It’s my first day of year four of Fantastic Fest
here at the Alamo Drafthouse
in Austin Texas and I’m already immensely pleased. Despite not having a fun ‘opening day’
party outside the theater like last year,
I’m seeing lots of people I haven’t seen since FF3 and there’s a steady buzz of excitement that is visibly present in practically every conversation I watch going on around me. I am SO happy to be here. Dorkapalooza. Home.
Before I even set off today, I got up early (mainly because I had that whole ‘little kid who can’t sleep in the hotel room the night before Disney World’
syndrome going on) and watched one of the online movies...
Ever ask what you’d be like if sudden immense fame and popularity were suddenly thrust on you? We all have. I’m sure we comfort ourselves when talking smack about the ever-present celebrity hijinks that we’d never be like that: We’d keep it real. Really, really REALLY try to imagine it. Beautiful people climbing over each other to be near you, being offered money just to APPEAR places, everyone kissing your ass everywhere you go...must be nice being Korey
. Except not so much. We’d all likely be insufferable pricks, practically everyone of us. Such is the question that "La Creme" explores, albeit through the mirror of fantasy.
) is a down on his luck nobody with a wife and kid to support. One Christmas under their meager Charlie Brown
-sized Christmas tree
, he finds a small jar of face creme that for reasons that remain a mystery, when applied makes everyone who encounters him treat him like the biggest celebrity in the world. While at first, the earnest François
enjoys the attention in more of a surprised and humble fashion, it’s not long before he’s believing his own magical fame is deserved and prancing about like a complete prick.
An American version of this likely would have starred it up with Jim Carrey
or Adam Sandler
and it would have been garish, loud, and ultimately obvious and hollow. French director Reynald Bertand
succeeds with quiet humor and realism that connects with you on much more of a ‘what if this really happen to me’
sort of introspective level. This is, of course, a mixed blessing for the film’s reception in America at least as it’s viewership will likely consist almost entirely of the type of folks who head straight for the foreign film section in video stores. Even though it won three awards at three different overseas festivals, you’re more likely to see the dreaded ‘Happy Madison’
logo titling a remake of it here than the film itself.
Finally I packed up the laptop bag and cooler full of tasty in-between-movie refreshments and headed down to ground zero. After milling about for a few hours getting a general feel for the deal, Jason
and I met up downtown at a ritzy hotel bar a block away from the theater where the big opening night film “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”
was scheduled to play. We sat around and tried to look important while sipping on fine whiskey. I did anyway, I think he was drinking some pussy thing with an umbrella.
Eventually the time came and we sidled down to the theater to get our crappy seats for the new Kevin Smith
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
It’s true what I had been told. This is probably Smith
’s best movie since “Chasing Amy.”
However, since I didn’t really enjoy any of the movies he’s done since then, that’s not saying much in my book. I laughed. I really did. Several times. Already starting to forget the movie. Except for the one thing. The one...really...really...gross thing.
Zack (Seth Rogan)
and Miri (Elizabeth Banks)
have been best friends since first grade and even live together platonically. Both sneer at the thought of being more than friends...why frak up a good thing? It would be like doin’ your sibling. When they run completely out of money and are going to be kicked out of their shithole apartment, they come up with a plan inspired by a conversation with a gay porn star (Justin Long
) and his boyfriend (Brandon Routh
) to make their own (hetero) porno movie to make the money to pay their bills. Things do not go exactly as planned, as you might imagine. Otherwise, this would pretty much just be a porn movie.
While big Smith
fans are gonna eat this up and probably champion it as one of his better movies, I still don’t see the big deal. "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"
borrows heavily from the acting pool and the titillation style of the Judd Apatow
school of film making, and those are the main things it succeeds at. While Rogan
are as funny as they always are here, and Smith
has really written some great perfectly suited dialogue for the both of them, neither have any actual depth despite their shared depravity and ‘I’m so poor and rude it makes me cool’
chic. If only I cared what happened to these people or felt they were real in any way, then I might actually root for them to see the love that’s right in front of their faces and the obviousness of every single step of what there is of a plot as it ploddingly plays out amongst the boobies and gross-out jokes.
It’s a hard R for spoken obscenity, lots of nudity and sex and a face full of poo and when I was 13 I woulda thought that stuff alone made it the best movie ever. I fully recommend this movie for people who aren’t technically old enough to see it. Anybody else better have a strong gag reflex and a pre-existing affection for Smith
. I’m not saying it’s not funny because it is. I just wish the guy would stick to writing comics and go on lecture tours. He’s so fantastic at both those things. Maybe if he wrote the dialogue around somebody else’s plot I wouldn’t feel as if it was so...I guess the word is uneventful. *sigh* Maybe I’m just getting too old for this face full of shit.
came out before the movie and talked for a bit about how stoned he was getting all the time now and how fat he was. Seemed pretty clear he was stoned right then, but I’m not one to judge. I couldn’t stay around for the post film q&a and the “Air-Sex World Championships”
as I had to book-ass back to my car and head back to the primary theater for the next screening, a quirky little Icelandic film called…
The princess at the prom, the cheerleader several years later, the girl you dreamed about and never could get to even so much as acknowledge your existence...what if she came into the comic book store you worked at begging for a job and got it. This is the premise of "Astropia"
(which is the name of the store...get your minds outta the gutters.)
The only thing I knew about Iceland before this movie is that Bjork
is from there which is enough for me to want to know much more. They HAVE to be a strange culture to embrace her brand of oddity. In the low-budget "Astropia"
however, I got the feeling that the “geek”
as they incorrectly translate) hasn’t quite gotten the renaissance that they’ve gotten here. Regardless of the revolution that hasn't happened yet on that side of the world, "Astropia"
speaks to the HARDCORE geek. Much like every film I watched this day at the fest, it’s packed so full of obscure geeky referencing for most of it’s jokes that anyone at all like the pretty blond lead character would be as bewildered by all the subjects at hand as she was.
While it takes some time for "Astropia"
to get the dorky wind beneath it’s wings, once the female lead starts to take an interest in learning how to play RPGs herself and falls madly in love with the fantasy of it all, the movie gets moving and becomes really funny. As reality and her RPG vision of the world begin to fuse, the geeky becomes heroic like the rest of us always knew it really was. If you’re the type of person who knows what “LEEEROY JENKINS!”
means, you’re the audience "Astropia"
is intended for.
RUNNING out of the theater to get in line for Austin local Ernie Kline
’s long awaited “Fanboys.”
I’ve been waiting to see this one for so long, now I’m actually nervous.
When a group of uber-core Star Wars
fans find out that one of their number is going to die of a disease before "The Phantom Menace"
is released, they all decide to turn their lives into a road trip film and pile into a crappy van for a cross-country voyage to George Lucas
’s Skywalker Ranch
, to break in and steal a rough cut of the movie. My only thought for this one is, how are they gonna keep this from being a tragedy? Poor dying Star Wars
fan goes to his eternal reward with Jar Jar Binks
as a send off? I’m getting sad just thinking about it.
is smart enough to make its Star Wars
actor cameos serve a purpose in the story and stay funny. Sound wise though, the creators had an unprecedented access to the ILM sound library of effects and they throw in familiar sounds in every nook and cranny. We're so inundated from all sides both subtly and obviously with Star Wars references that after awhile...you just get it
took awhile to prove to me it was much more than another drunken road trip film, and certainly parts of it (like the cliched ‘accidentally in a rough biker gay bar’
sequence) could have safely been cut out entirely, by the time the boys get to Las Vegas I was awash in the pleasant nostalgia of being a fanboy for the star wars films myself. Plus...Shatner
. Even the worst of movies win a whole extra star just by the presence of William Shatner.
Add in cameos by Kevin Smith, Seth Rogan
(hysterically playing at one point the king Star Trek
geek from the documentary “Trekkies”
), Danny Trejo, Ethan Suplee
head Harry Knowles
) and Kristen Bell
in a Leia
slave girl bikini, any self respecting once or ever fan of Star Wars
has no business missing it.
Fortunately the creators of “Fanboys”
are clever enough to dance around judgments on the prequels. Its greatest victory is in how it reminds us of how deep our affection was for THE FILMS
back in the day. At the end I laughed and walked out feeling warm and fuzzy but ultimately it was only a sad reminder that you can’t take some things back...like everything George Lucas
has done since "Return of the Jedi."
I’m sorry George
. Joss Whedon
IS my master now.
And that wrapped up my first day. I hurried home to get to bed so I could be all rested up for the next day’s swath of films...and of course ended up surfing the gorram internet till late anyway. Oh well. I’ll sleep when it’s all over.