Fantasia Fest

Jackpot Film Review

Oscar is having a bad day. When we first meet him, he’s lying underneath a massive woman clutching a shotgun at a strip club full of corpses. The police are obviously curious as to his connection with all this death and destruction. As Oscar sits in the interrogation room of the police station, he relays a bizarre tale of soccer betting winnings, of gangsters, and of murder. Is Oscar a liar, a killer, or just completely out of his mind? More and more, the collected nations of Scandinavia are proving to have an unparalleled mastery of the crime film. Whether it be a brutal descent into the depths of human ugliness like Sweden’s Millennium Trilogy or something intricately tense and darkly comedic like Norway’s Headhunters, it’s gotten to the point that the assemblage of the words Scandinavian and crime film are enough to heighten many a film geek’s excitement and expectation. Sharp as a concealed knife, and dripping with black comedy, Jackpot proudly takes it place beside the best of this budding new wave of rule-breaker cinema from the north of Europe.

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Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick) is as regular a guy. He goes to work everyday, at an office from which he was fired months before and where it rains indoors all day. He has a best friend who is moving away in order to drive to the edge of the world. One morning Dolph wakes up to find his dog is missing. To distract himself from the anxiety, he calls a new pizza place and inquires at length about the metaphoric accuracy of the logo. It’s about this time that his gardener informs him that the tree in his backyard has impishly transformed itself from a palm tree to an evergreen. Soon after that, he meets Master Chang, a spiritual and self-help guru who believes in pet telepathy. Tired old story, right? Wrong! However, anyone who has seen Rubber knows this is par for the course when it comes to Quentin Dupieux. His films are experiments in unbridled absurdity. The man crafted an entire film around the conceit of a sentient tire who kills people via telepathy. As if that weren’t enough weird for one movie, he also created a bizarre Greek chorus that both observed and commented on the actions of said tire; breaking the fourth wall at will and lending a self-aware vibe to the insanity. Obviously, this kind of abandon of traditional narrative, as well as all semblance of logic, is a recipe for a limited fanbase. Understandably, Dupieux is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loving […]

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What often defines me as a writer, much to the chagrin of certain members of the intellectual old guard, is that I approach bargain basement genre films with the same enthusiasm and critical eye as I would something from Godard, Bergman, or Kurosawa. There is merit to be found in almost any film, and where there is not–even when judged within distinctive criteria–is when a movie has truly failed. This passion for all things celluloid, for a wider palate of films that would have someone more traditionally academic than myself expectorating with disdain, appears to be one of the core principles upon which the Fantasia Film Fest was founded. This year, the Montreal-based festival’s sixteenth in existence, Fantasia opted to construct an event that perfectly encapsulates this love for obscure cinema and packages it in the most artistically adept fashion possible. Dave Alexander, editor-in-chief of Rue Morgue magazine, assembled a bloody handful of some of Canada’s most notable genre filmmakers and paired them with a cadre of the nation’s top illustrators/designers to bring us If They Came From Within. This gallery featured a host of incredible posters, and even a few props, that supposed an entire alternate history of Canadian genre films. It was like walking through an exhibit of awe-inspiring drive-in art from a museum, and more to the point a drive-in, that never existed. The names culled to help conceive of these bloodcurdling and beautiful works of art should be eerily familiar to readers of this site. Names […]

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A Little Bit Zombie

Steve and Tina are about to get married, a prospect that gravely disturbs Steve’s sister who–in addition to being married to Steve’s best friend–thinks Tina is as right for him as an angry hornet’s nest is for a family picnic. Much in that same vein, Steve thinks it wise to take the quartet to the family cabin for the weekend so everyone can learn to play nice. Adding to the incredibly tense proceedings is a mosquito who managed to feed on a walking corpse a few miles over. You see, a pair of expert zombie hunters were just wrapping up the last loose ends of an undead carnival when the pesky insect sneaked a bite and made his way over to the cabin. The mosquito bites Steve several times, and soon he begins showing the classic tell-tale signs of zombism. But can this nice-guy zombie be cured?

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published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+
published: 04.16.2014
C-

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