One week isn’t enough for Fantastic Fest! No, it’s a week and a bonus day. And good thing; I saw my favorite two movies of the fest on this last day.
After a week of being in a movie theater, and often getting about 3 hours sleep between the late showing and getting in the early morning ticket line, I started to get sick. A fistful of meds kept my sinuses in line till afterwards (I’m still suffering even now…)
14 Blades (8/10) – Donnie Yen stars in this period HK martial arts movie. It’s well done and showcases some of the Mongol type areas. Nothing too new and unique, but it was solidly executed – which made it better than the higher profile movies of the fest, True Legend and Legend of the Fist. Duty! Honor! Kung fu! All that good stuff. It has light supernatural elements; occasional wire-fu and one baddie has a cool “evade death blows and leave a garment hovering behind” ninja trick kind of thing.
Red Hill (8/10) – Ryan Kwanten from True Blood stars in an Aussie film by Patrick Hughes. It’s a constable’s first day on the job in a small outback town, Red Hill, when there’s a prison break and an infamous criminal from the town gets loose. The locals freak, and are sure he’s coming back… What could have been a straightforward slasher movie instead has a big twist, and the movie keeps tension without dragging. We were all pleasantly surprised by this one – it’s not great, but it’s quite good. [Side note – my gay friends that lust after Kwanten in his Jason Stackhouse role are concerned that he is not as dumb, and therefore not as adorable, in this part. Fair warning.]
13 Assassins (9/10) – Now that’s a movie! Takashi Miike gives us a samurai movie in the vein of Seven Samurai. There’s a bad noble who has the favor of the Shogun, and a bunch of samurai are recruited to take him out before he goes and plunges the entire country into chaos. The bad guy is Caligula bad, and the 13 samurai are cool – it’s hard to take a large cast like that and make them all distinct but they did a good job of that. The entire latter part of the film is the 13 taking on like 200 guys in a town they’ve turned into a kill zone. It is awesome.
Sound of Noise (9/10) – I didn’t know what to expect from this movie, but I heard from people that really liked it so I gave it a go. It’s a Swedish film about guerrilla musicians and the tone deaf cop from a famously musical family who’s after them. That description doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s quirky, fun, musical, dramatic, and more. I hope more people get a chance to see it. It gets my nod for best of the fest.
And that’s Fantastic Fest 2010! I’ll do a recap next, but there were a lot of movies and the vast majority were very good. I’ll be there next year, and since I managed to score a VIP badge I’ll be able to get some sleep!
Posted in talk
Tagged austin, fantastic fest, ff10, film, film festival, kung fu, movies, Oz, review, samurai, Swedish
Son of a bitch. I just wrote up a huge long post and WordPress ate it. Sorry, I’m not going to do it all again, here’s the highlights though.
Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (7/10)
- HK movie starring Andrew Lau
- Sequel to Fist of Fury (Bruce Lee) or its remake Fist of Legend (Jet Li)
- Starts off strong with kung fu WWII action scene
- Then goes noir with a lot of hanging around a nightclub unsubtly called “Casablanca”
- Masked avenger subplot a la Black Mask, but should have either been cut or gone into more, it was an odd thing to be a small sideline
- End fight scene in Japanese dojo a shout-out to earlier Fists movies, but wasn’t nearly as good
- Starts strong, then goes downhill
- S. Korean movie, didn’t know what to expect based on blurb and pic
- Self absorbed bitch Hae-won living in Seoul goes back to the island she grew up on, which has only about 9 souls living on it, eking out a 12th century subsistence lifestyle
- The men abuse, the old ladies enable, and the one woman friend of Hae-Won, Bok-Nam, and her daughter are the ones to take the brunt of it
- Hae-won keeps to her “not my problem” policy as bad things happen
- Slow build and then in the last act the payback begins
- Very well done movie, not a typical slasher/revenge movie, great indictment of those who stand by and won’t speak up when others are doing bad things
- Based on Warren Ellis graphic novel
- Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren are retired secret agents who get provoked by Karl Wagner et al. and have to swing back into action
- A straightforward but well done comedy actioner, much better than the “Expendables”/”A-Team” kind of crap we’ve gotten lately
- In theaters soon – heck, I may go see it again when it comes out
The Last Circus: Balada Triste (3/10)
- Strongly hyped by Harry Knowles (AICN founder, FF co-founder) in slavering terms
- Balada Triste = Sad Trumpet
- Spanish film by Alex de la Iglesia about a kid whose clown dad is killed in a battle during Spanish Civil War, which is fun
- Forget that and skip forward, now he’s a sad clown and working for a circus, he falls in love with a circus performer who has a violent happy clown boyfriend
- He gets his ass beat
- Both he and the other clown get all deformed and have Joker transformations
- They fight over the “sad strumpet” a lot and are all surreal
- I want to cut myself
- Some people justified the movie’s weaknesses because of its “compelling imagery” but just because you’re Spanish doesn’t mean you’re Guillermo del Toro
- Q&A indicates that Knowles loves this because of the comic book references
- Worst film I saw at the fest, agreement on that assessment from the people I was attending with
Posted in talk
Tagged austin, clowns, fantastic fest, ff10, film, film festival, kung fu, movies, red, revenge, review
This was Sunday, and I took off most of the day to go to an amusement park with my daughter; my company had rented out Six Flags Fiesta Texas for Family Day so it was too good to miss. But it’s Fantastic Fest, so even after a reasonably brutal day in the Texas sun it was back for a couple movies!
First I saw Primal (7/10), an “Ozploitation” movie in the vein of Cabin Fever, The Descent or The Ruin, where some college kids on a camping trip to look at cave paintings way out in the middle of nowhere, Australia run afoul of a… Well, we’ll call it a “disease,” that turns people into feral “fast zombie” style savages. This was decent; a simple premise but well done. There is almost a tentacle rape, and the heroine takes some good punches in the uterus. Good times. It wasn’t an exceptional movie but I thought it was an enjoyable representative of that “camping horror” genre.
Then I saw Gallants (5/10), a Hong Kong martial arts comedy. It was billed as “Cocoon with kung fu” because the protagonists are old, I guess. HK humor is admittedly a bit of a different beast from American humor, but I didn’t enjoy this movie all that much. The comedy was just goofy slapstick, the martial arts sequences weren’t all that good, and the melodrama was eye-rolling. The most memorable part for us was that the villains had an odd penchant for carrying man-purses (much like Elijah Woods, who attended a lot of Fantastic Fest). I suspect you are supposed to like this because the old guys are huge kung fu movie stars from the old days. But, no.
Only two movies on Day Four, but I crank it back up into overdrive in Day Five!
Posted in talk
Tagged austin, fantastic fest, ff10, film, film festival, HK, horror, kung fu, movies, Oz, review