Tuesday, April 18, 2006

KBT Presents: CUBE

Coming up on its 10th Anniversary, Vincenzo Natali's Cube is a fine piece of Canadian science fiction. Part puzzlebox film (literally), part character-type melodrama, nightmare, it runs at a crisp (for the genre) 90 minutes and plays a nice balancing act between the puzzle-solving of the cube, the puzzle solving of purpose of each character, and the tensions of making up a 'team' of different personality types in a particularly dire situation. After a spectacularly visual opening scene involving great canadian character actor Julian Richings, the characters are introduced in one of the rooms of the cube. They do not remember how they got there, and they do not know why, where (or even when) they are there. However, they do know that many of the rooms of the cube are rigged with booby traps.

There is not much else to say without getting into pretty heavey spoiler territory. What will have to suffice is that there is the leader-conservative, the paranoid-liberal, the nihilist, the genius, the mentally handicapped and the techincal expert. The interaction between these folks (including their skill-sets) is somewhat of a microcosm of human interaction, and over the course of the film bits and pieces of common sci-fi questions emerge: "Why are we here?" "Who is in control?" and "How did public works, morality, and technology come to this?" (OK, the last question is more out of the school of Douglas Adams -- or --Terry Gilliam's Brazil --, but of course they would put it in a much wittier way than I am capable of!) Come to think of it, the film bears a bit of a resemblence to a previous KBT presentation, Primer; which also made the most of its zero-budget by doing a lot with a little and making the picture about ideas over spectacle.

Come out tonite @ 8pm and eat our kids Easter Chocolate with a cocktail or beer. Trailers & Showtime @ 8:30pm.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


To my western-eyes, Shinobi is a cinematic blown-glass bauble mixed with the ingredients of Zhang Yimou's Hero, Bryan Singer's X-Men, and The Bard's Romeo and Juliet. The film sets its sights at being purely an entertaining genre flick, and then goes about it with a melancholy grimness. This is nicely at odds with with its own nature, but works here for the most part anyway.

The Iga and Kouga clans have been training magical Shinobi warriors for centuries, and have been the centerpieces of rising and falling kingdoms. They have warred with each other as much as for their Shogun, and there is no shortage of vendettas between the two clans. After an age of war, a Lord of Lords unites Japan under one leader and brings peace to the land. Understanding the power the Shinobi have, he first places the two clans under a forced truce. Still afraid of the enigmatic magician-warriors, and not having any purpose for them anymore, he hatches a plan to have both clans wipe each other out. Meanwhile, Gennosuke, the grandson of the Kouga leader and Oboro, the granddaughter of the Iga leader have secretly fallen in love with one another and married. They have the desire, but no clue how, to bring about true peace despite the centuries of bad blood between the clans. The Lord of Lords' plan is to have each of the clans pick their best 5 warriors and head to the capital to fight to the death for demonstration to his Majesty. Gennosuke and Oboro are the leaders chosen for each side. Two pacifists in love with each other are leading 8 blood-thirsty warriors to self-destruction. A fact made more frustrating because both are aware how much the warriors want to fulfill their purpose, even if that purpose as no use or meaning.

Shinobi has some very colourful cinematography and more 'majestic-bird-of-prey' shots than The Beastmaster. It also has a comic book sensibility mixed with a healthy dose of Kierkegaard. You know, when a warrior has no purpose in the world, well, what then? Having a softspot for this type of 'End of the Shogunate' era (nineteenth century) Chambara picture, you find the theme is a common one. Here however, instead of a stately, restrained film, it is an explosion of fantasty CGI involving poisonous mists, shapeshifting, clothing that kills, and other mystical acoutrements. This visual style sets it clearly apart from Akira Kurosawa or Toshiya Fujita: Realism is not the aim here, just slick visuals which move the story along conterpoint to the melodramatic love story. It suffers perhaps from too many supporting characters (which the director feels the need to flash a text label for each at the beginning of the film). Many of the warriors do not get much chance to strut their stuff, but too much Higlander-esque one-on-one dueling would get tiresome after a while, and Shinobi flits along that line quite well.

The computer problems have been taken care of! (Huge thanks for Dave's time and expertise!) Come out and enjoy the Ninja-melodrama. Cocktails at 8. Trailers and Showtime at 8:30pm.