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things i like:
rock'n'roll, country, punk & metal.
bands that combine all four successfully.
design, graphic & interior.
the intersection of philosophy & sociology.
ampersands.
andrew wk.
emergent gameplay, of the videogaming variety.
cursing.
beards.
beer.
bbq.
cjlo.
deep fried everything.
americana.
making lists
, including this one of my life's ambitions, and these of things on my mind at the time.

feedback: @angelidotca or ask me anything you'd like here.

i took a trip! read about it here.

evidence of my lame yuppie side on my (gasp!) house blog here.

Fantasia Festival 2013 Review Roundup Part II!

It has been nearly a week since the end of the 2013 Fantasia Festival, which means I’m extremely behind on closing out my review roundup of this year’s festival. I have no defense other than the fact that I’ve been kicking back this summer, enjoying Fantasia and other summery pursuits at my leisure… I’m sure many of you can sympathize.

BLACKOUT I must have blacked out myself in neglecting to include this in my last round of reviews, but with no good reason, since the film is excellent. Blending the gangster intrigue of Snatch with some Hangover-esque moments, this Dutch thriller will give you a perfect 95 minutes of intrigue and amusement. RIYL: Snatch (really, I cannot overstate this enough), dealing hard drugs

REWIND THIS! There’s a duality in this documentary that, while being enjoyable for me overall, left me of a divided mind. On one hand, as someone who absolutely cannot relate to people fetishizing a medium with few tangible benefits largely for kitsch/retro value alone (cassettes, anyone?), most of that aspect of the film left me unmoved. On the other, as a document of the vast amount of creative human output that we are in the process of losing, I found this film to be incredibly thought provoking. That whole swathes of cultural production are not being given the “longevity” of conversion to digital, and that much of what has been made “straight to VHS” has already been lost, is a legitimate concern, and it’s in touching on these ideas that the film becomes most interesting. RIYL: collecting VHS tapes, Side By Side, compulsively cataloging or worrying about your archives/collections/backups 

WILLOW CREEK I’ve been wanting to see a Bobcat Goldthwait oeuvre for some time, and after seeing this, I’m looking forward to seeing the others. There is something very natural and understated about this found footage film, and I liked it very much, and was satisfied by it, despite it not being very conclusive at all. I think this is mostly due to the quality of the acting, and to the fact that the film can be discussed and debated, since its open-endedness lends itself well to individual interpretation. RIYL: cryptozoology, people with poor planning skills getting their comeuppance

BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN Having Bloodshot Bill introduce this film with some sad, twangy songs couldn’t have been a more perfect segue into this heartbreaker. Beautifully shot, and crafted to cut deep, there was barely a dry eye in the house once the credits roll. There’s a lot to dig into here that I won’t do justice with words, but if you need a cathartic cry, this is the film for you. RIYL: bluegrass, tattoos, seizing the fleeting moments of joy life offers, and raging, raging against the dying of the light

PLUS ONE The high school/college party genre of films is one I’m all too familiar with, so I was very pleased with this latest addition to the roster, which manages to completely embody everything you’d expect, while simultaneously being something completely different. This film IS Can’t Hardly Wait (right down to the red headed misfit girl), if that film had turned into violent headfuck about choice and consequence and time travel. Yes, time travel. RIYL: Can’t Hardly Wait, and/or have ever pondered what you’d do if you met yourself

DISCOPATH He hears disco. He kills. An enchanting premise, which flounders a bit in execution, but is nonetheless an enjoyable romp. The New York scenes are a little cringeworthy due to questionable Noo Yawk accents, but the Montreal stuff is much more viable, and local viewers will enjoy location spotting. RIYL: Kiss’ “I Was Made For Loving You”, living in Montréal

HK/FORBIDDEN HERO This is definitely a party movie, and I was not in a particularly party mood when I saw it, so I was not smitten with this tale of an unlikely superhero who defeats evil with his codpiece and the power of perversion. Lots of women’s panties, and the flexing of golden muscles move this story along, and while it has amusing moments, this is mostly a one note joke. RIYL: half naked men, those Borat-style bathing suits, the word panties as pronounced in Japanese

YOU’RE NEXT One of the strongest, most visceral films I’ve seen this year, this home invasion horror explodes from scene to scene while never letting up. With a strong female lead who fights back and plans ahead, instead of merely stumbling toward survival, this is the film that horror fans have been waiting for. Also of note is the creepy cute animation Invocation, the new Robert Morgan (Bobby Yeah) short that screened with the film. RIYL: survivalism (on the most basic level), survival horror, bickering with your family

TALES FROM THE DARK A horror anthology from Hong Kong, this film brings together three “ghost stories”. The first is circular and somewhat confusing, the second has touches of humor, and the last will have you never looking at grannies in cheap sandals the same way again. Not as strong as some of the other anthologies that screened this year, but there are some creepy moments that Asian horror fans will enjoy. RIYL: revenge, voodoo

CHEAP THRILLS I loved this film, but man, it left a small, dark knot deep in my gut. A wrenching, unrelenting parable of class war, this movie makes you question what you would do for money, and how deep depravity and need will go. I loved seeing David Koechner, better known as Todd Packer, and was delighted by Ethan Embry (star of such classic teen flicks as Empire Records and the aforementioned Can’t Hardly Wait) all grown up, but with the same kinetic quality he brought as a teen. RIYL: making stupid/gross bets, or have ever set your own price for any depraved or disgusting act 

THE WORLD’S END Passionate fans of Edgar, Simon and Nick will most likely adore this film, but while I greatly enjoyed Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I found myself wishing that this film was something other than it is. There’s a compelling character-driving initial narrative that grounds the film, but it veers into scifi shortly thereafter, to the amusement and delight of many, I’m sure, but not me, particularly. That said, this is still a great film, with all your favorite English actors in the role of unlikely action heroes, and a solid entry in an already storied body of work. RIYL: the three I mentioned above to the degree that their first names are enough, middle aged Englishmen in elaborately choreographed fight sequences, Sisters of Mercy

That brings this year’s total to a relatively disappointing 27 films of the 40 I had aimed to watch (28, if you include the 40 minutes of I Am Divine I managed to catch before having to attend to an emergency), but I’m not complaining. I caught most of what I wanted to see, and now I have a small list of things to catch up on until Fantasia starts again next year!

Click here if you missed Part I!

Tune in to BVST on CJLO 1690AM tonight from 7 to 9pm ET, for your chance to win a pair of tickets to the 17th edition of the Fantasia Film Festival AND to enter to win a pass to Heavy MTL! I know this sounds crazy, but I assure you it’s legit. Guest host Andrew from Grade A Explosives will be taking your calls, so tune in and listen for your chance to win!

But that’s not all! You can double your chances to win Fantasia tickets by tuning in to Champions of the Local Scene, right before BVST on CJLO 1690AM from 6 to 7pm ET! Guest host Andrew will be talking to CJLO alum and Fantasia programmer Simon Laperrière about this year’s edition of the festival and his brand new book on snuff films!

So just to recap:

1) Andrew from Grade A Explosives is hosting both BVST and Champions of the Local Scene tonight

2) He’ll be talkin’ Fantasia with Simon Laperrière

3) We’ll be giving away Fantasia tickets…

4) … AND giving you a chance to win a pass to Heavy MTL!

Tune in to Champions of the Local Scene from 6pm tonight, and BVST from 7pm tonight, only on Montréal’s 2nd favorite radio station, CJLO 1690 AM / www.cjlo.com!

Fantasia 2013!

Starting Thursday, the festival is almost upon us, with tickets going on sale tomorrow. Still not sure what to buy? Here’s what I’m hoping to see during the 17th edition of the Montréal’s best film festival!

5-25-77 High school nerds make movies. Did you say nerds?

Across The River Horror, in the language of one of my ancestral people. 

Antisocial This may just be a bloody good time.

Bad Milo Rectum? Damn near killed ‘um!

Big Ass Spider Big. Ass. Spider. That is all.

Big Bad Wolves I missed Rabies a couple of years ago, but won’t make that mistake again.

Black Out I’m down for a Dutch gangster film, how about you?

Broken Circle Breakdown Sponsored by CJLO 1690AM, this looks like a dark, Belgian version of Crazy Heart

Bounty Killer You had me at “post-apocalyptic”. 

Cheap Thrills Perennial 90s teen movie star Ethan Embry and Todd Packer from Dunder Mifflin get dark.

The Complex A new entry from J-horror master Hideo Nakata (Ringu).

The Conjuring It’s about the paranormal investigators that were involved in the Amityville Horror, and stars Lily Taylor, which is more than enough for me.

Discopath Disco drives a man to kill. Seems legit.

The Demon’s Rook Would it be bad to admit that my main interest in this film stems from the lead actor’s passing resemblance to Mark Morton from Lamb of God? The monsters look pretty cool too.

DJ XL5’s Decadent Zapping Party Don’t go to this if you’re allergic to fun.

Frankenstein’s Army This seems to be channeling Dead Snow, only with Russians. I am very, very psyched for it.

Horror Stories An entry in this year’s rash of horror anthologies, perfect for my love of scares and short attention span.

I Am Divine A documentary about Divine. That is enough information to convince me to see this film.

I’ll Follow You Down Rufus Sewell was in my favorite film of 2012, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (go ahead, judge me, snobs) and now he’s in this. 

Les Kaïra When people say “I’m gonna go see a French film”, this isn’t quite what they have in mind.

The Killing of America My buddy wrote a book about snuff films, and this documentary about gun violence is the screening that accompanies its release. 

Magic Magic On the fence about this one due to the inclusion of horrid Michael Cera, but it could be an outlier.

Missionary Just when you thought the Church of LDS couldn’t get any scarier…

Mistaken for Strangers I’ll watch any music doc, even one about a band I don’t care about.

Plus One When the words “high school” and “horror” intersect, keep a seat for me.

Return to Nuke ‘Em High See Plus One.

Rewind This Another documentary entry, this time about the golden age (?) of the videocassette.

Samurai Cop This year’s Miami Connection? Time will tell.

Small Gauge Trauma I never miss this short film program, and neither should you!

Sweetwater I don’t think I’ve ever missed a Fantasia Fest Western, and I’ve never yet been disappointed.

Tales from the Dark Another horror anthology.

Thanatomorphose Do I have the guts? We will find out soon.

Thermae Romae An ancient Roman time travels to modern day Japan. Cue toilet humor.

The World’s End After the disappointment of A Fantastic Fear of Everything, I’m waiting for Simon Pegg to wow me with this one.

V/H/S 2 I’m looking forward to this followup to last year’s much hyped horror anthology.

War of the Worlds Relive the classic that scared the world through the rare glimpes that only Phil Spurrell can provide.

Willow Creek I have yet to see a Bobcat Goldthwait film, and I figure this is as good a time as any.

You’re Next Home invasion horror, just the ticket to help you sleep through the night.

Zero Charisma Movies about D&D nerds are an automatic must see for me.

Zombie Hunter This genre, like zombies themselves, refuses to die. I’m alright with that.

This is a highly manageable list of only 40 films. As with every year, there may be a few others that sneak their way in, and a couple more that drop off. Given that last year I managed to watch 43 of the 47 films I had set as my goal, I’m hoping that 40 films will end up being a cakewalk by comparison!

It’s also interesting to notice some common themes appearing in this year’s programming. Zombie films are still holding on with a vengeance, although for the most part they seem to be moving away from the traditional take. Lots of high school themed films this year, as well as films about nerds/nerd culture, with bullying as a secondary theme to both of these (no surprises there). There are also quite a few music related films, and many horror anthologies.

It’s going to be a crazy three weeks… are you ready?

vicemag:

Jason Banker and Elijah Wood on ‘Toad Road’
Toad Road is a new film directed and produced by Jason Banker that simultaneously expands the parameters of what documentary filmmaking can be and blurs the lines between that format and traditional scripted filmmaking. In production since 2008, Jason views the film as a “horror-thriller” that follows the lives of a group of hard-living young friends who pursue an urban legend in York, Pennsylvania, that concerns a path in the woods that supposedly leads to the seven gates of hell. Their journey is one of self-discovery, heavy drug use, nihilism, and all of the other things young people around the world are struggling with at this very instant. What sets Toad Road apart from other movies is that the film was conceptualized and shot in a hybrid documentary-feature style, weaving a narrative out of the real lives of its subjects in a way that hits on greater truths than either form is capable of alone.
The film is due to be released—appropriately—this October. And it was during a prerelease screening attended by Elijah Wood that his horror-film company the Woodshed decided to back it as executive producers. I spoke with Jason and Elijah about the premise for the film and how the definition of “horror” has changed in this increasingly terrifying world we all share.   
VICE: The way you cast this film was unique. But it falls in line with the aesthetic of the film. A few years ago, when you were conceptualizing the movie, you looked to VICE’s top MySpace friends and through that found your principals. How did that idea come about?Jason Banker: I wanted to do a hybrid doc-horror thing, but I wanted it to be real situations. I started using MySpace first because at the time you could search it by area code, and I wanted to shoot it in my hometown. But I couldn’t find anybody from there, and I was like, “God, I want some really cool kids.” People who were pretty hardcore, you know? So I thought I should go on and check who’s friending VICE because everybody who reads VICE is connected to that culture. So I did that, and I found this perfect group of kids—actually I found one, and then I looked at his top friends and they were the perfect cast.
How long ago was this?I started casting in 2008. It’s been a long process because I didn’t have any money to make the film and I needed to find real kids. I wanted to do this thing where I used their real lives and bend a fictional story around them. They were totally down to do it. And I told them I wanted to use like them using real drugs and being who they were, and find the characters that way.
Continue

I saw this at last year’s Fantasia Film Festival and had this to say about it. Definitely an interesting film, and worth seeing, especially if the actual Toad Road is anywhere close to home for you. As an aside, the female lead died of a drug overdose last year, which makes this film, and the way it blurs fantasy and reality, even more poignant. 

vicemag:

Jason Banker and Elijah Wood on ‘Toad Road’

Toad Road is a new film directed and produced by Jason Banker that simultaneously expands the parameters of what documentary filmmaking can be and blurs the lines between that format and traditional scripted filmmaking. In production since 2008, Jason views the film as a “horror-thriller” that follows the lives of a group of hard-living young friends who pursue an urban legend in York, Pennsylvania, that concerns a path in the woods that supposedly leads to the seven gates of hell. Their journey is one of self-discovery, heavy drug use, nihilism, and all of the other things young people around the world are struggling with at this very instant. What sets Toad Road apart from other movies is that the film was conceptualized and shot in a hybrid documentary-feature style, weaving a narrative out of the real lives of its subjects in a way that hits on greater truths than either form is capable of alone.

The film is due to be released—appropriately—this October. And it was during a prerelease screening attended by Elijah Wood that his horror-film company the Woodshed decided to back it as executive producers. I spoke with Jason and Elijah about the premise for the film and how the definition of “horror” has changed in this increasingly terrifying world we all share.   

VICE: The way you cast this film was unique. But it falls in line with the aesthetic of the film. A few years ago, when you were conceptualizing the movie, you looked to VICE’s top MySpace friends and through that found your principals. How did that idea come about?
Jason Banker: I wanted to do a hybrid doc-horror thing, but I wanted it to be real situations. I started using MySpace first because at the time you could search it by area code, and I wanted to shoot it in my hometown. But I couldn’t find anybody from there, and I was like, “God, I want some really cool kids.” People who were pretty hardcore, you know? So I thought I should go on and check who’s friending VICE because everybody who reads VICE is connected to that culture. So I did that, and I found this perfect group of kids—actually I found one, and then I looked at his top friends and they were the perfect cast.

How long ago was this?
I started casting in 2008. It’s been a long process because I didn’t have any money to make the film and I needed to find real kids. I wanted to do this thing where I used their real lives and bend a fictional story around them. They were totally down to do it. And I told them I wanted to use like them using real drugs and being who they were, and find the characters that way.

Continue

I saw this at last year’s Fantasia Film Festival and had this to say about it. Definitely an interesting film, and worth seeing, especially if the actual Toad Road is anywhere close to home for you. As an aside, the female lead died of a drug overdose last year, which makes this film, and the way it blurs fantasy and reality, even more poignant. 

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 7

One week after the end of the festival, this is the last of my reviews. I managed to take in 43 films this year, pretty close to my goal of 47 films, and averaging almost exactly two films per day. I saw almost everything I intended to see, with a couple of exceptions. The best part of this year’s festival is that I allowed myself to get swept along to certain screenings by friends, and those ended up being some of the most enjoyable or thought provoking experiences of the festival. I met a lot of great new people from all over the place, and I let the festival be a purely fun experience for myself. So goodbye Fantasia 2012, and I hope to see you again from June 18th to August 6th, 2013!

Isn’t Anyone Alive?

As I get older, I try to avoid the sunk cost fallacy whenever possible. Did I spend an unrecoverable hour of my life watching this film? Yes. Did I continue to watch the second hour, since I already invested in the first? No. At first, I blamed my confusion and lack of interest on a cultural mismatch. “Maybe I just don’t know enough about Japanese culture,” I thought, “that’s why none of this makes sense”. By the third interminable vignette introducing utterly disposable characters in completely inane ways (a convoluted discussion about pregnancy and black sesame soy lattes was shockingly not enough to get me to care about the second group), I was ready to leave. Then somebody died. “Okay, maybe this will pick up now,” I thought, but it didn’t. More useless characters died, in the same boring way. Discussion with other people that saw the full film said that the second hour was much the same, so I suppose I didn’t miss much, right? 

New Kids Turbo

I had no idea how low the Dutch sense of humor could go! Crossing EVERY boundary of good taste, New Kids Turbo (and its sequel, New Kids Nitro, which I did not watch in its entirety), has absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever. That said, I laughed the entire time, against my will and better judgement. There are some clever plot vehicles in here, but for the most part the humor is incredibly lowbrow. A can’t miss for those who want to indulge the basest parts of themselves.

Despite The Gods

In addition to screening her new feature, Chained, this year’s festival also offered up a documentary about Jennifer Lynch. Centered around her experiences while shooting a major Bollywood feature about snake woman, this was an interesting insider glimpse into the issues she faced in trying to make a film in an unfamiliar country with unfamiliar customs. I found the film extremely interesting, particularly the interplay between Lynch and her daughter, and Lynch and the lead actress. It was a pity to hear during the Q&A that she has completely removed herself from the project, and that the final film does not reflect her directorial vision, which was deemed too “languid, sensual and European”.

Excision

AnnaLynne McCord turned herself into every Fantasia nerd’s dream girl during the Q&A for excision, revealing that she identifies more with the misfit weirdo she plays in this film, than the glamorous role she has on the new 90210. That’s a disturbing revelation, since her character in Excision is creepy, unappealing and most likely irredeemable. More of a character study than a fully fleshed out film, I loved the dream sequences, the cameos by John Waters and Malcolm McDowell, and most of all, the appearance of Traci Lords as her mom, but while worth seeing, this film has limited staying power.

Boneboys

I don’t have much to say about this disaster, which is less of a film than a collection of meaningless, poorly acted scenes. Limited in plot, but with a surfeit of pure confusion, there is nothing in here to hang on to, and despite eliciting some laughter (at it, not with it) early on, even the “so bad, its good” quality of the film fades far too fast. This is not just the worst film I’ve seen all year, it may just be the worst I’ve EVER seen.

Chained

I was steeling myself for something lifedraining with this film, based entirely on my childhood memories of the the criticism Boxing Helena received (a film I haven’t seen), and the description in the Fantasia catalogue. I was more than pleasantly surprised, however, because, while brutal in its premise, this film offers a strangely hopeful, positive message. Vincent D’Onofrio is appropriately Vincent D’Onofrio-esque throughout the film, and while the conclusion of the film comes out of nowhere, the film was gripping enough that it was easy to forgive. 

DJ XL5’s Italian Zappin’ Party

As a 50% paesan, I was really looking forward to this digest of the weirdest that the history of Italian film has to offer, and I was not disappointed. The cheesy dialogue, the gratuitous violence, and, of course, given that it’s Italy, the boobs galore, DJ XL5 offered up the best of the worst in a brain goggling buffet. Keep an eye out for encore presentations throughout the year, you won’t want to miss them!

Toy Masters

When it comes to documentaries, the most dangerous thing a filmmaker can do is love the subject too much. Passion is important, but you have to know where to cut, and sometimes those cuts can be brutal and personal and difficult, but they still have to be made. Running at roughly 100 minutes, Toy Masters is definitely interesting, but far too long. Hinging on a “he said, he said, he said” premise about the invention of the He-Man character, there is waaay too much in there about the petty jealousies and power grabs of a bunch of middle aged men, which, while useful as a vehicle for explaining the genesis of the Masters of the Universe franchise, becomes extremely unnecessary when recalled repeatedly throughout the film. In fact, the filmmakers say it best themselves in summing up the film: it doesn’t really matter. All of them had a stake in it, but none of them can claim sole credit. This is a conclusion that most of the audience will reach early on, and would be better served up then, with the rest of the film tracking the rise and inevitable fall of the franchise, and the remaining “human interest story” being left to the film’s postscript or DVD extras. There are some audio and editing oddities, but once the fine cut is finished, it promises to be the definitive film about the Masters of the Universe franchise, no small feat in itself, and passionate fans will love the insider look into the business decisions that shaped their childhood. 

Paranorman

As it goes into wide release today, this clever, sweet and slightly scary stop-motion animated film is one I recommend you not miss. While the stop-motion is perfected with CGI to the point of unrecognizability (the one serious criticism I can level at the film), I was seriously immersed in the plot, which manages to get its message across without ever being cloying. Subtly subversive, this film preaches tolerance, and warns of the evils of religious extremism, all the while delighting with the silly gags you’ve come to expect from animated movies. I loved this film, and it will amuse kids of all ages, particularly those who’ve ever felt like they didn’t fit in.

Turn Me On, Goddammit!

Somehow dropping the “God” from it’s name and advertising along the way, most likely to appease the tender ears of the American populace, this quirky Norwegian coming of age tale follows a hard up teenager on her journey through the social perils of high school. In stark counterpoint to Excision, this is an honest film about teenaged female sexuality that could only have come from a progressive, feminist Scandinavian mentality. 

The Cat

Oh, Korean horror films… why can’t you scare me anymore? I want to feel frightened again, but I can see your jump scares coming from a mile away. Regardless, I enjoyed this tale of a cat and its ghostly ward, and while the anti-cruelty message was a little overwrought, overall, this film was just full enough of all the creepy K-horror tropes to keep me interested.

Sleep Tight

Once again less of a film than a character study, this film is nevertheless very captivating and frightening in a relatively understated way. Directed by Jaume Balagueró, who succeeded in scaring the crap out of me with the first two REC films, this movie won’t have you jumping in your seat as much as it will make you feel thoroughly creeped out. 

When Concordia Meets Fantasia

An excellent (if overly long) short film program culled from the recent archives of Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, there were plenty of great films here, but only one, Prayer Beads, by Han Han Li, really astounded me with its technical and artistic achievement. An eight minute animation that weaves together the symbolism of Eastern religions, this film revels in color and rhythm, and is absolutely beautiful.

————

Missed some of my other Fantasia 2012 reviews?

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 6
The Human Race, Toad Road, Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel, Small Gauge Trauma, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Robo-G, Killer Joe, White: Melody of the Curse, Black’s Game, Replicas.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 5
V/H/S, Miami Connection, The Mechanical Bride, Roller Town.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 4
Play Dead, Inbred.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 3
Funeral Kings, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Alter Egos, Jackpot, Black Pond, Resolution, As Luck Would Have It, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, A Night of Nightmares.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 2
Lloyd the Conqueror, My Amityville Horror.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 1
The Tall Man, The Ambassador, Juan of the Dead.

Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena, Surveillance, Chained) answers my question around the 20 minute mark during the Q&A for Despite the Gods, the documentary about her experience making a Bollywood movie which screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.

Oh hey, Fantasia is over. My last round of reviews should be up in the next few days, once I figure out what normal life is like again.

Oh hey, Fantasia is over. My last round of reviews should be up in the next few days, once I figure out what normal life is like again.

(Source: secretlyshirleytemple, via brittslaughter)

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 6

The Human Race

With expectations running high for this film, I was pretty satisfied. To say this film is brutal is an understatement. While it is violent and gory at times, it is the crushing reality of how easily humans will turn on each other in the right circumstances that brings the unflinching horror to this film. Pushing boundaries with a cast that includes disabled characters (… and the drummer from Cinderella?), the film ends on an unexpected note, one that in most films would seem like a cheap cop-out, but that somehow manages to work here. 

Toad Road

Any of my PA friends that may happen to read this will probably be familiar with the legend of Toad Road, and the 7 gates of hell it supposedly contains. Originally hailing from York, PA, the filmmaker blends his background in documentary films into  this sort-of horror flick in a unexpected way. Using a group of real-life non-actor friends as his cast, the lines between fantasy and reality blur onscreen in many different ways in this beautifully shot, inconclusive film. 

Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel

The worst thing about films like this one is that the non sold-out screenings are populated by mostly men sitting alone. A documentary about the brilliant (and quite possibly insane) French porn actor/director/producer HPG, this is a exquisite corpse culled from a decade of behind the scenes footage. Worthwhile mostly for the unedited look into the otherwise highly stylized and glamorized world of pornography, this film has many funny moments. During the Q&A, when asked about a scene in which HPG convinces a young man to “switch sides” on a gay-for-pay shoot, I particularly appreciated his response. “You might think it’s funny here,” he said, “but imagine if it was your sister, or your daughter. You wouldn’t be laughing then.” That level of candor is unexpected from people in the porn world, where trauma, substance abuse, and the real cost of manipulating and being manipulated are glossed over routinely, but some of that is very visible in this film, and might even teach pornhounds a thing or two.

Small Gauge Trauma

I always look forward to this short film program each year. While nothing particularly knocked my socks off this year, I was extremely partial to Bite Horse, more of a twisted music video than actual short film. Featuring music by the director’s brother under the name Mississippi Witch, this was a more of a musical discovery than a filmic one, but I was pleased nonetheless. That said, all the other short were quite good as well, but nothing seized me quite the way Snip (2008) or Animal Control (2011) did.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Three films in one, this confusing and seemingly endless Simon Pegg offering is one pancake short of a stack, just like its main protagonist. Starting off as a rumination on paranoia and mental illness, the film soon segues into a comedy of errors, only to morph into a horror film (with a brief interlude of incredibly well done stop motion animation about small woodland creatures… no, really) before wrapping on a campy upbeat note. Frankly, I found the first part of the film to be exhausting and not particularly funny, with the film hitting its stride towards the middle, and then veering off in all directions by the end. Unfortunately, this film didn’t do it for me at all, but Pegg is valiant throughout. 

Robo-G

What do you do if the robot you’ve been working on for months is suddenly destroyed, right before the big competition? If you answered, put an old man in a robot suit and watch hilarity ensue, then this film is for you! A light comedy about just that, this film is sweet, with many clever and amusing moments, but it easily overstays its welcome by at least 30 minutes. I could also have done without the obnoxious robot-obsessed ingenue, whose irritating presence distracted from the otherwise funny grandpa-in-a-robot-suit hijinks, but this lightweight crowd pleaser is inoffensive enough to suit most.

Killer Joe

When you’ll hear people talking about this being the role that Matthew McConaughey was born to play, you should know that they’re probably right. Taking the easy Texan charm he’s famous for, and adding a layer of genteel menace to it, McConaughey dominates the screen throughout the film, exploding with violence during the climax, but somehow never losing his charisma. The rest of the cast is note perfect as well, and while the film is bleaker than bleak (and honestly made me appreciate my easy and relatively mundane life), it is riveting. 

White: Melody of the Curse

A Korean pop group records a cursed song. Everybody dies. Did I spoil the film for you? Doubtful. By now, we’re all too familiar with the formula. You know it: jump scares, evil ghosts with long hair hanging in front of their faces and the sudden inability to walk upright during pivotal scenes, the blurring of fantasy and reality, an emphasis on body horror… and so on, and so forth. Nonetheless, I did enjoy this film, but it can’t be taken too seriously. KPop fans will enjoy the musical numbers, and there are couple of extremely effective scenes (one in particular, filmed in a rehearsal room full of mirrors, is beautiful as well as creepy), but overall, this is a pretty paint-by-numbers film with a sometimes confusing storyline. 

Black’s Game

A coke-snortin’, gang-bangin’ thriller from Iceland, there’s not much to take away from this film, but the ride itself is worth the price of admission. Entry into the criminal underworld is a small pebble at the top of the slipperiest of slopes, and the journey to the bottom is bumpy, confusing and fraught with danger for the likeable main protagonist. When the film surprises, it shatters expectations, but otherwise this is a relatively straightforward cautionary tale brought to life by solid, believable performances.

Replicas

Take. the. motherfucking. shot. Seriously. While I wish absolutely no ill on any of you, please, if you ever find yourself or your family being terrorized by violent, deranged intruders, and you have a loaded gun in your hand and a nice clean shot, please do me the favor and pull the trigger. Then pull it again. When will filmmakers learn that a small sacrifice in tension leads to huge gains in empathy? If you want me to want your characters to live, make me at least believe that they want it too, and that they’re really fighting for it. That said, Replicas is incredibly shot, incredibly acted, and an astounding debut film. We’ve tread this territory many times before, but there are some delicious moments of discomfort and the interplay between the two families is extremely well done, so there’s enough that’s new here to keep these jaded eyes interested.

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Missed some of my other Fantasia 2012 reviews?

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 5
V/H/S, Miami Connection, The Mechanical Bride, Roller Town.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 4
Play Dead, Inbred.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 3
Funeral Kings, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Alter Egos, Jackpot, Black Pond, Resolution, As Luck Would Have It, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, A Night of Nightmares.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 2
Lloyd the Conqueror, My Amityville Horror.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 1
The Tall Man, The Ambassador, Juan of the Dead.

CJLO / Fantasia live broadcast tonight!

Contrary to previous reports, our live broadcast from Fantasia central, just outside the Hall theatre, will be taking place from 6-10pm, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Up first is Andrew, from Grade A Explosives, then I’ll follow with a modified version of BVST, and Idle Matt from Radio Fun will wrap things up. 

Drop by and give us your thoughts on your favorite films of the festival, and you could score a pair of passes to use in the remaining week and a half of Fantasia!

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 5

Before I jump into some more film reviews, I gotta let you know that tomorrow, from 7 to 10pm ET, CJLO 1690 AM / www.cjlo.com will be broadcasting live from Fantasia Festival central, just outside the Hall theatre. If you’re planning on seeing a film, or are just around the neighborhood at that time, drop by and say hello. If you’d like to talk about some of your favorite Fantasia films and moments live on the air, we can do that too! 

V/H/S

A rollicking and gruesome horror anthology by some of today’s rising new stars, I greatly enjoyed V/H/S, despite some drawbacks. Composed of five individual segments, with a sixth wrapping around them all (somewhat inconclusively, unfortunately), my favorite was the first, by David Bruckner, which offers a whole boatload of satisfying payback. In fact, many of the segments are tied together by the unifying idea that people get what they deserve, and that keeps the film from becoming annihilating, despite the general discomfort and ultra violence. 

Miami Connection

This year’s “so bad it’s good” entry (in the Birdemic & Troll 2 vein), this film is actually surprisingly not terrible. Yes, there is bad acting, stilted dialogue and the plotline is incomprehensibly cheesy at times… but in its own way, the film delivers enough kungfoolery and musical numbers (!) to keep the viewer engaged beyond simply ironic appreciation. Sing it with me now: “Friends through eternity, loyalty, honesty / we’ll stay together through thick or thin / friends forever, we’ll be together / we’re on top because we plan to win!”

The Mechanical Bride

Well, our friend Davecat is at it again, appearing in yet another documentary about doll fetishists. Thankfully, Alison de Fren’s take on the topic moves beyond just the men themselves, and digs a bit further into the sex doll industry worldwide, as well as taking a peek behind the curtain of what might happen once the line between (wo)man and machine becomes more blurred. While some might criticize the overall structure of the film, I very much enjoyed it, and felt like I learned something new about a topic that I’m already extremely familiar with. Some of the content is a bit outdated, since the film was shot over the past decade, but this remains a fascinating glimpse into a fetish that’s only gaining in popularity.

Roller Town

The brainchild of Canadian comedy group Picnicface, I was more than pleasantly surprised by this silly throwback to the 70s era roller disco craze. Consistently funny from beginning to end, this is a note-perfect homage to classic roller disco films such as 1979’s Roller Boogie. Light on actual roller skating scenes, and heavy on ridiculousness, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, although I’ve already forgotten most of the film. No worries though; it may be fleeting, but there’s great fun to be had here.

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Missed some of my other Fantasia 2012 reviews?

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 6
The Human Race, Toad Road, Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel, Small Gauge Trauma, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Robo-G, Killer Joe, White: Melody of the Curse, Black’s Game, Replicas.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 4
Play Dead, Inbred.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 3
Funeral Kings, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Alter Egos, Jackpot, Black Pond, Resolution, As Luck Would Have It, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, A Night of Nightmares.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 2
Lloyd the Conqueror, My Amityville Horror.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 1
The Tall Man, The Ambassador, Juan of the Dead.