Monday, August 8, 2016

MIFF: Splatterfest

I had an and idea that Christine and Baskin would make a thematically complementary double feature, though to label it a "splatterfest" is probably taking it a step too far.

Still, one movie does end with a woman shooting herself on live TV, and the other is ... well, a splatterfest.

It definitely wouldn't have been a splatterfest at all if I hadn't made it to the second movie, my first-ever late-night (11:30 p.m.) MIFF screening. Which almost happened.

If you have been reading these MIFF posts, you're sensing a theme here.

I had been booking MIFF movies based on the assumption that any movie booked in a certain time slot would end early enough for me to make any other movie in the next time slot. So far this has been true. Bolstering that theory was the fact that they started Toni Erdmann a half-hour earlier, 6 p.m. rather than 6:30, presumably so that Toni's 162-minute running time wouldn't prevent viewers from getting to their next engagement (and also so that theater could be ready for its own 9:15 screening). And the theaters are all in Melbourne's central business district, meaning it's easy to get from one place to the next with relatively little drama.

The consecutive screenings of Christine and Baskin pushed this assumption to its furthest logistical difficulty, though. I got an idea it might be a concern when I happened to check the running time of Christine on my phone while waiting for it to start, and discovered it would be running a full 115 minutes. The Melbourne Central Hoyts cinema (where Christine was playing) and the ACMI cinema (where Baskin was playing) represented the northernmost and southernmost locations, meaning a walk of a good ten city blocks to get from one to the other. And with five minutes of ads from MIFF sponsors delaying Christine's start time, I'd be cutting it very close for an 11:30 Baskin indeed.

I had to resort to running -- the last thing I wanted to do at 11:27 on a Saturday evening -- but I did indeed make it to Baskin in what turned out to be plenty of time.

I'm starting to get the feeling they know I'm going to be late for these second features and are holding them just for me.

Unfortunately, both of these movies were a disappointment -- Christine a mild one, Baskin a major one. They were two of the movies I was looking forward to most, and neither really delivered.

I have a review of Christine forthcoming, so I won't talk about it too much here. I'll post a link when it's up. Rebecca Hall is great as the Florida news reporter Christine Chubbuck, who shot herself on the air in 1974. I've been a fan of this actress but had started to think of her performances as resembling each other too much. That's not at all the case in Christine. But it follows a bit in the tradition of a movie like Foxcatcher, which has great performances but is unable to conjure a lesson for us to take from the senseless real-life tragedy it depicts. But now I'm kind of repeating my review so maybe I'll just stick a pin in this until the review posts. Hall is terrific, though. [UPDATE: Here it is.]

Baskin. I'd been looking forward to this for something like a year, as someone posted a trailer in my Flickcharters Facebook group and talked about how grisly and gruesome it was supposed to be. Gore has the capacity to really unnerve you, and I got the sense that's what I had in store from this Turkish horror movie. It could have been the 11:30 start time, but it had more yawns in store for me than screams. It's really slow-paced, and the things it thinks it's building momentum toward mostly bored me. Maybe I'm desensitized, but these undoubtedly intense bits of grindhouse-style exploitation left me unfazed. Writer-director Can Evrenol doesn't make us care about the characters at all, which isn't always strictly necessary but usually helps. The things that happen to them, then, had little impact on me. There's an attempt at some shuffling of time periods and dream logic that's supposed to be kind of mind-blowing, but my mind was left perfectly intact by it all. It wasn't terrible but it was a major letdown.

Total stars for the double feature: 5.5. That leaves it likely to be my lowest ranked double feature with only one double feature left on Wednesday.

But before then, an animated Korean zombie movie on Tuesday night.

Maybe that'll be the splatterfest I'm looking for.

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