Fantasia: Aug. 7

Vice Films brings Harmony Korine and Val Kilmer together at last for random but interesting compilation The Fourth Dimension, and Korean child-abuse drama Silenced is harsh but compelling.

The Fourth Dimension

Based on a series of Dogme 95-like rules defined by Vice Films honcho Eddy Moretti, The Fourth Dimension is an omnibus film that gathers three shorts based loosely around the theme of the fourth dimension. Despite being informed by the same set of guidelines, the three resulting mini-movies have very little to do with each other, and the effect of the film as a cohesive whole (rather than any festival-assembled shorts program) is muted.

In Harmony Korine’s The Lotus Community Workshop, Val Kilmer stars as a grotesque version of himself, a movie star turned low-wattage bowling alley motivational speaker. In Russian director Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Chronoeye, a sad-sack scientist attempts to construct a time machine despite the constant thumping coming from his comely upstairs neighbour’s place. The final film, Fawns, from Polish director Jan Kwiecinski, follows four young people as they wander aimlessly through a town that has been evacuated due to an imminent flood.

Since the manifesto centers on specific plot aspects and broad thematic elements, the shorts have little to do with each other, and the whole film adds up to less than the sum of its parts. As stand-alones, the shorts are good if somewhat obtuse, but one gets the feeling that they’d probably have more impact taken separately.

Korine’s segment is probably the most memorable, featuring a tour-de-nuts performance by Kilmer, who spends half the movie spouting nonsensical motivational speeches (and is credited with the movie’s theme, a minimalist AutoTune ditty) and the other half riding a BMX with Korine’s wife Rachel, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a fanny pack. The Fouth Dimension is not as interesting or groundbreaking as its manifesto may suggest, but taken as a series of disparate shorts, it’s worth a look. 5:15, J.A. De Sève Theatre (1400 Maisonneuve W.)



South Korea’s reputation for extreme cinema evidently does not limit itself to brutal crime thrillers. Silenced is a harrowing true-life drama about child abuse that contains as many cringe-inducing, disturbing moments as any revenge thriller.

Gang In-ho is a Seoul schoolteacher who accepts a job in a small-town school for the deaf in order to get money for his daughter’s surgery. He’s barely set foot in the school when he butts heads with the administration, who request a hefty tax from him to even be allowed to work there. Things get stratospherically worse when he begins witnessing acts of physical and sexual abuse of children by various authority figures. When In-ho and social worker Seo Yu-jin decide to bring the perpetrators to justice, they find that even the authorities would rather sweep it all under the rug.

Not exactly a barrel of laughs, as you can imagine.  Although the whole us-against-them legal saga elements are very familiar, director Hwang Dong-yuk doesn’t shy away from the graphic nature of the material. There are scenes that are hard to watch even for the most hardened of horror buffs, but they come in a film that hits a lot of the same beats as your typical Oscar-bait drama. It’s a difficult topic to handle and harder even to handle without going to familiar tropes (string-heavy score, disbelieving naysayers, last-minute evidence), but it’s nonetheless a compelling film about an important subject. 9:45 p.m., J.A. De Sève Theatre (NOTE: this screening is sold out. Check the Fantasia site, as additional screenings of popular films are often added in the fest’s final days.)

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