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Part one of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival’s closing-night gala is Quentin Dupieux’s very unusual film RUBBER, which was reportedly a must-have ticket at this year’s Cannes fest. It’s the story of a killer who’s billed in the credits only by the mysterious sobriquet “Robert.”
This murderer begins the movie as one of society’s discards, maintaining an isolated existence out in the California desert. Once our antihero has made a seemingly random decision to pick himself up from his squalor, he then embarks on a spree of escalating destruction. His deadly rampage starts out small, first with insects and small animals before graduating to human beings. During the journey, he discovers that he in fact possesses psychic powers. He can call on this talent to stall the engines of passing cars on the highway, or make people’s heads explode into gooey SCANNERS-style pulp. Oh, and the killer is an old rubber tire. Seriously.
As you can imagine, RUBBER deeply splits the After Dark audience, earning huge laughs and applause as well as the only boos heard by Fango at the fest. RUBBER is a surreal, metaphysical, humorous experience, breaking the fourth wall and involving the audience as characters in order to riff on the connection that films have with their viewers. It’s a celebration of “no reason” cinema, as one character explains directly to the camera in a hilarious opening monologue. True to that promise, no explanations are ever offered. The After Dark programmers keep the absurdity going by hopping up on stage and announcing that a special guest from the film’s cast has been flown in at the last minute to say a few words. Cue an old tire rolling down the theatre aisle.
As entertaining as the cavalcade of detonating heads is, RUBBER (set for U.S. release under Magnolia Pictures’ Magnet Releasing banner) is best suited to more adventurous fright fans with a taste for the ridiculous. For anyone out there who looks back fondly on the oddball but thrilling unpredictability of David Lynch circa LOST HIGHWAY/MULHOLLAND DR., RUBBER will bend your mind in all the right places.
And then, following a sold-out HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) screening, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival lowers the velvet curtain on another successful year. Fango would like to thank the festival organizers and attendees, and also pass along a little something special: To commemorate After Dark’s fifth anniversary, several local filmmakers were commissioned to create minute-long “bumper” spots to play between the features. One spot in particular brought the house down on the first night, and managed the same feat upon its final-night reprise. It’s hilarious and horribly disturbing at the same time (check it out below, and be warned), and is the perfect way to wave goodbye to After Dark until next year.
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