Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another Hole In The Head, 2009 - Day 1

Another Hole In The Head, two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, runs June 5th through June 18th, with screenings at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th Street (at Valencia) and live performances and events at CellSpace (2050 Bryant) and Great Star Theater (630 Jackson). Tickets and additional info at WWW.SFINDIE.COM.

SF IndieFest launches another year of "two weeks of sci-fi, horror and fantasy" with the annual Another Hole In The Head, on Friday, June 5th, beginning with an appetizer, moving on to a Main Course, and then desert and a midnight munchie!

The day begins with MONSTERS FROM THE ID (dir. David Gargani, US, 2008, 70 mins.), a documentary which attempts to unscramble the chicken-or-the-egg question: does science fiction inspire science or vice versa? It focuses on the films of the 1950s from a scientific standpoint, not a sociological or political one. In other words, the sci-fi of the 50's was inspired by the atomic age and not necessarily the arms race or McCarthyism. It also proposes that it inspired the generation of scientists that led the space age.

This thesis is all well and good. However, the film acknowledges the socio-political upheavals of the 60's/70's, without referencing back to the foundations of that protest. In other words, the subject really is larger than the seventy minutes that this fun little doc can do justice to. It is filled - FILLED - with some great clips of some classic films! (The licensing alone must have cost a mint!) The gathered experts and speakers were unknown to me, for the most part. But if you are way into physics, etc., you may recognize some of them. For the most part, if you don't think about it too much, or dissect too closely (which is sort of ironic), then this is a really nice way to launch two weeks of sci-fi/horror/etc.

It is accompanied by the short, EAT ME (dir. Victor Bonacore, US, 2009, 10 mins.), in which a pair of zombies in love, have a delicious little picnic. As it were. It is filmed in glorious B-Movie black and white, and has a naivete' in production and performance.

The Official Opening Night presentation is CROWS: EPISODE ZERO (dir. Takashi Miike, Japan, 2008, 130 mins.), which is probably the glossiest, if not most polished film of the festival. The ever prolific Takashi Miike (he is represented in this fest by two films) has adapted the manga into a beautiful, if nearly epic tale. In fact, I must admit in the spirit of full disclosure, I did not finish this film. Though I could appreciate the production values, I am just not enough of a manga fan to be able or interested enough to follow the huge cast of Japanese teenage Yakuza. In an odd way, it was becoming a mixture of THE OUTSIDERS meets BRAVEHEART to me, and I just wasn't engaged, though I was fully appreciative of Miike's great visuals and it had an athletic pacing that would normally keep me engaged. However, I do plan on giving it another try during the actual run of the festival, when I can devote my attention to the entire 130 minutes, without feeling rushed to move on to the next piece.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicCOMING SOON (dir. Sopon Sukdapisit, Thailand, 2009, 90 mins.) is another excellent way to begin a festival. Though not nearly as polished as the preceding film, it is so thematically appropriate (a horror film, within a horror film), it's a no-brainer for an opening day selection. Director Sopon Sukdapisit has an excellent pace and editing rhythm. The cinematography is not bad either. The screenplay, taken as a whole, is fairly clever and surprisingly involved, and it gets "bonus points" for being nondiscriminatory in age or gender, as far as the selection of victims is concerned! (No child is safe!) I won't even hint at a synopsis here, as nearly any scene is a spoiler! If it weren't for the ever twisting series of events and plot, I would have laughed at the film, or even walked out on it, based on the performances alone. The performances are nearly amateurish, so it is hard to say whether dialogue was cut or scenes were edited or perhaps I was missing the joke in translation, but they went beyond laughable, to painful. The dialogue is nearly mind numbingly inept. If I heard the lead actress scream the name "Shane!" One. More. Time! I was going to start screaming back! That said, the film's ending has a self-referential glee to it, that a lot of its "sins" can be forgiven. (It is the only selection that will be on 35mm celluloid! The rest of the festival is digital.)

Preceding the feature is the hysterical MACHINE GIRL LITE (aka SHYNESS MACHINE GIRL, also THE HAJIRAI MACHINE GIRL) (dir. Noboru Iguchi, Japan, 2008, 22 mins.). I LOVED this, in spite of the fact that I know nothing about "Machine Girl", which it seems to be a satire of. Well, "satire" is too polite. Where "Machine Girl" apparently has an outrageous gun for an arm, "Shyness Machine Girl" has a weapon attached to... well... Somewhere else! This short film is worth the price of admission to the feature!

The final flick of the night is a "pink film", the genre of which proved to be extremely successful at this year's SF Indiefest. (Pink film (Pinku eiga or Pink eiga) is basically Japanese softcore pornographic film.) SILENCE OF THE SUSHI ROLLS [SEXY S.W.A.T.TEAM 2] (dir. Mototsugu Watanabe, Japan, 2002, 61 mins.) is a really twisted, pornographic, ninja version of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Yes, that's right. "Claire" has to enlist "Dr. Nectar" to help her solve the case of a molester. It involves an intrauterine device that incapacitates the victim, and, well, I'll just stop there. The film is a relatively painless hour, though, personally, I would suggest a "pass" on this to rest up for the rest of the fest and catch the second 'pink film' of the festival (NINJA PUSSY CAT), that screens later in the week, and which this pales in comparison to.

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