Fantastic Fest 2019 has come and gone once again and we were lucky enough to take in some of their line up from this year’s festivities. There was some damn good short films at the fest this year, and we thought we’d spotlight the line up that played as “Fantastic Shorts,” “Short Fuse,” and were “Paired Shorts” with feature films in the festival. The festival had no shortage of genre shorts; if you’re ever near a film festival or are attending one, be sure to look out for these titles.
Stephen King is an author that never goes away even when he’s experienced something of a renaissance in pop culture. King’s “It” remains one of his most iconic and easily digestible novels, but peculiarly a book that needs drastic alterations to make it more palatable for film. Andy Muschietti had a bonafide challenge on his hands to deliver a two part film that confronted the terror of loss of innocence, and confronting the demons of the past. It all invariably comes dropping down on the Losers Club with the help of the mercilessly vile Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
In this anthology inspired by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, producer Staci Layne Wilson brings together a dozen shorts with themes and content about abuses of power, sexual abuse, and issues affecting women in particular. The stories range from a woman in therapy to a ghost attacking men in a public restroom. Here the shorts all contain storylines that will make viewers think with styles that entertain, scare, and even amuse. The talent in this anthology is of high quality and some of the shorts will be familiar those film festival regulars.
Although “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” has gone down considerably well with audiences it might remain one of the most misunderstood movies of the year. The original books from Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell were compilations of urban legends, urban folklore, and original tales, the former of which had been shared for generations by many people. They began life as morality stories and then became campfire tales. Sure André Øvredal could have turned the books in to a normal anthology, but in the end he opts for something of more substance. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is about stories. The stories of the past. The stories we tell one another. The stories the characters tell each other to survive. The stories that can ultimately destroy us.
“The Tough Ones” is one of the pair of films that Umberto Lenzi directed that spotlighted the character Tanzi, a man almost driven mad by his need to thwart crime at every corner. Tanzi is something of a great scale anti-hero who spends a lot of his time tracking down a petty thug who is very much a creep and noting very spectacular. Tanzi inspects this crime and chases the criminals like his life depends on it. He spends a majority of the film talking through gritted teeth and shouting at just about everyone and he almost always is on the verge of hurting someone. Tanzi is not meant to be a hero or even a heroic vigilante so much as he’s the corrupt law that’s hell bent on taking down the larger criminal element including Tony Parenzo (Ivan Rassimov) and his efforts to create an underground criminal network.
This year, Fantasia International Film Festival is screening a nice collection of vintage titles and anniversary screenings. One of these is The Crow coming up on the 30th of July at 7pm and it’s one screening I hate to miss.
The Crow turned 25 this year and it has been just about as long since it became my favorite film, hence why this is one of the hardest films for me to write about. There is no being objective, this film is entwined in my teen years and my adulthood. It’s one of those films that had such a big impact, it’s almost impossible to separate the emotional from the reality of the film. So, as it’s playing, I wanted to write a deeply personal piece, a piece that it nowhere near objective, a piece that is about my history with The Crow.
Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King” is very much like Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho.” It’s a glossy, new setting, with a bold new cast, but when you cut right through the nostalgia lenses, it’s basically the same movie all over again. “The Lion King” doesn’t leave a lot of room to surprise its audience, as it basically plays it safe and copies the original film almost verbatim. Why watch a remake of “The Lion King” when you can simply stay home and watch the 1994 original? I can’t think of much of a reason, save for the all star cast.
If you’ve ever seen Sarah Bolger act, it’s stunning how she can go from innocent to cold as ice in a second flat and make it believable. Seriously, check out the under seen “Emelie” for proof. What she does in “A Good Woman is Hard to Find” is portray the quintessence of the lengths parents are willing to go through to protect their children. Not only diving head first in to violence, but the willingness to delve in to darker corners of our own humanity, and what we’re capable of sacrificing in order to create a future for our kids.