Fantasia 2011: Week One Wrap Up – 22 Reviews To Chew On

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Well we are officially through the first week of the Fantasia Film Festival, so I figured we should do a quick look back at all the articles and reviews we have posted so far. In seven days our crew has managed to post over twenty reviews, ten articles and we recorded two podcasts. Keep coming back to the site in the next two weeks for more coverage. We should be recording three more shows this weekend.


UK Cinema

Attack The Block

Scary but not too scary, funny but with respect for its characters, specific to its cultural geography but universal in its ideas, rapidly paced but always clearly staged. Beholden to any number of spiritual forbears (from The Warriors to the unproduced John Sayles script Night Skies, hailed by Cornish in promotional materials), Attack nevertheless emerges as very much its own movie – one fiercer, faster and funnier than any of its peers… (read the full review)

A Lonely Place To Die

A rare thriller that actually contains thrills, UK export A Lonely Place to Die comes up with a formula so ingenious it’s a wonder we haven’t already seen it a million times before: high-octane cliff-scaling meets cat-and-mouse chase thriller. It serves as a welcome reminder that no-frills action movies don’t have to be an eye-rolling bore or an intellectual affront.. (read the full review)

Retreat

Retreat might not be a perfect film, but it is a well-constructed and closely observed claustrophobic thriller that continually teases its audience to uncover the truth behind all the madness. Both psychologically frightening and maddening to the senses, Retreat is a promising debut for former visual artist and now writer-director Carl Tibbetts… (read the full review)

 

Asian Cinema

Hello Ghost aka Hellowoo Goseuteu (2010) South Korea

A surprisingly upbeat film given its rather morbid subject matter, Hello Ghost, like parsley, is good for the heart… (read full review)

Ninja Kids

If you are looking for a film to convince your favourite nephew of the greatness of Fantasia, you could do worse than Ninja Kids!!!, but your favourite niece may wonder why no girls are allowed to have fun and this is most definitely a film where the unfocused parts, while frequently brilliant, are greater than the cinematic whole… (read the full review)

The Unjust

This is not a film with heroes, nor is it one with winners. Just as the system is unfair, the film punishes its characters unfairly. Asked whether the level of punishment revealed his opinion of the level of severity of the corruption, Hoon-jung Park said, “There are no small sins and no large sins, there is just sin,” echoing journalist David Halberstam writing about Japanese baseball but meaning for it to be understood as a philosophy of the culture (and the region), “rules were important; minor rules were the same as major rules; there was no difference.”.. (read the full review)

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Detective Dee is far more good than bad and works particularly well with a crowd. Its humour is good-natured and absurd, and it feels considerably more genuine than most summer blockbusters released by Hollywood this year. The film’s failings are only a reminder of how great the film could have been if it had hit all the right marks… (read the full review)

Underwater Love

Whatever your tastes, there’s a very good chance that Shinji Imaoka’s Underwater Love is unlike anything you’ve seen before. A self-described “pink musical” – meaning it features sequences of soft-core porn to go with its songs – it’s a silly, tasteless, bewitching, and joyously nonsensical foray into romance, myth and taboo-busting… (read the full review)

Canadian & American Indies

You Are Here

Equal parts video essay, fragmented “thought experiment,” and social satire, Daniel Cockburn’s You Are Here is one of the most audacious English Canadian features to come down the pike in years. (Admittedly, that’s not a terribly prestigious body of films.) Imbued with enough dry wit and obscure observations to fill a dozen Charlie Kaufman treatments, the film dares to invent a cinematic language at least partially its very own in a scant 78 minutes… (read the full review)

Bellflower

Bellflower is one of the ballsiest, hippest and potentially off-putting movies screening at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. It’s the best sort of experimental filmmaking simply for being so incredibly familiar and yet so completely unique… (read full review)

Another Earth

Despite the gorgeous, multi-faceted cinematography and the palpably atmospheric feel – with the alternate Earth casting an appropriately blue pall – Another Earth winds up as run-of-the-mill Sundance fare gussied up as a thinking-man’s genre movie. That it proves to be almost totally incurious about the potentially fascinating issues it raises except as they relate to the inner lives of its tiresome characters is symptomatic of the film’s generally half-baked execution… (read the full review)

The FP

A completely straight-faced parody/tribute with an amalgam of pop-culture signifiers, boasting the slogan “Shit’s tough in the FP,” this certifiably offbeat campfest takes aim at many different targets -video game culture, inner city gangs, Hip Hop slang, ravers, techno music and even underdog sports films… (read the full review)

Red State

Risk-taking is almost always an admirable quality in a filmmaker, and with this film, Smith is making a clear break from his early work. This is not only reflected in the film’s content and tone, but in his decision to mobilize the camera. Though occasionally nauseating (perhaps this is the intention), there is a surprising amount of tension and grace created through the camera movement. This makes certain moments or scenes where a shot is steady far more impactful. This is easily his most visually adventurous film… (read the full review)

Love

Love will certainly find a niche audience, not in the science-fiction fan but in the Youtube romantic. The concept of “love” is an important one in the film, but alhough it does manage to skirt many half-baked cliches about romantic partnerships, its attempt to cover a much wider concept of the word never comes to fruition… (read the full review)

The Legend of Beaver Dam

Destined to be a legendary short film, Legend of Beaver Dam has first time audiences singing along by the end. The gallons of jet-propelled blood, excellent cast, great special effects and clever twist, make this an absolute must-see for any self respected fan of the genre… (read the full review)

Horror / Sci-Fi

Stake Land

Amidst the comic-book style exaggerated violence, though, there’s still enough small character beats and subtle touches that make Stake Land ring a little truer than most movies of its kind, particularly Martin’s calm, novelistic narration, and an open-ended conclusion that eschews the usual martyr’s-glory scenes for a character-based ending that validates the film’s palpable sense of hard-fought hope and progress in lost times… (read the full review)

The Theatre Bizarre

A horror anthology in seven parts, The Theatre Bizarre is a throwback to the tradition of the port-manteaux films of the `60s and `70s. The main exponent of this type of film then was Amicus Films, a small British production company established by two American ex-pats (Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky) who wanted to take on the mighty (at the time anyways) Hammer Films at their game… (read the full review)

The Wicker Tree

Only time will tell if The Wicker Tree will live up to Robin Hardy’s first pagan horror film, which has been unofficially dubbed in some circles the “Citizen Kane of Horror,” but it stands out in this year’s Fantasia line-up as a fully realized work of a cinematic visionary. This is not only a great genre film, but a film that pushes the boundaries of cinema itself, easily on par with the works of our greatest contemporary filmmakers… (read the full review)

European Cinema

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Exports is a peculiar film that’s found mainstream acceptance worldwide, perhaps a sign that any film that dares tweak the tired conventions of holiday mythmaking – even if it winds up a little lacking – is a welcome one… (read the full review)

Kill Me Please

The film’s final act is more in line with past Belgian comic shockers (Ex-Drummer, Man Bites Dog) than the rest of the film, and doesn’t necessarily feel contiguous with the relatively restrained material that precedes it… (read the full review)

TrollHunter

Successful on multiple levels but one: Trollhunter suffers from a seemingly rushed ending. Still, with its brisk pacing, charismatic cast, beautiful locales, creature design and unique premise, Trollhunter comes highly recommend, before Hollywood tries to… (read the full review)

Klovn

Though derived from a popular Danish TV series, Clown: The Movie is really a collusion between three recent strains of popular comedy: first and foremost, the “comedy of embarrassment,” whose popularity can be traced back to the twin influences of the UK Office and Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm; second, the Apatow brand of “manchild” comedies, in which men in their 30s (or older) behave like teenagers until they’re forced to mature; and third, the debauched bro humor of The Hangover (from which it borrows a final-scene photo reel of horror)… (read the full review)

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