Archive for the ‘2015 Fantasy FilmFest’ Category

momentumGiven the preposterous casting of Olga Kurylenko as a jewel thief and discredited CIA operative, the largely phoned-in performance of Morgan Freeman (not a comment on the quality of his acting – his sporadic appearances in the film are almost entirely limited to being one half of a phone conversation a continent away from the action), and the start-to-stop silliness of the premise, plot, and denouement, the surprising thing about the new thriller Momentum is that it’s not absolutely awful. In fact, it’s even somewhat entertaining and enjoyable and not entirely in the “OMG, this is so bad, it’s good” way.

How can a film destined to be terrible wind up as not too bad? (more…)

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office2The new Korean thriller Office has one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the power of image in recent memory. A single shot, some five minutes into the movie, showing a hand gripping a hammer in the foreground and a domestic scene within an apartment in the background elicits gasps from audiences anticipating and fearing what will happen next before it is even shown. That director Hong Won-Chan can capture such a moment in his first feature film merits kudos, and, even if that represents the dramatic zenith of this uneven effort, his talent is unmistakable.

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Some Kind of HateDrive-in credo is never, “Don’t get mad, get even.” Drive-in credo is always, “Get mad, then get even.”

Revenge is a dish best served with boiling hot blood in your basic exploitation movie, and Some Kind of Hate gets the recipe exactly right. The special ingredient here is the outsourcing of the violence to a malevolent spirit as high school bullies get their comeuppance from the evil incarnation of a victim who died at the hands of her tormentors.

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HFilm audiences in Berlin have enjoyed two opportunities to see the film H. this year, first at the Berlinale in February and then, more recently, at the Fantasy FilmFest in August. It is a movie that does well with a second viewing as the allusions to the Helen of Troy mythology from the Iliad and The Odyssey can be distracting rather than illuminating the first time around. As the events slowly unfold on screen, filmgoers can feel as if they have wandered into a graduate school literature class without reading the assignment or even having access to the CliffsNotes version. Letting go of these concerns during a subsequent viewing allows audiences to escape a sense of frustration and enjoy the pleasures of understated storytelling within a technically sound framework. Of course, you still need to devote more mental energy than in most films, but here, one feels as if it is worth the effort even if there are elements that must be pushed to the side.

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Hellions
If Hellions is the third feature on the drive-in line-up this weekend, take the speaker off the window after the second flick, and call it a night. Even with a crisp 80-minute runtime, this would-be scare fare about the Halloween night from Hell is not worth the time or heartburn from snack bar French fries.

The most unsettling aspect of Hellions is its treatment of teen pregnancy. At its worst moments (worst as in truly bad rather than frightening), this otherwise conventional horror story comes off as right-wing, pro-abstinence, anti-abortion political propaganda. If you’re a seventeen-year old girl who screws around with her boyfriend even once, be prepared to get knocked up and then visited by evil children intent on taking possession of the unborn, all in short order and, quite naturally, all on Halloween night. (more…)

Kill-Your-Friends-Nicholas-HoultKill Your Friends is not nearly as deliciously nasty a film as it should be and not half as clever as it thinks it is. Scripted by John Niven from his own novel, the movie takes a satiric look at the British music industry in the late 1990’s, the supposed heyday of the late, unlamented Britpop movement. Yes, the acting is bravura, the direction appropriately brisk, the dialogue and cinematography respectively knife-edge sharp, but the end result is merely diverting rather than engrossing.

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