Sunday, July 11, 2010
Fantasia Day 4 - Da Sève and Clash
Fantasia takes place primarily in two theatres on the Concordia campus, the large and slightly beat-up Hall theatre on the north side of Maisonneuve and the smaller and slightly modern J.A. de Sève on the south side. Da Seve, as I like to call it, also has a very different vibe. The room feels more academic. It's a good atmosphere for movies where there may be a presenter who is an expert in something, for instance when artist Steve Bissette came to do a talk on early 20th century Japanese horror art or an expert on Taiwanese exploitation cinema presented a rare copy of (oh dang, I can't remember the name now, but it was an awesome rape revenge flick from the '70s).
(It may look about the same size as my other lame, grainy photos of the inside of the Hall building, but what you see here is almost the entire theatre, whereas the Hall it was only about a sixth or less that was visible.)
Movies that are in Da Seve, as I like to call it, tend to be either targetted to a smaller niche or mediocre (well really I should say not as good as you might expect). You can often sift through the excessive optimism in the program text based on which theatre the movie is playing in. Clash is a perfect example of that. It's a Vietnamese action film from the team who did far superior The Rebel (Interestingly, a friend told me that The Rebel was shown in da Seve last year as well, which I would consider an error now).
It was entertaining, but unfortunately pretty standard, with a bare bones plot involving an ass-kicking woman forced to do jobs for a crime boss in whose hands rests the life of her daughter. She teams up, unknowingly of course, with an undercover cop. The action comes pretty consistently, often with a hilariously inaccurate bunch of gunfire before we can move into the hand-to-hand stuff. The combat isn't bad and there is some neat chin-na and leg-locking, but it never really explodes. The whole thing is kind of dour and grim as well, with the tired operatic chorus singing over every other scene. The main actress is quite beautiful and she is interesting in that she has a model's body but seems to have some pretty impressive kung fu. Usually that kind of skininess doesn't mix with the martial arts, but she does seem to be the real deal.
Ironically, though it earned its place in da Seve, Clash would have been much more fun in the Hall building. The audience was dead, barely able to even muster applause at the end and with no reaction to the highly stimulating full length preview for Ip Man 2. At least in the Hall we would have had some screaming and yelling.
Up next is a 10:00 showing of I Spit on your Grave. I am really not a fan of cruelty and rape in movies, so I am quite nervous about this one. My wife watched the original last night on video. I had planned to do it, but thought I had a bit more time before the Fantasia screening of the remake. I may be glad I didn't, because she said that she found it equally as harrowing as Last House on the Left. I saw a snippet of that flick when she was watching it and heard some of the sound track and it was enough to leave a queezy feeling in my gut for days. It's something about the low-budget grittiness of those true '70s grindhouse movies that really freaks my shit out. I suspect that the remake of I Spit on your Grave will be easier to take for me, simpy because of its polish. And we'll see if they pull any punches as they did in the remake of Last House on the Left.