Things didn’t go completely as planned, but I did manage three movies.
Surreal and psychedelic, Shunichiro Miki’s dreamlike The Warped Forest flounders in a tedium of absurdity. A series of quasi-interrelated tales form the film’s flimsy backbone: A young girl, armed with a penis-rifle, tracks down the elusive Pinky-Panky; a giant-sized girl works in a Very Small Shop; the local brothel with furry, nipple sucking creature; an escaped wood nymph struggles with love. Miki displays an unsettling fascination with belly buttons and crotch play. Largely a collection of bizarre images and scenes, The Warped Forest plays like a charmless, live action Miyazaki film.
An unflinching insight into the contemporary German Neo-Nazi movement, Combat Girls follows Marisa and Svenja, two young women at two very different stages of their involvement within the illicit movement. The twenty year old Marisa, portrayed by the brilliant Alina Levshin, sports Nazi-era tattoos and hates anything not white German. Only fifteen, Svenja (Jella Haase) sneaks out to smoke cigarettes and when puppying after the 20 year old family gardener, becomes embroiled with the group. Director/screenwriter David Wnendt masterfully relates Svenja’s indoctrination and Marisa growing disillusionment. Wnendt’s attention to detail astounds from the tattoos to style of address. He even commissioned composer Johannes Repka to create faux Neo-Nazi punk music specifically for the film. Engaging and disturbing, Combat Girls delivers a must-see movie, one that will be discussed and analyzed for years to come.
Amoral gynecologist Dr. Danko Babić’s (Rene Bitorajac) sociopathic tendencies leads him down some dark and harrowing paths. He routinely does drugs, works for gangsters, avoids corruption charges, and hits on women. Director Branko Schmidt aided by Bitorajac’s masterful performance steers Babić through the harrowing Croatian underworld, some surprising plot twists, and a jarring conclusion. Enjoy the disturbing Vegetarian Cannibal but expect to need a bath afterwards.
Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world, starts here in Austin on September 20. During the course of the eight day festival, I’m blogging about my cinema experiences.