Today at Fantasia

Our critics assess the true story of an infamous, immoral filmmaker and an animated Korean feature grounded in anti-hero realism.

The Creep Behind the Camera
The following films are screening as part of the Fantasia Film Festival, on through Aug. 6.

The Creep Behind the Camera

Typically, the people who have been responsible for the worst movies ever generally fit the stereotype of the ambitious, over-confident rube, fully convinced of their talents but blissfully unaware of the shark tank they’re about to throw themselves into. The resulting embarrassing messes are a goulash of good intentions and ineptitude, but the notoriously toxic The Creeping Terror has something more dangerous at its core. Art Nelson, aka Vic Savage, was exactly the kind of guy who dreamt of making it big in the movie business, but as Pete Schuermann’s semi-doc The Creep Behind the Camera points out, this kind of exuberant ambition and general incompetence don’t mix well with psychopathy.

Nelson (played with manic, angular menace by Josh Philips) is a two-bit loser with an abused wife (Jodi Lynn Thomas) and a couple of neglected children who somehow manages to con professional film people and a befuddled investor in the guise of Marlboro Man William Thourlby into financing what he claims is going to be the biggest and best monster movie ever made. A consummate smooth talker, Nelson is also a substance-abusing, sex-addicted, destructive maniac who spends the better part of two years making a movie in which people are unconvincingly sucked into a mass of latex that looks like a carpet with tentacles. The end product is so terrible and such an incredible mess that it’s barely salvaged. Still, the film has become legend, while its “auteur” has vanished from the history books.

Made for very little money and constructed through reenactments interspersed with talking-head footage, The Creep With the Camera sometimes comes mighty close to being cheesy basic-cable afternoon programming, but Schuermann is invested in making a movie that’s about more than the sum of its subject’s despicable actions. He doesn’t make Nelson into a particularly likeable guy, but he does manage to convey exactly why his skeezy, snake-like charm managed to pull one over on the people around him. Although marred by some wooden supporting performances and some technical inconsistencies (the title cards seem to follow no rule of chronological time, which may or may not be a nod to Nelson’s fundamental ineptitude), The Creep Behind the Camera is a fascinating film. (Alex Rose)

The Creep With the Camera screens today, Thursday, July 31, 5:10 p.m.

the fake

The Fake

What defines a true hero? Is it the value of his deeds or his morals? Or does society choose its own saviours without real regard for the truth? These are the kind of difficult questions posed in the South Korean feature-length animated film, The Fake.

After being away from his wife and daughter, Kim Min-chul (voiced by Yang Ik-june) is back in his small, desolate village, soon to be flooded for the construction of a new dam. Min-chul is not welcome here and is despised by many, including his family, because of his violent and unapologetic behaviour. After getting knocked out in a bar fight by the promoter of the local church, the belligerent anti-hero seeks revenge on his aggressor. Min-chul soon finds that the people working at the church are taking advantage of the parishioners, promising a new refuge outside of the flood area and, of course, a ticket to heaven, in exchange for all their life savings.

Realism in The Fake is predominant, in the unique animation style of Yeon Sang-ho and the blunt approach to themes such as faith, religion and truth. While it’s difficult to root for a protagonist as despicable and hateful as Min-chul, seeing him evolve from the entitled, vengeful maniac to a self-righteous truth teller is interesting, to say the least.

With a set of complex characters who all exist in a world of moral ambiguity, The Fake packs a long list of ethical quandaries into its 101-minute running time. The answers to all of these hard questions do not come easily, and the pessimistic tone of the film probably won’t have you leaving the theatre uplifted, yet it might be one of the most important films you’ll see at Fantasia this year. (Emmanuel Delacour)

The Fake screens today, Thursday, July 31, 7:30 p.m. and again on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 9:40 p.m.

Fantasia tickets can be purchased at Concordia’s Hall building (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) for $10 each, or online ($11 each), here.