Shut Up Little Man!dir Matthew Bate; with Mitch Deprey, Eddie Guerriero 11/Aus ****
Documenting both an outrageously funny-tragic story and a surprising pop-culture phenomenon, this film not only contains a hugely involving narrative, but it also astutely explores issues of voyeurism and exploitation. It starts in 1987 when Deprey and Guerriero move from Wisconsin to a small flat in San Francisco, and soon their days and nights are flooded with profane rants coming from next door. They decide to record the arguments in cast the police need them, but over the next year the madness becomes compelling. And by sharing the cassettes with their friends, they quickly spread all over the world, becoming a cult hit and sparking comic books, song, stage plays and film deals. But the question remains as to who actually owns the material, so they set out trying to find the notorious Pete, Ray and Tony whose voices fill the painfully hilarious bile-filled recordings. Not only is the subject matter fascinating, but the characters on-screen are terrifically entertaining, and director Bate assembles it all with a gleeful sense of how the absurd arguments are grounded in an even more outrageous reality.
By Day and By Night
dir Alejandro Molina; with Sandra Echeverria, Manuel Balbi 10/Mex ****
This bizarre Mexican drama-thriller will probably polarise opinions, since it takes such a low-key approach to a big, apocalyptic story. Set in the distant future, when the population of Mexico City has become unmanageable, a scientist has come up with an enzyme that he implants into the entire population, putting them on 12-hour life cycles, either day or night. The story centres on a day-living woman (Echeverria) desperately seeking her lost daughter, who we learn has been taken in by a young doctor (Balbi) on the night cycle. So when they finally get together, she is awake when her daughter and the doctor are asleep, and vice versa. This makes falling in love and escaping the domed city rather a lot more complicated. The clever story, eerily subdued performances and beautifully designed sets make this film hypnotically entertaining to watch. Although since the whole movie looks like it's in slow motion, it will test the patience of some viewers.