Fantasia 2011: ‘Kidnapped’ – ‘Stake Land’ – ‘Trollhunter’ – ‘Some Guy Who Kills People’

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FantasiaFilmFestPodcast

Our sort-of Fantasia wrap-up continues. In this hour: Miguel Angel Vivas’s ultraviolent home-invasion thriller Kidnapped; Jim Mickle’s post-collapse vampire flick Stake Land, also out on DVD this week; and finally Trollhunter, the horror/comedy/mock-doc that’s been popular in Europe and on the fest circuit for some time. And, hey, bonus: we also have an interview with the writer and director of the John Landis-produced dark comedy Some Guy Who Kills People.

[powerpress]

Music

The Horrors- “Monica Gems”

Amor Fati – “WashedOut – Within and Without”

The Horrors – “Endless Blue”

3 Comments
  1. Ann Julia says

    Why include someone as inarticulate as “Justine” in any kind of discussion? She obviously has no sense of film history, critical methodology, or camera sense. Every other word out of her mouth is ‘like’ and if you listen to her commentary (and I use that word lightly) she does not make a single substantive remark. On a simple budgetary level, I challenge her to find another $600K film that is as ambitious or as visually dynamic as Stake Land. Another American film (outside of early Malick or Hellman) that is as concerned with landscape (geographic, political, personal, religious) and successfully so. Whether or not one likes Stake Land, it is simply uneducated (in any context) to say the film is some kind of sub MOW travesty. I’m not interested in Justine’s baggage, I’m interested in an intelligent reaction to the film.

    1. Justine says

      I don’t know why they have me on the show, and I apologize if I am not articulate for your tastes. I do take issue with your assessment of me as a film critic, but that’s not the argument. I won’t pretend I gave Stakeland a fair, reasoned or even “professional” review, because I didn’t. It’s probably not entirely fair to the film, I simply had a hugely negative emotional reaction to it, a visceral dislike for every supposed virtue you are championing. The film may be ambitious, but a lot of terrible films are as well. As for visually dynamic, the film did not grab me either. They created a convincing post-apocalyptic world, that I will grant, but it lacked heart or personality. I am forced to agree with Simon that the vampire make-up was a touch silly, and it worked heavily against the film’s sense of dread. Other flourishes that some may call “personality”, like the existential voice-over narration ran entirely false. They may not have been descriptive, but they were empty reminiscence into a psyche that was neither interesting or thought-provoking. I am not convinced the film brings anything new or frightening to the religious or political landscape of the United States. I’d even argue their take is simplistic at best, offering little commentary on the machismo and fear that drives people to structure and violence. What does Stakeland say about the political or religious landscape? That it is frightening? They may counter-act that with images of optimism, but the dialectical relationship between the two points of view failed to elicit any strong feelings or succinct view on the world they were presenting. This isn’t always a bad thing, but there is not enough in the film’s visual scheme for me to be absorbed solely by the atmosphere and not enough richness in their visuals to suggest any real ambiguity.

      If we are going to name films that are as ambitious and visually dynamic as Stakeland made on a minute budget, I can give Bellflower, another new release. It was made for one third of Stakeland’s budget and tackles the post-apocalypse with far more intelligence then the former film. If we are discussing “visually dynamic”, Bellflower is an aesthetic whirlwind, one of the few truly innovative films of the past decade. They are not merely an attempt at atmosphere or a reflection of ego, but a symptom of a poisoned view of the world.

      Other American films concerned with landscape? I’ll ignore classic Hollywood, since for the benefit of argument they are perhaps too “controlled”, though it seems a travesty to dismiss filmmakers like John Ford, whose entire body of work is concerned with the many ebbs and flows of the American consciousness as expressed through landscape. From the contemporary era, I can name more than a few films that I think are more expressive about landscape then Stakeland (Hellman and Malick are some great examples), the works of Sam Peckinpah, Robert Altman and Woody Allen are largely focused on what you are discussing. Perhaps Allen is limited by urban geography, but it is no less a concern or obsession in regards to exploring cultural and narrative identity. How about Bonnie and Clyde? My Own Private Idaho? Dead Man? Collateral? No Country for Old Men? Zodiac? There Will be Blood? That goes without mentioning European visionaries, like Wim Wenders, who use the American landscape (in the broadest sense) to express the personal and social anguish of a disconnected contemporary world.

      I genuinely found little redeeming factors in the film, it is one of the worst films I’ve seen in 2011. If it makes you feel better, I will certainly attempt (given the fact that I have no understanding of film history, critical methodology and camera sense, it’s all you can really ask of me) to be a little more substantive when critiquing a film I truly hate. Perhaps I am guilty of avoiding discussing films I don’t interest me by means of outright dismissal, which is not really fair, so that is something I will genuinely work to improve.

  2. Sasa says

    You can talk this way about classic movies, but you must stop spoiling new movies. It is really sad. Can’t you keep the plot to the minimum? It seems that you are not able to talk about movies without telling the whole storie. Rick is by far the worst in spoilers. At least start using some sort of spoiler alerts.

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