This is it, folks. PiFan 2012 is less than 3 days away. But before we pack our bags and head for the mysterious treasure trove that is the 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, it's time to reveal our most anticipated films of this year's festival. As is always the case, we approach this year's line-up with a combination of anticipation for the titles we have heard so much about and excitement - with a dash of trepidation - for the dozens more about which we know nothing at all.
While last year presented me with the opportunity to catch up with such lauded titles as Joe Cornish's Attack The Block
, Jason Eisener's Hobo With A Shotgun
and Na Hong Jin's The Yellow Sea
, I came away in love with Michael Roskam's Bullhead
and Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado's Rabies
- two films and three filmmakers I'd never heard of before arriving at the festival. Such is the magic of a cinematic celebration such as PiFan.
This year, Pierce Conran and I will be in town for the duration of the festival, bringing you news and reviews of as many films as we can digest between 19th and 29th July. While we are both looking forward to discovering as-yet unknown gems from this year's bulging line-up, for now allow us each to present our ten most-anticipated films of PiFan 2012.
Pierce Conran's 10 Most-Anticipated Films of PiFan 2012:
I know he can be terribly inconsistent but I always get excited when a new Takashi Miike film come out. His more recent Cannes entry For Love's Sake is closing the festival but I can't say that I'm too excited for it. Ace Attorney however looks to be full of energy and I'm hoping that it is Miike on top form and what I've heard so far has been good.
Blood-C: Last Dark
There are a number of interesting animations at this year's PiFan but none are as visually splendid as Blood-C: Last Dark, the trailer of which really impressed me. I am not at all familiar with the franchise but I'd be more than happy to lose myself in what looks to be a painstakingly constructed alternate reality.
The energy of this pic and the buzz surrounding it have gotten me very excited. I know James liked it when he saw it earlier this year and I'm hoping it lives up to its promise. I also love to watch films about filmmaking and this year has had some great ones, including The Woodsman and the Rain and Woman in a Septic Tank, not to mention Vulgaria, which is also screening this year.
Death of a Superhero
As I mentioned in my preview, it's an exceptionally rare thing for me to be excited about an Irish film. Though I'm a Dublin man myself I'll be the first to admit that my homeland has a woeful film history (sorry Neil Jordan but you're just not doing it for me these days). Death of a Superhero however has me quite intrigued with what looks like a good blend of pathos and comedy not a welcome injection of modernity in the form of comic book art.
Though not my favorite Korean filmmaker, when Kim Jee-woon releases a new film it is always something to get excited about. This sci-fi omnibus combines his ample mise-en-scene talents with the perhaps even more visually gifted Yim Pil-sung and the combination is something that has me foaming at the mouth. Although Doomsday Book came out in Korea a few months ago I still haven't had a chance to see it, clearly this is it!
The Heineken Kidnapping
As a young cinephile I partly grew up on Rutger Hauer, an actor who at once seems horribly typecast and yet was the lynchpin of a broad variety of classic films, including some of the 1980s best sci-fis (Blade Runner, 1982), horrors (The Hitcher, 1986) and arthouse films (The Legend of the Holy Drinker, 1988). The Heineken Kidnapping seems to have some old school European style behind and the look reminds me a bit of the recent and exceptional Carlos. Add Rutger to the that mix as a powerful man on a vendetta and that's me sold.
This documentary has received incredible buzz and I'm fascinated by its dark sociological angle. The truth is always stranger than fiction and this exceptionally bizarre story seems to be ample proof of that. Definitely the top documentary pick of the fest.
Outlaw on a Donkey
I'm a sucker for a rare screening and also a huge fan of 1970s Korean cinema, which, in my opinion, boasts some of cinema's greatest films from the likes of Kim Ki-young (Iodo, 1977), Ha Kil-jong (Pollen, 1972) and Kim Soo-young (Splendid Outing, 1978). I don't expect Outlaw on a Donkey to match the output of those cinematic giants but given the bizarre premise and the fact that it is a western parody I am strongly drawn to it all the same. May end up in the curio file but I have to find out for myself.
The Suicide Shop 3D
Veteran French cineaste Patrice Leconte has ventured into animation for The Suicide Shop, a maudlin affair that reminds me in equal measure of Delicatessen (1991) and the early work of Tim Burton. If all of its appealing elements can come together in a satisfying whole, this could be one of the week's highlights.
Quirky independent comedies can be really hit and miss but those that stick are well worth trudging through the muck that misses the mark. I have a feeling that Wrong isn't far from the bullseye so I'll be getting myself a good seat for this one!
James Marsh's 10 Most-Anticipated Films of PiFan 2012:
While I wasn't quite as enamoured as most others were with I Saw The Devil, I'm nevertheless always excited for anything new from Kim Jee Woon. The images I've seen so far from this science fiction anthology, which he co-directs with Yim Pil Sung (whose Antarctic Journal certainly showed some promise), already have me hooked.
Sadly I missed the chance to see Nacho Vigalondo's second feature back at Fantastic Fest, but despite the mixed reports I'm still really looking forward to his follow-up to the excellent Timecrimes. Apparently more of a quirky rom-com than a straight-up alien invasion flick, this is one film I certainly won't be missing this time.
For Love's Sake
While Pierce might not be looking forward to this one, the notion of a high school musical from Miike Takashi seems like a no-brainer to me. I know nothing about the manga source material, but this sounds like the perfect kind of film with which to wrap up the fest.
It's Bad Taste meets Whisky Galore! in this Irish science fiction comedy from director Jon Wright that sounds like it could be the next Shaun of the Dead. I feel duty-bound to find out for myself.
By all accounts the documentary of the year thus far. Nuff said.
The Shining is hands down my all-time favourite horror film and probably the scariest film I've ever seen (certainly the film that most competently retains its fear factor on repeat viewings). When word broke at Sundance of a documentary unearthing all manner of subliminal messages and hidden agendas within Kubrick's adaptation of the Stephen King novel, I basically bought my ticket then and there.
Safety Not Guaranteed
What can I say? I'm a sucker for science fiction, and this will be my first chance to catch Colin Trevorrow's Sundance hit. Three journalists, including Aubrey Plaza, set out to investigate a man who claims he can travel through time. Everyone says it's great, and so I will watch it.
Sound of my Voice
Who doesn't love a good cult movie? By which I don't mean a commercially unsuccessful film that gains a loyal underground following, but a film about cults - manipulative, secretive, brainwashing organisations where one creepy guy talks his way into lots of young ladies' underwear by claiming he's the Messiah. Zal Batmanglij's tale of a journalist and his girlfriend who go undercover in just such an organisation sounds great.
The Suicide Shop 3D
With its fantastic design and darkly humourous premise, this looks like The Triplets of Belleville Halloween Special, and despite being in 3D, promises to be ghoulish fun from Patrice Leconte's first foray into animation.
I almost can't believe it myself that I'm actually excited about a found footage horror anthology film. But scanning the credits of V/H/S reads like a veritible who's-who of new American Horror, with Adam Wingard, Ti West, Simon Barrett, Joe Swanberg and many more coming together for what is, by all accounts and hyperbole be damned, the year's scariest movie by quite some margin. Bring it on!