Toronto After Dark 2012: Wrong Review (Kirk Haviland)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012

Wrong (2012)

Starring Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexis Dziena, William Fichtner, Steve Little and Regan Burns

Written and Directed by Quentin Dupieux

The infamous Quentin Dupieux, aka musician Mr Oizo, the director of the movie about a car tire on a killing spree ‘Rubber’, is back with his newest absurdist comedy ‘Wrong’. With Rubber being an extremely divisive film, and Dupieux’s penchant for the bizarre, I knew this would not just be simply a story of a man trying to find his lost dog. I also knew that this was likely to be the most loved and most hated film of this year’s Toronto After Dark lineup.

Dolph Springer (Plotnick) wakes up one morning to realize he has lost the love of his life, his dog, Paul. During his quest to get Paul (and his life) back, Dolph encounters a myriad of bizarre phenomena and people. Firemen apathetically ignore a fire, an alarm clock reads 7:60 AM, a pine-tree becomes a palm-tree, a pizza restaurant nymphomaniac, a jogging-addict neighbor in search of completeness, an opportunistic French-Mexican gardener, and an off-kilter pet detective. And with all this, if Dolph Springer has any chance of getting his dog back he has to listen and follow the lead of a guru of canine psychosis, Master Chang (Fichtner), who sports a mysteriously scarred face and even more mysterious intentions.

To say that Wrong is a sack full of fighting kittens crazy is an understatement. As expected, we pretty much get everything AND the kitchen sink thrown in here. Plotnick does some good work here, essentially playing the straight man for the majority of the film, as his hapless Dolph actually comes off loveable. His deconstruction of the absurdity of a fast food mascot is hilarious. Fichtner is, as always, a fascinating watch as he deftly maneuvers through the intricacies of his character and delivers a smart and engaging performance. Steve Little’s detective also ranks as a highlight. The plot and script are meandering at best, one thing you cannot accuse the film of is being predictable. The film’s plot makes so many twists and turns it is frankly sometimes hard to keep up. The surrealist manner of execution added to the unconventional script and mode of storytelling just adds more intrigue to the proceedings. Wrong is also a decidedly better shot, edited and looking film than Rubber was, showing that Dupieux is growing as a technical filmmaker more with each project.

Definitely not the type of film that will play equally for everyone, it will challenge the best of viewers and will turn off a lot of them, but the film will reward the people that stay with it and give it a chance. Despite its absurdity Wrong has a charm and charisma that are undeniable, and for that Wrong is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

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Toronto After Dark 2012 Awards Announced

Toronto After Dark 2012 has come and gone. If you weren’t able to attend, then you missed out on tentacled aliens, creepy found footage, flesh starved zombies, neurotic writers, angry werewolves, suspicious crime scene photographers, a chainsaw at a wedding, killer sushi, and plenty other examples of the weird, scary, hilarious, and fantastical. Every year TAD tallies the votes from the ticketholders and passholders, coming up with an in depth list of awards. This year the results were a little surprising considering the closeness of the festival to Halloween – fans seemed to be locked into the comedies. Nevertheless, it’s tough to argue with the results if you were in the crowd as many films this year enthralled the audience with humour. Below is a brief list of some of the awards. For a more detailed list please visit the Toronto After Dark website.

Cockneys vs Zombies

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS, BEST FEATURE FILM

1. GOLD: COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES
2. SILVER: DEAD SUSHI
3. BRONZE: A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING

Bio-Cop

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS, BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM

1. GOLD: BIO-COP
2. SILVER: A PRETTY FUNNY STORY
3. BRONZE: FROST

Henri

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS, BEST INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM

1. GOLD:  HENRI
2. SILVER: VICKI
3. BRONZE: NUMBERS

Hotline Miami

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS, BEST INDEPENDENT VIDEO GAME
1. GOLD: HOTLINE MIAMI
2. SILVER: TALES FROM SPACE: MUTANT BLOB ATTACKS
3. BRONZE: McPIXEL

See you next year – after dark of course.

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Toronto After Dark 2012: Game of Werewolves Review (Kirk Haviland)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012

Game of Werewolves (2012)

Starring Gorka Otxoa, Carlos Areces, Secun de la Rose and Luis Zahera

Written and Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno

The closing night film from this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival was the Spanish horror comedy ‘Lobos de Arga’. The translation literally meaning Wolves of Arga (pronounced r-e-ah) but retitled Game of Werewolves for the international market. Game is throwback film. Wearing its influences like a badge on its chest, Game is clearly inspired by the Universal Monster films of old and more modern masterpieces like An American Werewolf in London and The Howling. The only question remaining is does it belong in the company of these classic films?

In the remote countryside of Galicia, Spain, the townspeople of Arga have suffered under a gypsy curse for 100 years. A treacherous woman’s unborn son was cursed to become a werewolf every full moon and ravage the town. Now the curse might finally be lifted when local boy Tomas (Otxoa), returns to the village looking for inspiration to write his new novel. Tomas, unbeknownst to him, is the last of the lineage to the cursed woman and if bitten will lift the curse. So instead of peace and serenity, Tomas ends up running from the locals and accidentally releasing the dreaded beast. While the villagers try to kill the monster, Tomas and his friends attempt to end the curse on their own, with hilarious and dire consequences.

Game of Werewolves is one hell of a fun film. The script is smart and concise with little wasted action. We start realizing right away that there is something else going on here and that Tomas has returned under false pretense. The performances from our lead trio are great. The comedic timing between the three is sharp. The location in the Spanish countryside is gorgeous and the buildings and set design help lend a classic feel to the proceedings, the film almost looks like it was literally ripped out of classic Universal monster pic. Almost all the effects work here in a glorious example of why practical effects work better for werewolves than most of these CG creatures we get today. Clearly inspired by Rick Baker’s work from Werewolf in London, the transformation sequences feature the protruding and changing body mass along with the creaking and crunching of bone that Baker’s work in London is famous for. Director Moreno shows a steady and adept hand behind the camera, crafting a theme park amusement ride of a film that is fun from beginning to end.

A crowd-pleaser until the very end, Game of Werewolves is the type of film that seems destined to become a cult classic and a yearly traditional watch come October. Best seen with a full house of people laughing along with you, Game of Werewolves is a definite recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

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Toronto After Dark 2012: Sushi Girl Review (Robert Harding)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012

Sushi Girl (2012)

Starring Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie, and Mark Hamill

Directed by Kern Saxton

People have been paying tribute to their favourite films for decades. Films have been sequelled, rebooted, and remade. When a film is remade under a completely different guise without giving tribute to its source it usually falls under two categories. When it is well received it is considered an homage to the original, considered smart and given accolades. Films that aren’t well received are considered rip-offs, unoriginal and often forgotten.  Sushi Girl is not a reboot, sequel or remake but it’s similarities to other films are without dispute.

After serving six years in prison, keeping his mouth shut following a jewel theft that went horribly wrong, Fish (Noah Hathaway) meets up with his fellow thieves for a sushi dinner. Unfortunately for Fish, this crew isn’t about to leave until they get what’s theirs and only he knows where their diamonds ended up…or so they think.

Sushi Girl is getting very mixed reviews.  Many are calling it nothing new and a blatant rip-off of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (which itself was a “rip-off” of Ringo Lam’s City on Fire).  Others are stating that it is a fantastic homage to great heist movies. There’s no denying the similarities between Sushi Girl and Reservoir Dogs and City on Fire, but just like Reservoir Dogs has subtle differences from City on Fire, Sushi Girl has its own differences.

Much like Reservoir Dogs, Sushi Girl works well mainly because of its cast. With Noah Hathaway, Tony Todd, Mark Hamill, James Duvall and Andy Mackenzie making up the main cast of jewel thieves you might think the film was filled with second rate actors but that is not the case. Mark Hamill stands out as a sadistic psychopath (clearly influenced by his Joker character), Andy Mackenzie could easily be an actual crazy enforcer in any biker gang and Tony Todd commands the screen whenever he opens his mouth.  In fact, Tony Todd needs to get more similar roles as he emanates  a “don’t fuck with me vibe.” The cast is rounded out with cameos from such names as Michael Biehn, Sonny Chiba, Danny Trejo and finally Cortney Palm who looks absolutely gorgeous as the title character.

Through fantastic characters and plenty of sushi this film managed to beat its way into my good books. I wouldn’t call this an homage or a rip-off but simply a new telling of a familiar and entertaining story.  I truly enjoyed the performances from Mark Hamill and Tony Todd and loved all the great cameos. If you are at all a fan of Reservoir Dogs or City on Fire I suggest giving Sushi Girl a chance, but keep an open mind.

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Toronto After Dark 2012: Dead Sushi Review (Kirk Haviland)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012

Dead Sushi (2012)

Starring Rina Takeda, Shigeru Matsuzaki and Kentarô Shimazu

Written by Noboru Iguchi, Makiko Iguchi and Jun Tsugita

Continuing a long tradition of Japanese splatter films at Toronto After Dark – past years have also brought us Tokyo Gore Police, RoboGeisha and Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl – we were treated to Noboru Iguchi’s Dead Sushi for the 2012 edition of the festival. One of Iguchi’s first films outside of the Sushi Typhoon label since that company launched, Dead Sushi has been hailed as a fun romp that returns Iguchi back to the form of Machine Girl, the film that helped launch Typhoon in the first place.

Kieko (Takeda) is the daughter of a prestigious sushi chef, whom after being unable to cope with her father’s rigorous and frequently painful instruction, runs away from home. She finds work at a resort as a hostess/waitress only to find herself accidentally embroiled in a delirious revenge plot against a gaggle of corrupt corporate cronies. The corporate retreat you see has been invaded by the transformation of multitudes of Sushi into undead teeth-baring, murderous, man-eating monsters. Hysterically, amidst all the bloody mayhem that ensues, the film is genuinely educational about the preparation, presentation and etiquette of sushi.

Surprisingly Dead Sushi is a step back for Iguchi, a much smaller and contained film than some of his previous efforts. This actually benefits the film greatly, keeping the action from going completely off the rails like his splatter film compatriot Yoshihiro Nishimura’s films so often do. The fact that Sushi Typhoon is not associated with the project results in less budgetary dollars for the film and prompted more creative and economical decisions.

The cast is very funny here, Rina Takeda delivers a very watchable performance as Kieko and Shigeru Matsuzaki as the gardener Sawada steals pretty much every scene he is in. The killer sushi itself is almost all done with practical effects work, with some cheesy CG in parts that only serves to add to the overall goofiness of the film. One scene in particular, a character transformation scene is pretty hilarious. Iguchi even plays off his own past when a character onscreen at one point screams ‘things have reached the point where they literally make no sense’. The homage to Gremlins with a bullied and dejected Gizmo like piece of Egg Sushi is entertaining throughout. The film is set and takes place mainly in the one great looking location of the resort and a few rooms within, which I assume cut down production costs as well, and the settings look very authentic here.

Iguchi’s creativity has been enhanced here by having to stick within budgetary constraints. The film is definitely something that plays better with a lively Toronto After Dark crowd, but is inventive enough that it should hold up on repeat viewings as well. Dead Sushi is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

Follow me directly on twitter @moviejunkieto and by liking my Facebook page at Movie Junkie TO

Email me at moviejunkieto@gmail.com

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