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Fantasia Film Fest: Part VI

Dragon Head (Joji Iida, Japan, 2003)

Bigger is definitely better. Japanese monsters are bigger, their earthquakes are bigger and when the world ends in a Japanese movie, it really ends. Dragon Head ain’t some sissy small American meteorite movie. The film which is based on a very popular manga of the same name begins when a young student regains consciousness after a train wreck in a tunnel which collapsed during the accident. He and a girl seem to be the only survivors and they will try to get out the tunnel to find out what the heck happened. Little do they know that the world really has ended. Think of it as a road movie except that all the roads have been destroyed by a strange natural phenomenon. The post-apocalyptic imagery and the numerous CGI sequences are simply amazing. The film seems a bit long and if it would have reached a bit further in terms of the various symbolic elements in the film—the visions the main character has of an ancient warrior and the two brainless twins boys—then it would have certainly been a more interesting watch. However, Iida’s latest film after a series of dark horror films is an enthralling metaphor about normal human behaviors, fears, and social structures, which have all vanished subsequent to the catastrophe.

La Dernière Incarnation (Demian Fuica, Québec, 2005)

One of the very few films presented in French at the festival and Fuica’s first feature film, La Dernière incarnation is an enjoyable comedy of epic proportions set in the Quebec Laurentians. Everything goes well for Marc-André (a geek) and his girlfriend until a Mesopotamian man comes to the present to avenge the death of his family which was killed some 5000 years ago by Marc-André in one of his many previous lives. It’s payback time! Sounds silly? Wait till you see the neighbor from France who can’t seem to keep his mouth shut for more that 2 seconds; he is simply freaking hilarious. Every single time he said something I literally laughed my ass off. This film reminded me Dungeonmaster in which an evil wizard took a geek and his girlfriend hostage to make them go through a series of tests to prove their strengths. I don’t know why, but it seems geek attract evil forces! Unlike Dungeonmaster which was a b-movie experiment that failed, La Dernière incarnation works very well. It is rather audacious and very refreshing given the fact that fantastic comedies are rare in Quebec and that genre films somewhat difficult to put together. La Dernière incarnation will hit local theaters in mid-August.

— La Dernière incarnation will play only once at Fantasia on July 25 at 7:30PM.

Otakus In Love (Matsuo Suzuki, Japan, 2004)

There are many romantic comedies made each year, but only a few are genuinely original. Otakus In Love, Matsuo Suzuki’s first film, is one of them. Based on a popular manga, the story revolves around a young wannabe manga artist called Aoki (played by Ryuhei Matsuda who was once an androgynous gay samurai in Gohatto) who draws on rocks and has a profound addiction for them, and his girlfriend who was a successful manga artist in the past. During the course of the film, as their relationship intensifies, they meet a series of odd and eccentric characters which will guide them to achieve their goals in life—namely pay their rent at the end of the month! The film’s twisted plot construction is similar to the one of Collage of Our Life, which is also starring Ryuhei Matsuda. Incidentally, if you like Otakus In Loveyou should definitely check out Collage of Our Life. Although the film has some plot holes and that some scenes aren’t quite successful, Otakus In Loveis surprisingly good for a first film and it even features a memorable musical number which you won’t forget any time soon. It also features a character played by Takashi Miike!

Izo (Takashi Miike, Japan, 2004)

I must admit I’m not that familiar with Miike’s work; I’ve only seen Deadly Outlaw: Rekka and One Missed Call 1, both of which I hated. I was very hesitant to see Izo. However, since everybody I talked to seemed to have hated it, I decided to watch it (yeah, it happens sometimes). I can’t compare the film to Miike’s previous arty films, but I must say I liked Izo—and I’m not alone; the film was selected as the best Japanese film made in 2004 over at It’s not a fun film to watch by any means, but it’s nonetheless very interesting thematically.

I can’t really describe the plot of the film since there isn’t any per se, other than some nonstop senseless killing, but I like to think about Izo as being the opposite of 2046. Where as 2046 is a romantic sci-fi film that includes several romantic/love scenes spanning over several centuries, Izo is a hate fantasy film that includes several murders/slaughters spanning over several centuries. Definitely Miike has things to say and he gets to say them in a very original way in this film making Izo an arousing experiment that, while it’s difficult to watch, proves to be very intelligent filmmaking in how it touches upon social problems, violence and our perception of violence.

Fantasia Film Festival: Part V
Fantasia Film Festival: Part IV
Fantasia Film Festival: Part III
Fantasia Film Festival: Part II
Fantasia Film Festival: Guests
Fantasia Film Festival: Intro

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