There is one thing that always draws me back to South Park and that is the unbridled authenticity of co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Have I always agreed with their social/political commentary? Nope, but I don’t take it too seriously when I don’t because, after all, it’s South Park.
In our current world we approach controversy and skeptical news events from the perspective of: “How do we, as a community, feel about this?” Outrage plagues social media, and outrage over that outrage plagues our day-to-day conversations.
For those who need a quick update and any and all things “Joker controversy” The Thrillist has a great breakdown here.
From the beginning the “Joker will inspire violence” controversy was silly and entirely manufactured. At any moment ANY work of art (Music, Movies, Shows) can influence violence. The thing is though it’s been disproven in study after study that the weight of that influence is minimal.
Art has been a scapegoat since paintings and books were considered demonic and often burnt. Again, influence and desensitization are applicable, but to a degree that is fractional. If someone is troubled enough to commit a massive attack of violence – some other more fucked up shit has happened to them in their life.
What a trip. There’s a certain familial feeling to this festival. It was great talking movies (using extreme geek language) to other writers, filmmakers etc.
Discussing in depth what and why these films made us feel the way they did. It was amazing. Here’s my Top 10 of the festival:
- The Lighthouse
- The True Adventures of Wolfboy
- Ride Your Wave
- Dogs Don’t Wear Pants
- Color Out of Space
- Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro
- Dolemite is My Name
In the Shadow of the Moon
The Death of Dick Long
Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro (★★★)
What a well-directed documentary. It’s focused and objective with Vampiro and its other characters. Great camerawork throughout and they chose the right times to have people mic’d up. A big part of a character-documentary is gathering the archive photos, videos, the talking heads. But where many docs fail is the storytelling in post-production. What could’ve been an artificial character doc is something that has enough humanity and self-destruction to make you weep. What a film.
Yes! I haven’t given a film four stars in so long, but Parasite absolutely deserves it and more. The commentary on class in South Korea is prevalent, a lot of us are aware of the struggles of ordinary people, but here it is illustrated and juxtaposed in an almost Hitchcock-ian way. It makes you question the very functionality of our world, our societies. All while being wildy entertaining and shocking in the process. I’ll have this film stuck in my head for sometime.
#FantasticFest Day 7 Reactions – #DogsDontWearPants, Wyrm, The True Adventures of Wolfboy, and Knives & Skin
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (★★★1/2)
There’s a reason this film won the festival. The encore screening was shown in 3 jam-packed theaters based on word-of-mouth. It’s more than what it looks like – a foreign dominatrix movie. It’s a love story that tackles themes of grief, intimacy, and sexuality. A barometer in how I measure a film’s worth has always been on its ability to show me a new perspective on something – this film did just that.
“Wyrm” was on the path to being one of my favorite films of the festival. It’s hysterical, and I laughed harder in this film than any other film I saw at Fantastic Fest. The concept is so unique and creativity, but it lost me after the midpoint. It’s a dramedy, so it has the grueling task of balancing those two genres. It shifts to full drama in the third act and there’s a significant imbalance that hinders the film. It’s so charming and the characters are so likable, that it almost gets away with it.
The True Adventures of Wolfboy (★★★1/2)
What an adventure. Instead of taking the “we’re all equal” route to external differences the film goes with “we are all unique” and celebrates these differences through a comic framework. It’s beautifully done with massive set-pieces. For something that feels so fantastical, it remains grounded in harsh realties. I fucking loved it. It gave me goosebumps and it’s the closest I’ve got to crying in a film since I was a child.
Knives & Skin (★)
A lot of people left this moving comparing it to “Twin Peaks.” I haven’t seen “Twin Peaks” so I’m not sure how the homage holds up. It’s not what you’d think. It’s poorly shot and edited, but on purpose? There are so many “so bad, it’s good” moments that had me laughing, but in between those moments I was just bored and agitated by the aggressive use of dissolves.
Memory: Origins of Alien (★★1/2)
A must-see documentary for any aspiring film fans. Much like the “Phil Tippet” documentary these films bring me back to a time, before my time really, when creatures and worlds were created, before the digital movement. I’ve always had a theory that the creatures we creatively imagine actually exist in other dimensions – they are hints, clues for what else is out there. The only thing that held me back from loving “Memory” was that I had studied these origins in film school years ago. If it were my first time hearing about where these ideas came from; I’d be floored.
The Wave (★★)
Extra points for ambition. “The Wave” is an original story that utilizes some gorgeous imagery. Justin Long acts his heart out – and he’s good! I was entertained throughout the short duration, but was left feeling empty after the fact. It’s an intriguing story with intriguing ideas that I wished explored those ideas with more depth.
The Lighthouse (★★★1/2)
What a wild ride. “The Lighthouse” is a film that basically locks us into a contained space with two individuals falling into insanity. Pattinson and Dafoe’s performances are both mentally and physically demanding and the fallout at times is tough to watch. The film is eerie and shot beautifully on 35mm film. Every frame is gorgeous, the sound work and music are eerie. It’s an atmosphere film that I won’t forget anytime soon.
What a technical achievement! Long sweeping camera motions. Long takes. Short takes. Precision editing and sound work. Jallikatu is a colossal achievement that brings hundreds of local extras into the fray. Everything feels natural from dialogue to lighting. The choreography of the entire film is some of the best I’ve seen.
“Vivarium” is entertaining with its high-key concept, but it’s just… not well made. The direction the film is heading is figured out early on. Eisenberg and Poots give it everything they got – and it’s entertaining to seem them spiral into insanity, but the mystery of their habitat is squandered and rushed to the finish.
In the Shadow of the Moon (★★★)
Like “Fractured” this film is another solid thriller/mystery from Netflix. It’s brilliant how the pieces fall together one scene at a time. It introduces some complex ideas and uses its science fiction elements sparingly. I love this trick because what we don’t see is left up to our imagination – and it’s bigger and more complex than the filmmakers would have bothered with. Boyd Holbrook puts everything into this performance – easily the best I’ve seen him. Like the days of “Frequency” the mystery-thriller is back and I love it.
Dolemite Is My Name (★★★)
I enjoyed this film so much. A lot of it follows the structure of a typical Ed Wood-style biopic. What makes it stand out are the performances of EVERY SINGLE ACTOR in this film. Everyone brings such passion to their roles. Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes are the stand-outs. It’s an incredible story of persistence that is well worth seeing when it drops on Netflix.
What a thrill. In many mystery-driven films like this you find yourself trying to predict the outcome. I was 50/50 the whole film and still surprised by every twist and turn. The clues hidden in the dialogue, background, and small details add such depth to the film, and replay value. It’s a textbook solid thriller that I highly recommend.
Ride Your Wave (★★★)
This film warmed my heart so much. It deals so delicately with themes of grief and perseverance. It was such a great release from all the dread and cryptic films I had seen at the festival. A solid story, with unique/interesting characters, that gave me goosebumps a number of times – something a film hasn’t done in quite some time.
#FantasticFest Day 3 Reactions – #TheLodge, The Whistlers, VFW, Phil Tippet: Mad Dreams and Monsterd
The Lodge (★★★)
I liked “The Lodge” a lot, but more so after simmering with it for a bit. It’s slow, it’s dreary, and operates in a bleak world. There are plot turns that I couldn’t quite commit too, but this is the kind of film that creates a mood and an atmosphere and it achieved that in many ways.
The Whistlers (★★1/2)
“The Whistlers” is a solid thriller. It has French New Wave vibes and sprinkles in some light humor throughout. One thing that really separates it from the dozens of films like it is the way it is put together. How we learn so much about each character without separating ourself from the core plot.
Phil Tippet: Mad Dreams and Monsters (★1/2)
I love a solid documentary about filmmaking, but this one is as textbook as they come. If you already have an idea of Phil Tippet’s massive talent and influence in stop-motion animation, then you’re just getting refresher course. The movie is solid and a good way to introduce those non-converted to the man’s absurd talents, but it is void of depth.
The first true bust of the festival for me. “VFW” wallows in its grainy, blood-soaked grindhouse style, but shoots itself in the foot with choppy editing and dark filmmaking. It’s part of the style, I get it, but it’s nearly impossible to enjoy the gore or the action when the camera cuts every second and you can barely see what’s on screen in the first place.