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Another reason I don’t like sports

At San Francisco Indie Fest, we screened MAD COWGIRL opposite the Superbowl. Here in Calgary, they screened it opposite the hometown hockey team in the playoffs. Needless to say, we did not sell out. I think, and hope, that those who came did like it. But I didn’t do a Q&A, as there was no-one left when the lights came up.

MVP of the night: my cousin Alex, who hitchhiked his way down from the mountains to come see the movie.

In other notes:

I thought “sashimi” always meant raw, so when I found a sushi place in Chinatown (yeah, yeah, I know, but there is no Japantown here, so it seems like all the local Asians set up digs there) that offered tako sashimi, I was psyched. Raw octopus!

I asked the waitress if it was alive or dead. Her response: “It come in six piece.”

Fine, whatever. Either way would be new. But it turned out to be the same cooked stuff you get everywhere. My usual rule of sushi turned out to be correct — if the ginger’s dyed pink, the sucshi might stink.

Another sushi place kinda lied to me — they had this picture menu in the window with all kinds of exotic stuff like cockles and various varieties of clam — but inside, turns out they don’t even carry uni because it isn’t popular — just the usual tuna, salmon, mackerel, yellowtail. On the plus side, what they did serve was quality stuff. And no pink dye in the ginger.

One of the most bass-ackwards things I’ve ever heard is that in Alberta, the rule about smoking in restaurants is that you must do it INSIDE — it’s banned on outdoor patios! Now, I’m no fan of smoking at all, but if you must have mixed-use, it seems to me it’s far worse health-wise in an enclosed space. Word is Alberta is the last province to ban smoking in restauarants and bars altogether, and that the full ban’s coming soon, though if they can’t even smoke on patios it’ll be tougher than California. MOntreal allowed smoking in restaurants when I was there, so they must’ve recently converted.

urban Canadian shopping malls — Vancouver, Montreal, and here — are all massive, spanning several city blocks, and have no stores of any interest to me whatsoever. No toy stores, no Hot Topic equivalent, no Suncoast, but lots and lots of drugstores. Within malls and on every block.

Booze is tough to find. Liquor stores are allowed to stay open until 2 a.m., but most of them don’t choose to do that. And there aren’t a whole lot of them, though the ones that you can find tend to have large selections, and even free samples sometimes.

A couple of quick-take film-fest reviews after the jump:

SAINT-MARTYRS-DES-DAMNES

A French-Canadian mindfuck horror flick in the tradition of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and TWIN PEAKS, wherein an outsider comes to a strange small town lookign for a missing person, and finds that everything is all weird and creepy and stuff. In this case, our lead is Flavien (Francois Chenier), a reporter for a Weekly World News-type paper, sent by his boss to investigate their first lead in a long time that seems to actually have a basis in truth. After a few startling visions of ghosts, Flaviena nd his photgrapher make it to the town, which is named “St. Martyrs of the Damned” (who in their right mind would move to such a town?), and the photographer mysteriously disappears. The rest fo the movie concerns Flavien’s search to find him, and uncover the meaning of the ghost and the town’s terrible secret (two separate issues, as it turns out). But he also takes time out to fall in love.

For the first hour, I thought this was the best movie I’d seen all year. At the hour and a half mark, with Flavien seemingly forgetting his quest and frolicking with a pretty young woman, I was wondering if things would ever wrap up. And there’s almost another half hour after that. Plus the fact that the ghost subplot is much less relevant than you think it’s gonna be.

I’d like to take a shot at remaking this. Some tightening up and it could be great. Right now it’s too long and too sprawling, with a payoff that doesn’t seem like it really explains everythign the way it seems like it’s supposed to. Confused by that sentence? So was I.

NIGHTMARE

The imdb listing for this film is maddeningly unclear, so I can’t give you quite the detail on character and actor names as I’d like. But the mvoie overall is like SAINT-MARTYRS in that it has a great premise that it convolutes too much. Oh yeah, and it has one big fucking warning sign attached to it in that it’s about film students. I know the rule is “write what you know”; the movie itself emphasizes that. But film students are seldom as fascinating as they think they are.

So anyway, an arrogant hotshot film student meets a totally hot and confrontational babe at a party, and they get it on. Love the sex scene, and the many nude scenes taht follow — there’s a real lack of inhibition to them that you wouldn’t see in a studio film, and the female lead is a natural beauty. The two wake up the next day in a strange bed, with a video camera pointed at them. They play the tape that’s in the camera, and it shows them committing murders. Yet there is no evidence of the crimes anywhere, and neither one of them rememebers it happening.

It’s a good set up, and the fact that new tapes keep surfacing and our male lead keeps waking up in increasingly strange places ratchets up the tension. But what kills it is the postmodern touch — our “hero,” after the first night, immediately goes and pitches what actually happened as his next student film. So as he’s undergoign these horro-movie circumstances, he is simultaneously making a movie about them — with his paramour in the lead role, though she also took part in the real events. As the line between the fake film and what is actually happening blurs, things spiral out of control, nto just for the characters but for the movie itself — it seems like director Dylan Bank is losing track of what is and isn’t supposed to be the film’s reality. He also utilizes a lot of handheld stuff that’s so shaky it’s almost impossible to tell what we’re seeing. Even the intial tape isn’t clear, until the characters actually say something like “Hey, we’re shown murdering three people on that tape.” The cinematography is more caffeinated than BLAIR WITCH.

The actors are all good, especially the female lead, and an intense character named Omar, but not having press notes or a decent imdb listing, I can’t really tell you who they are.

One more review to go, for the movie FILM GEEK. Maybe tomorrow.

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