Friday, July 31, 2009

Fantasia is ovah!

Well Fantasia just wrapped up this Wednesday. Fantasia is North America's largest (and best) genre film festival. It features a wide range of horror, martial arts, giant monster and other international movie craziness. It lasts about 3 weeks in the middle of the summer here in Montreal and basically takes over my life during that time. The first two years I was here, I did 30 movies. This year, I only made it to 20. A big part of that was because I was out of town for the first long weekend and missed a couple crucial Hong Kong movies as well as some others that I will have to wait to come out on DVD.

One of the best parts of Fantasia is the audience. They are totally into it. The people are already pretty hyped at the beginning of the movie, but if it's good, they go crazy. You can risk missing some chunks of dialogue due to laughter or cheering (like when a particularly nasty bad guy gets offed). I always think it must be so amazing to be a director or an actor and be present when your film is screened at Fantasia. A lot of these movies are very low-budget, quite obscure and probably can't hope to do better than maybe get a small DVD distribution. So when you get a packed house of people laughing and cheering at your work and then you get to come up afterwards for a Q&A, you must be so totally psyched.

And the audiences are the best for the midnight showings. They always have one on Friday and Saturday night, usually following one of the more popular films. A lot of people are there for both, but you also get some more trendy members who aren't such hardcore film geeks but have heard about the film through the local media. People are dressed a bit more styley, sometimes tricked out in whatever is the genre of the movie (goths or anime fans, for instance). You can also tell that some people have been partaking their recreational drug of choice (and I often bring my handy flask).

The midnight shows tend to be the crazy over-the-top movies (like a screening this year of Troll 2 or Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl) or something really freaky and hardcore that may be too much for the evening audience. Three years ago, someone passed out during a particularly gory moment in Neighborhood Watch. After it was over, when Mitch Davis was introducing the Q&A with the director, he explained what the kerfluffle was about and the audience exploded in cheers. We all felt quite proud.

Unfortunately, I wasn't so happy with this year's midnight selections. Plus, I was taking it easier in general. So I didn't get to experience a really zany midnight showing. I did have a wonderful festival overall. There were at least 4 films that I would say were outright excellent. Of them, I would strongly recommend that you check out Private Eye, a Korean movie about a private detective who joins up with a young medical intern in pre-WWI Seoul to hunt down a murderer of high-ranking officials. Well-written, with excellent direction and acting, it just captured a real sense of adventure and escapism.

The other movie, that will probably make it to an arthouse circuit was Terribly Happy, a Danish neo-noir about a cop who makes a mistake and gets sent to be the sheriff of a small town in Jutland. Shit gets weird. This movie strongly reminded me of one of my all-time favorites, the Coen Brothers Blood Simple. Really satisfying and well done. Talk about creepy rednecks. We North Americans don't think they have them in Scandinavia. This movie will disabuse you of that notion.

And my hats off to Mitch Davis. He is one of the main programmers and he works hard all year to bring the best stuff to us. He only does about a dozen write-ups or so in the program (of something like 120 films) but those are the movies you should seek out. Thanks, dude!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 versus Google

Well for the first time, I accidently used, Microsoft's newly branded website. I wanted to figure out how to turn off the pernicious automatic updates in Adobe Acrobat. I was using my boss's computer (trying to speed it up) and he unfortunately only had Internet Explorer installed. Bing is the default search engine in the little box in the upper right hand corner and I didn't realize that until it was too late. Here are the results:

As you can see, none of the links returned offer any direct solution to the problem. Possibly, in the first link I may find an answer in that thread in those adobe forums. Even weirder, the third link has nothing to do with Adobe at all and is specifically a windows-oriented site.

Here is Google's result:

Practically every single link there gives me the kind of answers I am looking for.

Obviously, this isn't a scientific test but it basically confirms what I had suspected. Microsoft's search engine sucks.

But let's talk about their marketing for a moment. Let's see, they have the biggest name in computing and instead of using it, they hire some retarded band of consultants who probably did a bunch of "brainstorming" and "market research" and "focus groups" and then came up with a generic sounding name with a bunch of arguments justifying why it will help catch eyeballs and attract people to the site.

Hey geniuses, how about "Microsoft Search"?

Note to the consultants: In Canada, a bing-ring is a vulgar term used most often by adolescent males. It refers to the ring of feces surrounding the base of the penis after that penis has performed an act of sodomy. Another job well done, Microsoft!

I ask you all from this day forwards, when referring to this mediocre search engine, to use the term until Microsoft wakes up and takes it and its heinous ads off the market.

Monday, July 27, 2009

2 more signs of the oncoming apocalypse

I'm happy as a clam these last three weeks being thoroughly immersed in the best film festival in the world: Fantasia. My only complaint is that the blogging and reviews that are usually done while the festival is going on are really poor this year, especially in english. If I'd known Dread Central (who usually do a great job) was going to mail it in this year, I might have offered to do it myself as I have plenty to say about the festival and the 18 movies I've seen so far.

I'll talk about Fantasia later, I just wanted to take a moment to share a couple mini-rants with you today.

First of all, there is a new behaviour I've noticed at Fantasia and this is losers who show up for the show after the show has started and the house lights are down use their cellphones to light their way. I must use the greatest restraint not to spring from my seat and dash their cursed little toys over their head. I mean, c'mon, you are too fucking lame to let your eyes adjust to the darkness? I know part of this phenomenon is because someone thought it was a cute and clever re-application of the cellphone. Well it's not. It's weak and annoying. It's distracting to other moviegoers and infuriates those few men left in the world who have any balls left. If your night-vision is so poor that you can't see the stairs in a dark theatre, you need to stop leaving the house altogether. Better yet, please just kill yourself.

The other, far more disturbing thing I noticed is that it now appears to be impossible to buy underwear in any quantity. Now I'm sure this was always the case for homos, metrosexuals and Night At the Roxbury-types who buy designer underwear (just typing those two words together makes the bile rise in my throat), but now even Hanes and Fruit of the Loom brands come in friggin' two-packs! Two-packs! Who the fuck buys their underwear two at a time? I can not even imagine a scenario where a male would need to buy only two pairs of underwear, unless maybe you are on the road for a weekend business trip or something and forgot to pack your underwear (or soiled yourself getting too drunk with the clients). It's just another example of branding and commodification working its way down to every level of consumer good so that we have more packaging (and thus more waste) and an excess of false choice. Underwear should be sold in a minimum of 7 per pack, to make a solid week of having clean underwear. I even looked online (though I will look harder) and all the sites there sell only two-packs, with the occassional 4-pack of coloured underwear (which no man should wear unless they are boxers).

In New York, on Orchard street, you used to be able to get packs of mistake underwear for a really cheap price. They had some small error that made them not good enough to go into the main distribution channel, but I could never tell what those mistakes were. I don't know if those stores are still there, but does anybody from Montreal know if there are any places like that here? This used to be a shmata town, so possibly.

I love life, but fuck the world is a discouraging place when you are surrounded by untermenschian losers and an economic system that encourages their behaviour.