Thursday, February 05, 2009

Working Comic Con: R.W. Goodwin & Takasi Miike

It is not just for comic books anymore. If you are releasing a genre picture, NY Comic Con is practically Cannes and Sundance combined. Filmmakers and studios are working the show hard, building media events around it. R.W. Goodwin and Takashi Miike are two such directors in town for Comic Con this weekend.

Goodwin is best-known for his long stint on The X-Files as a co-executive producer and sometimes director. After five seasons, when the show relocated from rainy Vancouver to sunny Los Angeles, Goodwin stayed behind, bowing out before the Files jumped the shark. Now he returns to the flying saucer genre with Alien Trespass (trailer here).

Trespass officially opens April 3rd, so look for the review then. Simply comparing it to the Files, it is much lighter in tone than most of the episodes Goodwin directed, which tended to advance the overarching storyline or so-called mythology. It would be closely akin to the satirical episodes produced during Goodwin’s tenure, like the Roshomon­-esque “Bad Blood” or the self-referential spoof “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” guest-starring Charles Nelson Reilly as a Truman Capote figure writing a thinly disguised novel about a particular X-File case.

In Trespass, much of the satire involves an elaborate back-story Goodwin and company created to suggest the film is actually a long-lost vintage B-film. Trespass itself has laughs, but is really more about nostalgia for films like The Blob, The Thing, and The War of the Worlds, which might have had hooky effects, but were produced in earnest sincerity. Those who have affection for the genre should check out Goodwin’s Comic Con appearances. He and actor Dan Lauria are doing a Trespass panel on Friday, February 6th from 3:30-4:30pm in room 1A08 and a poster signing from 5-6pm.

Unlike Goodwin, Japanese auteur Takashi Miike is a newcomer to the science fiction genre with Yatterman, which receives its American debut at Comic Con. Known for some fairly violent excursions into the horror and gangster fields, Miike’s last film, Sukiyaki Western Django, was an idiosyncratic re-importation of the spaghetti western back into feudal Japan. It certainly has moments of violence and cruelty, but nothing approaching the infamous torture scene in Audition, most likely his best-known film.

Miike has an undeniable aptitude for disturbing imagery, but his greatest talent is probably his ability to create a sense of mounting dread. In both Audience and his horror thriller One Missed Call (the basis of last year’s American remake), even his exposition is unsettling. It will be interesting to see how his style manifests itself in a SF context. Given his intense cult following, his Con appearances are likely to draw capacity crowds. (However, considering I was somewhat unnerved by the oddness of NY Anime Fest, I’m not sure I’ll make it there.)