The Sydney Underground Film Festival is almost upon us! The festival is taking place September 6-9 at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville. The full programme can be viewed here and information about how to buy tickets can be found here.
After the jump check out my previews of three of the films screening at the festival – Opening night film Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, the very weird Sexually Frank, and Closing night film God Bless America.
Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim)
Tim & Eric already have a cult following thanks to their comedy skits and TV shows. They have their own rather particular brand of humour, and I think if you’ve seen any of their work, you will already have a fair idea whether you will love this film. It is a lot of fun, but it certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of poison.
Tim & Eric (Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim) somehow receive a billion dollars to make a movie, which they utterly fail at – instead making an unwatchable three-minute film starring a haggard Johnny Depp lookalike. Their investor, the rather amusingly named Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) isn’t impressed and demands the money back….or else. While wondering how they are going to get out of the mess, they spot a TV advertisement which is promising a billion dollar return for getting a dilapidated Midwestern shopping mall back up and running. The pair jump at chance at what seems like easy money. You know the saying, ‘If it seems to good to be true then it probably is’ ? Well this is definitely one of those situations.
Uncomfortable and gross-out humour is a hallmark of Tim & Eric, and there is plenty of that in this film. Some of it made me laugh, while some of it made me feel a little ill… they certainly don’t hold back. The funniest aspect of this film for me was the always amusing John C. Reilly, who plays a dirty and sickly squatter by the name of Taquito, who becomes Tim & Eric’s sidekick in the battle against the dodgy and perpetually angry mall-owner played by Will Ferrell. The cameos in this film are fantastic – Tim & Eric sure do have friends in high places. Overall it was a fun, but slightly too-gross film for me. Fans are going to have a ball with this, while first timers might find it a little more challenging. A very suitable opening film for an underground film festival.
Sexually Frank (Frankie Frain)
Sexually Frank opens with some very awkward early sexual experiences for two young boys who are beginning to realise their sexual orientation, and a young girl and boy who are just owning up to their feelings for each other. This is early teen awkwardness and inexperience at it’s funniest and most embarrassing.
Fast-forward a number of years and we come across the children and their friends all grown up. Frank (Frankie Frain) and Jess (Nina Szulewski) are still together after all of these years, Dan (Jon Ryan) and Matt (Benjamin Fisher) are in a perpetual on again-off again relationship, and their friend Neil is a 24-year-old virgin who is mocked by his colleagues and friends. The film explores the friend’s sexual issues (or lack of sex) in a very frank and unabashed manner. If talking about sex makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps it would be a great idea for you to see this movie! Writer/director Frankie Frain does a great jobs as internet film-maker Frank who craves internet fame for his rather odd and sexually themed short films. He was such an awkward, but likeable character – I felt like I’d met him or someone like him before.
What I liked about this film was how natural the conversations felt. The actors came across like a group of old friends who knew everything about each other and didn’t hold back their opinions, or their insults. The film is filled with plenty of laughs, and also a few moments of genuine emotion. This film isn’t the gross-out sex comedy that you might expect, but rather a discussion about sex and sexuality, with a some uncomfortable moments thrown in for good measure.
God Bless America (Bobcat Goldthwait)
Frank (Joel Murray) is a very unhappy man – he is in bad health, his job isn’t going well (understatement of the year), and his home life is miserable. He hates popular culture and feels sickened by what counts as “entertainment” in modern America. Frank fantasizes about killing his stupid neighbours, and taking out his entire office of horrible people – he doesn’t think any of them add anything to life/society worth their existence. With nothing left to live for Frank decides to take out [in his opinion] the lowest scum of society – those who add nothing but stupidity, nastiness and hate. He finds an unlikely accomplice in Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), a high school student with as much as a disdain for life and people as Frank has.
The first 20 minutes of this film were very funny – I could relate somewhat to Frank’s feelings of despair and frustrating with modern pop culture and brainless people (we all have to deal with these sorts of people). However, it got a little repetitive and I found it a hard to buy into the film as the characters were taking out people by doing something that they themselves stated they are actually against – a little too hypocritical for me. On the plus side the music was great fun and there were some rather scathing pop culture references and jabs at celebrities which I quite enjoyed (look out for the very funny Woody Allen joke). Overall it was worth seeing – it is the sort of fun and out-there film which definitely benefits from being seen with a receptive festival crowd. This will be a really fun way to close the festival (especially with a few drinks!)