AICN & Twitch Present International Eye Candy! Kitamura's BATON, Yuen Woo Ping's TRUE LEGEND, French action flick BLACK & More!!
Published at: June 25, 2009, 3:31 a.m. CST by quint
Yes, once again it is Todd from Twitch and I was going to begin this edition of International Eye Candy asking you all to pardon me for the preponderance of short films represented in this edition – the Worldwide Short Film Festival has just finished up here in Toronto and I've been swamped with the things – but then I realized … Pardon? Nobody needs to pardon nobody for nuthin' here! Glory in them! Revel in them! They're small but brilliant.
And for those who like their films of the larger variety we also have very large waves and very large pigs – both from Korea – and the son of a very large star – Jaycee "Son-Of-Jackie" Chan – and other assorted odds and ends to keep you happy. Ready? Here we go!
We're going to start in Israel with WHEN IT WILL BE SILENT, the sophomore student film from Dan Sachar. And, honestly, Dan may not be a student for much longer because soon after posting this thing up I started fielding questions from Hollywood agents and managers hungry for more of this Tarkovsky-inspired goodness. Sachar's film is a post-apocalyptic affair shot on location in the blasted no-man's-land between Israel and Jordan and it just leaves me wondering why Israel doesn't make more films like this and WALTZ WITH BASHIR and less like every other film they make.
Find the WHEN IT WILL BE SILENT teaser here
We now follow something small with something big. Something huge! It's a massive wall of water and it's about to sweep away hordes of Korean sun-worshippers on the beaches of HAEUNDAE. That someone would crank out a tsunami themed disaster film before long is no great surprise – there's actually already been at least one significant one made in Thailand to the sound of much tutting and clucking and general condemnation there – and HAEUNDAE has been in the works long enough with a big enough budget that people have been aware of it for a good long while but what people didn't realize was … it's a comedy. A full-on slapstick, loaded with pratfalls comedy. At least it is until the wave comes – and it is a big one – at which point I assume (and hope) that the tone changes somewhat.
Is it in bad taste? Find the HAEUNDAE trailer here
And we go from something big back to something small, though clocking in at about fifty minutes, Ryuhei Kitamura's animated film BATON is the biggest of the short films represented here. And, yes, this is that Kitamura, the director of cult splatter hit VERSUS, joined here by producer Shunji Iwai (SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY) to turn out an animated film in honor of the 150th birthday of the city of Yokohama. Insert obligatory 'When I turned X all I got was Y' joke here.
BATON is heavy on the rotoscoping and the quality looks a touch uneven, but I'm actually quite excited to see what Kitamura can pull off in the world of animation, a world where most of his directorial excesses will actually play to his advantage.
We posted an earlier trailer for this one, but there's a new, longer version available now.
Find the BATON trailers here
We're not just short film centered this week, we're also very Asian centered, but you know what? When one of those Asian films is the first directorial effort from legendary martial arts choreographers Yuen Woo Ping in about a decade … well, I've got no problem with that.
TRUE LEGEND – aka NEW LEGEND – is Yuen's spin on the classic legend of Beggar Su and if you have any doubts about why this man is considered a living legend and a martial arts treasure … well, the first bits of footage release provide ample proof that the man's still got it. Yow. Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen have all done their best work for Yuen and there's a very good reason for that.
Find the first clips from TRUE LEGEND here
Bloodthirsty stop motion robots fused with an array of propaganda themed imagery? Sold! Director Brian Lonano did it once a little while back with his short film ATTACKAZOIDS and response was so good that he's back at it again with the just-about-complete prequel ATTACKAZOIDS, DEPLOY!!
Yes, the two exclamation marks are a part of the title. The details matter.
DEPLOY here! Deploy! Deploy!
From the bizarre we go to the even more bizarre with Hitoshi Matsumoto's SYMBOL. Matsumoto is simply a huge media celebrity in Japan, a massively popular TV comic who made his move into feature films a couple years back with the hysterically absurd DAI NIPPONJIN, available on these shores as BIG MAN JAPAN. With Takeshi Kitano – who also made his move into features following a hugely successful career as a TV comic – rapidly losing his grip on what made him interesting to film audiences in the first place, it took all of five minutes for Matsumoto to be declared the new Kitano when DAI NIPPONJIN released, a situation that led to a bit of in-the-press glowering at each other between the two men at the time.
And now Matsumoto is back with SYMBOL, is new feature which he is revealing pretty much nothing about to anybody. And true to form, rather than cut a trailer that would explain things to the masses, he has instead created … well … I don't really know what he's created. I. Have. No. Idea. What. This. Means. Will SYMBOL be another bit of daft genius or has Matsumoto also lost his grip? Only time will tell …
Find the SYMBOL teaser here
Hat? Hole? What's the difference? Philip Eddol's GIT GOB is one that I actually played in one of my midnight programs at the Worldwide Short Film Festival and it is glorious. And stupid. And absurd. And absurdly, stupidly glorious. I'm a fan. And the whole damn thing is online.
Embrace the foolishness of GIT GOB here!
What's that? A Chan-starring, Chinese martial arts comedy coming down the line? You bet, but it's not the Chan you think. Nope. It's his son. To this point of his fledgling career Jaycee Chan has pretty consciously avoided following in papa Jackie's footsteps. A smart decision, methinks, and not actually a particularly difficult one to make considering Jaycee actually isn't much of a martial artist. But he's been dabbling some, lately, and he's finally going all out with a key role in TRACING SHADOW, a new wuxia-comedy that marks a rare directorial effort from veteran character actor Frances Ng, who also stars. Ng seems to be taking a very old-school approach to this one, which is provoking some strong reactions – Chinese slapstick comedy is very definitely not to everyone's taste – but the production values are very, very solid.
Check the TRACING SHADOW trailer here
One film that didn't play at Worldwide Shorts but I really wish had – curse you sci-fi guy for not sharing my taste! – was Franck Dion's MONSIEUR COK. Yes, yes, get out your giggles about the title now. A truly unique blend of 2D and 3D animation, this thing is an anti-war satire that plays out like a Lane Smith illustration on acid. Lots of acid. Lots of really, really good acid. I love this thing and, like GIT GOB above, the entire short has recently been posted online.
Say hello to MONSIEUR COK here
With all the buzz about recent blaxploitation throwback film BLACK DYNAMITE it's a little surprising that upcoming French release BLACK. Also very much a blaxploitation throwback – though this time a thoroughly modernized one – BLACK stars French musician MC Jean Gab'1 – you'll also be seeing rather a lot of him in the sequel to DISTRICT 13 – as a Senegalese-French bank robber with a tendency to get his crews killed who heads to Africa to pull a diamond heist. Standing in the way: hot Sengalese cops, Russian mercenaries and an arms dealer who seems to be slowly turning in to a snake. This one premiered at SXSW and with the French release coming soon – a Canadian release is also due later this summer – a new teaser has just arrived.
Get BLACK here
Feeling nostalgic for the golden days of Terry Gilliam and Jean-Pierre Jeunet? Look no further than NEXT FLOOR, the Cannes award-winning short film from Denis Villeneuve, who is kind of the golden child up here in Canada these days, what with this film racking up awards and his most recent feature, POLYTECHNIQUE, having a strong showing in Cannes this year.
Produced under the auspices of the Phi arts collective in Montreal – you'll be hearing more from them in the next two entries – NEXT FLOOR is just gorgeously shot and meticulously detailed, a smart, slyly grotesque piece of political satire. Tasty.
This one is unfortunately not online in its entirety but there are a pair of teasers.
Travel to the NEXT FLOOR here
The latest short from Phi – and one which took home some awards hardware at Worldwide Shorts – is Pedro Pires' DANSE MACABRE, a film that famed Montreal theater artist, film maker, and Cirque Du Soleil collaborator Robert Lepage had a hand in. The short summary of this one is that it tracks a woman from suicide to cremation in eight minutes, but that summary doesn't even begin to do justice to this thing. It's just a hugely impressive, impeccably designed and shot, perfect piece of work.
See the DANSE MACABRE trailer here
Want to know who else is getting involved with Phi? Only Montreal-based musician Melissa Auf Der Maur, formerly of Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins. Along with director Tony Stone (SEVERED WAYS), Auf Der Maur has created OUT OF OUR MINDS, a half hour music-based film that involves Vikings, a missing heart and a car crash. For the earth lover in you the entire film was shot using solar power. For the film lover, it premiered at Sundance.
Find the OUT OF OuR MINDS trailer here
Someone not involved with Phi – though I bet they'd love to have him – is BAFTA nominated animator Osbert Parker. The subject of a retrospective screening at Worldwide Shorts, Parker spent the week in Toronto charming the ladies on the festival staff and winning over crowds with his utterly unique work. The simplest explanation of Parker's work is to say that it's stop-motion, which is true enough but doesn't even begin to touch on the complexity of his films, which blend two dimensional cut outs with three dimensional props and settings that give it all a surprising amount of depth. His FILM NOIR is, appropriately enough, a guns-blazing tribute to the crime films of the fifties and pretty much brilliant.
Find a clip from FILM NOIR here
I promised big pig and big pig I shall deliver. Yes, Korean creature feature CHAW returns to the IEC thanks to a new trailer. The full theatrical trailer for the film runs significantly longer than the earlier effort and boasts significantly more spit and polish. High art? Nah, but I think it looks like an awful lot of fun. And also an awful lot of bacon. Mmmm, bacon ….
Find the full CHAW trailer here
The concept of the 48 hour film challenge is becoming a common one these days, aspiring film makers being given just forty eight hours – and zero budget – to write, shoot and edit a short film from start to finish, with contestants required to include a particular prop, phrase and character just to make sure they're being honest about the whole thing and not prepping things in advance. The challenge in New Zealand is one of the earliest of the type and this year I was asked to be a judge for it, about the only time I'm ever likely to be credited alongside Peter Jackson and Guillermo Del Toro. And the winner? An animated shot called CHARLOTTE. Yes, you read that right. Someone planned and executed a complete piece of animation, drawn by hand, in just forty eight hours. And it's fantastic. I don't know who the guy is who crated this but if he doesn't have a career in the field already he's going to have …
Find CHARLOTTE here
For animation of a slightly more polished variety, I direct your attention to SUMMER WARS, the new film from Mamoru Hosoda. Hosoda burst on to the scene a few years back as the director of THE GIRL WHO LEPT THROUGH TIME, a relatively small budget affair from a first time director that was released head-to-head against the latest from animation monsters Studio Ghibli – Goro Miyazaki's TALES FROM EARTHSEA – and thoroughly trounced the monster both in the press and at the box office. It was a classic case of David vs Goliath that very deservedly ended with Hosoda being crowned the next great one and audiences have been waiting for his next ever since. And his next is SUMMER WARS, a scifi adventure loaded with family drama, teen love and colliding worlds. All signs are Hosoda is living up to expectations …
Find the full SUMMER WARS trailer here
Canadians are weird. All of us. As proof, here is Brandon Blommaert's BATMILK, a short animation produced as part of the same program as Philip Eddol's GIT GOB, linked above. Yep, weird. And fantastic.
Have a taste of BATMILK here
The final feature of the day belongs to Alan Mak and Felix Chong, the writing duo behind INFERNAL AFFAIRS, CONFESSION OF PAIN and a fistful of other notable Hong Kong crime titles of the past few years. The pair of stepped out from the writing desk to direct their own stuff in recent days and their latest such effort is OVERHEARD, a police surveillance thriller starring Louis Koo, Daniel Wu and Lau Ching Wan. With an all-star cast like that and the Mak/Chong combo at the helm, expectations are running very, very high for this. The trailer isn't overwhelming but it is very, very solid.
Find the OVERHEARD trailer here
And, finally, we conclude with THE BLACK DOG'S PROGRESS, a short film made up of a series of interconnected flip books that demonstrates how it is possible to go from a young child being giving a puppy – yay! – to that same puppy being raped and lit on fire. I have nothing further to say.
Watch THE BLACK DOG'S PROGRESS here