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Shadowman – Art, Life and Death

Danny Peary speaks with director/producer Oren Jacoby about his acclaimed New York documentary Shadowman, which explores artist Richard Hambleton, who passed away a month ago.
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Another WolfCop (Monster Fest)

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Following on from 2014’s WolfCop comes another gory slice of lycanthropic lunacy, and why the hell not? Made for a pittance, packed with gross-out gags and homebrew effects and cheerfully willing to drift back and forth over the line of good taste, it’s just the thing for the sort of people who like that sort of thing – which includes us. If you liked the 2014 original, have very expectation of finding a good time here.

The title is the conceit – cursed to transform into a monster on the full moon, boozy ne’er-do-well small town plod Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) fights crime, discovering that having superhuman strength and a full suite of werewolf powers give him a heck of an edge over both criminals and the shape-shifting alien cult who are the real villains of the piece (WolfCop spreads a a wide genre net – just go with it).

The sequel finds Lou still fighting the good fight, much to the consternation of his partner, Sergeant Tina (Amy Matysio), who would rather he lock himself up on the night of the full moon. Of course, there’s a problem only the WolfCop can deal with – shady businessman Swallows (Yannick Bisson, normally being much nicer in Murdoch Mysteries), whose plan to revitalise the local economy by reopening the brewery conceals sinister designs. The plot is actually a lot more sensible than these things generally are, if only by the lights of a fictiontal universe that includes werewolves, aliens, and talking penises.

But is the plot what we’re here for? Hell no! We’re here to see Lou bust up scum like a hairy Robocop, chugging beer and hanging hairy dong (there are a lot of dicks in this thing). Writer and director Lowell Dean takes a shotgun approach to comedy and spectacle, in a similar vein, if not quite tone, to the old Zucker-Abrams-Zucker moves – if something doesn’t land right for you, something else will be along in the next two seconds to earn your approval (unless you have a problem with hairy, cross-species sex scenes, or a sworn officer of the Crown snorting moon dust off a scythe like a furry Tony Montana, in which case, God help you).

What really hits home is how very Canadian the whole thing feels – even American ringer Kevin Smith, here for a cameo as the town mayor, fits the bill, with his avowed love of Canucksploitation and all things Degrassi. There’s a tendency for Anglophone genre fare to shave down their local eccentricities in hopes of cracking the fabled “American Market”. WolfCop has no truck with that sort of nonsense, all but rolling around in a big pile of maple leaves. There’s a lot of hockey, a lot of Canuck slang, and a lot of cultural references that probably go sailing past non-Canadian viewers, but it all adds up to a feeling of cultural authenticity.

That’s important – there’s a voice here; it’s not a willfully bad movie hoping to get by on The Room-style ironic appreciation. WolfCop Part Deux may have been made with limited resources, but it never does less than its best to try and laugh at itself -it’s genuine. It’s a proud little film, and it’s got a lot to be proud of.

Look, when we drill right down to it, Another WolfCop isn’t going to change anyone’s life, and it’s not meant to. It’s a groovy movie full of guts, gore, and dick jokes. It’s briskly paced at 82 minutes and it spends every single of of those minutes trying to entertain you. If you’ve got the right kind of eyes for this sort of thing – and you already know if you do – you’d be insane not to get yourself in front of it.

 
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Lost Gully Road (Monster Fest)

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In the second feature from filmmaker Donna McRae (Johnny Ghost), Lucy, a young woman played by Adele Perovic, spends time roaming through the woodlands, her red jacket in sharp contrast to the greenery that surrounds her. It would be a postcard moment of peace and harmony, if it weren’t for the isolation that underscores this scene and several others. Lucy is in hiding, sheltered in a cottage set up by her sister. And whilst she waits it out till she can go back home, an unseen presence within the cottage is trying to reach out to her.

 

Ostensibly a gothic-tinged Aussie ghost story, Lost Gully Road’s simple premise is one from which the director, along with her co-writer Michael Vale, manage to explore a less supernatural societal issue; attitudes towards women. It’s not just the presence that haunts Lucy which appears to have unclear boundaries of acceptable behaviour. From the minute Lucy arrives at her temporary home, she comes under scrutiny from those she meets; particularly the local shopkeeper Brian (John Brumpton), who makes a simple transaction into something more salacious. Much is made of Lucy’s mental health and whether what’s happening to her is part of that illness. Rather craftily, by doing so, the film makes the audience complicit to some extent in Lucy’s treatment by making them question what’s truly happening to her.

All of the above gestates in a slow burner of a tale that doesn’t feel rushed to get to where it’s going. Some may find the pace too languid for their tastes when it comes to things that go bump in the night. However, spending so much time with Lucy as her days of isolation blur into one, gives the film a dark brooding sense of fear. Like the everyday micro-aggressions that can wear out a person, it’s not Lost Gully Road’s shocking and brutal ending that does the most damage, it’s being witness to the small things that led us there.

 
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Inseparables (Cine Latino)

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French film The Intouchables was a major hit both in its home country and abroad back in 2011. So much so, it probably comes as no surprise that it’s been booked in for an American remake, which should surface next year in the shape of The Upside. Meanwhile, over in Argentina, the film has already been reinterpreted as Inseparables and the result is a mixed bag.

Felipe (Oscar Martínez) is a wealthy quadriplegic who requires around the clock support. Tired of being babied by the people hired by his PA, Felipe decides to give duty of care to his fiery-tempered gardener, Tito (Rodrigo de la Serna). Tito lives a hand to mouth existence and his rough and ready approach to life is in sharp contrast to Felipe’s.

Even if you’ve never seen the original, or simply know about the true story upon which it’s based, you’ll already be fully aware of where this all going; with Felipe discovering, through Tito’s abrasive care, that there’s still so much more to enjoy in life.

There’s no denying that Inseparables wears a large heart on its sleeve. It’s a sweet natured film and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Both leads have a strong chemistry that ensures you’re more than happy to stay in their company for the remainder of the film. De la Serna is particularly strong as the boisterous but fragile Tito.

And yet, what truly lets the film down, is director Marcos Carnevale seemingly not wanting to deviate too much from the source material. We’re not talking Gus Van Sant’s Psycho in terms of mimicry, but if you’re not going to put your personal stamp on it, and with so much brought over wholesale from the original, it’s a wonder why you would remake it all.

 
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That’s Not Cheating (Cine Latino)

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Sometimes, in relationships, we promise our partners things that we will never follow through on. Whether that be getting a pet, cutting down on fatty foods, or allowing them to sleep with a celebrity should the opportunity arise. It’s the latter of these options that makes up the premise of Argentine comedy, That’s Not Cheating.

Nerdy Mateo (Martin Piroyanksky) has an undisguised crush on actor Zoe del Rio (Liz Solari), which his girlfriend Camila (Lali Esposito) gently mocks by offering him a ‘free pass’ in the unlikely event of him ever getting to meet her. Unfortunately for Camila, Mateo does indeed cross paths with Zoe and the two end up getting on like a house on fire.

Directed by Ariel Winograd, That’s Not Cheating initially mines its humour from Mateo’s decision to hide this initial encounter from his loved one. However, it manages to avoid being a bro-ey celebration of his infidelity by quickly ensuring his plans go awry. From there on out, the film follows both sides in the relationship as they try to deal with the aftershock. It’s a smart move and allows Esposito to be something more than the cliched nagging girlfriend who just doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a ruddy bloke. Refreshingly, she makes just as many mistakes as Mateo, particularly when it comes to her own celebrity crush in the shape of hipster celebrity, Antonio (Guillermo Argeno).

Genuinely funny in parts, with solid performances from its leads, That’s Not Cheating runs aground due to its predictability and rather stale approach to vacuous celebrity culture. Additionally, for a film that chastises its male lead for objectifying women, it certainly goes out of its way to objectify Solari, whilst suggesting that anyone who doesn’t meet her body measurements is liable to be mentally unstable.

 
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At The End Of The Tunnel (Cine Latino)

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The bank-heist is a tough sell in the modern thriller canon. In 2017, it would be near impossible to break new territory after a slew of immortal heist films throughout the nineties and early noughties — Point Break, Heat, or even the first act of Nolan’s The Dark Knight come to mind. At the End Of The Tunnel isn’t even half as good as these, nor should we expect it to be. There’s no dead president masks in this one, after all. Still, Argentinian director Rodrigo Grande makes a solid attempt at revitalising the genre — throw some bad guys in a tunnel and the (somewhat) good guy in a wheelchair and we have relatively new territory to plunder. The results are mixed.

Joaquin (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is a broken man in more ways than one. He’s paraplegic with the inexplicable loss of his family haunting him. Presumably the circumstances are somehow linked, but he now wiles away the days tinkering with his computers in the basement. Joaquin also happens to live next door to a bank stacked with dirty gangster money. When Berta (Claro Lago) and her mute daughter Betty (Uma Salduende) start renting Joaquin’s room upstairs, the stage is set for thrills and a few spills.

At the End of The Tunnel twists and turns enough to keep things interesting. Pablo Echarri is suitably menacing as Galetero, el jefe of the tunneling criminals. The heist itself is well orchestrated, but other plot points are ham-fisted and occasionally troubling. In the first act, Berta — an exotic dancer — casually stripteases for her new landlord Joaquin on his birthday as a get-to-know-you. By the second act, Joaquin is shooting her up with doggy meds (it’s as bad as it sounds). The third act is the real kicker though, because there’s love at the end of this impossible tunnel.

The juries of several international film festivals would tell you there are good reasons for the jarring moments, but the cognitive dissonance on paper is about the same on screen. Still, it has a grizzly ending worthy of Hollywood and truth be told, if you put Denzel in the wheelchair, At The End Of The Tunnel would come off like many of his paint-by-numbers thrillers. That’s not a bad thing. Those films are perfectly good rainy day fare.