A Fantasia Round-up

This year Fantasia boasts an impressive lineup of international cinema so diverse there's sure to be something for everyone. My first exposure to the art of infamous Japanese director Takashi Miike was the gangster movie The Man in White . Far from being shocked, I found myself relatively uninterested in this drawn-out tale of a man of substance out to avenge his boss' murder. Fortunately for me, Ichi the Killer, made by Miike in 2001, is no such disappointment. However, be warned: this is an ultra-violent adrenaline rush that will no doubt shock and offend some viewers; then again, it's far from mindless gore. Miike introduces us to an underworld of psychotic killers, and inspecting the psychology of the various characters is really what makes the film worth watching. Ichi oftentimes leaves you torn between repulsion and laughter, as the scenes of violence become so exaggerated it's hard to take them seriously. Steve Cuden's directorial debut Lucky (USA , 2002) manages to successfully walk the line between playful comedy and disturbing perversion. This no-budget feature follows neurotic cartoon writer Mudd as he grapples with writer's block, which is solved when a talking dog starts giving him ideas for his scripts. From there, the story spirals out of control as Mudd is increasingly manipulated by his pet's murderous designs. Sadly, this original piece of dark humor probably will not get a theatrical release, but look for it o­n DVD and VHS in the near future. A refreshing treat was the collection of Japanese Shorts. Varying greatly in style, many shared the common theme of absurdity within an otherwise mundane environment. In my favorite, Manhole by director Kenji Yamauchi, a regular guy falls down a manhole and discovers a underground society of humanoid rats, complete with their own hilariously dysfunctional legal system. In the end, he decides to stay amongst the rats rather than return to the problems of his life above ground. Wonderful both conceptually and stylistically, this short is pure fun. There are many films to look forward to before Fantasia comes to a close o­n August 10. Maléfique, Eric Valette's mystical horror film set in a French prison, is back by popular demand. This crowd-pleaser will screen o­ne last time o­n Saturday, August 2 at 2:30 pm and is not to be missed. o­n August 8, the world will witness the international premiere of Victor Salva's, Jeepers Creepers II, which promises to be even more demonically terrifying than the original. Actor Ray Wise, of Twin Peaks fame, will be presenting the films. Wise will also be attending the screening of his second Fantasia film, Dead End.

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