Can something last for five years and still be called “badass”? Does success confer status and respectability? And is it possible to feel sympathy for a cold-blooded child killer? You can ponder these important questions as the fifth annual Vancouver Badass Film Festival gives rotten taste a good name at the Vancity and Rio theatres starting Friday (March 29). Included among this year’s many shorts, notably, is “Fun and Games”, the first directorial effort by Northwest Horror Show curator Shane Burzynski, which features the acting debut of Straight contributor and legendary badass Allan MacInnis! Of the features, here’s what we liked. For more information, go to www.vbaff.com/.
Kicking off a “Hard Brexit” double bill that also includes Perfect Skin, this U.K. effort is outrageously good fun, putting a supernatural twist on the gangster genre with its tale of two foot soldiers in Bradford’s Pakistani criminal underworld attempting to find some missing drug money with the help of a female medium. The stakes are higher than usual, given the scenery-chewing level of psychopathy demonstrated by their boss, Uday, whose preferred weapon is a cricket bat. The film is wise to the culture clash that has defined that city for decades—huge portraits of Imran Khan jockey for viewer attention alongside posters for Get Carter—while its allusions to baked-in little-England racism finally collapse into a kind of all-consuming cynicism and an astoundingly un–PC punch line in the film’s final minutes. So, yes, this is a seriously fucking badass intro to your weekend. Vancity, March 29 (7 p.m.)
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This tribute to the Women in Prison genre is too cheap and cheerful to criticize. If sweaty tropical sexploitation with a an S&M rape-fantasy component is your jam, then you’re probably a fan of Spanish sleaze auteur Jess Franco—who happens to be name-checked here in the shape of a minor character, the deposed general of banana republic Rattica, where U.S. spy Agent Sixx has been sent to spring an American citizen from a women’s prison presided over by the dominatrix Inga Von Krupp. As if it matters, the plot is further driven by a genuinely funny dope smuggler played by Jett Bryant, who looks like Jason Momoa if he really let himself go. Other thrills, besides boobs, include the Incredible Torture Device—wow!—and our own Tristan Risk channelling Mink Stole as Von Krupp’s enforcer, who bullies another inmate into anilingus in her very first scene. Thus, we have the festival’s most literal interpretation of badass. Vancity, March 30 (9:30 p.m.)
A rural gothic mashup of Cold Comfort and The Shining (featuring the great Michael Ironside), Knuckleball is almost too well-made for a festival that wants to push your buttons like this one. And yet it asks that we find some compassion for the murderous farm boy who stalks 12-year-old Henry for almost the entire film, to genuinely gripping effect. Shot in the iciest portion of Saskatchewan you’ll ever see, Knuckleball joins The Hollow Child and A.M.I in the “Canadian AF” program for some decisive homegrown badassery. Rio, March 31 (5 p.m.) g