The Stack Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Drafthouse Films Part Two
Going through Drafthouse Films entire catalogue for the gift guide has reminded why I love film so much. It literally connects to every aspect of life. They have films that are just plain doofy fun. This episode will cover titles 6-10 in their lineup. First up is the guerilla documentary The Ambassador in which filmmaker Mads Brugger uses hidden cameras to show how damn easy it is to pose as a fake diplomat, get a fake passport and smuggle blood diamonds our of a Central African Republic. Prepare to feel disgusted, not a little angry and happy to have laughed at some seriously deserving douchebags.
The Miami Connection also has to be seen to be believed. Fantastic Fest has always been a place to rediscover lost gems and this one one rough diamond. Originally rejected by every distribution company in existence, Miami Connection, tells the epic 88 minute tale of the band Dragon Sound sound whose hard working ways are matched only by their mastery of Tae Kwon Do, a statement put to the test when they are forced to defend the city against a group of vicious cocaine dealers. Tim League has rescued a great here and it deserves to be seen by anyone who giggles when they read the premise.
Wake in Fright aka Outback should need no introduction but if some true cinema lovers hadn't literally rescued it from a garbage scow this all but forgotten Palme d'Or nominee would be unable to take it's rightful place in the highest ranks of Australian cinema. Director Ted Kotcheff take on the story of a snobby schoolteacher who gets his comeuppance while stranded in an outback outpost nowhere is as searing in the desert locale it takes place in. The film also features one of the greatest performances of the brilliant Donald Pleasance.
Wrong is almost exactly what one would expect after seeing Quentin Dupieux Rubber, which featured a splintered narrative that constantly broke the fourth wall and exploited the film's central conceit of "no reason" by centering its storyline on a killer sentient used car tire. It was brilliantly weird and gave a great role to Jack Plotnick who wowed audiences this last year with his directorial debut, the very funny and surprisingly moving Space Station 76. In Wrong Plotnick plays a man who has lost his dog and seeks to be reunited with him via a guru like figure played to the hilt by William Fichtner. But, just as in Rubber, that lithe plotline reveals almost nothing of how delightful the experience of watching Dupiex screw with viewer expectations is.
Lastly Graceland (2013) is a Philippine thriller with way more on its mind than thrilling visuals and plot twists. Instead the storyline involving kidnapping moves from oustanding action setups to deep exploration of the frailty and interconnectedness of all those involved linking the tragedies that befall the struggling and powerful alike. The less you know about it going in the more impact the directors choices will have. But whatever you do don't let a slower second act keep you from experiencing the third which brings everything into breathtaking focus.