First screening today was Andrew Lau's Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010) featuring Donnie Yen. I'm fairly certain that Donnie Yen is featured in more movies at this year's Fantastic Fest more than any other actor. Anthony Wong and Shu Qi play major roles and both are pretty good altho I didn't buy Qi's character arc. This is another solid period piece that's heavier on the drama than action but a nice film to ease into the day. 6.8/10
Next up was the Serbian film Mladen Djordjevic's The Life and Death of a Porno Gang (2009). Having not seen A Serbian Film yet I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. It's actually a pretty good flick about a travelling sex cabaret that ultimately gets caught up in making snuff films on the side to earn money. Really wasn't sure where this movie would go so it made for a compelling watch. 6.6/10
Interesting that for both of those first two screenings I sat next Omar Orn Hauksson, one of the writers for Unholy Night, a Finnish Christmas horror short (it screened just before Rare Exports yesterday). Decent little film but definitely needs a full feature treatment.
For my 6pm slot I watched the much raved about Carancho (2010). This Argentine film directed by Pablo Trapero turned out to be my biggest disappointment of the day. I'm sure it was my expectations of thinking it would be something else along with the hype (the moderator even said it was his favorite of the festival). It's a competent film but I found it generally boring and uninspired. In summary, it's about fake insurance claims to get easy cash that spins into a thriller as the main protagonist (played by the very capable Ricardo Darín) goes against those running the racket. Martina Gusman is quite attractive to watch onscreen but otherwise this didn't work for me. 5.8/10
Now it was time for the film that I've been anticipating the more than possibly any other film at this festival: The Last Circus (2010) a.k.a. The Sad Trumpet Ballad. Directed by Álex de la Iglesia this film had a lot of buzz from those that saw it at the press screening (Jacob Hall was raving about it) and it surpassed my expectations. In a nutshell it's a Spanish film that takes begins in 1937 Spain during the Spanish Civil War then kicks up to the 1960s as it centers around a circus and its performers. The main focus is a love triangle between two clowns and a beautiful rope performer. It's not a movie that's easy to describe as there are many layers including the symbolism from the Franco dictatorship as well as throwbacks to classic Universal Monster movies. All I can say is that it should be watched. It's an extraordinary film. Both Iglesia and the stunning Carolina Bang were there for the intro and Q&A afterwards (I thanked Iglesia for making such an incredible film). The cinematography is simply gorgeous that I can't want to have a blu-ray and watch again. 8.5/10
Routinely exhausted by the last slot I was glad that it was Takeshi Koike's big screen color explosion Redline (2010). This is an anime feature about futuristic racers as they compete in the biggest race for all the glory. Heard a lot of great things about this going in but I gotta say that it wasn't that impressive to me. Maybe because I've seen a lot of anime I didn't think this was anything new or revolutionary. Plus I was tired as all hell. Maybe I'll watch it again under better conditions. 6.4/10
That concludes my 2nd to last day... I walked back to the hotel tonight. 31 Films watched, 1 shorts program, 2 events. Only 1 day left!
Next: Fantastic Fest Day Eight - Last Day!
Previous: Fantastic Fest Day Six
- September New: 75
- September Re-watch: 0
- September Total: 75
- 2010 TOTAL: 582