Fantasia: Aug. 6

Hong Kong comedy Vulgaria delivers its gross-out gags mostly offscreen, and Jennifer Lynch goes to Bollywood in Despite the Gods.





Blowjobs with hot rocks, man-on-mule sex and film producer/pubic hair metaphors  — that’s about as vulgar as this Hong Kong flick gets. Yeah, some of that may sound risqué, even taboo, but it’s all unseen. Not that you’d want to see it. The bestiality part anyway.

Despite not fully delivering on its trailer’s promise to shock and disgust, Vulgaria will pull you in with its quick, dark comedy. The narrative framework is a film producer’s inappropriately candid, casual lecture at a university, a perplexing spiel for prof and students alike, flashing back to sordid stories about B-movie production. These include an investor (and crime boss) forcing him to stick it to a mule, and to cast a near-senior citizen in the lead role of a ridiculous porno.

It’s a romp, but one with an odd tonal balance. The producer’s buffoonery is offset by pathos: he’s got a shitty ex-wife, shitty female co-workers and a stern investigator of a bogus sexual harassment charge. His young daughter is the only girl in his life worth a damn. Except for the one with the hot rocks. (LC) 7:45 p.m., Hall Theatre (1455 Maisonneuve W.)


Despite the Gods

Controversial director Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena) was hired to direct a film in India — a feminist adaptation of a scary folk tale about a snake goddess. Penny Vozniak, brought on board to document the shoot for a making-of video, ended up sticking around and chronicling the insanity of the production, along with Lynch’s unconcealed emotional turmoil, ending up with this documentary.

Fantasia’s Mitch Davis has compared Despite the Gods to Lost in La Mancha, the doc about Terry Gilliam’s doomed attempt to film Don Quixote. I remember watching Lost in La Mancha in the theatre and, as a filmmaker, cringing with horror while the rest of the audience laughed at Gilliam’s travails. A similar feeling of sympathetic doom frequently recurred during Despite the Gods. But unlike Gilliam, who throughout La Mancha puts on a brave face of carrying on against the odds, Lynch wears her insecurities on her sleeve as she struggles to establish her directorial authority in a film industry with its own set of rules.

The story as told here has a few holes (which Lynch has attributed to her Bollywood producers’ refusal to allow Vozniak to include certain parts of her footage). But otherwise, this is a compelling tale of culture shock and a fascinatingly frank character study of the lovably eccentric and uninhibited Lynch. (MF) 3:25 p.m., J.A. De Sève Theatre (1400 Maisonneuve W.) Read our interview with Jennifer Lynch here.


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