Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SIFF diary, part 3

Godzilla: Final Wars and The Edukators

In my attempts to keep my festival going diverse, we selected Godzilla since it looked like an action packed romp and the German film The Edukators, which simply sounded interesting and I wanted to catch at least one German film during the festival as I usually like the look and often dark tone of German cinema.

We're are doing a great job of selecting films thus far.

Godzilla: Final Wars is billed as the last Godzilla film and is directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, who made Versus. I've only seen one Godzilla film and it was the 1984 one and really, I have very little recollection of it other than Godzilla meets Bambi played before it. So I am not up on the Godzilla franchise, but I did obviously know what to expect; an action flick where a rubber Godzilla battles a zillion other monsters.

We had a pretty good time at Godzilla. I was a bit surprised by the near sold out show as I had no clue that there were that many fans of the monster [1], but it was great fun to see with such an enthusiastic audience. It also helped to be surrounded by so much excitement as I've been battling a migraine all weekend, so they helped me tune out the dull throb behind my right eye.

But Final Wars was a great choice for a Godzilla neophyte as it was a kitchen sink Godzilla flick. Basically, every monster Godzilla has ever fought shows up in the film and Godzilla battles them all. There are also hot biologist babes, a mutant army, an alien invasion and some matrix-esque martial arts. It also appeared to have every Japanese actor as there were numerous familiar faces (at least two of whom were in Kill Bill). So Godzilla was far from the best that I've seen at the SIFF, but it was a totally silly good time and it even had some goofy science.

And then, after a dinner break, it was time to get in line for The Edukators. I don't know if it was due to the late starting time (9:30 PM) or the fact that this film likely doesn't have much festival buzz surrounding it, but this was the least attended film that I've been to during the SIFF. Which is really a shame to see so many empty seats, because this is by far the best film I've seen thus far.

The Edukators are a trio of idealists who break into the homes of the wealthy, not to steal from them, but to give them a message by rearranging their valuables and leaving a note that reads "you have too much money" or "your days of plenty are numbered" signed The Edukators. When they break from their normal plan of working off of a list of targets and putting the homes under surveillance before breaking in, a mistake is made that results in the need to kidnap their target when they are interrupted during their mischief.

The result is an amazing and gripping story about values and how so many people slowly change from being idealistic in our youth to being conservative and totally frightened of change when they are older. And this film doesn't compromise the characters or the message by taking the easy way out and finding its answers in compromise or a middle ground. It is hopeful in outlook and is a wonderfully suspenseful and thought provoking film. And this film is unpredictable and very original, so I was pleased by every unexpected plot development and that it had so much optimism and heart. This film has much in common with The Dreamers and would make a powerful and provocative double feature.

The Edukators is getting distribution and will be opening limited over the summer in the US. I highly recommend seeking out this film.

Here's hoping that the good movie juju continues...

[1] Godzilla questions for those who have seen more than one zilla movie. Is Godzilla a cyborg???? In Final Wars, they claim that Godzilla is a cyborg, not a mutant like the other monsters he fights. I thought Godzilla was a sea monster. But everything in the movie appeared to be referencing the past movies, so I'm assuming he was a cyborg at some point. And what is up with baby zilla? Weird.

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