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B for Butt-Numb-A-Thon

B for Butt-Numb-A-Thon

Okay, BNAT 7 is officially over. As I type this, 200-plus film fans slowly make their way back to where they came from, whether it was a hotel, an airplane, an apartment, etc. At the very beginning of BNAT, our host Harry Knowles teased the final film of the 24-hour movie marathon. All he offered up was that we were going to see the only film print currently in existence, and that it had been shipped from overseas the day before the festival. At the time of this introduction, Harry claimed, the print would have been running through customs at LAX. Then, it would be delivered, by hand, to the Alamo Drafthouse.

As you can imagine, attendees spent the next 20 or so hours trying to guess what it could be. “LAX? Then, it’s coming from the Pacific…” It didn’t matter, no telling what it would be. As the festival continued and we watched the awesome spectacle that is Peter Jackson’s King Kong, between-screening banter kept throwing more options. Was it A Scanner Darkly? Was it Superman Returns? Everyone was trying to figure out what appealing feature was completed, yet not complete enough to have a bunch of prints lying around. We all realized that the initial guess – Munich – was no longer in the running.

We settled back into our seats as the sun set and more films came our way. We watch a beautiful print of Richard Brooks’ 1966 western, The Professionals. Then (because I was just about the only one in the room who had seen it) Harry invited me up to introduce the next feature, Pierre Morel’s fantastic District 13, which Magnolia Pictures will release in a few months. This was followed by John Carpenter’s episode from Master of Horror, entitled “Cigarette Burns.” That was immediately followed by The Descent, which is Neil Marshall’s underground cavern horror flick, due to screen at Sundance and be released by Lions Gate.

Next, was the god-awful 1978 stuntman-meets-rock band film, aptly titled Stunt Rock. This movie is an MST3K episode waiting to happen. Now, towards the end of Stunt Rock (probably around 8 a.m.), I passed out. The coffee was wearing off. Suddenly, I wake up and we’re in a different movie. This one was the horribly offensive Warren Oates starrer, Drum (1976). I tried to go back to sleep. By the time I was awake, it was now 9:30 a.m. and time for breakfast, which meant the final film would be along shortly.

I’ll just get to the point and say the final film was V For Vendetta, the Natalie Portman graphic-novel adaptation written by The Wachowski Brothers (and due to be released in March). Now, I was completely sleep-deprived while watching it, but I still think the film is a lot more abstract and Expressionistic than fans are going to expect. It’s a very political film, full of debate about government leaders, alienation, and terrorism. There are some massive action setpieces, but the film is really more about political bonds between the disenfranchised. I became completely unsurprised by Harry’s announcement that V For Vendetta is scheduled to screen at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

Okay, I’m dead tired. Some pics to come, followed by one heck of a nap.

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