WILL GET WORLD PREMIERE AT FANTASIA FEST IN MONTREAL THIS SUMMER
Drew Barnhardt, longtime reader of De Palma a la Mod, has a new film called Rondo, which will have its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montréal this summer. The festival runs July 12 – August 1. Bloody Disgusting's Brad Miska had the description from the Fantasia press release posted yesterday:
A neurotic, introverted young military veteran forces himself to go to a party to meet new people and finds himself plunged into a bizarre criminal underworld of sex and blood in Drew Barnhardt’s utterly mad RONDO (World Premiere). An exuberantly seedy, obsessively well-directed gonzo thriller that’s funny in the darkest ways, RONDO’s violent twists and genuinely uncomfortable moments will leave you breathless from gasping, laughing, and screaming – possibly at the same time. Oddly reminiscent of CRIMEWAVE-era John Paizs by way of De Palma, this is a squirm-inducing, one-of-a-kind exploitation oddity that even the most brazen viewers will never be able to unsee.
I had a chance to view Rondo a couple of months ago, and I would say that the film's website provides a perhaps more accurate description: "Paul, a troubled veteran, is given a special PRESCRIPTION that opens a door to a world of sex, murder, and revenge. Full of black comedy and violent twists, Rondo follows the young vet as he descends into bizarre criminal enterprises in the high-rises of Denver, Colorado." That synopsis adds, "In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Brian De Palma’s Body Double, Drew Barnhardt's Rondo is a sexy, funny, and distinctly modern update to the suspense thriller."
I found Rondo to be a very vivid movie, in terms of image, story, style, graphic images/language, music, the whole shebang. The propulsive music, by Ryan Franks and Scott Nickoley, carries the film along through memorable chase and suspense sequences. The film features a narrator, and I was reminded of Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Phillip (or, going back, Woody Allen's Take The Money And Run, perhaps, or even Kubrick...?). When I asked Barnhardt about this, he responded via email, "Stanley Kubrick has been my favorite director for ages and it is probably not possible for me to ever shed some of my Kubrick affectations (nor do I desire to). The narrator is one of those. However in Rondo, unlike my last movie where I used a Michael Hordern Barry Lyndon stand-in, my search for the narrator this time out was built on Peter Thomas and his voice work for both Forensic Files and Nova. So that's what all that is all about."
And of course there is plenty of De Palma influence in Barnhardt's new film: the change in protagonist halfway through, linked by the gaze into each other's eyes at moment of one's death (transfer of knowledge and narrative). An elevator sequence that brings the chase in Carlito's Way to mind. Barnhardt agrees there are echoes of De Palma, Kubrick, but also Buñuel and "even getting to play around with some Peckinpah stuff in the finale." He also mentions Verhoeven. However, Barnhardt stresses, "My hope is, that such a gumbo of influences has led to this picture kind of being its own spicy little monster. Or, at least, MY spicy little monster."
I would say it is that, for sure.