Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top 5 Films From Fantastic Fest, As Reported On By Our Newest Contributor

Sadly, it’s not Eric Motherfucking Northman.  Er… Umm… I mean happily, it’s not Eric Motherfucking Northman. I guess.

The distaff half of this picture goes by the handle Artichoked and she came to our attention via the Internet’s Turnpike Men’s Room otherwise known as Twitter.  She’s sharp, witty, vulgar, and most importantly thinks that Goose & I hang the moon, whatever the hell that means.

After the jump, you can find out all about the lady and her trip to Fantastic Fest, the “largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world.”

First the dust jacket:

Iʼm a native cowgirl. Iʼve always had a red hat & boots but I stopped flashing my matching ruffled panties last year (okay fine, sometimes when thereʼs beer & karaoke involved). I speak French and love foreign cinema but still insist on quoting The Big Lebowski whenever possible. My English degree only comes in handy for thank you notes & Twitter. If dreams do come true, Iʼll eventually live at Grey Gardens with my mom.

And now, the prose:

When I first went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show in high school, I clearly remember an oddly dressed person coming up to me and my group of friends and asking “Are any of you virgins?” At that moment I knew I was entering something scary and wonderful and different than anything I had ever experienced before. Fantastic Fest, an eight-day festival of sci-fi, horror, fantasy and action movies from around the world, did not have any such initiation into its amazingness, but when I heard the crowd go nuts at my first screening, I knew that week would be an experience to rival my RHPS cherry popping.

More than 100 films were shown during Fantastic Fest 2009. The Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar screened the majority of these films, with a couple of other theaters picking up the slack. The Drafthouse gets raves from me just for the fact alone that food and beer (did you hear that...BEER!) is served to you at your seat in every movie. Why didnʼt anyone think of this before? Did I mention Austin also has a place that delivers cookies to your house? No, you canʼt move here. Weʼre already full of awesome.

So, out of these 100+ movies, I saw 30. I know, itʼs a good-but-not-great ratio. If you noted my enthusiasm for beer above, you understand why the fatigue set in after my 3rd or 4th movie of the day. I could recap all 30 for you, and indeed they were all special and interesting in their own way, but instead Iʼll just give you my top 5 and encourage you to come visit me in Austin next year so you can see for yourself just how fantastic this festival really is.

1) Antichrist (dir. Lars Von Trier)

A haunting depiction of a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) dealing with the death of their child by retreating to a cabin in the woods. Like a thick scab, it gets increasingly painful as you pick at the layers of this film. A raw and beautiful movie that will stay with you forever.

2) Down Terrace (dir. Ben Wheatley)

A British dark comedy with actors youʼll recognize from Spaced and other popular BBC shows. This movie is everything Quentin Tarantino films try but fail to achieve: the perfect mix of unaffected wit, violence, and dysfunction. 

3) A Town Called Panic (dirs. Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar)

This zany Belgium stop-motion animation gem is delightful in every way possible. The adventures of Horse, Indian, and Cowboy are hilariously chronicled in a madcap romp reminiscent of absolutely nothing youʼve ever seen before. The closest approximation is a Gumby episode on crank. 

4) The Revenant (dir. Kerry Prior)

Yes, I realize a zombie movie with a much larger budget and the word zombie in the title also debuted at Fantastic Fest, but I canʼt help but prefer this smaller scale movie for its great contribution to the genre. Who doesnʼt like zombie buddy comedies? You donʼt? Well, I donʼt know what to say to people like you. 

5) Paranormal Activity (dir. Oren Peli)

All I needed to hear was “bloodless ghost story” to pique my interest in this one, because those types of movies are few and far between, and letʼs face it, the ones that are out there are rarely very interesting. This is definitely the exception. I jumped out of my seat multiple times and left my light on ALL NIGHT. If you live in a place with strange noises, then Iʼm sure youʼll be able to relate.

(DONʼT WATCH THE TRAILER UNLESS YOU WANT SPOILERS!! I know, Iʼm a spoiler slut too, but seriously guys, itʼs better to see this one cold, trust me.)

As if screening all these great films (some of which havenʼt been released or picked up for distribution yet) wasnʼt enough, Fantastic Fest also gives you the chance to participate in hilarious/enlightening/awkward Q&A sessions with the directors, producers, actors, and special effects coordinators involved in a lot of the films. Alexander Skarsgard (Viking Eric from True Blood) made a brooding appearance during the Metropia Q&A. Sadly, Alex/Eric wore a jacket and jeans combo instead of his usual matching tracksuit. Iʼd be lying if I told you I wasnʼt a little disappointed to see him out of the tracksuit, but he more than made up for it by being such a doll to all his fans. There was a small but dedicated group of ladies (and 1 guy) around Alex/Eric after the movie.

While some women came prepared with their True Blood DVDs, I managed to at least snap an iPhone pic like the lazy fan that I am. The zombie godfather, George Romero, answered questions during the world premiere of his latest film, Survival of the Dead. Romero was tired after traveling all day so the questions were actually before the film instead of after it. This meant they tended to be more technical in nature (what did you shoot on? type of thing...Red camera, in case youʼre interested) rather than specific to the movie. When asked how heʼd react to a zombie apocalypse, Romero replied “I guess Iʼll call my crew guys and get some cameras.”


The only Debbie Downer of Fantastic Fest is the cold, hard fact that you canʼt possibly see EVERYTHING. This means that in order to see Antichrist, I had to sacrifice Noburo
Iguchiʼs latest gorexplosion, RoboGeisha. What I did manage to catch, however, was Iguchi and the Drafthouse owner, Tim League, waddling around in sumo diapers with the bikini-clad, samurai sword-wielding Tengu Twins. Even more memorable was an improvisational “Dirty Diana” pole dance performed by RoboGeisha actress Cay Izumi during the MJ Dance Party, and we all know youʼre not going to get this kind of action at Cannes.




Also at Cannes, you won’t be seeing Yoshi Nishimura barbecuing beef w/flamethrower inside theater for Hard-Revenge Milly screening.



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