May 17: All the Lonely People. Movies Reviewed: The Collapsed, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles PLUS Inside Out Festival

Posted in Canada, Disabilities, Disaster, documentary, Ham Radio, Hotdocs, Mental Illness, post-apocalypse, Uncategorized, US by CulturalMining.com on June 8, 2011

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

It’s been raining and foggy and overcast for almost a week now – it’s hard to get up in the morning when there’s no sun coming in through your window. I thought this was supposed to happen in April — April showers? On the other hand, it’s a good time to go to the movies.

You won’t be missing much by shutting yourself into a dark room with some friends and a tub of greasy popcorn. And odd characters – the ones who won’t show themselves outside are nest viewed in the dark. So this week I’m going to talk about some new movies — two documentaries and two feature films — about reclusive, eccentric, lost, or just plain strange or unusual people.

The Collapsed

Dir: Justin McConnell

In this Canadian horror film, a family – Mom, Dad (John Fantasia), and their kids, Jennifer and Aaron (Steve Vieira) — is riding around after the world has ended. The skyscrapers are on fire, the streets are deserted and there are bodies lying around here and there.

Something or someone scary is out there – you can tell because the music goes plink plink plink, and because of all the flies stuck to fly strips hanging from the ceiling.

So Dad tells them to pile into their car and drive away from populated areas. They’re sure the bad guys must be after them because there are some man in camo with gas masks on shooting people. (Note to self: the good guys do wear plaid, bad guys wear camouflage…)

Then they do a bunch of horror movie-like things like explore abandoned houses, and running through the woods pointing their long guns at threatening noises. “Lets run wildly thorough this corn field!” or “let’s split up in the middle of the woods and explore!” You know, the usual. More bzzzz sound effects, more meaningless dialogue, more scary plink plink plink music… and then comes the weird sounds: Grouuouououwwwhhh… someone’s in the woods!

Is it a zombie? Is it a ghost? is it an alien? Who knows…? Who cares.

The thing is, there’s almost nothing scary about this movie. I can see that it’s ultra low-budget, so they can’t afford pricey special effects, but there’s no real horror in it at all. Finally, after a whole hour – a whole hour! – has passed, it starts to get a bit interesting. What or who is killing everyone? And why? Will they be able to catch it? And what’s the cause of it all?

The movie gets better right toward the end. There are some twists revealed and plots explained in the last 10 minutes, so you might want to stay till then, as it’s the most exciting part of the movie… but that means watching pointless wandering through the woods for the whole first hour.

This movie is just not scary enough.

Also opening next weekend is a really good documentary, about a historical icon and controversial figure:

Bobby Fischer Against The World

Dir: Liz Garbus

Bobby Fischer was to chess what Muhammed Ali was to boxing — a superstar, a huge international sensation in the early 70’s, a face known around the world. He rose to prominence in the midst of the cold war, and his historic tournament, Fischer against Boris Spassky in Reijkavik was touted in the media as a huge factor in International diplomacy and the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) talks. He personified America and the west, in his games against Spassky for the Soviet Bloc.(much like in the Hockey games between Canada and the Soviet Union.)

This movie follows Fischer from his childhood (he was raised by a single mother — a communist with a PhD) through his teen years, to his amazing fame in the next few decades, until his tragic spiral into infamy as he was engulfed by paranoia and mental illness.

It also concentrates on the big tournament Itself, where the world was transfixed by Fischer’s astounding gambits and seemingly incomprehensible chess moves, his lateness, and other mindgames, that so unnerved Spassky, that he, too, started to suspect spy cameras and strange noises coming out of the walls and the lights.

.

After the tournament, he gradually, and intentionally faded Into solitude after being overly exposed to paparazzi and intrusive media.

Then, following 9/11, Fischer re-emerged from obscurity with some outrageous statements to the press — but, unexpectedly, he was arrested for this and held at Narita Airport, until a third country offered him asylum.

The director has put together an amazing assortment of photos, obscure TV and film clips, dating back to his childhood, including B&W TV appearances as a young boy, and footage of his hilarious Olympic-style physical training captured by a photographer.

His triumphant and tragic life are told in this really fascinating and vivid historical documentary — I strongly recommend this movie.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Dir: Jon Foy

Speaking of secretive, elusive, and eccentric figures, here’s a movie about those weird messages that have been appearing in the surface of streets in the US east coast for a couple decades. These coloured tiles, imbedded into the tarmac, all say the same thing:

Toynbee Idea

In Kubrik’s 2001

Resurrect Dead

On Planet Jupiter

Just that –a haiku-like remnant of someone’s thoughts duplicated thousands of time by an unknown person, with occasional bizarre rants on tiny sidebars vowing vengeance on evil journalists and newspapers.

This extremely low-budget but compelling documentary looks at a group of friends in Philadelphia who attempt to track the writer down. A self-taught artist who lives in a squat, and some friends he gathers on the way (including the filmmaker) become a roving Scooby Gang, out to uncover the secret behind the Toynbee Tiles. Who made them? Where does he live? What’s his name? Why is he saying these things? And… what Is the David Mamet connection?

Delving into the fringes of society (in places like shortwave conventions) and knocking doors in Fishtown they explore the influence of an obscure but widely known prophet. The movie is as much about the characters involved in the search as it is about the one they’re searching before. I liked this unusual documentary, which was shown at Sundance and Hotdocs.

The Canadian horror movie The Collapsed, and the documentary Bobby Fischer against the World open next week, Check your local listings, and Resurrect Dead played Hot Docs and will open at a later date.

Also starting today is Toronto’s Inside-Out film festival, a celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual and Queer features, videos, TV shows, documentaries and short films, including Canadian and world premiers of films with a queer theme. In addition to Toronto and Canadian-made movies, this year they are featuring films and TV shows from the UK, as well as many from the Middle East, Latin America, Greece, Italy, and elsewhere. Look out for the film and discussion “Dykes Planning Tykes: Queering the Family Tree”; the new UK film The Night Watch, based on Sarah Waters’ amazing novel; and Gun Hill Road a drama about family relations for an ex-con in the Bronx. For details, go to insideout.ca.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies for CIUT 89.5 FM, and on my web site, Cultural Mining dot com.

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