Fantasia Festival is Here!

Fantasia International Film Festival is in town (aka Montreal)!

Fantasia Festival started today in the evening, opening with Korean film, The Villainess. It runs for the next three weeks! It runs from July 13 to August 2.

Luckily, I’ll be covering it this year, like past years! This year, I did think ahead and tried to get myself media accreditation and it happened! That is awesome and I’m really excited. I’ve generally gotten my calendar set on what movies to fit in and I’m being a little pickier with times and what movies I see. The first review goes up tomorrow afternoon as I ponder over a documentary and how to word it properly in a review, as you all know that I don’t review documentaries a lot.

No double features on this one. Fantasia Festival will be getting all full reviews and I’ll hop back to double features after the festival is over.

With that said, I’ll try to keep variety here, however, excuse me if the festival gets on and I don’t have as much time or energy to think in advance for it. Between balancing actual work, Fantasia Festival and Game Warp, its going to be a intense scheduling and efficiency practice on my part. And no, this festival has jumped back to its roots a little more and dives into a lot of foreign films as well as straying a little more away from horror this year. Its a nice change although I do potentially have some in my schedule. I won’t bore you with the technicalities of having the press pass, because honestly, I’m feeling incredibly grateful to even have it so I’ll be working extra hard.

With that said, every year I talk about hte movies that I’ll be going to see. I feel like I can’t promise anything this year as it can change anytime so instead, I’ll talk about the movies I plan on seeing and the movies that are in my maybes and has me intrigued:

  • Abu: Father (2017)
  • Tilt (2017)
  • A Ghost Story (2017)
  • Vampire Clean-Up Department (2017)
  • Savage Dog (2017)
  • Replace (2017)
  • Radius (2017)
  • Origami (2017)
  • Most Beautiful Island (2017)
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable (2017)
  • Friendly Beast (2016)
  • Better Watch Out (2016)
  • Overdrive (2017)
  • Fashionista (2016)
  • Bushwick (2017)

Movies I considered but can’t seem to fit into the schedule (or trying to):

  • Shockwave (2017)
  • Mohawk (2017)
  • Senior Class (2016)
  • Bad Genius (2017)
  • Rage (2016)
  • 68 Kill (2017)
  • Napping Princess
  • Bitch (2017)
  • Boyka: Undisputed (2016)
  • Dead Shack (2017)

Looking at the listings, there are over 200 films, both shorts and full lengths and an awesome lists of guests that will be hosting their films from directors to writers to cast members and even crew members. Looking at the calendar and blog archives, I’ve been covering Fantasia unofficially for the last 3 years (maybe 4 but first year, I only saw 2 movies), and the Festival has grown so much over these years and the movie choices have been incredible. Its always a positive experience going and if you are in Montreal, I urge you to go check it out!

If you do, give me a shout! Maybe we can hang out and talk movies! It’ll be fun…if time matches up, of course 🙂

Have you heard or seen any of these movies?
The full list of films can be found HERE. 
What movies peaked your interest?

Game Warp: Top 10 Independent Games Showcased at E3 2017!

As some of you know, I’m in love with independent games. In fact, I’m pretty much really supportive of the independent scene regardless of movies or authors. There’s so much hidden talent there and what someone can create out of passion and creativity (just like us bloggers here) are great. We should help each other out and hope that we all get that big break. One really great thing right now is to see that although still very tough, the indie scene can all have their chances and E3 2017 showed off a good amount of smaller games.

Over at Game Warp, we sifted through the trailers and these are our Top 10 Independent Games from E3 2017.

If you missed out on our Top 10 Mainstream Games, you can check it out HERE!

Thanks for watching! Hope you enjoyed!
Remember to subscribe to our Youtube channel so you don’t miss our upcoming episodes!

What games made your indie games list this year?

Double Feature: The Fitzroy (2017) & Suicide Squad (2016)

The new structure for here onwards will be double features, my lovelies. If you want great full-length movie reviews, I can refer you to a ton of bloggers. At least it will be spoiler-free guaranteed as always. There may be some exceptions but for now, this will be the format for the most part.

This week’s double feature starts with one of the first projects that I backed on Kickstarter that finally made its premiere and as I am not in the UK, I received a 48 hours access to watch it digitally. Next up, we jump into a more action and comic variety of villains turned heroes in a way with Suicide Squad.

Lets get started! 🙂

The Fitzroy (2017)

the fitzroy

Director (and writer): Andrew Harmer

Cast: Cerith Flinn, Jan Anderson, Kenneth Collard, David Schaal, David Gant, Stuart McGugan

The Fitzroy is a live action black comedy set in an alternative post-apocalyptic 1950s. The world is covered in poisonous gas, and the last place for a traditional seaside holiday is The Fitzroy hotel, an abandoned submarine just off the coast of England. The film centers on Bernard, the hotel’s bellboy, cook, maintenance man and general dogsbody, as he faces a constant battle to keep the decaying hotel airtight and afloat. But when he falls in love with a murderous guest, he is thrown into a mad day of lies, backstabbing and chaos. As Bernard struggles to hide her murders from the other guests and suspicious authorities, his world literally begins to sink around him. – IMDB

One promise that I make is when this comes out officially and I actually receive my copy of it that I’ll write up a full review on this. The Fitzroy arrived on a pretty busy weekend and we managed to squeeze out some time late at night to watch it. The Fitzroy is a compelling movie to watch. Its a tad predictable but the characters are so fleshed out along with a well-written and entertaining script that it has a lot of laughs and fun characters to watch come alive on screen. There is no doubt that The Fitzroy is indie though. There is a lot of charm to the movie along with creativity for the world they have set. Plus, it really is almost all set in one enclosed area with a few exceptions. The danger is also in its environment. The movie is extremely quirky and I mean it in the best way.

Kickstarter projects are always a toss of luck and I don’t remember when this project launched why I backed it and I am sure over the years, my taste on movies have shifted however, I had a great time watching this one.

Suicide Squad (2016)

suicide squad

Director (and writer): David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingue, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jared Leto, Scott Eastwood

A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse. – IMDB

Once again, in case you are new here, I need to start with the fact that I have not read any comics so if this is based on any source material of that variety, for myself, this is a standalone. Also do know that I have not caught up with Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman so while I feel like the mention some of those events, I don’t know if there is a link however, Suicide Squad feels and is standalone for myself.

The best way to describe Suicide Squad is with the word fun. There is a lot of fun. Humor and a ragtag team of villains and fighting and the likes. With the cast they got, its pretty entertaining. However, my husband described it the best the end as he called it very comic-like in the way its made. It isn’t criticism since many movies do a great job using that approach. It is why it keeps it rather light. Suicide Squad also works as an intro to these characters in case we don’t know them: their stories and what motivates them to stay alive. It works because for myself, it didn’t feel like we were invading someone’s story.

Perhaps the best part of Suicide Squad is its cast. Will Smith is fantastic as Deadshot, Margot Robbie was incredibly entertaining as Harley Quinn: other familiar villains like Killer Croc has a role. I love Viola Davis a ton so her role here fit so well with her. I think if I was to rant a little would be the underuse of The Joker because it was played up so much in the publicity about how he did a fantastic job when he was there for like 5 minutes (or what felt like that). At least not enough for me to think that he did a particularly good or bad job. There’s so much here that is much more than that and that has to go to finally not focusing around The Joker which is something that us over at Game Warp have appreciated in some of the Batman games because its gives space for other villains to grow as well.

Suicide Squad still has a rather predictable flow of events however, the script gives these characters a little more than fluff and while it is very comic-like, it is really just an entertaining time.

Have you seen Suicide Squad or heard of The Fitzroy?

Netflix A-Z: Night Owls (2015)

Sorry for the later post than usual. Who knew a random day off from work would make things be more behind than I’d expect!

We are resuming our sprint to finish up Netflix A-Z before 2017 and we are at the letter N with the indie comedy drama called Night Owls. I’ve always been a sucker for movies that focus around two people in a specific length of time. When done right, it becomes somewhat of a nice and profound character study. I haven’t heard of Night Owls until it landed on Netflix so let’s jump right in!

Night Owls (2015)

Night Owls

Director (and co-writer): Charles Hood

Cast: Adam Pally, Rosa Salazar, Rob Huebel, Tony Hale, Peter Krause

After workaholic Kevin has a drunken one night stand with the beautiful train-wreck Madeline, he’s horrified to discover that she’s actually his boss’ jilted ex-mistress. When she takes a bottle of sleeping pills, Kevin is forced to keep her awake… – IMDB

Night Owls is a quiet little indie film about two people pulled together “accidentally” however they are forced to spend the rest of the night. As I mentioned before, there is so much appeal for me when its a focus on two people and usually two people who are put together unwillingly because it has a certain level of character development. The charm in Night Owls is one that I didn’t quite figure out how I felt until around the mid-point because of the characters which I will talk about in the next part. However, I do want to point out that while Night Owls doesn’t particularly have an idea that breaks any particular barriers and the ending is rather predictable, it does have some great character development, dialogue and interaction and gradual build of chemistry between our two characters, Kevin and Madeline.

Night Owls

Opposites attract. Its one of the best formulas in romantic films. It creates friction and conflict, debate and challenge to each of the characters. That is exactly what Kevin, played by Adam Pally and Madeline, played by Rosa Salazar does. Aside from having a refreshing script with some great dialogue, the interaction, connection and chemistry between them and the great performances they deliver is what drives Night Owls home. Adam Pally plays Kevin who is a guy with a dream. He is working towards his ultimate dream to be a coach as he is mentored by one of his idols. He is rather weak-minded and easily manipulated and pretty naive as well. There’s a protective barrier around him that he sets up and a side of him isn’t really the appealing guy that most women would be attracted to and it is further implied by Madeline’s character when she sleeps with him to get to his boss/mentor/idol who is her ex-lover, Will (Kevin’s boss).

In fact, this is where Madeline’s character contrasts. In many ways, Madeline’s much more exposed life to facing the real world makes her see the true nature of who she is with. However, it also leads her to making bad choices and not always picking the best options but also not quite having the self-esteem or courage to follow her dreams and see who she is and in Will, she gets that but she also sees Will’s flaws and these are all the things that is the dirty laundry no one gets to see and as the night goes on, she reveals them to Kevin one thing at a time.

The beginning of Night Owls and the reason why I couldn’t quite decide early on whether I enjoyed this one or not was because it took a while to actually connect with Kevin and/or Madeline and really feel for them. At the start, it was a lot of fuzzy and stupid moments and its a lot of bickering and yelling and angry talk. However, when things cool down a little and they actually sit down or move around the house, picking up pieces of Will and they both share tangents or connected memories, we learn more about these characters at just how they analyze the situation and it makes us wonder two things: whether Kevin will face that his idol maybe isn’t as perfect as he seems and that his goals may be actually not too realistic and not quite as he planned and intended; and whether Madeline still loves Will and why she did if she sees all these flaws. Two pertinent questions but ones that we wonder especially as we see that as Madeline sobers a little from her suicide attempt, their conversations become more and more profound and it turns into a  intriguing look into who these two are and the potential they have to be together and actually be good for each other and possibly what they both need. That is the magic of Kevin and Madeline and the power of great performances matched up with a well thought out script that can turn two people who we probably can’t root for into people that we’d choose to root for.

Night Owls

 While Night Owls is 90% around Kevin and Madeline, there are a few characters that pop up. One more familiar to me Tony Hale who I recently saw (but haven’t reviewed yet) in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. He also has these funny moments in the most serious way and that works for me. Tony Hale plays the secret doctor that gets sent to try to save Madeline from her suicide attempt. The second role is one that we see mostly through a phone conversation until the end from Rob Huebel who plays Peter, somewhat of the guy who keeps up the image for Will and tries to get rid of Madeline from what could potentially be damaging. Peter is the person that we soon learn is pretty manipulative and in fact, has his way most of the time and weaves up the lies to make Kevin follow through the plans further emphasizing how the whole situation was based on a lot of lies to anyone outside of what was happening. Last person who only showed up near the end is Will Campbell played by Peter Krause. In a very short cameo, we can almost see through his character as we’ve already learned so much about him and pieced it together through Kevin and Madeline’s conversation throughout the entire night.

Overall, Night Owls is a well-executed indie film with a pretty charming script and even better performances to deliver it and make it all believable. While I don’t think that the story itself is incredibly based on anything very unique, even the ending itself is rather expected, the journey of watching the development of the characters Kevin and Madeline was a trip that was well worth the time.

Netflix A-Z: Last Weekend (2014)

Continuing on with the Netflix A-Z mad dash to the finish line, I have to say that this choice was made for a few reasons. One of them is trying to find family-based movies. Then there’s Patricia Clarkson and she is always a fantastic actress. That is how Last Weekend ended up in the L selection, pushing the close second Laggies aside. I’ve never heard of it and don’t know what its about but hey, why not, right? The spontaneity is what makes Netflix A-Z so fun to do!

Let’s check it out!

Last Weekend (2014)

Last Weekend

Director: Tom Dolby (writer) & Tom Williams

Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Chris Mulkey, Joseph Cross, Zachary Booth, Rutina Wesley, Fran Kranz, Alexia Rasmussen, Jayma Mays, Devon Graye

When an affluent matriarch gathers her dysfunctional family for a holiday at their Northern California lake house, her carefully constructed weekend begins to come apart at the seams, leading her to question her own role in the family. – IMDB

Last Weekend is full of familiar faces. Perhaps that may be one of the first things you will notice. Leading with Patricia Clarkson, we follow through with smaller supporting roles from Rutina Wesley (also known for her role as Tara in True Blood), and Fran Kranz (known for a ton of stuff including Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods) and then we have Jayma Mays (from Glee) and personally for me, Alexia Rasmussen (from Listen to Your Heart). Lots of talent and potential just looking at the cast. Except, Last Weekend leaves me feeling a little empty. In some ways, I can get what the story is trying to portray except it executes the idea not well enough especially when the ending is rather empty with not a whole lot of resolution. Perhaps that is the depressing point in the finale, that family isn’t clear cut and for many issues, there is no resolution. In my mind, there should be less focus on the kids and what happens to them in this “last weekend” and more on Patricia Clarkson and her husband and her interactions because that would be more to see, except how long would a movie taking that angle take before its audience might find it monotonous. But then, in this case, I don’t agree with putting in scenes that never get addressed ever again, rendering them pointless.

Last Weekend

One of the standout of Last Weekend is Patricia Clarkson and the setting. The house, the decor and the scenery is captivating to look at. Patricia Clarkson’s portrayal of a mother who can’t seem to and doesn’t want to let go of her kids and the fact that they have grown up and has left her care or let go of this last weekend of making a decision of whether she has made the right decision to sell this vacation house and all the things that she has grown attached to. It is a mother’s journey for the most part and Patricia Clarkson does a beautiful job and portraying it and making it believable as we try to understand her character. In many ways, it is the scenes that she is involved that make the movie shine the most, even in its most disjointed moments. One of my favorite ones is the one above when we finally see the connection between her daughter in law Vanessa (played by Alexia Rasmussen) and her, who she doesn’t have much fondness for, finally see something in common and she opens up to her a little more. As the audience, we can actually see the similarities between their personalities and its probably the nuance that her son chose someone similar to his parents.

Last Weekend Probably the hardest thing to like in Last Weekend are the characters as well. Contradicting to the top? Maybe a little. Because the sons here, Roger (played by Joseph Cross) and Theo (played by Zachary Booth) are incredibly annoying characters. In a way, you can see that they don’t want to be under the wings of their parents and they want to show that they have grown up but in many ways, they also lack the sensitivity to try to understand her or remember to check up on her once in a while. It could also be a statement of grown-up kids and the changed dynamic and different point of views from being away. Whatever its trying to say, it seems to start off in some way and never quite gives any resolve or redemption. It feels a little incomplete to me. Granted it is set over a weekend, perhaps it wasn’t mean to have a lot of character development and its more about their mom’s acceptance of the situation. Although, why there was such attention on their relationships baffled me at the end. Maybe it kind of highlights something a bit more favorable about their personality.

last weekend

I feel like I’m being tough on Last Weekend or maybe it just needs a few more viewings or I’m just not the target audience. I somehow don’t quite get what the movie was trying to do. It seems to have a message but it doesn’t seem to execute the idea well enough. While there are some solid performances, there is also a lot of unappealing characters (which is usually normal in dysfunctional family movies) and a lot of disjointed and unresolved moments. Perhaps that is what turns me off more. Plus, it doesn’t help that as I was trying to find meaning in Last Weekend, I ended up seeing it having a pretty negative message and kind of put me in a rather bad mood afterwards. Last Weekend has merit, just not enough to make it worth a second watch, however, maybe you will find something that I didn’t. If you did, please come back and tell me about it. I really wanted to like this one more.