Sunday, October 17, 2004

Boston Fantastic Film Festival report

just had to make another push for everyone to go see ONG BAK: THE THAI WARRIOR.

if you like action flicks at all YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE! it's playing at the brattle on sunday at 5pm and monday at 10pm.

watching this movie i kept having flashes to the first time i saw DRUNKEN MASTER 2, jackie chan's all-time best action movie. this movie really is the best NEW action flick i've seen in maybe ten years. "new" may not be completely accurate tho...maybe "fresh" is more what i'm looking for. at least in an environment when most action movies keep trying to out-matrix the matrix, y'know? in ONG BAK you get to see a super-fast super-agile young star throwing around some acrobatic AND hardhitting moves (no digital enhancements, MAYbe some wirework, altho i don't remember thinking there was any when i was watching) that are relatively unfamiliar on the big screen in the states. i wonder that arcade and console tekken/street fighter type game players may know some of his moves from marquee game characters...

anyhow, the kid-star (i don't know any specifics about him, but he LOOKS young) is physically amazing, leaping, bounding, and pounding - as lucy liu described bender in an episode of FUTURAMA, "like jackie chan before he got all doughy." his choreography rocks. his acting is decent. he may need some serious voice-coaching to make it in the states in a big way, but i think his physical prowess will get him a good start if he wants it.

it's got that action/porn formula going, so don't expect anything too sophisticated in the way of plot. there's just enough there for an excuse to get our hero from one chase or fight scene to the next. in between there's actually more character development than most would expect, altho it can happen fast cuz if you've seen a lot of action flicks, you recognize the archetypes and can fill in the blanks pretty quick - the heartless mob boss, the screw-up punk gangster, the well-meaning loser, and so on...there's a good mix-in of laughs.

oh, it's subtitled, so you'll hafta read. i know, i know, at an ACTION MOVIE? it's worth it.

see this. it's good crack.

also, check out the descriptions of the other horror/sci-fi flicks playing on these last two days of the fantastic film festival. and scan the brattle calendar (link at top left of their home page) to see what's coming. they get some really great movies there.

keep on keepin on~

flicks i've seen at the BFFF so far...

feckin brilliant! it should be out this winter in the states courtesy of miramax. stars the hong kong highlander (seemingly immortal and never aging) actors tony leung and andy lau. hong kong cops vs. gangsters film. each side has a deep-cover mole planted in their opponent's camp. when the police close in on the gang boss, he sets out to flush out the double-agent, just as the police superintendent begins to suspect one of his own. it's a very smart cat-and-mouse game that sets up a dozen or so great intense confrontations. see it in its original form, before quentin or some tarentino worshipper rips it off and ruins it.

a TON of stylish action fun. i think it's available on dvd now - look for it. y'know the porn/action formula i mentioned earlier? the same applies here, but it's amped up. the out-matrixing also applies here, only this movie may actually do it (in the style and fighting departments, not the plot, character, or philosophy ones). along the way it also rips off at least a half-dozen big budget action flicks and excellent video games. but it does so with respect.

based on a japanese graphic novel/manga series, the action kicks off when a death row convict survives his electrocution. declared legally dead, he can choose between another go in the chair or volunteering to be a test subject for a super-secret government project. he chooses to join the project and finds himself bunking with another death row survivor in a high-tech observation chamber. both of them are subjected to psychological abuse that all seems aimed to pit them against one another in physical combat. as the movie progresses, you find that the real purpose behind the manipulation is far more complex, bizarre, and high-stakes than a simple deathmatch.

gorgeous movie adapation of a children's book from england. great cast of children and adults (a zany eccentric kenneth brannaugh) and...umm...creatures (conjured by team henson and voiced by comedian eddie izzard). the set-up and storytelling reminds one a bit of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. five brothers and sisters are evacuated from london during world war one, sent to live with their uncle and cousin in the country. during their stay they trespass into the one part of the uncles mansion that is forbidden and discover a very odd fairy. having been found, he will grant the children their wishes, but, as is the way in wish-making, there are unforeseen consequences to desire fulfilled. eddie izzard turns out to make an excellent fairy! his off-the-fairy-cuff dialogue, along with the wonderfully written sharp-witted children and absent-minded professor uncle, provide entertainment for ages 5 thru 55. very fun and sweet stuff.

based on the manga series by masamune shirow, the creator of GHOST IN THE SHELL, this cutting-edge "anime" is bee-yoo-tiful. the thoughtful use of the technology behind its making sets it apart from pure-cg animated flicks (a la FINAL FANTASY - oh, you should've gone with a dumber plot and dumber ideas), and cel animation combined with cg (stuff like GUNDAM SEED...if you like animation, you've seen it around). judging by the look and style of the final product, everything, characters and environments, is modelled and animated with computer assistance, but the way humans are RENDERED by the computer is different from the way inanimate objects and their surroundings are. environmental features, like skyscrapers and vehicles and the ocean, are all treated as real/photo-real, as everything in the movie FINAL FANTASY is, while characters, are treated as inked and painted, using some kind of smart rendering algorithm, maybe supported with some human hands for touch-ups.

sorry if all of that hackish mumbo-jumbo doesn't clear anything up. bottom-line, this is some beautiful animation used to tell a decent post-apocolypse story that features some perfectly "shot" action and battle scenes. if you're an anime fan, you will want to see this.

the brattle staff is pretty certain that the screening this evening was the only u.s. showing of the original in japanese and subtitled in english. the film is slated for an english dub and american release in the near future.