Fantasia Festival: I Am Not A Serial Killer (Canadian Premiere 2016)

Next up in Fantasia International Film Festival is an absolute treat. I Am Not a Serial Killer is a little independent film. What does make it even more special is that it was hosted by  Christopher Lloyd. Are we even surprised at this point? The roster at the 20th annual Fantasia Festival has been incredible and the last comment from the audience during the Q&A wraps it up perfectly. When we think back of Christopher Lloyd’s career in over 200 movies, a lot of those roles have never been attempted again and he is irreplaceable.

Fantasia Festival

Christopher Lloyd deserved the standing ovation he got and the feeling in the theatre of hearing him talk about his career was enlightening. After so many roles, we can still hear how grateful he was for each role that he has taken on.

I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)

I am not a serial killer

Director: Billy O’Brien

Cast: Christopher Lloyd, Max Records, Laura Fraser, Karl Geary

In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.-IMDB

I Am Not A Serial Killer is an adaptation from a series of novels by Dan Wells (one that I don’t know much about before).  However, it has a really intriguing premise. Our main character is John, played by Max Records. If that name rings a bell but you can’t pinpoint him, he was the little boy in Where the Wild Things Are. In many ways, I Am Not A Serial Killer is a character study. We learn about John (Max Records) and on the other side, we learn about his neighbor Mr. Crowley, played by Christopher Lloyd through his observations. At the same time, this movie is also an extremely slow movie. It takes its time to set up, execute and build everything it needs for us to connect with these characters. At all times, there is a sense of uneasy even under its bizarre humor. One of the most notable parts of the movie in the opening was the music: something like rock and alternative or whatnot. During different parts of the movie, it also cues in and then we mix it with a lot of silent moments.

I am not a serial killer

 I Am Not A Serial Killer has a small cast. In fact, the other players such as Laura Fraser who plays the mother and Karl Geary who plays the psychiatrist is there but never enough to take away from the main journey of John Cleaver played by Max Records. It is amazing to see that the young adult that Max Records has become and how his acting has matured as well. His performance in Where the Wild Things Are was quite enjoyable. In this one, it is a completely different beast. One that probably would be hard to imagine. In many ways, John Cleaver is like a normal teenager except right from the first scene, we already realize that his is fighting a battle against an obsession with death. It isn’t his death but rather one where he stops himself from the desire to kill. His psychiatrist early in the movie in one of the sessions says that he has the predictors of being a serial killer, something like a diagnosed sociopath or something along those lines. Can you even imagine what it is like to fight the thought of being a serial killer, trying every day to be a nice person and feeling like you have no feelings? In fact, Max Records does a great performance in showing the struggle. His performance doesn’t end there because he soon learns that his neighbor might be a serial killer and wholeheartedly sets out to stop him. Can you see the conflict in his character already? However serious this movie does become, it never forgets to put in these random humor areas. One of the best is when John Cleaver explains why he compliments and smiles to a bully at a party. It is funny and creepy all at the same time.

Christopher Lloyd

The neighbor Mr. Crowley is played by Christopher Lloyd. His character shows that people have different layers, whether its physically or mentally. On the outside, Mr Crowley is a silly man that is completely in love. He is the sweet grandfather that still does all the gestures. However, he holds a deep secret and we soon learn that he is a serial killer and causing a havoc in the small town that hasn’t seen such frequent killings ever. No one knows who he is except John but they also have a good relationship. Mr. Crowley’s character is learned through the eyes of John Cleaver. We see what he does and his personality and the conversations they have in different scenes. Just like Max Record’s character is conflicting, Mr. Crowley’s also is. In fact, perhaps there is some kind of parallel meant to be created.

I am not a serial killer

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a movie that will be interpreted differently to many. In fact, it is a slow paced movie. Some might not have the patience to see what happens. The ending itself is a shocking one. It turns the movie around. Although it never is talked about explicitly, as the audience, we get to see how both of these characters are quite similar but also opposite. We actually might catch the nuances of their characters even before they realize it in the movie. Especially as we watch John Cleaver’s character struggle, in many ways, we might ask ourselves why he cares so much to stop the killer, isn’t that feelings or is it to fulfill his obsession with death? The main question that will keep the audience intrigued is the clever pacing of never quite letting us in on the secret and revealing anyone’s intentions. We keeping doubting whether there is a danger.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a serious movie injected with dark humor. It has great performances all around specifically with Max Records and Christopher Lloyd. The setting definitely emphasizes the isolation. It is for those ready to study and follow a character as it develops throughout the story and takes us for a dangerous adventure of following a killer, one that no one would suspect is any danger. This may be the hidden gem of 2016.

Anastasia (1997)

Time to revisit childhood favorites! I’m not going to lie. It might be a little deliberate to have chosen Anastasia since Netflix is doing “A” titles. Consider it a double feature in a way, especially since Anastasia is currently on Netflix (in Canada). Its also a good choice because I need to watch good movies also and not always average movies. It keeps the moral high and motivation even higher. So I’m going to try from now on. When the week is a little more quiet, I’ll work in another movie, hopefully with the same letter title as the Netflix that week. Summer is around the corner so I usually rest up in June to prepare for all the movie reviews in Fantasia Festival in mid-July.

Enough rambling! Let’s revisit Anastasia! 🙂

Anastasia (1997)
Anastasia

Director: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman

Voice cast:  Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Kelsey Grammar, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury

The last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, while the undead Rasputin seeks her death.-IMDB

Don Bluth does have quite the magic. When I watched all these animated films when I was a kid or just younger, I never knew much about who directed and voice casts and all that stuff.  Now that I’ve been in the movie blogger world, I know better. Certain names just seem to be the key behind a lot of movies. I never feel like Anastasia is appreciated or talked about as much as it should be. Fact is, Anastasia is really pretty and what shocked me even more is that its not from the powerhouses now. This is a Fox Animation Studios film. If you even look at the voice cast, there is quite a bit of amazing talent here. It even turns out that I’m doing a back to back John Cusack movie, unexpectedly. Much of Anastasia has to go to the beautiful animation and the fantastic music. I may have not seen this movie in forever, probably more than ten years, but I always hum Once Upon a December in sporadic moments. Of course, the whole soundtrack is quite memorable.

I probably should have reviewed Anastasia ages ago because I’ve always wanted to look at ALL of Meg Ryan’s movies and that project and even thought of it has faded away but I do still love Meg Ryan and her movies quite a bit. She voices Anastasia and she is so great in bringing to life our main character here. Anastasia is feisty and tough if not slightly naive also but she yearns to find her family but who knew that things would work out unexpectedly. She not only finds her family but also meets an unexpected guy who is flawed but also has his own secret.

Voicing Dimitri, the guy that Anastasia meets, is John Cusack. I’m going to be honest that I never acknowledged that he voiced this character.  While I have a lot of appreciation for his acting, I still have a lot to learn about the movies he has been in. But, I do like his voice as Dimitri. It carries a cunning but still very sweet character.  However, I do love Kelsey Grammar as Vlad quite a bit also. Vlad is such a charming and funny character, especially his obsession with Pooka. The cutest element of the entire film is Pooka. I guess dogs whether in real life or animated still are just uber adorable regardless.

Anastasia

 In any animated film, there’s always some villain and here we have Rasputin, voiced by Christopher Lloyd. While he is evil, he holds a comical value that is suitable for kids to watch. I’m not sure how young it would be suitable for but Rasputin is generically evil but still manages to make me laugh. Plus, he is literally falling apart and with the interaction he has with Bartok, his somewhat faithful bat, voiced by Hank Azaria, it becomes not scary but simply entertaining. Rasputin’s mishaps is what I looked forward to the whole time.  While, Bartok was really just a background character that made witty reactions as the comic relief. Hank Azaria does have a great talent in voices and here he demonstrates it yet again.

Anastasia

Overall, Anastasia may almost be 20 years old but it still holds the charm with enchanting music and charming characters voiced by a wonderful cast. Meg Ryan and John Cusack does a fine job as the leads but Christopher Lloyd makes a comical villain and Hank Azaria does a great silly sidekick. It helps that they added in an uber cute dog Pooka to follow them on their journey. A must-watch animated film! I still love it every bit as much as when I first saw it! 🙂

Before we leave, its important to add in a song (or two) from the movie!

Have you seen Anastasia?

Double Feature: Bloody Mary (2011) & Flakes (2007)

I’m sorry for the delay in the review for The Shining. Its always hard to write up for something so iconic. Its probably why I’ve never reviewed say, The Godfather. Still, its a lot of knowing how to word how I felt about it. I promise that it’ll go up tomorrow afternoon 🙂 So look for that The Shining review!

In the meantime, a few Netflix movies are about to expire on November 9th so I decided to give them a watch. For the most part, I’m keeping myself entertained with TV and I’m thinking of doing a little weekly recap on what I’m up to with that instead of always putting it in the Weekly Adventures. 🙂

Between making decisions of what my characters in the novel do next and the structure of it all, it doesn’t leave much time for decision making for the blog.  I’m trying to keep up with everything and this week will be quite eventful but we’ll see how I change it up for next week to make it all work out 😉

Without any delay, lets check these two movies out!

BLOODY MARY *3D* (2011)

bloody mary 3d
*Its Netflix, there is no 3D version just like Piranha DD was not 3DD

Director: Charlie Vaughn

Cast: Veronica Ricci, Derek Jameson, Alena Savostikova, Bear Badeaux

Mary Worth is murdered brutally by her religious husband, Matt Elias many years ago (IMDB says a hundred, the movie doesn’t say).  Before she died, she places a curse on him and his descendents.  In the present, during a music video shoot, Mary is accidentally released and she starts her seductive and manipulative ways to kill the present day Matt Elias, the star of the video and a rising rock star.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary is full of Veronica Ricci dressed in skimpy clothes or just nakedness.  How they revive Bloody Mary is pretty much a rip-off of Candyman.  The acting is terrible and worthy of a lot of eye-rolling.  The story is pretty bland and boring.  I actually put it as background noise because I didn’t even really want to see the kills because they weren’t that great either.  Its obvious that its extremely low-budget.  The only thing good, despite the bad acting was that Derek Jameson is a rather decent looking man. His character isn’t really all that good though so it was pretty ridiculous.

I don’t even want to waste any more time on this. Anyone wants this Bloody Mary thing for the next Shitfest.  Its promise you its perfect for it 🙂

FLAKES (2007)

FLAKES 2007

Director: Michael Lehmann

Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Aaron Stanford, Ryan Donowho, Christopher Lloyd, Keir O’Donnell, Izabella Miko

Neal (Aaron Stanford) is an aspiring musician in the works to making his first album while managing a local friendly cereal bar called Flakes.  His girlfriend, Miss Pussy Katz (Zooey Deschanel) is an aspiring artist hoping that she can have her name known.  However, she wants their plans to not just be dreams and tries to convince Neal to take a break from the cereal bar to focus on finishing up his album. At the same time, their concept is stolen when another cereal bar owned by Stuart (Keir O’Donnell) opens up right across the street.

flakes

Flakes is a cute and awkward little movie about to two creative people who need to find a balance between what is a job and finding their career.  The concept of the whole cereal bar thing was really awesome.  I mean, its really cool because I’d think that if I saw one of these, I’d sit down and eat, provided they had lactose-free milk.  Its pretty interesting the whole long time cereal.  Although, I just always wonder if cereals have expiration date and all.  Health precautions, right? Putting some of the things that didn’t really make sense to me aside, the story was a little predictable and it wasn’t all that special but the characters were.

I love Zooey Deschanel and she’s always charming and a-dork-able to watch on screen.  Other than Christopher Lloyd as the owner of Flakes, Willie, who was pretty entertaining to watch do his thing. How do you beat the role in Back to the Future, right? But still, he’s fun to watch.  Aaron Stanford as Neal Downs was okay.  There is an interesting chemistry going on between Neal and Pussy Katz. You can feel the tension but the care between the two.  It shows how much they love each other.  Even though Pussy Katz does try to play destruction, I just can’t hate her because she really was just looking out for Neal.

Character-wise this was good and cute and fun.  The story wasn’t anything special other than the whole cereal bar thing.  Does it actually exist somewhere? Overall, its pretty average.  I wouldn’t mind sitting down and watching it again but I probably also won’t remember watching this one a few weeks later.

Have you either of these? I sure hope you didn’t waste your time on Bloody Mary but if you did and you want to share hate (or possibly love, because we all have different tastes), then go for it in the comments.  Love you hear what you thought! 🙂