The People vs. George Lucas
Dir. Alexandre O. Philippe
Wednesday, April 13, 9:15 pm, The Plaza
This terrific documentary explores the achievements of George Lucas, the visionary genius who created the most loved film/toy franchise of all time. It also follows the despicable exploits of George Lucas, the deranged villain who achieved the once-impossible feat of “ruining” Star Wars. Talking-head interviews play alongside wacky footage of Star Wars fan films as we relive the entire emotional roller-coaster experience of falling out of love with a cultural phenomenon.
Remember buying all those Star Wars toys, comics, board games and breakfast cereals as a kid?
Remember lining up excitedly to see the “special editions” in theatres?
Remember Greedo shooting first, and missing from two feet away?
Remember hearing that Lucas supposedly destroyed the original, non-fucked-up film negatives, ensuring that our children will never see our favourite films the way we saw them?
Of course you do. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been talking about this shit for years. You might even think that you’re over it now and that you don’t need to see The People vs. George Lucas.
Wrong. If you’ve ever considered yourself a Star Wars fan, then The People vs. George Lucas is something you need to watch. It’s also great for showing non-fans what “the deal is” with the original trilogy, and why we get so worked up about it. After all, many kids now see Star Wars as a series of six films that are pretty much all the same. We must teach them the error of their ways before they turn to the Dark Side. That’s how we lost Lucas in the first place.
Interestingly, examining what “went wrong” in the Star Wars franchise is a great way to get in touch with how much we once loved it. After all, this is a series of films so engaging that many of us can’t discuss it without making lightsaber noises with our mouths.
The Force will be with you. Always. And fucking midi-chlorians have nothing to do with it.
You Are Here
Dir. Daniel Cockburn
Tuesday April 12, 7 pm, The Plaza
“Conclusion: no conclusion available yet,” says the archivist in You Are Here. What happens when your guide, your narrator, the one that’s supposed to help you, is lost? The film’s archivist (Tracy Wright) wanders her cluttered office, sifting through a number of mysterious documents — videos, audiotapes, books — and tries to make sense of them. To put them in context.
Surely, there has to be a system to it all. A map of connections that ties everything together. Because without meaning, what do we have?
We see a tired philosophy professor lecturing about the sea. We hear the story of a dozen people named Alan. There is a mad one-eyed techno-genius. A stark room for decoding Chinese messages. And perhaps most fascinating, a hilarious and dizzyingly orchestrated cacophony of four suits in an office, co-ordinating by phone the routes and locations of every inhabitant in a city, like chess pieces. Someone deserves an editing award for this.
These perplexing individual segments function like loosely connected short films, with subtle clues and concurrencies that bind the stories into a whole. It’s a maze through your mind. A narrative labyrinth. A work that demands your full attention for every second of its all-too-brief 78 minutes. There are ideas, puzzles and theories that force a long hard look at your own consciousness, your own mental processes. Richard Linklater directed by David Lynch. It’s an exercise, a workout for the synapses, and it beats any runner’s high. Stretch your brain and take it on a scenic walk. Draw your own conclusions.
Dir. Fernando Barreda Luna
Thursday, April 14, 9:30 pm, The Plaza
Atrocious isn’t exactly, well... atrocious. But it has an unexpected ending that is worth the wait.
Like Paranormal Activity, Blair Witch Project and the forgettable Quarantine, this Spanish film (with English subtitles) is the latest in the first-person mock-doc style following a similar type of filming, though by now, most people have probably caught on to the fact the films are not real.
The film begins with the Quintanilla family of five embarking on summer vacation in their countryside home. Curious teenage siblings Cristian and July are filming their entire vacation as they “investigate” urban myths, hearing there is a red-dressed ghost named Melinda stalking the labyrinth near their summer home.
Naturally, despite warnings not to, the kids go into the labyrinth and that’s when odd things begin to happen.
As the film title suggests, the family is murdered in atrocious ways, though much of the, er, atrocities occur off-camera. While the film allows audience members to see what happens before and after the deaths, much of the violence is implied.
The ending is very unpredictable and you’ll probably wish you could replay the last five minutes several times, but it’ll give you something to think about after the movie.
If you don’t like watching films that look like they were shot on hand-held cameras, then you won’t like this. But if you don’t mind going along for the ride, then Atrocious will be a slow climb to the top,but a suspenseful drop nonetheless.
Directed by Dana Adam Shapiro
Wednesday, April 13, 7 pm, The Plaza
Cast as the sensible half of a troubled Brooklynite couple in this American indie drama, Parks and Recreation star Rashida Jones nails the right mix of pique and impatience as her character copes with her fiancé’s worsening case of commitment anxiety. In fact, it’s hard not to agree when Nat accuses Theo (Chris Messina) of “obsessing about stupid things,” especially in light of the movie’s tendency to do the same.
Theo is a wedding photographer who spends his downtime taking secret photos of his fellow New Yorkers, but only after they’ve asked him to do so (it’s an artistic project, you see). Keeping up with the tradition established by the professional voyeurs we’ve met in the films of Hitchcock, De Palma and Egoyan, Theo develops a fixation on his latest quarry: a blond exhibitionist with a fondness for public sex. Even after Nat is hospitalized with a medical crisis, Theo stays up all night shooting fresh pics and studying the frames for clues about the mystery woman’s identity.
Of course, Theo’s really just freaked out by the prospect of marriage, though that doesn’t make the character’s egregious self-pity and hipster-stalker demeanour any less repellent. Nor does co-writer and director Dana Adam Shapiro know where to go with the setup. Unable to commit to its erotic-thriller tropes, Monogamy settles for being an overwrought portrait of male neurosis and narcissism. Jones has little to do besides look fed up, and justifiably so.
Directed by Jim Mickle
Thursday, April 14, 11:15 pm, The Plaza
Given the deluge of dystopian visions like Zombieland, The Road, The Book of Eli, George A. Romero’s recent gorefests and TV’s The Walking Dead, viewers may be dealing with a case of post-apocalyptic-America fatigue. How many times can one place get overrun with flesh-eating creatures, anyway? And won’t we ever get to see a band of human survivors who can get along with each other?
By now, devotees of genre movies are very familiar with this kind of blood-soaked terrain. That’s why they’ll be quick to recognize the uniqueness of Stake Land despite its surface similarities to just about all of the aforementioned flicks. In the second feature by director Jim Mickle (Mulberry Street), the U.S. has been largely decimated by a plague that has turned much of the population into nasty, ugly and very un-Edward-like bloodsuckers. As he tries to journey north to the safe haven of Canada, the film’s young hero, Martin (Connor Paolo), learns hard lessons in survival while under the tutelage of a stoic ’n’ grizzled vamp hunter known only as Mister (Nick D’Amici).
If not for the movie’s intense battles between desperate humans and sharp-toothed critters, Stake Land might’ve been credibly passed off as a vintage western. What’s more, it would’ve qualified as a very good western — that’s because Mickle and his collaborators place a greater priority on character and story elements than gore, campy humour or cheap thrills. By Stake Land’s final scenes, the film has achieved not just a rare level of intelligence but something like grace. In the unlikely event Terrence Malick gets around to making a post-apocalyptic vamp-western hybrid, it’ll look and feel a lot like this.