See the unseeable at a lovingly crafted Rio Grind

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      If I say “grindhouse”, you say “Yasujirô Ozu”, right?

      Okay, maybe not, but the transcendental Japanese master wasn’t above making a potboiler or two, like 1933’s silent gangster flick Dragnet Girl. When that film is accompanied on Friday (November 22) by a live score from Chicago-based ambient trio Coupler—fresh from performances in Seattle and New York—programmer Rachel Fox figures it fits the Rio Grind Festival bill just fine.

      “This one looked so interesting, we couldn’t pass it up,” Fox tells the Straight. “There’s only so many screens in Vancouver and we want to, as much as possible, shed some light on content that otherwise might not get seen. So when we curate something like this, we’re hoping people trust in the experience and walk away really charmed or enlightened or satisfied with something they weren’t expecting to feel that way about.”

      Hewing a little closer to the classic definition, Rio Grind also offers a rare chance to see the H. P. Lovecraft adaptation Colour Out of Space, in which Nic Cage “perhaps exceeds” his gonzo workout in last year’s Mandy. The Richard Stanley–directed feature drew raves at TIFF’s Midnight Madness and Austin’s Fantastic Fest, and Fox notes that tickets are moving fast for its single Vancouver screening on Saturday (November 23).

      On Sunday (November 24), Homewrecker finds Doctor Sleep’s Alex Essoe getting into an uncomfortable relationship with Precious Chong (Tommy’s daughter).

      “It becomes an intergenerational Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?,” says Fox, who otherwise describes Zach Gayne’s latest as “OK Boomer” distilled into a violent horror comedy. “It’s definitely a real oddball film that is otherwise never going to be seen on the big screen but deserves to be.”

      The programmer is also pleased to bring a number of Canadian titles to the party, including Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo, a portrait of your favourite cult-movie heavy from Vancouver’s Brett Harvey, opening the Grind on Thursday (November 21). On the same bill, Happy Face, by Québécois filmmaker Alexandre Franchi, places a teenager inside a therapy group for people with facial disfigurements­—real facial disfigurements, no makeup here­­—challenging the viewer to check their own response to what the film calls “the tyranny of beauty”.

      Says Fox: ”It’s tender; it’s surprising. I think it forces the audience to come to terms with looking at people for their humanity, who we might otherwise not cast our eyes upon. It’s a really unusual film.”

      Back in 1977, megahack Michael Winner used real-life “freaks” to depict the inhabitants of hell in his film The Sentinel. Even the grindhouse is upping its sensitivity game these days.

      The Rio Grind Festival takes place at the Rio Theatre from Thursday to Sunday (November 21 to 24).