Our journalist David A. Harris continues his cinematographic journey at the 2017 Fantasia International Film Festival. Here are his latest reviews for the movies he saw recently. Today: Junk Head and Friendly Beast.
- Junk Head
In 2013, Takahide Hori created the stop-motion short film Junk Head. After picking up numerous awards, Hori expanded this marvel to epic proportions. It’s a tale of a human exploring the subterranean world of clones, monsters, and darkness. This gorgeous piece of art is unlike other movies of its kind. Most stop motion films, such as Kubo of the Two Strings Lee Hardcastle’s Claymation Horror tend to be very over the top and a little cartoonish. Don’t get me wrong, they are also stunningly beautiful that you get lost in the detail. Junk Head subverts this style. The palette consists of drab colours, browns, greys, and more brown, and its gigantic sets range from large cavernous rooms to claustrophobic corridors. You can actually see the cracks in the walls and floors, the dust and rust on all the machines, and the slimy hairless skin of the various creatures our hero encounters.
Junk Head is a slow paced movie. It’s more about philosophy and exploration instead of action, and noise. The action that does occur is a little choppy at times, and doesn’t flow as well as Kubo of the Two Strings. The vast majority of sounds used are the echoes of the footsteps and clanking of machinery. The ambience simply is so overwhelming is teeters on the sublime.
This movie is definitely not made for children. With the dark undertones and discussing lost identities ad purpose might be a little too adventurous mature for a younger crowd. This underground adventure dives into despair the deeper the characters go to find hope for the world on the surface. It’s a gloomy production, and if you are uncomfortable with not knowing a lot, then this movie might not be right for you. There’s an undeniable elegance in every little nook and cranny that this movie will stay with you for a while.
- Friendly Beast
After a late-night armed robbery awry, a restaurant owner and server’s desire to hold the power are put to the test. Friendly Beast is your typical bottle movie. There are less than a handful of location and characters. Ignacio, the owner, is an ambitious man who wants his restaurant to succeed. Sara, the server, lacks any kind of confidence, and just wants to keep her head down. Their personality changes drastically after they foiled the criminal’s attempt to rob them. Sara and Ignacio are no longer weak-willed and tame losers; instead they are the ones with the power. As they hold everyone at the restaurant hostage, their paranoia festers.
Gabriela Amaral Almeida directed a brutal and bloody movie. In a literal sense, a lot of blood was used, and at times it was a little too excessive. In a more figurative sense, the characters were extremely violent to one another. Their ever-changing attitudes and allegiances made it difficult for the audience to build up any trust. This made the tension between the restaurant workers, and arrogant guests quite enjoyable. It gave it certain realness to the working relationships in a restaurant.. If the dynamics are done right, it can advantageous. Friendly Beast took it a little too far at times. The over use of blood was a little too distracting, and I was not convinced of how quickly the characters’ personalities changed from scene to scene. They went from 0 to 100 in an instance, and on occasion, went even beyond that. Despite having a great premise and superb acting, the movie lacked the subtlety to make it a phenomenal thriller about trust, confidence, and power.
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