Notes from the back row 

Best of the fest

Thirty-nine teams finished the 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown this year and on April 20, to a sold-out crowd of almost 2000 local film fans, the top eight had their chance to shine. It was another fantastic showing, with love stories, sci-fi, war epics, satire and plenty of comedy (although a few flicks did lack a punchline). Local legend Les Anthony nearly stole the show with Missing, a perfectly deadpan look at our town's lack of public washrooms and how easy it is to get lost looking for one. Funniest flick of the night.

Perennial crowd favourite Robjn Taylor was back again, bringing his unique aesthetic and off-the-wall humour to Firetruck Earrings, a rom-com involving some of the most technical snowboard tricks of the winter and a nice severed-leg ending.

Last year's champion Johnny Fleet enjoyed another big night - he took home a thousand bucks as the People's Choice Award winner with a clever re-telling of the Myrtle Phillip/Whistler origin story entitled The War of 1910 and/or 1924 which combined off-the-chart production values, sneaky digital composition and solid acting.

Even Squamish, the red-headed stepchild of the Sea-to-Sky, was well represented with Fanny Pack, Max Shwadchuck's hilarious, explosion-riddled attack on "poo touchers."

But in the end, there could be only one Best-In-Show and this year the $5,000 bucks and wheelbarrow full of free shit went to Panty Bloom, a brilliantly executed simple-concept flick about the adventures of a wayward bra. Young American filmmakers Alex Adrian, Joe Gaetani and Chris Zimmerman knocked it out of the park with spot-on narration and a clean, comedic visual style. Anyone who has ever made a film can relate to Panty Bloom and, although it was a surprise winner to a lot of people (the filmmakers included), it was a hell of a good movie.

Of course, 31 teams had to wait for the Second-Cuts Screening on Wednesday to get their visions seen but once again the 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown proved that the Whistler filmmaking talent pool is deep, and getting deeper every year.

As far as the Hollywood talent pool goes the Village 8 is opening The Back-up Plan, a pregnancy rom-com starring Jennifer Lopez as a woman who gets artificially inseminated then meets the perfect guy. It's one of those off-and-on relationship movies with all sorts of contrived situations and not enough real humour mixed in. J-Lo does a decent job though (but don't call it a comeback), and there's a playground scene involving a handful of shit that will ring true to parents everywhere. For the most part though I'd rather suck on the exhaust pipe of a '79 Chevy Malibu than sit through this one.

Also opening is The Ghost Writer, the latest film from that rapist Roman Polanski who, despite being a creepy, douche-y, Euro, can still turn out a decent flick. Ewan McGregor stars as a struggling writer (is there any other kind?) saddled with the task of finishing the memoirs of a fallen-from-grace British Prime Minister. Black comedy, fine acting and Polanski's weird-but-talented vibe combine to deliver a not-that-bad movie. Check it out.

The Losers looks like one of those perfect rainy-day films where you go in looking for explosions, nudity and little else. A team of special-ops mercenaries gets betrayed and has to resolve the situation with snappy dialogue and badassness. Routine characters and super stylized music-video direction permeate this comic book adaptation but The Losers is a winner so long as you're not looking for much more than some explosions and a good-looking chick. It's hard-boiled, predictable, and a good way to kill an afternoon while you plot your next year's 72-Hour masterpiece.



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