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last update 17.Oct.09
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dir-scr-prd Marc Price
with Alastair Kirton, Daisy Aitkens, Leanne Pammen, Kate Alderman, Tat Whalley, Kerry Owen, Leigh Crocombe, Justin Mitchell-Davey, Dan Weekes, Dominic Burgess, Rami Hilmi, Simba Ngei
kirton release UK 23.Oct.09
09/UK 1h37

raindance film fest
colin Vivid proof that filmmaking is more about creativity than money, this micro-budget British movie takes an inventive approach to the ubiquitous zombie genre. It's rough around the edges, but is surprisingly fresh and engaging.

Colin (Kirton) is horrified by the snarling gangs of undead prowling the streets of London. But he's also been bitten, so soon goes through a nasty transformation. After managing to get out of his flat, he can't resist the urge to bite anyone who's still alive. He's rescued from a gang of zombie-bashers by his sister (Aitkens), but when she's bitten too, Colin continues on a quest to find his girlfriend (Pammen) and perhaps some form of redemption.

Filmmaker Price claims he made this film for £45, which seems like an understatement since the buckets of fake blood and grisly make-up effects alone are surely worth more than that. But the point is that by using handheld cameras and a remarkably adept cast, he achieves something many big-budget movies can't: he keeps us completely gripped to the story as it develops. And this is mainly because we've never seen a zombie movie that depends on emotional engagement with someone like Colin.

In addition to Kirton's superb performance, Price uses clever camera angles, a textured sound mix (including lots of bone-crunching), subtle special effects and telling cutaways instead of dialog to propel us into the situation. And the streets are impressively packed with either zombies or zombie-fighters, including a news crew covering the story. We watch all of this from Colin's perspective, which puts us right into the situations and cleverly inverts classic zombie-movie cliches.

Each situation Colin stumbles into is inventively twisted by the point of view. A crowd of ravenous undead in a small room is like a zombie rave, Colin's sister's attempt to help him feels like an intervention, being locked in a garden shed feels oddly elegiac, and an extended flashback gives Colin an emotional inner life. Even if some of the events are rather confusing and there's a bit too much shaky camera work, Price's persistent resourcefulness is a joy to watch, especially as he so effectively generates scenes of mass chaos and carnage without ever resorting to Hollywood-style overkill. As it were.

18 themes, grisly violence
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The Director’s Cut
dir-scr-prd Paul Komadina
with Jonathan Wood, Mollie King, David Maguire, Renato Fabretti, Jennieka Chattelle, Martin Williams, Shaun Martindale, Melanie Munt, Sam Barrett, Timothy Solly, Paul Komadina, James Helm
king and wood release Aus Feb.09 foff,
UK Oct.09 rff
09/Australia 1h27

raindance film fest
the director's cut Both silly and grisly, this Aussie horror-comedy struggles a bit to get the balance right, but the inventive idea keeps us laughing, especially as it plays with its filmmaking premise. And the plot suits the low-budget style perfectly.

Mike (Wood) is an egotistical director getting ready to shoot his first film, a 1940s drama set in the Outback. He thinks it would be really cool to incorporate big guns in the story, so he hires a dodgy arms collector (Williams). His producer Bobby (King) isn't impressed, while the lecherous lead actor (Fabretti) is too busy chasing the actresses (Chattelle and Mint) to notice. But accidents start happening before they even set off, indicating that maybe this film is cursed. And it only gets worse when they arrive at the isolated farmhouse setting.

That sharp-tongued Australian humour starts from the opening scene, during the auditions for the lead actress, and continues right through the carnage that comes later. Sometimes this gets a little over-the-top, such as when the horrific death of a friend triggers a cruel punchline, but you can't say it's not funny. And along the way, there are constant knowing gags about the business of making a micro-budget feature.

The characters are all sharply drawn and nicely played by the energetic young cast. Most of them are perhaps a little too gorgeous to be believable, and a couple of the performances are rather iffy, but we quickly get to know all 12 of the central characters, which is no mean feat. None of them are particularly likeable, which actually works for this kind of black comedy. Although this means that there's never any real suspense along the way.

Once the killing spree starts, we don't really mind who dies next, and at least the filmmakers don't kill the most obnoxious characters first. As it continues, the comical momentum flags as the story starts going in circles; most of the time it feels like it was made up as they went along. But as a comical mash-up pastiche about the difficulty of making your first movie, this scruffy little film is well worth a look.

15 themes, language, violence
8.Oct.09 rff
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Don’t Worry About Me
dir David Morrissey
prd John Maxwell
scr James Brough, Helen Elizabeth, David Morrissey
with James Brough, Helen Elizabeth, Barbara Hatwell, Kate Henry, Jason Mulhearn, Robbie Gott, Beverley Eve, Richard Helm, Rachael Kearney, Lisa Symonds, Greg Patmore, Chris Carney
elizabeth release UK Oct.09 lff
09/UK 1h29

london film fest
don't worry about me For his feature directing debut, Morrissey returns to his hometown Liverpool to adapt the stage play by costars Brough and Elizabeth. The result is an interesting story, but it's very difficult to engage with.

After a one-night stand in London, David (Brough) discovers that the woman (Henry) left an important work document behind and on impulse follows her home to Liverpool. But things don't go as expected, and he finds himself wandering the streets without enough money to get home. He meets betting shop clerk Tina (Elizabeth) and talks her into calling in sick, then the two spend the day seeing the sights and finding a listening ear. But when David does something unthinkable, it's not likely that Tina will want to have anything to do with him.

It's this second-act event that causes the film to unravel for the audience, because what happens is so nasty that we lose the ability to care what happens. As a result, everything that follows feels contrived. Although there's a bigger problem, because it wasn't hugely believable from the start. A main difficulty is that the performances are stagey and broad, which has the effect of distancing us from the characters to the point where we don't really want to spend any more time with them.

And there are some technical issues as well. The film has strikingly composed cinematography and some fascinating visual touches. But for a movie that feels guided so heavily by the Liverpool Tourism Board, it's oddly shot in colourless, flat digi-cam (rather than on more vivid hi-def or richer film stock). And many of the shots feel clever at the expense of, rather than in service of, the story and characters.

That said, the film has a nicely meandering tone that often feels improvised. Most scenes are caught like a fly-on-the-wall doc, which gives it a sense of intimacy that's rare for movies like this. (A better example of this genre would be the wonderful Irish drama ONCE.) But as the script starts revealing the characters pasts and their issues, the whole movie feels like it's cheating by keeping them together even for an entire day, let alone longer.

15 themes, strong language, sexuality
30.Sep.09 lff
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Resurrecting “The Street Walker”
dir-scr Ozgur Uyanik
prd Ian Prior, Ozgur Uyanik
with James Powell, Tom Shaw, Lorna Beckett, Gwilym Lloyd, Christina Helena, Molly Jackson, Anna Winter
release UK Oct.09 rff
09/UK 1h20

raindance film fest
resurrecting the street walker This clever British mock-doc plays with the horror genre while also telling a story about an obsessive filmmaker wannabe. It's shot and edited with fast-paced energy and packed with enough surprises to keep us on our toes.

James (Powell) is so desperate to make movies that he takes an unpaid job as a runner in a Soho production house, where the bitter staffer Dorothy (Beckett) makes his life miserable. While cleaning out the basement, he discovers reels of the unfinished 1980s slasher horror The Street Walker. Suddenly, James is obsessed with completing this movie about a man (Lloyd) who lures women to his flat pretending to be a filmmaker, then kills them. While his friend Marcus (Shaw) documents his work, James begins to slip into madness to get the project done.

The set-up is fiendishly inventive, with a film within a film within a film, all of which have something to do with filmmakers. James becomes convinced that The Street Walker was either a snuff film (it clearly wasn't, for technical reasons) or that someone died while making it, which of course plays itself out in his own experience as he struggles with barriers and calamities to get his ending on film.

Yes, most of this centres around movie in-jokes (James' ending is an homage to Vertigo), but they're so teasingly woven in that it's thoroughly enjoyable even as it gets increasingly grisly. The parallels between James and the killer are sometimes a little forced, but the natural performances feel utterly real, including the documentary interviews that narrate the story. These to-camera comments also add a nice sense of foreboding, as we know from the outset that something will go horribly wrong.

Writer-director Uyanik has created an impressively thorough world here, complete with clips of James' earlier shorts, back stories about his life and telling interaction between him and all of the other characters, mostly in scenes that feel almost accidentally captured on film. This is not an easy thing to do, and Uyanik makes it so authentic that we can't help but be drawn into the story. Meanwhile, he's playing with concepts of storytelling and myth making, including two of cinema's most enduring urban legends: the snuff movie and the cursed horror film.

15 themes, language, violence
8.Oct.09 rff
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall