Three actual science fiction films and a bit of Chilean exploitation tossed in to keep everything off kilter.
Director Eron Sheean’s first feature, Errors of the Human Body recalls the over-indulgent science fiction of the 1970s with dull, over-used trippy sequences, a fairly standard thriller script, and a seemingly never-ending conclusion. In this oft told tale of genetic manipulation gone wrong, brilliant American geneticist Dr. Geoff Burton (Michael Eklund) accepts a job in Germany when his obsessive search for a cure to the rare genetic ailment that killed his infant son destroys his career and his marriage. Once there, Burton re-unites with a former student/lover (Karoline Herfurth) and quickly immerses himself in a conspiracy of lies and deception. Even the excellent acting of Eklund and Herfurth fail to overcome Sheean’s stereotypical script. Though an arduous task to get there, the ultimate conclusion is satisfying and shocking. Course by then, who cares?
Santiago Fernandez works a dead end job as a club DJ, owned by the brutal Argentinian gangster Che Longana. He spends most of his days playing video games and dreaming of an exciting life of crime and gun fights. When Fernandez overhears a secret meeting between Longana and his henchmen, he gets the chance to live his dreams. In order to save his own life, Fernandez must hunt down Machine Gun Woman, a lethal leatherclad assassin. In an interesting piece of metafiction, Chilean director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza framed his deliciously entertaining fourth exploitation feature as a hyper-violent video game. The sexy titular character lights up the screen with explosive and bloody action and Longana delivers the expected cruelty. As with all films of this particular genre, communal theater viewing enhances the experience. Just leave your brain at the door.
The big budget, much hyped Looper delivers some quality popcorn entertainment though failing on the intellectual and thriller promise of its trailers. In 2072, gangs use the illegal practice of sending those they wish to eliminate back 30 years. In the past, assassins (loopers) kill the victims without prejudice. Looper Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) recognizes his new kill as his future self (Bruce Willis), allowing him to escape. Now Joe is hunted in both the present and future for failing the assassination. The potentially exciting elements feel rehashed from other far superior action movies. The science fictional elements, as often the case with time travel, succumbs to paradoxical occurrences. Though Gordon-Levitt does his best with make up and acting skill to portray a younger Willis, the physical differences between the actors crushes elements of believability. Flaws and all, Looper ultimately achieves above-average film fun.
The feature film debut of directors John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker relates the improbable and utterly charming origins of the real life “Acoustic Space Aliens.” With a comet on a collision curse with their planet, Hondo sends General Trius (Nils d’Aulaire) to find a new planet for them to inhabit. Landing on Earth somewhere near Brooklyn, General Trius discovers music chooses to forgo his mission to eliminate the indigenous peoples. He takes the name Bill, starts a family, and a one-man bluegrass act. The Hondorians send a bumbling fool named Kevin (Jay Klaitz) to assassinate General Trius. Bill subdues Kevin with music and the two form a band called Future Folk. The Hondorians, still intent on their plans, create havoc for the duo. The enjoyable bluegrass music, complete with catchy lyrics, permeate the lighthearted, fun movie. The History of Future Folk surprises with fun and wit, a cult classic in the making.
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.