It’s Day 2, and the second full day of programming saw 15 new films hit Sydney screens, along with a repeat screening of Official Competition film Attenberg. Julia Leigh’s controversial Sleeping Beauty also made its Australian debut today, another film playing in competition at the festival, and we will be covering this in more detail on Day 3. Early Twitter buzz gave some positive reviews for Norway’s Happy Happy, and at the other end of the day two of the most anticipated films of the festival (Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene and Morgan Spurlock’s POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold) also received high acclaim. Indeed, with words like “magnificent” (Mathieu Ravier) and “phenomenal” (Simon Miraudo) being bandied about on the social networks in reference to the former, the subsequent days of the SFF may have a tough act to follow.
As Richard Kuipers, programmer of the “Freak Me Out” stream of the festival, noted in his opening address, the sub-genre of murderous hillbillies has been around since at least the 1960s. With thousands of white-bread college kids having paid the ultimate sacrifice for wandering into the turf of banjo-playing psychopaths, Eli Craig’s clever twist on the splatter genre turns the tables on the unwitting hillbillies in this wonderful horror comedy. Building on the proud tradition of Evil Dead II, Club Dread and more recently Piranha 3D, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil cleverly takes all the familiar conventions of the splatter-gore genre and mocks them for what will no doubt be a willing audience. Yet Craig clearly knows his audience well and, rather that pounding us with reference to other film, he cleverly weaves them into the narrative of this very sharp genre comedy. Tyler Labine, last seen in Control Alt Delete and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, makes a wonderful leading man as the hapless Dale, and his presence in the forthcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes gives us hope for its quality too. It’s also great to see Alan Tudyk step out of the shadow of countless television appearances that’s he’s never broken away from since his wonderful appearance in Firefly. A almost flawless example of how to make a film of its kind, and if there is any justice in the world, it will get a cinema or DVD/Blu-ray release in the near future.
Tucker & Dale Vs Evil does not currently have an Australian release date.
It was no surprise that Nash Edgerton’s Bear debuted at Cannes earlier this year, as everything that Blue Tongue Films touches seems to turn to gold. There is a simple charm to the short film, with a streak of dark comedy that makes it the perfect accompaniment to something like Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. There are at least two genuine belly-laughs to be had in this almost sketch-based short, but like many short subjects with a comedy twist, it is doubtful that its charm will last long on repeat viewings. For those following along at home, Bear is actually a follow-up to Edgerton’s earlier short Spider, which is available online from the Blue Tongue website. If for no other reason, its worth seeing this short so you can inevitably vote for it with confidence in the sweepstakes of the next major awards ceremony.
The Sydney Film Festival continues until June 19, 2011.
For more news and reviews from the Sydney Film Festival, check out our coverage of previous days of the 2011 event: