The second day of New Horizons International Film Festival has been all about the Cannes revelation “Parasite”, with a Tibetan road movie, a Canadian ghost story and a short story about madness in the shadows of the Korean film.
Dir. Joon Ho Bong
Hate Grade: 0/10
Halfway through the year and I’m already certain that nothing can top the unparalleled bliss of “Parasite” by Joon Ho Bong.
A lower-class Korean family of four barely makes ends meet, but a stroke of luck allows the son Ki-taek to find a job as an English tutor for a superbly rich family. Soon, the whole family of Ki-taek is drawn into a bizarre relationship with the wealthy Parks.
“Parasite” is cinema at its absolute best. Joon Ho Bong’s direction is flawless, his timing to reveal pieces of the puzzle makes you fiddle in chair, and wanting to stay in this incredible story as long and possible. Moreover, as it brings entertainment in its wittiest form, “Parasite” is elevated to a level of a genuinely crafted masterpiece thanks to its rich cultural and social context. Through humour, awe and horror the Korean darling joins the pantheon of the best contemporary films with head held high.
Dir. Quentin Dupieux
Hate Grade: 5/10
One-man spectacle that grows into a blood-drenched tale of madness is where “Deerskin” looks for its sweet spot. Unfortunately, such complete form never quite arrives.
Madness takes many forms and in Quentin Dupieux’s “Deerskin”, it is embodied by a leathery jacket with fringes, sold to the film’s main character, Georges (Jean Dujardin). Georges then travels to a small, French town and spends his days on tumbling down into insanity, always with the killer-style jacket on his back.
“Deerskin”, although limited to circa 80 minutes of runtime, stumbles a few times in its story development. The first half is much more confident, with Jean Dujardin’s dead-serious look and ridiculous dialogues, which helps Dupieux achieve a surreal, absurd kind of comedy. But the actor can only do so much, and when the script begins to run out of fuel, so does the whole scheme. It’s enough to say that “Deerskin” shows the exact same problems as an earlier crazy indie “Rubber” (also made by Dupieux), the infamous killer tire movie. By exploring the similar idea of humanising an object, the French director makes the very same mistake.
Dir. Pema Tseden
Hate Grade: 5/10
Indie devotees should be happy with what “Jinpa” has to offer, but the film’s entry barrier might be challenging for less festival-loving cinemagoers.
Pema Tseden’s well aware of the limitations his story has, thus storytelling takes over in the Tibet-set “Jinpa”. The titular Jinpa is a truck driver, who gives a ride to a hitchhiker he accidentally meets. The stranger, claiming he’s about to kill someone as an act of revenge, stays in Jinpa’s head long after their paths go the opposite directions.
As an exercise at shedding some light on the Tibetan life, Tseden’s film succeeds. The local customs and folklore usurp their own place in the simple story the director tells, but – rather than taking over the spotlight – they complete Jinpa’s journey. Thanks to the rich cultural canvas, “Jinpa” makes up for its overly simple plot and sometimes dire pacing.
Ghost Town Anthology
Dir. Denis Cote
Hate Grade: 3/10
Ghosts aren’t always bad – that’s what the director Denis Cote seems to claim in the ultra low-budget “Ghost Town Anthology”.
Cote’s film travels to the deeply rural part of Quebec – a village inhabited by circa 200 citizens. The tightly-knit community is shaken to its core by a car accident where a young boy Simon dies. The death triggers an avalanche of disturbing appearances of ghosts, scattered around the town.
Cote’s film relies heavily on the viewer’s imagination. If taken literally, or bound to be evaluated by its technicalities, “Ghost Town Anthology” reaches a level of a academical exercise, where the young crew’s allowed to make those mistakes. But when looked at from a broader perspective, Cote’s film plays with our perception of death and the place of ghosts in modern culture. As much as it’s a tale about dealing with grief, “Ghost Town Anthology” is also a look at the phenomenon of dying towns with no hopes for those inhabiting them.