Thursday, April 12

2018 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Director's Cut

2018 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Wednesday, April 11th 2018

Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2018 Phoenix Film Festival & International Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival. I'll be using these posts to recap the films I've experienced as part of these festivals.

I was only able to make one movie last night. I'm glad it was this one.

DIRECTOR'S CUT – Directed by Adam Rifkin

This is probably the most meta film I've seen since Spike Jonze's ADAPTATION (2002). This film actually constructs multiple artificial 4th walls, just to tear them down. I'll keep this review pretty short and sweet without too much detail. I don't think I could write a synopsis even if I wanted to and it will likely be a better viewing experience if you go in at least a little blind.

I was pretty cautious about getting excited for this film. I guess I had my own walls up. I thought it was a pretty clever idea. But about 20 minutes into it, you can start to telegraph where it's going and I began to worry that it would amount to a one-trick-pony that tries to stretch a feature out of a good short. I was very pleasantly surprised as this film continued to stack layer upon shrewd layer of satire and spoof. 

I thought the casting here was perfect for the exact type of film that was being satirized. At the center, you have Missi Pyle. She is the perfect object of lunatic obsession. Harry Hamlin, an aging TV and film star who is now best known as the husband of Lisa Rinna is exactly the type of actor that would be cast in what looks like a straight-to-video thriller. And then you have Hayes MacArthur. He's fine here. He totally looks like an average movie city cop. I was glad to see him more so because I'm a big fan of TV's most underrated sit-com, Angie Tribeca. Mix in a healthy dose of cameos by Marshall Bell (TOTAL RECALL), Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS), Gilbert Gottfried and of course, Teller and you have all of the dynamics needed for a behind-the-scenes tangent every 15 minutes or so.

All of the other ingredients of the film are in on the joke. The acting, cinematography, score and especially the editing are all done in a way to either serve to spoof the film within the film or to authenticate the actual narrative being told. Everything done in the "Knocked Off" film was heightened for effect and contrast with the cynical and disaffected movie making half. Jillette's screenplay works to bring both of these world together in the 3rd act. Taking myself out of this film for its finale, I had to appreciate what must have been the painstakingly tedious task of making a movie, fake-bad.

This flick is not for everyone. I heard as much grumbling leaving the screening as I did astonishment. It is however for me. I've always loved meta filmmaking, especially when it takes it as far as it can. Charlie Kaufman's screenplay for the aforementioned ADAPTATION is one of the most unique things ever written in cinema. And I've always maintained that you could teach an entire college course on Michael Haneke's FUNNY GAMES (1997). I don't think this one is quite on that level but it at least approaches. I think that its humor is what really elevates it. Even if you don't find it insightful, you will likely find it funny.

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