by LORRAINE CARPENTER,
and ALEX ROSE
Friday, July 27
Sons of Norway
The coming-of-age film is one of the more predictable subgenres: after all, almost all of them must inevitably end with the protagonist coming of age. Jens Lien’s Sons of Norway joins the well-trod ranks of the genre by depicting the life of a young would-be Norwegian punk. While Lien’s approach is heartfelt, the tale of angst, gobbing on the straights and finding yourself is resoundingly familiar.
Young Nikolaj (Asmond Hoeg) grows up in Norway with hippy-dippy liberal parents who buy him Iggy Pop records and serve an all-banana Christmas meal. When his mother is killed in a car accident, Nikolaj moves away from his David Cassidy haircut and floral-print shirts right into fanatical worship of Johnny Rotten, vandalism and hanging out with speed-sniffing older kids. Sinking deeper and deeper into depression, Nikolaj’s bearded, pipe-smoking father (Sven Nordin) slowly begins to warm up to the take-no-prisoners attitude of the punk lifestyle.
Despite clocking in at less than 90 minutes, Sons of Norway seems overly padded with vignettes that never really add up to a whole. Although it’s refreshing to see an ostensibly dramatic film about punk that doesn’t wallow in gloom and overdoses (Norway’s sunnier than London, if nothing else), Sons of Norway is all over the place tonally. The funny parts aren’t very funny and whenever the film tries to rein it in for an emotional moment, it sticks out like a sore thumb. If it wasn’t for the egregious cameo by producer/object of the film’s worship Johnny Rotten, there wouldn’t be much to set Sons of Norway apart. (AR) 5:40 p.m., J.A. De Sève Theatre (1400 de Maisonneuve W.)
Just as royalists cling to the idea that monarchies make sense, so many people’s assumptions about British culture are little more than outdated clichés, if not outright myths. Refinement, manners, breeding, beauty, tea, crumpets. Oh, right. Tell it to the butt-ugly football thug throwing a brick through a store window, or stabbing kids at a kebab stand.
So picture what you imagine to be the English countryside. Now picture it covered in blood and feces, populated by buck-toothed, porcine yobs. No, it’s not the royals, it’s Inbred, a British take on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a soupçon of Deliverance.
The premise is basic: A pack of young Mancunians and two middle-aged supervisors head for a cabin in Yorkshire to pay their dues: community service to compensate for various petty crimes. They almost literally run into some grotesque bumpkins, whose threatening behaviour is met with appropriate resistance. But when one of the supervisors injures himself and is hauled to the Dirty Hole pub for care, Britain’s most fucked up vaudeville show gets underway.
With its wall-to-wall menace, ultra-violence, cartoon gore and dabs of comic relief, this one is sure to get Fantasia audiences screaming and cheering, and with good reason. It’s a tight genre film full of surprises. (LC) 11:55 p.m., Hall Theatre (1455 de Maisonneuve W.)
Saturday, July 28
Errors of the Human Body
Eron Sheean’s spare, slow-burning science-fiction thriller is not the kind of film that lends itself to easy categorization. Shades of David Cronenberg and Vincenzo Natali’s Splice are present in its sterile, academic setting and undertones of body horror, but this is a far moodier affair than its themes of genetic mutation might lead one to believe.
Scientist Geoffrey Burton (Michael Eklund) is a specialist in the field of genetic mutations, more specifically in the detection of mutations in unborn fetuses. He hopes to find out what causes said mutations in the womb so that life-altering birth defects can be detected and eliminated, thus preventing the reappearance of the syndrome that killed his infant son. He arrives in Germany to pursue his research and soon becomes interested in the not-particularly-legal research of a creepy colleague (Tomas Lemarquis). His curiosity gets the best of him and he eventually finds himself physically, mentally and genetically in over his head.
I’m certainly no scientist; the science contained in Errors of the Human Body may well be exactly the type of nonsense they use to explain away zombies, the X-Men, the state of Mickey Rourke’s face and any number of other genetically-altered film staples. But it feels real and organic in this film, never like a half-assed way to justify outlandish make-up effects and gore (of which there is surprisingly little). It’s easy to picture the familiar potboiler that Sheean could have made (probably starring Gerard Butler), but Errors of the Human Body sidesteps that familiarity to deliver a taut and engaging thriller. (AR) Saturday, July 28, 7:05 p.m. and Tuesday, July 31, 1:20 p.m., J.A. De Sève Theatre
This Taiwanese production is an exploitation flick at heart, full of nudity, sex, violence, gun play and heavy, heavy metal. But it has its tender side, relayed in emo slow motion, and social import, embedded in the atomic explanation for the zombie epidemic and the anti-nuke protest posters showcased in one scene. Does it work? Or is the contrast jarring and ridiculous?
Well, it all depends how much schmaltz and self-indulgence you can stomach. There’s half-naked-lady torture one minute, and lost children and sentimental music the next, backed by a hearty dose of zombie clichés. The director and producer cast themselves as sadists and heroes, respectively, though the line between the two is blurred, to say the least.
With its crazy kills and ample flesh, Zombie 108 pushes a lot of the appropriate sex/horror buttons, but ultimately its lack of focus quashes the thrill it needs to succeed. (LC) 11:55 p.m., J.A. De Sève Theatre
Sunday, July 29
The Warped Forest
Oozing penis guns. Vagina fruit. Nipple sucking fluff monsters. These are only a handful of the twisted… um, delights to be found in Shunichiro Miki’s hallucinogenic The Warped Forest, a spiritual continuation of the work the director began in the 2005 anthology film Funky Forest: The First Contact.
In our bland, black and white world, three young students, three older men and three sisters zap in and out of reality. In another time and place they flash into vivid colour amongst very tiny people and fun-fur sex monsters, where they sleep in seemingly sentient vegetable pods and always scheme to “dream-tinker” their way to true happiness. But, as you can imagine, all is not right within the topsy-turvy nether-land down the rabbit hole. Illness (if you can call being covered in gaping anus-wounds an illness), thankless jobs and unrequited love abound, as in our world. Can the hovering onyx obelisk in the sky answer their prayers or does domestic bliss lie within the genital fruits picked from naked lady trees?
The Warped Forest isn’t for everyone, as is readily apparent from the description above. It meanders and languishes in scenes that hold no bearing on story or character, giving more weight to the multitudinous uses for and means of consuming/pleasuring scandalous foods than to any semblance of plot. It doesn’t make a lot of sense but it looks great. If you ever wondered what a Cronenberg film would be like through the bright, primary-colour-lens of a Saturday morning cartoon, this is your boy. (BF) Director Miki and producer Mayumi Miki will be in attendance to host the presentation of the film. 7:10 p.m., Hall Theatre