Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest Update: Trailer Contest, Latest Titles


You know how much I love Fantastic Fest -- I bought a VIP badge earlier this year so I wouldn't be dependent on press creds to attend, and so I won't miss a single film I want to see during the festival this September (although really the only one I couldn't get into last year with a non-VIP badge was Apocalypto, and in retrospect that was no great loss). Also, I wanted priority access to tickets for events like Hot Fuzztival. Anyway, you know that no matter where else I am writing about Fantastic Fest this year, Slackerwood will have lots of coverage, just like last year.

And why not start now with some news? First of all, Fantastic Fest is holding a trailer contest, to see who can provide the best in-house trailer for the festival. Unlike aGLIFF's trailer contest, however, it's open only to young people -- age 16 and under. I can't find the details on the Fantastic Fest website itself right now, but you can read more about the contest at Austinist. (More news after the jump.)

In Brief: Lady Bird, Fantastic Fest, and Summercamp!

A few bits and pieces of news from around the web:

  • The Paramount remembers the late Lady Bird Johnson, and Metroblogging Austin captures a photo. Wish I'd seen that in person.
  • Austin Movie Blog reminds us that the SXSW Film Conference is looking for panel ideas for 2008.
  • Austin School of Film is holding a free Open Screen Night on Sunday -- details are available on Austinist.
  • Austin's Fantastic Fest has joined a new alliance of American film fests devoted to sf/fantasy/horror/animation. I love Fantastic Fest and can't wait until late September.
  • Free online movie: The documentary Summercamp! from Austin filmmaker Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price, which I reviewed when it premiered at SXSW in 2006. If you like what you see online and want a higher-quality copy, you can buy the DVD. (via Cinematical)

Goodbye Fantastic Fest, hello aGLIFF


Fantastic Fest ended on Thursday night. aGLIFF (Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival) started on Friday night. I'm simply thankful they didn't overlap, as I have covered/am covering both for Cinematical. None of my aGLIFF reviews have gone live yet -- expect to see one or two on Tuesday, and a few more throughout the week. Hopefully I'll have time to post a few notes and observations here as well.

I promised you Fantastic Fest photos, and then the Cinematical editors asked if I would publish the photos there. They pay me, so check out my Fantastic Fest photoblog entry for the best pictures I took. There are still a few left that I'll probably post to Flickr soon -- I'll be sure to let you know.

All my Fantastic Fest reviews for Cinematical are published, so here's the list:

I'm reviewing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Fantastic Fest's opening-night film, but that review won't go live until the movie releases in theaters this Friday.

I also saw Pan's Labyrinth, Shiva, The Host, Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, and Severance, all of which I'd like to review either here or at Celluloid Eyes. And who knows? Perhaps someday I will.

Fantastic Fest 2006 in Pictures


Darren Aronofsky & Harry Knowles

Fantastic Fest 2006 is over, but you can check out my pictures and add your own over at the Fantastic Fest Flickr group. (Flickr is free and monkey-easy to use.) Above you see Darren Aronofsky and the omnipresent Harry Knowles after last night's screening of The Fountain, which I quite enjoyed. I'm still recovering but there will be more coverage of this year's FF films and events in the coming week right here on Slackerwood.

Fantastic Fest: Pan's Labyrinth and other Austin festival news


Pans LabyrinthAmeliorating somewhat my lingering feelings of selfish bitterness at having to forgo Funky Forest in favor of Apocalypto, tonight's super-secret screening at Fantastic Fest at least had the advantage of being an actual genre movie: Pan's Labyrinth. Everyone in the audience seemed to know that we'd be seeing P.L. before they walked into the theater, and emcee Harry Knowles acknowledged that fact by calling it the worst-kept secret of the Fest. Knowles also delivered an amusing in-character version of an e-mail message from director Guillermo Del Toro who was unable to attend.

Fantastic Fest: Aphids in my shake and other stories


BugEating and drinking at Alamo Drafthouse while watching movies, especially horror movies, can lead to some very weird moments. I ordered a chocolate shake during Bug, and it was the first time I'd had a shake at Alamo. The shake is one of the best I've had in Austin, rich and chocolate-y, and is served with a wide straw like the kind you get with bubble tea. It was dark in the theater when I got the shake, so I didn't get a close look -- I mean, shakes are shakes, right?

Turns out that Alamo's shakes are topped with these little chocolate/hazelnut candies, like M&Ms but smaller -- the size and shape of a sunflower seed, I think. I found this out by sucking a couple of them up in a straw ... at the precise moment in Bug when Michael Shannon's character held up his fingers, pinched together to trap a miniscule bug, and said, "Aphids!" Fortunately I quickly realized that aphids don't taste like hazelnut, or I would have sprayed shake all over Chris and Blake.

In other Fantastic Fest news, I've seen two films so far in which someone is impaled on a garden gnome, two in which someone gets stuck in a bear trap, and a surprising number of horror films with strong female leads who do more than merely scream a lot.

Cinematical has posted my reviews of Tideland, Frostbite (my favorite film so far), The Hamster Cage, and Gamerz. More reviews are coming soon, but in the meantime, here are some quick summaries:

Pix from Fantastic Fest and few quick words


Fantastic Fest 2006The Fantastic Fest screening schedule is kicking my ass, but I've taken a few decent photos for your perusal and here are a few super-mini-capsules up to tide you over until the next lightning round.

More pleasant surprises: Simon Says appears to be very, very bad in the first ten minutes but if you can jump on board it's one of the most entertaining flicks at the Fest. Crispin Glover wigs out for about ninety minutes as twin psycho killers Simon and Stanley, and the rest of the cast blunders around the movie like the cast of Scooby Doo 90210, minus the dog. Q&A with the filmmakers was both revealing and amusing.

The Host was probably the film I was looking forward to the most; you could probably have guessed that the co-founder of a site called Stomp Tokyo was ready to dig the token giant monster movie. The Host delivers on the giant monster action (think Graboids, not Godzilla) but it is a fundamentally different picture than the one I expected based on the trailers. I'm not as head over heels in love with it as emcee Matt Dentler professes himself to be, but it is a damn fine creature feature.

A late-night showing of Severance was probably the biggest and most pleasant surprise for me of the week thus far. An uncannily smart script combines with professional production and a talented cast to assemble the most satisfying horror film I've seen this year. It's being compared to Shaun of the Dead (mostly, I suspect, for its British origins) but for my money it's a better movie.

That's all I've got time for tonight but you can expect more thorough capsules of these and other Fantastic Fest flicks later this week.

Fantastic Fest Days 2 & 3: Lightning Round


another craptastic cameraphone picture from Fantastic FestThe days are flying by faster than I can write about them -- with a noon to midnight screening schedule every day and a baby at home to care for overnight (my penance to my wife for leaving her with the nipper during the festival days), there's precious little time for writing. Here's a quick catch-up round of capsule reviews of what I've seen so far. I've mostly dispensed with plot synopses, but hopefully I'll be able to write about each film more thoroughly after the festival ends.

FF Super Secret Screening: Apocalypto

So the super-secret added-at-the-last-minute screening was Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, with Gibson and the film's star in attendance. I feel so burned at having missed Funky Forest and so mystified that this historical action drama was presented at a genre festival that there's no way I could write objectively about it at this point. Suffice it to say my attitude towards surprise screenings has not improved. Fantastic Fest as a whole, however, is great. More tomorrow (later today) when I've had some sleep.

Random Austin film notes


First of all, my weekly News from Slackerwood entry is now available at Cinematical, in case you're interested in non-Fantastic Fest events going on in Austin. It's hard for me to remember that other film stuff is going on this week, because I'm so involved in seeing FF movies, but there are plenty of good options for this week. After FF ends, I'll dive immediately into aGLIFF, which has some great selections this year. (And after that, I'm going to spend a week reading or vegetating in some non-cinematic fashion.)

In case you hadn't noticed, Slackerwood now has a second contributor: Chris Holland. You may remember Chris from such websites as Stomp Tokyo and Blue Glow; he also posts to the Austin Film Festival blog. I'm very happy he's agreed to post here, so we'll have more and better content on the site.

We're currently in Day Three of Fantastic Fest. So far, FF has been a lot of fun and not tiring. I've seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Blood Tea and Red String, Tideland, Gamerz, and Frostbite. I'm about to go to Severance, and then hope to get into the super-secret special screening after that. Unlike Chris, I think the secret screenings are fun -- they provide a great topic of conversation with other festgoers ("Do you think it's 300?" "I bet it's The Prestige.") and also add a little excitement, like a wrapped present you get that's a funny shape and could be anything. Since I don't have a VIP pass, I may not get into the movie, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. However (speaking of fingers), if it turns out to be Saw 3, I will probably not stay. One thing I have learned from FF this year is that I don't like movies with long slow gory torture scenes. But I still haven't learned not to eat during horror movies. A word to the wise: Tideland is also a movie during which you don't want to eat. Trust me.

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