TIFF 2010 is officially on and once again Joe and I will be in attendance for every Midnight Madness screening and will try our best to best to post some quick thoughts everyday of the fest. Wooo, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
The opening night gala featured two films, both Canadian. First was the short The Legend of Beaver Dam followed by Fubar 2.
The Legend of Beaver Dam:
The 12 minute short is a rock musical focusing around a group of camping children and a councilor telling ghost stories around a fire. Unfortunately the councilors story awakens the ghost he is speaking of and what follows is an epic battle between good vs. evil that is incredibly gory and catchy. All around this short was absolutely amazing, the acting was top notch especially from the young hero Danny, the music was rock opera gold, and all the blood just pushed this one into the sublime. Hopefully the creators expand on this idea, I would love to see a feature made out of this or better yet a rock opera. All around fantastic.
Terry and Dean return after an 8 year hiatus and it's good to see the time off hasn't softened the boys one bit. This time around the boys try to straighten up their lives by getting jobs out in the oil patch to hilarious effect. Unlike the first Fubar, the mockumentary angle has been dropped in lieu for more direct story telling. There still are talking head segments however the use of special effects and footage captured of private moments loses the illusion of documentary film-making. Fortunately this change of style doesn't hinder the laughs as they come at you at breakneck speed. The leads, David Lawrence and Paul Spence, are incredible improvisers and almost everything that comes out of their mouths will have you keeling over. The introduction of a new character to the group played by Terra Hazelton is a welcome one and she is equally impressive next to David and Paul. While at times the film does suffer from some dragging, especially in it's last act, it still is a lot of fun for anyone who enjoyed the first film.
Toronto concert-goers are often criticized for their lack of enthusiasm during live music shows, often standing still, or at most lightly swaying as if it were Joni Mitchell and not Devo on stage. What I witnessed last night was testament to the fact that critics are simply looking in the wrong places. Attend any hard rock or metal show (I've done several in the past few months) and you'll see all kinds of movement and enthusiasm in the crowd, from solitary headbangers, to aggro moshers, there's always an exhilarating sense of vitality, physicality, and a little bit of danger. Well, that's what we got last night at the premiere of Michael Dowse's Fubar 2, where the audience seemed much more like that of a rock show than a typical stuffy film premiere. But then again, Midnight Madness audiences have always been a little...strange.
After a rowdy introduction by programmer Colin Geddes, we were treated to a delightfully twisted short film, The Legend of Beaver Dam. Starring Sean Cullen as a camp councilor singing a campfire tale of Stumpy Sam, a deranged madman who appears out of the woods to kill you with his knife if his name is uttered 3 times. But Camp Rock this ain't - we get a death metal spewing slasher in Sam, a children's choral harmony, and lots and lots of blood. Really enjoyable short with a neat twist, and the perfect "opening band" (as Geddes referred to the film) for the headliner...
Ahhh, Fubar 2...imagine Andrew WK staging an updated reimagining of Don Shebib's Goin' Down the Road. Terry and Deaner are BACK, and they're ready to party. I kind of feared that this might be a tired rehash of the first film (which I loved), but it went somewhere else completely. Absolutely hilarious, with many laugh out loud moments, and lots, and lots, and LOTS of beer.
This time around, Terry and Dean head up to Fort MacMurray on their friend Tron's recommendation. Tron claims he can get the guys jobs instantly and they'll be making hundreds of dollars a day. Well, things go a bit rough at first, but as Terry and Dean "settle" in, they find themselves raking in the dough, the majority of which is squandered at local dive peeler bar, called, er, Peelerz. It is there they meet Trish, the voluptuous local talent of whom Terry quickly becomes enamoured, and things start spiraling out of control. Hump dumpers on lube tube.
All the dialogue was improvised, and the hilarious (and sometimes disturbing/depressing) outcome is a credit to the actors who nail perfectly the dimwitted hoser humour and comic timing necessary to keep this franchise feeling fresh. Props to all involved, a great film, a great crowd, and a night that allowed me, for a few moments anyway, to forget that I'm battling a nasty cold (don't envy the person sitting next to me....oh wait, that was Kris) and simply laugh without restraint. There was a bit 3/4 of the way through where I felt the proceedings began to drag a bit, but the film soon regained its footing and we were off and running again. The first Fubar is a modern day Canadian classic, and the sequel is every bit as good. Canada now has a new comedy duo to match Bob and Doug MacKenzie. I also liked how David Lawrence (in attendance) was wearing an Anvil t-shirt underneath his flannel. Nice nod.
Already worn down by this cold, and exhausted from getting home at 3 am last night, and with Kris mentally imbalanced from reading House of Leaves, I'm not sure if we'll be able to last the next nine days. Will we crack? Which films will be the best? I can't imagine any crowd being more raucous than last night, but it's Midnight Madness, so you never know...
- the coelacanth