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Cult Japanese horror comedy comes to HOME, courtesy of Film4

REVIEW: One Cut of the Dead @ HOME

WORDS BY ALICE SALMON

When you think of horror-comedy, you’ll probably go straight for the Scary Movie franchise – and with good reason. It takes something special for laughs and scares to sit comfortably in the same script without lapsing into parody or farce – did somebody say Sharknado? One Cut of the Dead is a breakout zombie horror classic that marries the two in award-winning fashion. It screened at HOME last night as part of Film4’s FilmFear season.

One Cut of the Dead is the brainchild of Japanese writer-director-producer Shin’ichiô Ueda – and it simply can’t be reviewed without first acknowledging the 37-minute single-take opener that has audiences going mad. At first, it’s disorientating: who is it that keeps wiping blood spatter off the camera lens? It only becomes clear later on that this isn’t an overlooked continuity error – it’s actually the central axis of a stellar meta-comedy.

“POM!”

But back to the plot. The film opens in a disused water filtration plant, somewhere in rural Japan. A megalomaniac director berates two young stars for their apparent ineptitude during filming of – you guessed it – TV zombie flick, One Cut of the Dead. They take a break after a scene’s 42nd take as the mood gets fractious. Needless to say, the cast are then split up very quickly, after some brief exposition – which is when the zombies come to play.horror, one cut of the dead, home, manchester

As the living and undead play a game of cat-and-mouse around the abandoned plant, the director pops back at the worst possible moments, delighting in how realistic everyone’s fear seems – and how great his film is shaping up. Watch out for make-up lady Nao’s invaluable self-defence lessons and being surprisingly handy with an axe.

Side note: it’s really difficult to not give away all the spoilers on this one, so it’s best you witness how the plot unfolds for yourself…

Every film genre features the joke-within-a-joke trope. Yet here it feels organic, the plot more relatable and the humour more…human.

The trailer points towards One Cut of the Dead being just another gore-fest at the hands of an unknown director. But that’s just a secondary device around which the main plot is based – which in itself replicates the reality of Ueda’s entire project. Any initially clunkiness adds to the comedic credibility of the latter stages of the film as Ueda’s intent slots into place.

This film comes highly recommended for those who aren’t so good with gore. Ueda portrays the trials of filming on a tight budget with aplomb, making easy bedfellows of contrasting concepts: a cast making the best of things, a father-daughter reconciliation and the universal appeal of slapstick.

No wonder it has a coveted 100% rating (97% viewer rating) on Rotten Tomatoes. Heartily endorsed by Film4 Channel Editor and FilmFear curator David Cox, One Cut of the Dead lovingly pokes fun at the genre it inhabits. This irreverently self-referential offering is one to watch, laugh and recommend to everyone you know: you won’t regret it.

You can still buy tickets for FilmFear here, taking advantage of HOME’s multi-save ticketing system.

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¡Viva!

INTERVIEW: ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival 2018

In its 24th Edition, the Spanish and Latin American festival is back with the theme ‘Revolution’

HOME Manchester, a place for curiosity seekers and lovers of the dramatic. Since the one-of-a-kind venue’s opening in 2015, the organisation has challenged, educated and entertained by showcasing a broad selection of contemporary art, theatre and film. This fact is only proven with the conception of the Spanish and Latin American film festival, ¡Viva! finding it’s home at the art space. Since ¡Viva! first arrived to celebrate purely Spanish film 24 years ago, it has expanded to include Latin America and uses all three aforementioned forms of expression to highlight the individual culture of each country. From Europe’s first interaction with Latin America, the continent has been heavily romanticised – whether it is through means of gold, music, culture – and now even oil! – the continent continues to be described as a land of natural abundance and wealth. The same can be said for the talent of Latin American art, theatre and film meaning that combined with Spain’s own cultural capital the festival promises to be an amazing celebration of the arts & an incredibly diverse event. 

I met with ¡Viva! festival coordinator, Jessie Gibbs, to learn more about the event and her own opinions regarding Spain and Latin America. 

 

How/why was ¡Viva! created? 

Jesse Gibbs: That’s actually one of the most asked questions, but one of the most difficult to answer because the event goes back 24 years. It started off purely as a Spanish Film Festival by a woman called Linda Pariser through a combination of personal interest and a love of Spanish cinema – as well as the audience the festival already had.  Since then, about 4/5 years after it expanded, ¡Viva! then grew to include both Spain AND Latin America. When HOME was set up we were able to involve theatre as well to achieve a cross-artform to the festival. Our aim is to have something for everyone. 

Why did you decide to focus on politics for 2018’s installment? 

JG: The Revolution theme was a sidebar idea for this year’s theme and visual-art links in with this – it is very powerful in Latin America. I think the politics, left or right, have been quite tumultuous in Latin American history and they loom large in people’s ideas perhaps in Latin America… and it led on from last year. We’d focused on Spain in our theme because we were looking at the transition to democracy and the anniversary of the end of censorship, so we also wanted to have a theme for Latin America. Having a theme is a way to get the creative juices flowing, and to find what we want to look for, rather than an obvious “what are the latest releases”.

What went into choosing the content? Did each country have a theme? 

JG: No, we wouldn’t want to necessarily schedule our programme by a predetermined idea that has to be “this”, even with the Revolution theme. Whilst we have that theme, it doesn’t cover the whole festival. We try to have spread nationalities, there will always be several films from Spain. We then try to have at least one film each from lots of different Latin American countries – the biggest film industries celebrated under the ¡Viva! umbrella tend to be that of Argentina and Mexico, so there’s always going to be a couple from there.  We also work with certain sales agents and we see what they want to offer us, but it is very much about having a range of films that will appeal to a range of people from a range of countries. However, they all have to be high quality – which I know is completely subjective – but more or less… objective. We’re a team of three that are choosing these films and we’ve already begun choosing for next year, its a very long process.

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Whenever Latin America is discussed, in the news and the media, its always described as one area despite the differences each country in the continent has. Why do you think that is?

JG: Perhaps a lack of education about the area? I think its also the way that sales agents might use it to market the area – Latin America has a stronger image than any specific Latin American country, so they will use that. Obviously, there is a shared history and – for many – there’s a shared language and cultural background. There are definite similarities and there’s a sense of solidarity but on the other hand, they’re also wildly different. If you think that within the size of the UK we all have like our own certain identity and area quirks – think about that, and if you multiplied that by the size of Latin America. Although there’s a linguistic-link between the countries, you will find that someone from Chile could struggle to understand the accent of somebody from Cuba because they’re quite different. And then, of course, there are indigenous languages – the continent seems more homogenous than in reality. Plus then there are the non-Spainish people in parts of Latin America which makes it even crazier to lump the place together. 

I guess the simplest way to understand why this is comes from the fact that Latin America is just very far from home and it has an exotic label which has been going on for decades, since the 1950s with Carmen Miranda and fruit piled on her head, – all those stereotypes do persist today. In fact, that is one of the things that we try and do with the festival, we want to bring out the different identities and different parts of Latin America to audiences.  

In your opinion, are UK cinemas too US orientated? Should more mainstream cinemas be following in HOME’s footsteps and playing more foreign language films? 

JG: Personally I would love that, and that’s definitely one of the things that HOME does well. Mainstream cinemas and multiplexes tend to be dominated by Hollywood films, blockbusters, and its all about “who’s got the most money and star appeal” – it’s definitely not judged by quality as far as I can see. 

So that’s something important for this festival – to promote independent and foreign language film, which I think we’re doing a really good job of! It would be nice if there were more independent cinema venues around like ours. Its difficult to counteract that with money-motivated multiplex’s. I’m proud to say that’s not our primary motive.  

¡Viva! began on the 12th April and will be running until the 5th May 2018, visit HOME for more details.

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