After a late and heavy night, Shaun took a pass on both breakfast and the first film of the day leaving Colin to take one for the team (you would have thought we’d have learnt not to use phrases like that in Sitges by now)……
RETIRO – 10:00hrs – RUBBER
“wheelspin or skid mark? No reason”
This bizarre tale comes from Quentin Dupieux, a.k.a Mr. Oizo, and braces us for the strangeness to follow by reminding us that in the movies, as in life, there’s often no reason for why things are the way they are. They just are.
It’s best to keep that thought in mind as we’re introduced to the film’s main protagonist. A car tire which can move of it’s own free will and has telekinetic powers which it can use to kill, kill, kill. This is much to the delight of the group of spectators who have been assembled to watch the tire’s trail of destruction from a safe distance with the aid of binoculars.
Great looking, cleverly undertaken and shot, this is way more entertaining than you may imagine from the synopsis, and this is down to the smart approach employed by the filmmaker. Helped by great performances from the human members of the cast and the most charismatic tire you’ve ever seen, Dupieux delivers this with class. And that’s without even mentioning the exploding bunnies and human heads. Corridorstyle definitely gives this the rubber stamp.
……….We also planned on attending the lunchtime press conference for Donnie Darko, but ended up giving it a miss after Shaun lazily wrote R Kelly instead of Richard Kelly on the schedule and we didn’t really want to watch a man urinating on 14 year old girls. We’re seeing ‘A Serbian Film’ on Thursday and thought we’d wait until then for that particular pleasure.
So, after an unbelievably slow walk up (we were being overtaken by pensioners) we arrived at The Auditori to see our next film, Rare Exports. Unfortunately for us, the weekend screenings attract ‘The Bridge And Tunnel’ crowd from Barcelona, and not only was it a sell out but we weren’t even able to bag our regular seats on Corridorstyle Row, something that would cause us problems over the next few days.
AUDITORI – 14:15hrs – RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE
“He’s going to find out who’s been naughty. He’s not bothered about the nice”
Following on from his award winning “Rare Export” shorts Finnish director Jalmari Helander brings us more of the same in this his first feature. As the doors of the advent calendar are opened and the countdown to Christmas begins it’s not excitement that young Pietari feels but an ever increasing sense of dread, and he’s sure it has something to do with the excavations being carried out in the mountains surrounding the town.
This Christmas tale with a twist is a smartly crafted work with great performances from director and cast, in particular Onni Tommila impresses as Pietari, the unlikely hero of his town. We’re a little confused over the target audience as although this was more of a kids film than we imagined there’s enough swearing and full frontal nudity to confuse the censorship board. Still a great Christmas film and we’ll be making sure we’re well behaved boys for the rest of the year.
…….We had a couple of hours between films so popped down to the marina to meet the rest of team CS (Em & Laura) who seemed to eat everything on the menu in the cafe we were at, but with hangovers looming over both of us like storm clouds, coffee was all that passed our lips. We then joined the press queue for the next film, John Carpenter’s The Ward, complaining bitterly about Barcelona trendies nicking our seats.
AUDITORI – 18:15hrs – THE WARD
“Are you nuts!? It’s John Carpenter.”
The master was back at Sitges and although it had been Ten years since his last film, fans of John Carpenter’s work hadn’t forgotten his genius and had gathered en mass.
The stage is perfectly set for JC to weave the magic he weaves better than most. The setting, a psychiatric ward, oozes menace from the start and there’s a sense that a dark past lurks in the shadows that fill every corner. Our main characters occupy a ward not unlike Jack Nicholson’s in “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” and we soon learn that something has a hold over them beyond the medicine and the hospital staff.
Carpenter does indeed bring his trademark talents to this tale and although the story and performances themselves are nothing special the scenes inside the ward are well crafted and serve to maximise the tension Carpenter will unfold with familiar camera work and score. Certainly not a spectacular return but it was good to have him back all the same.
……With barely enough time for us to grab a quick toilet break, we were straight into our next film, Secuestrados, and for the third time on the bounce we couldn’t get our regular seats.
AUDITORI – 20:15hrs – SECUESTRADOS
“Scream if you want to go faster.”
Having won much praise for his earlier short films Spanish director Miguel Angel Vivas brings us a “Funny games” style home hostage for this his second feature.
A family are given a house warming party of the kind they really didn’t want as hooded thugs violently force their way in to their home, taking husband, wife and daughter hostage until the gang get what they came for.
The violent and bloody opening minutes of the film quickly grabbed our attention and the following jump to scenes of peaceful domesticity served to put the audience on an expectant edge. The director’s use of an initial long, relentless take served well to hold that expectation until the unwelcome visitors enter with crash. However, once the initial hostage situation is in play there’s little to maintain the tension and the film drifts flatly until a power shift between hostage and hostage taker escalates the blood and violence.
Apart from a few gruesome acts of well CGI’d violence and touches of black comedy this offered little new in what’s been seen before. This was also an example of what we here at Corridorstyle have now coined as “Steady-cam Syndrome” where the recent flood of low budget films made using hand held digital cameras seem to forego plot and performance just to get a film in the can. Thinking that the ability to get the camera up close and personal, or dancing between it’s cast and locations with the odd trick thrown in constitutes filmmaking. The camera work actually just left the CS team feeling sea sick, sure in the knowledge that there will be plenty of similar productions to Wade through in the future making it harder to find the gems.
……We left Secuestrados to join the rest of the team in a new bar they had discovered called Donostiarra, a traditional Basque-style Tapas Bar serving the pintxos we are so fond of. The girls were already half way into a bottle of Cidra, so the signs were already there that we would be having another late night, and after working our way through Beer, Cidra and Vermouth we finished the night off at Trocadero. Thankfully the self-serve beer pumps were out of order, or we might not have made the end of the festival.