Fantastic Fest 2010


Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during Fantastic Fest 2010, but every word of it still applies today as Cold Fish sees a limited release this week. The key to making someone disappear is to cut up the body into tiny bite sized chunks and to separate the meat from the bone. From there, you can burn the bones in an industrial barrel and drop the diced human into the river to be eaten by the fish. It takes a time commitment, but it’s really a simple procedure. This is just one of the many lessons presented in the movie Cold Fish, the new work from Sion Sono that tells the story of Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi), a timid tropical fish store owner who is bullied by his daughter and shut out from sexual intercourse by his wife. Murata (Denden), a fellow entrepreneur in the fish world, helps the family out by employing the rebellious daughter, leaving the household open for fornication to commence, and making Shamoto his latest business partner on a big score. Of course, all of this comes at a heavy cost, and Shamoto soon learns how to make someone disappear.



Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during Fantastic Fest 2010 coverage, but with True Legend seeing its way into theaters this weekend, we’re seeing our way into re-running it. Don’t be afraid of exploring that Fantastic Fest link at the bottom. Woo-ping Yuen has acted in several Hong Kong films, but he’s a legend in the world of martial arts cinema for his work behind the camera. As a director he’s responsible for Iron Monkey, Tai Chi Master, and more. As a fight choreographer he’s internationally renowned for his work on Kill Bill, Fearless, The Matrix, and more. The guy gets around. And the sixty five year-old is still going strong as his latest film as director shows him uninterested in slowing down or staying conventional. True Legend features blistering action, fantasy sequences, and truly menacing villain. Unfortunately, it also opens with its best scene, features an immediately forgettable middle, and continues for about forty minutes after the movie “ends”…


Summer Wars and A Somewhat Gentle Man Trailers

One is the animated adventure of a math geek and his family’s attempt to stall the cyber-Armageddon with a giant rabbit and a stalwart grandma. The other is the tale of a gangster back on the outside of prison walls, attempting to avoid his old violent colleagues. The two never meet in the middle, but they did meet at Fantastic Fest 2010, and they both made a big impression on the Rejects. You can read reviews for Summer Wars and A Somewhat Gentle Man (starring Stellan Skarsgard as said gangster) here and here (respectively), and you can check out the fantastic trailers for both down below the jump. Watch them one after the other for a tonal roller coaster or watch them simultaneously to cure/exacerbate that headache you have.



Editor’s Note: This review first ran as part of our Fantastic Fest 2010 coverage, but Rare Exports sees a limited release this weekend, so we so it fit to re-run it for those interested. As we all know, Santa Claus is not to be trusted. He sneaks into our homes in the middle of the night, and doles out punishment for those who have been naughty during the year. If you’ve been nice, he leaves a gift as a symbolis reminder that he’ll be back, and he’ll be watching. Rare Exports takes a look at the darker side of the Santa Claus myth (which is totally real if you’re younger than 8 years old) by displaying the frightening origins of a magic man who steals bad children. After all, Claus is a type of boogeyman. He’s a figure talked about around the campfire to spook children into behaving. He’s a lot like Keyser Soze. We seem to have forgotten that in America (what with all the Tim Allen movies we can stand), but thankfully it’s something they haven’t forgotten in Finland.


We Are What We Are

An elder man stumbles through a shopping area, stares painfully into a window, stumbles some more, falls, and then dies alone on a sidewalk. While alive he wasn’t alone. He was the head of a family that included a wife and three children (two young men and one young daughter) who depended heavily on his being alive. He was the household’s primary breadwinner as a wristwatch repairman, their main voice of direction, and the collector of their next meal.

In most cases, being a family’s primary source of income coincides with being the one who provides the food, assuming the family doesn’t cultivate their own. This family does neither. They don’t pay for it, at least in terms of monetary expenses, nor do they grow their own – at least not in the sense that they don’t inbreed and wait nine months for a feast. Although, aside from blood relation the latter half of the previous sentence isn’t far from their situation. This is a family of cannibals and without the father’s experience at capturing prey and going undetected their food supply is running dry and the sons become responsible for replenishing without getting caught.



A few years ago Jim Mickle directed and co-wrote a film with actor Nick Damici about a zombie outbreak in a Manhattan neighborhood where the disease originated from plague-carrying rats. That film was Mulberry Street and is still one of the better pictures part of the After Dark film series – and by better I mean actually worth your time to watch. It does well to focus primarily on the characters for the better half of the first forty minutes so that when the outbreak spreads and hits the neighborhood full-on we actually give a damn and feel like there’s something to be lost when a character bites the dust.

It was this commitment to character development that had me excited for the second film from Mickle and Damaci about a vampire takeover in a post-apocalyptic landscape of the central United States – titled Stake Land. Damaci (lead actor as he also was in Mulberry Street) is a vampire killer/drifter known by his best friends as Mister and has been traveling North through heavy vampire and Christian occult terrain to a supposed refuge in what we know in the present as Canada – because vampires hate national healthcare. Along the way he passes by a family being mauled by a vampire and is asked to promise the parents of a young man that their surviving son will be looked after and brought to safety. Mister, not being one for sentiment agrees, but with the condition that the boy will carry his own weight and be a helping hand. If he becomes a burden, he’s on his own.



If you’re at all a fan of older kung fu films, then the Shaw Brothers should pretty much be legends to you. The Shaw Brothers got started way back in 1924, setting up their own cinema. Led by Run Run and Runme Shaw, they amassed a large number of cinemas before venturing into producing their own films in the 1960s. They went on to make hundreds of films, specializing in martial arts films and quickly becoming the leaders in that genre. While Five Element Ninjas is certainly a less well known Shaw Brother’s title, their style and kung fu action are on full display.


Everyone is imprisoned in Stone, but Edward Norton’s character is the only one physically locked up in the big house. The movie leaves a lot unanswered, delivers one of Robert De Niro’s best performances in years, and presents something audiences have clamored for since American History X: Edward Norton in cornrows. I was fortunate enough to sit down with the actor during the film’s run at Fantastic Fest, and we dug deep into the nature of imprisonment, the nature of storytelling, and the De Niro film that makes Norton stop breathing. Special Thanks to Luke Mullen for his keen editing skills.



If you were forced to give up one of your senses which would it be? Hearing? Touch? Spidey? It would be devastating to lose any of them obviously, especially the sixth, but I expect the most frightening would be the loss of sight. The idea of your world going slowly and irreversibly dark is terrifying, and while some films choose to view the subject of blindness as fodder for treacly drama or humorous action (At First Sight, Blind Fury) there have been a few that embrace the horror of it all. Audrey Hepburn’s Wait Until Dark is probably the best known blind-centric thriller, but for me few films beat the little-seen Afraid Of the Dark when it comes to milking the nightmarish premise for maximum chills. But the new film produced by Guillermo Del Toro comes pretty damn close. A blind woman stumbles through her home, staring in vain into the dark corners and pockets of shadows. She can’t see, but she believes someone is there. Her fear-filled journey ends in the basement where she climbs a stool, loops a noose around her neck, and pauses to speak to the figure her imagination and terror may only be concocting. Until that fear is confirmed by the intruder who rushes forward from the dark and kicks the stool out from beneath her feet. She swings in silence as a camera’s flashbulb illuminates the room…



When documentarian Mark Hartley, the guy behind the excellent Not Quite Hollywood, set his sights on the violent Filipino machete wielding babe sub-genre I immediately said “What Filipino machete wielding babe sub-genre!?” Because that sounds like something I’d be interested in. I immediately thought about sitting in front of Not Quite Hollywood, pen and pad at the ready, taking copious notes on all the Australian films I had to track down. So naturally I grabbed my writing instruments and went into Machete Maidens Unleashed expecting a list of films for my sexual gratification and entertainment. My first reaction to MMU was “that was fun.” It played like a greatest hits collection of clips, interspersed with some very excellent commentary from the likes of Roger Corman, Joe Dante, and Sid Haig, among dozens of others. There were plenty of glimpses at bared breasts, a whole lot of stabbings and gunshots, and more one-liners than you can remember. It was fun, but is that all it was?



At first glance, 30 Days of Night may not seem like the ideal candidate for a direct-to-video sequel. Though in all fairness, what IS the ideal candidate for a direct-to-video sequel? In any event, the original film opened in 2007 to middling critical reaction and the number one place at the box office. It eventually made almost $40 million domestically and another $35 million worldwide, easily recouping it’s $30 million dollar production budget. Since it’s based on a relatively popular comic book series, the original did pretty well, and horror on home video has a decent track record, why not throw a few million at a sequel and see what happens?



You ever had one of those days where nothing seemed to go your way? Of course you have. You’re a human, right? We all have days like that. Thankfully, for most of us, those days are the exception and not the rule. But for Cheung, every day is the new worst day of his life. After a childhood spent bullying his best friend like a younger brother, Cheung somehow grew up to be the nerd that the universe loves to pick on. Barely scraping by as the low-man on the totem pole at a real estate company, he’s sent on an extended assignment, sans pay, to a small village that’s having some property and leasing issues.



Nobody wants to die. But growing old can often seem to be a worse fate. People spend millions of dollars each year trying to stave off the effects of aging, utilizing everything from vitamins and supplements to plastic surgery in the effort to stay young. In a world where technology advances at an alarming rate, it seems like any day science will find a way to fix the problems associated with aging, though like any new technology, it will cost a pretty penny. While many other sci-fi films have dealt with similar themes, Transfer addresses them in new and creative ways.



Since we already have a stellar review of Never Let Me Go from Lauren, and since it’s a film that demands a bit more investigation, there’s nothing like a list of things liked and things not liked in order to get all the thoughts straight. The film saw a limited release (and was one of the Secret Screenings at Fantastic Fest), but it never made it beyond the coastal markets. Still, it promises to have at least some sort of presence during awards season and DVD and Blu-ray will give even more people the opportunity to see it. Without further ado, here are the 10 things I liked about it, and the 5 I didn’t.



Four years ago I saw an animated picture that hit me the only way that, up until then, had been achieved by some of the best work out of Studio Ghibli and Pixar. It was a story of deep friendships and lost love told with the science-fiction plot device of time travel. That film was The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by director Mamoru Hosoda who, up until then, had only worked on the Digimon and One Piece franchises. Now, with his latest picture Summer Wars about a terrorist computer virus threatening an incredibly elaborate online world that’s been so ingrained and relied upon for businesses, social lifestyles, and even government and state controlled occupations all across the globe, Hosoda is establishing himself as one of the premiere storytellers working in the arena of animation.

Like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time the device of a social network/world revolving multi-functional business operations takeover by an unrelenting intruder works as a means to tell a more intimate story about a family with a very proud and tight-knit history struggling to hold it together in the twilight years of the family’s 90 year old matriarch. Kenji, a very timid young outsider, is brought to the family’s celebration of the 90 year old Grandmother’s birthday by her granddaughter Natuski, who needed someone to act as her boyfriend in order to impress her family. A few slight (and by slight I mean considerably large) fabrications about Kenji’s accomplishments and age notwithstanding he doesn’t find out about her real intentions until he’d already won the role away from his friend – both of whom were already hired to work for the summer maintaining the Oz system (said online worldwide computer program being attacked) – and was already settled in for lodging.



I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced so many things I like brought together into a singular picture where the final result wasn’t quite as incredible as I would’ve initially thought. Not that the picture isn’t good, just not quite as good as the fantasy amalgamation. Shoot for the moon, though.

Rammbock is a sixty-minute long German survival picture combining tiny elements of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window with the enraged viral outbreak victims with an appetite for human flesh (I needed a long, intelligent way to say zombies) of films like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and adding in its own unique contribution to the rules of the zombie universe. Essentially, the infected person’s regression into a mindless, ravenous existence is accelerated by an increase in adrenaline. So, if you’ve been bitten and still retain all of your limbs and consciousness then your transformation can be significantly slowed if you maintain a calm emotional state.



There are few films as delicately beautiful as The Housemaid. There are also few films that use that beauty to disguise the ugliness that’s lurking underneath. Beneath the water-still porcelain feeling of the mansion in which most of the action (in both senses) takes place is the dirt red beating heart of infidelity and the cruelty and callousness that exist within some people who can see nothing beyond protecting their wealth and status. Euny (Do-yeon Jeon), a shy but enterprising young woman becomes the second housemaid for the extremely wealthy Hoon (Jung-jae Lee) and his pregnant wife Hae Ra (Seo Woo). She joins the older, crankier Byeong-sik (Yeo-jeong Yoo) and the daily work of tending the house and their young daughter sets in as Byeong-sik remarks how ugly their job is. It becomes clear only after Hoon slides his way into Euny’s panties with ease that the true ugliness of their work becomes clear.



Never let it be said that I was someone who valued my pride over my integrity. I say that because I’m about to admit this… I once called Ong Bak 2 the “greatest martial arts movie ever made.” I could make lame excuses like my lack of sleep when I wrote the review. Or my level of inebriation. Or the fact that an editor worth their weight in Gourdoughs donuts really should have caught that hyperbole and cut it out of the post all together… but no, I’m fully responsible for the ridiculous accolade. And while I stand by the review in general, that particular line haunts me to this day. As great as the fighting in the film is the movie as a whole has multiple issues and there are any number of better martial arts movies out there. Unfortunately, Ong Bak 3 is not one of them.



Five friends decide to take a mountain climbing trip to Croatia, and as if that wasn’t already a questionable enough idea the group collectively neglects to prepare for every occasion. As in, what do you do if the only bridge off the mountain top collapses under the strain? What if the only one in the group who truly knows about the area disappears? What if your new boyfriend is a whiny douche? And most importantly, what happens if a vicious madman resembling a deformed and perturbed Rhys Ifans decides to start capturing, killing, and cutting up the group one by one? High Lane, aka Vertige, is a thriller that moves from adventure to horror fairly quickly. The friends gather at the base of the Croatian mountain and plan their route, but when they find the path is closed for some reason the group’s defacto leader, Fred, finds a way up and around the blockade. He’s joined by his girlfriend, Karine, and three other friends. Chloe (Fanny Villette) and her beautiful breasts have brought along a new boyfriend named Luke, and the fifth wheel in all of this happens to be Chloe’s ex, William. Introductions complete, the friends head up the mountain where they find some stunning scenery, dangerous climbing conditions, petty jealousies, and a raving lunatic hungry for human flesh. So to sum up, High Lane is Cliffhanger meets Cold Prey meets some absolutely fantastic cleavage.



Deep in the heart of the Norwegian woods, there’s a giant menace standing tall against the landscape. That menace is power lines, and the people hate the power lines. However, they’re completely necessary to keep the trolls at bay. Troll Hunter is a found-footage style faux-doc that sees a crew of young teenagers (whose names matter about as much as their characters) heading out into the dangerous woods to track down the guy on the government dole who manages the troll population in secret. Hans reluctantly takes them into his world, and soon, they’re running for their lives and praying that the UV lamps on the top of his truck still have some battery life left in case they need to turn a 20-story baddie to stone.

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published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.26.2015

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