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Thread: Fantastic Fest 2016

  1. #21
    Senior Member Lobotomized Martin's Avatar
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    If I lived in the area I would be in. I would probably do two or three movies and take a break for one before venturing in for more though.

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    So last year, I was supposed to go to Fantastic Fest for the full eight day span. Unfortunately, life conspired against me and some family issues altered those plans. Though everything is for the better with the family, I was rather bummed about missing the festival as I had a blast in 2016. I didn't think I was going to be able to attend this year either, but the tide has turned and I'm super excited to say that I will be attending the festival again this year. I won't be doing the full eight days, but rather the truncated four-day second half of the festival, but I'm excited to be able to go at all!

    If anybody is interested here is the list of movies that have been announced so far: https://fantasticfest.com/films/features

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    Senior Member 1st Electroshock Session Brian861's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sock Monkey View Post
    So last year, I was supposed to go to Fantastic Fest for the full eight day span. Unfortunately, life conspired against me and some family issues altered those plans. Though everything is for the better with the family, I was rather bummed about missing the festival as I had a blast in 2016. I didn't think I was going to be able to attend this year either, but the tide has turned and I'm super excited to say that I will be attending the festival again this year. I won't be doing the full eight days, but rather the truncated four-day second half of the festival, but I'm excited to be able to go at all!

    If anybody is interested here is the list of movies that have been announced so far: https://fantasticfest.com/films/features
    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, Keith!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian861 View Post
    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, Keith!
    I will definitely post, but probably won't be until I get back. Things can get pretty busy at the festival. Last time I went it was a great vibe. It's enjoyable to be around likeminded individuals who are actually there to watch the movies instead of being on their phones.

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    Senior Member 1st Electroshock Session Brian861's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sock Monkey View Post
    I will definitely post, but probably won't be until I get back. Things can get pretty busy at the festival. Last time I went it was a great vibe. It's enjoyable to be around likeminded individuals who are actually there to watch the movies instead of being on their phones.
    Amen to that!

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    I have sufficiently recovered from my trip to Fantastic Fest, so I felt it was time to chime in with my thoughts on my second attendance to the festival.

    I had a blast the first time I went and equally enjoyed myself the second time. There is something to be said about being around people who genuinely love what you love. Being in a theater full of people who are not only open to some truly offbeat films, but can then thoughtfully discuss it afterwards is such a fun experience. If anybody ever has a chance to attend, I highly recommend it. Unfortunately, I did not beat my personal best of 15 films last time. This year I only caught 13, though I think that is pretty acceptable for a four-day period.

    Now on to the films!

    Fantastic Fest Day I:

    School’s Out: My wife and I kicked off our four days of Fantastic fun with this low-key French thriller about a substitute teacher who has to take over a class of gifted students after their previous teacher commits suicide in front of the students. It isn’t long before the teacher realizes that not all is right with the kids in his class.
    While the movie starts with hints of the “evil kid” genre, director Sebastien Marnier has more in mind that standard horror fare. As is standard with films shown at Fantastic Fest, talking too much about the plot spoils a lot of the fun, but there is more to the school kids than “Hollywood evil” and the film has more to say about the world around us than it first lets on. While not quite as unsettling as Marnier’s first film, Faultless (which I chewed on for days afterwards), it is quite an interesting ride. Grade: B+

    The World Is Yours: After the reflective, existential dread of School’s Out, I followed it up with another French film. This time, a heist comedy about a group of low-level con artists getting in way over their head with a drug deal gone wrong. I love heist movies so I was on board from the get-go. And while there is definitely a lot to enjoy—especially a hilarious performance by Vincent Cassel as an aging lovelorn con-man starting to see conspiracies everywhere—the humor didn’t quite land as often as I had hoped. I do have to say that there is a reveal at the end that had the audience cheering and laughing. A solidly, entertaining movie that while didn’t quite hit the mark for me is going to be some people’s favorite. Grade: B-

    The Guilty: This thriller imported from Denmark was high on my list to see after viewing the trailer online and it did not disappoint. The movie is as good as the plot is simple: an emergency responder is pushed to his breaking point upon receiving a phone call from a woman who has been kidnapped. Not knowing where she is or who took her, the emergency responder has to piece everything together to save the woman. Never leaving the offices where the emergency responders work, this tense thriller is led by a great performance by Jakob Cedergren as Asger, the responder being pushed to the brink. Almost all action is off-screen and most of the time, the movie is Asger on the phone, but the movie never gets boring and never lets up. Such a great film and one of my favorites from the festival this year. Grade: A

    The Standoff At Sparrow Creek: Fantastic Fest also became “James Badge Dale”-Fest for me as the actor was in THREE films that I caught at the festival. All three were great films with outstanding performances by Badge Dale, kicking off with this single location thriller about a group of militia members gathering together late one night to determine if one of their own was involved with a mass shooting a police officer’s funeral. It’s up to ex-cop Gannon (Badge Dale) to investigate the members one by one to determine their complicity in the violent act. All of them have secrets and none of it will end pretty. Tense, well-crafted with a keen ear for dialogue and filled to the brim with talented character actors, The Standoff At Sparrow Creek feels like the lovechild of David Mamet and Quentin Tarantino. A great movie that I hope gets its due. Grade: A

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    Fantastic Fest Day II:

    Border: Based off a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Border follows a young woman with a “chromosome defect” as she works her job as a cop in an airport busting people with her uncanny talent for knowing whom is hiding something. Her life shifts when she meets a man who she knows is guilty but can’t prove it.

    This was one my wife’s most anticipated movies and the one that disappointed her the most. The movie beautifully shot and well-acted throughout, but there is a reveal about halfway through that the viewer will either be on board with or think is ridiculous. And the movie goes “all in” on this to some very graphic results. While I was also mildly disappointed where the story went, on hindsight I’ve gained for appreciation for the film when taking it on its own merits and not off my previous expectations. This is definitely not going to be for everyone, but those that get on board will find much to appreciate. Grade: B-

    Apostle: I am a HUGE Dan Stevens fan. Though I thought he was okay on Downton Abbey, his subsequent performance in The Guest and on the first season of Legion were amazing. It was a no-brainer that I was going to check out his latest foray into horror.

    The plot sees Stevens’s character head to a mysterious island to rescue his sister from the cult, led by Michael Sheen, who is holding her for ransom. Once upon the island, Stevens finds that the cult worships something they call “the goddess” and that they have more than a few skeletons in their closets.

    Stevens and Sheen are both fantastic and Lucy Boynton—who I knew from The Blackcoat’s Daughter and my wife knew from Sing Street—rounds out a great cast that give weight to this film. Unfortunately, I got my directors mixed up on this one and thought that it was directed by Gareth Edwards, who directed the last Godzilla movie, along with Rogue One and my personal favorite, Monsters. The movie was actually directed by Gareth Evans of The Raid fame, which I was not a fan of. So I was expecting something a little more low-key and this movie is anything but. Loud, violent, and frenetically shot, this is a rollercoaster of a movie. Think The Wicker Man meets the aesthetic of late 90s/early 00s horror movies like House on Haunted Hill with the pace of The Raid and you’ll get an idea of what you’re in for.

    Though I expected something else entirely, I did enjoy the ride for what it was. For those interested, this will be debuting on Netflix on October 12th. Grade: C+

    Destroyer: I am a big fan of director Karyn Kusama. Though Aeon Flux is a deeply flawed film, I really enjoyed Jennifer’s Body and thought that The Invitation was a home run smash of a film. I was curious as to what her next flick was going to be. When I heard it was a crime thriller starring Nicole Kidman, I was hesitant. When I heard it was written by the two gents who had penned The Invitation, I was a little less worried, but still dismayed. I wanted a horror movie, not a crime thriller.

    Well, Ms. Kusama knows much better what I want than I do because I freaking LOVED this movie. Dark and bleak, beautifully directed by Ms. Kusama with a masterful performance by Nicole Kidman that carries the whole film, Destroyer is exactly what I wanted, I just didn’t know it at the time.

    Kidman plays a police detective who is burnt out, on the edge, and isolated from everyone in her life. Now a dead body turns up and the past returns to haunt her as she begins to hunt down a criminal that got away in the past and might have returned to town.

    This is a haunting film, full of anger and regret and loathing. Some didn’t like this film. I thought it was one of the best I saw at the festival. This is coming out in December and I highly recommend checking it out. Grade: A

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sock Monkey View Post
    Fantastic Fest Day II:

    Border: Based off a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Border follows a young woman with a “chromosome defect” as she works her job as a cop in an airport busting people with her uncanny talent for knowing whom is hiding something. Her life shifts when she meets a man who she knows is guilty but can’t prove it.

    This was one my wife’s most anticipated movies and the one that disappointed her the most. The movie beautifully shot and well-acted throughout, but there is a reveal about halfway through that the viewer will either be on board with or think is ridiculous. And the movie goes “all in” on this to some very graphic results. While I was also mildly disappointed where the story went, on hindsight I’ve gained for appreciation for the film when taking it on its own merits and not off my previous expectations. This is definitely not going to be for everyone, but those that get on board will find much to appreciate. Grade: B-

    Apostle: I am a HUGE Dan Stevens fan. Though I thought he was okay on Downton Abbey, his subsequent performance in The Guest and on the first season of Legion were amazing. It was a no-brainer that I was going to check out his latest foray into horror.

    The plot sees Stevens’s character head to a mysterious island to rescue his sister from the cult, led by Michael Sheen, who is holding her for ransom. Once upon the island, Stevens finds that the cult worships something they call “the goddess” and that they have more than a few skeletons in their closets.

    Stevens and Sheen are both fantastic and Lucy Boynton—who I knew from The Blackcoat’s Daughter and my wife knew from Sing Street—rounds out a great cast that give weight to this film. Unfortunately, I got my directors mixed up on this one and thought that it was directed by Gareth Edwards, who directed the last Godzilla movie, along with Rogue One and my personal favorite, Monsters. The movie was actually directed by Gareth Evans of The Raid fame, which I was not a fan of. So I was expecting something a little more low-key and this movie is anything but. Loud, violent, and frenetically shot, this is a rollercoaster of a movie. Think The Wicker Man meets the aesthetic of late 90s/early 00s horror movies like House on Haunted Hill with the pace of The Raid and you’ll get an idea of what you’re in for.

    Though I expected something else entirely, I did enjoy the ride for what it was. For those interested, this will be debuting on Netflix on October 12th. Grade: C+

    Destroyer: I am a big fan of director Karyn Kusama. Though Aeon Flux is a deeply flawed film, I really enjoyed Jennifer’s Body and thought that The Invitation was a home run smash of a film. I was curious as to what her next flick was going to be. When I heard it was a crime thriller starring Nicole Kidman, I was hesitant. When I heard it was written by the two gents who had penned The Invitation, I was a little less worried, but still dismayed. I wanted a horror movie, not a crime thriller.

    Well, Ms. Kusama knows much better what I want than I do because I freaking LOVED this movie. Dark and bleak, beautifully directed by Ms. Kusama with a masterful performance by Nicole Kidman that carries the whole film, Destroyer is exactly what I wanted, I just didn’t know it at the time.

    Kidman plays a police detective who is burnt out, on the edge, and isolated from everyone in her life. Now a dead body turns up and the past returns to haunt her as she begins to hunt down a criminal that got away in the past and might have returned to town.

    This is a haunting film, full of anger and regret and loathing. Some didn’t like this film. I thought it was one of the best I saw at the festival. This is coming out in December and I highly recommend checking it out. Grade: A
    Sounds like a great time!

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    Thanks for sharing SM. I'll be keeping an eye out...

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    Fantastic Fest Day III

    On our third day of the festival, my wife got very sick and had to spend the day in the hotel room battling a cold. The brave movie soldier that I am, I made sure she had everything she needed and headed back to the festival (She pretty much kicked me out of the room). I was able to check out three movies that day:

    Werewolf: After being liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, a group of children are moved into a makeshift orphanage. Food is scarce and life is hard, but there’s hope. That is until soldiers come and decide to take what they decide is theirs. And then a pack of attack dogs used by the Nazis arrive…

    The titular creature is missing from this film so if anyone hoping for lycanthropic action will be sorely disappointed as were a couple of viewers that I overheard talking about the film (seriously guys, at least read the small blurb of the film...). The “werewolf” of the title is the savage creature we have all have inside that we battle to control. As do the children in the orphanage as bad goes to worse.

    The movie has some tense sequences unfortunately for a movie about concentration camp survivors battling a pack of bloodthirsty dogs it also lacks bite. There is a moment where the movie leads you to believe it just did something rather brutal only for it reveal moments later that it didn’t. It was at that point that I realized the movie was going to pull its punches and for the most part it does. This isn’t a bad film—and I do recommend it to those who like thrillers—it just plays it a little too safe at times. Grade: C+

    Donnybrook: A spiritual cousin of sorts to No Country For Old Men, this is a bleak, cold film about a bleak, cold world and lost people—some good, some bad, most somewhere in-between—making their way to…something. Hope? Happiness? Destruction? Death? Everybody is moving towards one or the other, some at the same time.
    Donnybrook is a no-holds-barred illegal fight where the last man standing gets the winnings and this is exactly what ex-Marine Earl (played by Jamie Bell) needs to get his family out of poverty and his wife into rehab. Chainsaw Angus (Frank Grillo at his most brutal) is a meth dealer overflowing with anger and violence. Margaret is broken young woman, lost but not without heart that is teamed up with Angus, but might be looking for another way of life. Police officer Whalen (James Badge Dale in another great performance) is going off the rails, but might just be able to stop the destruction that Angus leaves in his wake. How all these characters cross paths and the final confrontation at Donnybrook plays out makes for a cold hard ride. One that that I was more than happy to take.

    The movie currently sits at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and I can see why. This movie isn’t for everyone. This isn’t a feel-good movie where you embrace life and loved ones afterward. Walking out of the theater from this one is like being punched in the gut and kicked in the teeth. While I wished some of the characters were more fully fleshed out and subplots more developed, overall it really stuck the landing. The movie is based on a book by the same name so I'm hoping to pick it up soon. Grade: B+

    Terrified: This is one of the few straight out horror films that I saw at the festival this year and I was very much looking forward to it. The teaser image they used of an old naked man crawling out from under the bed really stuck with me. Unfortunately while there were some great moments, the movie failed to gel for me as a whole.

    One of my issues was that the movie feels very episodic and switches protagonists throughout the film. The movie starts off with a husband coming home from work and his wife telling him that she’s been hearing voices coming from the drain all day. When he asks her what the voices are saying, she replies “That they are going to kill me”. How this scenario plays out sets the stage for the rest of the movie and it is a great start. Unfortunately at that point we get a flashback to another character and some creepy goings on at their house before moving forward to another story that culminates in the third act.

    There are some great set pieces and jump scares and I really enjoyed the reveal of what was going on, it just didn’t all piece together in a satisfactory manner, leaving me a little disconnected.

    This will be debuting on Shudder (a great horror streaming service) on October 11th, so I’ll probably check it out again to see if my opinion changes more to the better. Grade: B-

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    Fantastic Fest Day IV:

    My wife bounced back for the last day of the festival and we managed to see another three movies:

    Starfish: is a post-apocalyptic story about a young woman dealing with the recent death of her friend. Locked in her recently deceased friend’s apartment, she discovers that her friend was involved with a group who were piecing together some of puzzle of the events that eventually led to the Lovecraftian creatures coming into our world.
    More a meditative look at love and loss than a horror film, Starfish does have a couple of tense moments. The cinematography is beautiful and the lead actress, Virginia Gardner, does a great job. I did find myself a little disconnected from the character’s grief at times due to lack of context; merely telling me that they were close friends was not enough to invest me in their relationship and wished that there had been more to anchor the emotions.

    Overall, while the film didn’t set my world on fire, I enjoyed it enough to see what the director has up next. Grade: C+

    Feral: I have a deep affinity for faux documentaries. When done properly, I think there is an interesting dynamic established with the audience about what is real and what isn’t. One of my favorites is Lake Mungo, a faux documentary about the drowning death of a teenage girl, the repercussions of her death amongst her family and possible supernatural incidents beginning to occur afterwards. It’s creepy and hits its emotional beats well. I now have a second favorite with Feral, though it supplants the supernatural thrills with religious obsession.

    Set in the hills of Oaxaca, the film follows the attempts of a former priest to rehabilitate first one, then three wild children found in the forest. It is the ex-priest’s belief that the children can be taught how to be civilized, to fit in with society. And for a while it seems that he might be right, but then things begin to go awry.

    Presented through interviews and coupled with footage that the priest had taken to the show the progress of the rehabilitation of the wild children, the movie slowly builds to its crescendo though never fully giving away all of its secrets. Not horrific in the traditional sense of the word, the movie is unsettling not in just its subdued thrills but also in the questions it asks about faith, society and human nature. Grade: B+

    Hold The Dark: Director Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is one of my all-time favorites and when I heard that his new film would be playing at the festival prior to its release on Netflix, I knew I had to attend. While this indeed now playing on Netflix, the cinematography was amazing to see on the big screen.
    The plot revolves around a wolf expert, Russell Core, going to Alaska to help locate a missing child that the mother believes has been taken by wolves. When the child’s father returns home from the Iraq war (an amazing Alexander Skarsgard), events begin to spiral towards a violent and bloody end.

    That above description is a very simplified synopsis of a film filled with complicated characters. Saulnier and screenwriter Macon Blair are not interested in holding the audiences’ hand when it comes to characters’ motivations. This is movie that demands your attention and pays it off in bloody fashion.

    The cast is uniformly great, but I do have to give special kudos to Mr. James Badge Dale for his performance and pulling out a trifecta of great movie moments at the festival. I almost didn’t recognize him from the previous two films and his performance as a local cop who has recruited Russell Core to help him stop the spreading violence is fantastic, a performance that is understated and likeable in a film where the characters can be as cold and ruthless as the scenery that surrounds them.

    Though not quite on par with Green Room, I thought this was another great film by Mr. Saulnier and look forward to what he has up his sleeve next. Grade: A-

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    Thanks for the in-depth reporting, Sock Monkey. I watched APOSTLE on Netflix last night, and really enjoyed it. I probably would have passed it right by if not for your review. My wife watched it with me, and called me a "Sick Bastard!" for enjoying it.

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    I watched HOLD THE DARK last night, and I was kind of perplexed by it. Maybe I missed something, but it all seemed like a pointless, drawn-out, pretentious series of events that had no meaning.
    I did enjoy seeing James Badge Dale, though. I remember seeing him in THE PACIFIC on HBO, and thinking that he was going to end up being a huge star.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy121070 View Post
    Thanks for the in-depth reporting, Sock Monkey. I watched APOSTLE on Netflix last night, and really enjoyed it. I probably would have passed it right by if not for your review. My wife watched it with me, and called me a "Sick Bastard!" for enjoying it.
    I'm glad you enjoyed APOSTLE. Surprisingly, my wife really enjoyed this one as well and it is not her typical cup of tea. My mother-in-law watched it and was texting us in the middle asking us if it gets worse. Not even a minute later, she sends another one saying, "Yeah it does!"

    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy121070 View Post
    I watched HOLD THE DARK last night, and I was kind of perplexed by it. Maybe I missed something, but it all seemed like a pointless, drawn-out, pretentious series of events that had no meaning.
    I did enjoy seeing James Badge Dale, though. I remember seeing him in THE PACIFIC on HBO, and thinking that he was going to end up being a huge star.
    I can see your viewpoint on HOLD THE DARK. This has become a pretty divisive film among viewers. I agree about Badge Dale. I wasn't familiar with him prior to this year's Fantastic Fest, but after seeing the three films he was in, I will be seeking out more of his work.

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    If you haven't seen THE PACIFIC, you should check that out. Why this guy isn't a household name is a mystery......
    He was also in IRON MAN 3, but his role was nothing to write home about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyboy121070 View Post
    If you haven't seen THE PACIFIC, you should check that out. Why this guy isn't a household name is a mystery......
    He was also in IRON MAN 3, but his role was nothing to write home about.
    I've been meaning to catch THE PACIFIC for years and keep putting it off. Maybe this will give me the push to finally get around to it.

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