Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 4

I finally got to watch a Korean film at the fest that's Korean-themed for this year, on the final day no less. Also got to see a Chinese film, so I went out with an Asian bang. Hmm, that sounds weird.

Movie 1:  SHADOW

I haven't seen THE GREAT WALL, but it's probably safe to say this is Zhang Yimou's triumphant return to the wuxia genre that he helped introduce to the West along with Ang Lee... or is it? The first 2/3 of the film is pretty much a historical drama with a healthy dose of political intrigue. But once you get to the last act, swords and umbrellas(?!) start clashing in a typically glorious fashion that you're used to seeing from Zhang. The look of the film is amazing -- the muted black and white (and grey) colors, the beautiful costume design, and the impeccable production design. Again, not at all unexpected if you've seen HERO and THE HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. Welcome back, Mr. Zhang.

Movie 2:  BURNING

I'm sure there are many layers to this movie that I'm currently struggling to comprehend; all I know is, I liked it. A lot. I need another viewing or two before I can form a more coherent thought on this. Also, this is Steven Yeun's best role and performance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 3

Movie 1:  WEREWOLF

PSA: This is not a werewolf movie. What starts out as a Holocaust drama somehow turns into a thriller inside an abandoned mansion, then ends in an unexpected way that was better than how I imagined it would go. A pleasant surprise of the fest so far.


This wasn't what I expected from David Robert Mitchell as a followup to IT FOLLOWS. But that's probably what people said about that movie, after he debuted with THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER. He's not sticking with one genre. This is one weird ass movie. There's a lot of Hitchcock and noir here, and it very much reminded me of INHERENT VICE. Like that film, there's a lot to unpack, and it will require multiple viewings to find more clues to the overall story. Right now, it's a little too scattershot and messy for me. Oh, but that one SPIDER-MAN gag was really good.


The first 30 minutes are kinda painful to sit through, but the rest of the film manages to elevate that first act into something great. Not going to say anything else because the fun is in the surprising way this movie unfolds and adds to what you've seen before. Just remember to hold steady for those first 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 2

I didn't see any bad movies today!

Movie 1:  BORDER

This movie goes some places. It's best seen knowing little as possible so I'm going to be vague here. It feels really long, but I just checked and IMDB lists it at 1 hour 41 minutes. Can't be right. It's very slow, and in the end, it didn't really turn out to be my type of movie. But the lead performance by Eva Melander is fantastic. I would still recommend it to the adventurous types, it's worth watching once.


This movie is bonkers. Part De Palma, part Park Chan-wook, part Aronofsky, and a whole lotta insanity. How are they going to market this movie? My favorite of the festival so far.


Indonesian EVIL DEAD, but replace all the campy fun parts with family melodrama. Some scares were effective, but not particularly original. And most of the family scenes went way too long, dragging the pace down. I expected a bit more from the co-director of SAFE HAVEN (from V/H/S 2), but it's still solid for what it is.


Well this was certainly the most violent action film I've seen to date. It's a solid 3 star flick that stands out from the pack with copious amounts of blood and gore. But once it gets to the final fight between Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais, it earns an extra star. This is a step up from HEADSHOT, that's for sure. Alas, I still like THE RAID series more.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Fantastic Fest 2018 - Day 1

I'm back in Austin for my vacation away from everyone I know. Yes, it's bittersweet. No, I don't regret it. Yet.


I have a thing for movies about movie-making, especially when they're so clever about it. All in all, I'm not sure I understand what this movie is really "about", but I liked the individual scenes, more when they're a movie within the movie.


There are some amazing needle drops in this breezy crime/heist film from France. But even more amazing are the characters -- Vincent Cassel's Henri, who drones on and on about anything and everything -- Bruce, the Scottish drug lord that brings his preteen daughter to a deal -- Isabelle Adjani as the overbearing mother that loves money as much as she loves her son, and so many more -- I'm not sure which is my favorite. I would love to see sequels and spinoffs about any of these characters. This fills the OCEAN'S void rather nicely (no, I didn't forget OCEAN'S 8, I just don't care).

Movie 3:  THE GUILTY

This the best "guy talks on the phone for 90 minutes" movie. Yes, it's better than PHONE BOOTH, BURIED, and LOCKE.

Movie 4:  TUMBBAD

It has a solid premise, but the execution is severely lacking. There are couple of decent moments of horror in "chapter one" regarding the grandmother, but almost none afterwards. It just seems like an overlong TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode from India, and a bad one at that.

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