Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Condensed Run Through of the Fantasia Film Festival

These days, there is no shortage of news to run for those who look. There are conventions every weekend, and even if you aren't near enough to attend, SOMEONE with a camera is and they'd love to share. What I'm saying is...my geek world is exploding with awesome and between work (the work I hope to be doing for the rest of my life), "real work" (the work I do to feed myself and keep my bills paid) and the little experiment called Idle Hands, there is seldom a second to spare. It's when time is not abundant that we utilize a tool every news writer embraces to give thanks and praise to films that deserve it, a scratch of the head at those that don't and wrap it all up in a neat, QUICK little package. IT'S MINI REVIEW TIME!!

We love indie movies here at Idle Hands, so we cover film fest whenever able, and so we present this nice stack of mini reviews in with hopes you'll discover some titles you'll want to track down when available. Let's get to it...

Boyhood: While not reaaaally an indie and probably in very little need of promotion since it enjoyed a limited theatrical release, I do know plenty of people that will never even hear about this film..and it's one that bears mention. With no gimmicks or CGI utilized, Richard Linklater tells a simple, unvarnished story of love and loss and anger... of abusive spouses and a family struggling to stay together... of a boy growing up before our eyes. Shot over an astounding 12 years, Boyhood follows a little dreamy eyed child named Mason as he gets into mischief, moves from town to town with a mother who is still trying to find herself, battles with his sister, discovers girls and so on. It's a beautiful film that will make you laugh and break your heart within minutes. To say it is an "achievement" would be a gross understatement. I'm grinning just thinking about it. Catch this one as soon as you can.

Creep: A man answers an advert calling for a videographer to record a day in his life. It's the lure of money that delivers him to the feet of Josef, a clearly (at least slightly) unhinged man who claims he is dying and wants to share some personal moments with his unborn child before he passes. Mark Duplass plays Josef's off kilter behavior to a startling degree, creating a perfectly horrifying individual who, in one moment, can seem like a misunderstood weirdo, and in the next, a dangerous individual who might be capable of anything. We watch events unfold through the camera of Aaron, who shares our unease, but rides it all out despite our loudest protests to "GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE" shouted at the screen. It is clear to us something bad MIGHT happen when we least expect it, and on many levels, Aaron understands this, but the human will to accept our fellow man with all their flaws triumphs continually....and Josef just gets stranger and stranger. The tension is palpable. If you're a fan of the slow burn oddity and human drama that takes a succession of dizzying, more severe left turns, you'll be doing the "slow clap" at the end of Creep and exposing your friends to this mad little gem.

Cybernatural: This is the ONE FILM we were able to jam out a full review for, so just CLICK HERE and read all about it. Suffice to say, Cybernatural is inventive and remarkably unsettling, though it probably won't do a thing for the die hard horror fans out there.

The Desert: This is one of those moments I was glad I randomly picked a film purely to give it a chance rather than pour over the screening lineup and see what jibes with my schedule, what I might like, etc etc. I think over-thinking things is keeping me from watching a lot of fantastic movies, so I'll be trying to over-ride my brain in the future. In this case, the reward for my 1st world bravery was a fantastic film about three people living in cramped living quarters with little resources and OCEANS of tension between them. You'll meet Jonathan, an easy going guy with model good looks and a progressive outlook on what they are calling "life". Ana is a natural beauty struggling for some normalcy in their situation to the point where she continues to wear her bright dresses even if they are in a state of complete disrepair. Axel seems to be that tormented poetry writer you knew in high school, now grown to tormented manhood, struggling with emotions that could fracture the fragile bond keeping their home together. It's as classic a tale of unrequited love as they come...emencely powerful, beautifully shot and starkly real..and as our hearts yearn for two lovers to come together, we are left with the nagging questions of WHERE these folks might be! Is it the end of the world? Are they on the outskirts of a war torn city that could very well exist today? More importantly...what's making those freaky noises outside now and then? The Desert is amazing from start to finish.

Fuku-Chan of Fuku-Fuku Flats: Yosuke Fujita, who brought us one of my favorite movies, Fine, Totally Fine, gives us another tale of being odd in a world of normal folks...who are secretly just as odd as we are. Fuku Tatsuo is a boundlessly generous sort leading a band of misfits at work and in his private life, somewhat haunted by tormentors from his past, but keeping a smile on his face none the less. When one of those tormentors inserts herself into his life, his tight grip on bottled up emotions might finally end, opening up a world of possibilities..if he is brave enough to explore them! In perfect Fujita fashion, this is a quirk filled tale of love and pain and the ridiculousness of our human reactions to any given situation. In other words, it's adorable and sweet and something you'll want to share with your misfit friends.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Yes...absolutely NOT an indie and in no need of further promotion, but it was a part of the Fantasia lineup and I've publicly counted myself among the 6 people who did not instantly fall in love with this film, so I thought I'd lay out some of my problems with it. Once again, Marvel gives us a strong cast of heroes battling villains we have little reason to hate. Who are they? Why are they bad? Are they FULLY bad or is there something in their reasoning that might make us see their perspective on things..maybe not to the point of genocide..but some understanding would be nice. None of this is offered, though merely hinted at. The relationship between Nebula and Gamora is a unfinished sketch, and the big bad above it all, Thanos, is nothing more than a grinning threat promised for a later film...probably years from now. Yes, I laughed at all the fun bits and jokes, but things like forced cursing in a world of aliens made little sense and jarred me out of my immersion while misplaced music that didn't have any flow, much less even jibe with the scenes they were allotted to kept me from creating those heart bubbles everyone else seemed to experience. Yes...I'm a monster. Give me depth beyond the heroes. Give me logical choices in language and music that enhances and uplifts the whole piece rather than acting as obnoxious earrings alongside a beautiful face..and then I will cheer right alongside you. Guardians was fun...but not the excellence I was hoping for.

The Infinite Man: I'm loving this new trend of indies exploring science fiction and fantasy themes and thoughts without benefit of giant budgets for CGI and insane special effects. The Infinite Man is the story of a brilliant man seeking to take control of every moment he possibly can, now obsessed with recreating what he perceived as the perfect day with his girlfriend ...second for second. What woman wouldn't fall to pieces at the suggestion of such insane micromanagement? If the quirky sensibilities of this sweet film with all its crackerjack, stage worthy timing doesn't hook you, the time travel conundrums will! As our sad hero Dean attempts to right the wrongs of previous attempts to cement his love affair with Lana and avoid the intrusions of her obsessive ex-boyfriend, we get multiple Deans arguing with multiple Deans, endless overlapping stories, and an overall intelligence, wit and charm to the script writing that will impress every last one of you. If you like your scifi with indie sensibility and heart, this one is for you.

Kung Fu Elliot: The dizzying tale of a man completely lost in his own fantasy. Elliot Scott strives to be the first Canadian action film mega hero, with multiple kick boxing championships under his black belt and a micro budget film with the catchy title "The Killed My Cat" available on DVD (usually from Elliot). The startling plot point? This is a documentary! We follow the David Duchovny-esque Elliot as he dodges the suspicious eye of his girlfriend, travels to China, works on his newest epic film "Blood Fight" and has all his lies crumble underneath him...one at a time. It's funny and painful to watch, all at once. This is complete madness and it's as real as it gets.

Live: Legendary Asian Film Maker Noboru Iguchi tackles the survival horror genre in a super ambitious film where the family members of abducted people must complete a series of challenges or watch their loved ones die before them. Staples of Iguchi films like the lingering shadow of public humiliation and constant poking at the extremes of Japanese society are ever present in this hilarious adventure that could very well be a big budget American film, if it weren't for the occasional, arterial overspray, panty flashing, crossbow baddies on rollerskates and comical kung fu battles. It certainly has all the action of Speed, and is 10 times more funny...on purpose!

The One I Love: Mark Duplass teams with Elizabeth Moss as a couple struggling to keep their marriage afloat. At the insistence of their counselor (Ted Danson!), they trek up to a beautiful vacation spot away from the madness of their every day lives...and that's when things get weird. The film makers are very good at keeping the twist a secret, and since it happens quickly in the film and colors the rest of the action, I'll keep the surprise and shut my face. Suffice to say, this story is 100% engaging and completely worth a watch! The One I Love is unsettling and original and nerve wracking in its quiet moments, all wrapped around a mystery you're going to need to see for yourself. Go hunt this one down!

Open Windows: This is the second film of the Fantasia lineup that attempts to unfold ALL events from a computer screen (Cybernatural was the first), but where Cybernatural conveys realistic teen drama and utilizes common glitches to enhance elements of horror, Open Windows never achieves any momentum, tension or real sense of peril. Super fan Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) finds the object of his obsession, Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey), is in danger and can save her with the help of an unseen cyber super hacker. The story plays out like one of those old live action video games where everything is spelled out as we go and the action crawls along at a snails pace, allowing time for us to make bad choices and watch the game load. I watched this one in increments, not able to keep my attention at one go but determined to see if anything awesome would unfold on the promise of greatness from Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo. Sadly, this opus is comprised of one, off key note.

Patch Town: Ever watch a movie that made you so confused, you weren't sure if you liked it or not by the time it was over???  This is one of those. Have you had many a sleepless night wondering what happens to those Cabbage Patch Kids dolls you abandoned as a child? Ever want to see a movie about it? If your answer is EH...this movie is for you! It's almost a musical...almost funny...definitely has a heart at the center of it all but the story isn't strong enough to hold it together. It's 100%, unadulterated weird, so it has that going for it. Patch Town is a patch work of oddity with charismatic characters that seem to be from different films and a bad guy who sings like Jack Skellington. Would I watch this again? Certainly no...but I won't soon for get it.

Time Lapse: Finn the painter/custodian, his girlfriend Callie, the aspiring writer, and Jasper, the shady compulsive gambler live together in a small apartment...across from a camera that shoots a picture of them daily, and spits out another shot from the future. Here's another indie scifi thriller involving screwing with time and all the bad decisions we can possibly make when we have access to knowledge we should never have. Finn uses the information to find his inspiration, Jasper makes bets (naturally) with the outcome already under his hat and Callie might just be coming ...unglued. Time Lapse is fantastically tense, surprisingly violent and remarkably intelligent. Winner.

Wolfcop: Do I really need to talk you into seeing a movie called Wolfcop?! You're reading this blog, so I'm going to assume we are mostly like-minded individuals, so just go find this one immediately. Lou Garou is an alcoholic cop in a small town where corruption runs rampant and no one really gives a crap about anything.  Of course, becoming a werewolf might change all that. Often 5 seconds away from becoming a Troma film, Wolfcop is endlessly surprising by being consistently good! Seriously, that is its super power!! The film is well thought out and deviates from most similar genre conventions, spiraling full on toward fun and ridiculousness at all times with witty dialogue and twists you should see coming, but probably won't. Wolfcop defies all expectations!

Zombie TV: Infamous Asian horror schlock-master Yoshihiro Nishimura is back with this look into the programming of fictional cable channel ZOMBIE TV...and all the insane programming that goes with it. You've got zombie sexpot cutey sensations, survival drama (with boobs), a stroll through town with Grandpa Zombie and the expected commercial breaks. It's silly, kinda gross, and as always, highly entertaining...if you're a bit immature and still laugh at butt jokes. If you loved Vampire Girl VS Frankenstein Girl and Mutant Girl Squad, put this on your must watch list right away!

Thanks to Ted Geoghegan and the Fantasia Fest crew for access!

No comments :

Post a Comment