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FrightFest 2009

Posted by: Matthew Turner 21/08/2009 @ 14:27
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 272
Films seen this week: I Love You, Beth Cooper, Red Baron, Afterschool, Chiko, Thirst

FrightFest 2009
Last year, thanks to the Edinburgh Film Festival switching from August to June, I was able to attend London's FrightFest for the first time. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I had an absolute blast – it's actually quite moving to see so many like-minded genre film fans gathered under one roof and that in itself guarantees an extraordinary audience reaction to each film. I have deep love for the Edinburgh Film Festival and am always saying how inclusive and welcoming it is, but FrightFest certainly rivals Edinburgh in that regard and even goes one further, by encouraging everyone (directors and stars included) to gather at the same bar (the Phoenix on Charing Cross Road) after the final screening of the day.

There are a couple of big changes this year in that the venue is shifting to the Empire Leicester Square and, for the first time, there will be clashing screenings (cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth), but the line-up looks as solid as ever. I've seen three of them so far, including the wonderful Pontypool (radio DJ holes up in studio while zombie attack rages outside), Colin (the £45 zombie movie and Norwegian Zombie Nazi romp Dead Snow (which features the brilliant tag-line “Ein! Zwei! Die!”). There are tonnes of films I'm looking forward to for FrightFest 2009 though, most notably Triangle (the new film from Creep and Severance director Christopher Smith), The Descent 2, Smash Cut (featuring porn star Sasha Grey, who's also the star of Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience), Spanish thriller Hierro, Night of the Demons (admittedly for shallow and obvious Diora Baird-type reasons), Philip Ridley's Heartless (with Jim Sturgess and Timothy Spall), Christian Alvart's Case 39 (with Renee Zellweger) and last but not least, the fabulously titled Zombie Women of Satan. FrightFest 2009 runs from 27th to 31st August.

Films I'm Looking Forward To: Zombieland
To be honest, I didn't even need to see the trailer to know I wanted to see this one. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale), Emma Stone (Superbad, The Rocker) and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) fighting zombies – tell me that doesn't sound like the best zombie movie EVER. I've always said that I would love to see Woody Allen in a zombie movie and I reckon Eisenberg's Woody Allen Jr schtick is probably close enough, or at least as close as we'll ever get. (Actually, the movie in my head was called Woody Allen Must Be Destroyed and featured Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme as cyborgs from the future trying to kill Woody Allen, but the essential idea was Woody getting stressed about things that were trying to kill him, so zombie movie is just as good.)

Two other things spring to mind on watching the trailer: 1) How awesome is it that Jesse Eisenberg has made the upcoming (and excellent) Adventureland and Zombieland back-to-back? And 2) I just love his comic timing in the whisky scene below. The trailer below is the restricted Red Band trailer, which means it's slightly less safe for work in terms of swearing, violence and what looks like a topless zombie (the cleaner version is here) but it does have several great lines – I particularly like Harrelson's delivery of “I haven't cried like that since Titanic,” the “Well, girls deliver way faster than boys” line and Eisenberg's description of Harrelson /films/woody-harrelson-film-star-601.html as being “like a giant cock-blocking robot.” Opens here 27th November, which means it's a good bet for the London Film Festival. Oh! Oh! And if you're not hooked already, it also has Bill Murray playing a zombie (at least according to the imdb. Can it be November already please?

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week, with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (suddenly, I find I'm no longer bothered by the spelling) roaring in at number one. Ignore the bafflingly negative reviews – it's easily Quentin's best film since Pulp Fiction, though it's a very different film from the Dirty Dozen-style adventure you might be expecting from the trailer. (You can also read our interviews with Tarantino and stars Diane Kruger and Christoph Waltz, but please be advised that they contain MASSIVE SPOILERS). The other two new entries are Afterschool (a sort of dark, arthouse version of a teen flick, though that's doing it a bit of a disservice) and Turkish-German drug dealer drama Chiko, both of which will need audience support if they're going to stick around very long. Elsewhere, Frozen River and Public Enemies are both still on general release, but as I mentioned last week, they're very much approaching the end of their runs, so catch them now while you still can.

1. Inglourious Basterds
2. Moon
3. Frozen River
4. Mesrine: Killer Instinct
5. Orphan
6. Sin Nombre
7. Afterschool
8. The Time Traveler's Wife
9. Public Enemies
10. Chiko

DVD of the Week: In The Loop (released Monday 24th August, RRP £17.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is Armando Ianucci's In The Loop, the big-screen spin-off of TV's The Thick Of It, in which spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) goes into overdrive when a Junior Minister's (Tom Hollander) off-the-cuff remark about the possibility of war is snapped up by Washington. With terrific performances from Hollander, Capaldi (playing the Alastair Campbell-alike Tucker as, essentially, a foul-mouthed hurricane in a suit), James Gandolfini (as an anti-war general) and Steve Coogan (as a frazzled voter with a pressing local issue), the film is a sharply written, frequently hilarious gem that serves as something of a swearing masterclass. The DVD makes a virtue of this, with even the trailer menu featuring lots of creative swearing. Extras include: interviews with Capaldi, Hollander, Ianucci, Gina McKee and Chris Addison; the trailer; 25 minutes of deleted scenes (or, more accurately, deleted bits of existing scenes); 12 specially created webisodes; and an audio commentary with the cast and director. All in all, an excellent DVD package, meaning both the film and DVD are highly recommended.


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