Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August Quick Picks and Pans

Errors of the Human Body (2012) Michael Eklund plays Geoff Burton, an American researcher in Germany, searching for the secrets to human regeneration.  Spurred by the death of his infant son from a rare genetic abnormality, he’s compelled to isolate the factors that help the body repair itself.  Errors of the Human Body is a hard science fiction story, wrapped in a drama about loss.  Those seeking fast-paced action scenes and gore-drenched visuals should look elsewhere.  Eklund plays his character almost too well as the grief stricken Dr. Burton, numb to the rest of the world while trying to save it.  His performance is a bit distancing, but appropriate, considering the magnitude of his personal loss.  His estranged wife has moved on, while he’s stuck in the past.  With his first feature-length film, director/co-writer Eron Sheean’s has crafted a fine little melancholy mood piece, reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s work.  It might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but it definitely leaves an indelible impression.

Rating: *** ½.  Available on DVD and Netflix Streaming.
Best Worst Movie (2009) Ex-child actor/documentarian Michael Stephenson provides a glimpse into the making of the monumentally bad Troll 2, and its ensuing cult following. We get the idea making this documentary was a form of therapy for him, as he re-lives memories of the production and tracks down the responsible parties, including fellow cast members and crew responsible for the film.  One of the key personalities featured in the documentary is Troll 2 star George Hardy, who now runs a successful dentistry practice in Alabama.  Hardy seems ambivalent about his ironic stardom, which has made him a household name in cult circles.  While he was greeted by throngs of admirers at Troll 2 screenings in the U.S., his U.K. tour was met with apathy.   It’s amusing to hear from delusional director, Claudio Fragasso, who insists he made a good film and takes offense at those who would tarnish its reputation.  Best Worst Movie is an affectionate examination of a schlock masterpiece and its Rocky Horror-style following.  While the material is a bit thin for a feature-length documentary, it’s an amiable, mildly engaging film.

Rating: *** ½.  Available on DVD and Netflix Streaming

Thale (2012) This Norwegian horror/fantasy from writer/director Aleksander Nordaas starts with an intriguing premise – two men (Jon Sigve Skard and Erlend Nervold, as Leo and Elvis, respectively) discover an old laboratory where a female creature from Norse mythology (a huldra), is being kept alive in a bathtub.  Silje Reinåmo is good as the frightened, unpredictable huldra named Thale.  We’re never quite sure what she’ll do next.   Nordaas chooses not to play up the sexual possibilities of the story, but focuses on Thale as a caged creature out of her natural element.  Most of the film is uneventful. We brace for something to happen, but to no avail.  It’s more of a rough sketch than a fully realized story.  Even at 77 minutes, the film drags, but it’s still worth a look for Reinåmo’s performance and tense atmosphere.
Rating: ***.  Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Wrong (2012) Writer/director Quentin Dupieux presents another head scratcher with this sporadically amusing follow-up to his existentialist comedy Rubber.  Unlike the former movie, this foray into absurdism wears out its welcome due to a lack of focus.  Jack Plotnick stars as Dolph Springer, deep in the throes of depression after he loses his dog.  He hangs onto his tenuous grasp of sanity by continuing to show up at work (where the fire sprinklers are constantly running), even though he was fired weeks ago.  On his quest to find his missing canine companion, he encounters several quirky supporting characters: Master Chang (William Fichtner), a self-professed guru who intentionally kidnaps pets so he can witness them reunited with their owners, a perpetually confused gardener (Eric Judor), and a ditzy pizza restaurant employee (Alexis Dziena).  Unfortunately, the random elements that made Rubber work don’t quite achieve the same ends with Wrong.  All of the bizarre bits seem to be thrown together arbitrarily, and nothing really gels as a whole, as if Dupieux had fewer tricks up his sleeve this time.

Rating: ** ½ .  Available on Blue-ray and DVD

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