By MALCOLM FRASER and
The city’s craziest film festival launches tonight, plunging the city into a month-long carnival of chaos. With 160 films and several special events, the programming can be overwhelming to sort through, but the discriminating minds at Cult MTL are dedicated to steering you in the right direction.
GLEE: For Love’s Sake
For Love’s Sake
Insanely prolific and seemingly committed to exploring (and exploding) all genres, Takashi Miike is a natural fit for Fantasia every year. This time around, his latest is the fest’s opening film. Although not available for press screening, For Love’s Sake is typically intriguing, as Miike casts his eccentric eye on the musical romantic comedy. It screens with local animator Patrick Bouchard’s short Bydlo. (MF) Thursday July 19, Concordia Hall Theatre (1455 Maisonneuve W.), 6 p.m.
SUICIDE GAMES: Nakedness Which Wants to Die Too Much
Nakedness Which Wants to Die Too Much
Is Hidenobu Abera Tokyo’s Xavier Dolan? He does triple duty on this debut feature, directing, writing and starring in a movie about the will to live vs. the allure of death. He plays Michiru, a hapless, friendless high school kid who sleeps in a cardboard coffin and horrifies his family with “suicide games,” slicing blood packs on his wrists to feign vein-slashing. He’s tormented by a gang of bullies who humiliate him on the regular, but in the middle of one such episode, a pretty girl called Sayaka comes to his aid, and he’s instantly smitten.
From here, a film that was already dark—though speckled with black humour, romance and stylistic flash—spirals into real bleakness and morbidity. This isn’t the kind of wacky Japanese fare that it appears to be at the outset, despite our protagonist’s profound eccentricity, but a meditation on bullying, alienation and suffering. Luckily, Abera’s strong performance and bold style are compelling enough to offset the despair contagion. He’ll be present at the screening, so give him some hearty Fantasia-style applause. (LC) Friday July 20, , J.A. De Sève Theatre (1400 Maisonneuve W.), 5:20 p.m.
NO JOY: Let’s Make the Teacher Have a Miscarriage Club
Let’s Make the Teacher Have a Miscarriage Club
Screening as a package with Nakedness Which Wants to Die Too Much (both films fall well under the 90-minute mark), this one is even more horrific, especially when you consider that it’s based on real events.
The plot is pretty much right there in the title: a pack of sadistic Japanese schoolgirls, led by the dead-eyed psychopath Mizuki, come up with a series of schemes to abort their teacher’s four-month old fetus. Within minutes, I instantly regretted choosing this title to review—I did select it based on its title and I knew I was in for something extreme, but this was not the over-the-top exploitation film I was expecting. The tone is cold, dry and humourless (trust me, the Japanese could find a way to make this funny), and although the attempt to say more with less is admirable, the film’s minimalist MO makes it feel empty. Also, and sorry if this is a spoiler, but the satisfaction you expect never comes. (LC) Friday, July 20, J.A. De Sève Theatre (1400 Maisonneuve W.), 5:30 p.m.
If It Came From Within
Fantasia indulges its whimsical side with this exhibit imagining “An Alternate History of Canadian Horror.” Canuck filmmakers including Karim Hussain, Bruce McDonald, Lee Demarbre and many more have conceived their own classic Canadian horror flicks, and several like-minded artists have created posters for these imaginary films. (MF) Vernissage Friday, July 20, Cinémathèque Québécoise (335 Maisonneuve E.), 5 p.m. ■