Defending the Indefensible

5 films to watch at Defending the Indefensible

The gang down at the Toronto Underground Cinema has decided that some critical film flops deserve a re-evaluation. They've whittled down a massive list of box office bombs, organized screenings for the brightest of the bunch and called the series DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE. Each screening will be hosted by a local critic, cinema scholar, writer or blogger who will present a film he/she loves and have to defend it against someone who hates it. Following the screening, both hosts will put up their critical dukes and participate in a debate about the film's quality which will end with an audience Q&A.

The series will run from tonight until August, with one or two screenings a month. Here are my five favorite films from the current schedule:

FREDDY GOT FINGERED (2001)

At one point in the history of the world as we know it, Tom Green was one of the most popular media personalities in North America. Frightening, I know. Love him or hate him, it made good business sense to put him on the big screen. Allowing him to take credit as Writer/Director/Editor/Star/Producer/Stable Boy, maybe not so much. Instead of the box office smash the studio hoped for; the result of his first directorial effort was a plot-less chunk of anti-comedy entitled FREDDY GOT FINGERED.

Ridiculed and lambasted upon its release, the film can now be viewed as an eye opening example of either mad genius or gibbering insanity. Tom Green doesn't even pretend to be interested in characters or plot - he's happy to simply obsess over grossing out the audience in a series of unrelated gag inducing set pieces. It's almost impossible not to be impressed by Tom Green's sheer balls at going as far as he does.

Freddy Got Fingered will screen at 9:30 PM on March 4th, 2011 (tonight!), and will be defended by John Semley. Hosted by Norman Wilner (Now, MSN.)

ALIEN RESSURECTION (1997)

ALIEN and ALIENS are commonly accepted as outright cinematic classics. ALIEN 3 was originally considered a failure, but has slowly gained a cult following thanks to a re-assembled version that found itself on the Quadrilogy Box Set. ALIEN: RESSURECTION is the forgotten step child. Directed by French Auteur Jean Pierre Jeunet (of AMELIE fame) and written by Joss Whedon (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) the film plays like acid trip parody of an ALIEN film directed by Terry Gilliam.

The scatter shot plot wearily brings Ripley back as a clone and teams her up with a gang of space pirate that include Winona Ryder and Ron Perlman! The whole sheebang leads to the expected encounters with those pesky acid blooded Xenomorph. Everything in the film is pushed to the most exaggerated extremes from the twisted set design right to the excessive splatter filled gore. RESURRECTION is an entertaining oddity that is so dead set at making its running time fun that you can't help but crack a smile.

Alien: Resurrection will screen at 7:00 PM on March 4th, 2001 (tonight!) and will be defended by Norman Wilner (Now, MSN). Hosted by John Semley (Torontoist).

SPEED RACER (2008)

The closest anyone will ever get to live action anime in all candy color glory, SPEED RACER is a film that was unfairly written off as an experiment in bloated CGI special effects from the people that brought us THE MATRIX. Nevertheless, beneath the hypnotizing cartoon visuals is a film that has real characters you can root for. Emile Hirsch gives it his all as Speed Racer, Susan Sarandon brings heart as his mother and John Goodman brings the awesome as Pops Racer. Even if everything on screen is digital, I still found my heart jump a beat as Speed raced to the finish line. As the ten year old in the aisle ahead of me said "GO SPEED RACER!"

Speed Racer will screen at 7:00 PM on April 15th, 2011 and will be defended by Peter Kuplowsky (Toronto After Dark Programmer). Hosted by Adam Nayman (Eye Weekly).

OBSERVE AND REPORT (2009)

Lost in a wave of Seth Rogen fatigue and the superficially similar PAUL BLART, OBSERVE AND REPORT is a fantastic modern day take on TAXI DRIVER disguised as a goofy mall cop comedy. Seth Rogen's main character may appear like a lovable doofus on the surface, but underneath he's a short sighted psychotic man dealing with the world at imaginary extremes. Director Jody Hill knows exactly how to twist a situation around to the point that you're not sure if you're supposed to laugh, stay meekly silent, or feel insulted. It's classic subversive cinema at its finest.

Observe and Report will screen at 7:00 PM on May 20th, 2011, and will be defended by Will Sloan (Varsity, Exclaim) and series organizer Andrew Parker. Hosted by John Semley (Torontoist) and Adam Nayman (Eye Weekly).

EQUILIBRIUM (2002)

The first directorial effort of Hollywood screenwriter Kurt Wimmer (SALT), EQUILIBRIUM is grand mish mash of a science fiction dystopia tropes, samurai attitude and Hong Kong style gunplay. These disparate threads are anchored by a strong lead performance from a pre-Batman Christian Bale as a Grammaton Cleric - a future law enforcement officer whose mission in life is to find and destroy works of art. Obviously, our protagonist has a change of heart midway through the film, grabs his guns, and takes on THE MAN. The film never official appeared in Theaters in Toronto, so this will be one of the rare opportunities to catch it on the big screen.

Equilibrium will screen at 7:00 PM on July 29th, 2011, and will be defended by Sasha James (The Final Girl Project). Hosted by series organizer Andrew Parker.

For full listings of the films that will be screening during the monthly series visit the official Toronto Underground Website or join the Toronto Underground Facebook Page. Happy viewings!

The Defending the Indefensible series will begin on Friday, March 4th, 2011 (tonight!) with ALIEN RESSURECTION at 7:00 PM and FREDDY GOT FINGERED at 9:30 PM . Both screenings will be hosted by Norman Wilner and John Semley. Tickets are 10$ for one film and 15$ for a double bill. Tickets are only available on the night of the screening at the Toronto Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Ave. on the night of the screening. People wishing to skip the film, but participate in the post screening Q&A session, can do so by paying a 2$ donation that will be given to the charities being represented that evening.

Writing by Justin Decloux


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