January 30, 2015

Honeymoon (Leigh Janiak, 2014)

Paul and Bea, a newlywed couple, vacation at the bride’s family cabin for their honeymoon. But, even though the chosen setting is remote and bucolic, strange happenings cast a shadow on the freshly minted couple.  What is most impressive (and refreshing) with Honeymoon is the director’s perspective. Without any spoilers, the big reveal has a lot to do with the […]
January 30, 2015

Live (Noboru Iguchi, 2014)

In Live, a young Japanese man is forced to participate in a murderous race to save his mother, fighting against similar victims hoping to save their loved ones, a novel relating the same premise as his only guide. Even stranger, the novel’s principal character has his name. Now I haven’t had the change to see Dead Sushi (Noboru Iguchi, 2012) […]
December 20, 2013

Fantasia 2013 bits I

Rurouni Kenshin (Keishi Ohtomo, 2012) For our readers new to the character, the film is the story of Kenshin, a samurai who, in penance for his past sins, dedicates his life to helping the innocent with a reverse-edge blade, a weapon that can never kill. I’m a huge fan of the anime series, and although it was loads of fun […]
October 23, 2013

Key of Life (Kenji Uchida, 2012)

Key of Life’s premise is very close to Rough Cut’s (Hun Jang, 2008), but effectively mixes comedy and drama, resulting in a striking aesthetic blend. In it, a failed actor usurps a stranger’s life and discovers he has to pretend to be a killer-for hire, while that stranger, suffering from amnesia, is led to believe he’s the actor and begins to […]
October 22, 2013

Drug War (Johnny To, 2012)

A staple of the Fantasia Festival, and like Takashi Miike a very prolific director, Johnny To had a new film at Fantasia this year called Drug War. Sold as the dismantling by the police of a Hong Kong crime cartel with the help of a compromised boss turned informant, Drug War is so much more complex than just a straight […]
October 17, 2013

Shield of Straw (Takashi Miike, 2013) and Lesson of the Evil (Takashi Miike, 2012)

Shield of StrawMy first film at Fantasia in 2013 was Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw, one of the director’s contribution to the festival. Miike is a known workhorse, directing sometimes three films per year, in a myriad of genres and styles. Yet, there seems to be a connecting thread through his films, which feels harder to ascertain for me than […]
October 17, 2013

My Fantasia 2013: Preamble

This year, Fantasia started with a change of venue (the Concordia Hall theater is gone for now, under construction), and we were welcomed back to the Imperial theater on Bleury Street. It’s an old new home since the festival started out showing films at the Imperial way back when.   On March 16th at 1PM, the tickets for the festival […]
September 30, 2013

The Human Race (Paul Hough, 2013)

The Human Race is an atypical survival horror film containing some sci-fi elements and archetypal characters in inventive genre-bending situations. Abducted from the same stretch of street in Los Angeles, 60+ strangers must run through an elaborate course and follow their unknown captors’ instructions to stay alive. As a small budget independent horror film, The Human Race reminded me of Night of […]
June 9, 2013

Graceland (Ron Morales, 2012)

In essence a morality tale, Graceland, part of the Fantasia 2012’s retrospective on Filipino cinema, makes a violent case against crooked morals and institutionalized corruption. In the film, Marlon, a driver for a wealthy politician, has his daughter kidnapped in a botched abduction that also results in the death of the politician’s daughter. Marlon must pretend his boss’s daughter is still […]
March 28, 2013

Sunny (Hyeong-Cheol Kang, 2011)

Sunny is at once a coming-of-age and a reunion film, with detective elements, feminine-pop aesthetics, fleshed-out characters and intricate narrative elements.   In the film, middle-aged Na-mi reunites with her high school friend, Choon-Hwa. Dying of cancer, Choon-Hwa’s last wish is to be able to see Sunny, their group of high school friends, reunited. Thus, Na-mi embarks on a search […]
March 26, 2013

Starry Starry Night (Tom Lin, 2011)

Starry Starry Night’s young love, innocence and whimsy are infectious. What it does, it does reasonably well.Based on the book by Jimmy Liao, Starry Starry Night is a coming-of-age story, depicting a summer of love and adventure. Xiao Mei’s life (our protagonist) isn’t going very well: her parents are getting divorced; she’s a pariah in her middle school and doesn’t […]
March 11, 2013

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (Te-sheng Wei, 2011)

A Taiwanese epic about the indigenous people of the island of Taiwan; their lives, culture and values; before the encroachment of Japanese expansion. The most striking thing about WotR is how much of a labour of love it seems to be for its filmmaker; it is felt both in the movie’s story and in its direction. Te-sheng Wei, along with producer John […]