I'm baaaaaack. It's been too long. (For Austin and Fantastic Fest, not for the blog. I gave up on this a long time ago.) It's been 3 years. It feels great, but also bittersweet because I'm here alone. Wife Cho has her hands full at home taking care our soon-to-be-2-year-old princess/diva/drama-queen, and I didn't invite any friends because I don't really have any these days. But enough with the woe-is-me bullshit. I'm on vacation and enjoying amazing films from all around the world with like-minded people. Things could be worse. Let's run through the reason I'm here, the movies.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (grade: 4/5)
Christmas high school musical with zombies, set in Scotland. That's not a random word-salad, it's what this movie is. I have no idea when this will be released stateside, but I need this at Christmastime. It encapsulates everything great about the holidays -- cheery songs, uplifting message, and watching your loved ones get eaten alive by a horde of undead. Seriously though, the songs are great.
THE DEATH OF STALIN (grade: 3/5)
Secret screenings can be hit or miss due to their nature. No one knows what we'll be watching, which prompts all sorts of rumors and talks of this movie or that, and sets unrealistic expectations. There were murmurings of THE SHAPE OF WATER, DEATH WISH, JIGSAW, MUTE, and even the new BLADE RUNNER. So of course it turns out to be none of those. Instead, we get a period comedy about Stalin's death and its aftermath? Not sure how this fits into the whole "genre film" territory that Fantastic Fest is known for. Anyway, the movie itself is fine. It's basically IN THE LOOP set in USSR, which makes sense because it was written and directed by Armando Iannucci. It has funny moments and dialogue, but all the characters are assholes, which is probably the point but I don't need a comedy like this right now when our nation is a joke to the rest of the world because of the orange imbecile at the top.
LET THE CORPSES TAN (grade: 2/5)
Goddammit. Movies like this are maddening because I can see that the directors are clearly talented and skilled on the visual side, but they either don't care about the narrative side or just need to focus and improve on it a whole lot more. Take the cheap shot and call it the Zack Snyder syndrome. There are beautiful shots and cool editing splattered through the movie (sometimes literally), but just what is the point of it all? What's the story about? Who are these characters? Do I need to be on mushrooms to understand?