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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 Film Festival 2014 Review Roundup: Part 4… The End.

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), BoyhoodThe 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!

Missed my other reviews? Click through for Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

Fantasia Film Festival 2014 Review Roundup: Part 3

What with the extra day that’s been added, there are three days left to this year’s festival, but still a few films on the docket. Most everything I’ve seen this year has been very, very good, and more than a few have been excellent, but like everyone else, I’m looking forward to a home cooked meal and a proper night’s rest…

Guardians of the Galaxy Bigger nerds than me have weighed in more eloquently on this record breaking blockbuster since it went wide last weekend, but all I can say is that I was happy to watch it a few days early with an enthusiastic Fantasia crowd. I enjoyed the adventures of this merry band of misfits, but I especially loved Groot, and really, couldn’t Chris Pratt’s abs have gotten just a leeetle more screen time? All that work for so few seconds…

Ju-On: The Beginning of the End There is nothing remarkably different or new about this film, so if you know J-horror, you know the basic tropes: creepy kids, people with hair hanging in front of their faces walking or crawling with stilted movements, and jump scares… so many jump scares. This was just alright, but I took a little nap in the middle so maybe I’m no longer qualified to say. 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre I had never seen this classic, but I now know why it’s so highly regarded. Compared to today’s relentless slashers, there is something charming about the low kill count and relatively swift deaths, but it’s the film’s construction that makes it such a special entry into the genre. The beautifully composed shots, creepy set pieces, and skillful build up of tension kept me riveted, and it was interesting to see that, 40 years on, this film still has an incredible visceral thrill.

DJ XL5’s Helluva Zappin’ Party Another excellent DJ XL5 romp, which collects short films into a high energy program intercut with old ads, snippets of weird films and tv shows and other filmic oddities, my favorite short of the night was, without a doubt, Supervenus, which I’ve already mentioned here, and I greatly enjoyed the La bûche de noël (a clip of which you can watch here), part of the Panique au village claymation series, despite it dragging a bit at times. 

Dys- The first feature from my friend Maude Michaud, this is a very dark, and deeply disturbing film that weaves many controversial elements into claustrophobic tale of dysphoria and dysfunction. I interpreted this film as a deeply feminist parable about government and religious control over women’s bodies, but it works equally well as a brutally shocking tale of what can go wrong within closed doors when the shit hits the fan. 

Bros Before Hos The team behind New Kids Turbo and New Kids Nitro are back, and no surprises here, this film makes The Hangover look like a genteel Jane Austen adaptation. Between the gross out moments and unrelenting misogyny and homophobia, there are some oddly endearing underlying messages about the rights of the physically and intellectually disabled and the perserverance of true love. These films can be enjoyed, but proceed with caution.

From Vegas To Macau Saved mostly by the dapper and charming Chow Yun-fat (channeling a Kyle McLachlan vibe here, somehow), this is a messy, confusing film with a lot of competing elements. Don’t go in expecting an Ocean’s Eleven style heist film, like I did, or you’ll be disappointed, but there are some laughs, some nifty fighting scenes, and plenty of WTF? moments to keep you entertained. 

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared Another delightful Scandinavian surprise, similar in some ways to In Order of Disappearance (previously reviewed here), but with a far more lighthearted comedic touch, I loved this film’s arch take on political history, and the glorious amorality of the titular character. There are lots of laughs to be had, and you will likely be charmed by the quirky cast of characters.

Housebound Here’s a quick lesson in film marketing: if your film is a clever, funny, scary and violent, and your original trailer is just someone brushing their teeth for two minutes, you’re doing it wrong. I hope people didn’t miss out on this film because of it, because then they were cheated out of a really enjoyable twist on a haunted house tale, which shines especially bright because of a full cast’s worth of excellent performances. Catch this one if you can, and maybe flip on the subtitles, because parsing the Kiwi accent might make you bust a gut

Metalhead Abounding in Nordic sparseness, this is a deeply understated film about mourning and identity, all set to a soundtrack of classic metal. I feel like I should end this review here, to do this film’s restraint justice, but I will add that I think metal fans will identify with the issues of alienation and community that this film portrays so eloquently and so minimally.

Wetlands It might be a bit of a gross mess, but I still loved this movie so so much. Definitely not for the prudish or faint of heart, there’s nonetheless a level of earnestness to the utterly stomach turning events of this film that rescues it from the typically gross out fare. High levels of erotic awkwardness abound (so if you’re susceptible fremdscham, you may want to tread carefully), but Carla Juri as Helen is impossibly charming and carries the film with charm and aplomb. A quick shout out here also to Rat Pack Rat, from the team behind The Catechism Cataclysm (which I previously reviewed here), which echoes the discomfort and off the wall humor of the 2011 Fantasia favorite! 

Missed my other reviews? Click through for Part 1 and Part 2

One of my favorites from last night’s DJ XL5 presentation, Helluva Zappin’ Party, this is a teaser for Supervenus. To watch a longer extended cut, click here. The full film gets a little gruesome in just the right Fantasia Festival way, and I hope it will be available online it its entirety someday!

Fantasia Film Festival 2014 Review Roundup: Part 2

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.

Zany, unhinged, groundbreaking and genre bending… these all describe CJLO 1690 AM, the Fantasia Film Festival and I Am a Knife with Legs. Blend these three together, and it’s gonna be a party you won’t soon forget. 

CJLO is proud to present the world premiere of I Am a Knife with Legs, part of the brand new “Fantasia Underground” programming section at the 2014 Fantasia Film Festival! Spotlighting “outrageous indie outsider visions created in the counter-cultural spirit”, this section is a perfect fit for CJLO, Montreal’s underground radio station. I Am a Knife with Legs pushes the boundaries with its absurdist humour, musical numbers, offbeat animation, and a microbudget of $12,000! The CJLO-sponsored screening happens Friday, July 25th at 7pm in the DB Clarke Theatre!

After the film, come to the downstairs bar at Kafein (1429 Bishop) to celebrate 10 years of partnership between the Fantasia Film Festival and CJLO 1690AM, with drinks, snack and CJLO DJs doing what they do best! The party starts at 8:30pm, bring your friends!

FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/885731088107278

Fantasia Film Festival 2014 Review Roundup: Part 1

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.

Oh hai there.

Oh hai there.

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.

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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 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: rkolt, via britt-slaughter)

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.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 4

Well, pretty much the only thing that redeemed yesterday was seeing Play Dead. Adapted from a live stageshow dreamed up by renowned magician and sideshow artist Todd Robbins, and Teller, from Penn & Teller, Play Dead is both a dark meditation on death and the vulnerability of loss, and a totally awesome spooky magic show.

I particularly enjoyed the “behind the scenes” bits, which betrayed a bit of what the audience was experiencing during the live play. Parts of the live show involved plunging the audience into total darkness, while crew members touched and tickled them, or sprayed them with “blood”. The ensuing shrieking is extremely amusing, and the film shows quick night-vision glimpses of the mayhem.

After the film, Todd Robbins and Teller gave a Q&A like no other. Robbins ate a lightbulb on stage, which was incredibly impressive, and then Teller (reverting to his silent stage persona, after answering the audience’s questions in his normal speaking voice), did the incredible Houdini needle-and-thread trick. It was very, very cool.

I also decided to catch the midnight screening of Inbred, and while I wasn’t sold on it at first, I’m glad I stuck around. Despite some cheap clichés (really, are there hillbillies in England, and do they really play the banjo, an instrument steeped in American, and only American, history?), what kept me in my seat were the effects. This is a no-holds barred gore film, but like all good gore films, the violence is so completely, insanely over the top that the whole thing becomes amusing, and not the least bit frightening. There are some charismatic performances, and the film has absolutely no redeeming qualities, which, for the genre, I’d say is a success.

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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 5
V/H/S, Miami Connection, The Mechanical Bride, Roller Town.

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.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 3

Funeral Kings

There’s nothing like a good coming of age story, especially when it involves small potty mouthed boys in crumpled shirts and ties… with guns. This film is very much like the young teenage boys it portrays; full of swagger and bravado, but soft and vulnerable too. There was nothing I didn’t love here, and the appearance by Kevin Corrigan was just the icing on the cake.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists

An excellent primer into the origins and activities of Anonymous, this film has much to offer to anyone who’s had an internet connection over the past few years. Whatever your thoughts on Anonymous and their related groups, the impact that this group of internet savvy contrarians has had only hints at what the future might have in store, as the internet becomes a further battleground for opposing ideologies of freedom and control.

Alter Egos

I came into this film expecting last year’s Super, and I was disappointed. That’s my own fault, and I accept responsibility for it. However, I can’t accept responsibility for this film’s rough edges and convoluted plotline. It’s not that it isn’t enjoyable, (I especially liked the surprise appearance by John Ventimiglia), but that there’s almost too much going on. With the cinematography being not up to scratch, that translates into a bit of a “quantity over quality” issue, and in the words of of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, you know you’ve “achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Jackpot

Did you know this was a Christmas movie? I didn’t either. Framed cleverly within the structure of a police interrogation, this film is a roaring ride through the inevitable betrayal that follows a bolt of good fortune. Saturated with that curious, and oh-so-appealing Scandinavian sense of humor, this is a fun and funny crime film with broad appeal for those comfortable with hyper violence. Also, the short it screened with, Zakariassen Must Die, could not have been a more perfect fit, so kudos to whoever made that programming choice.

Black Pond

Definitely not what I was expecting, Black Pond is much more of a poetic exercise than thriller film. There is a lot to like here, and although certain scenes feel somewhat gratuitous and overwrought, the film keeps you guessing and thinking throughout. Overall, while there’s a certain… hipster quality to it, this is a solid and clever debut, and well worth watching.

Resolution

This film had me eating out of the palm of its hand for nearly its entire duration. Cleverly layering one creepy scenario over another, it manages to create burning tension and anticipation until… well, nothing really. The ending of the film, literally the last 15 seconds or so, is desperately unsatisfying, and it’s really quite a shame. In fact, in my bitterness, it almost made the rest of the film feel like a wasted exercise. Not wasted, however, are the talents of the two lead actors, whose banter is extremely appealing and effective. 

As Luck Would Have It

Before I come down too hard on it, I have to say that where this film excels is in art direction and cinematography. While not composed of one perfect set piece after another, this film really maximizes the impact of its surroundings throughout. Unfortunately it hinges on a premise that I find impossible to believe (unignorable to anyone with even cursory knowledge of medical science), and ends on a moralizing tone that is both misplaced and utterly inauthentic. It’s too bad this is a swing and miss, because had the storyline connected, it would have been a grand slam. 

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography

Stacy Peralta is kind of a genius. He excelled at a sport, then went on to dominate in business, and now makes brilliant documentaries. For this alone, Bones Brigade is worth watching. Regardless of your interest in skateboarding (I have next to none), this documentary sheds some real insight into the sport in the 1980s, and illustrates how name brand skaters (like Tony Hawk) got their start. The real stars of this film are Lance Mountain and Rodney Mullen, however, one by sheer force of personality alone, and the other through his softly spoken but deeply profound insights. A must for skateboarders, and an interesting watch for everyone else.

A Night of Nightmares

I am definitely jaded on the whole horror film thing. I still enjoy a good jump scare, and I love being slowly terrorized, but there is one thing that I won’t abide by, and that’s the typical hapless main character. “Oh, maybe it’s faulty wiring.” “I’m sure the wind just blew it open.” “Let me investigate that noise.” There’s a lot of that in this film, and it’s nothing other than annoying. But none of this matters, you know why? Because Jason London is in this film, and he can do no wrong.

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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 5
V/H/S, Miami Connection, The Mechanical Bride, Roller Town.

Fantasia 2012: Review Roundup 4
Play Dead, Inbred.

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.