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Entries in Fantasia Film Festival (7)

Wednesday
Sep112019

Get Yourself Chained For Life

by Jason Adams

There is a fascinating film opening in New York today and in L.A. on Friday which I feel the need to give y'all some heads-up on if you're unawares -- Chained For Life stars Teeth (and It: Chapter 2!) actress Jess Weixler and Under the Skin actor Adam Pearson as a pair of actors who meet each other on the strange set of a surreal sorta horror film. She's the lovely leading lady, while he's the disfigured man in the shadows that's there to add that distinct touch of surreality that film-makers have been othering others with as long as there's been film.

From there in the grand tradition of movies-set-within-movies -- you could very much call this film Day For Night meets Freaks -- writer-director Aaron Schimberg dissolves the barriers between the two, tackling the heady subject of what we as an audience want to look at, why we're conditioned in that way, and ways around to something better.

If that sounds didactic it's not -- it's also a hypnotic mystery full of spell-binding imagery and suprising sweetness. I reviewed the film in more depth last year when it screened at the Fantasia Fest last July, you can read it here, but here's a choice bit:

"This is one-of-a-kind mad scientist movie-making stuff, riveting in ways I hardly expected going in - it unfolds itself, paper cranes and finger puppets, nesting dolls dissolving from one to the under to the under. It is, quite frankly, a lovely thing to behold."

If you're in New York Schimberg will be doing Q&As at screenings of the film tonight and tomorrow at the IFC Center -- then it hits the Nuart in L.A. Friday and they're promising a national roll-out after that, so stay tuned. I very much recommend checking this one out.

Wednesday
Aug082018

Bye, Fantasia

by Jason Adams

The 2018 edition of the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal just finished its three-week run on August 2nd, and yours truly covered it here from my perch six hundred whole kilometers away thanks to the wonders of the internet and the great generosity of the fest's programmers. We introduced the fest right here, listing what looked of interest. And now down below here's a round-up of what we eventually reviewed (you can click on the film titles to read each review):

Fleuve Noir -- Vincent Cassel and Romain Duris circle each other suspiciously (with sexy results!) in this off-beat crime-thriller from Julia director Erick Zonca

Knuckleball -- A kid fights off home invaders in a super dark twist on Home Alone 

Blue My Mind -- Add mermaid to the list of movie puberty hells getting the updated girlhood spin in this beautifully acted and photographed Swiss flick

Cold Skin -- Lovecraft meets Old-timey Lighthouse Keeper Sweater Porn

Chained For Life -- This movie (within a movie) starring Jess Weixler about our culture of beauty fetishization is a real trip and a half

Cam -- Madeline Brewer from The Handmaid's Tale proves she's no one-eyed fluke in this candy-colored Lynchian spin on online sex-work (PS Cam just got picked up for release this fall so stay tuned!)

Wednesday
Jul252018

Fantasia 2018: Fleuve Noir

by Jason Adams

There's a real effortfully cool 70s vibe to Fleuve Noir (aka Black Tide), the new crime thriller by Erick Zonca (his first movie since 2008's terrific Julia starring Tilda Swinton) - if you think Vincent Cassel might at some point sit in a seedy apartment and play some saxophone like he's Gene Hackman in The Conversation you wouldn't be straining nearly as hard as the movie is to make you think of that. Cassel, looking like a cigarette that gained sentience and put on an overcoat, plays Commandant Visconti, a detective (but don't call him a detective please!) on the case of a missing teenage boy...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul242018

Fantasia 2018: Cold Skin

by Jason Adams

The only child in me always dreams about and delights in films about people who've run away from the world of man to make a go of it by their lonesomes. They're duking it out with their own personal demons in the wilderness, of whatever sort, mano a mano. There's no greater fantasy of this sort than the Lighthouse Keeper. They wear thick-knit sweaters and write in their diaries and stare sadly into the distance at hella stormy seas - it's my fetish writ ten-fold. The old-timier the better - give me strange instruments and dials, knickers and elaborate mustaches, tweed piled to heaven, please and thank you.

Nobody tossed these fantasies into the abyss better than HP Lovecraft and Cold Skin, the new Lovecrafitan tale of terror from Frontier(s) and Hitman director Xavier Gens (it's actually based on a 2002 book by Albert Sanchez Pinol), is made of that same slippery stuff...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul212018

Fantasia 2018: Chained For Life

by Jason Adams

Somewhere between Francois Truffaut's Day For Night and Tod Browning's Freaks falls Chained For Life - a rag-tag group of actors (including the ever and always welcome Jess Weixler of Teeth fame) and crew assemble at a hotel turned plastic-surgery spa to shoot a strange little movie, and on the second day a gathering of differently abled persons of the sort that might have long ago populated a circus tent (a little person, a so-called "bearded lady," a giant, some conjoined twins, and most importantly Adam Pearson, the disfigured actor you oughta recognize from Under the Skin) show up to add surreality to the proceedings. 

Writer-director Aaron Schimberg is aware that in 2018 you can't get away with othering these people the way you once might have been able to though, so he goes meta about it. The film-within-the-film reveals itself as a Nazi-tinged rip-off of Browning's Freaks early on, while the day-to-day movie-shooting is all paper plates at the catering tent and make-up chair confessionals. Only slowly do the two halves begin to bleed together, and in the most unexpected ways at that...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul192018

Fantasia 2018: Blue My Mind

by Jason Adams

There's a whole lot going on in Mia's life. She's moved to a new town, which means a new school and trying to make new friends. She's just had her first period, and that's got her on edge. Oh and her toes have suddenly grown webbed together, and she's got these strange appetites making themselves known. 

Blue My Mind is just the latest in a long line of girls coming of age through sloppy and terrifying means - the lure of exploring budding female sexuality through the prism of the monstrous has always been with us, from Medusa's slithering wig to Simone Simon's poolside purr. What feels different now, with movies like this (written and directed by Lisa Brühlmann) or with Julia Ducournau's Raw last year, is that it's finally women who are making these movies...

Click to read more ...