By LORRAINE CARPENTER
and MALCOLM FRASER
If you dig Japanese cuisine, naked ladies and Reservoir Dogs, this one’s for you. There’s only one naked lady, really, and she serves as a sexy sushi platter at a reunion of crooks tying up the “loose ends” of a six-year-old diamond heist gone wrong.
The gang is full of familiar faces, though even the most diehard Star Wars fan is unlikely to recognize Mark Hamill, who really Hamills it up as a queeny gunman/amateur dentist. The rest of them are fairly standard crime-movie characters: the sinister ringleader (Tony Todd, aka Candyman!), the loose cannon (Andy Mackenzie, former soap actor and MacGruber punchline), the paranoid guy (James Duval of Donnie Darko and Doom Generation) and the fall-guy (80s child actor Noah Hathaway). Legendary Japanese actor Sonny Chiba also has a cameo, as a sushi chef!
The parallels with Tarantino’s first feature are obvious, though the torture sequence in Sushi Girl makes “the ear scene” in Reservoir Dogs look like kids’ stuff. Few can beat Tarantino at his own game, but with its steep suspense and satisfying twists and turns, Kern Saxton’s debut feature plays admirably. (LC) Saturday, July 21, Hall Theatre (1455 Maisonneuve W.), 7 p.m., sold out, but keep an eye on fantasiafest.com for potential added screenings.
Saturday’s midnight screening is your only chance to see this experimental mind-melter from Canadian director Seth Smith. Sketchy-looking drifter Asa (Chik White) arrives at the doorstep of emo-goth babe Elle (Kate Hartigan), promising that this visit won’t be “like last time.” Soon enough, though, they’re both indulging in a hallucinatory trip brought on by sucking juice out of large starfish-like slugs.
What follows is part addiction story, part surreal head trip. With both Smith and his cast hailing from the Halifax music scene (see this interview with underground music blog Weird Canada for some background) and taking on the film medium for the first time, the film exudes the rough energy of amateurs, a word I use here in its root sense of people doing something for love, not money.
Although it teeters over some of the typical pitfalls of first-time experimentation — namely, cheap surrealism and excessive David Lynch homage (a drug dealer doing a soft-shoe in a spotlight is a particularly sub-Lynchian moment) — Lowlife stays just on the right side of the line with its audacious spirit. Not that we would ever encourage the use of illicit substances, but it does seem like the perfect viewing experience for a late night under the influence. (MF) Saturday, July 21, J.A. De Sève Theatre (1400 Maisonneuve W.), 11:55 p.m., $10. ■