This is the fourth year I’ve attended Fantastic Fest. It’s the largest ‘genre’ film fest in the U.S. and is held at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar Location in Austin. This has become my favorite fest. It has some great movies from all over the world including many you are not likely to see anywhere else. It all takes place at a single location and has some great related activities going on at The Highball which is adjacent to the theaters. Here is a link to the schedule (which includes the Highball activities). Here are some of my favorite (or most interesting ) movies from this year:
Salyut-7: Based on the true story of the cosmonaut rescue of a damaged Russian space station, this is the Russian Apollo 13. This a little (ok – a lot) over the top but well made and entertaining. I think Putin gave the order that this had to top Apollo 13, so while Apollo 13 had concerned family members with children this had a concerned pregnant wife about to go into labor, etc. I expected the controller on the ground to say ‘Failure is not an option’ but he never did. Despite my reservations I liked it.
Dan Dream: An entertaining Danish comedy by the team that made Klown. This is based on a true story of the attempt by a Danish team to make the first electric car in the 1980s. If you’re a fan of Klown don’t expect the raunchiness of those movies.
Letterkenny: This is now my favorite Canadian TV show. It’s about a group of hicks in the small town of Letterkenny. 3 episodes were aired from both the 1st and 2nd season. A third season is coming. This could offend some and is not for everyone but is very funny!
Bad Genius: An excellent movie from Thailand about high school students cheating on standardized tests. Part comedy, part morality play, drama with tons of tension as well. One of my favorites.
78/52: A documentary that focuses on the iconic shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho. This goes into Hitchcock’s career and how his career led to that film and that scene, the making of the scene, how groundbreaking it was and how it has impacted films since. Very interesting.
Blade of the Immortal: For those into Japanese Samurai films this is for you. A Samurai warrior that cannot die is on a mission to protect a young girl seeking revenge for the murder off her family. Good action although a little thick with the morality lessons.
Gilbert: An excellent documentary about comedian Gilbert Gottfried. In his personal life he’s a lot different than his persona so you’re likely to be surprised. This also explores his controversial comedy style including controversies after 9/11 and when he was fired from his roles as the AFLAC duck due to his tasteless humor after the Tsunami a few years ago. He was there for a Q&A and he did a taping of Leonard Maltin’s podcast while at the fest. Some will be offended by his humor.
Anna and the Apocalypse: Those who have been waiting for a Zombie musical have had their prayers answered! This move from Scotland was very entertaining.
Professor Marsden and the Wonder Women: This drama is based on the true story of the creator of Wonder Women and the two women in his life that inspired him. This is a well made movie and a very interesting story.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower: A well made anime from Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who had previously worked at anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli.