10 DAYS IN SITGES

Day 10 – Better than Britney. 

Call me old and prejudiced, but normally I don’t watch movies designed as acting vehicles for teenage pop singers. That I was willing to make an exception for “The Twins Effect” is mostly because sometimes I feel like watching a train wreck. I had never heard of the titular Twins before, but apparently these girls are big in their native Hong Kong. Surprisingly, their film is neither a romantic comedy, nor an uplifting story about two young girls from a poor neighborhood becoming famous pop stars. Instead it is about two young girls aiding a legendary vampire hunter in battling an old European vampire wreaking havoc in modern-day Hong Kong. The film opens with the most amazing martial-artists-vs.-vampires battle and never disappoints after that. Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi (they are not really twins, see) have real comic talent, making their characters likeable and keeping the film highly entertaining even when no high-flying face-kicking is going on. Hong Kong action aficionados get cameo appearances by the likes of Jackie Chan as a nervous groom and Karen Mok (So Close) as his ditzy bride. With this onslaught of action and humor, it is unavoidable that not every joke hits the mark, but most of them do. Count me in for a sequel. Don’t count me in for a remake.

I may not know much, but I do know two things for sure: There never was and never will be such a thing as an “anti-war” film, and you cannot condemn violence by showing violence. It is no wonder then that “Battle Royale II: Requiem” fails on every level. The sequel to the insanely popular Japanese satire “Battle Royale” was the last project for the original’s director Kinji Fukasaku, who died January 2003 during production, and was finished by his son Kenta Fukasaku. This time, a group of assumed juvenile delinquents is shipped to an island to take out a teenage terrorist or die. The Fukasakus intended to make a statement against the so-called “war on terrorism” and for the rights of children. To me the film’s message seemed to be that terrorism at least gives the young people something to do. To most of the noisy audience in Sitges the film seemed to be about how explosions are really cool.  
 

And the Premis go to… 

Several awards are given each year in Sitges by several juries. Here are the 2003 awards in the main category (Premis Fantàstic): 

Best Art Direction: Scott Gallagher for “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

What? It may not be the most important prize, but still. Even the otherwise equally bland “Wrong Turn” had better art direction. May I suggest “Zatoichi”? 

Best Make-Up Effects: Gianetto De Rossi for “Haute Tension.”

Right on. 

Best Short Movie: “El Tren de la Bruja” by Koldo Serra.

Oops, missed it. 

Best Visual Effects: “Gozu” by Takashi Miike.

Yeah, well, the effects were okay. 

Best Original Music: Keitchi Suzuki for “Zatoichi.”

Exactly. 

Best Cinematography: Decha Seementa for “The Tesseract.”

Good choice. 

Best Screenplay: Michael Haneke for “Le Temps du Loup.”

You see, the press screening was kind of early, and I was getting to bed kind of late the night before… 

Best Actress: Cécile de France for “Haute Tension.”

Any other decision would have been scandalous. 

Best Actor: Robert Downey Jr. for “The Singing Detective.”

I like Downey. But I like Bernard Giraudeau in “Ce jour-là” and Beat Takeshi in “Zatoichi” better. 

Best Director: Alexandre Aja for “Haute Tension.”

Hear, hear. 

Special Jury Award: “Gozu” by Takashi Miike.

What’s so special?! 

Best Movie: “Zatoichi” by Takeshi Kitano.

A safe, predictable and slightly disappointing decision. From the films in competition, my pick would have been “Haute Tension” or “Ce jour-là.” 

Honored with the Time Machine, a kind of lifetime achievement award, were festival guests Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Stan Winston, Takashi Miike and Tobe Hooper.




Posted on January 7, 2004 in Festivals by
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