Fantasia's Week 2 promises a little something for everyone
Going into the second week of Fantasia, many of us have spent the last few days eating little more than popcorn for dinner. It’s a fitting diet to complement the cinematic menu. And for dessert? A treat: a Friday the 13th built right into the schedule.
The two screenings of Thai film 13 Beloved this weekend prove that not all the best are saved for last. Moments after being fired from his sales job, Phuchit receives an anonymous phone call informing him that he’s been chosen as a contestant in a reality game with a grand prize of 100 million baht. All he has to do is complete 13 challenges. The initial tasks are fairly simple, but morality quickly gives way to greed. A sharp thriller told with dark humour with a great performance from the film’s star (and singer), Krissada "Noi" Sukosol.
In A Bloody Aria, a music professor from Seoul takes his young student for a ride to the country where he’s hoping to get in the back seat with her. After she gets away, he’s found alone in his Mercedes by a pack of local rubes who’ve also been having fun beating on a boy in a bag. Despite its Deliverance-like tone, it’s wonderfully satirical, and has unexpected turns and a solid cast making it as amusing as it is challenging.
Johnny To’s Exiled takes a hard look (though not as harsh as in his Election films) at Hong Kong gangster life with well-crafted scenes evocative of westerns such as The Long Riders and The Wild Bunch.
Director Larry Fessenden once again channels the Wendigo for The Last Winter, a horror with an eco message. Though the stark white Alaskan setting succeeds in adding to the slow-building tension (as it did in The Thing), some of the purpose gets trapped under the ice alongside the actors (which include Ron Perlman).
Memories of Matsuko is a kaleidoscopic tale of a woman’s tragic life. Heartbreak shouldn’t be this entertaining!
The Ferryman, from New Zealand, demonstrates that isolating three couples on a boat never turns out very well, especially when there’s a demon looking for a host.
The eccentricity award goes out to We Are the Strange, a suitable title for this combo of 8-bit video architecture, stop-motion and computer animation. Though an admirable feat, it’s a fairly trying experience to be trapped inside a game that doesn’t look like much fun to play.
From Wishmaster director and gore guru Robert Kurtzman comes The Rage, about a mad scientist who unleashes a nasty flesh-eater virus.
Live-action manga fans, watch out for Death Note, parts 1 and 2. Or finally, if it’s the musical numbers you go for, don’t miss The Fox Family or Midnight Ballad for Ghost Theatre!
Various venues, to July 23