Comedy

The Definitive TGoF Recap of the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival

What’s on tap for today?

I look forward to the Fantasia Film Festival each year for a variety of reasons. One, you get to take in a wide array of genre titles, many of which may or may not find their way to a broader audience. Two, it’s one of the few festivals that caters to the film blogger with a jam packed lifestyle and makes a number of the titles available for remote coverage.

While I hope to one day actually be able to escape to the Montreal fest in person someday it’s equally as busy on the home front balancing work and home life while trying to fit in some weird flicks in the interim. As a family man with a full-time job it’s not a walk in the park finding the free time to watch insane genre movies and then sitting down to write about them–as much as I wish I was the guy who was getting paid for people to disagree about movies with on a daily basis. So, while my Fantasia intake is a fraction of your typical writer who attends the fest, here’s a rundown of some of titles I caught that hopefully everyone will be able to take a gander at sooner rather than later.

Bodied

bodied_posterHollywood has yet to see the value in the chaotic brain belonging to director Joseph Kahn. His work has been ridiculed and praised in equal parts for his cinematic efforts Torque and Detention. The frequent music video director may have really hit his stride though with Bodied, a battle rap comedy and drama that, if there is any justice in his world, will see Kahn finally breaking through into the mainstream of film culture.

The straight pitch for Bodied (a term I had no knowledge of prior to this film’s existence) is essentially what if 8 Mile were about a privileged white kid studying battle rap as an art form and became a heavyweight in the medium in the process. Also, if the climatic battle rap of 8 Mile were stretched into 2 hours. Calum Worthy stars as Adam, the aforementioned privileged white Ivy League geek who attends a battle rap session to interview Behn Grymm (Jackie Long) and get the 411 about the use of the “N word” in and out of the battle rap context. When asked to put his battle rap knowledge to the test Adam impressed, finding his star thrust to the big leagues of the battle rap circles. The higher his star rises, the more he loses his grip on what’s acceptable in and out of the confines of a battle rap stage.

There’s a double edged sword slicing its way throughout the course of Bodied and its the character of Adam as a whole. Joseph Kahn as director and working from a script he co-wrote with Alex Larsen allows the audience to experience what it’s like to completely flip their opinion on Adam left and right. At first he seems like a well meaning–if somewhat intellectually obnoxious–scholar obsessed with a culture that he more or less doesn’t belong in. Eventually he transforms into a completely obnoxious, homophobic, and racist scholar, but the complex part is deciding if Adam IS all of those things, or if he just loses himself in the art and culture that he’s co-opted.

Once you can stomach the ups and downs of watching Adam spit fart smelly intellectual musings about cultural appropriation and race relationships then rap poetically about various racist stereotypes, misogyny, and homophobia then you’re well on your way to connecting with Kahn’s overall vision. The filmmaker flip-flops around from straight up comedy to dramatic beats in a natural way without alienating the overall satire.

The performances are fantastic, combined with a number of impressive battle rap scenes that you’ll have to watch over and over again to catch the rapid fire jokes and insults being hurled around. Bodied is a whirlwind of cringe-inducing slams and genius level satire that has to be seen over and over again to be believed.

Rating: A-

I’ve covered the films below in one centralized location, so as opposed to regurgitating my thoughts, I’ll give you a brief overview of my overall thoughts and provide a handy dandy link to the full review.

CAM

If you are jonesin for a full length film that feels like a Black Mirror episode, then look no further than CAM. There’s a reason why this film was given the honor of as the best first feature and best screenplay at the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival. Plus, a brace and committed performance by Madeline Brewer make this a flick to put on your radar and check out as soon as you can.

Full Review: Coming Soon

Pledge

The horror of pledging a frat or sorority is not lost on those who have likely done so or are considering doing so. However, if you find yourself in a dark room with a bunch of psychos who want to brand you as the FIRST step of their initiation, you’ll do well to walk out the door ASAP, cause things won’t get much better from there.

Full Review: Pledge (Bloody Good Horror)

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot

Word of advice, don’t EVER make your decision to see a movie based on the title alone. Not that The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is a bad movie, but boy howdy is it a whoooole lot different from the movie I was expecting. A great, but subdued performance from Sam Elliot is the anchoring piece for this one that should probably be added to your list, once your expectations are adequately realigned.

Full Review: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (Bloody Good Horror)

Cold Skin

Xavier Gens’ career in the genre is unique if nothing else. However, the potential in all of his films to this date has yet to really hit a peak leaving a lot on the table, which can only keep you employed for so long before people get hip to your tricks.

Full Review: Cold Skin (Bloody Good Horror)

Knuckleball

You like Home Alone right? Of course, who doesn’t. What if I told you there’s a version of Home Alone for genre fans that answers the question if Harry and Marv were one person and had a thing for little boys that didn’t involve just robbing their famiy? Well, this is that movie….for the most part.

Full Review: Knuckleball (Bloody Good Horror)

Hurt

No, sorry Nine Inch Nails fans, this is NOT a full length feature based on the popular song once famously covered by Johnny Cash. It is however, an ALMOST pretty good kind of stalk and slash flick that tries way too hard to pull the rug out from under the audience with annoying misdirections. Of note, after this movie was screened/reviewed it was brought to my attention that the screened copy was not the final version, so take the review with a grain of salt as there’s currently no way to know if the new cut may have alleviated some of my issues.

Full Review: Hurt (Bloody Good Horror)

The Witch in the Window

Hindsight is a weird thing. After reviewing this film I’ve gone back and read some reactions and additional reviews to see what some of fellow writers had to say about this one and apparently I’m in the minority. Personally, I found this little slice of Canadian ghost nonsense to be a quite dull but also a supremely effective sleep aid.

Full Review: The Witch in the Window (Bloody Good Horror)

Lifechanger

One of the cool things about Fantasia is coming across films having no idea what you’re in for. Lifechanger features a fascinating concept that spends a little bit too much time info dumping in clunky ways instead of focusing on the engaging bits of serial killer body horror that its concept has the audience begging for. Still, despite its missteps its definitely worth checking out.

Full Review: Lifechanger (Bloody Good Horror)

Overall, of the movies I was able to catch, this year’s fest didn’t yield the same number of hidden gems that the previous year’s did, although it did give me two titles that will be vying for spots on my top 10 lists of the year.

Best Overall: Bodied (A-)
Best Genre Flick: CAM  (B+)

Over the course of the three week festival I also took in screenings of films from the festival that were supplied to me separate from the inclusion of festival coverage that I will be sharing reviews of very soon that include The Ranger, ArizonaPuppet Master: The Littlest Reich and Summer of ’84–so stay tuned!

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F-F-F-Fantasia Film Festival 2018 and its 17 Most Intriguing Titles TGoF Can’t Wait to See!

What’s on tap for today?

Friday July 13, 2018 marks the official kickoff of the Fantasia Film Festival which ends on August 2, 2018. I’ve been fortunate enough to cover the films featured in the Montreal festival for the last four years and like each year before it the titles just keep getting more and more interesting. Last year I was able to take in titles that ended up being some of my favorite genre offerings of the year (Tragedy Girls and Better Watch Out). So before we press start on this year’s insanity, lets take a look at some of the titles I’m most looking forward to (hopefully) deliver some reviews for as the fest gets under way! Why 17? I dunno, cause it’s not the standard 10 and its an odd number which just seemed like the right thing to do. Also, I miscounted when I did all the write-ups (since I lumped 3 into one paragraph) and didn’t feel like taking two of them off the list–sooo yeah.

Anna and the Apocalypse

Say zombies and you have my attention–then hit me with musical and I start to pull back a bit. However, the buzz for this one out of Sundance is hard to ignore. Plus it’s a horror christmas movie which always excites me. So paint me optimistic with a touch a caution as we await to see if this is a cult classic in the making and not just the classic tune of festival hype.

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Arizona

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Annihilation And It Feels So Good + Game Night, Toppling Goliath Can Designs & Omaha Film Festival Kickoff Week

What’s on tap for today?

theendless_posterThe flu is the pits. Like anyone in the history of ever has ever really needed to justify that sentence. Yes, the flu and various other illnesses/concerns kept me down and out over the last couple of weeks hindering my ability (eh, at least my desire) to be productive. This in turn has assured that I would fall behind on a couple of movie reviews which got kicked down far enough to combine a number of goings on in the world of this busy dad.

Today’s update will take us through reviews of Alex Garland’s stellar sci-fi drama Annihilation and the surprisingly hilarious thrills of Game Night. After that I’ll dabble into the ever changing landscape of Toppling Goliath Brewing Company’s canned beers–including their badass can designs–before capping the post off to express the excitement behind what will be my first appearance at an Omaha Film Festival event as the fest kicks off this week. Let’s dig in, shall we? (more…)

[Movie Review] Edgy Advertising Pays Off for ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’

threebillboards_posterThe world Martin McDonagh creates in his latest flick Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one where there are no consequences for the horrible things we do to one another. It’s of course not necessarily a rule as some actions do carry consequences, but not in the traditional sense of how we expect those to be punished for things like–kicking children in their genitals, throwing people out of windows or throwing molotov cocktails at a police station. It’s also the type of world where the characters in spite of all their flaws and curt behavior to one another have an underlying care for one another that’s not uncommon amongst small town folk. It may only come out during some of the more dire situations and stuffed down even under duress, but it’s there and McDonagh encapsulates it brilliantly.

Several months following the brutal rape and murder of Angela Hayes her mother, Mildred (Frances McDormand) is struck suddenly with an outside-the-box idea while driving home along the highway where her daughter’s crime occurred. There, three tattered billboards stand, unused since the 80’s and Mildred wants to use them to send a message to the small town’s chief of police Bill (Woody Harrelson). The message is simple–that she hasn’t forgotten that no killer has been caught and wants answers. The billboards are innoffensive but concise and have an adverse effect on the police’s overall empathy for Mildred even as Bill regrets how the case turned out. They do however get the town stirred up which leads to the towns underlying tensions to manifest in wild and potentially dangerous ways.  (more…)

[Movie Review] ‘The Disaster Artist’ is Real Hollywood Movie!

disasterartist_posterThe cinematic embarrassment that became a cult phenomenon now has its own movie dedicated to the madman at its core. Many wondered, how could anyone make a good movie out of what is widely considered one of the worst movies ever made? Jame Franco and his team have don’t exactly that thanks in large part to its surprising earnestness in relation to its titular subject and love of the property as a whole.

It perhaps could have been too easy to make a mockery of the lore behind, The Room. A enigmatic crazy person, Tommy Wiseau (portrayed by James Franco with a bizarre accent and a dream–to come to LA with the hopes of becoming a star. In tow with his best friend, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), the two struggle to make their dream a reality so they decide to manifest destiny themselves. Tommy conjures up a big time American drama in which he will star alongside Mark and together they will force Hollywood to know their names–and boy did they ever. (more…)

[Movie Review] A Warm and Welcome Homecoming for Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

spidermanhome_posterWith great power, comes great responsibility, John Watts. It’s one thing to have Spidey somewhat back in the hands of Marvel Studios, it’s a whole other thing to deliver a portrayal of Peter Parker’s alter ego that can wipe the slate clean from sins passed. Watts has come from ultra low budget horror, Clown, to helming what is hands down the greatest Spider-Man film to date.

Sam Raimi and Marc Webb both tried and–to certain degrees–failed to deliver crowd pleasing adventures for everyone’s favorite web-slinger. While these were not the first efforts to bring the character to the screen in one way or another, of the most modern attempts it would seem the third time (third iteration anyway) was the charm. Tom Holland’s first appearance in Captain America: Civil War gave legions of fans hope for the impending reboot as it certainly appeared that finally the tone and personality of Peter Parker and his arachnid alias had been captured. Spider-Man: Homecoming extends that and more with nearly the entire high school setting.  (more…)

[Mega Movie Review] Catching Up on 2017

13886469_1267046413328617_7042198926381498825_nBusy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!

Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+

Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A- (more…)

[Opinion] 2017 Summer Movie Predictions

You have in front of you the only summer movie prediction post guaranteed to get it all wrong. I’m not a Hollywood analyst out there tracking the interest of movie releases, nor am I an avid follower of the people that actually do that sort of thing. I’m just a dude who writes about beer and movie for fun that likes to swing wildly timely trends from time to time.

Today, it’s ranking this summer’s (2017 for all you futuristic hobos slummin it on the net) movie releases in order of how well I think they’ll do at the box office–just the top ten though. If you read last year’s you already know how comically misinformed this is about it get. Now that we know the game though, let’s just get this over with so I can get back to my case of beer, shall we?

(1) Spider-Man: Homecoming – With a trio of superhero tinged releases to pick from I am hedging my bets that people losing their sh*t at Spidey’s appearance in Civil War translates to big bucks this year. Or by the end of summer I’ll just go along ignoring how painfully wrong I always am and that’s why I don’t get paid the big bucks. (more…)

[Movie Review] ‘Get Out’ is an Enthralling Exploration of Social Fear Through Liberal Racism

getout_tgofposterJordan Peele, a name synonymous with clever biting commentary on social issues, has stepped into the cinematic ring and delivered a one-two punch that’s more potent than anything audiences have seen in a wide release horror flick in quite some time. Get Out leans a little bit more studio than recent critical darlings such as The Witch or It Follows, but has a punch all its own that rivals some of the best genre films of all time.

Whether or not Peele’s debut feature will stand the test of time is yet to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine something this sharp and witty to get pushed back in the annals of cinema history. No, it’s not just possible, but likely that Get Out is going to be talked about amongst critics and audiences alike for the foreseeable future. Exploring the simple yet all too real awkwardness of an African-American male meeting his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents and the weird stuff going on within the grounds of the family’s sizable estate. From scene one, Peele sets an uneasy yet humorous stage with an intro that features a black male waltzing in a suburban neighborhood at night before befalling something a little spooky. The racial factor is of course not lost on an audience of any race or gender, but is in fact a fear I’m sure we’ve all had walking late at night in unfamiliar territory–the possibility of being stalked by someone with less than noble intentions.  (more…)

[Movie Review] ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is the Hilarious and Heartfelt Hero We Deserve

In 2016 we saw Batman twice in theaters and for most of us, we left those two encounters less than enthusiastic. With Warner Bros. flailing wildly in need of a hit, in steps some tiny plastic toys to save the day. Even with as good as The LEGO Batman Movie is, it also amplifies how inept Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were at the most fundamental level–being entertaining. In a way, the latest in the Batman universe acts as a sincere apology for the aforementioned disappointments.

To be fair The LEGO Batman Movie has the benefit of irreverent humor that leans heavily in meta territory. The film exists in a world where Gotham City and its citizens are kind of tired of Batman’s shenanigans. Years of fighting bad guys and yet crime rates are as high as ever. Even Batman’s greatest enemy, Joker, has decided that he must concoct a new scheme to get the Caped Crusader in touch with his emotions. With the help of a recently adopted orphan, Dick Grayson, and the city’s new commissioner, Barbara Gordon, Batman embarks on a mission to save his tarnished reputation and the city.  (more…)