“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.
A teen goes out at night to meet a boy and never makes it back home. As her whole small town is shaken up by her disappearance, everyone does what they can to come to terms with her disappearance and how it affects each of them.
As with every year, Fantasia Film Festival is also a place to showcase the talents of filmmakers that specialize in making short films of all genres. This year I tackled the “Small Gauge Trauma” block and thankfully didn’t find a single bad apple in the whole bunch. These shorts aren’t just creative, but they’re incredibly original and delivered in the realm of horror big time.
Jealousy, bad tempers, and violence explode between Richard, his girlfriend Sasha, and their best friend Jonah. Trying to make peace, they all head out on Richard’s family board. Soon, they find themselves stranded at sea without food or drinking water.
Attempted peeks behind the curtain of the Manson Family and what led to the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends is a rocky road. It’s a narrative that can be exploitative, cheap, disrespectful, and either glorifies Charles Manson or worse, paints Manson’s cult as victims that were manipulated in to becoming murderous monsters. “Charlie Says” dabbles in the latter material where Mary Harron’s film boils down to a bunch of women being conned by a failed musician who would have sold them out at the snap of a finger.
Munro Chambers is one of the most underrated actors working in film today. He’s been a man mostly working in the corners of film with unsuspecting genre fare and every time he’s managed to turn in stellar performances. In “Harpoon” he manages to deliver a very layered and impressive turn as Jonah, a perpetually cursed protagonist who is revealed to be something and someone completely different every time Rob Grant’s twisted dark comedy reaches a new turning point. “Harpoon” is a fantastic addition to Fantasia this year, putting to film a morbid and weird amalgam of comedy, relationship drama, survival thriller, and horror.
I wasn’t too interested in the premise of “Riot Girls” upon first glance, but it inevitably won me over with its execution and I came to appreciate (and kind of love) how fun and unique it was. The whole idea of high school cliques becoming the tribes of the post-apocalypse is rife for satire, and Jovanka Vuckovic has a great time with her concept. “Riot Girls” is both a teen drama comedy, and a fun bit of post apocalyptic fodder that you could easily digest right down to the last bite. I loved the whole punk rock, pulp comic book aesthetic, and the way it embraces its fantasy trappings like “The Warriors” did long ago.
Gints Zilbalodis’s “Away” is one of the most dazzling and fantastic animated movies I’ve seen in years, and I’d be stunned if it isn’t appreciated as a masterpiece down the line. Zilbalodis spent years on this work of love committing to every facet of the production himself, and completing what is a tightly packed and briskly paced epic adventure film that is also deceptively simple in its presentation and delivery.