FANTASTIC FEST Diary Day 7: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG, RED, FATSO and UNDOCUMENTED; plus Karl Urban Talks DREDD

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On the seventh day, there was levity. And it was good. After a brutal sixth day at Fantastic Fest 2010, the penultimate seventy day finally held a few films to break up the constant barrage of disturbing images. Of course, those lighter films were sandwiched others featuring mass gay rape and immigrant torture, plus the so-called “lighter films” did contain self castration as well as a barrage of bullets. It’s still Fantastic Fest after all, it’ll never be puppy dogs and ice cream. Hit the jump to read about The Life and Death of a Porno Gang, Red, Fatso, Undocumented, and Karl Urban talks Dredd.

The Life and Death of a Porno Gang is a Serbian film about a filmmaker trying to make his way in the world. His journey leads him into porn, erotic theater, and eventually on a trip as the head of a traveling sexual theater group. From there, it would be a spoiler to say what happens, but, suffice to say, it’s pretty messed up. Director Mladen Djordjevic has created a very rough looking, half pseudo documentary, half not, exercise in regret and sexuality. The film is never easy or fun to watch as it contains everything from murder to beastiality. Still, all of it serves some sort of purpose, is never gratuitous and by the time the film reaches its prophetic title, you might not be happy you watched, but you won’t be upset either.

Next up was the World Premiere of Red, the Hollywood action, comic book adaptation starring Bruce Willis that was, obviously, extremely different from everything else playing Fantastic Fest. I wrote a full review of the film, which you can read here, so I’ll just say it’s a very energetic and fun action film thanks in large part to the actors.

One of the stars of the film, Karl Urban, showed up after to talk about it. He discussed Ernest Borgnine masturbating, Speed 2, him throwing up during Return of the King and, of course, his next movie, Dredd. He’s currently training for the film and said he’s been reading Judge Dredd comics since he was 15. He feels the Stallone film was a missed opportunity and called his version “gritty” and “paired down” with a very real world aesthetic. There will be “no gold codpieces” in this film. Also, Urban will not be seen in the film as Dredd will not take his mask off. He felt this was very important to the character to make him an enigma and a symbol of “faceless justice.”

Once Red and the Urban Q&A was over, I booked into the buzzed about comedy Fatso. This 2008 Norwegian film by director Arild Fröhlich is about a socially awkward, overweight bachelor and what happens when a super hot girl move into his apartment. Before she moves in, it’s all porn, beer and a whole lot of self-gratification. A whole lot. But what makes Fatso so good is that, once the girl moves in, it never gets creepy. He’s nice to her, she’s nice to him, and they each make the other better people. Of course, there’s still plenty of room for comedy – and a lot of gross stuff at that – but it would have been so easy to make the main character a dislikable creep and instead he’s sympathetic and relatable. Mixed with animation, humor and heart, Fatso is a commercial comedy in a fat, independent body.

My final film of Fantastic Fest Day 7 was Undocumented, a sharp looking socio-political horror movie starring Scott Mechlowicz, Kevin Weisman and Yancey Arias along with Peter Stormare. It follows a group of grad students making a movie about illegal immigration who get caught by a group of radical “patriots” who, in turn, torture and kill the “undocumented immigrants.” The film is part documentary style, part standard third person narrative and mixes political issues with Saw-like horror violence. I use “Saw” as an example because it’s obvious Undocumented was made with the intention to be released in U.S. cinemas, something that can’t be said about most Fantastic Fest films. Because of that – though it’s gory – it felt less gory or intense than most of the other films in the festival. That’s coming after seven full days of hell, though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Also, jumping between the filmmaker’s cameras and actor’s cameras gets a bit disorienting at times. Still, writer/director Chris Peckover obviously was trying to do something different here and was mostly successful. The film has incredible production values to go along with several familiar horror tropes. And even though the film takes a pretty obvious thematic stand, blending horror and politics was an inspired choice. Whether audiences like Undocumented because of its intense sense of foreboding, bloody violence or political dialogue, there’s no denying that they’ll find something to like about it in some way.

One more day remains in Fantastic Fest 2010. Check back Friday.




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