rock'n'roll, country, punk & metal.
bands that combine all four successfully.
design, graphic & interior.
the intersection of philosophy & sociology.
emergent gameplay, of the videogaming variety.
deep fried everything.
making lists, including this one of my life's ambitions, and these of things on my mind at the time.
i took a trip! read about it here.
evidence of my lame yuppie side on my (gasp!) house blog here.
The festival has been over for almost a week now. Final tally? Of the 44 films that interested me, I managed to see 26, or a little more than a film per day, almost identical to my total for 2013, but nowhere near my festival record of 43 films in 2012 (seriously though, how the fuck did I manage that?). Still two reviews to go, so let’s make ‘em short and sweet:
Space Station 76 High on aesthetics, this comedy puts pretty people on a pretty space station, and lets the story unfold from there. Come for the 1970s retrofuturistic stylings, but stay for the story of sublimated desire, and marvel at the world we were once promised.
Zombeavers If the title doesn’t tell give you an idea of exactly what this film is, you clearly have not seen enough Fantasia films. Kudos to the filmmakers for the hilariously awkward non-CGI creatures, and to the actors for hamming it up through this silly but well executed flick.
All in all, this was an amazing year, and almost everything I saw was a slam dunk. If I had to pick my standouts, I’d choose Cybernatural (best of the fest, by far), Boyhood, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (with the similar In Order of Disappearance coming in a close second), Wetlands (which managed to be this year’s Klown, sort of), and The Creeping Garden. In the “please let there be a sequel or 3 category”, I choose Cybernatural and Let Us Prey, and I Am A Knife With Legs gets a nod in the “WTF?!? how is this so good?” category.
If you want to relive the best of the 2014 Fantasia Film Festival, tune in to CJLO 1690AM tonight from 6pm ET, for a three hour recap of the most memorable films and festival moments. Join Satyyy from Shibuya Crossing and me, Angelica from BVST, as well as special guests, as we run down our festival favorites! Tonight, only on CJLO 1690AM in Montreal, CJLO.com around the world, from 6 to 9pm ET!
i can drink coffee it coffee for drink coffee i can handle coofee coffee to drink coffee yes good everything under control cofeen is yes yes— birdsrightsactivist (@ProBirdRights)February 17, 2014
The festival is just past its halfway mark, and my batting average for films is sadly quite low, although everything I’ve seen thus far has been very good. I’m averaging just over a film a day, but now that things have settled down, I’m going to try to make up for that in the (just under) half of the festival that is left!
In Order of Disappearance (a.k.a. Kraftidioten) Blending Scandinavian bleakness with bloodied black comedy, this is an excellent story of haplessness and thuggery. Stellan Skarsgård amuses as a man on a mission, and Pål Sverre Hagen is magnificent as the Count, the spidery, foppish archvillain. I particularly loved the visual motif of white powder (snow, flour, cocaine) blowing about, a constant reminder of the shifting and insubstantial foundation for all the film’s deaths, as well as the biting social critique of Norwegian culture and politics.
Small Gauge Trauma I caught the majority, but not all, of the program this year, and as always, it was a challenging and captivating experience. Particularly wrenching, though incredibly beautiful and well made, was Canis, a Spanish stop motion animation of unrelenting heartbreak. I also loved Baskin, a snapshot of Turkish terror that explores a Satanic house of horrors, and, excitingly, is in the process of being turned into a feature.
I Am A Knife With Legs Proving that technical excellence can easily take a backseat to clever writing and well spun story, this DIY gem is a clear indicator that outsider art is alive and well. With a ridiculous storyline, funny musical numbers, artful animations and clever jokes, this film’s flashes of brilliance turn into a strobe light that leaves the audience stunned and confused, but utterly delighted.
Let Us Prey I absolutely loved this film, despite its imperfections. Burning slowly for its first half and then maniacally shredding itself to pieces in the second, there are a few lines of cheesy dialogue and some over the top characterizations, but none of that matters thanks to a compelling storyline and excellent performances, particularly by Liam Cunningham as the enigmatic prisoner in cell six. There’s also a setup for a sequel here, which has the potential to be absolutely amazing.
Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead Picking up where the original Dead Snow left off, this sequel delivers more of the same. Laughs, gore, pacing problems, and of course, Nazi zombies, it’s all back in part two. The American characters are somewhat superfluous, although Martin Starr is a welcome addition to any film, but overall this film is a bit tighter than the first, and a solid, if silly, addition to the zombie film canon.
The Creeping Garden It’s difficult to describe how excellent this film is, but stoners will likely let out a collective “whoa” if they get a hold of this incredibly unique, bizzarely specific film. The chemically unenhanced will be enchanted as well, as they step through the looking glass into a world populated by creeping, pulsating, slimy looking growths, and the artists, scientists and musicians obessed with their potential. Don’t let “this is a documentary about slime mold” deter you; yes, it’s definitely that, but it’s so much more.
BTW, The Creeping Garden screens again this afternoon at 3pm in the De Sève theatre, and is absolutely worth cutting out of work early for. Trust me.
A screening has also been added for Cybernatural, which I reviewed in my first review round up, and which is absolutely not to be missed. Do yourself a favor, and get a ticket to the 9:45pm screening tomorrow night, also in De Sève.
We’re five days in and the festival is already hitting me hard… I’m looking forward to week two, when I can maybe just relax and watch movies until my eyes shrivel up like raisins. Let’s get to the films I’ve seen so far, shall we?
Jacky au royaume des filles This wacky French flick imagines a world in which horses are worshiped, everyone eats gruel from a faucet, and men wear a modified niquab and are subservient to their domineering, masculine wives. While ultimately inconclusive and without a clear message (strange, given its premise), this film is good fun and thought provoking in its own way.
Kite Despite some pacing problems and mushmouthed, garbled acting by supporting characters, I quite enjoyed Kite for its elegant violence and occasional flashes of photographic brilliance. While the story, adapted from a Japanese anime, is somewhat predictable, this is an acceptable popcorn film and I was not disappointed.
Faults This film is a lovely surprise, a slow burning character study that pits the flawless Mary Elizabeth Winstead against the equally excellent Leland Orser in a story about cults and mind control. Gripping and claustrophobic, this out of the ordinary film deserves to be seen.
Boyhood Director Richard Linklater does not disappoint with this hotly anticipated epic. A coming of age tale unlike any other, this film manages to eclipse the cleverness of its premise (the film was shot over 12 years, and follows the main character from age 6 to 18) and become a meditation on the thread that draws life together. Darkly comedic, with Linklater’s signature laconic style, this film manages to hold a mirror up to the viewer’s own life, suscitating tears and laughter alike. Also, it seems everyone missed the glorious Dazed & Confused Easter egg: the convenience store clerk from D&C (David Blackwell) makes a return appearance in Boyhood as… a convenience store clerk!
Life After Beth While there’s something off about this film, with its strange construction and odd pacing, this ultimately works for it, and keeps it from being yet another zombie film. Aubrey Plaza… well, is Aubrey Plaza all over the eponymous Beth (although her performance once fully “transformed” was delightful), but it was Matthew Gray Gubler’s supporting performance as a a scrawny overcompensating wannabe Rambo that amused me the most.
Suburban Gothic Where his previous film Excision was stylized and elegant, Richard Bates Jr.’s follow feature, Suburban Gothic, is looser, weirder and a lot more silly. Designed to mimic children’s soft horror (Are You Afraid of the Dark?) but for adults, this film will find its audience, but it just didn’t work aesthetically for me.
Cybernatural One of the best so far, this film manages to bring both a fresh perspective and a timely topic to a somewhat tired genre, singlehandedly revitalizing the found footage film in an incredibly clever, dynamic way. Shot from a single, unwavering perspective (that of one person’s computer screen), this film manages to be utterly suspenseful and terrifying. Tackling cyberbullying in a pointed, but not moralistic way, this is a film that’s totally for our time, and it deserves a huge audience, and maybe even a few sequels, Paranormal Activity-style. If you love this genre, I cannot recommend this film enough, and I only hope more people will get the chance to see it.
the absolute worst thing you can do to a middle aged white guy is ignore him.
do people in the american south have more trouble counting syllables? this is an honest question.
i have a problem with c___ine.
if you think i mean cocaine, you’d be terribly wrong. the truth is worse, and wildly socially acceptable. keep guessing.
the fantasia film festival starts tomorrow. this year i’m aiming for 44 films in 21 days, which is doable, but unlikely. normally i post a list of all the films i want to see, but in lieu of that, how about a list of those i absolutely don’t want to miss? boyhood, dead snow: red vs. dead (the sequel to the 2009 norwegian favorite about zombie nazis, this time inexplicably featuring martin starr?), metalhead, and yeah, i’ll admit it, guardians of the galaxy… but only because it seems to make intensive and gratuitous use of chris pratt’s abs.