Jul 2

Taking a Break

Category: Fantasia,Random,Rants

Although I acknowledge that announcing I am taking a break from blogging is like announcing the continuation of the status quo, because lately my posts have been infrequent to rare, I must nevertheless officially give notice of a month long hiatus from updates to this site.

This is of course due to the fact that July is Fantasia month. Fantasia, as some of you may know, is a month long film festival that takes place in Montreal every year. It pretty much takes up all of my time during July, leaving none left over for decent meals or sleep, let alone drawing/photoshopping.

I’ve been attending this festival intermittently for maybe 8 years, and faithfully for 5. Come August of every year I swear I will never attend the festival again, decrying it as a sin against backsides (due to the painfully uncomfortable seats), a challenge to normal human levels of patience (due to the insanely long line-ups, not to mention delays in show times) and a test to one’s sanity (due to my own tendency to overdo it and take in waaaay too many films). But then the program comes out each July and I can’t help but be swept away in Fantasia fever once again. While I admit that most of the offerings at this festival tend to suck, there are always a few gems that make the whole thing worthwhile. And there is no way to know beforehand which films will blow and which ones will soar, because the people who write the blurbs for these films are… wankers. Wankers who run the festival and picked the movies in the first place so of course they think they’re good even though they’re often shit. (I’m looking at you, Mitch Davis, you self-important douche, get a fucking haircut and stop wearing that goddamn trench coat, it’s 30 degrees outside! I mean seriously, Chinese horror that devolves into a saccharine anti-choice crusade? WTF?)

That having been said, my fest partner, Phil and I have gotten our programming down to a science. Because he works at official Fantasia sponsor Ubisoft, he got a free program and trailer DVD, not to mention a VIP pass. The pass will allow us to bypass all line-ups, which is awesome and the trailer DVD allowed us to waste an entire Saturday choosing which films to see. The trailers are usually a better predictor of which movies we’ll like than the reviews. There are a few rules we’ve developed over time:

· The documentaries tend to be pretty good. Last year there was the excellent “King of Kong” about a rivalry between two Donkey Kong players. This year we’re looking forward to “I Think We’re Alone Now”, the story of two Tiffany stalkers.
· Japanese movies are always great, unless they involve the Yakuza. Of course, your mileage may vary but we are not fans of gangster flics. There are only so many times you can watch a spray of bullets before you get over it. We prefer quirky Japanese offerings about Otaku and Harajuku girls. You know, the movies that will inevitably suffer from Akira syndrome, where regardless of plot, everything will blow up in the end. Seriously, even romantic comedies suffer from this affliction. And I’m speaking literally. The country explodes, or some city blows up, or perhaps there will be a smaller scale bomb such as the flower stand that randomly exploded at the end of “Otakus in Love”. Or even if nothing explodes, at least something gigantic will fall from the sky. You know how it is; you’re trying to organize a group of lackluster friends into a baseball team and then a massive stone tablet symbolizing your struggle drops from outer space. Standard procedure for Japanese flics. This year we look forward to “Robo Rock” where a singer/thief has the ability to control a giant robot with his magical voice.
· I also tend to enjoy Korean films. They often employ the same sort of quirkiness found in Japanese fare, although not to the same extremes. Still plenty of lol moments though.
· We’ve learned to stop seeing Chinese and Thai films, sure every so often they’re ok but usually not, so why even waste our time? Plus, offensive as this may be, there’s just something about the Thai language that grates on my nerves. I’m not a sound-oriented person but the sounds made by different languages just carry different connotations. Like everything said in French sounds pompous (I mean France French, hardcore Quebecois French sounds white-trash, sorry but it’s true, same as even the most educated Bostonian or Brooklynite sounds like a jerk), everything said in German or Japanese sounds authoritative and everything said in Thai sounds… annoying.
· Spanish films suck out loud. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, maybe I don’t get it but man, sucktastic. This year we’re biting the bullet and seeing “REC” though because, well, zombies. You can’t go wrong with zombies. I mean, you can but, still… zombies.
· Other European films can be fun just for the novelty. We’ve enjoyed French sci-fi, Russian action, Danish mockumentary and German screwball comedy. This year there is “Let the Right One In”, a Swedish vampire movie that looks good but I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay awake for it. 9:30 on a school night… I’m not as young as I used to be.
· American films are hit and miss but usually even the Indies have enough of a budget that what they lack in plot, they make up for in prettiness.
· Canadian movies. Well, I want to support the home team but… you know how it is. They’re like the opposite of American movies: good story, no budget. The Quebec DIY flics are to be avoided at all costs, but this year there is “Truffe”, a legitimate Quebecois dystopian-future offering filmed in black and white and starring Roy Dupuis. I know the man can’t enunciate to save his life and needs to join mullet-addicts anonymous but still, I can’t help but adore him and his quiet intensity.
· Animation can go either way. There’s so much anime out there that some are bound to be stinkers. They’re balanced out by the trippy, experimental things though, so it’s all good.
— Last year I was disappointed by a series of animated short films, but we’re trying again this year anyway. The good thing about shorts is if there’s one you don’t like, you don’t have to wait for the next one to come along.
· Horror movies have come to the point where they are usually a miss. We’re so over J-horror and all its clones that we can barely even sit through the trailers. I also happen to not scare easily so it’s hard to really get into a horror movie. The best I can hope for is to the mildly disturbed, but usually all I get is offended. So now we mainly stick to parodies when it comes to the horror genre. If we can’t be scared, at least we can be amused.
· Science-Fiction, my one true love. Whatever happened to sci-fi? Every year there are at most one or two on the docket. We’re going to take in “The Substitute”, a Danish film about a teacher who is really an alien but it looks more comedy than sci-fi. “Truffe” promises to be semi sci-fi, taking place in the future and all, but it’s the near future so I’m unconvinced. “Accuracy of Death,” a Japanese film about the grim reaper takes place in three time periods, including 2028 but Japan is the future anyway so who can tell the difference?

Aside from which films to see, we’re also figured out where to sit. In the Hall theatre the rows offer no legroom whatsoever, which is difficult for my 6’1” partner, so the front row of the top level is ideal unless it’s a foreign film, in which case, my 5’6” frame can’t see over the railing to read the subtitles floating at the bottom of the screen. So the best seat in the house is right above the stairwells. There’s no one in front of you, you’ve got extra legroom and a ledge to put your drink. Of course one year my drink got knocked off and fell into the lap of some dude next to me but it was his own fault for daring to sit in a prime seat so whatevs.

In the JA de Seve theatre, things are equally cramped but the seats are slightly more comfortable. There’s one prime spot that offers more legroom than elsewhere and we can often nag these seats when we have our VIP pass.

But even if you’re sitting in a creaky chair covered in unidentifiable stains, if the film is good you’ll forget about the blood clots forming in your legs. Besides, the pain is part of the fun. Sort of like family reunions, or dentist appointments.

Hopefully this year will be fun. We’ve got 19 films scheduled, but because of the free pass, we may see more or less depending on our collective mood. But wait, I’m not done ranting! I’ve already outlined Mitch Davis’ shameful lack of self-awareness but can I just complain for a second about how badly organized this fest is? Seriously people, this thing has been running for over a decade, you’d think you’d have your shit together by now. But no, every year things falls apart, movies are grossly delayed, scheduled speakers don’t show up, shorts that are meant to screen before the feature for some reason never do. And this year the schedule as published on the website does not match the hard copy version. So um… which one is correct? There’s no way to know.

But still, the movies are relatively cheap (even without the VIP pass) and they are the sorts of things you won’t see anywhere else on a big screen. Plus, you can’t beat a Fantasia crowd. Besides, the golden opportunities for people watching (Goth girls and cosplay and stereotype-enforcing nerds, oh my!), the enthusiastically interactive audience is half the fun at fantasia. Yes, their constant cheers and jeers can ruin films that are meant to be taken seriously but if you’re going to see “Dance of the Dead” (zombies at the prom) or “Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer” (a blue collar dude must rise to the occasion and kill his night-school teacher who turns into a mutant – played by Robert Englund thank you very much), well, don’t you want to see these gems with others who will properly appreciate the hilaritude inherent in such concepts? I know I do and that’s why I’m steeling myself for another month of butt-sores and poutine-induced stomachaches. Let the sweet torture begin!

You know, I take it back. Maybe I’ll do more blogging this month than ever, in order to bring you reviews of films you never had any desire to see and will probably continue to feel indifferent towards. But even though you may have no interest in genre cinema, the fact that you’ve read this far into this post proves that you too, rightfully believe Mitch Davis to be an asshole.


12 Comments so far

  1. kebes July 2nd, 2008 4:52 pm

    I for one would like you to blog about the movies you see–even if they are just short updates.

    Any suggestions you come away from Fantasia with are appreciated. (I also liked “King of Kong”, for instance.)

  2. Nique July 2nd, 2008 5:03 pm

    I’ll try to review all the movies as soon as I can because often they turn into a jumbled blur. Maybe I’ll have to turn into one of those people who brings their laptop into the cinema with them. Damn, I’ll be sooo obnoxious! I love it already!

  3. KingCasey July 2nd, 2008 5:39 pm

    I hope you do decide to blog Fantasia. You can act as a reality filter for the rest of us. There’s no way I’m sticking my 6’1 frame into those cramped smelly seats to try to watch a poorly projected film over Colin’s ilk’s heckling. However, I will download all the movies you recommend in the comfort of my own home.

  4. DevXero July 2nd, 2008 10:03 pm

    Re: Zombie movies vs Spanish movies. As far as rules go (Spanish movies are teh suck and Zombies can redeem anything) we need to define these better for years to come. Spanish movies will ALWAYS suck no matter what. It’s an absolute rule. Zombies make everything better on paper because it calls to our unfulfilled zombie desires. In our hearts, Zombies are the bacon of concepts, they make everything better. But it requires proper creativity and desire to deliver on that promise. So in the case of Zombies Vs. The Spanish, the spanish will once again shit on our hopes and dreams. We should have turned on our inner Vulcans and went with logic and facts instead of our mushy meat hearts.

    I refer to the spanish zombie movie that played 2 years ago as an example. It was bad. There are no words to describe it. Nique fell asleep (granted it was a midnight showing which in and of itself should have been a clear indicatore of it’s inherent baditude). To make it short, the infection was spread through the head zombie anally raping others to spread the disease. At some point the head zombie’s penis actually gets severed and runs around rampant looking for it’s next victim. Re-reading this, it sounds like it could be pretty funny…see how easy it is to forget that it was a SPANISH movie…

  5. Nique July 2nd, 2008 10:13 pm

    Unfortunately I was awake for the dismembered zombie penis. Yeah, it was bad. It sounds so bad it could be good but no, it was just bad.

    But our logic has prevailed this year! We have opted not to see “Chanbara Beauty”, which also involves zombies but from the trialer it’s pretty clear that it’s just soft-core porn. So we have effectively demonstrated that even our zombie love has limits. We know full well that not all zombie movies are good. Remember the zombie western?

  6. DevXero July 2nd, 2008 10:16 pm

    indeed…which was worsened by the stunning performance of Chris Katan.

  7. KingCasey July 2nd, 2008 11:49 pm

    Pan’s Labrynth and Volver were both Spanish, both recent, and both good.

  8. Nique July 3rd, 2008 9:27 am

    Touché. But those were not Fantasia movies. They had garnered mainstream appeal. The rules above are Fantasia specific.

  9. kebes July 3rd, 2008 12:52 pm

    Zombies are the bacon of concepts, they make everything better

    To stretch this analogy even further… I think we should note that although bacon makes every meal better, there is such a thing as bacon done badly.

    Similarly, Zombies can make any storyline more interesting… but that’s assuming you add the good kind of Zombie element. There is such a thing as trying to execute a Zombie concept, but then failing miserably.

  10. Nique July 3rd, 2008 2:02 pm

    As in the aforementioned zombie western “Undead or Alive” or the Spanish zombie penis movie.

  11. Caro July 4th, 2008 8:33 pm

    I have to rent this zombie penis movie, I have to see it to believe it

  12. Nique July 5th, 2008 10:23 am

    I think it was called Mucha Sangre. But trust, me, it’s not worth it. It sounds funny but it was really just boring.

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