Fantastic Fest

Lionsgate

Fantastic Fest may be a festival focused on off-the-radar genre films from here and abroad, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for recognizable Hollywood faces. They’ve just announced their second wave of titles playing this year, and while it’s heavy on unfamiliar foreign titles there are a few heavy hitters in there too. One of last year’s highlights was the presence of Keanu Reeves who there with his directorial debut, the surprisingly fun Man of Tai Chi, but also took time out to participate in the Fantastic Debates. He’s returning again this year, and while he didn’t direct John Wick it promises to be a rollicking action flick all the same thanks to Reeves’ clear love of the genre and the co-directors vast experience in the stunt game. Jake Gyllenhaal won’t be making an appearance, but his fantastically dark-looking new film, Nightcrawler, will be closing the fest. Other known talents include the latest from high-kicker Marko Zaror in Redeemer, Takashi Miike’s return to horror with Over Your Dead Body, Astron-6’s giallo-inspired thriller The Editor, Sion Sono’s hip-hop musical Tokyo Tribe, a documentary about the cinematic glory days of Cannon Films and one of my favorite films from this year’s Sundance fest, Eskil Vogt’s Blind. Keep reading to see the whole announcement and entire second wave of films playing this year’s Fantastic Fest.

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Fantastic Fest 2014

This year marks the 10th anniversary of what might just be the world’s best film festival. (I say “might” not because I doubt my own statement, but only because I have yet to attend Spain’s Sitges Film Festival…) And while Tim League and his Alamo Drafthouse friends most assuredly have plenty of surprises and celebrations in store for us this year for now we have to settle for a tease of what’s to come next month with this first wave announcement of movies and events playing the fest. Two anthology sequels are making their expected appearances here as are a few films we’ve seen elsewhere including the wonderfully creepy Australian chiller The Babadook, the surprising documentary Kung Fu Elliot and the French gender bender Jacky in the Kingdom of Women. Kevin Smith’s Tusk is also playing, but the highlight there promises to be seeing how the antagonism between Smith and movie bloggers plays out with Smith in attendance. (My guess is both sides will be super chummy.) The true magic of Fantastic Fest though is in the obscure and previously unknown foreign titles that they share with us each year, and happily the majority of the titles below are ones I’ve never heard of before now. Keep reading to see the first wave of titles that will be playing Fantastic Fest 2014.

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Gravity

Dear sweet lord it’s finally here. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity hits theaters which is bad news for Sandra Bullock’s astronaut and great news for everyone else. Drew McWeeny joins us for a little Interrogation Reviewification where he explains the mind-evaporating nature of the movie without spoiling it. Plus we chat with Rob Hunter about the best of the best coming out of Fantastic Fest (and where you can find them), and I harangue Geoff with a brief history of banned books being adapted to film. You should follow Drew (@drewathitfix), Rob (@fakerobhunter),the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #36 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Why Don

With digital quickly overtaking 35mm film as the dominant acquisition and distribution format for major motion pictures, it’s no surprise that filmmakers would be moved to reminisce about the magic of film. Martin Scorsese dipped his foot in both pools with his digitally-shot 3D film Hugo, which showcased the artistry of early film pioneer George Melies. And Holy Motors, from French director Leos Carax, touched on the emotion and communal experience of cinema among a plethora of other themes. So it seems only natural that Sion Sono‘s latest film, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, unfolds like a love letter to the format with which we all first fell in love. The Fuck Bombers are the best damn cinema club in all of Japan and they are going to make a great movie…one day. Lead by the enthusiastic director Hirata, the Fuck Bombers make their own movies on 8mm. Tanigawa does the best handheld shots while Miki is the best at dolly shots accomplished by wearing roller skates. But the crew finds their final puzzle piece when a fight breaks out near their film shoot one day and they meet Sasaki, who Hirata is sure will be the next great action star. At the same time, a yakuza feud spills into the urban sprawl when members of the Kitagawa clan attack yakuza boss Taizo Muto’s family in their home. Unfortuantely for them, Muto’s wife Shizue was the only one home and she dispatched her would-be attackers with vengeance. The police […]

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Breaking Bad Poster

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Don Jon

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Frankenstein 1931

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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ff 3rd wave Detective Downs

The third and final wave of films has been announced for this month’s highly anticipated Fantastic Fest film festival, and it’s as glorious as we’ve come to expect. A handful of recognizable names are here including Terry Gilliam (The Zero Theorem), Stephen Chow (Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons) and Kim Ki-duk (Moebius), but as is often the case the real joys are found in the unknown films and filmmakers. Based on synopsis alone, Norway’s Detective Downs looks to have break out potential here, but some other possible highlights include the much talked-about Escape From Tomorrow, Yeon Sang-ho’s darkly animated tale The Fake, Scott Adkins’ Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, and a 3D Metallica film that we’re hoping is even half as good as Kiss’ Phantom of the Park. Check out the full final wave announcement below.

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Man of Tai Chi

There are many film festivals on the long, slow path to awards season (a march that begins a mere five months after this year’s Oscars), yet in a season full of festivals all touting potential awards winners, Fantastic Fest stands out from the crowd. Austin’s own beloved festival, with its focus on genre flicks and cult films, is a few steps off the beaten path. Today comes the initial lineup for Fantastic Fest, which offers a hearty blend of Bollywood, gooey horror, and crime stories from all over the world. Keanu Reeves‘ directorial debut – Man of Tai Chi – will also be making an appearance, along with Reeves himself. The film stars Tiger Chen as a martial artist competing in an underground fight club run by Reeves’ character. Robert Rodriguez‘s Machete Kills will open the festival. The newly announced list of films can be seen after the break.

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Home for the Holidays

Before we’re all full of turkey, mashed potatoes and that experimental vegan dessert Aunt Trina keeps trying to make work, we’d like to take a pre-coma moment out to take stock of what’s worth celebrating this Thanksgiving. Without a doubt, we’re thankful for friends and family and all the good within eyesight (even as the world spins too-loudly out of control), but as we’re a movie website, we’d like to use this space to focus on all the wondrous film stuff that’s currently bringing a smile to our faces. To help out, the Rejects — including Rob Hunter, Kate Erbland, Cole Abaius, Christopher Campbell, Kevin Carr, Landon Palmer, Nathan Adams, Robin Ruinsky, Luke Mullen, Caitlin Hughes and Allison Loring — compiled a list of cinematic things to be thankful for. See if you can guess who picked what (spoiler: everything Magic Mike-related is Hunter). Now, let’s get to thanking!

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Austin Cinematic Limits

As many of you probably know, I have been juggling an all-consuming day job with various writing gigs, essentially leaving no time for anything else (life, sleep); and, as the saying goes, all work and no play makes Don a dull boy. We have enough Jack Torrance’s in this world, and before I start running around abandoned hotels with an ax, I figured it was in my best interest to start hacking away at my current workload.

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

Jesus H. Franco, it’s been a busy week here at Film School Rejects. Mainly because of Fantastic Fest, of course. Since the last Reject Recap, we’ve posted 36 reviews of films from the event, plus six interviews, including one with Tim Burton. And we’re not done. The festival may be over, but we’ll still be rolling out the coverage for a couple more days. Obviously, this link to all that content, which can take you in reverse through that which you’ve missed and forward to what will appear (once it appears), is a crucial bookmark for you in these post-fantastic times. Once again, you can easily track through the week’s prominent other features by clicking on buttons around the main page, but here are some links to help you out: reviews (new releases include Pitch Perfect, Won’t Back Down, The Hole, Hotel Transylvania and Hello I Must Be Going); interviews (including Brian DePalma); the Reject Radio podcast (this week was episode 150!); Short Film of the Day and of course your best spot for the most pertinent movie news. Check out our ten best features from the past week plus some other additional reading after the break.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

For those of you who reside in the Big Apple and want to see one of Austin’s finest films of the last few years, Clay Liford‘s Wuss will be screening at the reRun Theater in Brooklyn on September 17 courtesy of Filmwax. Wuss is a masterful work of sound and vision, clearly exceeding the production values of most independent cinema. Liford’s uniquely desaturated, nearly monochromatic aesthetic visually binds this feature with his debut feature (Earthling), while clearly separating himself from most other filmmakers. If Wuss was produced in Hollywood, it would certainly include bright, cheery and over-saturated cinematography and a Billboard Top 40 soundtrack, but that is clearly not how Liford sees (or hears) the world. Lastly, Nate Rubin‘s lead performance as Mitch — a meek and measly twerp of a high school English teacher (technically, a substitute with a long-term assignment) who is otherwise known as “Little Bitch” — is nothing short of masterful. Speaking of Rubin, have you seen this Papa John’s commercial?

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Cannes. Sundance. Toronto. SXSW. Screw them.* The best film festival each and every year is the Alamo Drafthouse Theater’s very own Fantastic Fest that takes place in Austin every fall. They bring genre films from around the world to play under one roof for fans of movies best described as strange, violent, unique, crazy and often absolutely incredible. These are movies that will most likely never get a DVD release in the US let alone a theatrical run making this fest the only real opportunity to see them (bar an import disc down the road). The first wave of titles have been announced with two more to come in the next several weeks, and the list offers the usual selection of the very unusual. Movies we’ve never heard of before will play alongside ones we know by heart. I for one am looking forward to seeing The Shining on the big screen for the first time as well as some of the new films below. Keep reading for the complete first wave! *I kid! All film festivals are awesome, period.

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FRANKENWEENIE

The only thing in life better than Fantastic Fest would be winning the lottery while you’re at Fantastic Fest. Like every year, we’ll be covering the hell out of it with a preternatural dedication that often requires us writing our reviews with straight jackets on. That’s a lot harder than it sounds when you’re also singing karaoke and drinking a high quality concoction of hooch. The full fest line up hasn’t been announced yet, but it will undoubtedly be full of movie goodness, and the opening night film promises to set the tone. The flick? Tim Burton‘s forthcoming Frankenweenie – which promises a return to stop motion, a returning to working with John August and a return to a story from his youth that finally gets a feature-length treatment. The movie hits theaters October 5th, but Fantastic Fest attendees will see it before anyone else. Hopes are high here because Burton seems to have lost his way as of late, crafting stuff in his wheelhouse that feels stale, but perhaps the solution to the rut is to dig deeper into it. To return to the kind of magic this morbid magician built his name on. It’s a hell of a way to kick things off. And this poster for the fest is a great way to celebrate the end of everything:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that hopes you didn’t forget about it. It was busy getting drunk with other movie news columns at Fantastic Fest. It loves to watch Koreans stab each other. We begin tonight with something simple: a character shot from Toy Story 3. There’s no news here, just beautifully detailed Pixar animation. Since this is my first day back after taking a week off for Fantastic Fest, I thought I’d kick us off with something offbeat. Also, it sets the tone for a week that includes articles collected over the last 10 days. Some old, some new, mostly non-news and all interesting.

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Why Watch? This is what it might look like if Ken Burns ever made a horror film. This experimental, animated work focuses on a mysterious photograph from the 1930s, and as the camera ducks and dives and expands our view, we find a lot of hidden elements that help solve the puzzle of what’s going on. Gorgeously done with an antique sensibility, it’s a Fantastic Fest alum that might not be for everyone, but if it hits you the right way, it’s delightfully peculiar. What does it cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out the trailer for The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow for yourself:

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We weren’t really sure if last week’s Commentary Commentary was gross enough for the lot of you. So a poll was taken – it pretty much consisted of Brian Salisbury and myself – and it was decided the ante needed to be upped this week. Especially in honor of Fantastic Fest, we felt it was time to really turn on the gore and mindlessly fun commentary tracks. So we’re heading back with the South Park boys to Cannibal! The Musical, Trey Parker‘s first feature film which was subsequently picked up by Lloyd Kaufman and the fine (?) people at Troma Entertainment. What we got shocked and amazed even our gore-filled hearts and minds. A grotesque but absolutely hilarious look at the real-life trial of Alferd Packer, a 19th Century prospector who was accused of cannibalism in Colorado. The film isn’t the most accurate depiction of the events, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t entertaining. Equally entertaining is this commentary track featuring cast, crew, and ample amounts of consumed alcohol, something most commentary tracks are lacking in. Here’s what we found out. Note: it isn’t much.

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As a westerner I always wondered whether the depiction of “pikeys” in Guy Ritchie’s film Snatch had any semblance of truth in them, or were they exaggerated caricatures. Thanks to Ian Palmer’s documentary Knuckle I got my answer to elements I didn’t even think to question. Oh, and by the way the answer is no – Brad Pitt and his fellow fast-talk-mumbling-slang spitters in love with caravans and bare-knuckle fighting are not caricatures. Not completely, anyway.

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Why Watch? Our spotlight on Fantastic Fest short films from the past continues with an impressive animation bit from Rodrigo Blaas – an animator for Pixar films ever since Finding Nemo. Slightly creepy, slightly cheery, this movie takes us (and a child) to the toy store with wondrous results. What does it cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out Alma for yourself:

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Fantastic Fest 2014
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