Friday, 29 July 2016

Film fest '16: Day Four

No ushering yesterday, so I was finally able to take a look at some flicks I was keen on.

Doglegs (Heath Cozens, 2015)

You give me your best shot and I'll give you mine.

Going into this, I based my expectations on some of the crazy docs that the festival has offered over the years: Big River Man, Trash Humping, The Source Family... movies about crazy shit.

Doglegs turned out to be something considerably more complex and emotionally impactful.

The documentary follows Shintaro,  a disabled man who is one of the leaders of 'Doglegs', Japan's disabled pro-wrestling league. After 20 years, he is ready to retire with a final bout against his longtime rival Kitajima, an able-bodied heel with no compunctions about beating the living crap out of Shintaro.

Other characters we follow include Nakijima, who is a cancer survivor suffering from clinical depression, and L'Amant, a man with extreme cerebral palsy, who takes part in matches with his able-bodied wife.

None of them are good fighters, and there are points where I questioned whether watching a large woman pinning a man with little control over his body was gratuitous and cruel.

However, as the story progresses, you begin to realise that for these fighters, they don't want special treatment.

The quote I opened the review with appears in the film, and really serves as the main theme of the movie -- these people really just want to fight. They don't want coddling, they don't want to be insulated from the world or condescended to.

It's a tough, unforgiving and yet strangely dignified philosophy -- and, like Kitajima, Cozens' film pulls no punches in showing these outsiders' ongoing quest for respect.

Highly recommended.

Neon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro, 2015)

The title of this one sounded cool.

A day after watching it, I still don't know what this movie is about.

The story follows a bunch of Brazilian  cowboys who run a herd of bulls at a rodeo. These bulls are used in a violent version of cow-tipping in which two cowboys on horseback try to get the bull on its back by pulling on its tail.

The lead, Iremar (Juliano Cazarre), wants to become a clothes designer, and spends the film making a sexy outfit for his boss Galega (Maeve Jinkings). Apart from that, I'm not sure what the plot was, or really what the movie was supposed to be about.

On the plus side, the movie is pretty funny, has some lovely cinematography and the characters are all interesting.

There's a funny subplot in which our hero and his mate Ze try to steal a semen sample from a prize stud so they can make their fortunes. The climax (haha) to this set piece is hilarious.

While there is nothing overtly 'off', this movie is weird.

It's basically a slice-of-life story about these characters in this particular setting.

While I enjoyed it, it might take another go to really get a grasp on it.

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