My Weekly Adventures #48

Its been a month since our last update! Honestly, the last one would’ve been just pure Fantasia Festival recap. I was going to put together a Top 5 or 10 films of Fantasia that I saw but after one recording, I just wasn’t happy with it so ended up putting that to the side. I still want to do something more for Fantasia Festival. Just giving it a little time to cool down as I catch up with some outstanding posts. Regardless, that is my own housekeeping and I won’t bore you further with it. On the note of housekeeping, the indexes for both books and movies are updated till the beginning of August so if you are looking for anything, you’ll find it there. I’ll work on restructuring that a little more by the end of the year.

Without further ado, let’s see what went on this past month! 🙂

Fantasia International Film Festival

Its obvious that the first thing to talk about is Fantasia Festival. It took most of July and overlapped the last My Weekly Adventures. Here’s some of the photos that I took from the Q&As. I did more recording than pictures. I’m thinking of compiling something out of it but working on that. Maybe it’ll be too late when I finally get around to it. However, you can find Fantasia movie reviews both in the Movies section or the drop down to Fantasia Festival, which will queue up all the last 15 posts or something about it.

If you look back at the Fantasia Festival movie list before I started (this post HERE), a good 40% of it probably had changed for many reasons. However, the original plan was around 15 movies and I watched about 14 and had an extra post for the short films. Things worked out quite well, I’d say. I will however get the Top 5 or 10 films list done soon. As I’m writing this, it feels necessary to give it a final wrap-up even if its late.

What made Fantasia Festival even better, other than the press pass was having my best friend join me for a day and my husband join me for two movies for back to back weekend date nights. I’d say this event coverage was pretty awesome! 🙂

New Blinds & Decoration

Seeing as I managed to spare some normal expenses in July, I decided to achieve the 2017 goals of changing our kitchen curtains which were lacy white curtains to actual blinds. After some discussion, we got the dark brown bamboo blinds and they are fantastic and match our color scheme perfectly. We just forgot to get a small one for the door but we will live. However, on our trip to Bouclair (a home decor chain in Quebec), I found this darling decoration on top. In case you haven’t realized, I love the word dream so one more thing to add to the den as I slowly transform it into my little world.

Sessions 375 x Ile Soniq

sessions 375 x ile soniq

August is like the music festival month. The first weekend kicks off with Osheaga Festival and then last weekend was Ile Soniq. For those who don’t know, I’m like electronic music quite a bit. I’ve been listening to it and honestly as the years gone by, I’ve become more selective. I’ve always wanted to go to Ile Soniq but never really had the chance, mostly because I don’t want to go to these events by myself. However, Phoebe (aka The Starry Traveler & my co-host of Battle of Ingredients, which will return from hiatus very soon) dropped me a message and said that there was a free event in celebration of the Montreal 375th birthday called Sessions 375 x Ile Soniq En Ville. I met up with her at a midpoint and headed there with her and her bun bun. She has the goal of exposing her little one to all kinds of stuff so we didn’t go into the event grounds because of long line-ups and crowds and safety purposes but we watched and listened from afar and it was good enough for us.

The evening ended with a meal and I’ll be sharing a post on that soon. We have two foodie posts coming up. 🙂

Matsuri Japon Festival & Brossard Cultural Fest

J-Dog

Imadake

Matsuri

Takoyaki

Every year, Matsuri Japon Festival and Brossard Cultural Fest lands on the same day so as usual, my friends and I head out to these events. First stop for lunch is Matsuri and we shared all those foods and my friend had some noodles also, which is not here. The day was incredibly local showers since we were in and out of rain and seriously one patch would have rain and the other would not.

Brossard Cultural Fest

Brossard Cultural Fest

Next up at Brossard Cultural Fest! We just made a little walk around, had a natural juice popstick and then got rained on a little and then left for home. There were some cute bouncy inflatable things every where for the kids and it was so awesome. My fave was the giant T-Rex but there was also a huge tiger, etc. Super cool stuff!

Game Warp – Instagram Fun

Not sure if I had mentioned it before but Game Warp Podcast has a Instagram. We mostly share random gaming stuff that we come across and hope to expand our platform a little more. Earlier this month, we decided to do a little social experiment, thought up by my fantastic co-host to see if we took selfies and held some random gaming stuff, we could get some more views. We ended having quite some fun with it and I’m thinking of doing that again. Mine turned out pretty good, which is so rare so I even changed a few of my profile pic to this one.

Yes, I know shameless promotion again! You got it! If you have Instagram, go and give us a follow! 🙂

Cute Kitty Pic

Upcoming:

  • Battle of Ingredients (summer hiatus ends)
  • Foodie Restaurant Recaps
  • Movie Double Features
  • TV Binges
  • Books
  • Top 10 Fantasia Films Seen

That’s it for this My Weekly Adventures (more like Monthly)!
What have you been up to?

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Fantasia Festival 2017: A Taxi Driver (2017)

A Taxi Driver (2017)

Director: Hoon Jang

Cast: Kang-ho Song, Thomas Kretschmann, Hai-jin Yoo, Jun-yeol Ryu

A Taxi Driver is Korean drama that is based on a true story. It becomes apparent at the end that parts of it particularly related to the said taxi driver especially beginning and ending may be fictionalized mostly because this unnamed brave soul deserved the recognition and yet has never been found since the event. Before we jump too far in, A Taxi Driver is the retelling of how a taxi driver down on his luck decided to take a job to drive a German reporter to Gwangju in 1980 without realizing what was actually happening. The German reporter Jurgen Hinzpeter is an actual person and does have a recording of a clip here made in 2015 before he passed away in 2016 thanking his brave friend who he never got to meet again because he had given a fake name and phone number. This story is a retelling of his story. The best comparison of A Taxi Driver would be to Argo except this is a story about men walking into Gwangju as outsiders and leaving as insiders.

A Taxi Driver starts off in the most lighthearted fashion as we watch this taxi driver drive down the road happily singing along to a song. He makes judgmental comments about university student protesters blocking the road and causing the decrease in clients. Its pretty much an everyday feeling of seeing this man. In fact, it is done so well that it feels like we can connect with his character immediately. Whatever the first half an hour of the film felt like would not prepare you for the rest of it. There is no doubt that the tone gets much more serious as expected with the material and incredibly dramatic but all done effectively. Many will know Kang-ho Song from Korean monster movie, The Host however, its been over a decade and his acting has elevated into this emotional performance as taxi driver, Sa-bok Kim.

The director and the script both hit exactly the right tones. A Taxi Driver is a longer film however, there is only a few moments where we will notice a little drag. This film is about the uprising and seeing how the media released under government and what really happened had a huge discrepancy. The events are ruthless and this movie captures those heartless and confused, not to mention angry and frustrated moments very well as while this is set in a political background, the uprising itself is really talked about in broad strokes but rather focuses on the civilians and these two men who eventually bond together despite their backgrounds to take this hidden story to tell the world. Dramatization in slow motion was also used in parts to accentuate. A Taxi Driver turns into a heavy movie very quickly. It is also a tense experience as we follow these two men escape. However, the script and director adds in car chases to make it more gripping also.

As mentioned before, Kang-ho Song delivered an outstanding performance. However, we have to also acknowledge the great performances by Thomas Kretschmann as Jurgen Hinzpeter. Their parts together truly make this film have their moments as they both struggle to communicate due to language barrier and we see their communication and views align and they understand each other more. The performances overall were truly outstanding and the younger cast, Jun-yeol Ryu takes on a university protester also takes on a supporting role that truly connects as well.

A Taxi Driver is a fantastic movie filled with great performances and the retells a tense, gripping and emotional time in Korea when they struggled for their nation’s democracy.

Fantasia Festival 2017: Fashionista (2016)

Fashionista (2016)

fashionista

Director and writer: Simon Rumley

Cast: Amanda Fuller, Ethan Embry, Eric Balfour, Alex Essoe, Jemma Evans, Alexandria DeBerry, Devon Bonnee

A woman who uses clothes as an emotional crutch discovers her life isn’t as ideal as she thought… – IMDB

Consumerism is a thriving issue to look at. The addiction of it all and here lies the centre of what this drama and mystery thriller is all about. As the words opening the movie at Fantasia, Fashionista takes you into a world of addiction, sex and rock and roll. Simon Rumley directs and writes this film in a non-linear fashion and films it mostly in that non-linear way. Experimental and unique and the texture of it all is also incredibly independent. It is one of the reasons that Fantasia Festival is such a wonderful experience as we get to see these special pieces of cinema and dive into worlds and film-making styles that we don’t usually get exposed to. Fashionista’s strength lies in this originality of its non-linear presentation. It makes its audience work hard to piece it all together throughout and draw their own conclusions. The majority of it makes sense and the final act will generally resolve most of your suspicions. It sends a message about consumerism and the addiction of one person possibly in an irrational way. Simon Rumley does a great job and capturing the emotions and making very artistic shots.

Its hard to talk about Fashionista without giving praise to its cast. Amanda Fuller takes on the role of April, a woman who lives a dream owning a vintage clothes shop with her husband, Eric ( played by Ethan Embry). She loves clothes and is addicted to its touch and fabric as we quickly learn. She goes through many outfits throughout the movie, something like over a hundred. Amanda Fuller embodies April very well as she is believable in showing us her addiction and as her life falls apart, the reliance on these superficial things in her life. Her behavior shifts easily with every scene especially as she finds out that her husband is having an affair. None of this is spoilers as the trailer shows it. This hops her into another phase in life which enters rich bad boy Randall (played by Eric Balfour) that takes her for another trip filled with sex. Of course, all this is jumbled as the film presents snippets of Randall in the first act and makes us wonder what his whole deal is. Both Ethan Embry and Eric Balfour play great supporting roles here. Their characters are different and in turn as the story unfolds gives us a different feeling.

However, Fashionista does fall short with a less than engaging first act. It takes a long time and spends a little too much time emphasizing on the marriage breakup. Perhaps it is to make sure we connect with April more to feel her pain and her reliance and release with her clothes as she has almost orgasmic reactions when she is with them. It creates a mesmerizing snapshot however it is done a little too much. Some parts of the slow first act could’ve cut down to make this a more compact experience. Not to mention that the fragments were a little much. While well-timed such as keeping the injection of a mysterious woman played by Alex Essoe delightfully short but enough to make us wonder her connection to the rest of the fragments that doesn’t seem to go together. Fashionista truly picks up as Eric Balfour enters the scene and takes us on another journey, similar but different and possibly a little more thrilling. It teases us with a few events and when the entire piece falls into place, it offers up a lot of tension but leaving space for still some mystery.

The rock and roll part is a cornerstone of Fashionista. Its carefully selected music that transitions from one scene to the next or highlighting a certain event or moment. However, it also is these moments where the music is overpowering. Perhaps it is to make sure it overwhelms to emphasize the emotions and become more involved with the story. Unfortunately, it is one of the situations a few moments in we wished that we were watching this at home and we can turn down the volume or later on, whether the movie would voice its story better and be more thrilling and experience using silence instead.

Fashionista is a unique experience, highlighting an important message about addiction to consumerism. It is worth viewing simply for the fantastic performance from Amanda Fuller and its original concept of non-linear storytelling filmed in a non-linear way. It is a thrilling experience however it falls short due to a slow first act and overwhelming musical moments that took away from the movie more than it added. Less is more comes to mind in terms of that criticism. Fashionista is a worth a watch for all its outstanding elements however, perhaps more suitable as a home experience.

Fantasia Festival 2017: Better Watch Out (2017)

Better Watch Out (2017)

better watch out

Director: Chris Peckover

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Dacre Montgomery, Aleks Mikic, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton

On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it’s far from a normal home invasion. – IMDB

Home invasion films have been done to death. Honestly, there have been some hits in the last few years but its been a while that we have been thoroughly impressed. Maybe the exception would be Hush. This year’s Fantasia brings us the Canadian premiere of a home invasion film with a Home Alone twist previously called Safe Neighborhood but recently retitled Better Watch Out. It is directed by Chris Peckover who also was attending the festival to present his film. A perfect addition to the Festival as it fit perfectly in the Christmas in July theme. To further explain the Home Alone point, this features a boy and his babysitter as their Christmas night just got a lot more ominous as they realize that the house is being invaded.

Better Watch Out is a fantastic twist on the home invasion concept. It keeps up well with the intensity while offering more than enough laugh out loud black comedy moments. If surprises you with its characters who truly show off their true nature to stay alive. Its a fun ride with so many unexpected moments and what you probably won’t usually see with this one. The cast is also full of familiar faces. In a shorter role but done so well are the parents played by Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton. They bring in a fun performance full of laughs and witty remarks. The big performances here are however with Luke, the twelve year old son played by Levi Miller (recently in Pan) who has a crush on his seventeen year old babysitter, Ashley played by Olivia DeJonge (recently in The Visit). In true John Hughes love that Chris Peckover talked about afterwards, this was where we saw a lot of awkward teen comedy as the early moments saw Lucas trying to get attention.

It is hard to talk about this one without ruining your experience so lets just say that Better Watch Out does a great job at executing the twist and then letting everything fall apart and come together. While some parts do get a little overboard, there is so much to love in the dialogue and the intensity, the black comedy and the clever characters and twists that makes this one a must-see. You’ll be surprised over and over again and when you finish this, you may want to go back and figure out those details you missed the first time around. Better Watch Out is a home invasion movie but also a perfect addition to the non-traditional Christmas movie that will make you want to watch over and over again because its not only fun but so incredibly clever. This one is a must-see!

Better Watch Out will be in theatres in October on limited release and will land online some time in December.

Fantasia Festival 2017: Short Films Roundup

Fantasia Festival 2017 is full of short films. They may appear paired up with a feature film or maybe in a themed collection of films. There are so many great themes this year however, we only managed to catch these four. Let’s take a break from the full length features to take a look at these four short films: Breaker, For A Good Time, Call…, Sleazy Pete and The Naughty List.

Breaker (2017)

Breaker

Director & writer: Philippe McKie

Cast: Arisa Hanzawa, Kazuya Shimizu, Yuka Tomatsu

In tomorrow’s Tokyo, the technologically-enhanced body of a young mercenary hacker is overrun by a sentient data weapon. Wanted, the parasitic A.I becomes her only ally as she is chased across the city by those seeking to salvage it. – IMDB

Colorful, electric, creepy underground, pumping music and a future world that technology is so advanced that your brain is the main computer via a chip. Breaker shows what it is like to be hacked. Curiosity killed the cat or in this case, leads this breaker into a danger as she is hacked in a chase. With likes of upcoming games of Observer releasing with what seems like a similar idea and Illuminae and the idea that technology really has no borders, but is that a good or a bad thing? Breaker is eleven minutes of chase that somehow manages to use that short screen time to show us this future and successfully engage us into the A.I. and the hacker’s relationship for the few minutes that is reliant on an instant trust to hopefully make their escape.

One of the earlier short films to screen before Vampire Cleanup Department and it works so well to create a quirky yet intense and engaging chase that takes a few minutes to make us question the A.I.’s intentions and how it will all end.

For a Good Time, Call… (2017)

For a Good Time, Call

Director: Izzy Lee

Cast: Sean Carmichael, Diana Porter, Tristan Risk

A man who uploads a homemade sex video taken in secret gets more than he bargained for when he makes a pit stop. – Fantasia Festival

For A Good Time, Call… is an interesting short film. Running at 11 minutes, the short takes us into a place that we know our main character here is a scumbag. Maybe a lot of people do shoot homemade sex videos for fun however he did do it without consent and this causes a fallout with the girl unsurprisingly who wishes him to have something bad. Suffice to say that, as he walks into a bathroom at his pit stop, we can wonder whether he is high and imagining things or if there is something that is there. Here’s where the film picks up its pace with creepy noises and a secluded feeling as wonder what will happen. There’s something more this man and he’s definitely not a good person but what is lurking in the bathroom and what does it want from him? For a Good Time, Call… has its creepy moments and much of it happens off screen as we always see the reaction first before the actual thing, utilizing the fact that our imagination is always more powerful than what the object of fear usually is.

Sleazy Pete (2017)

Sleazy Pete

Director and writer: Frank Appache

A proto-apocalyptic tale where crime, sleaze and violence are king: we spend a night with sleazy Pete, and his new sidekick. – Fantasia Festival

There aren’t really lot of words to describe Sleazy Pete. For those that love 80s gory horror, this one is definitely for you. There’s a deliberate feeling to every action, some cheesy fakenss to the practical effects and oh so much blood. In fact, in the eleven minutes of runtime, its said that they used 55 gallons of fake blood. In true 80’s B-movie, this one ticks all the boxes you love. As well as character like Sleazy Pete who is a priest that twists the meaning of “Love Thy Neighbor” a little and in turns uses this as a means to kill the homeless while having a lot of other acts that fit right in with this new world that is full of crime, sleaze and violence. Sleazy Pete is one to check out for a quick 80’s B-horror fun time.

The Naughty List (2016)

The Naughty List

Director and writer: Paul Campion

Cast: Mac Elsey, Sebastian Knapp, Vincenzo Nicoli

On Christmas Eve, two American mobsters come face to face with Santa Claus, and discover what it really takes to get on the Naughty or Nice list. – IMDB

Paired perfectly with Better Watch Out, The Naughty List is a Christmas short film where two mobsters are in hiding. One believes in Santa and one doesn’t. When Santa shows up, the question is whether this man in a furry red and white suit is the real deal. The Naughty List is a really great time. Its all about laughs from the moment we see these silly mobsters till when Santa enters and how he does and the entire conversation. Everything is comedic and done so well. Its all about the laugh out loud moments and this one has so many of them.

Fantasia Festival 2017: Friendly Beast (2017)

Friendly Beast (2017)

Friendly Beast

Director and writer: Gabriela Amaral Almeida

Cast: Luciana Paes, Murilo Benicio, Irandhir Santos, Camila Morgado, Humberto Carrao, Ariclenes Barroso

 For the small audience that got to see the World Premiere of Portuguese thriller Friendly Beast, this was as the director calls it “another animal”. Friendly Beast takes place in a small restaurant as it nears closing and last minute customers are there along with the owner, a waitress and a chef. As tension within the restaurant staff with the owner and even its customers build, two armed robbers burst in. This sets the stage as the owner now peels off his friendly smiling face and counteracts in his own way. On the surface, Friendly Beast is an intense thriller that sees two key characters find who they are, both oppressed of what they truly want whether they know it or not. Under this is many tones about control in general to man and woman’s power in relationships, different races and social class clashes. Gabriela Amaral Almeida, presented this debut piece and told the audience that this script was stemmed from anger and frustration from the director and writer of Friendly Beast as Brazil’s political changes stunted her progress with another project. While she explains that the film has undertones of highlighting the Brazilian culture and politics, for those unfamiliar with Brazil politics, there are still many other themes to explore.

Friendly Beast is an intriguing piece to talk about. Mostly because there is so much care and detail at how the entire script is staged. Yes, this movie is carefully staged so that each room creates a different tone and atmosphere. This becomes an important element to understanding the character development. Friendly Beast is a one setting movie and yet because of how the rooms are used, it feels like there is much more space and meaning. For example, the dining room is where everything is put on a facade. It is falsely pretty but as the space becomes more disordered throughout the movie, the characters have also changed to be more outwardly on being themselves while in contrast, the washroom is a private closed space and its where the most real feelings are released in hiding.

There is no doubt that Friendly Beast is about its characters in all their motions and quietness and words. Every move is rehearsed and calculated to fully express what that scene wants to show its audience. In fact, the two main characters here are familiar faces. Murilo Benicio, who plays restaurant owner Inacio, is a renowned actor in the Brazil film industry. Luciana Paes, who plays Sara the waitress, was recently in Netflix Original series 3%. Both of them deliver incredibly engaging roles that even in their most quiet moments create tension. It makes the audience experience various phases and we soon realize that the performances reflect a great script put together to give each moment in this 90+ minutes importance. Some scenes will challenge you and others will literally make you feel uneasy and that also has to do with the sound design and the soundtrack.

There are times when directors talk about what they are trying to portray in their piece and it is a far-fetched idea that doesn’t get executed well. Gabriela Amaral Almeida and Friendly Beast is definitely not the case. If you see this movie (which you should), take the time to see between those lines and see the story she is trying to tell. Take a close look at what she has staged and let the building quiet tension grab you. And when Friendly Beast ends, it may very well sit on your mind afterwards.

Fantasia Festival 2017: Napping Princess (2017)

Going to Fantasia and not checking out at least one anime or other animated films would be a pity. While some great choices slipped through because of scheduling like Senior Class, I wasn’t going to let this one go.

Napping Princess (2017)

Napping Princess

Director and writer: Kenji Kamiyama

Cast: Mitsuki Takahata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tomoya Maeno

In the car-clogged Eastopolis, capital of the kingdom of Heartland, Princess Ancien is confined to gilded cage of sorts. Gifted with remarkable powers, she can bring the inanimate to life using a magical digital device. But she also draws to the city the Terrible Colossus, placing her father’s realm at risk. Back in the real world, it’s three days before the Tokyo Olympics of 2020, and sleepyhead Kokone awakes again from her dreams of Heartland to the realities of life in small-town Okayama. All is not well, though, as her struggling widower father has become tangled up in some sort of corporate intrigue. Soon, the divide between her reveries and the real world will begin to crumble… – Fantasia Festival

Napping Princess, also called Ancien and the Magic Tablet, is a fun and magical adventure animated feature. Straddling between reality and the dream world, a different but linked story with all the same characters come to life in an endearing and a lot of times, humorous way. Cute characters and fantastic environments and the magical kingdom being so pretty, truly makes it something of an eye candy. Napping Princess however does seem to get lost in its length a little and the final act meshes together in a way that makes it hard to follow.

The concept of Napping Princess is outstanding and this anime takes its audience for a ride both literally and figuratively. Our main character is college bound Kokone who has an awkward but close relationship with his widower father who ends up being arrested by the police because he is accused of stealing something. This takes Kokone and her school friend, Morio on a journey as they tumble and roll through one scene after the next, funnily getting through it despite the danger. Napping Princess is definitely a family friendly feature and in many ways, remains innocent. Not only is Kokone and Morio colorful but even the more subtle characters also are. Between the reality and dream sequences, many characters are portrayed differently however also a joy to watch. Even the enemy may have a secret agenda that we soon learn about by the end, however he and his goons are comedic goofballs. What makes it funnier is the fact that the audience is the smarter person here and it becomes obvious that the scenes were written as in our seats we react accordingly with disbelief of the innocent acts of revealing where Kokone is for example in a situation where she may be too trusting.

Napping Princess is an anime that aims to keep its audience on its toes as Kokone escapes and learns about her parents. While the audience gets to see a bigger picture as we can see the villain’s schemes as well as the father’s interrogation, the journey is primarily with Kokone and her friends. While the kingdom of Heartland is a steampunk world filled with mesmerizing designs and a war that is incredible to watch. The real world is in a much more personal journey. Princess Ancien may know much more about her powers and her capabilities but on the contrary, Kokone is only learning about her background as she heads off on this escape and its an adventure that takes everyone quite the turn. Plus, everyone likes an adventure with a magical bear. In this case, he’s called Joy and an adorable little thing that is Princess Ancien’s companion in the kingdom of Heartland.

While Napping Princess is a rather long anime, it does create two fun worlds: the kingdom of Heartland and the future reality of Japan in 2020. In a world of corporate schemes and a dream world of impending war from giant creatures attracted by magic, both are in danger and its all on Kokone or Princess Ancien to hatch a plan that will fix it. Its fun, entertaining and filled with lots of laughter. Its never too serious or even too dangerous even if there is a little bit of violence. With cute and colorful characters, Napping Princess is a family friendly animated feature that is altogether a fun time.