Twenty years ago, if someone said that ‘zombie romantic comedy’ was going to become an actual cinematic sub-genre, they’d have been called a witch and burned at the stake. And yet, they would have been right, and Fantasia 2014 has seen the unveiling of yet another film in the rapidly expanding genre, Life After Beth. Starring Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation and Dane DeHaan, recently of The Amazing Spider-Man 2,Life After Beth is best described as a zombie breakup comedy. It’s also best described as “decent, but not amazing”, a serviceable enough zom-rom-com kept afloat mostly by the supporting cast.
It feels safe to argue that the Bourne film series has had a major influence on the action-espionage genre. Granted, spy thrillers that grilled governments for nefarious cover-ups, as well as espionage escapades featuring greater doses of fisticuffs and explosions (such as the Bond franchise), existed long before 2002’s The Bourne Identityand continue till this day. That said, what directors Doug Limon and Paul Greengrass did to the genre was infuse it with a gritty realism in addition to combining stories of unbelievably well-trained spies and political conspiracies. How many action films, be they concerned with spies or otherwise, have strived for the similar documentary ‘in the moment’ visual style? Not all have succeeded, mind you (the term ‘shaky cam’ is used in derogatory fashion more often than not), but those that have deliver in often spectacular ways. Director Won Shin-yun, who hasn’t directed a film in six years, enters this field with The Suspect.
The Harvest is a modern gothic horror set in small-town America. On one hand embracing the mythology and horror of gothic sensibilities, the film also utilizes naturalism to create a sense of comfort and to help root emotions in reality. Katherine (Samantha Morton) and Richard (Michael Shannon) are a married couple caring for an ailing son, Andy. Their apparent familial bliss is disrupted by the arrival of a pre-adolescent neighbor, Maryann. While Maryann’s intentions are nothing but cordial, the couple is wary of her curiosity and tensions rise as she continually subverts their desires to stay away from their home. Maryann’s quest for truth and Andy’s friendship unravels a dark stain on the American family.
It’s common knowledge for any Fantasia Festival regular that an edition cannot go by without the inclusion of at least one film from notorious Japanese auteur Takashi Miike. Very often two films of his are added to the lineup, a testament to his workaholic nature as a filmmaker. Miike dips his toes into any and every genre, frequently adding shocking twists for effect. He is what one might describe as anenfant terrible of Japanese cinema. The 2014 edition of Fantasia commenced with a bang by playing one of Miike’s latest endeavours,The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, the irony being that this is one of Miike’s ventures into comedy, just as the internationally renowned Just for Laughs festival is happening concurrently in Montreal.
The movies have long had an intimate fascination with the human eye. They’re the tools with which we absorb film, we view them as a window to our soul, and they’re one of the most romantic parts of the body. No one ever romanticized an ear.
Mike Cahill’s I Origins takes that fascination to a new level. It passionately and profoundly ties our eyes to our beings, resonating as a film of science and spirituality. It’s an indie romance that uses broad sci-fi set-pieces in subtle, yet grandly melodramatic gestures to challenge our faith and our fear of the unknown.
This week on the demented stepchild to our flagship podcast, we finally sit down to discuss one of our most anticipated films of 2014 – Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer. In his first production outside his native South Korea, Bong has delivered his most ambitious project yet, but does he prove capable of handling an international, multilingual cast and a large budget? We’ll let you know but first, we’ll set aside a few minutes to review All Cheerleaders Die by directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson, who are best known for their separate careers as writer-directors of grisly, gothic, darkly funny horror movies. All this and more, on the longest running genre podcast, Sordid Cinema.
Boyhood, Schmoyhood. While some of my moredistinguished film nerd compatriots may be waiting with rapt attention for Fantasia’s more “conventional” offerings, my attention is fixed on the more UNconventional fare, the anime, the kung-fu, the movies that avoid classification all together. Fantasia isn’t Fantasia unless you’re watching something you almost certainly couldn’t see in most other festivals, and this year’s installment looks to have that in spades. Here some of my picks for Fantasia 2014′s stellar line-up.
This will be my third year attending the venerable Fantasia International Film Festival here in Montreal, and this year’s slate does not disappoint. I was asked to pick the five movies I was the most excited to see. This proved to be a difficult task, seeing as how my original list had upwards of thirty titles. But here are the five that have got me the most intrigued.
A number of Sound on Sight editors and contributors are geographically fortunate enough to make the Fantasia Film Festival an annual must-attend event.
I have never been to the festival, but have followed it from afar since it landed on my radar years ago when a well-received short film I had a major acting role in played there, called My Sweet Satan.
This year’s lineup of films strikes me as substantially more intriguing than the programs of the last couple of years.
Given Fantasia’s staggering breadth of programming spread across multiple weeks, the challenge is trying to narrow a “most anticipated” list down to five films.
My alphabetical picks are as follows.
The third week of July beckons and, if one is a genre film lover in the city of Montreal, Canada, that really means only one thing: the return of the Fantasia International Film Festival. Like Michael Myer, Freddy Krueger and zombies, Fantasia keeps coming back for more action time and time again, always promising the best and brightest that genre cinema from the world over has to offer.
In the preceding few weeks a litany of announcements were made, titillating fans like few movie-themed festivals can, such as Tobe Hooper’s presence for an honorary award (as well as a screening of the newly re-mastered 1974Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and a screening of the highly anticipated Marvel Studios mega production Guardians of the Galaxy a few days before it opens wide. Both will rightfully garner much attention as shall a host of other special events and screenings. That said, each patron and media outlet representative lives through his or her personal festival experience, which encompasses not only the thoughts and feelings as the events occur but the gleeful anticipation prior to opening night. This being my third year as a Sound on Sight badge holder, it would be amusingly snobbish to claim that the buildup feels like business as usual. The truth of the matter however is that the bustling potential still gets me terribly excited. What follows are five films in particular that should, were they fulfill on their promises, be delightful cinematic experiences.
Humankind’s collision with otherworldly life forms can make for unforgettable cinema.
This article will highlight the best of live-action human vs. alien films. The creatures may be from other planets or may be non-demonic entities from other dimensions.
Excluded from consideration were giant monster films as the diakaiju genre would make a great subject for separate articles.
Readers looking for “friendly alien” films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still(1951), It Came from Outer Space (1953) and the comically overrated CloseEncounters of the Third Kind (1977) are advised to keep watching the skies because they won’t find them here.
Film writing being the game of knowledge filtered through personal taste that it is, some readers’ subgenre favorites might not have made the list such as War of the Worlds (1953) and 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957).
Now let’s take a chronological look at the cinema’s best battles between Us and Them.