Off the beaten reel
by Sean-Paul Boynton
Tired of the usual Oscar schlock? Worried that independent film may be squashed once and forever by the rise of 3D-tainment? Aren’t you sick of hearing the words “James Cameron” mentioned in any discussion of
modern filmmaking? Us too. Thankfully, there’s a haven for all of us at the Calgary Underground Film Festival.
Now in its seventh year, CUFF has acted as a valid successor to the more well-known Calgary International Film Festival, by showing truly left-field and subversive films that push boundaries and traditional tastes that its big brother usually fails to catch. This may be why the CIFF has been struggling over the past couple years, while the CUFF has only continued to grow and grow. This year brings a truly unique mix of the strange and the beautiful, the shocking and the transcendent – not to mention a slew of Albertan and Canadian premieres – that come together to create a potent combination that should make for a wild week of film.
The festival goes down April 12-18 at The Plaza Theatre in Kensington. Regular screenings are $10 each, which certainly beats the price at the Cineplex. Check out our picks for the best bets of the festival, and visit www.calgaryundergroundfilm.com for a full detailed rundown of the works being shown.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Director: J. Blakeson
Tuesday, April 13 @ 7 p.m.
This British thriller has drawn comparisons to Danny Boyle’s early work (Trainspotting, etc.), and it lives up to the hype. Two men convert an apartment into a prison cell in order to contain Alice Creed, demanding a ransom for her release. Before long, the intellectual Alice forces her captors into a battle of wills that ultimately tests each player’s resolve.
Wednesday, April 14 @ 9 p.m.
This series of short films, all under 20 minutes long, will be presented in a swiftly sporadic style, alternating between styles and audience reactions from one to the next. The climax comes with the premiere of The Road to Tubby Dog, a film about Calgary’s own Ramones tribute band, the Remones, as they struggle to achieve a dream gig at the fabled hot dog stand. A live performance from the band itself will follow the films.
When You’re Strange
Director: Tom DiCillo
Friday, April 16 @ 7 p.m.
Narrated by Johnny Depp, this documentary tells the story of The Doors through never-before-seen footage from their career, including performances, along with present-day interviews with the surviving members of the band and archival accounts of conversations with Jim Morrison before he died in 1971. A must-see for any fan of the band, or music in general.
Director: Rob Stefaniuk
Saturday, April 17 @ 9:30 p.m.
This satirical look at fame and the music business focuses on a struggling-in-the-shadows punk rock band that only becomes famous after the members all turn into vampires. Featuring former Kid In The Hall Dave Foley as the band’s manager, as well as cameos from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins and Moby, the film features a killer soundtrack and plenty of laughs.
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:45
A modern-day B-movie in the grandest of that tradition, this action flick with a feminist slant focuses on a group of women who are kidnapped by an evil corporation and transformed into assassins, complete with (according to Luke Goodsell of Rotton Tomatoes) “chainsaws sprouting from their mouths, transform into tanks, have machine-gun busts, katana-sword hips, and…use shrimp tempura daggers to take out the eyes of villains.” Awesome.
Director: Harmony Korine
Sunday, April 18 @ 9 p.m.
Director Korine has made a living splitting audiences with his disturbing genre subversions: some love his work to death, while others avoid him like the plague. His latest work is no different, but it’s probably best to judge for yourself through taking a chance and seeing it. The press accounts do a better job selling this film than the various trailers circling the Internet, but in a nutshell, it documents a group of sickly seniors living on the outskirts of society who…well…hump trash.