Fantasia Festival 2019: Shorts

Fantasia Festival 2019 is over but as per usual, there were a lot of shorts showcased whether before feature film screenings (which is where all of these two segments of shorts were seen) or as a compilation (which I missed all of due to schedule conflicts). Regardless, there’s a lot of interesting selections to say the least.

Below are six shorts that I saw as opening during screenings.

Bar Fight (World Premiere, 2019)

Bar Fight

Director (and writer): Benjamin R. Moody

Cast: Aaron D. Alexander, Donald Brooks, Hector Gonzales, Nelson Nathaniel

When a machete-wielding cult walks into a bar, one bartender is in for the longest night of his life. – IMDB

Paired with The Prey (review) as a the opening short film, Bar Fight is 5 minutes of non-stop action. The premise of the story makes it feel like the world has fallen apart due to this cult as the constant pounding on the door above ends up with three thugs come into the bar. While the bar owner seems meek at first, he quickly fights his way brutally out of the situation. From the series of moves to how the short is done, its an impressive 5 minutes that is very entertaining to watch especially because its in a closed off space resulting in close hand to hand battles with some limited choices in weapons as defense and combat.

Bedtime Story (El Cuento, 2019)

El Cuento

Director (and writer): Lucas Paulino & Angel Torres

Cast: Nerea Barros, Miguel Galbin, Ismael Palacios, Alberto Sanchez

Opening for The Wretched (review) is this Spanish horror short about a family of three being observed by a witch living in an apartment across the street. As the kids settle into to bed, their mother comes in to tell them a bedtime story except it seems very similar to their current situation and bigger brother Lucas who is sleeping on the top bunk doesn’t know whether to look or not at who is telling the story.

No doubt that Spanish horror does really well. In the case of Bedtime Story, its satisfying horror experience. How its filmed and gloomy and darkness of the nighttime setup along with the mom’s unsettling behavior gives it a nice tinge of horror that blends well together. The whole element of being watched also is done very well with a decent twist at the end. Its a fairly complete horror experience for a short film.

Le Blizzard (2019)

le blizzard

Director (and writer): Alvaro Rodriguez Areny

Cast: Aida Folch

Le Blizzard is a 2018 horror short that paired with The Father’s Shadow (review) which tells the story of a woman waking up in the middle of World War II in a blizzard and goes looking for her daughter that has separated from her in the forest. Le Blizzard is not a bad concept to start with. It just feels a bit dragged out because it turns around in a circle. Somehow, it does have a fairly bizarre turn in events and has something of a loop element to it. There is an attempt of adding in a twist in there which does give it some intrigue but its an odd one.

Right Place, Wrong Tim (2018)

Right Place Wrong Tim

Director: Eros Vlahos

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Adam Buxton, Ella Purnell

A 90’s British sitcom is taken over by clones of the lead actor and descends into chaos. – IMDB

Perfectly paired with Daniel Isn’t Real (review), Right Place Wrong Tim is a horror comedy where a on-screen . Its bloody and funny and so over the top that it just fits together in the oddest way and still works. It also lingers on the part of how much of it is reality and how much of it is part of the effects of the show so the audience is still laughing as the scene gets more and more bloody and absurd and yet that just adds to the humor. Of course, this type of humor might be very unique to its audience and might not land for everyone but perhaps its the charm and talent of Asa Butterfield that I’d always enjoyed his acting and roles that this one worked for myself.

Lone Wolf (2019)

Lone Wolf

Director (and writer): January Jones

Cast: Joanne Booth, Charlotte Cook, Karla Hillam, Mackenzie Mazur, Izabella Measham-Park, Freya Van Dyke-Goodman

Opening for Riot Girls screening (review), Lone Wolf is a 2019 Australian horror short about a 15 year old social misfit called Sam who gets invited to a classmate Willow’s party and tries to blend in with her new classmates who happen to be a bunch of mean girls who are Willow’s best friends. However, she starts to go through some kind of inexplicable change and it just starts going out of control. Without ruining anything, that’s the best that I have for this short. Its tries to make fun a little of the situation because its really odd what happens. Sam’s transformation from a little decision of being accepted changes her as well. There’s not a ton to say about this. Its fairly on rails as to how the story progresses with what she gets made fun of as well as who comes to her defense and then we get a twist which explains her transformation. Lone Wolf tackles one of the horror subgenres that I feel is still fairly underused with a lot of potential to explore further so that was a great angle.

Cliché (2018)

Cliche

Director (and writer): Miguel De Plante

Cast: Anne-Justine Guestier, Lilie-Rachel Morin, Josian Neveu

Three young friends, a dark cabin, a wandering killer… You think you’ve already seen this movie ? You’re probably right… – Fantasia Festival

Cliché was the opening short for Aquaslash (review). I’m a huge fan of any concept that can make fun of itself. There’s a lot of really absurd moments here and it feels like the goal is to be over the top in presenting all the cliché moments in horror films and diving into those horror tropes that usually serious horror films would be criticized. Its not meant to be taken seriously and because of that, it dives into a lot of fun territory. It has some ridiculous ideas but then also embraces the idea of the final girl and challenging breaking away from the cliché moment. Its pretty silly and the comedy might not work for everyone but its not a bad guilty pleasure idea and really suitable for a short film.

That’s it for these 6 Fantasia Shorts!
A bit heavy and probably should have broken into two posts, but its what it is.

Thoughts? Which appeals to you more?

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Fantasia Festival 2019: Riot Girls (2019)

Riot Girls (2019)

Riot Girls

Director: Jovanka Vuckovic

Cast: Madison Iseman, Paloma Kwiatkowski, Alexandre Bourgeois, Munro Chambers, Ajay Friese, Evan Marsh, Jenny Raven

Riot Girls is a 2019 Canadian action coming of age story where adults have been wiped out by a mysterious disease leaving two groups of kids in one area to fight against each other over territory, resources and survival.

Set in an alternate 1995, it zeros in on a town now divided by West and East side, named exactly as that, Westsiders and Eastsiders respectively, these two groups are run very different. The Eastsiders are run by big brother Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois) along with his girlfriend and younger sister Nat (Madison Iseman) and her girlfriend Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski). When Jack goes for a resource run and ends up saving Westsiders escapee Sony (Ajay Friese) and consequently, taken by the Westsiders, Nat, Scratch and Sony set out to rescue him from the Westsiders turf in the center of operations at a high school from the hands of jock leader Jeremy (Munro Chambers).

Right off the bat, there is a lot of style in the execution. Riot Girls uses a comic strip set up to present its story. Using this, it also helps with scene transitions and location swaps as well as switching the narratives from one side to the other in a fluid way. There’s a lot of charm in using this form of execution but also helps keep the tone in check of having something a little wild and fun but also comedic and cool. The cool punk elements are elevated because of the hard rock soundtrack that plays in its scenes especially the chase scenes or fighting scenes. As a fun little trivia, the school used as the base for Westsiders is also where Degrassi: The Next Generation was filmed, so a little throwback of familiarity as well for Munro Chambers who is the baddie in here.

Talking about the story itself, there is a gnawing feeling that a film called Riot Girls lacks a little of the girls element at first. It spends a lot of time in the first act following Jack and his kidnapping to the Westsiders area then it dives a lot on the Jeremy and how he runs his side of town with only snippets of Nat and Scratch as they make it there and little establishment bits for them. However, the story does converge itself as the girls reach their main objective, they show up much more frequently and the dynamic slowly switches over to their heroism and cooperation as they work together to successfully rescue Jack while surviving the more brutal Westsiders. Its a change in a pace because usually we have boys saving girls but in this situation, the girls are saving the boy especially as they go into a very male-dominant area with Jeremy and his jock buddies in the lead.

Despite the fact that there is a big storyline focused on the Westsiders, its not a huge problem because the entire cast delivers on their performances well. No doubt that Westsiders is strong because of Munro Chambers as Jeremy who also delivers on his bad guy roles. In this case, he shines quite a bit especially with the fact that Jeremy also delivers on showing that there is never a forever leadership in this world because kids will grow up to be adults and the inevitable will happen. Nat and Scratch is rightfully the stars of the show with  Madison Iseman and Paloma Kwiatkowski as the actresses behind it respectively. The friendship and relationship behind Nat and Scratch is a fairly positive one that doesn’t need to be explained. Its just there and its accepted for exactly what it is. They have each other’s backs and they love each other through these hard times and they are both empowering roles as they fight with their girl power against a band of boys. What is viewed as the less competent are actually the most competent and that goes not only for the Riot Girls Nat and Scratch but also their help Sony who is somewhat of the awkward yet comic relief. Not to mention Scratch and Nat have incredible style especially Scratch sporting a fantastic mohawk.

Its not like the movie is very heavy to begin with. Its both fast paced and a lot of action with some nice sarcastic humor to pair with it all. Riot Girls is a fun movie. Perhaps it betrays its title a little with having more boy times and a lot more male roles than females but Nat and Scratch are the most memorable characters in this no matter how little they may be, its all big moments which give their characters their own natural spotlight. Sure, its a flaw perhaps in the script but in terms of everything else from execution to soundtrack to pacing to the Riot Girls and the baddie, everything falls into place and works really well together.

Riot Girls hits theatres on September 13, 2019.

What’s Up 2019 – Week 31: Going Back to Normal Routine

Another week has gone by! The last remaining bits of Fantasia finally ended and well, I’m still recuperating from it hence why some of the reviews are being worked on backwards now. There’s really only one more reviews and two Fantasia shorts compilation pieces to work on. Either way, we’re not here to only talk about movies but that part of my life is done for now so things are slowly getting back to normal, which means we’re back to a lot of TV? Yay! And reading is also back. A few reviews to get out on all fronts in the coming days and weeks, whichever and whenever my brain decides it wants to write daily again. For now, its going to be a tad sporadic.

With that said, lets check it out (before I ramble about everything before we get there)…

READING

Within

Currently reading: Within

Within should be done by next week as I’m back to the reading on the bus. Currently about almost half way through. Its a pretty good one and has a decent shift in scenarios between chapters and such. It’ll be interesting to see how it all wraps up.

PLAYING

Bonza

  • Bonza

Gaming on the go lately and its been very much the same games over and over again between Bonza mostly and Rullo. Word and math puzzle games seem to be the way to go for me when I’m bored or need a change in pace from writing and everything else.

Gaming is going to get back on track as soon as I get back into the gaming bits which I probably will go back to some Linelight that I started in July and return soon with another Mobile Games Roundup.

WATCHING

Aquaslash

  • Aquaslash (review)
  •  The Fable (review)
  • One Smile is Very Alluring
  • Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (LAMBCAST #491)

Technically speaking, I’d have use Hobbs and Shaw as the highlight and it is because I went to go see it so that I could be on the show for Lambcast as a guest. Its my first time and just coming out of festival season, I was a bit rusty on the whole podcasting thing. Either way, I linked it above because the whole crew is super fun and was incredibly great to record with.

However, as for my highlight, I’d like to once again give it to Aquaslash, for which I think might take a while to get to a big screen seeing as its still in post-production editing however, the experience of watching something in the process of being complete and then seeing the whole majority of cast and crew at this unique world premiere for Fantasia was a pretty awesome experience plus, the concept is there.

Movies might slow down a little since I still have a few reviews to write from Fantasia and then some double features from before the festival started.

BINGING

Go Go Squid

  • Sugar Rush (Season 2)
  • Queer Eye (Season 4)
  • Go Go Squid (2019)
  • Orange is the New Black (Season 7)

Currently binging: We Grew Up (2019), Love Signal 2, The Coming One 3, Dream Space 2, River Flows To You

Film Festival ending means TV watching especially since a ton of the Netflix Originals decided to release in July so I ended up burning through Sugar Rush, Queer Eye and Orange is the New Black’s final season. Its not too crazy to think about considering the first two is only 8 episodes per season which is easy to get through. Aside from that, Go Go Squid also wrapped up and it was such a complete experience that I can’t wait to rewatch and write up the TV binge for that. Lots of TV binges in the works to be honest for a ton of series.

Currently binging is mostly things in progress except for River Flows To You which I got back to since everything else has pretty much ended. Its really good but a bit more on the emotional type of series. I started a new reality show called We Grew Up which is on one hand super cute but perhaps also one that might feel a bit odd to watch about kid siblings.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Aquaslash (World Premiere, 2019)

Aquaslash (2019)

Aquaslash

Director (and writer): Renaud Gauthier

Cast: Brittany Drisdelle, Nicolas Fontaine, Lanisa Dawnsen, Paul Zinno,

Aquaslash is a 2019 horror film about a high school graduating class who goes to a water park to celebrate when someone puts razors in the slide.

Before we start, its important to make a few things clear. One, the Aquaslash version seen at Fantasia is most probably not the final edit. Its a work in progress where the visual editing had not been completed yet resulting in some scenes to be dark and some to be in the day. There were also some sound issues that weren’t polished like ear piercing whistle sounds. Two, the director Renaud Gauthier referred to this version as The Director’s Cut. Its put together in the way that he would want it to be presented. Also, pretty much confirming that it won’t be this way upon its release. With those two points clear, there won’t be so much about the visuals but more the story, the characters and its 80s vibe and of course, the slasher elements.

Aquaslash is a fun movie. It has its flaws. Despite its short run time, it actually spends a lot of time in the characters’ drama. Its not all teenage drama but a lot of it is girls and crushes and love triangles and the likes. It uses this time to create the characters as well as some shenanigans and make some comedic moments. Aquaslash is meant to be reminiscent of the 80s with the park, the style and satisfyingly the background music and soundtrack.

The best thing about Aquaslash is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. Because of that, a lot of it is much easier to accept. There are a lot of moments that sometimes might feel disjointed or completely random. Yet the tone the movie sets never shifts into taking itself too seriously. While that might sound like a bad thing, its a compliment to be able to do that and stay consistent. Looking at the effects and the slasher kills, they are not quite so abundant however, there is a reminiscent feeling of the 80s slasher here that works. The most memorable one is for the razor blades slide set up and how it is done. Because it all happens around the fun idea of a race down three entangled slides, there is a suspense who will inevitably meet their end at the razors. Things get out of hand and there is a great amount of entertainment in how it all unfolds.

Aquaslash, in this version, has its flaws and in the visuals and effects polish has obvious further work to do, but putting that aside, the idea is a pretty good one especially since it seems like such a clever idea of instilling fear in a family destination like a water park and yet, doesn’t feel like its been done before. Its something of a guilty pleasure movie filled with some 80s reminiscent entertainment. It will be interesting to see what the final cut after all the post production is done will be like.

Fantasia Festival 2019: The Fable (2019)

The Fable (2019)

The Fable

Director: Kan Eguchi

Cast: Junichi Okada, Fumino Kimura, Mizuki Yamamota, Koichi Sato, Yuya Yagira

The Fable is a 2019 action comedy about a genius assassin forced to live a year of normal life but gets dragged into a whirlwind of chaos involving the Osaka underworld.

The Fable is the nickname of the genius assassin that this movie revolves around. After a massive killing job, he is forced to take a year off to live as a normal person, something that he has never done before. All he has ever known is to be trained as an assassin and be an assassin throughout life. Paired up in disguise with his partner as his sister, he is ordered to live a year without killing. Things go well as he awkwardly tries to adapts, find a job and meets a girl, Misaki that he is interested in until the Osaka criminal world gets him dragged in when Misaki gets caught as the underworld clashes in a fight for power. Making things harder is the fact that his reputation has put two young assassins on a hunting trail to find him and take his title of The Fable.

The Fable, named Sato for the year leave, is a peculiar character played by Junichi Okada. Wrapped up in his lifestyle as an assassin, he has weird habits like sleeping naked in the bathtub and disguising his bed, for example. In fact, he is naked doing a lot of things. What might seem general knowledge to everyone else is something that he needs to observe and try to learn in the process of being normal. It doesn’t help that he has odd tastes in what is funny and he is so calm and collected that everything is in his control as he faces the normal world around him. There is no doubt that the fighting scenes that he does is very fun, both in creativity and simple execution and style, however, the heart of the film is in how it pairs the fish out of water story and where a lot of the comedy lies. Most of the dark humor and slapstick comedy does land pretty well.

The fighting scenes are both close hand to hand combat and gun fights. The first scene and the last big fight is both larger scale and the more impressive part of the action element. In the opening scene, its already obvious that style is going to be apparent as the bullets hitting its targets are all probability and arrows as it hits set up in a hand- drawn trajectory zooming in and out. In the big final third act, its a spectacle on a massive scale through a disposal facility.

Taking home the Fantasia Best Action film this year, The Fable is a ton of fun to watch. Junichi Okada delivers an outstanding character as Sato. Not only the main character but also the two assassins who want to take him place has a lot of moments between fanboy-ing and trying to take him down. Its this sudden change in character that makes them hilarious. Its a side plot but these little elements puts more stakes on the line and keeps the action going. However, some of the little flaws here goes to some truly over the top characters that are a touch generic and annoying. The story has a lot of characters in and out that don’t always get enough presence, making it a little hard to place as a result. All this is easy to look past because The Fable is well-paced, has great comedic timing and some odd but charming characters paired with nicely choreographed action sequences.

My Weekly Adventures & What’s Up Week 30

Another double Adventures and Whats Up post is among us. I have been very sporadic this month with posts, especially this week and really there isn’t a whole lot to talk about in terms of anything else. Adventures, will go first and then after it is the Whats Up!

Suffice to say that Fantasia Festival is well under way. Between the festival and increasing overload of work and as a result, overtime, its been a crazy and hectic 2 weeks. I won’t dive too much into Fantasia as I usually do a wrap-up post of sorts once everything is done and giving a general feeling about the whole festival. Lets move on to the other little things that happened.

Dinner at Dirty D

The husband and I don’t do a ton of date nights so when Fantasia comes around and we head for movies, its pretty much our date “nights”. We say two afternoon screenings so not exactly nights but we did head out to try out the dive bar Dirty D at Quartier Dix30 for dinner. I will be sharing my thoughts on it soon.

I forgot to mention it last time but we also went to check out Balthazar in the same complex the week before so that will probably have a little review as well.

Battle of Ingredients at Mama Dumplings

Some of the Battle of Ingredients gang are huge dumpling fans like myself so since the actual Battle wasn’t happening, we decided to go to Mama Dumpling. Everyone’s first time except for me. You can check out my post on it HERE.

This time we tried some that I had never tried before. The husband ordered the Wonton Soup and enjoyed it. We had Chicken Curry dumplings and that was pretty good. We also tried a lamb and green onion or something and I wasn’t too huge on it but then in general, lamb isn’t my first choice meat.

Cute Kitty Pic

That’s it for My Weekly Adventures!

Moving on…

This week has been a bit nuts as well. Its still a whole lot of movies so I’ll try to dive more into that side. TV series has been my writing companion though, so I will talk about that as well.

READING

Within

Currently reading: Within

I’m not going to say much on reading. I’ve read probably 5 pages or something since last week because there’s just no spare time for it. Reading will resume when movies take a break after all the Fantasia reviews are done.

PLAYING

dr. mario world

  • Bonza
  • Dr. Mario World (mobile)

Mobile games are my haven when I need a break from writing. Other than Bonza being my fun little moments taking most priority, Dr Mario World recently got its mobile version and I have played a little of that. I have skipped Mobile Games Roundup for Game Warp for two months but its all a time issue so I will get back on it soon.

WATCHING

White Snake

  • The Father’s Shadow (review)
  • Daniel Isn’t Real (review)
  • Koko-di Koko-da (review)
  • White Snake (review)
  • Harpoon
  • Depraved
  • Riot Girls

As we reach the end of Fantasia with only a few days trickling into the next week, its been a decent week. Some average movies but some really big highlights. Its nice because the beginning of the festival was getting me a little worried to be honest about my movie choices. This week also probably marked the most changes I had made because I swapped a few movies, let go of some of them and then added some others in screening room or screeners. With that said, I loved a lot of these ones. Daniel Isn’t Real, White Snake, Harpoon, Riot Girls all really worked for me, probably all in my Top 10 somewhere (funny how I can’t do Top 10s for new releases in any year but Fantasia alone can have one). Why I chose to highlight White Snake is because its really beautiful as a Chinese animation and shows change and somewhere new to watch out for especially if they keep doing movies to share its culture.

BINGING

go fridge 5

  • Go Fridge (Season 5)

Currently binging:

  • Queer Eye (Season 4)
  • Go Go Squid (2019)
  • Love Signal 2
  • Dream Space 2
  • Sugar Rush (Season 2)

Cooking shows or food shows or something are really great companion shows for myself so I went back to finish up Go Fridge Season 5 which I started some time in April or May. It is a fun little show and a ton of laughs and some great looking food. Probably the more important part is the huge currently binging list. A lot of it is near ending and just one episode released and such. Go Go Squid is still the irresistible series for me right now. Full plans on restarting it with full focus, instead of the current multitasking phase to re-experience it.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Whats have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Door Lock (2018)

Door Lock (2018)

Door Lock

Director (and co-writer): Kwon Lee

Cast: Hyo-jin Kong, Sung-oh Kim, Ye-won Kim

Door Lock is a 2018 South Korean thriller about a woman who suspects that someone is trying to break into her apartment and tries to figure out who it is.

Door Lock is the South Korean remake of 2011 film Sleep Tight except taking it from the other perspective. If you haven’t seen Sleep Tight, you probably want to see it after this one, mostly because then the thrills of figuring out who is the bad guy will be taken away. At the same time, if you have seen it, then this one might just be an exercise of watching the story from a different angle set in a different city. Falling into the category of never having seen the original, Door Lock is a mystery thriller mixed a different twist on the home invasion genre.

Starting with the opening scene of a woman going home to her apartment and being attacked suddenly, Door Lock quickly changes to a woman who wakes up and has a certain routine that has set herself in almost an compulsive way so the little changes automatically spark her attention. Despite her safety precautions of moving to a big building with better security and installing an electronic door lock, she still feels unsafe however one night, she is woken up by the sound of someone trying to break into her apartment frantically. Except her suspicions aren’t enough to keep the police to investigate further so she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Door Lock isn’t exactly a new idea and in the thriller department, it really takes noticing that one clue and that one dialogue in the movie to already have suspicions of the invader. However, there is some nice execution here. Right from the beginning, there is a sense of being followed as the camera will move from different angles and through surveillance cameras and from ceiling shots. Its quite creative and adds to the unsettling feeling of being observed. The sounds aren’t overpowering as well. It raises as the scene intensifies but also takes the care to focus on the little sounds in the surrounding like the clock ticking for example and isolating onto the everyday sounds amplified. There’s one scene that the soundtrack done really well where it follows two characters and there is a contrast on the soundtracks playing which was unique. The audience also gets a lot of the insider information, know more than the main character which works especially as the quick reveal of what is going on which leaves the rest of the story to question who, why and how.

In South Korean films, there’s always a notion about things being too slow because of its lengthy run time. In this case, it actually is the opposite. Its shorter run time actually deters it a little. It does give it a good pacing and the plot moves forward fairly quickly however there’s a lot of shallow characters especially the main girl who only gets caught in all the mess but feels never gives enough to be invested in her safety to begin with. Plus, the predictable misdirection to suspect other characters are fairly easy to see through as well. Perhaps the one thing that gets to be taken away from this is the concept of safety in the society and the false pretenses of it whether its the people around our everyday lives to the bigger buildings feeling more secure or the fancy gadgets to ensure safety all seems to have the loopholes that can be broken especially because they are also involving humans who might not all have the right intentions.

Overall, Door Lock is a decent thriller (from the opinion of someone who has never seen the original Spanish film). It has a few flaws to it but also has some tension and is fairly well-paced. Its cinematography and background sound design and soundtrack does it a lot of favors to build the atmosphere. Even if the characters are fairly shallow, the message it conveys is an important one.