Yet despite Battle Royale’s heavy influence in the creating of the Hunger Games, Collins’ was smart in infusing her story with aspects different than Takami’s vision.
Next month Kelly is presenting Monster Brawl for the first time in a Toronto theater since the Toronto After Dark Film Festival back in October, 2011. I have it on good authority that the director Jesse T. Cook will be present along with some of the Cast and Crew. So come out for some monster fighting fun and stick around to talk with the Junkie aka me!
Til Next Time
Movie Junkie TO
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