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Category: Film Festivals

Fantasia 2015

Still not the singer or Disney movie. Man, has it really been nine years since I went to the best genre film festival in North America? Too long! Thus I am going this year, for sure, because Susan and I have plane tickets and a hotel. Directly thereafter we’re going to Gencon. If we seem delirious at the latter, you’ll know why.

Fantasia just announced the initial wave of films. I want to see all of these, of course, but some of them look particularly interesting. In no particular order: Jeruzalem looks potentially insane and cool; Big Match could be the kind of high-gloss South Korean action film I dig; Deathgasm um we’ll see; The Demolisher seems like it has potential; I’m all over anything to do with Milgram, more for the myth of the experiment than the reality, so Experimenter yes (plus nice cast); The Golden Cane Warrior looks awesome; and They Look Like People has gotten very good reviews.

Booyah! Very excited. And as you know, Montreal is within driving range of Boston.

10 Hours, 5 Movies

In a hypothetical world, someone with a huge cache of Hong Kong flicks but without clearance to show them might ask attendees of a movie marathon to stay mum about the actual movies shown.

In unrelated news, the Alamo Drafthouse Hongkongathon was way better than I’d anticipated. I was expecting a bunch of exploitation stuff and a good time, rather than great movies. In practice, Grady Hendrix showed us two serious classics, two pretty entertaining movies, and one bottomless pit of sleazy horror. I managed to stay awake for the whole thing by some minor miracle, given my advanced age. Grady’s effervescent introductions probably had a lot to do with that. We started at 10 PM and got out at 7:30; five movies and two trailer reels. One trailer reel was dedicated to Category 3 erotica, which perhaps saved us from having to watch an entire Cat 3 movie. Good call. The other one was trailers for 70s US releases of Shaw Brothers flicks, and highly entertaining.

If you dig Hong Kong movies this would actually be worth the travel to Austin if they do it again. They think they might. Awesome.

Fantasia '08

Sadly I’m not going again this year, for good reasons involving schedule and finances, but that’s OK. It will not stop me from considering the lineup at length.

The ticketing is wild this year. The festival starts this Thursday; tickets go on sale tomorrow. The schedule only came out like Friday. Make your decisions quick. I’m thinking next year I just choose a week and trust in fate for the movies. Or go for two weeks. Mmm, two weeks.

Here is the volume. Here is the pump. Here is the dance floor. Do what is right.

Upcoming Boston-Area Movie Festival Stuff


The Zombie Marathon, at the Somerville Theate. Movies include Shaun of the Dead, Fido, I Walked With A Zombie, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Zombie, and Dead Alive. I suspect that’s the full list, since it’s a 12 hour marathon and that’s 7 movies. No Romero? Shocking, but perhaps Diary of the Dead will sneak onto the program or something.

Second, the Brattle Theater’s Boston Fantastic Film Festival is coming soon, like weekend after next. Announced movies: Trapped Ashes (review), The District (review), The Signal (review), Murder Party (review), The Devil Dared Me To (review, read down a bit), and yay Zebraman (review).

I really want to catch Zebraman; Miike’s kaiju work has been way cool in the past. The District also seems really intriguing, and perhaps The Signal. The others I could take or leave, excepting Trapped Ashes, which from all the reviews looks intolerable.

Toronto Int'l Film Festival: Midnight Madness

The TIFF Midnight Madness film list is out. It’s always interesting comparing their movies to Fantasia; you don’t generally see movies at both, because (as I understand it) there’s a mild rivalry.

As is generally the case, Toronto got the big names — Romero and Gordon this year. Naturally, Fantasia has more depth in the fantastic film category, given that they screen rather more fantastic films. And, of course, Toronto has a lot of other movies to offer. In my ideal life of the idle rich world, I go to both.


We’re sadly not going to Fantasia this year, but next year with any luck, and it’s not like it doesn’t just keep getting better. I need to remember to call someone about ordering the program this year.

Chris said something insane about a shortage of must-see movies this year. Naaaah.

Fantasia 2006: Breaking it down

Let’s go to the tape, Chumley. I amended two grades; in retrospect, Wilderness was a touch better than I gave it credit for, and Samurai Commando 1549, while excellent, was not quite “I’d want to own it on DVD.”

Which is the requirement for an A grade. B grades I’d recommend seeing. C grades, well. And D grades I’d recommend avoiding.

Grade A

The Great Yokai War (A+)
Isolation (A+)
Train Man (A+)
All Out High (A)
Evil Aliens (A)
Reincarnation (A)
Widerness (A, improved grade)
The Echo (A-)
Pusher 3 (A-)

Grade B

Five Deadly Venoms (B+)
Samurai Commando 1549 (B+, dropped a notch)
Shinobi (B+)
Three Mighty Men (B)
Ultraman Max (B)
Vampire Cop Ricky (B)
Aziris Nuna (B-)
The Descendant (B-)
The Order of One (B-)
Storm (B-)

Didn’t Make the Grade

Red Shoes (C+)
The Gravedancers (C-)
Subject Two (C-)

Junk (D)
Hell (incomplete/D)
Resonnances (D)


DJ XL5’s Zappin’ Party Cavalcade

Fantasia 2006: The Great Yokai War

And finally…

The Great Yokai War. Just, whoa.

Miike isn’t one of my top five artists in the world (David Cronenberg, Richard Thompson, Wong Kar Wai, George R. R. Martin, probably Aimee Mann; list subject to change), but he’s the guy I’d like to play Being John Malkovich with. I want to see what he’s thinking while he works. I want to figure out what he’s trying to do, and I want to figure out how he keeps up his insane multi-movie-per-year pace while still churning out heart-stoppingly beautiful, perfect moments of film.

The Great Yokai War is almost painfully emotionally involving. Miike digs his hooks in early and holds you: he makes you care about what happens. There’s some sort of visceral reality in the way he shoots a movie that gets you; he has a way of immersing audiences which is just as effective here as it is in Audition. It’s just the specific emotional responses that are different.

Then I contemplate the climax of the movie, in which the world is saved by a freak coincidence and a legume. Plus pop music. Is Miike engaging in a cynical angry satire on children’s movies? I am honestly not sure. One Missed Call was in part a deeply barbed stab at Japanese cultural media, so maybe this was the same. There’s a scene where Tadashi Ino, the kid protagonist, dresses up for the big fight with a deeply snarky line pointed directly at Dragonball Z and its ilk, so there are hints of satire. But man, Miike clearly adores the Japanese cultural goblin tales he’s working with…

I got no idea. Hard to figure out. Either way it was a superbly beautiful, scary, thrilling, involving movie about saving the world. I’m a little sad about missing the rest of the movies Saturday night and Sunday, but exhaustion had set in, and this was about as good a capper as I could have asked for.

Grade: A+.

Fantasia 2006: Aziris Nuna

Saturday was our children’s movie day. Aziris Nuna was the first of the pair, and it was pretty much a generic children’s movie. It’s somewhat looser than you’d expect from a US flick of the same style, and a little more leering, but all in all it didn’t go anywhere weird or wild.

The opening shots were incredible: pyramids rising behind Moscow, and a ship of some sort kinda drifting over the city. This had me considerably excited, since the Fantasia blurb said “Aziris Nuna is set in an alternate reality that sees the architecture of Moscow blended with Egyptian temples and pyramids.” Alas, this was not the case — it’s set in our reality, with a bunch of time travel, and the opening shots are just cool effects.

The look of the film held up. It’s sort of Fifth Element, sort of Zathura. The effects and set design were pretty amazing, considering the whole thing cost less than four million to make. (This according to one of the producers, hanging out at the back of the theater as we filed out.) The acting was as good as you’d expect, and the thing was competently made. But, eh, it’s still just a children’s movie and it didn’t hold my interest.

Grade: B-.

Fantasia 2006: Five Deadly Venoms

The first time I saw Five Deadly Venoms, I was not as kind as I might have been. I enjoyed it a lot more this time — perhaps because I was in the mood, perhaps because it was on the big screen, or perhaps because I saw it in good company.

It’s still a sort of mystery with a lot of varied kung fu style, but I was ready for the pacing. I dug the range of fights quite a bit on second viewing; there’s great distinction between the five venoms. I was also forewarned that Lizard was played by Philip Kwok, who I have a fondness for from Hard-Boiled, so it was cool watching him mug around.

Grade: B+.