LIFF 2012 Day 5

Black Brush (Hun) (review)

In a grainy black and white world, where morality and responsibility seem to be taking a back seat, reside four dropouts.  Versed in the books they read as teenagers thinking they might become an individual, or at least get their ends away, they mope through their twenties devoid of purpose and unable to fathom the connection between their thoughtless actions and their lack of progress by any measure.  Yes, I hated these characters from the start.

Dofi is the worst of them; a thin, reedlike stance with an arrogant swagger and a fixed stare at his current target.  Without any care he lies and cheats his way towards his goal with an admirable disinterest in the absurdity of what comes out of his mouth.  Anti, the young scrawny idiot at the back can't seem to stop giving people money in exchange for a gamble of some sort, and it doesn't matter whose money it is.  When he loses, he just stands there, unaware of what he did wrong.  Papi just mills about in the background sucking up any remaining things of value the others miss.

Only Zoli has any qualities worth redeeming, and what little use that is, is taken up trying to undo all their messes and keep them in a job - working as chimney sweeps for an unseen boss, who is about to have a bad day with his accounts.  Turning up at a client's house to sweep and line their chimneys, their collective selfishness and incompetence manages to strip them of their (his) money, the materials, and any thoughts they might have had about making money from goat poo.

If I gave you any sense of intrigue that this film may be worth a punt, let me backpedal a bit right there.  Black Brush is even more abstract and artsy as the superficially similar (but superior) Aaltra from last night.  The characters have no charm or likability, their increasingly deep hole they dig themselves is fully deserved and not resolved, and the whole thing has the messiness of a project put together by similarly competent wasters who got bored halfway through and smoked some drugs instead.

Though the film has some moments where you think things will pick up, ultimately there is no compulsion to watch these idiots resolve their problems because you just don't care about them.  My only thought through most of the film was my incredulity and disappointment that no-one had hit them squarely in the face and told them to grow up. 4/10

Heretic (UK) (site)

My Spidey sense was tingling as the announcer came on to a packed Leeds crowd of semi-merry theatregoers.  This would be the world premier, and the directors and many of the cast were in the audience.  It all felt just a little bit Spanking in Paradise.

It is true that horror films made in Yorkshire can work.  Sort of.  Harold's Going Stiff is a good example of when it's done right, and Inbred is another.  Good, rather than sterling horror, and they work because they don't take themselves too seriously - a comedy-horror mix.  This is an important point.  Maybe it is down to social conditioning, but I can't be genuinely, seriously scared by a horror film if the protagonists have a pronounced northern accent - you'll notice the trailer has no dialogue in it.  The Exorcist does not cross well with Last of the Summer Wine.

So Heretic had this to work against from the start.  James, a well-meaning vicar from the local church, is torn about whether he was to blame for the suicide of a girl who came to him for help and advice.  Six months on, and her stepfather also takes the dangly way out.  Worse for wear on drink, James heads home but the abandoned house beckons with the half-sight of a young girl in the grounds and when he follows it seems there is no way back.

All very well and good as a premise, but there were other flaws to the film than just the accents.  The audio sounded like everyone was speaking from inside the film studio lavatories, and the jolty-buzzy-switchy camera work used to tell the audience to be scared now was overused and unnecessary.  That and the story sluggishly bumped along like a corpse wrapped in a carpet being dragged over the Krypton Factor assault course.  There is a nice (if familiar) twist towards the end if you can make it that far, but by then you'll be more bored than frightened and just want it to finish.

Somehow, I preferred Black Brush tonight.  Loathsome though the protagonists were and directionless though the story was compared to Heretic, at least that film provoked an emotion out of me, whereas Heretic felt devoid - I couldn't find the passion to hate it, and there was little to like.  Sorry, my fellow Yorkshiremen and women - it's clear you worked hard to produce this film, but there's a lot better out there. 4/10

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