Here is a link to my coverage of Day Three of Fantastic Fest 2010. I saw a total of four films on day four, including two sequels, a very odd and surprising studio film, and a stop-motion animation film that is probably the most family friendly thing I will see at this year’s fest.
Ip Man 2 – solid rock fist up
Ip Man 2 is the second film loosely based on the life of the man who went on to train Bruce Lee, Yip Man (also spelled Ip Man). The first film was a unique Kung Fu film, taking place between 1930 and 1940 in the midst of the second Sino-Japanese war, a historical period without much representation in the genre.
The second film follows Yip Man (Donnie Yen) to Hong Kong where his attempts to teach his Kung Fu discipline, Wing Chun, are met with limited success and opposition from other Kung Fu masters. But their squabbling is soon eclipsed by the disrespect of some officers from the British army and a star boxer preparing to stage a fight.
Like the first film, Donnie Yen gives a wonderful performance, there are amazing and satisfying fights, and the historical period becomes a character onto itself. Unlike the first film, the major conceit of the climactic confrontation is kung fu versus Western boxing, something I’ve never seen captured this well on screen. Ip Man 2 is classy and satisfying and a must see for anyone who even remotely can appreciate a good fight scene.
Hatchet II – minor rock fist up
The 80s slasher throwback keeps the CGI-free aesthetic and over-the-top kills of the first film while mostly spinning its wheels plot-wise. It’s still fun and entertaining horror fan service though. You can read my full review here.
Bunraku – solid rock fist up
A really unique mix of Western and Samurai films, taking place in a gunless post-apocalyptic future and starring Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Kevin McKidd, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore, and Japanese pop sensation Gackt. You can read my full review here.
In the Attic – solid rock fist up
“In the Attic: Who Has a Birthday Today?” is a Czechoslovakian stop-motion animation film that feels very much like a lost classic. Its about the secret lives of a group of toys and other objects. The attic is essentially divided into two separate camps. The “good” area where a doll named Polly and her companions live, and the “evil” area ruled over by a malevolent statue. When the statue sends his minions to capture Polly, its up to her friends to rescue her and bring her home.
While primarily being stop motion, “In the Attic” inventively mixes in hand-drawn notebook paper animation and live action to help sell the reality of the world. There’s also a wonderful and slightly bent sense of humor that shapes the entire film and all the characters.
While ostensibly a children’s film, some kids may be scared by a few of the darker scenes, but I definitely think its no darker than classic family films like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Since its target audience usually doesn’t do well with subtitles, I hope this is picked up for American distribution and dubbed, that way families can have as much fun “In the Attic” as I did.