International Eye Candy
March 12, 2011
The International Eye Candy failed to occur at our last scheduled interval. There’s no reason for it. It just didn’t happen. Hell, this one’s a day past its scheduled time being written, too. Evidently 2011 is shaping up to be a busy one but still, I shall endeavour to do better.
For the newcomers, here’s how this works. I’m Todd from Twitch and I have a moderate obsession not so much with Hollywood but with the rest of the world. And when I can be bothered to pay attention to my calendar part of what that means is every two weeks I share the best of what I’ve found here. By ‘best’ I often mean ‘hysterically worst’ or ‘crazy ass bizarre’ but a reasonable percentage of time my selections are actually what I would term as ‘good’. Got that?
Right. This time out I bring you naked Jewish girls being melted down to create Nazi chocolate, a 3D sex film from Hong Kong, Slovenian animation, a Vietnamese martial arts epic, an amazing looking Malaysian action drama, and kick ass crime action from Norway. It’s a good one kids, so strap in and here we go!
We kick things off in Japan where HIGH KICK GIRL star Rina Takeda has hooked up with ALIEN VERSUS NINJA director Seiji Chiba for female ninja flick KUNOICHI. It’s kind of a ‘boy meets girl’ story, except in this case the boys are from a rival ninja clan and they kidnap a group of girls from Takeda’s village. So she kicks their asses. Because, you know, she’s a ninja too and that’s what ninjas do. Takeda has yet to appear in a movie with a decent budget but she’s phenomenally talented and does all of her own fight and stunt work without the use of wires or CGI. Find the KUNOICHI trailer here
From Japan it’s a relatively short hop over the ocean to Australia where we find MONKEY, the directorial debut from Joel Edgerton. Yup, the star of the upcoming THE THING prequel and Uncle Owen in the STAR WARS prequels done made a movie, a short film about a man who really likes his hair. And does not take kindly to others copying his style. Not kindly at all. Watch all of MONKEYS here
Anybody out there a fan of the recent OSS 117 films out of France? Both a revival of a classic French spy series and a spoof of the spy films of the sixties the first one works better than the second but both are a joy to behold and a big part of that is the writing of Jean Francois Halin. Well, Halin is at it again only this time instead of spoofing the spies he’s spoofing the old swashbucklers in THE ADVENTURES OF PHILIBERT. No horse shall go unmounted! No sword undrawn! No dress shall remain worn! Such is the sheer awesome power of Philibert. Yes, it’s like what Mel Brooks did to the western in BLAZING SADDLES, only French and with a better budget. And that’s okay by me. Find the PHILIBERT trailer here
Here’s an unasked for piece of advice. If you’re going to watch only one clip from this column this should be it. Why? Because this is your chance to discover a talent that I truly believe will be counted among the animation world’s best within the next five years. His name is Paw Charlie Ravn, a Danish animator who hasn’t actually released anything yet. So why the high praise? Ravn’s in the process of setting up his debut feature and his producers have released a lengthy clip from his in progress twenty minute short THE CHILDREN’S WORLD. And it is stunning. Ravn cites Miyazaki as a key influence on his storytelling style and, yes, that can be seen though the visuals are more in line with Oscar nominated director Tomm Moore (THE SECRET OF KELLS) blended with a dash of the character design from TEKKON KINKREET. Ravn, simply, is really, really good. And it’s just a matter of time before people notice and blow their minds. Watch a clip from THE CHILDREN’S WORLD here
From Danish animation we move on to a Vietnamese period epic. KHAT VONG THANG LONG is Vietnam’s first ever foray into this territory and it certainly appears that they’ve gotten started on the right foot. The cinematography is gorgeous, the designs beautiful and when it gets into the fighting ... well THE REBEL and CLASH star Johnny Nguyen was on board as fight choreographer, so you know that’s going to be solid. Any observer of the region will tell you Vietnam is THE big up and coming nation in the film producing countries of South East Asia. The volume and quality of production is skyrocketing at a ferocious rate and it’s only a matter of time before we’re hit by a massive wave of quality Vietnamese films just as we were swamped by amazing Thai titles in the aftermath of ONG BAK. This may be the crest of the wave peeking over the horizon. Find the KHAT VONG THANG LONG trailer here
Who loves a drunken, oversexed, animated Polish hedgehog? Fantastic Fest and Alamo Drafthouse honcho Tim League does, that’s who, which is why JEZ JERZY (or GEORGE THE HEDGEHOG, if you prefer) will be taking its international bow as part of the SXFantastic program at SXSW. We’ve run the trailer before but now we’ve got the official music video which weds stacks of footage to Polish hiphop. Which works rather well, really. Find the JEZ JERZY music video here
It’s a motorcycle! It’s a robot! It knows karate! MACHINE GIRL director Noboru Iguchi had a surprise audience hit on his hands at the normally very arty International Film Festival Rotterdam when he turned up there this year with KARATE ROBO ZABORGAR, his live action adaptation of the anime series of the same name. This is Iguchi’s highest budget production ever but if there were any worries the extra money would change him ... nope. Still got girls in bikinis, outlandish robots and ridiculous gore effects. It’s just that now they’re better lit and framed. Huzzah! find the KARATE ROBO ZABORGAR trailer here
Though you may not realize it Slovenia is something of a hub for underground comic art. And a major part of why is STRIPBURGER. An underground comic journal that has run for more than fifty issues spread over eighteen years now STRIPBURGER is one of the leading lights of the comic world. And to celebrate its success director Boris Dolenc culled eight stories from its pages and transformed them into an animated anthology film titled STRIPBURGER IN MOTION. Dolenc’s animation style shifts from short to short to match the content of the original artists but absolutely all of it looks fantastic. Watch the STRIPBURGER IN MOTION trailer here
It is not an easy thing to tackle a relaunch of a beloved film title and so SPL (I refuse to call it KILL ZONE) and IP MAN director Wilson Yip has set himself quite a task with his next film, a reboot of the much loved A CHINESE GHOST STORY now titled A CHINESE FAIRY TALE. The story is a uniquely Chinese concoction - a blend of fairy tale, romance, a touch of the demonic and a decent dose of kung fu. Yip is one of the biggest directors in the Chinese speaking world now so he’s certainly got the resources at his disposal to do this right. So what will the results be? The first teaser gives a clue. Watch the A CHINESE FAIRY TALE trailer here
Well, I promised a 3D sex film and here it is. Though I should point out that while the first trailer for 3D SEX AND ZEN: EXTREME ECSTASY very definitely focused on the sex side of things the newer second trailer chooses to just tease on that side while focusing more on action of the non-sexual sort to showcase how they intend to use the 3D. Camp? Absolutely. But surprisingly not trash. There are actual production values here and an obvious desire to make a film entertaining enough throughout that people won’t just be fast forwarding to the saucy bits. Find the second 3D SEX AND ZEN trailer here
A generally good rule: If you want to make a punk rock film that punk rock fans will accept and embrace then it is probably a good idea to put a real punk rocker in there somewhere. And so, yep, that really is Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten turning up at the end of the first teaser for Jens Lien’s punk rock coming of age story SONS OF NORWAY. Another good rule is to try and make sure you’ve got more going for you than just a rock and roll cameo and it looks like Lien is covered there as well, not that I’d expect any less from the director of THE BOTHERSOME MAN. Watch the SONS OF NORWAY trailer here
Undead Michael Jackson. Sorcery. Gay midget sex. All of these things exist in large quantities in upcoming cult comedy RETURN OF THE MOONWALKER. Is it too early to be making Michael Jackson comedies? I really don’t think these guys care. ready yourself for the RETURN OF THE MOONWALKER here
I simply can’t be bothered with most web series offerings. Because the huge majority of them are horrible. Horrible. Horrible. But COP HARD? COP HARD I’m developing a deep and abiding love for. Because it’s one of the funniest damn things I’ve seen in a while. An Australian effort produced by Jonathan Auf Der Heide and Oscar Redding – the creative duo behind arthouse true life cannibal flick VAN DIEMEN’S LAND – and directed by Charles C Custer COP HARD chronicles the weekly absurd adventures of old school cop Larry Hard. You can tell he’s oldschool from the moustache. Trust me on this one. It’s fantastic. There are two full episodes online at the time of this writing but you can find the trailer here for a taste.
When you think of Native Canadian filmmakers you probably don’t think of heady scifi with production design to rival BLADE RUNNER or DARK CITY. Jeff Barnaby is about to change that with FILE UNDER MISCELLANEOUS. Nominated for a Genie Award – Canada’s equivalent to the Oscars – this is dark, disturbing stuff and brilliantly so. You can’t see the entire film just yet but they have posted the opening scene to give a taste. Find the FILE UNDER MISCELLANEOUS clip here
It’s a summer vacation in the apocalypse. The actual apocalypse. Complete with bloody rain, the earth opening up and all of that good stuff. But still, that won’t stop a couple of bored husbands from trying to sleep with the other guy’s wife. That’s the basic premise of PEOPLE IN THE SUN, a Norwegian summer sex comedy set against the backdrop of the end of the world. We ran the first teaser a while back but now the full trailer has come along to satisfy all your blood rain needs. But be warned: You will witness an immensely hairy man sucking a woman’s toes within. Find the PEOPLE IN THE SUN trailer here
I do believe this is now the third of Yann Benedi’s GIANT shorts to be included in the IEC. And, if not, then I apologize for having missed one. Because these are simply amazing. A series of short shorts designed to tell the true story of the many different species of giant and their interactions with humanity these are just charming, funny, delightful bits of work. I love them immensely. Episode three is titled simply ‘Cloud’. Pay a visit to a giant here
Hands up anyone who’s ever seen a film from Bulgaria! I didn’t think so ... but that could very well change with the Chouchkov Brothers’ TILT, a film taht seems destined to do a healthy circuit of international festivals. A chart topper at home, TILT is a stylish yet gritty story set during the fall of communism. It’s the story of a group of friends trying to plot out their future when a chance encounter with a beautiful girl leaves them caught up with the local mafia. And you really, really don’t want to mess with East European mafia. Find the TILT trailer here
No CGI. No green screen. Just bags of talent and a willingness to take the time to experiment enough to get things just right the good old fashioned way. By building stuff. That’s what it took Derek Van Gorder to create his scifi flick C. Well, and a bit of money wouldn’t hurt. Van Gorder’s project began life as a relatively short short film but the response to the trailer for that has been so overwhelming that Van Gorder is now exploring funding options to expand the film out to a longer piece, possibly even a feature. Please, someone. Give him the money. Watch the C trailer here
Aw, crap. I just realized that I said if people only watched one video in this selection that it should be THE CHILDREN’S WORLD. Well, I don’t want to go back on that, but if you’ve got time for one then surely you can find the time for two. And the second should be the trailer for Dain Said’s BUNOHAN. This film has the potential to be a game changer not just in Said’s career – his previous film, DUKUN, was banned by Malaysian censors for its realistic depiction of black magic – but I think it could also be a watershed moment in the Malaysian industry as a whole. Because right now while Malaysia is very a very prolific industry their films fall pretty cleanly into one of two categories. There are the low budget quickies produced solely for the local market that have no chance of interesting anybody anywhere else. And there are the extreme arthouse films which are increasingly beloved on the festival circuit but also don’t attract much in terms of audience. Said has blending the inclinations towards pop accessibility and arthouse craft and the result is a film that people might actually want to see. Like REALLY want to see. A grimy violent story about a family of brothers whose number includes a kickboxer and an assassin this one reminds me a lot of early Pen-Ek Ratanaruang films like SIXTY NINE. And that’s a very, very good thing. Find the BUNOHAN trailer here
Attractive naked Jewish girls being melted down to create Nazi chocolates. The only way this could get any more ridiculous (read: awesome) is if it had a title like PANZER CHOCOLATE. And look! It does! Find the PANZER CHOCOLATE trailer here
We’re coming up on the end now but we’ve got three really good ones left before we’re done. First of those is PUNISHED, a Hong Kong kidnapping thriller produced by Johnnie To and starring Anthony Wong. Any time Wong and To are in the same place at the same time you’d best pay very close attention because something amazing is about to happen and this does not look to end that trend at all. Very, very solid bit of work here. Find the PUNISHED trailer here
The penultimate entry in this edition of the IEC comes from Norway and I’m going to say right now that HEADHUNTERS is the logical successor to the wave of smart Nordic crime film that seemed to have peaked with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and SNABBA CASH. But perhaps we should be saying plateaued rather than peaked because it appears the region is going to stay in those lofty heights for a while. HEADHUNTERS is another high end adaptation of a hugely popular crime novel and it’s one that already has the Hollywood suits salivating over who is going to make the US version. It’s really not a matter of if here, it’s a question of who and when. Why the excitement? The trailer looks like the best damn heist movie ever made, that’s why. And I’ve seen a much larger chunk of footage from the film that looks exactly the same. This one’s the real thing. Find the HEADHUNTERS trailer here
And, finally, we close things off with a sneak peak at one about to premiere at SXSW. French director Xavier Gens won the attention of the world with his debut picture, an over the top slasher titled FRONTIERE(S). Then he got the shit end of the stick when Fox hired him to make HITMAN only to kick him to the curb when he actually delivered the hyper-kinetic, hyper-violent version of the film that he told them he would in the first place. The film released with his name on it has little resemblance to the film Gens actually made. Well, Gens is back now with a project that actually reflects his tastes and the early buzz is huge. The film is the apocalyptic thriller THE DIVIDE and we’ve gotten a look at the first minute and a half of the film. And let me tell you, if this opening sequence doesn’t get your attention nothing will. Simply fantastic. Watch THE DIVIDE opening sequence