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Midnight Madness: Vexille

I'm feeling the burn. Another six films today brings the total up to 19 since the start of the festival, and these late late nights at the Ryerson are starting to wear on me.

The Sunday night Midnight Madness is where the rubber really starts to hit the road in terms of your personal fatigue, especially when it's the fourth Midnight in a row with no sign of stopping. After the decadence of the Mother of Tears opening and the zombie zaniness last night, Sunday night is time to settle down with some quality craziness (Black Sheep premiered in this slot last year) and try to ignore the fact that your left ass cheek has given up the ghost and gone permanently numb.

As such, Colin Geddes programmed Japanese single-name filmmaker Sori's animĂŠ spectacular Vexille as the antidote for the Sunday night blues, and I'm grateful for that. It's a gorgeous and slick piece of animated filmmaking, with enough juice behind the storyline to keep even the very tired sitting forward in their balcony seats.

The story takes place about fifty years from now, when Japan has isolated itself from the rest of the world and developed incredible robotics technology. A team of American special forces agents is sent to infiltrate the country to figure out what the hell is going on, and trouble ensues. As is the norm for the genre, a bunch of part-human, part-robots are going to have to figure out whether or not they have souls, and thereby tell us a bit about our own in the bargain.

Fortunately, Vexille almost never strays into over-brained pretentiousness (Ghost in the Shell 2, I'm looking right at you), and the animation is tip-top. The visuals support a strong throughline of resistance among the part-human Japanese citizenry, and when Sori throws the hammer down for a white-knuckle chase through the desert to bring down the bad guys, this movie virtually explodes out of the screen.

A ripping score by Paul Oakenfold completes the tasty package. Vexille was tons of fun for a late Sunday night.

Vexille re-screens Tuesday at noon, and next Saturday at midnight.


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