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October Movies At Saigon’s Alternative Film Venues

With Halloween coming up soon, expect some horror and gothic films at Saigon’s alternative film venues this month. Alongside titles that pay homage to the much-loved remembrance of the dead, these programmes offer a variety of themes and cinematic genres, including a retrospective on 70s cinema, indie-cult and new titles.

It seems appropriate to include a quote by the Hungarian actor that, more than anyone else, has embodied the iconic Dracula on screen, and that, in some ways, summarises the pure essence of being an actor.

“I have lived too completely, I think. I have known every human emotion.” (Bela Lugosi)

6th October @ 8 p.m. – The Cube

Almost Famous (USA 2000)

The 70s are remembered as the years of rock & roll, excess and love (or sex, depending on how you look at it). Based on the personal accounts of director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire) while working as a music reporter for the Rolling Stone magazine during his teenage years, Almost Famous is a sweet, heartfelt and, at times, naïve portrait of both the dreams and illusions associated with the ideology and the music of that era.

Crowe’s approach to the story is as honest as it could be, he does not shy away from his younger-self’s expectations and shuttered dreams. The film won an Oscar for Best Screenplay and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for both Frances McDormand (Fargo) and the delightful Kate Hudson (Nine, Brides War).

8th October @ 8 p.m. – deciBel Lounge

The Grand Budapest Hotel  (USA 2014)

The world is a much better place when there are people like Wes Anderson in it. The visionary-indie director, in the last two years alone, has brought to the big screen his unique, imaginary worlds in films such as Moonrise Kingdom and more recently, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Explaining the plots of these films is as futile as trying to describe a Salvador Dali’s paintings, sure it can be done, but is this really important?

Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel is inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig and the character of Monsieur Gustave (played by an otherworldly Ralph Fiennes) which a is homage to Zweig himself. The American director has brought to life an entire fictitious world in which every single detail – the grand, decadent hotel, the uniforms of its staff, the decorations of each mansion and location, the diverse affectations of the characters etc. – has been thought-out with original and playful carefulness.

The script provides the protagonists with many comical lines as well as a fair share of gothic-surrealism (see the chase scene in the museum between Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum). The only thing the audience has to do is play along and go on a ride through this exquisite example of madness, imagination and pure visual beauty. It’s a hell of a ride.

9th Ocotber @ 8 p.m. – Saigon Outcast

Dallas Buyers Club (USA 2013) 

Dallas Buyers Club was the talk of 2013 in the world of cinema, and not only for Matthew McConaughey’s and Jaret Leto’s pitch-perfect performances – rightly rewarded with two Oscars, two Golden Globes and two Actors Guild Awards, among others – but for the subdued approach that director Jean-Marc Vallée took in dealing with the issue of gay stereotypes and HIV. Based on the true story of cowboy Rod Woodroof, the narration spans from the day in which the macho Woodroof finds out he has contracted HIV, all the way through to the malpractice of the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) and the rebellious and courageous decision by Woodroof to establish the Dallas Buyers Club to help others affected by the deadly disease.  

13th October @ 8 p.m. - The Cube

Bad Lieutenant (USA 1992)

Abel Ferrara could be labelled as the master of controversy and, more importantly, he does not seem to care about being typecast has the black sheep in cinema. Bad Lieutenant is the result of the counter-culture of the 70s films and their themes of sex, drugs and morality. An un-inhibited and powerful Harvey Keitel plays a fallen police detective in the Bronx (NYC) who has to investigate the rape of a nun. The story leads to Ferrara’s bleak, realistic and brutally honest exploration on God, sickened-society and excess. With films like Bad Lieutenant, The Addiction and the King of New York Ferrara remains THE filmmaker of the untold subcultures.

15th October @ 8 p.m.– deciBel Lounge

The Evil Dead  (USA 1981) 

Now considered a cult-horror film, The Evil Dead came to life from the friendship between Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi (Spider-Man I, II & III, A Simple Plan). The then two young filmmakers asked and begged for money from their families and friends in order to produce the film, hired untrained actors and cast family members, and organised the distribution of the movie themselves. The story focuses on a group of university students who decide to spend their spring break in a cabin in the woods, only to encounter demons and inexplicable evil forces. A series of chilling scenes are combined with slapstick ones (mainly created accidentally because the actors in the film are not actors). Evil Dead is an excellent example of how a (very) low budget film can become one of the most successful, profitable and iconic horror films in cinema history, loved and praised by both audiences and critics.

16th Ocotber @ 8 p.m. – Saigon Outcast

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (USA 2014)

In 2005, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City hit everyone like a hurricane. Nothing like that ever touched the silver screen before, it was so mind-blowing that even the traditionalists had to, at the very least, recognise the untapped creative power of digital cameras. It took nine years for the two directors to deliver the second instalment from the eponymous graphic novel by Miller. Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson reprise their original roles and the film benefits from the additions brought by Josh Brolin and Eva Green.

20th October @ 8 p.m.- The Cube

Dog Day Afternoon  (USA 1975)

Attica! Attica! Put your guns down!” screams at the armed police an electrifying Al Pacino. Directed by Sydney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Network), the film is based on a real bank robbery attempt in New York City that goes wrong within minutes. Sonny (Pacino) and a fragile Sal (John Cazale - The Deer Hunter, The Godfather Parts I & II) are the two unlikely robbers who decide to take on a small city bank and ‘accidentally’ kidnap its employees to pay for the sex change of Sonny’s boyfriend. As events unfold, public opinion grows in support of the two strange and desperate protagonists. Dog Day sits alongside films like Serpico and Network in capturing the desperation of the underdog against the American establishment, the police injustice and the exploitation by the American media in the 70s. One of Pacino’s finest performances.

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- Saigoneer’s review of Dallas Buyers Club

23rd October @ 8 p.m. – deciBel Lounge

Ida (Poland & other countries 2013)

Picked by critics as one of the best films of 2014 (so far) and selected as Poland’s entry for the foreign films category of the 2015 Oscars, Ida is a black-and-white drama centred on a road trip with an unlikely couple – a soon-to-be-nun and her rediscovered aunt. Polish-born director Pawel Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love, Last Resort) goes back to his roots with all his heart, Ida is a strong, bleak and a passionate period story that touches on post-war Polish society, politics and religion (Catholic Church and Judaism) through the relationship of the two women, performed brilliantly by Agata Kulesza and new-comer Agata Trzebuchowska

The film won numerous awards including Best Film at the London Film Festival.

24th October @ 8 p.m. – Saigon Outcast

Open Your Eyes (Spain 1997) 

A stylish and thrilling jigsaw puzzle by Alejandro Amenábar (The Others, The Sea Inside, Tesis), Open Your Eyes is a brave attempt in filmmaking, where the Chilean director mixes contrasting elements. Supported by an excellent cast, led by Penelope Cruz (All About My Mother, Volver, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides) and Eduardo Noriega (Tesis). The underlying themes of this surreal, chilling mystery are the concepts of dreams and reality as well as a veil criticism towards modern obsession with beauty and its cultural shallowness.

27th Ocotber @ 8 p.m.– The Cube

No Country for Old Men  (USA 2007)

The masterpiece by the Coen brothers took home four Oscars in 2008 for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The plot sees a hard-boiled cowboy (Josh Brolin) stumbling upon a large sum of money and he is subsequently chased by a psychopath serial killer (Bardem) who has been hired by the mob to retrieve the lost money from a drug deal gone wrong. Tommy Lee Jones plays the sheriff that unwillingly has to solve the mess.

Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men is a tour de force that relies on the impeccable acting by all the people involved and solid yet restrained direction by the Coen brothers. The American directors’ style is an homage to the 70s Western films of Sam Peckinpah where desolations and the macho culture prevailed.

29th Ocotber @ 8 p.m. – deciBel Lounge

Halloween Special Screening

To put you in the right mood for Halloween, the audience gets to choose their favourite horror or dark film. Just go to deciBel’s Facebook page to vote for the film you wish to watch. The one with the most votes will be screened. Here are the titles to chose from:

The Exorcist (1973)

The Shining (1980)

Under the Skin (2013)

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Psycho (1960)

Alien (1979)

30th Ocotber @ 8 p.m. – Saigon Outcast

Halloween Special: Edward Scissorhands (USA 1990)

A classic Tim Burton film, Edward Scissorhands is gothic fairy-tale revolving around Edward (Johnny Depp), a man with scissors instead of hands, created by a secluded inventor (played by horror genre’s icon Vincent Price) who dies before he can complete is invention. Edward comes out from his lovely and abandoned castle to live among the average people in a plastic, fictitious suburbia. The film captures some of Burton’s recurrent themes - his love for outsiders, his bitter-sweet look at society’s mediocrity and his child-like vision of a magical world that can be found all around us, if one truly wants to seek it out.


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