Posts Tagged ‘juan fernandez’

subsasbig

I fucking hate the suburbs. Seriously. Could never live there.

Country living I get — it’s nice to see the stars at night, you’ve generally got plenty of land, no one else’s house comes right up next to your property line, and the neighbors are salt of the Earth folks who generally treat you nice (as long as you’re white, and straight, and Christian).

City living is more my speed, though — it’s what I grew up with, it’s where I live now, it’s what I know. Bitch all you want about the crime, smog, traffic, and high property taxes, at least an urban environment offers a wide variety of people and shit to do. It ain’t perfect, but I’ll take take it.

The ‘burbs, though — fuck ’em and the horse they rode in on. Cookie-cutter houses next to dull Republican families with too many kids who all have too much privilege. Hour-long commutes to work every day punctuated by mid-week PTA meetings and Sunday mornings at the evangelical “free” church. Hushed-up alcoholism and domestic violence. Everybody playing out the dreary charade that is the “American dream” on cul-de-sacs that are as dead an end metaphorically as they are literally. Soul- death on the long, slow installment plan.

But you know who hates the suburbs even more than I do? Bigfoot.

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Somewhere in formerly-rural Pennsylvania (West Chester, to be precise, if the IMDB’s filling location info is anything to go by), us greedy, land-hogging humans have encroached a bit too closely into huge n’ hairy’s home turf, and he’s decided to do something about it. The result, dear reader, is visionary Z-grade auteur Dave Wascavage’s 2004 shot-on-video piece of monster madness, Suburban Sasquatch, released under the auspices of the director/producer’s own backyard (or maybe it’s basement) distro outfit, Troubled Moon Films. And, as you’d expect, it’s all kinds of awesome.

Wascavage got this baby in the can for a grand total of, by his own accounting, $550, and it shows : an amazingly low-rent gorilla suit with prominent man-boobs. Even more amazingly low-rent CGI that makes the shit in Birdemic look Oscar-worthy. And lowest-rent-of-all acting that would be enough to make everybody in the cast blush at least, cringe at worst, if they were actually taking any of what they were doing seriously — which, fortunately for us all, they aren’t.

Yup, the whole thing’s just about perfect.

Anyway, here’s the rundown : Bigfoot’s killing people and the cops aren’t talking. Which is kinda funny given that the head officer investigating the case, one John Rush (Dave Bonavita — one of three actors, along with Juan Fernandez and Wes Miller, to don the endowed ape costume, as well — hey, ya go with whoever’s handy that day, I guess) has a rather personal stake in the matter seeing as how his wife was killed by this same (or it might be another, it’s never really made clear and doesn’t much matter, anyway) Sasquatch some years back. Fortunately for us, intrepid community-newspaper beat reporter Rick Harlan (Bill Ushler) is hot on the case, and no amount of stonewalling from the bullies in blue is gonna stop him.

Oh, and there’s a reasonably attractive young(-ish) Native American gal named Talla (Sue Lynn Sanchez — what tribe, exactly, does that last name hail from?) who’s taken on the powers of some ancient warrior goddess or something and has magical weapons (specifically arrows and a Tomahawk-style hand axe) with which to track down and defeat the run-amok creature. Which makes no freaking sense given that the white man’s insinuation of himself onto Native lands resulted in nothin’ but well-documented problems for her and, more specifically, her ancestors, so you’d think it might be more logical for her to be on Bigfoot’s side in this while conflict, but there you have it. There’s some “plot” “point” about her having to lay waste to the creature before the life force it”s absorbing from its victims makes it too mystically super-powered to ever kill, but whatever — it makes about as much sense on film — err, video , sorry — as it does on paper, so don’t sweat it too much.

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As a matter of fact, don’t sweat any  of the proceedings here too much — that’s kinda the whole point of flicks like Suburban Sasquatch, isn’t it? It’s all about cheesy stories, cheesier costumes, still cheesier gore effects, and even cheesier than that performances. Sure, the movie grinds to an absolute standstill on numerous occasions (reporter guy’s arguments with the police and his editor get pretty tedious pretty quickly, for instance, and the love story between him and mystical Native girl is about as flat as they come), but shit pacing and lifeless “romance”  are all just part of the charm here, as well.

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Obviously, this is a film you need to hunt down immediately if you haven’t seen it already, and fortune has seen fit to offer Suburban Sasquatch in a few different options for your viewing pleasure : it’s available as part of two  multi-disc DVD  packages from Mill Creek’s Pendulum Pictures sub-label (you can find it on the two-disc, six-movie Depraved Degenerates set or, better yet, as part of the 50-movie, 12-disc Decrepit Crypt Of Nightmares bargain pack), or it’s available as a stand-alone release from Troubled Moon directly. The Pendulum sets features a suitably crummy-looking full-frame transfer and competent, two-channel stereo sound (technical specs which, I’m assuming, apply to the stand-alone release as well) and offer no extras to speak of (which I’m assuming doesn’t apply to the Troubled Moon disc, although not having seen it I couldn’t say for certain), and for a cheap bumper-package release that’s pretty much what you’d expect, so no complaints here on that score.

Nor, really, do I have any about the film. Much as I love Bigfoot flicks like The Legend Of Boggy Creek  and Night Of The Demon, on some level they’re asking you to take the premise of a guy in a big hairy suit somewhat seriously for at least for a minute or two. Suburban Sasquatch doesn’t even waste your valuable time with that, and just gets right down to its campy-as-shit arm-and-leg-tearin’ business. There’s no pretense here — Wascavage and his buddies just wanted to make a cheap, fun, stupid movie because they had the cash, the equipment, and the ability.

You can’t ask for a more honest approach to movie-making than that. And yeah, it’s fun to see all these entitled suburban assholes get their come-uppance, as well. I don’t know about you, but I think every suburban community could use a Sasquatch of its own.

One of the most stunningly beautiful films in recent years on a purely aesthetic level, Argentine director Lisandro Alonso’s 2008 offering, Liverpool, is the kind of film that many viewers will frankly find straight-up impenetrable due to its near-clinical austerity, yet it seems to linger in the mind for days, if not weeks, after you’ve seen it, and I freely confess to finding my own thoughts returning to it several times a day recently. Indeed, the spell it casts has me actively wondering if Alonso and company weren’t performing a cinematic act of ritual magick here, whether intentional or not, and while it couldn’t have less in common with the work of, say, a Kenneth Anger, it performs via means of  its minimalist subtlety a much more profound occult (in the strictest sense of the term) working than painstakingly outre fare of the Invocation Of My Demon Brother ilk.

The central character of the piece, a hard-drinking merchant sailor named Farrel (Juan Fernandez) deports his cargo vessel in Ushuaia, a port nearest-thing-to-a-city in Aregntina’s remote, almost-polar Tierra del Fuego region (Ushuaia is officially listed as the southernmost city in the world, I checked), and after spending an evening in town partaking in drunken debauchery, heads out to a distant logging camp to visit his ailing mother, who he apparently hasn’t seen in many years. As the trappings of the civilized world fall away, the parallels between Farrel’s interior and exterior journeys couldn’t be more apparent — he’s going further into his past, and by extension into himself, the further he goes out into the frozen, mountainous wilderness —but Alonso approaches his craft with such a precise sense of intentional distance, both visually and thematically, that you never feel like he’s drumming the point into your head, or even coming anywhere close to telling you what to think of his protagonist and the situation he’s immersing himself into, much less explicitly stating why.

This distance is something that I have absolutely no doubt many viewers are sure to find at the very least challenging, if not downright off-putting, and the film’s lack of dialogue (only The Artist has had less in recent years), lengthy, static takes (there are less than 80 shots total in the film), and insistence on filming everything at either medium or, more frequently, long range only compounds this sense of alienation from the central goings-on — so consider yourself duly warned : Liverpool is a film that quite literally dares you to get inside its hermetically-sealed interior universe.

Once Farrel arrives, he reacquaints himself, by a combination of both drunken accident and design, with a man named Trujillo (Nieves Cabrera), who has an undefined, though apparently quite close, relationship with Farrel’s aforementioned mother, and a severely mentally challenged young woman. While Alonso never specifically spells out just who this young lady is, and by this point you’re certainly not expecting him to, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out, nor to discern why she was born with her obvious developmental handicaps, and the implications are certainly less than pleasant — let’s just say that there aren’t too many women around at Tierra del Fuego logging camps and leave it al that. Still, the urge to cast  judgment is downright alien to this film, and Farrel is just shown going about his admittedly rather dubious activities through a sense of directorial detachment that’s both quietly, and breathtakingly, admirable.The film stages a rather dramatic, at least by its own starkly minimalist standards, turn when Farrel leaves and Alonso shifts his focus to the lives of the people at the camp and away from the guy who we thought this whole thing was about, but it’s certainly an effective transition, and fits in well overall with the film’s naturalist aesthetic — indeed, this feels much closer to unforced realism than anything I’ve seen in a long time and sometimes you have to actually remind yourself that this is a scripted story (albeit with probably a less-than-20-page screenplay) rather than a documentary, and when the movie ends with a lengthy take that finally reveals the source of its apparently-incongruous title, you’re left with all the questions you’ve had as the story progressed answered, even though Alonso never addressed any of them in anything like a direct fashion — frankly, to do so in a work of this nature would probably feel like an enormous cheat on his part, and there’s no need to worry on that score since if there’s one thing any viewer, whether they love this flick or hate it, can discern about his work, it’s that he certainly approaches it with a consummate level of , just to sound nauseatingly pretentious (go ahead, say it — again) for a moment, artistic integrity . The working complete, the spell is now cast, and I absolutely dare any thinking viewer to keep Liverpool (available as a bare-bones DVD release from Kino International with superb widescreen picture and 5.1 surround sound, and also, I’m told, in a more-recently-issued Region 2 version that does contain a selection of extras of some sort that I can’t fairly comment on not having seen it)  very far from their minds after having seen it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it never forces its way inside your head, it just happens, much like the film itself seems to, and its primary impact is well and truly felt afterwards rather than during its running. Like the most skillful of boxers, Liverpool lands punch after punch without you feeling it much at first, but three days later they throb and sting like hell and leave some extremely tender, sore, and swollen bruises. Its every-shot-suitable-for-framing visual beauty wraps the iron fist in a velvet glove, as the old cliche goes, but its tremendous impact is in no way lessened by its almost painfully graceful delivery.