Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And What a 'Feast' It Was

Still in Toronto. Still seeing movies. Nothing I saw today had the same boob-to-running time ratio as yesterday's offerings, in which both Kate Winslet in Little Children and the Dutch Jennifer Jason Leigh lookalike in Zwarzboek spent lots of screen time sans accountrements. But every day can't be Christmas, can it?

Monday night, though, while breast-free, was still pretty remarkable. Before I left the office, I got a call from a Weinstein Co. publicist who told me that they were thinking about screening Feast—the John Gulager-directed product of last year's Project Greenlight 3—in Toronto. And they were thinking about doing it Monday night. I said I'd do my best to catch it.

And so I did. Cabbed my way over to a strangely barren part of Toronto—not a person to be seen on the streets, most of the storefronts were shuttered and gated, like the roadshow version of The Warriors was coming to town--and had the driver stop in front of the decaying theater that had the word "FEAST" on the old-school marquee. Since I was about an hour early, I grabbed a beer at a bar a few steps from the theater. While I'm sitting there, killing time, in walks a young woman who tries to hand be a flier, saying "Wanna see a horror flick?" I reply, "Yeah, that's why I'm here." She proceeded to move on and paper the rest of the bar with Feast fliers.

Then, in walks the man himself. John Gulager. Leading a rag-tag group of rebels that look like members of the cast and crew of Feast. Into the same bar I'm in, maybe the only place in a square mile that's got lights on.

Post beer, I make my way into the theater. I figure I must be earlier than I thought, as it's pretty scarce in there. Maybe a dozen people, tops. I avoid the "reserved seats" and grab a sweet seat right in the middle. I hear a little rumbling and in walks the Gulager posse, who fill a few of the reserved seats. Michael Rooker, of all people (you know, the other driver in Days of Thunder, Rowdy Burns or something), sits in front of me. He's not in the movie, so his presence will remain a mystery.

Gulager, poor Gulager, steps up to a mic right in front of the screen and does a little schtick for the crowd. Of 12. As if he's the Conquering Hero of Sundance, regaling the gathered intelligensia with tales of filmmaking vim and vigor.

And then the film begins. And it's not embarassing. Gulager can make a movie. He knows where to put the camera and he knows how to make the nothing he had to work with look like something. The real problem lies with the script, the writers of which seem to think that just pointing out genre conventions is equal to subverting them, elevating them. And if you're not going to be as unique or polished or inventive as Evil Dead 2 or Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, your people-stuck-in-an-enclosed-space-with-monsters-from-the-pit-attacking-them movie had better be smarter. And Feast wasn't.

But it did have this one fantastic moment. The film establishes, with great humor, that the monsters that are assaulting the people trapped this middle-of-nowhere bar can reproduce in record minutes. A pair of characters have to retrieve something crucial from a part of the bar that they've sealed off. They send one guy (Balthazar Getty, of all people) into the cordoned-off area. Naturally, the monsters see he's in there and attack. Getty runs to the door, beastie hot on his heels. He makes it through, and they slam the door right behind him...catching some part of the monster in the door. And then comes this immortal line, my rallying cry of the Toronto Film Festival, uttered with a frenzied grace:

"Monster cock, stuck in the door!"

Monster cock, stuck in the door. There's wisdom, there. Somewhere. Hidden in the demon pubes, maybe.

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