The Strange Stuff: Cinemania at Tribeca 2011
At Tribecas Cinemania program, the weirder, the better. A diverse collection of eight horror, crime, and sex films, the fests genre slate features a few too many retreads this year, including two found-footage Blair Witch Project knockoffs in Grave Encounters and The Trollhunter. But its three best selections, all unhinged and going for broke, deliver the gory and gonzo goods.
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Panos Cosmatoss sci-fi saga is a head-scratcher, a patience-tester, and a mind-bender. Set in an alterna-reality 1983, its taleof a lunatic research doctor, his young female patient/captive, and happiness-producing pills that lead to alien madnessis unadulterated oblique insanity told via a pastiche style indebted not just to famed auteurs like Kubrick and Argento but also 70s and 80s future-fantasy B-movies. Whether it all makes sense is irrelevant; its a dystopian nightmare of inkblot hellholes, psychic powers, and bald demons into which one doesnt enter so much as plummet.
A musical variation of a Japanese soft-core porn pink film shot by famed cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, Hero) with a stylized naturalism that amplifies the materials absurdity, Shinji Imaokas ode to eternal love marries surreal whimsy and earnest empathy. The story of a fish-factory worker whose life is complicated by the arrival of a dead high school crush whos now a kappaa mythical man-creature with a beak, tortoise shell, and hairless scalpthis bizarro romance randomly indulges flights of song-and-dance fancy set to tunes by French-German duo Stereo Total, as well as serves up multiple bouts of explicit interspecies eroticism.
Dick Maass Santa Claus slasher film repurposes genre conventions to amusing ends, imagining Hollands version of the jolly old soul as a Freddy Krueger fiend who, burned alive for heinous crimes centuries earlier, returns to wreak havoc on the naughty and nice. If never outright frightful, it remains a jokey and reverential Wes CravenviaJohn Carpenter riff fit for a midnight bill.
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