#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.
#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.
#FantasticFest Day 2 Reactions – #ColourOutofSpace, Happy Face, The Black Pit of Dr. M, The Death of Dick Long
The Black Pit of Dr. M (★★1/2)
A Mexican horror film from 1959 akin to the old Universal monster movies. “The Black Pit of Dr. M” has no big selling point really, a part from being a well-made horror film of its era.
What shocked me the most was the attention to story and detail that many monster movies of that era neglected. Some shots reminded me of shots in “Citizen Kane.” It was expertly made and I’m glad to have experienced it.
Happy Face (★★)
“Happy Face” has me torn. I’m so glad a film like this exists. Director Alexandre Franchi (Wild Hunt) was in attendance and spoke after in his Q& A how the script was modified throughout production to adjust to the real-life stories of the characters.
All characters and actors in real life, struggle with different facial abnormalities. It’s a film that let’s you take a harder look at beauty and a nuanced look at the human condition. Something about the overall pace though didn’t sit right with me. It felt like it went on a tad too long, and the unfortunate side of the script changes left some of the subplots feeling detached.
The Death of Dick Long (★★1/2)
Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man) directs quite a film here. He was in attendance along with Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar). This film takes you on quite a ride – an unexpected one too.
Unfortunately its peak (film I can’t reveal too much of the plot too without spoiling) so I won’t. I enjoyed it so much. The blend of comedy/drama was exquisite even has things took a sharp turn in the second half. I heard a range of reactions for this one, so it will be divisive, but definitely give it a try.
The Colour of Space (★★★)
Probably my favorite of the festival so far. Another independent film starring Nicolas Cage that deals with something out of this world. Don’t worry, he goes full Cage often, but the overall story (inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s book) is handled with such grace.
What sold me on it was the sheer imagery. The practical, organic effects, the music, the mood. This was an incredible, yet disturbing experience that I’ll remember for some time.
Jojo Rabbit (★★1/2)
There were moments in this film that I felt heavy weight. Moments that’ll sit with me for some time. I remember smiling and being shocked often simultaneously. Yet, when the curtains came up I felt, well, nothing.
Jojo Rabbit is a solid Love vs. Hate film that brushes up with some real complex themes. When things start looking up for Jojo – his reality hits him and it hits him hard. The juxtaposition between the childlike innocence and Naziism is where this film soars. I tweeted shortly after that there were “moments” of brilliance, but they are shrouded in the cliche.
Tammy and the T-Rex (Gore Cut) (★★)
Yes, I knew about this film coming in, but had never seen the originally released PG-13 version. The movie was absolutely ridiculous and I found myself cackling quite a bit. About halfway into the movie I started feeling more exhausted – like a sense that I got the joke, and we’re just pressing now.
What helped bring me back was the absurd filmmaking-moments. It was definitely of its era (with homophobic jokes/slurs that got quite the groans out of our theater), but all-in-all it was a pleasant time. A celebration of B-movies in the 90s.
The Happiness of the Katakuris (1/2)
Some people love the work of Takashi Miike (13 Assassins, Audition), who was in attendance here. I haven’t seen any of his films until this one and…. I didn’t like it.
I’ve heard fantastic things about his other films, but this film felt like a student film full of oddities put into a blender to create something off-putting for the sake of being off-putting. Was it original? Absolutely. But I left the theater simply thinking “Not for me, for someone, but not me”
Thanks for visiting my blog!
Looking forward to my first ever upper-tier film festival.
My plan is to write about EVERY movie I see and my experience along the way. I am on the flight to Austin, TX right now.