The homework’s been handed in, previews compiled, and the ‘must-see’ list drawn up. We’re not ones for ceremony here at CS so let the festival begin.
A somewhat tardy start for the team as we arrived Saturday, two days into the festival and straight into the thick of the Matinal de Santa Tecla celebrations and a Sitges full house. The sun was shining and the Barcelonistas were out in force, swelling the queues but bringing the Mediterranean glamour to the festival’s red carpet parade.
In an attempt to catch up with the festival we’d scheduled two films for Saturday evening and within an hour of our arrival we were walking the Auditori’s blood red carpet for the Greek film KYNADONTAS
KYNADONTAS – AUDITORI – 18.30HRS
Our second Greek film in as many years and we’re already getting the impression that they’re reading from a different script. Last year’s TALE 52 was weird but it didn’t feature a family of dog impersonators who also thought that aeroplanes flying overhead were only the size of plastic models that occasionally fell into their garden, kittens were vicious animals that could rip your limbs from their sockets, and Zombies were small yellow flowers.
A bizarre story of a family’s self-imposed isolation from the outside world, where the parents’ version of reality is the only one the children are allowed to learn. However, the parents’ version is about as far from reality as you can get, and deliberately so for their own twisted purpose.
They control their children’s every thought and action by maintaining a state of fear and confusion, however, this ‘reality’ can only be maintained for so long and as the outside world begins to seep in, the parents struggle to contain the children’s curiosity and frustration.
Both the director and the actors were given extremely challenging material to work with but delivered utterly convincing performances. Some of the more uncomfortable scenes were approached with total conviction and even the most bizarre dialogue or alien of scenarios were never anything but believable. Add to this the film’s distinctive look and the director’s excellent use of the camera and the end result is a solid effort at what was an unusual subject.
…………After a weird but reasonable start to the festival with KYNADONTAS we’d allowed a couple of hours to reacquaint ourselves with Sitges before one of the big events of the festival, Park Chan-wook’s THIRST. It had been a couple of years since the Wookie had graced the Sitges stage and we were chomping at the bit.
THIRST – EL RETIRO – 22:45HRS
PCW’s foray into vampire territory with a tale of a priest who contracts a deadly blood virus but, unlike all before him, survives. However, at what cost? The priest soon realises that the virus can only be controlled by a constant intake of fresh blood and his initial attempts to satisfy this thirst through his version of a transfusion soon move on to more direct and sinister means.
The word “disappointed” doesn’t really encompass our reaction here but it’s a good place to start. Perhaps we raise our expectations too high for the man who brought us OLDBOY, perhaps we just want or expect a continuation of that style, but we can only give you our opinion at this moment and right now the Wookie’s got some unhappy fans with a bucket load of questions.
Did you end up with too much material in the can and just couldn’t pull it all together in one coherent piece? Did you understand the material in the first place? Did the film end up as you expected or desired or were external forces brought to bare on the final cut (the editing certainly left a lot to be desired)? What did you think the final film was actually about? Vampires? Love? Religion?
We can’t even fall back on our love for Park’s stylised visuals or powerful use of score as both were either lacking or misused. The usually excellent Song Kang-ho made a valiant attempt but all the elements of this film appeared scattered over the screen, unrelated or disinterested in each other. Every pun intended. This film sucked!
……………There’s only one way team CS knows how to deal with this kind of disappointment and heartache and that’s as though we’d just broken up with our girlfriend because she ran off with our best mate. We’d have to drink heavily to mourn the loss of our best mate obviously. A quick beer in Cafe du mond and another in Soho were mere stop-gaps as there really is only one venue for the job. Hernan and The Road Cafe. Forward wind to 4am and this year’s festival had been given the now customary launch.