Day Two – Doctor Doctor, Gimme Gas In My Ass!

It was an early start to see The Sound Of Noise and after a mixed breakfast (toast for Shaun, everything else for Colin) we headed to the Auditori for a 9.30 screening. On the way we saw Hernan putting out the chairs at the road cafe, and the cause of our late night wished us well but scratched his head when we described the film we were going to see.

PRADO – 9:30hrs – SOUND OF NOISE

“That’s the trouble with violinists, they’re always on the fiddle.”

After making their debut in Cannes with short film BAKOM MAHOGNYBORDET it’s taken Simonsson & Nilsson 15 years to get around to making their first feature length film. It was well worth the wait.

This is a heist movie with a difference. It’s not money or diamonds these criminals are interested in but noise. More specifically, noise pollution. The gang plan to undertake four elaborate noise heists while trying to keep one step ahead of the law.

A fantastic cast delivers rhythmic comedy in perfect harmony with the film’s overall tempo. The fact that the material, as crazy a concept as it is, is delivered up dry and straight just doubles the fun. The heists are fantastically creative set pieces, each one more imaginative than the last, and with an original score to match the filmmakers were note perfect in building up to the film’s brilliant crescendo. A resounding thumbs up.

…..with extra pep in our step after the day’s great opening film we made our way up to the Auditori, taking the opportunity to discuss and resolve all of Derby County’s problems along the way. A quick coffee stop in Can Xavi had Shaun drooling at the “bikini” toasties but we were rolling to a schedule and the Auditori beckoned……

AUDITORI – 14:00hrs – LA CASA MUDA

“Hammer house of horror.”

This Uruguayan feature debut from director Gustavo Hernandez is based on the true story of an unsolved murder from the 1940’s. We were drawn to this film less by the story than the fact that it was shot in one take and only using a “photo camera”.

There was a lot we didn’t like about this film. In the main it was slow and flat and lacked any real creativity. There were missed opportunities to give the characters and story any depth so as to lend more weight to the final third. There were scares and they were accompanied with their fair share of gore and claret, however, these were rolled out using tired old techniques that had been used to better effect previously.

However, to pull the film up on these points alone is unfair and we should instead take our hat off to a feature length film that was completed in a single take and with what we assume was a relatively low-tech equipment. The film looked incredible considering this and should serve as a reminder to any budding filmmakers that equipment, or lack thereof, shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not getting out there and shooting. However, at the same time it also reminds us that a weak story is a weak story no matter how you shoot it.

…..we needed to collect tickets from the press office for the following day’s films and we were given the impression that the numbers in attendance were back up this year as the queues had lengthened. The organisers had stuck with the same format as the previous year and, in general, things seemed to be running smoothly.

Heavy demand for press tickets the previous day had meant that we were denied our chosen film NOTRE JOUR VIENDRE as tickets had run out, and we instead had to swerve for for the kind of film we’re increasingly looking to avoid……

RETIRO – 18:30hrs – FIRE OF CONSCIENCE

“We’re going to need some hot water and clean towels”

The following should be read with the understanding that we’re pretty much done with Hong Kong films as a result of unfulfilled promise after unfulfilled promise. We’re presented with what, at first sight, appear to be moody characters, plot lines and visuals, however, what we then end up with is all of the above rendered ineffective as Hong Kong cinema does what Hong Kong cinema does best. Hong Kong cinema.

The paths of two very different cops are brought together following the murder of a prostitute. Their ultimate goals are worlds apart and the forces of bent cop vs good cop will have to duke it out if good is to prevail.

The film quickly resorts to type. A myriad of plot threads are introduced, each one never allowed to evolve beyond the basic minimum. It’s as if Hong Kong filmmakers have a checklist of emotional elements they have to include if their audiences are to walk away satisfied. Give ‘Em what they want we suppose. In the case of action films we end up with exaggerated swings between overly tender moments and loud action sequences which are far too complicated for their own good in order to tie up plot points.

In terms of quality you get everything you can expect from Hong Kong cinema so if that’s your thing then great. We happen to think the Koreans do it a whole lot better.

…….after FIRE OF CONSCIENCE left us distinctly underwhelmed we headed for the comforting familiar faces of CS members 3 & 4, friends Em & Laura from the UK. We tried out a new bar called La Kassoleta which is fronted by one of the guys from El Cable, one of our favourite Sitges hang-outs. It felt like we were being unfaithful (though I am sitting in El Cable as I write) but we tucked into their tapas anyway before moving on to our next film which we had tipped to be one of our stand out films of the festival.

PRADO – 21:45hrs – RED, WHITE & BLUE

The director, Simon Rumley, was in attendance and having won an award for a short film and also premiering his first full length feature at previous festivals, he’s a bit of a Sitges favourite. However, after turning up with an entourage of fawning journalists in tow and then giving a pretty conceited introduction to the film we weren’t impressed. Probably the most bizarre thing was his choice of clothing which appeared to be two sizes too small for him. We speculated that he’d possibly lost his luggage and had had to borrow clothes from someone far younger and smaller than him, but after seeing his crocodile skin cowboy boots we just figured he was a bastard dresser.

As to the film itself? Everything we’d read had our expectations raised a notch for a highly stylised, love tangled, violent revenge masterpiece. We were looking forward to a great performance from Noah Taylor as the mysterious war veteran, and we were hoping Rumley himself would turn on the style.

Not only were we disappointed but we were bordering on angry. Taylor managed to produce the goods with what little he’d been given and Amanda Fuller impressed as Erica in the central role which served as the catalyst for the escalating violence to follow, however, we’re struggling to identify redeeming features beyond that.

We love a revenge flick so it’s hard to see where this could have gone so wrong. The writing was awful so it’s a compliment to Taylor and Fuller that they could deliver their lines in any fashion. Large periods of the film were devoid of anything meaningful. Serving either as page fillers for a rushed or half-finished script or as shop windows for the director’s indulgent attempts at stylised visuals. Whatever the reason, the film was the worse for it. Throw in baffling editing choices and a poor score, both of which served only to annoy, and whatever idea Rumley may have started with was reduced to nothing.

……we left the cinema disappointed and angry by a film and director that promised much but failed to deliver. We headed straight to our safe place to discuss indie film making and larger life issues. Hernan! Large beers por favour.

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