Dark Star: HR Giger’s World
Sun 5, 1:45pm (Luna), Fri 10, 8:15pm (Paradiso)
Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger died before this documentary had its premiere, and so it becomes a kind of eulogy. It is a sombre and intimate work directed by Belinda Sallin, who was granted access to Giger’s darkened domestic realm; a large cottage, cluttered with the artist’s work, shrouded in dim light, embraced by close-knit trees, the property surrounded by the urban sprawl of Zürich. Giger’s second wife, Carmen, is the director of the Giger Museum, but this documentary focuses chiefly on the extensive work found within Giger’s home, and gently probes into the man’s work ethic and inspirations, which included his lover and muse, Li Tobler, who committed suicide in 1975, and, most famously, the amazing, award-winning design work he did for Ridley Scott’s Alien.
Dark Star feels like a portrait made by a dear friend, who has visited for tea. It is an unassuming study of a truly brilliant artist who sketched, painted (a champion of the air brush), sculpted, and built (including a small train and track that circumnavigated his labyrinthine garden). Giger delved into his own “nightmare” world and preferred to inhabit it, rather than just pluck from it. He fetishised the vivid themes of birth, sex, and death, and fused them with a fascination with industrial machinery and gadgetry: startling, often erotic, bio-mechanoid creations that shone from the abyss of his soul.
Sat 4, 7:15pm (Luna), Sun 5, 9:15pm (SX), Sun 12, 3:15pm (Luna), Sun 12, 9pm (Paradiso)
Imagine a screenplay written by Hal Hartley, and then snatched away, manhandled by David Mamet, and directed by the Coen brothers. Hollywood might be that bastard, might be that bitch. Or it might be something else entirely, perhaps early David Lynch delving into some of the Mulholland Drive ideas that he’d revisit later. This is a Tinseltown that is so highly stylised and self-conscious it threatens to slap it’s own reflection in the mirror. Instead, it lays the mirror down, snorts a line or two from it, winks knowingly, and laughs hard at the once-pretty and weathered face it sees lying in the gutter, staring hopefully at the stars.
Writer/director/actor Davidson Cole made a feature back in 2002, which almost no one saw. The ideas about fate, identity, self-control, and free will have surfaced again in Hollywood, only this time they are bitten by a very dark satirical chomp. A father (Grainger Hines) and his adult son (Cole, uncredited) are holed up in a Vegas hotel with a pretty pricy call girl (Dana Melanie). The father has a ton of baggage, the son is a struggling screenwriter, and the hooker gives great eyebrows and has a sensational wardrobe. Over the next few days the father’s bullshit surfaces and barks loudly at the son. Hollywood features great performances from the core players (Hines, Cole, and Melanie), an excellent score, and a peculiar (and frustrating) narrative (with literary-style “chapters”) that makes for a most memorable strange dream experience.
Vixen Velvet’s Zombie Massacre
Fri 3, 9:45pm, Fri 10, 10:15pm (Luna)
Writer/Director Stefan Popescu’s third feature, shot once again in the wintery Canadian landscape, features Kathryn Foran (who co-starred in his previous Canadian co-pro Nude Study) as porn star Vixen Velvet, who has loftier aspirations, but is clutching onto reality as the fictional horror premise of her latest porn flick invades the real world. Can she save the world, or at least, save herself and her hapless colleagues? The spit and mascara might be running, but it’s the blood and jism that’s gonna hit the fan!
A guerilla mockumentary that straddles the no-budget rodeo and takes the crazy bull by the horns, this is one black comedy that takes no prisoners, as much a gonzo satire as it is a horror parody. Vixen Velvet’s Zombie Massacre is the lowbrow exploitation indulgence for highbrow’s wanting to get down and dirty. A classic example of DIY filmmaking, that takes the creative urge and shoves it into the proactive blender. A shameless cult projection that threatens to tear up the undead etiquette book and use it as a gimp gag! All hail Velvet!