Body Temperature (2011)
Director: Takaomi Ogata
Simply put this is the Japanese version of “Lars and the Real Girl”, only in this version the creepy guy with the sex doll is not adored by his neighbors. Rinatro (Chavetaro Ishizaki) is a lonely man who keeps company with a life sized sex doll, until one day he happens upon a young lady named Rinko who looks very much his friend at home. Ogata makes the bold choice to have the young lady playing Rinko (Rin Sakuragi) also double as the sex doll in some scenes, which is unnerving. Some might classify this is a “pink film” (a type of soft core porn movie in Japan) but with the long serious scenes and the question of if Rinatro will ever learn to love a real woman this is defiantly a serious drama. Well, as serious as a sex doll can be.
Underwater Love (2011)
Director: Shinji Imaoka
You know something is going to be off the wall at Fantastic Fest when it’s classified as “Bizarre” by the selection panel. This odd pink film from Japanese director Shinji Imaoka is a heartwarming tale about a 30 something woman and a kappa (a mythical swamp creature with the body of a man and features of a turtle). Asuka is on the path to marry her boss when Aoki (the kappa, a 17 year old boy who drowned when they were in high school) shows up with a warning about her future. A few quirky musical numbers are thrown in for good measure along with a mythical anal pearl, and while this may just seem like a weird comedy it was also a touching romance between high school sweethearts. At one point the movie skipped and froze, and the entire audience let out an audible AWWWWWW. You know it’s going well when we really really wanted to see the end of the musical number. Do not watch this movie while intoxicated with anything.
Bull Head (2011)
Director: Michael R. Roskam
This is my favorite movie of the Fest so far (I know it’s Day 2, shut up). This noir drama is based around the underground beef hormone market in Belgium. The protagonist, Jacky (Matthias Schoenaerts), operates his family cattle ranch and is caught up in a web of hormone abuse, the mafia, and his own past. Roskam does a great job of taking this rough, hulking character of a man and break him down so that we appreciate his humanity of a man just trying to have the life everyone is promised; a good living, family and love. But as a family friend tries to make him more involved with the mafia that controls the beef market Jacky’s past come back to haunt him with the reappearance of his childhood best friend. While Roskam could just tell a gangster film this present day story, he not only has us on the edge of our seats to see when Jacky will snap into a roid-rage but also rooting for him to finally find happiness