We had a very tight and risky double-bill for Saturday. The Disappearance of Alice Creed was scheduled for 7:20 at da Sève (supposedly to end at 9:00 according to the very helpful Fantasia iCal file) with Blades of Blood to start at 9:25 at the Hall. That leaves us with a very tight 25 minutes to hope to get a good seat at what is a big martial arts Saturday night blockbuster. I guess they didn't think there would be much of a cross-over between fans of low-budget British crime thrillers and big budge Korean martial arts epics.
I got to da Sève with plenty of time and a spot very near the front of the line-up. As I am sitting there minding my own business, I start noticing a gentle woman's voice saying something that sounds vaguely official. It was so quiet and almost soothing that it wasn't until the same thing was repeated in french that I realized that it must be something official. When I realized that she was asking us to evacuate the building, I really had to wrestle with whether I should take it seriously or not. You could see everyone else in the line-up going through the exact same mental gymnastics. With our commitment to keeping our place in the line and the lack of any actual security guards, there was a good chance we might have just stayed. It wasn't until they opened the doors to the theatre and started driving people out that we moved.
It turns out, this was the second evacuation of the day and it appears to have been simply a malfunction of the alarm system, possibly due to the high humidity and the storms. Annoying as all get out. We ended up being almost 45 minutes late for the start of the movie. Even then, I had a vague hope that we might make it in time for Blades of Blood, but when I checked my watch in the theatre and saw it was already 9:00 with a lot of movie left to go (and a gripping storyline; yes, I'll get to the movie itself eventually!) I realized it was a lost cause. As a younger man, I would have completely lost my shit in such a similar situation, but age and the embarrassment of cinematic riches that is Fantasia has mellowed me considerably. Honestly, it's been a very tiring week and the notion of getting home earlier than expected, even on a Saturday night, had its appeal. Finally, The Disappearance of Alice Creed was a great movie, thoroughly satisfying, and so, though a tiny part of me twinged for the lack of flying swordsman on the big screen, we simply got a free pass from the ticket booth for a future film.
I also had a very interesting conversation with an elite Fantasia fan in the line-up behind me. He had 50 tickets this year and has been going since the beginning. He told me some pretty cool anecdotes about what it was like back in the day, including how they always overbooked the movies at the Imperial. When it was a Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie, they had to shut the doors in the face of the people at the end of the line-up. He said that for one really packed show, he was one of the last people to get in and he looked back and he could see the now-closed doors bowing inwards from the pressure of rejected kung fu movie fans! Man, those must have been the best screenings. Can you imagine seeing Hard-Boiled at Fantasia?! Holy shit.
Okay, so now onto the actual movie. I'm really not going to say much beyond that it was great. Tightly-written, well-acted, tense and entertaining. A great new addition to the neo-noir genre. If you like gritty, character-driven crime dramas, then you should go see this. The less you know the better. The plot is that two guys kidnap a girl. I'll leave it at that. It was also beautifully filmed. I usually don't care about mise-en-scène, but this movie just had some great little framed images that really captured the combination of the bleak Isle of Man semi-industrial locations and the nefarious activities going on in there. The opening sequence, showing the preparation for the kidnap was like exquisitely filmed crime planning porn for me. Top notch all the way around. Go see it.