Saturday, May 25, 2024

Thoughts on ALL WE IMAGINE AS LIGHT (2024) Cannes 2024


I had finished watching ALL WE IMAGINE AS LIGHT  and I was pondering it's considerable wonders when I looked at social media and found the press corps at Cannes (where it just won the Grand Prix) raving like crazy people about the film. I was horrified by this turn, not because the film is bad, not even remotely, but their words were promising a film bigger and louder than the small gem that is going to find a place in your heart and live there forever.

Because I do not want to over sell the film, honestly what I would rather do is get copies of the film and just press it into your hands while saying "Take this and watch it -- we'll discuss it later".

I can't stress it enough - don't read the gushing reviews- just buy a ticket and see it.

The film is a mix of documentary sequences with narrative. The documentary sequences are sequences in and around the location with voice over. They are hypnotic bits that grab us and pull us into the tale. It's a brilliant device that makes everything we see so much more real. The narrative is the story of three women in Mumbai. A nurse is thrown off when her estranged husband shows up with a gift. Her roommate is trying to find a place where she can be intimate with her boyfriend. The pair take a trip to the beach with a friend and try to sort it all out.

A quiet, gentle film with it's own rhythms, ALL WE IMAGINE AS LIGHT takes its time telling its story.  Never big and loud this film is something more akin to spending a few hours with the characters. It's a film that slowly works its way into your heart and head. What seems just okay at the start ends up being deeply moving at the end. A second trip through the film reveals it to be a much deeper film than you may think at the start and by the time we reach that final shot we are even more moved. (I was not going to see it a second time, but some time after I saw it it was growing bigger and stronger and I had to revisit it.)

This is a deeply moving film that works it's magic on a visceral level. It's a film whose charms should not be shouted about but rather experienced.

Is it one of the best films to play Cannes this year? Without a doubt, but this quiet film about the human heart needs to be seen for what it is and not over sold as something it is not.

Go see this film. Go see it and be moved.

Moritouri (1965)


Ex German soldier Marlon Brando fled to India on a fake Swiss passport to live a quiet life away from the war. The British knew who and where he was and they blackmail him into going on board Yul Brenner's freighter sailing from Tokyo to France with a load of rubber. He is to get the boat into a specific place so the Allies can seize it.

Tense war time thriller was a box office bomb when it opened but has developed a good reputation since then. Never mind that Brando threw one of his tantrums during the making of the film this is still a pretty solid film that will move you to the edge of your seat.

Tense from almost the first frame, this film milks every possible ounce of suspense from it's tough situations. Brando is essentially all alone on a death mission and there is no chance that he will be able succeed. While Brando is a bit too refined for the goings on his situation sucks us in and pulls us along. We genuinely want to know how this is going to turn out when every turn seems to spell doom.

A solid thriller thats definitely worth a look.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Kidnapped (2023) opens today


In 1858 Bologna, 6-year-old Edgardo Mortara was taken from his Jewish parents and sent off to be raised as a Catholic. It seems the family's maid secretly baptized him when he was "sick" and the church wanted to use the kidnapping as leverage to force his family to covert. Thus began a decades long battle that ended unhappily. 

Marco Bellocchio's latest film is an interesting mess. Telling an intriguing story it's done in such a manner as to give us no real characters and polemical style of telling that makes its 135 minute run time a tough slog. I wanted to walk because I didn't care about anyone on screen but I wanted to know how it came out.

Blame the script. Part of the problem is there are way too many characters on screen with too many locations and we are never focused on anyone.  We are never anywhere long enough to get a real sense of anyone except as literal one note characters. The father is a stoic man trying to do what he feels is right but being crushed, the mother glares, Edgardo fleetingly wants to go home but kind of likes where he is, the rest of the family never registers, almost all the church people are boo hiss villains, and anyone else just kind of is. There are no real people anywhere in this film (if this had been a documentary with recreations we would have gotten more character detail). Worse we are never given any sense of time and place, we are just given unconnected moments. Yes, we get  mentions of things like the international outrage but like most of what is said, its just words. What is happening to Edgardo's family while he isn't there? What exactly are they doing to get him back? I mean we know but only after they have done it  and someone is saying it's the wrong thing. And what of Edgardo? He just goes along until he's suddenly older and fully in the sway of the church. There is no character there just a brainwashed toadie.

And I won't even get into how the real story may have played apart the formation of modern Italy and the break with Vatican control- which is kind of in the film but fleetingly mentioned, but not explored. The actual story is incredibly complex and would need several more hours to explain. So while I applaud Bellocchio's decision to focus on the real people he made the mistake of forgetting to include them.

While the story is interesting there is nothing really there to explain why we are being told it and told this way, which is best described as trying to cover everyone and everything and managing not to do justice to any of it. I could have told the same story in seven or eight better ways that actually moved the audience. (though some in the audience I saw this reacted to something bad happening to the pope in a manner one would expect at a boo hiss pantomime show, which resulted in a bigger reaction from the rest of the audience.)

This should have been a documentary miniseries.

Unless you are a Bellocchio completeist you can skip this.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Social Media Monster (2021) releases May 31 Amazon and other platforms


Several years ago ago Matthew Berdyck walked into an IHOP in St. Joseph Missouri to ask for help because he said he saw a man strangling a woman in car in the parking lot. What happened after that is a story that would be completely unbelievable if it weren't true. It is a tale involving among other things stalking, harassment, endless emails and social media posts, alleged corruption, a rock song, restraining orders, criminal charges, a benefit concert, the FBI, the founding of a "news" outlet, threats to shoot up a bar, threats to blow up a nuclear plant and more. It is tale where the two sides, Berdyck on one side and the rest of the world on the other,  dispute what happened...except that all of the video and the hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation was all supplied by Matthew Berdyck  and  refutes pretty much everything that Berdyck said happened.

Belt in ladies and gentlemen you are about to have your minds blown by one hell of tale. You will not believe what you are seeing, but it's true, you'll see the emails and video to prove it. It's a tale so crazy that that there is going to be another movie so you know what happened after the credits rolled. 

To be honest the story is so crazy and so out there that it's impossible to summarize. Simply put it's the story of a man who had a disagreement with the people at an IHOP and then flooded everyone with unending emails and threats in order to get his way, and it eventually, escalated after years to the point where he threatened to blow up a nuclear power plant... and that's probably not the craziest part of the story (no, really it's not).

SOCIAL MEDIA MONSTER's director Peter John Ross  discovered the story of Matthew Berdyck by accident when Berdyck dragged him into what was happening in  St. Joseph, Missouri. Why Ross was brought into the mess wasn't immediately clear, since Ross is a filmmaker who didn't live anywhere near St Joseph and had nothing to do with anything that was happening in a city 11 hours away. For a good long while Ross was lost as to why he was mentioned. His inclusion resulted in his receiving lots of threats of legal action (which never materialized), Berdyck contacting everyone he ever worked with and thousands of emails in his email box. For well over the last decade Berdyck has become part of Ross' life, and the lives of many people in St Joseph, whether he, or they,wanted him to be or not. 

This film is an attempt to tell the story of what is occurring to the people in St. Joseph who are still being flooded with emails, threats and utter nonsense by a man with no clear day job and computer.

I need to say in fairness this film is "not" the story from Berdyck's point of view. Berdyck is supposedly hard at work on a film that will tell the "real" story  and expose everyone who has ever wronged him. When Mr. Berdyck's film is released I will take a look and see what the real story is and get a review up.  I promise that if Mr Berdyck's film is everything he says it will be I will apologize.

Until we get Berdyck's version of the story we have Ross' film which is made up of the eyewitness testimony of the people who were there for the last decade, video culled from the hundreds of hours of material posted by Berdyck on the internet, the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of pages of emails and screen grabs of Facebook and social media posts from Berdyck, as well as the reports from various local and federal law enforcement agencies who keep getting called into the unending affair. It's a story so crazy  that Ross has made available a vast file of supporting documents to back up every point made in the film (and it's all from Berdyck- this last point can't be stressed enough- it is all Berdyck's own words and video- most of which he denies expressing - because he got caught lying). 

Frankly there is so much material in this film and in support of it that I am having a hard time imagining what was left out or misrepresented (I mean the FBI says that the threats against the nuclear power plant came from his computer and cellphone which they said wasn't hacked). However, I want to keep an open mind and I will wait to make my final decision as to what this affair is really about until I see the film that Berdyck is making.

That said, I would be hard pressed to fathom what Berdyck could say that would refute anything that is in this film since outside of the witness testimony this is all material that he put out onto the internet in one way or another. Pretty much everything he has put forward tells a different story then the one he is selling. It's not tampered or made up footage, its the material he is using to support his claims of being wronged, except it doesn't.

Yes, I know that doesn't give you details- but trust me, just see this and go for the ride and you'll know why I'm not explaining it all. Basically if I start to explain it all I won't stop talking. It's kind of a miracle that Ross got s much of it as he did into 90 minutes.

I don't know where to start other than to say that this is one of the most compelling films I've seen in years. It was completely off my radar until I was contacted by Mr Ross. Some how despite playing at over 50 festivals it never crossed my desk which seems shocking...until you realize that anything to do with the story comes with the added bonus of emails from Mr. Berdyck. I'm guessing people were frightened off. 

What makes this films work is how Ross keeps this a personal story. It's the story of everyone of screen from the people at IHOP, to the people of St Joseph, to Ross himself and even to Berdyck. Ross makes us feel like we are all hanging out in a coffee shop talking about this crazy thing that just happened and we all can't stop talking. In the case of the audience, we can't stop watching...or talking... to the screen or anyone in the room with us.

This is just great filmmaking.

This is the exact sort of film I keep Unseen Films going to find, compelling films that seem to come from nowhere which keep you watching from the very first frame until the last. I put the film on one night about a week ago and just sat there staring at the screen, talking to it, until the credits finished rolling. 

What in the holy hell was I seeing?

I still am not sure, other than this is one hell of a tale and I can't wait to hear what happens next.(There are plans for a sequel)

The way the film is structured is as a series of events involving Berdyck where he gives us his take on things and how he was wronged and then we hear from the actual people involved who give us their take. Things escalate as the events that Berdyck set in motion go in unexpected ways and he tries to recover and explain what he really was doing. There are endless surprises, and trust me, you will not guess where this is going.

I also have to say, stay with the film. Ross takes his time revealing everything you need to know. For example the question of Berdyck's finances stuck in my brain until Ross covered it in detail. Don't worry Ross will cover it all. (Perhaps the only thing missing is a more detailed look at Berdyck's past but having talked with Ross I understand why that will be told in the next film - its a story unto itself)

I have to really praise Ross for making a film that gets under your skin and drags you along. It's a film you are going to want to share with friends and family members because they need to see this unbelievable tale as well. 

What makes this film so special is that Ross has all the receipts, and the receipts' receipts, and then some things that no one knew existed, in order to back up everything he is saying. There is even footage of Berdyck waffling on his positions. This maybe the best researched and factually supported film I've ever run across, ever. My initial contact with Mr Ross was filled with links to material that supported what he wrote to me.  My messages to him after that, something so simple as a yes and no question, brought more links and screen shots.  This is not bringing your "A" Game to the table, but resetting the rules and taking them to another level. 

Simply put, Peter John Ross has made a documentary that is so perfectly researched it puts every other documantarian to shame. In many ways this is as perfect a documentary as you can make. If this were a computer program where you could link to get more information by clicking a link- you would be clicking and reading for days for every minute of the film. It could be argued this is one of the best doc ever made.

I suspect that as much as Berdyck doesn't want this film to be seen, he is going to be in heaven when it hits because of all the people the film is going to drive people his way to see his side of the story. 

And be aware if you post any comments anywhere about this film or its subject, odds are you will get a response from Mr Berdyck - who, it is said, comments on anything to do with himself, this film (which he claims doesn't exist) or anything to do with the story in the film.

I can't wait to see what the next chapters bring. 

Put SOCIAL MEDIA MONSTER on your radar and see it when you can. It releases May 31 and hits streaming on the platforms like Amazon soon after.

Addendum:

In the interest of fairness I need to report Mr Berdyck contacted me and said that there were errors in my review.

He states that he is currently employed “working national news videographer and source for New York Times”.  I have not been able to confirm his current status with the Times.

He also takes exception to the mention of the threats to the nuclear power plant. However based on the information at my disposal the threats did happen and were sourced as coming from his phone and computer.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

MAESTRA (2023) Opens Friday


MAESTRA is a portrait of the La Maestra competition in Paris which seeks to highlight the work of female conductors from around the world. Starting from a pool of over two hundred women the group was reduced to fourteen who went to Paris to compete. The film follows several of the women from around the world as they prepare for the competition and then take part.

This is an excellent look at a small group of women that make up less than 3% of their chose profession. Sure Marin Alsop has been in the spotlight for years, but outside of her there I am guessing that there is no other women who might be known by anyone outside of the classical music community. If all goes right many of the women profiled will soon become household names.

I am a sucker for much of what goes on here. I grew up watching Leonard Bernstein’s lectures where he came on and explained how a conductor shapes the music, and in MAESTRA we get to watch as the women discuss how they are going to shape their pieces. We get a wonderful sense about how they take the notes printed on a page and turn them into a living breathing piece of music. I had such a good time that I had a big stupid grin on my face as we watched the women create magic before our eyes.

This film is a delight. There is very little that is wrong with this film, other than a sense that perhaps they should have either focused on less women (though don’t ask me what they should have cut) or made into a miniseries because there is simply too much good stuff for a 90 minute movies.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Queen of the Deuce (2022)


If you had any real curiosity about how the Deuce’s movie theaters were run you would have run across the name of Chelly Wilson who as the title of the film about her says, was the Queen of the Deuce. She owned a number of the porno palaces and made a mint  doing so. I had heard her name for years but I knew nothing about her until  The Queen of the Deuce appeared on my radar, and having seen it all I can say is it’s a hell of a film.

Chelly was a Greek Jew who got married at an early age because her father arranged the marriage. She swore to her father she’d marry the man but divorce when he died. From there she went through a series of husbands, numerous lovers, had several children, was openly gay, survived the Holocaust, made a fortune and changed people’s lives. It’s a wild and crazy life that no one would believe if it weren’t true.

I absolutely loved most of this film. As long as we are focused on Chelly this film is gangbusters. Chelly is a woman who was one of a kind and watching the film I regretted that she wasn’t alive to see the film celebrating her life. I say this not so much think sh’d enjoy the film, but more I might have had an opportunity to meet her.  What a great broad as my mother would say.

As good as the portions of the film where Chelly appears the sections with out her fall flat. About an hour in the film goes int a long history of adult movies in New York and Chelly disappears. Yes it’s informative, but it’s not Chelly. Worse the film ends with a coda from Chelly’s grandson that feels out of place because we really don’t know much about him. Actually out side of Chelly and her daughters the rest of the family are just talking heads.

While I could argue that the film could be trimmed, the central focus of the film, Chelly, is so magnificent that I’m still going to say this film is worth a look.

Monday, May 20, 2024

The Other Way Around (2024) Cannes 2024


A couple going through a rough patch decide that that they will have a party to celebrate their up coming separation. This sends shock waves through their friends, family and themselves

This is a good comedy drama that entertained me while it was on but didn’t stick when it was done.  That’s not a fault of the film more that I was seeing it in the crush of Cannes coverage. This is the sort of film that I frequently encounter at festivals where I do heavy coverage (Cannes, Tribeca, NYFF, Fantasia) where they are small delicate gems that get overwhelmed by the crush of films being seen around them.  They are films that you see and enjoy but which you need to see away from everyone and everything.

It’s a good enough film (and contains a killer performance from Itsaso Arana that made me notice her for the first time)  that I look forward to seeing the film again when I can really see the film for itself.

My refusing to do a proper review aside I recommend THE OTHER WAY AROUND  because it will entertain.

Block Pass (2024) Cannes 2024


Willie and Jojo  are life long friends who are never far apart. When Willie discovers Jojo's secret their lives are forever changed.

That is not a good description of the plot, but it's either the official one or one that wrecks the entire story. 

This is a good but unremarkable drama. It's an extremely well made film with great performances but it doesn't have a great script. It's not bad, rather nothing remarkable happens. We can kind of guess what the secret it is and then once that puts things in play it doesn't do anything interesting. I was looking for some grand revelation that never came.

Perhaps had this not come with the baggage of premiering at Cannes I might have been more forgiving.

Not bad but nothing special

HIT MAN (2023) Hits theaters May 24 before going to Netflix

This is a repost of my New York FIlm Festival review from last year

HIT MAN is the (kind of true) story of Gary Johnson who was a college professor who was doing electronic work for the New Orleans police. He ended up stepping in and pretending to be a hit man in sting operations.

In this fictionalized version of the story Glenn Powell plays Johnson.  When he goes under cover on one case he talks a confused woman out of not killing her husband. This sets in motion an unexpected series of events.

This is one of my favorite films at NYFF. It was a delightful change of pace from the dark and serious films that seemed to fill this year’s slate. It was the on one to fill the theater with repeated burst of laughter and leave everyone walking out of the screening with wide smiles. Indeed one of the women working in the theater was kind of confused because it was the first time she could hear people reacting to a festival film.

I had a great time with the film. There was just a certain point where I just put my notebooks down and watched the film. Is it high art? Hell, no, but it is entertaining as all hell and one of the best film that Richard Linklater has made

Recommended

Sunday, May 19, 2024

THE STORY OF SOULEYMANE (2024) Cannes 2024


Abou Sangare will rock you as Souleymane, a young man looking for refugee status in France. The film follows Souleymane as he tries to prepare for his asylum interview.

I’m going to keep my thoughts about this film brief. Not because the film is bad but rather because this is a film where you need to see it from start to finish to truly understand what you are seeing and to be punched in the face by everything that happens.  It’s a film where  everything is in the finale, and you have to take the trip there to understand why I’m saying that.

The reason this film works as gloriously as it does is the performance of Sangare in the title role. Giving a performance that improves on a second viewing, it’s morphs from just this regular guy into a man drowning and fighting for his life. It’s a film where the we watch our focal point, Souleymane, go through his paces and have life smack him around until he breaks. The final scenes hit me so hard that I had to go back and rewatch the film because where he ends seems light years from where he started.

This is kick ass character study that lifts it’s plot line of a refugee looking for asylum frame work and makes it into something more. Sure we have seen similar tales before but with very rare exception have we ever been this close to experiencing the emotional roller coaster that refugees experience. It’s a film that grabs us and makes clear what how they feel.

All hail Abou Sangare who gives us not only a great performance but also connects us to a large part of humanity. May the awards gods shine down on him.

See this film

The Fighting Kentuckian (1949)

Once Oliver Hardy hooked up with Stan Laurel he never worked solo again with one exception, the John Wayne colonial film The Fighting Kentuckian. Hardy plays Wayne’s sidekick and he’s good enough with the action and drama it makes you wonder what might have happened had he been free to do things away from Laurel.

The film is set in Alabama not long before it is to become a state. Wayne and Hardy have just left the army and end up in a small town run by man who has designs on taking all the land in the territory. The short version of what happens is the pair finds themselves in the middle of the land grab which will displace a large number of ex-soldiers from Napoleon’s army who were given a land grant. Things become even more complicated as the pair are mistaken for land surveyors. There is romance, action and a plot to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from a safe.

A very plot heavy tale (I’m still not straight which bad guy was which) this is a film that sucks you in and drags you along. My dad and I stumbled upon the film on cable just as it was starting and we fell into it. We were just checking during a commercial on a TV series but we ended up stay to the end. An old school Hollywood film it entertains more than it has any right to. While the romance gets the short end of the stick in the second half of the film, Wayne’s love interest has nothing much to do, you do feel the sparks when the couple are together.

As I said at the top the film is notable for having Oliver Hardy in it. While it’s obvious he can handle the comedy it was less obvious how he’d be with the action and drama. By the time he and Wayne are set upon by a tavern full of bad guys there is no doubt he can kick some serious ass. He’s good enough that even my dad was shaking his head about what else he might have done.

This is a solid little historical action romance and is recommended.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Universal Language (2024) Cannes 2024

 


I started laughing almost from the first frame and continued doing so until the end credits. I laughed more at this film than almost any American comedy of the last two decades.

At the outset the plot of UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE seems to be several different stories. The truth is it’s all one big interconnected tale, you just have to stick with it until all the pieces line up.  Don't worry that isn’t going to be a problem because the film is going to be making you laugh out loud for most of its running time.

The humor is very much absurdist of the best sort. Think of it as something akin to the manic madness of a Marx Brothers comedy but with a more modern and less devil may care attitude.  Referencing the Marx’s may make you wonder how that is possible, but something happens in the first few minutes that makes you realize that is the absurdist territory we are operating in. (I will not spoil it)

What I love about the film is that the humor isn’t dry or forced.  Too many absurdist comedies don’t feel real and feel like they are trying to make a point. Eugène Ionesco’s plays which are excellent absurdist pieces, can, when done badly feel forced. Here there is things feel silly absurd but they also feel grounded. We can see the things that happen actually happen.  I can see myself trying to figure out how to get stuck money, deal with stolen glasses or pretty much anything else that happens here including dealing with turkeys.

I laughed out loud from start to finish, and when I wasn’t laughing I was smiling.

And I know there is more to this film beyond the laughs, but the laughs and smiles are what I took away from the film, so that is what I am reporting on.

I love this film.

Highly recommended.

Friday, May 17, 2024

HOLY COW (2024) Cannes 2024


HOLY COW is the story of Totone, an 18 year old young man who loves to party. When his father dies he tries to curb his wild ways so that he can care for his young sister.

This is a sweet coming of age film that is closer to reality than any other coming of age film I’ve seen. Life is messy. Relationships are messy. There are sex and beer and stuff. If it wasn’t for more adult elements this would be a great family film simply because what we see is feels closer to life.

To be honest I need to see HOLY COW a second time to really see the film for what it is. I say this because the write up for the film at Cannes gave me the impression that the film was going to be a bit more narrowly focused. Instead the film is bit more wide ranging and covers a lot of territory.

It’s that wide ranging nature that kind of hurts the film slightly. The problem is that the film juggles a large number of plot and thematic threads at the same time while trying to focus on the romantic thread a bit too much. If the film were another fifteen or twenty minutes longer things would have been a bit smoother. As it stands now this is a good little film, which you’ll want to see continue. (A sequel? Yes please)

House of Screaming Glass (2024) hits VOD Tuesday


If HOUSE OF SCREAMING GLASS had opened in 1974 it would have played in drive in across the South on the bottom half of double bills. It would have developed a cult reputation. It would have been released on VHS by Wizard in an over sized clam shell case. It would have bounced around other home video companies before getting a 50th anniversary release from Blue Under Ground, Vinegar Syndrome or Shout Factory.  Its a film a generation of horror fans would have watched every time it played at 2am.

That my friends is a rave.

Elizabeth Cadosia (Lani Call) inherits her grandmothers school. It comes with her collection of occult books and objects.  As she investigates them she finds her drawn into reading the spells and incantations....opening doorways that should remain closed.

Thanks to a tour de force performance by Lani Call this is a creepy film that sucks you in and carries us along. Call is the only person on screen for almost the entire film but she holds are attention so tightly that we can't help but travel into hell with her. If she wasn't as great as she is this film never would have worked.

This film is deliberately paced. It takes it's time going where it's going but it's so perfectly done we don't care. We want to see where this is going.

This is also a film about mood and tone. There really aren't jump scares, just unending dread. I would not have had to drive home from the drive-in had I seen it on a double or triple feature. This is a film that you want to watch late at night with all the lights off. I would hate to see this on a 2am double feature on TV with SKINAMARINK.

Under the right circumstances this film is as scary as they come.

Highly recommended

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Wendy Feinberg on Sugarcane (2023) which plays Hot Springs Documentary FF and Tulsa's Circle Cinema launch 0f Tulsa Hot Docs

 


Of the many documentary films I watched at this year’s Sundance Film Festival,  the world premiere of SUGARCANE, in my estimation, ranks among the best and  most important at the festival. I am not sure if I will be able to do this film the  justice that it deserves, but I will try.  

The film, co-directed by Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie, won the well deserved Directing Award in U.S. Documentary category at the festival and tells  the very powerful and emotional story of the indigenous children who lived on the  Sugarcane Indian Reservation in Canada and attended the St. Joseph’s Mission  Residential School.  

Beginning in 1894 indigenous Canadian children were forced to attend Canadian  government schools, most run by the Catholic Church. There were rumors of  abuse at these schools and unmarked graves were found of children who died  while living at the St. Joseph’s Mission School. In the film, many members of the  Sugarcane reservation are interviewed. A young Chief Willie Sellars speaks about  what has been done in the recent past to heal and honor the survivors, including  the celebration of Orange Shirt Day, honoring children taken from families and  sent to the mission. We meet Charlene Belleau, who is investigating the abuses at  the school, including the mysterious unmarked graves. Now deceased, I was  moved by Rick Gilbert, a survivor of the mission school, who traveled with a  group to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis to discuss the cruelties  experienced at the school. We hear from many other survivors of the abuses that  occurred at St. Joseph’s, including Ed Archie Noisecat, who is co-director Julian  Brave NoiseCat’s father, as well as his father’s mother (Julian’s grandmother), two  of the many that experienced multi-generational abuse at the school.  

It was heartbreaking to hear about the horrific physical and sexual abuse that  occurred at the school which led to the school being closed down in 1981.  Unfortunately, this abuse led to many unwanted pregnancies and deaths at the  school, as well as alcoholism, abandonment issues and a number of suicides by  survivors after leaving the school.  

Although sometimes disturbing to listen to the stories told by the survivors, I feel  that SUGARCANE is a gripping film that needs to be seen by all as a reminder of  the injustices that have been wrought upon native people, not only in Canada, but  around the world. In the film it is mentioned that this is also an American story  where more than twice as many children were taken from their families.  Highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

When The Light Breaks (2024) Cannes 2024

 


Una's life over a long Icelandic day.

This is a good looking film that is essentially following one young lady as she has a lots of ups and downs happen in her life. It’s an “emotional” rollercoaster  where her life changes. I’m certain it means something to the filmmakers and their intended audience, however it never clicked with me. My lack of connection came from two points, the first the implied meaningfulness in every moment of the film. The silences drip with meaning as do each conversation. From the first frame to the last there is a sense that something important is happening. One of the reasons it seems important is that everything is staged to seem like it’s important. The placement of people in the frame is the other problem. People don’t face each other. Every conversation is arranged do that we always can see everyone’s face, They are talking to us and not each other. I know that sounds petty but the characters are often having heavy conversations and a lot of the time they are not looking at each other. It isn’t fatal, but it makes what should be a great film just good.

WHEN THE LIGHT BREAKS is a film you will like but may not love.

SImon of the Mountain (2024) Cannes 2024


Lorenzo Ferro gives a performance for the ages as 21 year old Simon, a disabled young man who desperately trying to navigate his way through the world and finding himself at odds with society.

Beginning and ending with Simon answering the same list of question this film is a portrait of a young man with  mental issues. Simon doesn't understand a great deal, but he is curious. It's his curiosity that gets him into trouble. His inability to fully navigate through the world makes waves for everyone around him, especially his mother.

Ferro is stunning as Simon. I couldn't believe that they found someone like Simon to play the role until I saw that Ferro is an actor and singer and not like Simon. His performance is so good he should be on the short list for every possible acting award. Watching him breath life into Simon Ferro commits body and soul. There isn't a word or look or gesture that isn't fully Simon's. Its a performance that will kick you in the ass.

And let's not forget the rest of the cast who are equally good- they all are...and they too are worthy of every award out there. 

What makes the film work is that the script is far from by rote From the opening attention grabbing sequence in the mountains on to the final fade out this film feels more like life than the vast majority of films ever produced.  Sure it's rough at times, but so is life. The bumps in Simon's life are like those real people would experience.

I was moved.

More importantly when the film was done I wanted to not only go again I wanted to tell everyone.

See this film.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

WIldcat (2023)


I’m not certain what I think of WILDCAT. It’s a beautifully made film with some great performances. However I’m not certain it pulls everything together the way it wants to.

The film is nominally a look at the life and beliefs of Flannery O’Connor via excerpts from her writing and scenes from her life (particularly around her efforts to write the novel Wise Blood). There are a lot of voice overs where we hear O’Connor’s thoughts. The film seeks to give us insight into the beliefs both personal and religious. (O’Connor was a devout Catholic)

Maya Hawke is wonderful as O’Connor. If she wasn’t on Hollywood’s radar for her talent, this film will do it. Her father has given her an excellent showcase for her talents.

Ethan Hawke’s direction is spot on. The film looks good. The scenes are beautifully staged. He’s created a world I’d love to fall into.

The problem with the film is the structure of the script.  A mix of sequences from several of O’Connor’s story blend with sequences from O’Connor’s life. The sequences from the stories act as surrogate representations of O’Connor’s life and faith.  The problem for me is that unless you have an idea about O’Connor’s work the stories don’t connect up smoothly to her life. We actively have to make assumptions as to why we are being shown the story we are seeing. Having had friends who were in a Catholic reading group  where they read a great deal of O’Connor I had a vague idea what some of the stories were, however, mostly  I felt a bit lost. I couldn’t fully get what I was supposed to be taking from the sequences.

It also doesn’t help that O’Connor’s works are what some have described as Southern or Catholic Grotesque, with very mannered prose and people living on the outskirts of society.  As O’Connor’s publisher mentions in the film  her writing can be like sticking pins in the reader’s eyes. She is a writer with a great academic reputation but unless someone was deeply Catholic or a lit major I don’t know anyone who actively read her works. Keeping her narration may allow us to hear her voice but it will distance most audiences.

And despite the misfire nature of the script I think WILDCAT is worth seeing. In an age where almost everything in cinema is the same preprocessed garbage, the film is decidedly it’s own thing. It’s a well made film with magnificent bits. Sure it doesn’t pull off the landing, but it’s a glorious ride to the end. It’s a film that tries to do something  and almost pulls it off.

If you want something that isn’t like anything else, this film is for you.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Brief thoughts on Expend4bles (2024)

 


Painfully awful final film in the series that seem to have been made for money rather than love.

Coming ten years after the last entry it shows all the signs of the strife that filled the last decade. Nothing in the film really works and it feels cobbled together. Are the established stars are there to allow the younger ones to get some sort of credibility? I don't know but no one should have been in thi film.

While I could forgive the poor plotting (it has something to do with stopping a World War) if the action was good, but it's not, with the sequences not having any snap. Everyone is walking through their moves. Worse the shoot outs have no sense of anyone being in the same place with all the stars seemingly being alone in their battles. Was any one on the same sound stage at the same time?

It all comes off as dull, which is what no action film should be.

This was a waste of my evening. Most damning it would have been the rare action my father turned off if he encountered it on cable

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Nightcap 5/12/23- Roger Corman has passed, Frosted is awful, we're doing Cannes, Mahoning has started it's season

 


Roger Corman has died and we are lessened.

The man literally changed the world because he influenced filmmakers across the world- if there was no Corman Hollywood and world cinema would look different. 

Yes, most of Hollywood from the 60's through today have a connection to him in one way or another (You don't need me to list the filmmakers) - but he was the guy bringing in so many foreign films into the US that he assured that Americans would eventually fall in love with world cinema. He brought in Bergman, Fellini and dozens of other directors other to America and made sure they were seen. He truly opened up the eyes of Hollywood to cinema outside of US shores... and made sure the films were subtitled-  at a time most people only knew dubbed exploitation fare. His love of cinema infected others and other distributors were born. Cconsider Corman also gave a start to Menaham  Golan who took Corman's lessons world wide with Cannon Films.

His love of both high art and exploitation helped me to love all cinema equally without guilt- regardless of where or what it was. It was all movies of equal weight with the only thing that mattered being how much we enjoyed the stories we were being told.

He also helped me understand budget didn't matter as long as you told a good story and sold it, it could look weak if we liked the characters.

He was a hell of a man to listen to. I saw him speak twice.  The first time at the New Yorker Fest he greeted everyone leaving his talk and would sign and take pictures with whomever asked.  I was too awe struck to say anything but hello. 

Corman was the first film maker I discovered on my own. Where other great directors were talked about, Corman was my own discovery as I realized his connection to all the films I was seeing and loving. That may sound odd now but in the early 70's when I discovered "movies" he was still largely seen as a business man, and a schlock filmmaker - his rep was only beginning to change on a larger scale as his students began to really shake up Hollywood and people were looking back not at his individual films but at the massive body of work he created. He was more than the guy who did the Poe films. Even as 9 or 10 year old I could see there was more than monster films to this guy.

The man maybe gone but his films live on.

In the end I see him as the Mr Chips of cinema a man whose legacy is not in the small body of the "exploitation" films he left behind but in the thousands of children he brought into the world, who may  have won every award under the sun and have, but most importantly brought enjoyment and hope to the world.

Hey TCM- I hope when you do your tribute to Roger Corman, you do it for multiple nights- One for the films he made, one for the films he produced, one for the films he imported (he brought a lot of foreign films and filmmakers to America), and one for the directors/performers who started with him.

God speed good sir.
Probably my favorite Corman film


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FROSTED is a terrible movie.

It’s a vanity show piece wrecked by writer director and star Jerry Seinfeld who cut it together so it plays like one his rjokes repeated for 90 minutes (not to mention his complete inability to act). There is a good film possible from the subject but the presentation and Seinfeld's inability to make a real film just doesn’t work.

--

This week we will be covering Cannes. I have a bunch of films reviewed. Some of them are spectacularly good. I’m not certain how many reviews I’ll will have since the films are coming in at random rate.

After Cannes we should be having coverage of Lincoln Centers Open Roads. I’ll have a full on curtain raiser but buy tickets. I’ve seen a bunch of the films already and enjoyed the hell out of everything that I’ve seen.  I think the series is one of the great hidden gem of New York since over the decade and a bit that I’ve been covering it I have almost never seen a stinker.

Go buy tickets.

I will then slide from Italy for Open Roads into Tribeca

I’ve only seen a couple of films so I can’t comment. I have to get other things out of the way before I dive in…

--


A big hug to everyone at the Mahoning Drive In. I was thinking about your loss and sending out good vibes toward your rescheduled opening weekend.

For those that don’t know Jeff Mattox the owner and projectionist of the drive in passed away during a medical procedure and they had to postpone the opening weekend.

The pushing back of their season resulted in rescheduling of several weekends so  please check the website if you have any tickets for any of their shows.

The website can be found here.

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Lastly this is one of my favorite posters of all time- its for the last film that Roger Corman directed according to IMDB

City Hunter (2024)


Private detective Ryo Saeba teams with hi dead partner's sister to find his killer. Along the way they find themselves chasing a corporation making a super soldier serum that turns people homicidal before killing them.

Wildly uneven manga adaption has some truly great sequences (most of the action) as well as some head scratcher WTF bits (the cosplay convention) to become a pretty okay film.While not as good as the 1993 Jackie Chan film, it's probably just as good as the 2018 French film.  It's not high art but it does entertain which is enough.

The problem here is the manic humor rarely blends with the serious nature making things a bit bumpy. Still I laughed and smiled and talked to the TV.

Recommended

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Worm Pornography


Ian Haig is one of the best people at bending your mind. His films  are a perfect mix of weird and normal that you completely buy and as such have your brain broken. 

Haig's latest film is WORM PORNOGRAPHY. The film is the ramblings of a damaged individual who is locked in a public restroom where he is slipping into madness while performing odd experiments. People and things are morphing into a shifting black void and worms, the result of a parasite trying to spread.

I can't really explain what this film is.  Haig's films defy classification. One part horror, one part experimental and one part art house they are one of a kind exercises in expanding the parameters of cinema, even if we are confined to a public toilet. Plot isn't what is important, rather experience is. Seeing an Ian Haig film is like being on a rollercoaster, I can tell you every thing that happens when you get on, but it's not the same as having the wind in your hair and feeling your stomach move inside you.

I am not going to lie and say this film is for everyone, its not. If you can't throw expectations aside then you are not going to click with this. Haig's films require an open mind and a willingness to engage. Having seen some of his earlier work I knew I had to be in a place to be there for the film. As a result I sat on the film for over two weeks until I was in the head space for the film. If you aren't sure then don't engage.

If are willing to see a film by a one of a kind artist give this film a look. Even if you don't like the film Haig is going to engage you. This is not a film that can just roll off your back. Its a film that will have you wondering what you just saw in the best in the best way.

Friday, May 10, 2024

THE 2024 HARLEM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL announces line-up for 19th edition (May 16-26)

Opening Night features the World Premiere of Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here and an Uptown Shorts Spotlight

Saturday’s Spotlight Presentation will feature the NY Premiere of Nancy Saslow’s documentary Xernona Clayton: A Life in Black and White

New York, NY (April 30, 2024) – The 2024 Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) today announced the films and events for its 19th edition – returning as a fully in-person event taking place May 16-26 with special support from the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. The film festival will open with the world premiere of Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here, preceded by Gabri Christa’s short film Kankantri (the Silk Cotton Tree), and a special premiere curation of Uptown Shorts.

Due to their successful teaming last year, Harlem International Film Festival and Columbia University Zuckerman Institute’s free-to-the-public presentations will not just return but encompass all in-person screenings for the first four days of the film festival. Located at The Forum (601 West 125th Street), Hi’s famous Opening Night red carpet, screenings and panels will all be located at that central hub with the second weekend at Maysles Documentary Center (343 Malcolm X Boulevard). This year’s film lineup will once again celebrate and showcase relatively undiscovered international cinematic gems and local New York filmmaking talent with a special focus on Harlem artists. Hi’s lineup features 61 films, including 24 features (10 narrative, 14 documentaries), 20 shorts (11 narrative, 9 documentaries, 1 television webisode), 2 experimental, 4 music videos, and 3 VR projects, 4 television webisodes, and 4 youth films.

Harlem International Film Festival’s Program Director, Nasri Zacharia, said. “This is our fourth year working with the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University and the second with the Forum, and we are thrilled to be able to provide so many programs free to the public. This festival is unique in our dual focus on world cinema alongside our homegrown talent here in the HUB ­– Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx. This year’s lineup scores on both of those fronts yet again.”

Opening Night on Thursday, May 16 at The Forum will be highlighted by the world premiere of Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here. The film looks at the relationship that develops during the lockdown between Eve, a woman drowning in grief and pain following a personal tragedy, and Adam, who attempts to help her navigate those dark waters. The screening will be preceded by the New York premiere of Gabri Christa’s short film Kankantri (The Silk Cotton Tree) about a woman who enters a place of worship and is transported to the parallel universe of all her ancestors who do not let her leave, until she participates in their dances and rituals. The directors of both films will attend and participate in post-screening Q&As. The evening will also include Hi’s popular Uptown Shorts Spotlightpresentation, featuring short films shot in Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx.

The featured film for Saturday’s Spotlight Presentation will be Nancy Saslow’s documentary Xernona Clayton: A Life in Black and White. The film celebrates the life of Xernona Clayton, one of the most unheralded civil rights icons and African American pioneers of our time. Clayton is an extraordinary woman who has impacted our country so respectfully and quietly that many aren't aware of her enormous contributions. Following the screening will be a Q&A with Saslow and the icon herself, Xernona Clayton.

Additional highlights include Friday May 17 presentations featuring Cionin Lorenzo and Pearlette J Ramos’ Three (Extra) Ordinary Women, which takes us on a harrowing minute-by-minute journey with three women seeking to overcome traumatic events by reaching Africa’s tallest peak Mount Kilimanjaro. Balbinka Korzeniowska’s festival favorite Playing Through which dramatizes the fateful golf match between Ann Gregory, the first woman of color to enter the USGA Women's Amateur, and Babs Whatling, a privileged white woman from the south. Three (Extra) Ordinary Women director Cionin Lorenzo, and Playing Through producer Peter Odiorne will both attend and participate in post-screening Q&As. The evening will conclude with a live musical performance by Brad Corrigan, from the band Dispatch, prior to a screening of his film Ileana's Smile which follows the tragic story of a girl with a lightning smile who endures life in a trash dump community in Managua, Nicaragua, and the unlikely friendships that form around her.

Saturday, May 18 will feature a special panel discussion on colorism in Black and Latinx communities prior to a screening of Magdalena Albizu’s Negrita. The film focuses on diverse Afro Latinas who explore and confront culture and racism while defining their own identity in the United States. The film explores the ideology of Blackness, and how both American and Latino cultures perpetuate the belief that Blackness is to be destroyed.

For updates, registration, and more information on the Harlem International Film Festival go to http://HarlemFilmFestival.org

2024 Harlem International Film Festival Official Selections

NORYANG: DEADLY SEA hits Blu-ray & Digital May 14


Last film in the Admiral Yi Sun-shin trilogy covers the events leading up to and during the Battle of Noryang Strait.

Following THE ADMIRAL:ROARING CURRENTS where Choi Min Sik played Yi and HASAN: RISING DRAGON where Park Hae-il played him, Kim Yun-seok puts his own spin on the great man in the story warring factions battling to remain in power and remain alive, with as much money as possible and hopefully without going to war.  As the film opens the political leaders want to let the Japanese go home. Yi doesn't trust them and thinks they should attack. Complicating things is the fact that no one knows if they can trust the Ming leader. He is playing his own angle. Of course things end up moving toward war...

After just over an hour of political intrigue and maneuvering NORYANG switches gears to the reason everyone came to the theater and that is to see the spectacular sea battle, Taking up roughly half the film the final battles are jaw dropping and bone crushing as they navies clash in blood fights to the death, it's amazing. To be certain some of the computer generated images aren't flawless, but it doesn't matter since  the drama and momentum is so strong we are carried along. Besides its only the odd shot and not sequences.

While I thought the film cold have been a bit clearer about some of the politics, my unhappiness was purely because the film moves through the non-action scenes with speed, I still knew what was going on and why. As a result by the time the ships are crashing into each other I was fully invested.

For those who are curious, I really have no opinion as to how this film compares to the first two. Each film is different enough that I don't want to compare them. Besides, the battle scenes in all three films kick serious ass which is all anyone needs to know- after all the battles are the selling point and make this film and the others must sees.

This is grand cinema. This is the sort of a film that you go to see in a theater because you can see it big and loud. It's a grand popcorn film of the highest order and highly recommended.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

The First Wave of Fantasia 2024 Titles

 FANTASIA ANNOUNCES A STUNNING FIRST WAVE OF TITLES FOR ITS 28th EDITION

 
Chuck Russell's WITCHBOARD, Chris Stuckmann’s SHELBY OAKS, Nobuhiro Yamashita’s CONFESSION, Miguel Llansó’s INFINITE SUMMER, Tomojiro Amano’s THIS MAN, Jayro Bustamante’s RITA, Hwang Wook’s MASH VILLE, Lowell Dean’s DARK MATCH, Lucía Puenzo's ELECTROPHILIA, the Adams family’s HELL HOLE, and Pratul Gaikwad’s DEAD DEAD FULL DEAD are among the debut 2024 titles announced by the Montreal fest
 
 
Thursday May 9, 2024 // Montreal, Quebec -- The Fantasia International Film Festival will celebrate its upcoming 28th edition with an electrifying program of screenings, workshops, and launch events running from July 18 through August 4, 2024, returning yet again at the Concordia Hall and J.A. de Sève cinemas, with additional screens and events at Montreal’s Cinémathèque québécoise and Cinéma du Musée.
 
The festival’s full lineup will be announced on July 3, but in the meantime, Fantasia is excited to reveal a select first wave of premiere titles, along with a first look at its 2024 poster art.
 
 

The festival’s 2024 poster art, created by Montreal visual artist Donald Caron, brings back two of the festival’s most-beloved characters from earlier editions, returning by popular demand. The cinema-loving cat and pug, barreling into the future on a sidecar motorcycle, embody the excitement, playfulness, and absurdity that Fantasia has championed since its inception in 1996.

 


CHUCK RUSSELL RETURNS TO HORROR WITH WITCHBOARD, A WILD RE-IMAGINING OF THE CLASSIC 80'S FRANCHISE!
 
From A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS and the beloved1988 remake of THE BLOB to THE MASKERASER, and THE SCORPION KING, director Chuck Russell has no shortage of imaginative fantasy/horror classics under his belt. Now he returns to the genre he’s marked so brilliantly with a radical reinvention of Kevin S. Tenney’s 1986 Canadian cult favorite WITCHBOARD. Emily (Madison Iseman, ANNABELLE COMES HOME) and her fiancé Christian (Aaron Dominguez, Hulu's Only Murderers in the Building) discover an ancient Wiccan artifact, a pendulum board, as they prepare to open a bistro in New Orleans' French Quarter. Emily becomes obsessed with the board's powers, exposing her to the ancient spirit of the Queen of Witches. Desperate to help his fiancé, Christian seeks the advice of occult expert Alexander Babtiste (Jamie Campbell Bower, Netflix's Stranger Things, the TWILIGHT saga), but Babtiste has dark secrets of his own. Shot in Montreal by cinematographer Yaron Levy (UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING). Also starring David La Haye (TRUE NORTH), Charlie Tahan (Netflix's Ozark), Antonia Desplat (AppleTV+'s Shantaram), and Mel Jarnson (MORTAL KOMBAT). World Premiere. 
 
 

PRESENTED BY MIKE FLANAGAN, CHRIS STUCKMANN’S SHELBY OAKS IS HERE

A woman's desperate search for her long-lost sister, a famous YouTuber who investigated paranormal happenings, falls into obsession upon realizing that the imaginary demon from their childhood may have been real. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that broke records across the platform, the highly anticipated feature debut feature from YouTube creator Chris Stuckmann is finally here and ready to scare the pants off the world. SHELBY OAKS delivers in all departments. Starring Camille Sullivan (HUNTER HUNTER), Brendan Sexton III (DON’T BREATHE 2), Sarah Durn (RENFIELD), Keith David (THE THINGNOPE), and Michael Beach (AQUAMAN). Produced by Aaron B. Koontz, Cameron Burns, and Ashleigh Snead, and Executive Produced by Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy, among others. World Premiere
 


MIGUEL LLANSÓ’S INFINITE SUMMER IS A TRIPPY, TRANSHUMANIST FEAT OF FILMMAKING

Estonia-based Miguel Llansó (CRUMBSJESUS SHOWS YOU THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY) is a singular gift to cinema. Fantasia is proud to be bringing the visionary iconoclast back to Montreal for the World Premiere of what may be his most compelling creation yet: INFINITE SUMMER, a trippy transhumanist sci-fi exploration vibrant with humor, poignancy, and gonzo invention. On a summer break, Mia and her friends try a meditation app that that’s somehow related to the operating system of the Tallinn Zoo, changing in the body chemistry of its users into something between pollen and cosmic dust. Mia will need to choose between saving her friends or joining them.  An astonishing film, produced by legendary US producing partners Allison Rose Carter and Jon Read (EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCEAMERICAN HONEY), Rain Rannu (CHASING UNICORNS, THE INVISIBLE FIGHT), and Tõnu Hiielaid (KRATT), and Llansó himself, starring Hannah Gross (Netflix’s Mindhunter), Johanna Rosin, and Teele Kaljuvee-O'Brock.  World Premiere.
 


TRUTH BE TOLD, CONFESSION IS A MASTERFULLY CRAFTED SINGLE-LOCATION THRILLER

Every Winter since Sayuri’s tragic disappearance sixteen years ago, Asai and Jiyong climb the mountain where it happened to honor her memory. However, an intense blizzard and a catastrophic injury convince Jiyong he’s done for and, before forcing Asai to leave him to die, he shares a devastating revelation. Asai returns, however, after finding a nearby cabin and now, isolated for the night, the two have to deal with Jiyong’s not-so-last words... the hard way. Two award-winning Fantasia legends, director Nobuhiro Yamashita (LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM) and actor/writer/director Yang Ik-june (BREATHLESS), along with superstar Toma Ikuta (THE MOLE SONG trilogy), team up to adapt a beloved manga into a narrative and technical achievement, one of the best single-location thrillers ever created. With stellar performances and masterful direction using every inch of his set to generate maximum tension, CONFESSION flirts with perfection at every level - and must be experienced in a theatre. North American Premiere
 


JAYRO BUSTAMANTE’S RITA WILL HAUNT YOUR MEMORY AND BREAK YOUR HEART

Following up on the international success of his brilliant LA LLORONA (2019), director Jayro Bustamante’s RITA fuses mythical fantasy and whimsical imagery with themes of childhood innocence and the potent emotional register of a story based on a harrowing real life event, wherein 41 young women needlessly burned to death inside a Guatemalan orphanage in the midst of a protest about inhumane conditions. At its core is the powerful performance of Guiliana Santa Cruz, who speaks for all the young women who suffered. As a result, the story speaks much to the power of female anger, and yet, not once does the director lose sense of the fact that at its heart, Rita’s tale is one of girlhood, of dreams, of an innocence lost, and regained within the bosom of female solidarity. World Premiere.
 


THIS MAN BLENDS WESTERN INSPIRATIONS WITH J-HORROR TROPES IN A PERFECT MELTING POT OF TERROR

An inexplicable wave of tragic deaths plunges two investigators into the heart of a fateful whirlwind, where logic and facts have no value as a far-fetched urban legend seems to come true. A mother plagued by terrifying dreams, seeing her friends and colleagues disappear one after the other, and her family witness the horror unfold. Director and screenwriter Tomojiro Amano (TRAPPED IN MAKYO) skillfully fuses the styles of Eastern and Western classics, referencing RINGUIT FOLLOWS, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET among others, to create an intimate, oppressive work that constantly keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as it slowly and subtly unveils the pandemic-like slaughter outside. At the crest of the international horror-film harvest of 2024, already a banner year, THIS MAN is sure to lodge itself in viewers' memories. With such potential, a Hollywood remake wouldn’t be surprising. International Premiere
 


LOWELL DEAN’S DARK MATCH CONJURES SIX-TIME CHAMP CHRIS JERICHO AS A CULT LEADER!

After his success with the WOLF COP films, Canadian filmmaker Lowell Dean switches it up and takes horror to the ring! When small-time wrestlers get a big payday for a private gig, they jump at the chance for fame and fortune, but the event, run by a mysterious leader who calls himself “The Prophet,” demands plenty of blood on the mats and involves a sinister, demonic deal! Set in the wrestling heyday of the 80s, DARK MATCH is an action-packed rumble on the ropes shot by acclaimed cinematographer Karim Hussain (INFINITY POOL, POSSESSOR). Starring wrestling legend Chris Jericho as the charismatic leader of its bloodthirsty cult, Ayisha Issa (TRANSPLANT), and Steven Ogg (AMC’s The Walking Dead), you’ll get more than your share of intrigue, action, and gore inside this ring! Septentrion Shadows section. World Premiere.
 


A SAMURAI IN TIME IS WORTH THE TIME AND TRAVEL TO SEE

An Edo-period swordsman is flung into the future, arriving in modern Kyoto to confront utter confusion—and an acting career. The medieval warrior transported to modern times is a variant of the time-travel subgenre that has been explored many times around the world. Award-winning writer/director Junichi Yasuda (GOHAN), however, offers a take on the theme that’s not only clever, funny, and distinctly Japanese, but remarkably poignant. Shot on location at Toei Studios Kyoto, A SAMURAI IN TIME is held together by the subtle and convincing performance of lead actor Makiya Yamaguchi. More than just a fun fish-out-of-water fantasy, it’s an homage to samurai cinema as it wanes as surely as the shogunate once did. International Premiere.
 


SWIPE RIGHT ON ELRIC KANE’S DATING APP CHILLER THE DEAD THING

A young woman, lost in a series of meaningless connections through dating apps, falls in love with a charismatic man who is hiding a dark secret that turns her affair into a dangerous obsession. Smart, tragic and unsettling, Pure Cinema host Elric Kane’s first solo-directed feature is a character-driven supernatural nightmare that explores the demons of modern dating in ways that are both horrific and disturbingly relatable.  Swipe right on this profound piece of genre cinema that is destined to become a horror classic. Staring Blu Hunt (Netflix’s Another Life), Ben Smith-Petersen (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD), Katherine Hughes (ECHO 3), and John Karna (SCREAM). Co-Written by Webb Wilcoxen (The Frontier). Produced by Monte Yazzie, Matt Mercer (BLISS), and Rebekah McKendry (GLORIOUS). World Premiere.
 


MASHING UP GENRES, MASH VILLE IS A KOREAN CULT CLASSIC IN THE MAKING

Someone has died after drinking the bootleg liquor brewed by Se-jong and his two younger brothers. While on a mission to retrieve their deadly booze before another person perishes from it, they come across two homicidal cultists who are terrorizing the villagers. The love that director Hwang Wook (LIVE HARDDOG EAT DOG) harbors for the Western, action, and comedy genres shines through from start to finish with stylish cinematography, quirky characters, and an incredibly entertaining screenplay. Most importantly, pitch-black humor abounds. Hwang and company commit to their absurdity, and it’s an absolute blast, a genre-mashing crowd-pleaser sure to be a Korean cult classic as time goes on. World Premiere
 


LUCÍA PUENZO’S ELECTROPHILIA CASTS A SUBVERSIVE NEW VISION

A woman wakes up from a coma six weeks after being struck by lightning and finds herself compulsively drawn to electric currents as her body’s workings begin to change. She soon joins an underground support group of strike survivors led by a dangerously charismatic doctor, opening a doorway into unexpected new explorations. A gripping, sensorial experience with a visceral emotional core, ELECTROPHILIA is the latest creation from Cannes-award-winning Argentinian filmmaker and novelist Lucía Puenzo (THE FISH CHILDXXY). Reminiscent of CRASH-era Cronenberg, it is a subversive and beautiful genre work, a different kind of self-discovery tale, and a new breed of dramatic thriller. Starring Mariana Di Girolamo (Pablo Larrain’s EMA), German Palacios (EL RAPTO), and Guillermo Pfening (THE GERMAN DOCTOR). North American Premiere.
 


A MORALLY CHALLENGING TALE OF REVENGE, PENALTY LOOP TAKES A FAMILIAR THEME ON A DEVILISHLY TWISTED PATH

Left bereft by the wanton and inexplicable murder of his girlfriend, Jun chooses his own justice, carefully planning the perfect murder of the man who led him to become what he wants to eliminate. Once the vengeance is consummated, he wakes up with a confirmed sense of déjà-vu and his target alive and well, repeating the same routine as the day before. Offering a breathless, dark, and innovative variation on the time-loop concept, writer/director Shinji Araki (THE TOWN OF HEADCOUNTS) establishes himself as a sure thing in contemporary Japanese genre cinema with this unpredictable, shocking narrative that constantly twists and turns toward a conclusion that’s as satisfying as it is devastating. Carried by a convincing duo of actors in perfect sync, PENALTY LOOP is an accomplishment condemning Araki to return to the forefront with each of his future projects. North American Premiere
 


THE ADAMS FAMILY BIRTH CREATURES AT A SERBIAN FRACKING SITE IN HELL HOLE

A road trip through Canadian oil fields conjured up fantasies of secrets deep in the dirt for the Adams family, and inspired them to create HELL HOLE, an indie rock-n-roll monster movie set at a far-away fracking site. Known for their DIY ethos, John and Lulu Adams and Toby Poser, partnering with Shudder, have joined the team behind The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and FX legend Todd Masters to shoot their latest in Serbia with a local cast and crew. Absurd, mutinous, and transgressively comical, Hell Hole is old-school sci-fi horror, yet in typical family fashion, they subvert the genre with textures of biological and environmental horror in tandem with questions of gender and bodily autonomy. This will be the fourth time that Fantasia World Premieres work from the gifted filmmaking family, following launches of THE DEEPER YOU DIGHELLBENDER, and WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMSWorld Premiere.
 


DEAD DEAD FULL DEAD MUTATES THE WHODUNIT GENRE

Junior police officers Balraam and Zubeida make a cute couple, but not the most diligent detectives. Called to a posh apartment tower to investigate a reported murder, the seemingly straightforward case quickly becomes a conundrum that would confuse even Sherlock Holmes. When the victim herself returns from the afterlife, matters become even more muddled, and soon enough the question isn’t who killed her... but who didn’t?! With the deadpan delirium of his debut feature, Mumbai-based editor and filmmaker Pratul Gaikwad offers a very odd, otherworldly mutation on the much-loved mystery-comedy genre. Featuring paranormal powers and multiple manias, cosmic wonders and covert class warfare, celestial bureaucracy and dysfunctional love, and even a supernaturally transformed goat, Gaikwad’s surreal whodunit offers a bit of everything... except perhaps proper law-enforcement procedure. World Premiere
 


VOIVOD: WE ARE CONNECTED OFFERS A THUNDERING TRIBUTE TO LEGENDARY PROG METAL PIONEERS

From the moment they exploded out of Jonquière in the early ‘80s, Voivod have been widely hailed as one of the most original and influential metal bands in the world. Years in the making and produced with full access to the band’s archives, Felipe Belalcazar’s illuminating VOIVOD: WE ARE CONNECTED brings the story of a groundbreaking 40+ year career to the screen with energy, insight, and a palpable sense of love. The long-awaited doc will be launched in the very province that birthed the band and Fantasia couldn’t be more proud. With appearances by Tobias Forge (Ghost), Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth), Jason Newsted (Metallica – and brief Voivod member), Zach Blair (Rise AgainstGWAR), Tom G Warrior (Celtic FrostTriptykon), and Ivan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats), among many others. Docs from the Edge section. World Premiere.
 


A FANTASTICAL JAPAN RETURNS IN FLY ME TO THE SAITAMA: FROM BIWA LAKE WITH LOVE

After stealing hearts at Fantasia 2019, where FLY ME TO THE SAITAMA won the Audience Award for Best Asian Feature, director Hideki Takeuchi returns to a fantastical version of Japan—“definitely not a portrayal of any actual place”—with a completely original story independent from the ’80s manga from which it takes its name. Japanese music superstar Gackt and co-star Fumi Nikaido are back as Rei and Momomi in FROM BIWA LAKE WITH LOVE, now supported by an equally delightful cast of new characters as they crank up the genre-bending, highly stylized shenanigans that made the first film so unforgettable. Complete with a boys-love triangle, hilarious parodic references including a wacky Willy Wonka number, and the return of its meta story-within-a-story structure, this sequel is a worthy continuation with even more to offer! North American Premiere.
 


A SPECIAL HOMECOMING FOR ANNICK BLANC'S ACCLAIMED HUNTING DAZE

Lauded following its premiere at SXSW, Annick Blanc's highly anticipated debut feature finally makes its way home. HUNTING DAZE takes us on a wild trip, following Nina's (Nahéma Ricci, ANTIGONE) journey as she takes refuge with a rowdy group of men after being stranded in a northern forest. The film plays like a drunken fever dream, exposing a microcosm of masculinity in which one's desire to belong threatens to upend the group. With dreamy visuals and transfixing performances by a cast of Quebec talent (Marc Beaupré, Alexandre Landry, Bruno Marcil), this is a bachelor weekend unlike any you've ever seen. Canadian Premiere.


The 28th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival is presented by Videotron and is made possible with the financial contributions of Telefilm Canada, la Société́ de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), le gouvernement du Québec, the city of Montréal, le Conseil des arts de Montréal, Tourisme Montréal, and the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC).

The festival would like to thank all its private partners, friends of the event, as well as official suppliers, venues, and all participating filmmakers, sales agents, and distributors for their invaluable support.

 

A second wave of Fantasia 2024 titles will be announced in early June with the festival’s full lineup to be revealed in early July. Ticket sales will commence shortly afterwards.
 
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