Fantasia Festival 2020: A Mermaid in Paris (Une Sirène à Paris, 2020)

A Mermaid in Paris (Une Sirène à Paris, 2020)

a mermaid in paris

Director (and co-writer): Mathias Malzieu

Cast: Nicolas Duvauchelle, Marilyn Lima, Rossy de Palma, Tcheky Karyo, Romane Bohringer, Alexis Michalik

A man rescues a mermaid in Paris and slowly falls in love with her. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of Mathias Malzieu debut feature film Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (review), A Mermaid in Paris was a must-watch. It would be interesting to see how Mathias Malzieu would approach doing a live-action film knowing the imagination that he is capable of. This fantasy romantic melodrama is an outstanding effort by Malzieu once again proving that his unique eye for the visuals as well as the use of an older era of fashion and fantastical color palette all blends incredibly well together with his creative imagination that all comes to life in such an appealing way.

A Mermaid in Paris

Being a musician before stepping into the director’s chair, Malzieu also uses soundtrack in a strong way to build up the character of the film. He injects Piaf’s song as well as other song choices to pair with the times. In this case, he also plays on the mermaids and the myth of the mesmerizingly deadly songs of the sirens. This builds up the romantic storyline of Gaspard, a man who falls in love easily and has had his heart broken so much he feels that he has no more love to give and struggling to hold onto his family’s business that holds memories of his mother and a place for performances, who saves a mermaid Lula (Marilyn Lima) who he is immune to her song. Their romantic connection grows gradually throughout the film and Lula becomes a character that wants to get back to sea soon but also has the fish out of water story element, that I’m a big fan of as it brings in a comedic element. The chemistry between Gaspard and Lula is undeniably beautiful.

A Mermaid in Paris

The comedic element is enhanced by a stellar performance of Rossy de Palma playing Gaspard’s neighbor Rossy in a second collaboration with Malzieu. Rossy is a unique character who guides both of them in her rather whacky ways but also plays as an assist. All the happy things here with romance and comedy has to be paired with some drama and adding in a threat to balance out all of this is a revenge story from the girlfriend of one of Lula’s victims. If there’s anything, this character Milena is a bit frustrating at times however she has her purpose.

A Mermaid in Paris is a cinematic treat. The rich color palette paired with the fantasy elements; the mermaid myth playing along on the romantic infatuation that creeps up between them to a surprising twist; the wonderful performances from the cast and the colorful characters: all comes together to create this beautiful experience. On top of that, Malzieu doesn’t even forget to give a nod to the animation style using the characters in this previous film in one of the scenes as a background element. There’s so much to love with Malzieu’s filming style and his seemingly love for telling stories about the life-threatening dangers of falling in love. Its a unique way of telling love stories and its this vision paired with his imagination that makes his films so fun to dive into.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Alone (2020)

Alone (2020)

Alone

Director: John Hyams

Cast: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald, Jonathan Rosenthal

A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her. – IMDB

Being an American remake of 2011 Swedish film Gone, Alone is co-directed and written by its original source material. Alone is a simple thriller. It strips itself back to its basics while keep sounds mostly blending with the nature surrounding the characters, the cast kept limited to mostly the two main leads in a cat and mouse chase and the setting in an isolated forest that goes through different weather, phases and structured in swift chapters defining the different landmarks of the film.

Alone starts off with a rather slower first act. It consists of the main female lead, Jessica (Jules Willcox) making the decision to pack up after a tragedy much to the disapprovement from her family. Her story reveals itself over the course of the movie as she fights her grief and guilt and tries to survive from this unknown Man (Marc Menchaca that is hunting her down. The first act is incredibly strong especially having strong vibes of Duel as The Road part of the film sees her having this risky and eerie engagement with a muddy Jeep that she encounters and then follows her around. Unlike Duel, the Man approaches her in various instances and the conversations get more and more unsettling.

The strongest elements of the film does go to its main leads. Jessica and the Man play incredibly well off of each other. Their interaction and the chase between them heightens over the course of time. At the same time there is still a lot of subtlety. The two characters are dialed down to their absolute basics of one that is hunting and the other that is surviving. However, these characters also have enough backstory in little glimpses of phone calls or conversations that make them feel real.

The cinematography plays a big part in this film. It has many moments that feels like its almost comparable to David Fincher with the use of visuals and lighting. It might have to do with the fact that the film heightens a lot during the nighttime that the use of lights flare and the focus on dim lighting and how the film crafts the motion all comes into play. The isolated nature and not being scared to use darkness to its advantage adds onto the tension.

Overall, Alone is a well-executed thriller. Its not about all the fancy things and actually its at its best when the film focuses on being zeroed in on the characters interaction and the chase as well as using its environment to create the atmosphere and tension. The only part if I had to nitpick would be the parts of increasing in the background sound that builds at certain points of the films at times feels like it actually takes away from the tension a little and breaks from the subtlety that it works with. Luckily, its not too frequent. Sometimes less is more and Alone definitely applies that successfully.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Yummy (2019)

Yummy (2019)

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Director (and co-writer): Lars Damoiseaux

Cast: Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders, Benjamin Ramon, Clara Cleymans, Annick Christiaens, Eric Godon, Joshua Rubin, Taeke Nicolai

An orgy of blood, violence and fun in which a young couple travel to a shabby Eastern European hospital for plastic surgery. Once there things unravel. – IMDB

There’s no doubt that zombie films are still rather a huge focal point. Belgium offers its version of horror comedy as it sets this zombie film called Yummy in a sketchy plastic surgery hospital doing some experimental things on the side. When a couple decides to go to the plastic surgery through the request of the girlfriend Alison to have a breast reduction, Michael wanders around with one of the staff Daniel and ends up discovering a gory Patient Zero which gets loose. Chaos awaits as the hospital gets infected and the few survivors hiding out in various locations need to find a way out. As with the location, some of the patients is hard to tell whether they are infected or not as well as adding some nudity into the mix. All this adds together for some rather comedic moments.

Yummy is somewhat of a double -sided coin. On one hand, it offers its viewers what you’d expect from a zombie film. Its entertaining and funny at some parts. There’s a lot of blood and gore to satisfy those expecting it in a zombie movie. Trust me, there are some rather disgusting bits. It gets right to the root of the zombie action fairly quickly and is well-paced. It does all the motions of a zombie film fairly well. Its fun enough to keep wanting to see more and how some of the stupid decisions these characters make or even what other spontaneous things they do to make the situation worse. I’m talking mostly about the boyfriend character Michael who is set up as a character who is rather useless and seems to mess things up more throughout the film more than contribute to the situation.

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With that said, the characters are rather one-dimensional. Normally, with low-budget zombie films, its really not expected for a lot of character depth except these characters aren’t exactly engaging to watch. Some of them are downright bad in nature or just doesn’t feel like anyone to root for to get out of this whole ordeal. Its almost expected that someone is going to betray or just be a coward or not stick together to survive and of course, all those things do happen. In reality, its hard to chalk it up to whether its the characters fault since the cast seems to have portrayed them fairly well or the story which seems to be lacking the unique element to make it stand out a little more.

However, credit where its due, the setting in the plastic surgery hospital is a fun choice and does add a lot of points plus the effects are done rather well. There’s a lot of use of the surroundings including intestines and whatnot and some creative use of the equipment to turn into a bomb. Overall, Yummy is a fun zombie movie. There’s some funny parts and is a silly experience as a whole with a lot of gore and blood and then a decent amount of nudity. I’m a little lukewarm towards it since its fun and all but I can’t see myself watching it again since I wasn’t a big fan of that type of ending (but spoiler free so I won’t dive further into that). Zombies, horror comedy, shabby hospital, blood, gore and nudity all seems to be things that you like, Yummy might be the movie for you.

Fantasia Festival 2020: The Oak Room (World Premiere 2020)

The Oak Room (2020)

The

Director: Cody Calahan

Cast: RJ Mitte, Peter Outerbridge, Ari Millen, Nicholas Campbell, Martin Roach, David Ferry, Amos Crawley

During a raging snowstorm, a drifter returns home to the blue-collar bar located in the remote Canadian town where he was born. When he offers to settle an old debt with a grizzled bartender by telling him a story, the night’s events quickly spin into a dark tale of mistaken identities, double-crosses and shocking violence. – IMDB

Being a big fan of Black Fawn Films ever since seeing the first one at Fantasia years ago, its always a fun time to see them back with another film. The Oak Room is a much different offering that takes place in the middle of snowstorm in Ontario bar tucked underground with stairs to descend. Its a film that focuses heavily on storytelling elements. As a young man Steve appears back home years after to settle a debt, he offers to tell a story to bartender Paul. Between this story about a bartender in the current reality and the one that Steve tells about another bar in a similar landscape, it all feels very random and separate. Except as the separate characters of both stories are revealed more and the conversation between Steve and Paul, revealing their issues and the past and father-son relationships and more, there is this tension that stews in the background that starts being stronger and stronger as the stories start making sense as to how it all works together. There’s some incredible execution to pair up the narrative.

Jeff Maher’s cinematography also grabs the bar setting incredibly well. It captures the dimly-lit setting of the bar but using the neon lights decoration to amp up the atmosphere. Its one of the reasons the opening scene is actually one that captures right from the beginning as it focuses on a bottle of beer sitting at the bar while a fight goes on out of focus in the background. There are a lot of those moments that give a mysterious vibe to the whole setting and pairs amazingly well with the story on hand.

With that said, the characters here are done really well. The two central characters is between a somewhat weaker character in the beginning that feels almost like he’s a bit useless in Steve, played by RJ Mitte. Steve’s character is one that develops a lot throughout as there is somewhat of a power change as the story he tells starts having a lot more substance to support his character and why he has come back. Facing Paul, played brilliantly by Peter Outerbridge, who is a strong character right from the start that commands the scene and has an upper hand over Steve. Steve and Paul play well off of each other. The same goes for the parallel scenes in the story about the other bar starring Michael (Ari Millen) and Richard (Martin Roach). Ari Millen and Martin Roach play their parts incredibly well also and play off of each other well. Their story actually wraps in a lot of tension.

The Oak Room

The Oak Room is a really good movie. Probably one of my faves from Black Fawn Films and this year’s Fantasia Festival so far. There’s this breath of fresh air of how they execute this narrative-heavy story that’s all in the subtlety. The script and dialogue works incredibly well together and its executed on point to build the tension to build up this thriller. Amping up from one story to the next and reveals more and more of the connection between the stories and the characters and it all ends in this point that leaves a lot of space for the audience to guess what happens in the final moment. All that is thanks to timing and pacing of the the whole film that pulls everything together.

Fantasia 2020: Detention (返校, 2019)

Detention (返校, 2019)

detention

Director (and co-writer): John Hsu

Cast: Gingle Wang, Chin-Hua Tseng, Meng-Po Fu, Cecilia Choi

Detention is an adaptation of independent video game of the same name developed by Red Candle Games which sets their story in Taiwan 1962 during the White Terror times when rules under martial law, all ideas considered dissendent is banned. In Tsuihua High School, two teachers have grouped together to create a secret underground literary club despite the close watch of the military police. Senior Fang wakes up alone in the classroom and realizes the school is no longer the same. As she searches for the teacher Zhang, she ends up joining up with a fellow student Wei. They can’t remember why they are at the school or how they got there but they continue their search. As they go further, they start encountering ghosts and monsters and their memory starts coming back as to what has happened.

Detention

Video game adaptations usually get a lot of harsh criticism. Detention is a unique premise. As a gamer, this game has been on my to-play list for a while and yet haven’t had time to give it a go yet. Going into this movie blind is a good idea though as the story unfolds like the layers of an onion. It flips between the present and the past from what goes on in Fang and Wei’s perspective respectively and separated neatly in chapters. How the other characters come into the equation and what happens with the military police and the underground club while having the mystery of why these ghosts and monsters are suddenly showing up and what has happened to this school. The story unfolds one layer at a time that adds helps build its intrigue as each side of the story has their own twist and their own secrets to reveal between young crushes, fighting for freedom and doing is what is right.

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Detention is heavily focused on the atmosphere. The school setting with the growing thunderstorm outside adds to the gloomy and dark atmosphere. Being set during the night creates the ambiance and also cleverly uses the lighting to its advantage. At one part, there is a play on the concept of reality and nightmare. As the story unravels, the different nightmare elements come into play using some horror tropes that actually are executed in an effective way. It has a fair share of jump scares which are mostly effective  but also manages to create a quiet and subtle environment that makes it more intense. Its because of these moments that the subtle sounds like repetitive clinking coin sounds or the off screen sound effects of something happening becomes more unnerving as its part of the unseen element. The monster reveal also doesn’t happen all in one shot and is slowly revealed from one scene to the next but when revealed has a good design as well. Kudos to some great visual cues used.

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Overall, Detention is a pretty good movie. As a video game adaptation, the story feels well-executed and paced really good. The atmosphere and tone is helped by the setting. Its story showcases a part of Taiwanese history while sharing a coming-of-age story as well as a little bit of romance in the background with themes of freedom and oppression. Everything is well balanced and the thrills of the story does happen as Fang and Wei slowly find back their own memories of how they got there. They are flawed in their own ways while also pulling in a family element that affects who they are as well. Full of twists and turns as well-constructed environment and atmosphere while delivering both subtle tension and effective jump scares, Detention is a great horror film taking its characters on a trip between reality, the past and nightmare to piece everything together.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Hunted (2020)

Hunted (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Vincent Paronnaud

Cast: Lucie Debay, Ciaran O’Brien, Arieh Worthalter

Once upon a frenzied time, Woman (Lucie Debay) meets Man (Arieh Worthalter). Woman dances with Man. Man kisses Woman. Man grips Woman. Woman escapes Man. Man chases Woman… Nothing new! Or is there? The over-recycled “revenge” story takes an unexpected turn in HUNTED. The Big Bad psycho-Wolf, embodiment of patriarchy, and his dummy sidekick engage in a wild hunt, but within mother nature’s protective maze of trees, the Red Riding warrior-Hood’s got killer moves, and won’t surrender so easily. – Fantasia Festival

Hunted is a live-action adult survival horror retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It builds from the general concept of the story of not talking to strangers because it can lead to being eaten by the wolf and grows from there. While the plot itself is familiar, much like other stories of women being abducted and then hunted down in a forest in a wilderness survival horror style. It has obvious parallels of the fairy tale its based on like the main woman, Eve wears a red coat with a hood and end up in the setting of the mystifying woods that its set in and the false grandmother twist. The movie itself digs into Vincent Paronnaud’s animation roots as it starts off with an animated story told to a child in the forest about Nicodemus and the Wolf-Girl. The story takes a twist when the story takes a turn that works in Eve’s favor and she sees the opportunity to turn the situation around, using the environment to her advantage. The execution and cinematography is done in a clever way especially as between some transition scenes, the surrounding nature is capture from the animals and bugs and even the dense forest.

Hunted

Hunted hones a small cast of a few people. Eve (Lucie Debay) is the Red Riding Hood who may start as a woman who goes out to unwind to end up meeting the wrong stranger, a man who is the Wolf (Arieh Worthalter) and his sidekick. They capture her not to kill her per se but to do a snuff film. Its an interesting way to present these characters. Eve herself doesn’t have so much depth but rather right away, we know that she’s not a weak female lead but actually has a lot of her own survival skills like blending with nature for example. Its a character that we can easily get behind to cheer on to get out of this ordeal alive. The Wolf is a much more unstable sort of character and probably one with a little more depth in comparison. He is an unlikable character but also one that feels a little unhinged especially when the story changes in the final act and seems to start blending in this reality and imagination/hallucination sort of deal where what he sees slowly pulls away from reality and as it pulls to the end, this is where the film seems to lose itself a little at a changing point. It gets a little hard to track in one portion, giving it this uncertainty between what is real and in their minds.

Overall, Hunted does try to be different in the realm of survivor horror. Its story is a bit confusing in its final act but it also feels like its meant to be that way as the “Wolf” seems to have lost his mind as he loses his power. It pulls in this line from the beginning story about “the company of wolves is better than that of man”. It becomes a fact of whether the wolf is just a villainous man and Eve (aka Red Riding Hood) finds her space with the woods that end up defending her. Its smart to use that opening story as a parallel to this story and then set up this retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. A lot of things are in the details and ends up finding its space even if the final act is a little bit confusing and for myself, falls apart and detracts a little. At the same time, the movie spends a lot of time chasing through the woods that in the middle, there is a little repetitive dragging feeling but as the tone and a little twist, it quickly finds its pacing again. Some little things that makes Hunted not quite as well-paced and well-executed in the second half than it did in its first half.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Time of Moulting (Fellwechselzeit, 2020)

Time of Moulting (Fellwechselzeit, 2020)

Director (and writer): Sabrina Mertens

Cast: Freya Kreutzkam, Miriam Schiweck, Zelda Espenschied, Bernd Wolf

Germany in the 1970s. Stephanie is a lively child, enjoys board games, playdates with neighbours, and holidays with the family. But her life takes an increasing turn towards isolation at the hands of her absent, temperamental father and a mentally unstable, often bedridden mother trapped in world of her own making. Something is quietly rotting away under the surface of familial life, and soon, the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, the months into years… bringing aging, clutter, decay, but no future in sight. Strange rituals abound and the outhouse – where the family keeps their boxes of memories and secrets – exerts a growing influence. So Stephanie retreats into a dark world of barbaric fantasies… – Fantasia Festival

Time of Moulting is a German drama film set in a series of still shots and moving interactions between the family over the span of two different age of the main girl Stephanie. The first is where she is a little girl and dealing with her family especially the bond with her mother while it jumps forward to the second part when she is a teenager in the vicinity of her home every single day and the change the grows in her.

Time of Moulting feels a little like a abstract character study of Stephanie. At the same time, its a film that is very experimental and slow-paced and requires a lot of reading between the lines as well as being incredibly patient to decipher all the is going on. There isn’t a lot of dialogue or interaction and its all watching some odd moments go on with Stephanie and the little things that carry from one scene to the next while also having other scenes as she interacts with her father who doesn’t really care too much and sits around watching TV a lot and her mother who is mostly unwell. The film takes place in the one setting of their home and the outhouse surrounded with clutter and mess as well as their cat.

The impression of Time of Moulting truly depends on how much of the abstract story it wants to tell is delivered to the audience. For myself, there is merit in the way it chooses to film it from the color tone of each setting to the different items that Stephanie uses even up to her scenes from a child to teenager where she starts doing some rather questionable things and making some odd decisions. It all moves straight to an even more abstract ending that almost doesn’t answer of the oddities from before and wraps up with ambiguity. Suffice to say that I’m not the audience meant for this film as the merit of the moments doesn’t add up to be greater than the shock of the ending and what might have happened leaves too many questions still in the air. Perhaps its one meant for discussion and would be interesting to see how others interpret this film, for myself, its on the same level as a previous movie that I had reviewed called La Version Nouvelle (review) which has a lot of similarities in how the film is executed even if the story is a completely different one.

I’m sure that there are people with deeper power of connection that might appreciate this movie for what its trying to present. There are some shocking moments that Stephanie does and the ending does have that sudden moment of revelation at one part that is fun. The cat parts throughout also was very fun (but when are cats not fun to see in movies) but this movie is a gloomy slow-paced story focused on a young girl going through some personal and psychological change which matches to the title of Moulting but what is “Moulting”? I have a lot of different theories right now but nothing that feels like I have a concrete answer because its a little too ambiguous and abstract for my own preference. However, if you do like these sort of experimental movie experiences, this is one to check out.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Sheep Without a Shepherd (2019)

Sheep Without a Shepherd (2019)

sheep without a shepherd

Director: Sam Quah

Cast: Xiao Yang, Joan Chen, Audrey Hui, Tan Zhuo, Ming-Shuai Shih, Paul Chun

Desperate measures are taken by a man who tries to save his family from the dark side of the law, after they commit an unexpected crime. – IMDB

Sheep Without A Shepherd is Chinese thriller remake of Malayalam film, Drishyam. Having not seen the source material, this is a standalone viewing for myself which works very well as a whole. The concept of having an every day joe be caught in a situation to use his own detective and thriller film enthusiast knowledge to protect his family and create their own alibi in some ways have been seen before but the execution of this film is done incredibly well and the thriller itself is gripping and intense as it builds to the finale where its questionable whether he will get away with his plan and the little details that is done off-screen in the twist.

Sheep Without a Shepherd also hones a stellar cast. With a supporting role as a neighbor and family friend by Paul Chun and Philip Keung plays the politician father of Suchat who is the boy that was accidentally killed, two actors of different calibre in Hong Kong but very much veterans of the Asian film industry, the latter having made quite the appearances in the recent decade in a lot of films of this genre. Joan Chen has a much bigger role as the police chief Laoorn who happens to also be the mother of Suchat and has quite the presence as she starts from desperation to anger to despair which leads her to make some questionable choices. Playing opposite her is the father and husband protecting his family is Xiao Yang in the role of Weijie Li. He takes on a big role which is mostly subtle in nature as he keeps his cool while using his knowledge from films to create an alibi for the family. Finally, Taiwanese actor Ming-Shuai Shih plays the hotheaded cop Sangkun who in others hands would be typically be over the top and yet, there’s something very strong of how he balances his character to be one that is more grounded and fitting to this corrupt/bad cop sort of character. In reality, each of these characters, whether the younger actresses playing the daughters to the main characters are written and played with a great balance and some depth to keep them moving the story along.

Sheep Without A Shepherd is a gripping story and its thanks to a tight-paced execution. Its watching both sides of the story parallel to each other from a desperate mother and the police station versus the family that needs to scramble to create their alibi and the mystery behind how their alibi works within the time frame that we know is incorrect. The audience knows partially what it is but the depth of the mystery dives a lot further and still manages to have some tricks to pull out. Because of the wrong that was done by Suchat and the layout of how the movie already shows the corrupt authority power in this Thailand area, it gives a blurry line between right and wrong. On one hand, its easy to back the father protecting his family and its successful in the audience siding with him and hoping that he and his family gets away with it because they are the weaker position in this whole situation and yet, accidental murder is still a crime so where do you draw the line, right? Talking more technical, Sheep Without a Shepherd also has some great visuals in the whole cinematography. It uses its camera to deliver the power roles and one of the most powerful scenes with Joan Chen towering over the young daughter makes her feel almost like a monster. There’s appropriate use of situation with how it films the rain and the gloomy shadow over each of these scenes.

Sheep With A Shepherd is a outstanding gripping thriller. It has a lot of tense moments between whether the family’s alibi with get them through and whether the other members of the family will all do their own part with the rushed training. At the same time, it clashes with the police side of the story which is portrayed in an unjust way where everything seems to be out of line. However, all this leads to a bigger element of societal issues of power, authority and leadership that gets brought into the story. There’s a lot of moving parts. Most of the time, its fairly subtle and there are a lot of details. Having the family’s main alibi being built on the knowledge and inspiration from South Korean thriller Montage and having constant movie mentions always gives its a little bit of a fun film buff twist as well. There’s a lot to love about Sheep Without a Shepherd whether its the thriller elements, the cinematography or the outstanding performances from its cast.

My August 2019 Adventures

Its been bothering me a while on how to change up these adventure posts because they are no longer weekly and I have no intention of making them weekly especially because biweekly collides a lot with the What’s Up already and there is some overlap there. So, the solution to it all is to just make it a monthly segments. It gives me time to get some of the recap posts together and also gives it a little more content to work with. This will be set for the last day of each month starting with this month’s recap of August!

Let’s get things started!

Fantasia Festival 2019 Wraps – Up (Aug 2)

Every year’s Fantasia Festival is a more and more ambitious feat as I try to pile in as much as I can and work with as much of the stuff as I can. This year was a bit different. It was a lot more time at the festival as less screeners offered off site but there was the screening room that I took advantage of to get conflicting films watched and round out the schedule better. Other than some hiccups on Day 1 for myself getting the pass, things actually panned out pretty well. Tallying 24 films (as shown in Instagram post above) and 6 short films.

My Top 5 films of Fantasia would  probably go to :

  • White Snake
  • Daniel Isn’t Real
  • Riot Girls
  • Paradise Hills
  • The Fable

Honorable Mentions: 1BR, Harpoon, Aquaslash

If you may have missed any of the reviews, you can find it all HERE.

Hiking: Parc National de Plaisance

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Festival season is done so its time to get back to some hiking and taking advantage of the outdoors before winter hits us in a little while. Weather is already starting to cool down a smidge, at least in the mornings. We went for an easy hike to Parc National de Plaisance and to explore their boardwalk (which seems super new or just newly redone) over the marshlands. We totaled around 6.5 to 7 kilometres of walking.

You can check out the recap of it HERE.

Girls Day Out

Sugar Marmalade

Its been a busy summer for everyone so after a few months, me and my girl friends finally found time to meet up for an overdue get together to catch up on everything. We had brunch at Petino’s in La Prairie area and then went to do some cake shopping for a bride to be in our group then went to have a beautiful afternoon snack at Sugar Marmalade. I had the herbal jelly above which I’ve been craving for a while.

Finding More Non-Dairy Choices

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I don’t always post about these new things I find at the grocery store usually but I think that some of these brands do deserve a nice little mention for going the non-dairy selections. The next to join the selection which I found is Magnum which has a very cool texture especially the ice cream is not as hard as the normal ice cream bars but feels like soft ice cream covered by rich Belgian chocolate. I liked these ones a lot. Its a bit more expensive than the Haagen Daz ones even on sale.

Toronto Weekend Getaway: Fan Expo Canada 2019

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Fan Expo Canada was a 4 day event where we met up with my awesome blogathon co-host for our annual Toronto meet-up to check out this event for its 25th anniversary for Saturday and Sunday. Went to a ton of panels and didn’t have enough time to check out every thing and it was definitely an adventure. You can check out the recap HERE and the general trip shopping haul HERE.

Gardening Update

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It feels like its been a while since I last talked about it (because I realized that I decided to do the format change at the beginning of August. Either way, I lost some plants (zucchini) and then some are doing quite well. We had some harvests. My mom who is the gardening expert came by while I was away at Fan Expo and told me that my garden needed to level up on the soil which has me thinking to raise up the sides of the garden a little and fill it with soil. Its something that has to be done since the wood around it are starting to rot and break apart. Lots of projects to deal with. Yet again, I have to reiterate the importance to not buying your house in the winter where there is heavy snow and you can’t see the condition of both the garden and the roof which the latter is 80% solved with the gutters still needing to be changed while the garden is a constant nuisance of crap to deal with. Either way, one step at a time and soon, we will get this house stuff settled once and for all.

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Ending on a positive note, if there’s anything I’m proud of, its my flower garden which has really grown well. I just need to get some more mulch to cover it up properly and tend to some weeds but overall, it looks really nice and has a nice group of flowers and alternate in blooming season so the whole summer has been colorful.

Cute Kitty Pic

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That’s it for this August adventures!
Its a new frequency but same format!
Hopefully you will enjoy it!

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?