Archive for category Fantasia

Late Fantasia Film Review: Spoor

Fantasia may be over for 2017, but I had the chance to watch Spoor recently.

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Spoor was directed by Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik and written by Agnieszka Holland and Olga Tokarczuk. This Polish, German and Czech film takes on nature, hunting, humanity and life in the golden years.

It’s not a horror film. It walks a line between life in the country, small town thriller, mystery, revenge film and ecological message. Duszejko (Agnieszka Mandat) is the main lead, and the actual story of the film. She’s retired but she teaches English part-time at the local school. She’s a full fledged character, a senior woman that works, lives her life, falls in love, makes some friends and a lot of enemies. She’s the kind of person that feels empathy for the animals in a town where hunting is not only a sport, it’s encouraged and sanctioned by the church. She seems to be alone in that regard.

But soon enough, strange deaths start to happen, deaths that have one thing in common: all victims were all hunters. There seems to be a serial killer in town. The movie never quite acquires the murder-mystery feel to it, and there’s a reason for that.

Duszejko keeps pointing at the strange details surrounding each murder. Animal tracks. Deers that don’t shy away from humans. Nobody seems to be paying attention. This is one of those movies where something is being shown to you from one point of view but not everything. We also get flashbacks of all characters introduced, which I’m still on the fence of whether that added to the film in any way.

It’s a bit of an acquired taste. Agnieszka Mandat steals the film as the determined, idealistic and non-conformist Duszejko. For her role alone, the movie is worth watching. There’s a moral tale somewhere here, but at the same time it does get a bit diluted by the time the big reveal is evident.

Recommended with reservations. You’d better off watching this film without any preconceived notions. Even so, it’s a little hard to sell this movie to one type of audience. There’s a twist, not too surprising, by the end that will shift the tone for some viewers. I fear that because of the way it’s first envisioned, it might miss the audience that will truly appreciate it. That being said, audiences overlap. I know I still loved the movie once I realized where it was going to end up. That might not be the case for everyone.

That will do for now.

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The Weekly Rant: Fantasia 2017 (on video!)

It’s a little experiment I’m trying out.

Does it technically constitute a rant if I love the thing I’m ranting about? I guess, since I’m also throwing my frustration with mainstream cinema and explain the whole reason why I eat and breathe Montreal’s very own Fantasia International Film Festival.

Watch on YouTube

God it’s so surreal and embarrassing to watch myself speak. I’m still getting used to the idea. Anyhow, hope it was good for a laugh at least.

That will do for now.

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2017 Fantasia Festival Wrap-up: The best of the best!

The line up was amazing this year.

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First, let’s talk about the official Fantasia 2017 Awards! Congratulations to SPOOR for winning the Cheval Noir for Best Film. The Cheval Noir for Best Director went to BAD GENIUS. The Audience Awards gave Best Asian Feature and Most Innovative Feature Film to BAD GENIUS and Best North American, South American or European Film to BETTER WATCH OUT. You can read the full Fantasia 2017 Awards announcements at Screen Anarchy.

I believe that it has been one of the best years to date. I saw so many movies (close to 40!) that inspired me, that challenged me, that stuck with me for weeks. I was so impressed. There were a few that disappointed, or that just missed the mark. Some I planned for, others I heard about, a few I went without knowing anything. I also think I actually started a conversation with new people and geeked out about movies. Whoa, that’s too much. Back to living under a rock now.

So, here’s how I wrap up Fantasia myself. These are my version of the awards, my own made-up Never Think Impossible Awards for the 2017 Fantasia Film Festival. These are NOT real. Don’t expect some trophy on the mail, ok? Let’s start.

The One Not-To-Be-Missed Award: ANIMALS

This award goes to that movie that is only made once in a green moon. Sometimes a movie is so weird that it’s good and sometimes it’s so good it’s weird. This one award goes to the one that is both, and a little more. Runner up: BAD GENIUS

The One Everyone Will Cheer For: BAD GENIUS

You know that movie that has everyone in their grasp, cheering, laughing and crying? Yeah, this is everyone’s favorite entertainer and the most complicit partner in crime. Engaging from beginning to end, interesting, entertaining and the coolest kid in school, this is the movie that will make a fan out of you. Runner up: SPLIT

No Fucking Way Get Me Out Of Here: MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND

The movie that has that one scenario with that crazy thing that happens that in real life would make you shit your pants. No, you don’t get to know what it is until you watch it. Runner up: BETTER WATCH OUT

You Do Not Want To Meet Them In A Dark Alley: POOR AGNES

A psychopathic type that oozes charisma, intelligence and determination through the screen enough to cause fear, but also respect. Or perhaps that’s your survival instinct praying you never run into someone like the character. Runner Up: TRAGEDY GIRLS.

The Secret Ninja Award: THE ENDLESS

This is a movie that you don’t know how good it is until you watch it. Yes, it has some crazy eerie shit to show you that is done so well that you want to see it again. It’s really so good in many levels and it starts so normally that it’s literally a great movie hiding like a ninja, waiting to to amaze you. Runner Up: LOWLIFE.

The Crazy Over The Top Award: ANIMALS

You gotta be careful with this one, because this is the kind of movie where your friends will turn to you to explain them what just happened on the screen every few seconds. Enjoy being lost? Enjoy when a movie plays with the fabric of time and space? Enjoy figuring it out and debating it until the red sun comes up. Runner Up: SEQUENCE BREAK.

The Cheer For The Baddie Award: TRAGEDY GIRLS

This is a satire, right? I’m allowed to cheer for the evil side, because the good side is dumb as bricks. Either way, there will be a lot of blood, a lot of laughs and some will happen at the same time. So bad it’s good and it’s so good to be bad in a film you do not want to bring home to your parents.

Someone Finally Made A Film About It: GEEK GIRLS

The film that was missing goes to a documentary this year as Gina Hana’s film that you didn’t know you needed in your life drops in your lap. This one ought to go viral and then some. Runner up: TOKYO IDOLS.

The Out Of Nowhere Revelation Film: LOWLIFE

The new classic, a little movie that could make it without a big media promotion. It’s usually brutal but lovable, charming and violent, the good guys are flawed, the sacrifice hurts, the wounds cut deep. It’s just real and fantastic at the same time and it will steal your heart when you’re not looking, because it has the guts to do. Runner Up: FRIENDLY BEAST.

The Grandmaster Has Returned Award: SUSPIRIA (4K)

Okey, full disclosure – there’s a good chance I watched this film when I was very, very young because some scenes (and that music!) were really blasting some major deja vu. But it’s still the first time I absorb this film in all its glory from beginning to end. Consider this the Dario Argento Award if you like, but this film was an experience unto itself so no way I’m wrapping this up without mentioning it. Runner up: (you must be kidding if you think I’m putting something else here).

Thanks to everyone who works, plays, writes, blogs, selects, volunteers and supports the Fantasia Film Festival. Until next year, bon cinéma!

That will do for now.

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