Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest Review: Golden Slumber


A thriller based on a Beatles song, Golden Slumber (Gôruden suranbâ) is one of the most absurdly satisfying odes to friendship captured on film. Yoshihiro Nakamura's latest adaptation of a Kotaro Isaka novel pits the laid-back Aoyagi (Masato Sakai) against an assassination conspiracy wrapped up in revelations about trust.

Aoyagi's plans to catch up with a college buddy (Hidetaka Yoshioka) for a fishing trip are thwarted when the Prime Minister is assassinated. Suddenly the school day reminiscences are over as Aoyagi has been targeted as the prime suspect and it seems impossible he'll survive the day. Help comes from the most surprising of places as friends old and new make it their business to help the fugitive Aoyagi stay half a step ahead of corrupt police and the media. Just who his true friends are, and how they help or hurt him, make Golden Slumber seem like a movie half its 239-minute run time.

Filled with comic absurdities, Golden Slumber is filled with equally surreal characters, including a cheerful serial killer (Gaku Hamada), timid friend Gus (Gekidan Hitori) whose obsessed with Aoyagi's previous claim to fame, his coworker (Kiyohiko Shibukawa), a college sweetheart (Yuko Takeuchi), and a hospital patient (Akira Emoto) obsessed with the story as it's played out on TV. Each character, no matter how long they're on screen, plays a vital part in Aoyagi's story.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Eight: Out With a Bang



I may have only seen one film at Fantastic Fest 2010 on Wednesday after hitting the wall for a second time, but I managed to get a third wind for a full last day on Thursday. What a day it was -- I had to spend this morning recuperating from lack of sleep and too much rich food and tequila from the closing-night party. For all the Fantastic Fest veterans that were disgruntled with open invites for parties in previous years, this year's festivities were the redemption with an amazing event for all badgeholders as well as the hardworking Alamo Drafthouse staff and Fantastic Fest volunteers. For more details, read Jenn's recap of the closing-night party.

I started out my last day at Fantastic Fest at the 10 am press screening of Troll Hunter, which had been the secret screening the night before, with director Andre Ovreda in attendance. On Thursday night, I'd chosen Fatso over gambling on another secret screening; the only secret screening I attended in 2010 turned out to be Hell Driver, which I walked out of after 15 minutes.

Fantastic Fest 2010: The Closing-Night Party


Back in April, I told you about the cow to be sacrificed for our pleasure at Fantastic Fest 2010. Finally, the day arrived. After 25 hours on site and 18 hours of roasting, the cow from Richardson Farms was served up at the J. Lorraine Ghost Town in Manor on Thursday night, where Fantastic Fest badgeholders, volunteers, staff and a few guests had the chance to partake of the feast John Bullington and staff put on for 500 people.

Wondering what you ate?  If you missed the signs, the menu included Fresh figs with mozarella, burnt tomato goat cheese and anchovy bruschette, smashed potatoes with tapanade crust, fire roasted cow with chimichurri, humita (savory corn pudding), burnt fennel and zucchini with parmesan, lemon and basil, rescoldo vegetables (carrots, onions, peppers, potatoes, squas), and burnt oranges with rosemary with dulce de leche panqueue.

But that wasn't all. We were treated with a Mariachi performance, the Arc Attack Band complete with Tesla coils and people dancing in cages, a walking maze, a couple of the Buried coffins, an outdoor theater showing the 100 Best Kills, knife-throwing demonstrations as well as the ability to try your hand at it, and fireworks.  Yes, all that. The closed party was a very relaxed atmosphere, and everyone I talked to was raving about how wonderful it was. 

Fantastic Fest Quick Snaps: 'Agnosia' Invasion



Lead actor Eduardo Noriega and director Eugenio Mira attended Fantastic Fest in support of their latest film, the world premiere of Agnosia. The producers of Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage brought another suspenseful story to Fantastic Fest with Agnosia. It is a visually stunning and elegant period piece about Joana Prats, a young woman whose childhood bout with encephalitis leaves her stricken with agnosia, a strange neuropsychological illness that affects her perception. Joana becomes the center of a sinister and life-threatening plot to discover her father's secret formula for a lens with revolutionary military implications. Two men who both have desires for her play integral roles in whether she will be cured of her illness, or a victim of the dastardly plans. Noriega plays Carles, Joana’s fiancé and her father’s right-hand man, who has some dark secrets of his own.

Mira is a veteran of Fantastic Fest, as he debuted his film The Birthday at the very first Fantastic Fest in 2005. Mira has also collaborated with Nacho Vigalondo on short films and composed the score for Timecrimes. He can also be seen in my favorite Vigalondo short as the nervous keyboard player in 7:35 In the Morning.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Seven: Casualties Galore


Karl Urban

The Slackerwood gang is starting to falter a bit at this point in the film festival. All three of us covering Fantastic Fest were rather tired on Wednesday and needed a break from moviegoing. Jenn was stricken with migraine woes and spent the day recuperating. Debbie was unwell but managed a movie in the 9 pm slot. And I went to my day job in the morning to catch up there a bit, despite feeling like I'd been run over by a truck, and didn't show my face at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar until after 5 pm.

After the usual chitchatting, my first event of the day was the red carpet for Red. I admit I got a childish kick out of saying "the Red red carpet." I am so easily amused. It was a small red carpet, very easy to work with -- a few cameras and one subject, actor Karl Urban. Urban plays the foil to the team of good guys in Red. If his name isn't ringing a bell, you've probably seen him in the most recent Star Trek movie (as McCoy) or the Lord of the Rings trilogy (as Eomer) or going way back, as Julius Caesar on Xena: Warrior Princess. He was extremely polite and everything went smoothly.

Fantastic Fest Quick Snaps: And the Winners Are...



Jenn already covered the list of this year's Fantastic Fest Award winners in her Fantastic Fest: Day 5 Dispatch, so I'll just share the highlights through photos. And like Jette mentioned in her earlier post, words are hard to put together when you average five films a day and a 4 am bedtime.

The audience award winner of Fantastic Fest 2010 was Bedevilled, with director Jang Cheol-so and Producer Han Man Taeg (seen above). Bedevilled is primarily a horror film, but the story is a blend of dark humor, drama and suspense. Actress Ji Sung-won took the Best Acress award for the AMD and Dell "Next Wave" Spotlight Competition for her role as Hae-won Chung, a young woman with a bad attitude living in Seoul. She's identified as a murder witness, but she doesn’t want to cooperate with the investigation. An involuntary vacation leads to even more trouble.

Fantastic Fest 2010: Jette's First Half, in Photos


Fantastic Fest 2010

I've been seeing a lot of movies and talking to a lot of people at Fantastic Fest this year, and my brain is a little sluggish. Words are difficult. So I'm just going to give you a taste of my experiences in the first half of the festival, in photos. They're sourced in Flickr so if you want more details, click the photo to see its description in Flickr. After the jump, you can see photos from red carpets, karaoke, filmmaker Q&As, and other festival events.

Feel free to share links to your own Fantastic Fest photos in the comments -- I'd love to see what everyone else has been up to this year. Slackerwood has several photographers at the fest, so keep an eye out for more photo essays here soon.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Six: Women in Peril, Hair on Fire



Earlier this week, several women I know at Fantastic Fest commented that they're "over" certain kinds of violence in film, particularly rape/revenge themes and taking the woman-in-peril concept to brutal extremes. Earlier today, Ain't It Cool contributor Massawyrm made a similar comment. After reading it aloud to a table of badgeholders, there was a moment of pause when someone said, "I don't think I saw rape yesterday." How jaded we've become, when we have to notice if we haven't seen such brutality in film. But that's a bigger discussion than I have time for here.

Interestingly, the first movie of my day did involve rape, but was not among those films I'd classify as typical: Bedevilled, which won a Fantastic Fest audience award as well as a best actress win for Seo Yeong-hee. She delivers a powerhouse performance as a woman struggling to escape her oppressive life just as her childhood friend returns to their childhood home to get away from her own mistakes. It's a haunting film, and while I found the ending to be a bit jumbled, it's one that will stay with me for a long, long time.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Five: Madame Curie and the Feud


I was rather shocked to find that even without a VIP badge, I had a low ticket number for the In the Attic screening today.  When talking to Alamo co-founder Karrie League on Sunday and asking what her favorite films were, she mentioned In the Attic as one she's been trying to program for a long time (two years to be precise).  Jette and I got tickets, then Debbie turned in her Secret Screening #2 ticket on a whim. It turns out she made the day of a first-time Fantastic Fest badgeholder who hadn't been to any screenings yet. I think some of the people in attendance were there reluctantly, but I hope they were as pleasantly surprised as I was.

This animated tale of cast-offs in the attics may be considered a "family" film, but is accessible for a more mature audience.  The easiest way to describe it is Toy Story marries A Town Called Panic and lives a post-Glasnost fairy tale. In the Attic pretty much turns the contents of an attic into a magical land populated by living toys and a mischievous cat, with a wide range of animation media. Pictured above is the character "Madame Curie," held by Alamo programmer Caitlin Stevens as Karrie League and director Jirí Barta field questions in the background. At the bottom of this post I have another picture showing more detail.

I love the fact that this sort of film is included in the Fantastic Fest lineup, and not just because it's a welcome relief from gore and violence. "Fantastic" is a very broad term and Fantastic Fest is great at embracing a broad spectrum of films that fit the definition, as well as include such a treat as seeing up close and personal such an integral part of the filmmaking process.

Fantastic Fest Review: Gallants



Please welcome back contributor Rod Paddock as he gives us the lowdown on one of this year's Fantastic Fest features.

If you ever wondered what would happen if The Karate Kid's Mr Miyagi went back to the Cobra Kai and opened a can of whoop ass, you will love Gallants.

Gallants is the story of 98-pound weakling Cheung (You-Nam Wong), assigned by his bosses to evict a group of elderly tenants from the establishment they have rented. The story starts with the typical "weakling meets bully" theme, but concludes with an interesting set of twists and arcs. During his travels to evict the family, Cheung gets himself in trouble picking on a boy half his size. The boy's elders show up to teach Cheung a lesson. During Cheung's beating, an older gentleman carrying a bag of rice happens along. The elders postpone Cheung's beating to taunt the old man. It doesn't take long before the old man teaches the bullies a lesson in humility. Meaning: he opens that can of whoop ass.

After having his bacon saved, Cheung returns to his task and continues into town where he comes to Law's Teahouse. Through a bit of storytelling serendipity the teahouse is operated by two Kung Fu Masters: Tiger (the old man with the bag of rice), played by Kung Fu Hustle star Siu-Lung Leung; and Dragon, played by Flying Guillotine star Kuan Tai Chen. Interestingly enough, Tiger and Dragon are caretakers for Master Law, another Kung Fu master who has been in a coma for 30 years.

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