Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Countdown (2012) NYAFF 2013

This is going to be a two part review. The first part will be a review of the film, and then the second short part will have comment with a reference or two that will give away some of what happens in the film. I'm doing this because if you don't want to know what happens, even by allusion, then you should be able not to know and skip the final paragraphs.

COUNTDOWN follows what happens when three friends decide that they want to spend New Years Eve getting high. Going to one of their friends who deals, they find that he's making a new start and has given it all up. Not to be denied they find a torn up card from his dealer in the garbage and take it home to reassemble it. Unfortunately the card is missing the last digit of the phone number. A random choice and BINGO! they are through to Jesus who agrees come over and bring them some weed. He also turns the night upside down and puts the trio into hell on earth.

One of the great surprises  of the New York Asian Film festival, COUNTDOWN is a classic exploitation film updated with wit, style and intelligence. The film is largely a comedy for much of the running time with the darkside of the film not rearin it's head until we've kind of been convinced this is not going to be a bloodbath. The film wonderfully manages to flip your expectations around several times before it's done.

That the film works is due almost entirely to the cast. These guys and gals sell the story better than one could have hoped. Then again there is David Asavanond as Jesus who may not be a star world wide now, but will be soon. Trust me on this, this is the sort of role that, assuming people get to see it, will become iconic in film history. He's both funny and scary and everything inbetween. You want to know who this guy is and you want him to get the hell away from you. Its a brilliant brilliant performance and if there was any justice he would be up for an Oscar.

I absolutely loved this film and when it was done I wanted to call up everyone I know and tell them about it.

Go see this film when it plays at NYAFF tomorrow

Okay I now want to talk about something that will reveal some of the twists and turns in the film and if you don't want to know don't read past this point.

Seriously if you know your literature you'll find out some things you may not want to know the first time through

Still with me?

In reading on the film in the NYAFF literature there was a complaint that the film kind of punks out at the end with an ending that they said was tacked on to get it past the censor. I would beg to differ since it's clear almost from the instant that Jesus appears what is going on. Basically this riff on the classic  tales of a mysterious stranger upseting the status quo for larger reasons ala JB Priestly's An Inspector Calls. These sort of stories run all the way through literature both secular and religious. If you watch the film and pay attention you'll see very early on what is going on.  All one needs to know that Jesus is more than a simply psycho is revealed by his knowing so much about the characters, the religous symbols on his person and his references to religion (his name?). The end was not taked on, but rather aimed toward from the start...frankly considering several of the twists, the bugs in the elevator, its the only way it could have gone and actually made sense internally. It's not a cop out, its what was aimed for.

Ultimately this is  brilliant brilliant film that is a kick in the chest and the head. This is one you really should make an effort to see.

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