Fantasia 2019: 1BR (World Premiere, 2019)

1BR (2019)

1BR

Director (and writer): David Marmor

Cast: Nicole Brydon Bloom, Alan Blumenfeld, Susan Davis, Naomi Grossman, Giles Matthey, Clayton Hoff, Taylor Nicholas, Earnestine Phillips, Celeste Sully

1BR is a 2019 American horror thriller about a girl who rents an apartment in a complex and unexpected things happen.

1BR is those kinds of horror films where its all about knowing as little as possible before starting the film up so that the film can show its cards one by one and retain its surprise factor. There’s a lot to like about 1BR and most of it dials down to the premise that builds from a girl who has a dream that she wants to pursue, works as a temp to support her living and has conflicts with her father.

Everything starts off when she surprisingly gets chosen out of many people during open house for an apartment complex to fill their vacancy. She soon learn that her conversation with the building manager and one of the guests ended up giving them the right impression. While her apartment seems great, there is a list of strict rules for the residents, the unit seems to have some serious plumbing issues and the other people living there range from friendly to downright stalker creepy and there is a very solid concept of encouraging to read The Power of Community. There’s more to this apartment complex and its one twist down crazy lane that just takes its audience on a ride through a bumpy and disturbing road.

Without revealing too much from 1BR, David Marmor’s directorial debut is a well-executed thrilling 90 minutes. While there are some horror tropes and some obvious little bits in the beginning, the psychological elements of this thriller is one that takes many unexpected twists and turns, some more than others. However, it has a lot to thank for not only the themes it talks about, and a well-paced script that keeps the audience guessing on whats going to happen next. His script doesn’t hold your hand but lets the story unfold little by little while choosing of L.A. as the location, where a lot of people go to pursue their dreams sometimes get lost and forgotten and where do you find the strength to fight for your life.

With creepy background music and sound effects and a great performance from a lot of the cast, especially the main actress Nicole Brydon Bloom as Sarah who delivers a great performance. Paired up by the charming neighbor performance of Brian played by Giles Matthey and building manager Jerry, played by Taylor Nichols, pushing the story forward. It breaks down some of the walls of the predictable turn of events and makes this movie unsettling and psychologically thrilling and probably think a little more about the next place you rent and the power of community.

You can catch the encore presentation of it at Fantasia Intermational Film Festival on July 22 at 11:45am at the Salle J.A. De Seve.

Fantasia 2019: The Wonderland (2019)

The Wonderland (Birthday Wonderland, 2019)

Birthday Wonderland

Director: Keiichi Hara

Voice Cast: Mayu Matsuoka, Anne Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Masachika Ichimura, Nao Toyama, Keiji Fujiwara, Akiko Yajima

The Wonderland, originally titled Birthday Wonderland, is a 2019 Japanese animated film about a girl who goes to pick up her birthday gift at her aunt’s store and ends up unlocking the portal to the world beyond and is tasked with being the savior of this mirror world.

Right from its beginning, The Wonderful is all about its vibrant and colorful background and its relaxing everyday. Akane’s biggest problem was being accepted at school by her classmates doing the most mundane things like wearing a hairpin. For her, this made her life difficult and everyone else’s hard. Its a good way to start the movie especially as this foundation takes us into the mirror world called World Beyond and she has now been adorned with a Momentum Anchor that makes her move forward even when she doesn’t want to and seen as the Goddess of the Green Wind, the person rumored decades ago that will save them from a major crisis by curing the Prince.

Japanese animation has always seem to flourish when it takes the environmental elements into their stories. For a film that focuses on the world beyond losing color as their main danger due to the lack of water, it still manages to keep it colorful and cute. To emphasize it, there are contrasts of dangerous enemies with dull metallic armor and black clothing with the bright colors used for everything surrounding the group heading towards the castle. While others have buffalo stampedes, The Wonderland has stampedes of huge fluffy sheep and then a scene of Akane and her aunt Chii, who joins into the journey, lying on them (a parallel of My Neighbor Totoro perhaps), and the journey continues into different environments that they go through filled with shades of red, pink, orange and many other colorful elements. There are so many details here and the little magical elements also add into the charm of the visuals especially in the landscape.

The characters also are quite charming, if not still pretty familiar in design. Akane and her aunt Chii create a contrast as well. While Akane needs the Momentum Anchor to move her forward to be more courageous facing different situations, Chii is more about embracing the adventure and being prepared and taking chances. Its this contrast that makes it funny and rather inspiring to watch as over the almost 2 hour film, Akane finds her strength and also embraces her ability to try and save the world because of seeing the beauty between this mirror world that had kept a more old-fashioned way of living in comparison to her reality of modern advanced technology. These two may bring a lot of joy to the film. In fact, the movie definitely falls into the cute elements more especially as the sidekicks are little humans who are a little silly but also very adorable.

Filled with talking cats, underwater aquariums and colorful environments all around, The Wonderland is exactly as its title implies. Even with the crisis that the world faces, it still manages to keep it light-hearted. The visuals and a sweeping soundtrack that sometimes matches to the sounds in the scene and other times, creating the environment for the scene adds a lot to a fairly generic story. Running at 115 minutes, it does feel like it drags a little in the middle part despite all the charming locations giving it a boost. The story could have been better executed as a whole but its cute and colorful and its hard to be a little enamored by it.

My Weekly Adventures: Fantasia Festival Begins!!!

Welcome to the next Adventures post! The last two weeks has been hectic to say the least. Oh boy, its hard to imagine we’re only a few days into the big festival here so its going to be quite a while before things get back to normal. Right now is still the transition phase or something in my mind. Either way, there’s some little updates and some changes in projects to talk about here.

Canada Day Tarts

I debated on putting up the recipe by memory but there’s no way that I can replicate this since I did it by trial and error and just my instincts with one taste in the middle to adjust. The ingredients I used here were the basic except I did add a drizzle of honey on the top before popping it in the oven on each tart. I think it helped balance the tartness a little. Overall success 🙂

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon has come and gone. It was a hectic weekend and one that felt like I finally found my rhythm and everything was done efficiently. Things became more flexible to work with and it just felt more prepared in general. You can check out all the posts below:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Gaming Recap
Shopping Haul

Fantasia Film Festival 2019

After a bit of a media pass delay, since it wasn’t ready on Day 1, I ended up skipping my first movie and started the festival on Day 2. However, things did have a nice turn in the end so the movies so far watched are the following:

Little Monsters
Vivarium
Extreme Job
The Wonderland
Paradise Hills
1BR (Press screening…review up after world premiere)

I’ve never had the chance to make it to any press screenings in the past few years covering the festival so it was super awesome to do it, even if it was an early start to a Sunday morning but then I also got to check out the screening room and catch up on movies I didn’t get to see in their showings. Its definitely convenient especially since it opens up options to add some more movies to the already too long list.

Game Warp – Changes

Lots of changes these days. After some That Moment In change, Game Warp is only running on WordPress now. We have also decided to go to an audio format on Anchor. You can find us HERE.

We uploaded the last episode to go up for E3 Conference Recap. More episodes to come as we work out our schedule. Youtube will now be more of a supporting platform when gameplay is something we want to do or whatnot. While it won’t be as plentiful especially due to the festival season, I do still want to do some videos when I have time.

Gardening Update

After this picture, I’ve been working on getting rid of some of the grass and weeds growing around the plants. However, the vegetable garden is doing pretty well.

As is the flower garden, which was taken last week so the campanulas are now in bloom and things are really filling in the spaces, making it look full.

Cute Kitty Pic

cat

Thats it for this Adventures recap!
Are there any cool festivals going on near where you are?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Extreme Job (Geukhanjikeob, 2019)

Extreme Job (2019)

Extreme Job

Director: Byeong-heon Lee

Cast: Seung-ryong Ryu, Seon-kyu Jin, Lee Hanee, Dong-hwi Lee, Jin-hee Jang, Myeong Gong, Ha-kyu Shin, Jeong-se Oh, Eui-sung Kim

Extreme Job is a 2019 South Korean action comedy about a ragtag team of cops who take over a fried chicken restaurant as a front to do surveillance on a drug trafficker.

Right off the bat, Extreme Job sets itself out as a comedic act as this specially put together team goes on their mission which ends up in a disgrace. This first mission sets the comedic tone for the film throughout as it shows off each of the members and the type of cop they are. Upon their suspension, they eventually gets into the fried chicken business and it becomes apparent that what started out as a surveillance job takes a turn for the worse when they start taking the business seriously and the food becomes popular, drawing them too much attention. A lot of luck and coincidence leads this ragtag team to the finale.

Extreme Job might go by the numbers and is on rails for most of the film but what it grasps well is finding that right tone and committing to it on all levels. It gives its characters room to grow and each of them to take up their job while also seemingly, see them lose their path as the restaurant business becomes more profitable than their actual police job. In terms of pacing, Extreme Job starts and ends very strong: quick-paced and action-packed and humor all balanced and bundled together wonderfully. Unfortunately, the movie is on the lengthier side at almost 2 hours long and because of that, the middle act lacks a bit of action and involves more tedium (which probably could have been edited out to make it more tight-knit).

The charm of the movie does lie in its police squad. This ragtag 5 person team might seem clumsy and disgraceful and even a bit ridiculous. Most of the time, they are nonsensical however, the dynamic they have makes each of them fun to watch, especially because they form the basic team of having a leader, an oddball, a tough lady, a serious guy and the newbie. The most charming of this does go to the oddball Sergeant Ma who makes things incredibly hilarious with both his character physical appearance as well as his dialogue. His character makes the rest of the team be able to bounce off his humor and in turn also have a fun humorous element to a lot of scenes.

While a lot of Extreme Job feels fairly formulaic in terms of story flow, it does take a unique turn of events for its final act which gives the reveal of who the team actually is and why they were specially formed. Perhaps a slight spoiler but the final act also brings out the action element to the max as it involves a lot of strong action choreography paired up with an energy-packed background music to give it that extra boost.

More comedy than action, Extreme Job still manages to find its tone and its charm, making it a fun ride full of laughs, and making it easy to connect with these 5 underdog cops and rooting for them to win even if it feels unlikely right from the beginning. Not to mention, its fantastic food shots that will make you crave for some fried chicken after the movie ends. After watching it, its no surprise that Extreme Job has the second most tickets sold in its country’s history and on top of that, an American remake in the works starring Kevin Hart.

You can catch the second screening of Extreme Job at Fantasia Film Festival on July 31st at 3:05pm EST.

Fantasia Festival 2019: Vivarium (2019)

Vivarium (2019)

Vivarium

Director (and co-writer): Lorcan Finnegan

Cast: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris, Eanna Hardwicke, Senan Jennings

Vivarium is a 2019 science fiction thriller about a house-hunting couple ends up being shown to a home located in a labyrinth of a cookie cutter neighborhood and abandoned by the real estate agent with no way out.

Choosing to start the film on the note of baby birds being knocked out of their nests by a cuckoo bird trying to take over is an odd way and sets the tone for Vivarium and even the story concept. With only a general knowledge of the couple, Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg), mainly their careers and an idea of their compatibility together as two weirdos (as they call it), they set off to find their perfect home which leads them to discover the office of Yonder run by Martin (Jonathan Aris) who awkwardly gets the couple to go visit one of the houses. As they drive into the rows of green tinted houses, identical to each other, they get to number 9, not a starter house which includes a baby’s room. Not long after, Martin disappears and they can’t find their way out and a box arrives full of necessities and then another box arrives with a baby. Their task is to raise the baby and get released.

Vivarium is a slow-burn movie. Its weird and bizarre, making the couple who considered themselves weirdoes initially to really be the normal ones thrust into this deserted suburbia. If we look at it in three acts, the movie sets up its scenario fairly quickly. For that, it deserves credit for giving it that dark humor and a dose of oddness, furthered by the feeling of hopelessness. However, the movie might be using uniformity as the creepy environment factor however the only creepy thing about the second act is the timeline of the child they need the raise, which gives an idea of how long they’ve been trapped there as well as this child who has a creepy voice and likes to imitate them. That one tone of life and the routine lifestyle might instill fear for some but mostly, it felt a tad repetitive and dragged the story out longer than it needed to and only dropping little hints of change to sustain interest on the mystery of why they are there and who is this child. What does make it for a lot of the slowness in the second act is the final act that turns up the story quite a bit as things start unveiling and the one reveal is the most thrilling part of the movie as a whole.

The technicalities of this film is what makes it stand it. First, the most notable is the color palette and the location of having these identical houses paired with a quiet background, that emphasizes on the sounds. The green of the houses to the blue skies with the cloud-like clouds  makes it feel like a story book fantasy and in turn gives it a fake-ness. This makes it feel an obvious distance and abandonment and with that loneliness. At the same time, the emptiness of the location is further emphasized with the cinematography and how some shots are shown. There are some captivating shots looking down as they drive around this labyrinth of  houses, trying but not finding their way out. Then there are shots of pulling way to show distance and shots where the character is centered to show probably the control of the situation. There are lot of deeper messages being conveyed here. It gives the story its depth and its creepy moments. Its leaves a lot for interpretation on the fears of life, uniformity, the routine, homeownership, the family model, the concept of work and having the need to find purpose and something to do everyday.

Vivarium has a lot to thank for its small cast and both Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, especially the latter, that carries this film forward. Imogen Poots takes on the role of Gemma and she does it with so much heart. Even in some of the slow moments, the camera gives a lot of context on her emotions from her reactions to her facial expressions as she interacts with the boy and Tom. While Jesse Eisenberg has a less role as his character has some truly powerful moments and yet, the rest of the time, his character is affected a lot more by the situation that he is in. Especially worth a mention is the almost cameo role of Martin, played by Jonathan Aris which excels in its dark humor execution.

There’s a lot to appreciate in the craft of Vivarium. However, its not a film for everyone. It takes starts off very strong, lags in the center and then amps up in the final act with a lot of style. Its mostly of movie of moments and probably one that needs a few more viewings to capture its true depth and meanings.

Fantasia Festival 2019: Little Monsters (2019)

Little Monsters (2019)

little monsters

Director (and writer): Abe Forsythe

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Diesel La Torraca, Ava Caryofyllis, Kat Stewart, Marshall Napier, Charlie Whitley

Little Monsters is a 2019 Australian horror comedy-thriller that tells the story of a washed-up musician who ends up chaperoning his nephew’s class field trip in the heart to win the heart of the teacher however little do they know that, they end up driving into the heart of a zombie outbreak.

Between a lot of Taylor Swift‘s Shake It Off and a balance between humor and horror, Little Monsters is a horror comedy that does a lot right. It has to do with well-timed laughs and cleverly maneuvering its script between separating the reality into make believe where the kids are involved. Because the scope is fairly narrow and set mostly in one location, the Pleasant Valley Farm and despite the class of kindergarten children, the film focuses on a fairly small cast and all these elements do it a huge favor. It magnifies each character during the film to give it more space to develop and connect with. Every zombie movie gives its unique twist on the zombie trait (at least it tries), in order to make it stand out in a sea of endless zombie films and here, the reveal comes fairly late and yet, has so much charm to it.

A lot of Little Monsters is pulled together by the humor and how the characters deliver it. The definite star here is Lupita Nyong’o who is fabulously hilarious as a school teacher, Miss Caroline straddling the line between being a caring school teacher as she is sweet and gentle with her class of 5 year-olds no matter how docile or annoying they can be, but so fierce when things start to endanger them, best shown with one of the best scenes between her and Josh Gad‘s character, Teddy McGiggle. To the 5 year olds, this is all a pretense of a game in action and yet, the few children that have their focus all have the unique traits of different types of children in these situations which surprisingly, adds to the humor as the adults try to make sure that little make-believe stays alive.

Looking at the other roles, both Alexander England who plays Dave, the wash-up musician and nephew and Josh Gad’s role of Teddy McGiggle, a famous kid TV celebrity follow a very familiar character trajectory. Teddy McGiggle is a kid TV celebrity and with any rich celebrity is the human villain because of his selfishness and it becomes obvious where this arc will finally lead. As the other comedic role here that mostly delivers, there is one or two moments that the humor he delivers goes a little over the top (but humor is subjective so it may change to the viewer and how you accept Josh Gad’s humor in the first place). Dave is also quite comedic however, his story is more on the touching side. There are some slower moments that might feel a little misplaced and achieve the one goal to pull Dave and Miss Caroline. While unnecessary, it does help to give the character some depth.

Overall, Little Monsters is a great horror comedy. Its funny with some tense moments. There are some flaws but its easy to overlook them because of the overall film’s charm. Lupita Nyong’o’s character gives it a lot of life as she shines being both fierce and caring to spin a tale for her class. The script is well-written and pulls all the elements together with clever writing using music as a fantastic medium of diversion. The three adult characters also creates a balance for where they stand on the zombie outbreak spectrum. As the audience, the movie as a whole allows us to see things that the main characters don’t see especially the outside dangers from worried parents to how the army plans on attacking the situation, making it feel more urgent than the characters feel for the unknown impending danger. Its hard to call a zombie film, even one structured as a horror comedy, touching but somehow, Little Monsters subconsciously does all that.