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Fantastic Fest 2015: Bone Tomahawk, by Chase Beck

1 Oct

 

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Craig Zahler’s directorial debut is a mashup of the western and horror genres. A cowboys and Indians flick where the Indians play into all of the colonialist fears of degenerate, pagan savages. In the not too distant past of America, Native Americans were massacred in the name of Manifest Destiny. When not being slaughtered, American Indians were marginalized, forced to live thousands of miles away from their lands and even subjected to biological weaponry. But none of that matters in Bone Tomahawk. We are given just enough information to justify the violent murder of many members of a degenerate, unnamed tribe. It also helps that the Indians get in a couple of good hits themselves before it is all over.

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Fantastic Fest 2015: Man Vs. Snake, by Chase Beck

30 Sep

MAN VS SNAKE

Have you ever been good at something? No, I mean really good. I do not believe I have, but I imagine that it is a great feeling. Tim McVey was once great at something. McVey was the Nibbler Champion. For Tim, having been known for being the world record holder for Nibbler is not enough. Now that he’s forty, out of shape, and working full time, reclaiming his title presents all new challenges.

Right now you might be asking, “What the #$&*@ is Nibbler”?” Do not worry. I have you covered.
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Fantastic Fest 2015: Baskin, by Chase Beck

30 Sep

BASKIN

Can Evernol’s Baskin begins with a nightmare and ends in a relentless hell on Earth. The trip there is fun and thrilling; the destination is tedious. Shortly after the opening nightmare of Baskin ends, we see five police officers taking a meal and discussing betting brackets in a small restaurant. The beginning of this Turkish film plays out like a cop movie. We learn a little about each officer and their attitudes and positions relative to one another.

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Fantastic Fest 2015: Camino, by Chase Beck

29 Sep

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Zoë Bell plays Avery Taggart, a celebrated photojournalist whose work has been described as impartial, depicting all aspects of war-torn countries and those lives that are affected. We are introduced to her from a speech as she is receiving an award. Later, we see Taggart is a deeply cynical individual, full of self-doubt. After receiving her award, we see Taggart celebrating, or drowning her sorrows, in a bar with her publisher, Donald (Kevin Pollak) who knows that the best thing for her is to get right back out there. Donald, in fact, has another assignment for her. In her inebriated state, Avery takes very little convincing. She is to embed with charismatic leader, Guillermo (Nacho Vigalondo).

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Fantastic Fest: Liza the Fox Fairy, by Chase Beck

29 Sep

LIZA THE FOX FAIRY

Liza (Mónica Balsai) is a beleaguered nurse caring for the aging and bed-bound wife of a Japanese ambassador. On her thirtieth birthday, she asks for the day off. Absolutely certain that she will find her true love at the local fast-food burger joint, Liza is disappointed when it fails to happen. Upon returning home, she finds her patient dead. Liza The Fox Fairy is a quirky romantic comedy about a woman’s search for love. Her main obstacle, besides a lack of funds, is her best friend, the ghost of a Japanese pop star. While he is perfectly happy to console Liza by belting out his greatest hit, a catchy tune that will have you humming along, crooner Tomi Tani (David Sakurai) is intensely jealous of anyone that might divide his time with Liza.

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Fantastic Fest 2015: High-Rise, by Chase Beck

28 Sep

High-Rise

High-Rise starts with voice-over by Tom Hiddleston’s Dr. Robert Laing. He is discussing, rather matter-of-factly, the current conditions inside his monolithic apartment complex. His conclusion, as he picks through mounds of rubbish and roasts a dog’s leg on a spit, is that he has fully adapted to this new way of life and quite enjoys the state of things. We, as the audience, get a sense that something terrible must have occurred. We are left wondering what terrible series of events could have led to such condition as the film flashes back to Laing’s first days at the new and revolutionary self-contained tower.

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Fantastic Fest 2015: Darling, by Chase Beck

28 Sep

darling

From its opening establishing shot of a fog-filled New York City skyline, Mickey Keating’s Darling signifies itself as an inventive horror film. Lauren Ashley Carter plays the eponymous character, hired to house sit an old house. Sean Young (who is only in the film briefly) plays her employer and lets slip that the last caretaker committed suicide. It is a tale we have heard many a time before (there are obvious parallels to Stephen King’s/Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining) and plays out in much the same way: mysterious sounds, doors slamming, an ominous locked door at the end of a hall. Yet, the film is nuanced and calculated in its approach and tone.

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Fantastic Fest 2015: The Wave, by Chase Beck

28 Sep

The Wave

In Norway, there are many impressive and breath-taking vistas: mountains; valleys; complex coastlines abutted by precipitously tall cliffs; narrow sea inlets surrounded by steep cliffs. I have never considered the effects of erosion on such cliffs, and the people living nearby, until seeing director Roar Uthaug’s The Wave. The Wave is a disaster film. And while it does hit several of the disaster movie tropes that we have come to expect from the genre, it is also masterfully orchestrated and obtains a level of believability that I have not seen in a disaster movie in a long time; perhaps never. This devotion to realism begins with the film’s use of historical accounts of real killer waves in the Norwegian fjords. Additionally, the film uses a real fjord: Aknesat, accompanied by its own cliff with an ever-widening crevasse. This disaster movie is not about some uber triple faultline abnormality in Yellowstone, or a volcano appearing in the middle of Los Angeles. In The Wave, the audience is presented with an actual, and believable threat. All of the people in the small town of Geiranger live with the constant reminder that they could be wiped out at any time. By finding the potential for danger in the world around them, the writers have managed to craft a richly detailed disaster scenario story.

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