Made in the tradition of the New York underground, Bag Boy Lover Boyis a portrait of contemporary frustration. Albert is a pitiful hot dog vendor who soon finds himself intertwined in the bizarre world of fetish photography. Albert’s aspirations are centered on his desire to win the affections of a frequent customer at his stall, and her apparent love for art. Raw, funny and twisted, the film rips through the perceived comfort of modern living by putting focus on one of society’s outcasts. Albert is not just a sad sack, he’s more than a little slow and more than a little different.
The live-action adaptation of manga properties in Japanese cinema is just as popular and frequent as Hollywood’ s thirst to translate comic book tales originating from DC, Marvel and lesser-known publishers in North America. Both come with their share of trials and tribulations, such as what to leave in, what to leave out, and what to change in order to smoothen the transition from the page to the silver screen. TheCrows series — which began with 2007’s Crows Zero, wasfollowed by 2009’s Crows Zero 2, and continues with this year’s Crows Explode – is in a special situation considering the change in directorial talent handling each entry. The first two were guided by the crazy genius that is Takashi Miike (which is completely normal considering the premise), whereas the latest entry is shepherded by Toshiaki Toyoda.
The irony of the penniless cult and mind-control expert is not lost on us. Ansel Roth’s got the tools to get your loved ones back within your grasp, he’s written them down for all to read, but here he is selling copies of his latest book one hotel conference room at a time, living out of an AMC Gremlin, fishing meal vouchers out of the trash, and shoveling ketchup in his mouth with a fork. He used to be a big shot with a bestselling book and a TV show, but that doesn’t stop him from getting beat senseless in front of a half-full room at a regional hotel. Nor will it stop The Wire and Toys R Me’s own Lance Reddick from showing up in the parking lot afterward, smilingly vicious as ever, asking for money his boss is owed.
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.
Last week, I said that The Strain would live or die based on how it balances the silliness with the seriousness. This week, it gave us no indication which direction it will be going in, instead giving us an incredibly boring episode of clichés, which is very disappointing.
“The Box” is an episode of our protagonists moving far slower than the audience, dulling the momentum almost entirely. We spend a little more time with our ensemble, including Gus and his stereotypical Hispanic family, in a scene full of clunky dialogue establishing backstory and characterization for people that are either unimportant or uninteresting. Gabriel, the rock star, hangs out with some naked women because he’s a rock star, and becomes the first of the plane’s survivors to find a taste for blood.
What is it about foreign horror films that makes them more interesting than so many English language horror films? You would have to think that the language barrier makes it more terrifying; people screaming is already difficult, but speaking a language you don’t understand can only make it worse. So, why are the remakes typically so bad? On this portion of the list, we are treated to a few of the more upsetting films in the canon – one movie I wouldn’t wish for anyone to see, a few that blazed the trail for many more, and one that I would elevate above the horror genre into its own little super-genre.
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.
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.