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Fantastic Fest 2016

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    So I have been super busy at work and haven't gotten around to posting reviews for all the movies I saw at Fantastic Fest. With my workload not letting up any time soon, my hopes of doing full-length, in-depth reviews are out the window--if it was a handful of movies I might find the time, but fifteen would take me forever right now--so I'm going to do some mini-reviews because there was so much good stuff that I at least want to point the curious in the right direction. So onward, we go...

    DAY ONE:

    Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses: The debut feature from director David Stubbs is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted documentary detailing the attempts of one family to exorcise a demon they believe a family member--the titular Janet Moses--was cursed with. Utilizing police transcripts of the family interviews to form the basis of the re-enactments, Stubbs creates a sympathetic look at a family who, with the best interests in their heart, wound up leading the exorcism to a tragic end.

    I typically stay away from documentaries that have re-enactments as they tend to remind me of bad episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, but the acting is so good that I sat riveted for the movie's runtime. At times, creepy, unsettling, heartbreaking and sad, Belief is a captivating look at family, religion, faith, fear, and what, if any, role government should take in judging these topics. Seek this one out. Grade: A

    Fashionista: A fever dream of a movie about a young woman with an obsession with clothes whose life and mind begin to unravel after a uncovering a mistake her husband has made leads her into the arms of stranger.

    Before going into my personal feelings about he movie, I have to make a confession that I am a pretty big Ethan Embry fan, from Empire Records and Can't Hardly Wait to the more recent Cheap Thrills, so I was already pre-disposed to like this movie. And, overall, I did, but it is also a hard movie to recommend as it's a challenging movie that lends it more to the crowd in a festival setting than a casual movie-goer on a Saturday night. The movie was deliberately written and shot with short scenes which gives the movie an initially disorienting pace, couple this with a non-linear narrative and most viewers might be put off. This stuff is my cup of tea so I was enjoying the ride hoping that they were going to end the movie in a satisfying manner--which they did--but was concerned that my wife was going to be confused the entire time and would leave the theater mad. Thankfully that wasn't the case and we both left having enjoyed the movie.

    The cast--including the before-mentioned Ethan Embry and Eric Balfour (whom I recognized as Xander's friend from the first couple episodes of Buffy)--did a great job, but the movie is carried hands down by Amanda Fuller's performance as the clothes-obsessed April. Recommended to those who like movies with Lynchian underpinnings. Grade: B+

    [I]Down Under[/I]: A film about setting during the race riots in Australia shouldn't be as laugh out loud funny as this movie is, but thank god it was. Set during the real-life Cronulla race riots in 2005 between white and Lebanese populations, the film follows two carloads of individuals representing each population: one led by Jason who along his Ned Kelly-obsessed friend bullies slacker Shitstick and his cousin to join them on a mission to make "the streets safe from the Lebanese"; the other led by Nick who wants nothing more than to get vengeance for the him and family being treated like second-class citizens. What ensues when during the course of the night and the inevitable clash between these two groups results in a dark--and darkly funny--look at racism, toxic masculinity, and the cyclical nature of vengeance. Not all the jokes hit and the pacing falters beginning, but when the movie clicks it fires on all cylinders. I really liked this one and it played like gangbusters with the audience. Grade: B+

    The Girl With All the Gifts: I'm a huge fan of Mike Carey and enjoyed the book but wasn't necessarily chomping at the bit to see the screen adaptation of a peculiar girl named Melanie. That being said, my wife REALLY wanted to see this one so I tagged along. If you've read the book you know the story already, and if you haven't the least you know the more you'll enjoy yourself. To talk in any depth about the film spoils it so this review will be rather short. Ultimately, the movie stays pretty true to the book save for one big change that I won't spoil. Glenn Close is fantastic in her role and I'm always a fan of Gemma Arterton. Director Colm McCarthy has a steady hand on the material and ratchets the tension accordingly. The main stumbling point with both the book and the movie is that the middle section is a pretty straight forward affair with little surprise to this genre. And maybe that's the part that I struggled with: I knew the twists and turns so I was never taken off guard, which is the death-knell for any thriller. My wife absolutely LOVED the movie so it definitely works for those that aren't familiar with source material. While I wasn't blown away, I can say that it is a well-acted, well-directed thriller. Grade: B-

    A Dark Song was my last movie of the Day One and ran a little late from its stated start time of 11:30pm, combined with the fact that it was one of the movies preceded by a short (in this case, Givertaker, which can be seen on the Fantastic Fest website; it's a pretty fun, 90s throwback) means that it didn't start until around midnight. If I had seen it earlier in the day, I would have enjoyed it more as this is a slow burn of film that my poor tired mind struggled through, which is not to say it isn't good. It is. Just don't watch it at midnight after four movies.

    Sophia is heartbroken over a loss and seeks out occultist Joseph Solomon to lead her through a black magic ritual that will be a grueling six-month affair testing them both mentally and physically. As the months go on, both people begin to fray at their edges leading them down dark paths. As with a lot of these reviews, to speak of more really ruins the experience of seeing it for yourself.

    As 95 percent of the movie takes place in one location and with only two cast members, this could be a difficult movie to pull off for numerous reasons: limited possibility for scares, poor chemistry between actors, or simply weak dialogue that fails to engage. Fortunately, writer/director Liam Gavin gives us two fascinating characters (fully realized by Catherine Walker and Steve Oram), a ton of atmosphere, and some stunning visuals that never feels out of place or not detached from the gritty reality that the film establishes even when it goes full horror. More on par for the subtle horror fan, this was a pleasant surprise. Grade: B+
    Last edited by Sock Monkey; 10-28-2016, 07:26 PM.

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    When I broke it down, it was a little over $12 per movie which isn't too bad by itself and then when you throw in all the extra festival stuff it is actually a great deal. I was looking at some other film festivals and their prices are INSANE!

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  • Martin
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post
    I hear you on that. If one lived around the Austin area it wouldn't be so bad money-wise, but living out of state and flying in like we had to really jacks up the price. They do have quite a bit of film festivals here in California, but nothing that hits my sweet spot for films like what they show at Fantastic Fest. Also while the prices to attend aren't necessarily "cheap" (our second half badges were $190 each; the Fan badge to attend all eight days is $355 a person), it is by far one of the most reasonably priced festivals when compared to others.
    The entry price seams very reasonable.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Martin View Post
    Sounds really fun. Wish they had something like that closer to home.
    I hear you on that. If one lived around the Austin area it wouldn't be so bad money-wise, but living out of state and flying in like we had to really jacks up the price. They do have quite a bit of film festivals here in California, but nothing that hits my sweet spot for films like what they show at Fantastic Fest. Also while the prices to attend aren't necessarily "cheap" (our second half badges were $190 each; the Fan badge to attend all eight days is $355 a person), it is by far one of the most reasonably priced festivals when compared to others.

    Leave a comment:


  • Martin
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post
    I have returned from Austin, Texas and the amazing Fantastic Fest! Over the four days that we spent at the festival, I was able to see 15 films including A Monster Calls and the new Anne Hathaway film, Colossal. It was so much fun, if somewhat grueling (five movies in one day is not as easy as it sounds). I truly can't say enough about the Alamo Drafthouse and the festival!

    Beyond the films, one of the highlights is getting to see the Q&As with the directors and producers after the films, including one with Paul Schrader that was amazingly candid (At one point, he stated that he and Nicolas Cage wanted to work together again to remove the stain from their previous project and joked that Cage had so many stains at this point it wouldn't be possible). I also saw both Leonard Maltin and Bruce Campbell in the flesh and pretty close-up (we were maybe seven feet away from them), though I didn't attend the screening of a couple episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead or the subsequent interview of Campbell by Maltin.

    A couple things I did miss out on was The Handmaiden, and the Secret Screening that turned out to be M. Night Shyamalan's new movie, Split and had both Shyamalan and James McAvoy present for the after-movie Q&A, which would have been cool to attend.

    I plan on posting reviews for the movies I did see during the festival as there are some stunners. I was blown away by the just how high the quality was of the films shown. Out of the fifteen, there was only one I didn't like and only one that was rather mediocre. The other 13 were good, if not great, films.

    Highly recommend it to any and everyone. I'm already in negotiations with the wife to attend for all eight days next year!
    Sounds really fun. Wish they had something like that closer to home.

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  • Brian861
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post
    I have returned from Austin, Texas and the amazing Fantastic Fest! Over the four days that we spent at the festival, I was able to see 15 films including A Monster Calls and the new Anne Hathaway film, Colossal. It was so much fun, if somewhat grueling (five movies in one day is not as easy as it sounds). I truly can't say enough about the Alamo Drafthouse and the festival!

    Beyond the films, one of the highlights is getting to see the Q&As with the directors and producers after the films, including one with Paul Schrader that was amazingly candid (At one point, he stated that he and Nicolas Cage wanted to work together again to remove the stain from their previous project and joked that Cage had so many stains at this point it wouldn't be possible). I also saw both Leonard Maltin and Bruce Campbell in the flesh and pretty close-up (we were maybe seven feet away from them), though I didn't attend the screening of a couple episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead or the subsequent interview of Campbell by Maltin.

    A couple things I did miss out on was The Handmaiden, and the Secret Screening that turned out to be M. Night Shyamalan's new movie, Split and had both Shyamalan and James McAvoy present for the after-movie Q&A, which would have been cool to attend.

    I plan on posting reviews for the movies I did see during the festival as there are some stunners. I was blown away by the just how high the quality was of the films shown. Out of the fifteen, there was only one I didn't like and only one that was rather mediocre. The other 13 were good, if not great, films.

    Highly recommend it to any and everyone. I'm already in negotiations with the wife to attend for all eight days next year!
    Sounds like an awesome experience!

    Leave a comment:


  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    I have returned from Austin, Texas and the amazing Fantastic Fest! Over the four days that we spent at the festival, I was able to see 15 films including A Monster Calls and the new Anne Hathaway film, Colossal. It was so much fun, if somewhat grueling (five movies in one day is not as easy as it sounds). I truly can't say enough about the Alamo Drafthouse and the festival!

    Beyond the films, one of the highlights is getting to see the Q&As with the directors and producers after the films, including one with Paul Schrader that was amazingly candid (At one point, he stated that he and Nicolas Cage wanted to work together again to remove the stain from their previous project and joked that Cage had so many stains at this point it wouldn't be possible). I also saw both Leonard Maltin and Bruce Campbell in the flesh and pretty close-up (we were maybe seven feet away from them), though I didn't attend the screening of a couple episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead or the subsequent interview of Campbell by Maltin.

    A couple things I did miss out on was The Handmaiden, and the Secret Screening that turned out to be M. Night Shyamalan's new movie, Split and had both Shyamalan and James McAvoy present for the after-movie Q&A, which would have been cool to attend.

    I plan on posting reviews for the movies I did see during the festival as there are some stunners. I was blown away by the just how high the quality was of the films shown. Out of the fifteen, there was only one I didn't like and only one that was rather mediocre. The other 13 were good, if not great, films.

    Highly recommend it to any and everyone. I'm already in negotiations with the wife to attend for all eight days next year!
    Last edited by Sock Monkey; 10-01-2016, 10:01 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    It's been a while, but I remember not being a big fan of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. I don't know if it was because my expectations were so high coming off Oldboy or if I was just not in the right headspace for it. I need to revisit it soon along with finally getting around to Lady Vengeance.

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  • Theli
    replied
    Sounds very promising! I also really enjoyed Oldboy and Thirst, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance was solid too.

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  • bugen
    replied
    Oldboy was really good. It's also got one of my favorite fight scenes from any movie.

    Enjoy!

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    So I'll take that as a no...

    Lot's of interesting movies playing this year. If anybody is interesting in checking out the films here is a link to the list: http://fantasticfest.com/films This list includes all the short films playing as well.

    I'm pretty excited about the 4k restoration of Phantasm and the new film by director Chan-Wook Park, The Handmaiden. Oldboy is a classic and I loved Stoker and Thirst, so anything new by Park is a must-see for me.
    Last edited by Sock Monkey; 09-15-2016, 04:05 PM.

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  • Sock Monkey
    started a topic Fantastic Fest 2016

    Fantastic Fest 2016

    Is anybody going to Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas this year? Or has attended in the past? This year will be my first time attending and I'm pretty excited. I love independent horror and weird cinema so this is completely up my alley. My wife, on the other hand, might have a rough go at it.

    If anybody knows the area and has any suggestions for things to do in and around Austin, I'd love the input. We are doing the second half pass of the festival, but we'll be arriving a few days before to give us some time to explore.
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