Some of my favorite film-related memories involve staying up until some ungodly hour with about a thousand other folks, and all of us having our minds blown by some insane title screening as part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s “Midnight Madness” program: Ju-On, Save The Green Planet, The Host, and so on.
This year’s Midnight Madness line-up looks to be super-strong. The first eight titles have been announced, and there are three titles would be “must see“ ‘s (if I were going this year, that is):
Middle-aged slacker Daisato (played by director Hitoshi Matsumoto, one of Japan’s famous comedians) seems an unlikely subject for a documentary crew following his banal daily routine; that is, until he transforms into a giant superhero with tight purple briefs, tattoos and a crazy hairdo to battle outlandish villains and revolting monsters. But with the superhero’s falling TV ratings, noise complaints from citizens, blame for destruction of public property and family problems, he has become the scapegoat of New Japan. A wickedly deadpan spin on Japanese pop-culture and traditions, Dai Nipponjin is an outrageous comedy destined for cult status. Also starring Riki Takeuchi, UA, Ryunosuke Kamiki and Itsuji Itao.
After the success of SPL in Midnight Madness in 2005, director Wilson Yip and actor and fight choreographer Donnie Yen (Iron Monkey and Hero) hit back with another two-fisted cinematic powder keg. Hot-headed cop Jun (Yen) is after a gang of drugdealing brothers. His undercover colleague, Wilson (Louis Koo), infiltrates the gang but has his cover blown, which lands one of the brothers in jail. The other members vow to wipe out Wilson, the only witness, and set off a series of high-octane chases and bonecracking fisticuffs. Also starring Collin Chou, Lui Leung-wai and Fan Bing-bing and Xing Yu.
Dive into the ground-breaking, animated futuristic odyssey of Vexille, surface in Tokyo Bay and discover a country sealed off from the rest of humanity. In 2077, Japan has isolated itself from the rest of the world, opposing a United Nations treaty restricting areas of advanced research in biotechnology. Vexille, a female commander in charge of a U.S. Special Forces unit that polices treaty violations, is sent to infiltrate Japan. The revelation of the country’s new reality shakes her when she witnesses the destruction of both land and citizenry by a Japanese mega-corporation and monstrous, android worms. Starring the voices of Meisa Kuroki, Shosuke Tanihara, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Takahiro Sakurai and Romi Pak.
Dai Nipponjin sounds like it could pack the same sort of absurdist fun found in Takeshi Miike’s Zebraman. Flash Point is the latest from the team behind Sha Po Lang — ’nuff said. And Vexille is the latest from the team behind the recent Appleseed movie, which, despite a few issues, I still enjoyed quite a bit.
The final two films of the program have not been announced yet, but Todd over at Twitch is promising that folks won’t be disappointed.