Fantasia Film Festival 2014: Hal (2013) & Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl (short 2013)

As my friends would say, seeing anime at Fantasia is where the roots are at.  I don’t remember what the roots are of Fantasia.  In my book, if a film festival offers good movies, I don’t really care what genre we’re looking at.  Maybe thats what makes me passionate about movies and diving into that new world.  Regardless, I was intrigued by this North American premiere one in particular called Hal (Haru for the Japan title). Its a short little one hour long movie and was accompanied by a short called Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl to start things off.  Plus, we had the trailer/gameplay of Rainbox Six Siege which was pretty cool.  You can actually find that trailer on Youtube.

First of all, I feel like I should talk a little about the short: Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl.

Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl

This is just a cute little story about a boy who has a crush on a girl in his class and then she announces that she has to move away for whatever reason so he has to find the courage to tell her how he feels.  Its silly, fun, cute, innocent and so funny to watch.  A lot of people (if not everyone) had a good laugh with this short.  Sonny Boy was just hilarious in how clumsy he was and then the animation and imagination was totally adorable. It was a beautiful way to start off before the actual movie.

Now for a little synopsis for Hal 🙂

Hal 2013Director: Ryoutarou Makihara

Cast: Yoshimasa Hosoya, Yoko Hikasa, Mamoru Miyano

In a future world in Japan, technology has been advanced to the point where robots can behave completely like humans.  Hal’s sudden death took away Kurumi’s will to live and that is when her family sends in a robot who looks like Hal to remind her what living is.  While Hal tries to fulfill her wishes and help her step back into society as herself, he struggles to understand what it is like to be human and how to feel.

Hal is quick and to the point anime at around 60 minutes.  I haven’t dived into the world of anime in a long time and other than Miyazaki’s world, I’m pretty much new to this side of it.  Whether its original or not, I don’t know.  However, this love story between Hal and Kurumi and just how she rehabilitates after the loss of Hal is a touching one.  For one, its definitely not easy to watch and actually leans on the heavy side.  There are some heartwarming moments and some funny ones because not only is Kurumi’s actions awkward at times, Hal is a robot and he also has his funny moments when he learns the little things that humans only learn over time.  Everything is new to him and he has to learn to live also.

Hal 2013

Hal is quite interesting and it all comes down to whether you like how they end this.  There is a twist in this one and I think the appreciation for it comes down to how predictable you felt it was.  I personally was shocked by it and actually thought it was pretty clever.  Along with the fact that everything is very nicely animated and there is a cute meaning behind it, I had a good time watching this.  A girl two seats down from me was bawling her eyes out because she was so touched but no, I didn’t hit that territory.  I felt like the premise was good and they had a good layout but somehow the execution could have been a little bit better.  Maybe its because it was so short that I didn’t get time to really connect with any of the characters and then it ended. I haven’t really pinpointed it yet.

Don’t get me wrong though. I’d definitely watch this again some time but it does lean on the heavy side with themes of life and death being in the front seat. Despite my little complaints, I really don’t see a lot of problems with this.  The characters are done well and it keeps us guessing because if you saw the trailer, it pretty much points to the question of whether Hal was really such a great guy.  I won’t say more because then its going to hit spoiler territory and I want to avoid that.

I have no recommendations but at such a short runtime, I’d say that Hal is worth it.  Maybe it’ll tug at your heartstrings a little more than me but it did have some touching moments along with a handful of awkward and funny ones.  All in all, its a good movie experience and the background music is pretty sweet also.  Plus, I put the end theme song up there and I like it a lot! Its no Hayao Miyazaki story or Joe Hisaishi music but I’d say it still has its charm.

Are you an anime fan? Have you seen or heard of it?

Fantasia Film Festival & My Line-up!

Fantasia Film Festival starts this week in Montreal. It runs from July 17th to August 6th.

Last year, I lost track of when it started and ended up catching 2 movies.  Sad and pathetic, yeah, I know.  In my defense, I was super sick and was on antibiotics.

This year, I amended my old ways and tracked the event and waited for the schedule to go up and then chose my movies and was ready to pounce at those tickets the first moment they went online.

My plan is to see 10 movies and as this goes up, I’m still hoping that one of them will open up because I don’t quite understand what “restricted availability” is but I have a few backups, I that I can choose from. I’ll tell you which one in a little bit.

No rambling on today.  We’re going straight to business.  This is my line up in order of when I’ll see them.

1) JULY 18: OPEN WINDOWS/SPAIN/USA/2014

Open Windows is one I’m not completely sure about.  Sasha Grey isn’t all that convincing to me but then I’m guessing she’ll strip so there’s a appeal to people who like that but my reason is that Elijah Wood has been on a crazy streak of horror movies and they’ve all been received well.  I haven’t seen Maniac or Grand Piano yet but the trailers for those looked good as does this one.  I’ll try to squeeze in Maniac before I go, just to get an idea of Elijah Wood in horror movies, but no guarantees 😉

2) JULY 19: I ORIGINS/USA/2014

I Origins is probably one of the most anticipated movies in 2014 for me.  Brit Marling has been doing amazing movies with Another Earth and The East. She is unstoppable and this one is loaded with cast that I love.  This one was squeezed on a not very good day with another one that I’ll talk about in the end that I had to miss because of my friend’s wedding.  This one cuts into hers just a little but I’ll only be 20 minutes late max.  It should be okay, right? I just couldn’t give it up…what else can I say?

3) JULY 20: CYBERNATURAL/USA/2014

http://www.fantasiafestival.com/2014/en/films-schedule/250/cybernatural

Somehow Youtube didn’t have a trailer for this one but they have a trailer if you follow the link the festival’s page 🙂

Cybernatural is one of the last decisions that I made when compiling this list.  I gave my boyfriend a few choices since he’s going to see some of the weekend movies with me (especially horror).  This one was the final choice.  It looks like it has a pretty intriguing setup and seems to touch on various social issues in the process.

4) JULY 26: JACK ET LA MECANIQUE DU COEUR/FRANCE/2013

In English, the title is called Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart.

Last year, I saw a few animated movies from France and the style just charmed me so much that when I saw this one and the trailer, I knew I had to see it.  I like the whole dark Gothic style and the original idea of having a boy with a cuckoo clock as his heart.  I’m really excited for this one.

5) JULY 27: HAL/JAPAN/2013

Back to back days of animation.  How can I go to Fantasia and not see something from Japan? I almost wanted to choose a Korean one but it didn’t really work for me other than the cute characters and this one seems to have a more intriguing storyline whether its love or maybe something more. Plus, its only 60 minutes and the animation looks really nice.

6) JULY 28: INTO THE STORM/USA/2014

I already had Into the Storm in my anticipated movies for 2014 but seeing as this showed up in Fantasia Film Festival, I’m guessing it might not make it to the theatre near me.  Plus, I get advance viewing from everyone else in Montreal whose not seeing this on July 28th? Who needs perks anyways? I just want to see Richard Armitage in a leading role and I love disaster movies.  This one could hit the over the top area but sometimes, it works well 🙂 I’m staying optimistic for this one!

7) AUGUST 1: DYS-/QUEBEC/2014

I’m usually not running towards Quebec productions and no, that should say Canada because as much as Quebec wants to believe its unique and not part of Canada, it is.  Just so no one bans me from the movie for saying that, I’m going to shut up about that part.  This movie is weirdly in English (take that, Quebec :P) and its shot in my friend’s condo building.  I recognized the hallways.  Plus, it has a creepy vibe to it.  Its the only horror that I will be going to see by myself, unless some friend decides to join me.

8) AUGUST 2: THE DROWNSMAN/CANADA/2014

Last year, I wanted to check out Antisocial, which looked mad gory but it had some messed up time where I was always at work.  I know a few of you of reviewed it.   The Drownsman is done by the same team, I believe I read that somewhere.  Confession time: I can’t make it through the trailer? My boyfriend watched it for me and gave it a thumbs up for scary and potentially awesome and he laughed because he doesn’t know how I’ll get through the movie if I can’t get through the trailer.  I don’t know either but I’ll figure it out when I’m sitting in the theatre…

9) AUGUST 2: TIME LAPSE/USA/2013

Thats right! August 2nd is a double feature for us.  We have back to back movies with a little time slot in the middle to eat dinner (hopefully). I wasn’t so sure about Time Lapse until I saw the trailer and then I was sold.  Time Lapse looks intense and pretty intense.  The question with these sci-fi time travel-esque movies is whether it makes sense.  I’m confident that it will but I’m also curious to see how this pans out 🙂

Thats what I’ve bought so far!

The movie I believe slipped out of my grasp is also the one I expected to also: the special screening of Guardians of the Galaxy.  I don’t really mind too much.  I’ll still end up seeing it opening weekend, I’m pretty sure.  One of my friends seem pretty hyped up about it.

BUT, that means to complete my 10 movie run, I need to choose one more.

I have to miss Suburban Gothic (and the chance to see Matthew Gray Gubler) because of my friend’s wedding but here’s the trailer:

This just looks so good.  But I had to make a choice and I have prior commitments.  Lets see other options…

There is one that made me laugh called 3D Naked Ambition, a Hong Kong movie at 11:55pm.  Red light flashing on it possibly being in the porn department since its like at midnight.  As I was trying to find the trailer, I actually found the full movie on Youtube so nope, especially since I won’t have public transport to go home either.

Honeymoon also looks pretty good, but I’m not too fond of watching too many horrors on my own.

As interesting as this is, its also a pass.

Now, I could go on because there’s a few action movies that looked decent as well but I came to the final conclusion that it doesn’t feel right to give up the chance to watch a Hong Kong movie on the big screen.  They have one, From Vegas to Macau which I actually bought when I went to Hong Kong earlier and I will review it during this festival time (if I find time for it).

The final choice goes to That Demon Within.  Its somewhat of a horror action flick, if that even exists.

Nick Cheung has been churning out hit after hit and he’s just been out of control.  Daniel Wu is also one of my favorite actors.  The more I watch this trailer, the more I’m convinced this is going to be epic.  On top of that, its a crime thriller and I just can’t resist them.

Thats it for Fantasia Film Festival for now! I’ll be back with reviews in a little bit 🙂 I’ll try to get them out as soon as possible but with the movies mostly at night, I might have a few days delay depending on my schedule.  Things will stay as normal as possible here.  For sure, the focus will be geared towards movie reviews but I still remember that I have the Hong Kong trip that I have a few posts to put up also at the very least.

What movies peak your interest? Have you been to the Fantasia Film Festival? If you are going, what are you seeing?