|FantasticFest 2017 (09.21.17 - 09.28.17, 35 movies)|
|09.21.17||Dan Dream||Jesper Rofelt||Oh hey, I went to Fantastic Fest this year!|
I didn't write any notes on the day though so this is all in hindsight, and I'll probably speed through them since I have 35 to get through. So these thoughts come with anywhere from a day to a week of reflection.
My first film of the fest was this one from the Klown guys. It's the based-on-a-true-story of how a group of Danish men attempted to make first electric car.
This was pretty funny. There were some fun moments and I like the two Klown guys a lot. I don't think it was as funny as their previous efforts, but there was still plenty to like.
|09.21.17||Thelma||Joachim Trier||This one's about a girl who is discovering her superpower ability to make things happen. It's also a lesbian love story (sort of). It looks great, has a good ending, but is also a bit too slow. I wish it went faster and farther with the premise.|
|09.21.17||Vampire Clay||Soichi Umezawa||This is about some possessed clay that eats people once it's dug up out of the ground and used in sculpture class. It's kind of like Bucket of Blood mixed with Little Shop of Horrors. Aside from a small handful of cool shots and a decent ending, I didn't like this one much.|
|09.22.17||Hagazussa||Lukas Feigelfeld||A film student's graduation film, this is about a maybe-witch in rural olde germany and how she is shunned by other townsfolk. It has some amazing photography and a good cello-driven score that's very drone-y and hypnotic, but the story is VERY close to The Witch and basically does the same thing as that movie, only slower and with less dramatic effect. However, I did like the Ben Wheatley-esque psychedelic scene late in the movie.|
Also, the Alamo served an apple with the film since there's a scene where a character eats an apple. I generally like when they pair up a film with a food item for dramatic impact, but this movie had MUCH better opportunities than the apple. Like mushrooms or baby stew... just sayin.
Next I watched six episodes of a Canadian TV show called Letterkenny. It's much more precious about its language than Trailer Park Boys but still centers around a small hick town and the weirdos that live in it. I liked it a lot but found the repetitious meme-like structure of the scripts a bit much at times. I suspect watching one a week would help that a bit, since I think we saw the first, second, and last episodes of the first two seasons all in one sitting. I'll have to track down the rest of the show and give it a watch sometime.
|09.22.17||King Cohen||Steve Mitchell||Next up was this doc about filmmaker Larry Cohen. It's a well put-together doc that talks about all of Cohen's accomplishments and gives a good sense of his excitable personality. He seems like a true maverick idea factory similar to Sam Fully or maybe a less-exploitative H. G. Lewis. I liked this, but was happy to see Cohen in person because his intro and Q&A were really entertaining and candid.|
|09.22.17||Killing of a Sacred Deer||Yorgos Lanthimos||Then I saw the new Jorgos Yanthimos movie. I think I liked The Lobster a little more than this one (and I didn't really LOVE the Lobster), but this was pretty good as well. Everyone talks in the near-monotone way as The Lobster, but I think that style worked better in that film because the whole world was a bit off kilter. Here, these people are supposed to be actual humans living on Earth so the dialogue bothered me a bit.|
They had the kid from Dunkirk here for a Q&A and he mentioned that the style of delivery really came from the way that the lines were written in the script. It wasn't explicit direction from Yorgos, he said he just saw that Colin Farrell was doing it that way and went along, but it's also hard to say the dialogue any other way.
Once the real crux of the film presents itself, I liked it more. It builds to a climactic scene at the end which was the highlight for me.
|09.22.17||Brimstone & Glory||Viktor Jakovleski||For the midnight slot, I saw this documentary about this town in Mexico that celebrates the patron saint of firework making with a 2-day orgy of fireworks. The theater's AC was broken so it was pretty warm in there but I still really liked this. It's shot and cut very similar to one of the old IMAX educational docs that you might see of the space station or rainforest butterflies or something, following around almost-random people as they prepare these ornate and gigantic firework structures for the festival then introduces some amazing slow motion photography of the fireworks going off. Really amazing photography all around. At one point they put a gopro on this one guy's head as he climbs this rickety tower to tie a string of fireworks to one of the wheels. It's insane.|
And then the festival is even more insane. On one night, it's these huge towers that light up, sending fireworks everywhere in a glorious fountain of light. But the second night is even crazier with all these giant bull statues loaded up with explosives that teams of people push down the street, burning themselves while all the fireworks burn off. And it's right in the middle of the street with huge crowds all around it. So medics are on hand to handle all the burns that take place. Insane and beautiful. Really good.
|09.23.17||78/52||Alexandre O Philippe||Day three starts with this documentary on the shower scene from Psycho. yep, a whole movie just on one scene. |
It's actually a lot better than it should be. I thought it would run pretty thin and have to stretch for time to fill out the 90 minutes, but it feels jam packed and well paced throughout. It tells a comprehensive story of the origin, planning, execution, and impact of the scene, using all the source material from various sources needed. They interview Janet Leigh's body double, use archival interview footage of Leigh and Hitch and everyone else, talk to the editor of the Gus Van Sant remake, show all the satires, etc... if you think it has anything to do with this scene, it's probably in the movie.
It also deep dives on a few tiny details. The one that sticks with me in particular is getting an art historian to talk about the painting that Norman Bates uses to hide his peephole. As it turns out, the painting itself is about voyeurism and is quite racy and the subject has been painted many times over, each painting bringing their own perspective and take on the subject and the version that Hitch used had particular meaning in itself.
The film also uses a great technique for most of its interview subjects. The director sits them down and lets them watch the movie (or at least the scene itself), getting reaction video-style feedback from everyone. Sometimes this feedback is funny, but more often it provides fantastic commentary because it's people like Guillermo del Toro or Walter Murch talking about it.
So yeah, this was fantastic. In the Q&A afterward, the director mentioned wanting to do a sequel which I thought was pretty funny.
|09.23.17||Bat Pussy||Unknown||I followed up the Psycho doc with this satire porn that AGFA did a 2K scan of from Something Weird's 16mm print. I guess they have the world's only print of this film which is a total oddity. There are no credits, no title, nothing. It's a total regional amateur porn, made worth watching by a couple factors:|
-the two main performers spend the whole movie bickering at each other. I suspect the dude is too drunk to get hard and they both seem like bad improv actors trying to make a scene up out of the blue. They periodically get off-screen direction that they don't bother to edit out so you see them look off camera while the sound mutes for a second.
-it cuts to this girl named Bat Pussy who's on a mission to... keep people from making fuck films in Gotham City i guess? She gets around with one of those inflatable rubber balls with handles that you sit and bounce on.
It's extremely un-sexy... the guy's all over the place and never really gets hard. i suspect that this would be harder-core if he could, but as it is there's no actual penetration.
It was a bit of an experience to watch with a crowd. Maybe it would've been more awkward if people actually got turned on, but it was still a little awkward.
|09.23.17||Ron Goossens, Low Budget Stuntman||Steffen Haars, Flip Van der Kuil||This is the new one from the New Kids guys about an alcoholic who's willing to hurt himself in order to get back with his cuckolding girl. It was ok but not as good as the first New Kids movie.|
|09.23.17||The Square||Ruben Ostlund||The new one from the guy who did Force Majeur. It's about a museum director and attempts to comment on art, art criticism, social awareness, and class struggle. It takes on a lot and ultimately I think suffers from the strain. Although there are a good handful of great scenes, the ending doesn't really come together and there's a muddling of what the film is trying to say.|
I thought Elizabeth Moss's scenes were good, I loved that Dominic West's character wears pajamas with blazers, and all the contemporary art stuff was funny and great.
One scene involves a performance artist pretending he's an ape at a formal dinner party full of artists and benefactors. The guy (who I later learned was a mo-cap actor on the Planet of the Apes films) takes things too far and suddenly the whole room is full of tense silence. Right after the film ended, they brought out a special guest but it was that actor with his arm extenders acting like an ape. I've never seen a theater go so quiet so quick. He didn't really do much - menacingly paced a few rows, slapped a cup out of someone's hand, then flipped over a server's prep tray on the way out of the theater, but the feeling of tension was palpable. I was sitting up toward the back of the theater and saw people around me quietly moving their water cups off the bar tables. Afterward there was a bunch of bullshit because some pregnant lady felt unsafe or whatever, but I felt like it was a perfect meta layer laid over the film. Here we were, a bunch of movie-goers clapping at the message packaged in a nice safe movie up on the scene when, just like the benefactors inside the film, we were confronted with something out of our control. It was great.
|09.23.17||Jailbreak||Jimmy Henderson||I stayed for the midnight to see this Cambodian prison action movie which I wound up dozing through parts of. It was ok. I liked how some of the choreography heavily involved the camera operator, bringing a real up close and personal visceral take on the fighting. The story was forgettable though.|
|09.24.17||Love and Saucers||Brad Abrahams||Day Four started with this doc about a guy who claims to have lost his virginity to a female alien. He tells his story of all the different kinds of aliens that he's seen throughout his life and the different encounters he's had with this female alien harvesting his sperm and hatching hybrid babies. For as salacious as it sounds, the film presents this guy with an admirable lack of judgement, leaving it for the viewer to decide how we feel about this guy. It was good.|
Also, before the film, a "new" Mark Borchardt short documentary played about some alien weekend up in Wisconsin where rednecks get lit and look for strange lights in the sky. It was great, and looked to be shot on VHS. I did not believe that it was made in 2017.
|09.24.17||The Nude Vampire||Jean Rollin||Kier-la Janisse came back to introduce this screening of an early Jean Rollin film and to sell her latest Spectacular Optical book which is a collection of essays on Rollin written by different female film critics. I can't remember how many/which Rollin films I've seen at Weird Wednesday but I hadn't seen this one.|
I really liked it. It's true what people say how Rollin did these movies that were halfway between art film and exploitation sex film. In this, there's a bunch of hot European women dancing and walking around with their titties out, but there was also a lot of great surreal imagery and story. I was reminded of Lynch's latest Twin Peaks work a few times throughout.
|09.24.17||Bodied||Joseph Kahn||This is about a white Berkeley student diving into the world of battle rapping. It was really good. I think that since it dealt with what's politically correct, what's racist, and the relationship between offensive language and censorship that the movie was perhaps received with more energy and applause than it would in other years. But it was still good, funny when it needed to be and uncomfortable when it should've been. The guy next to me was straight up talking to himself during the climax, saying stuff like "no, man, don't do it" or "oh fuck that's harsh" to himself and the screen.|
During the Q&A, Evrim asked a real-life battle rapper who appeared in the film to perform a little bit and the guy said a few bars insulting Evrim's accent and mustache. I think he was holding back, but really admired Evrim's attitude about the whole thing. I think this is the year I really enjoyed and appreciated Evrim's presence and influence over the fest.
|09.24.17||Gilbert||Neil Berkeley||Next up was this doc about Gilbert Gottfried's life. Gilbert was in attendance, warming us up with 3 jokes before the film and providing a funny and candid Q&A wit his wife and the film's director afterward.|
This movie's really good. It gives a glimpse behind the performances and his voice into his day to day life as a husband and father and cheapskate who takes the bus to his gigs.
|09.24.17||Mom and Dad||Brian Taylor||This midnight movie was from the dude who did Crank. This stars Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair and it's about a mysterious signal or virus or whatever that makes parents want to kill their parents. Blair and Cage are great but the style was all over the place and I felt like it missed a few huge opportunities. There are some great Cage moments though.|
|09.25.17||Tigers Are Not Afraid||Issa Lopez||The second half of the fest kicks off with this Mexican film about a group of orphans trying to survive amidst the cartel violence. It employs some Guillermo del Toro-esque magical realism mixed with more overt realistic horror as these kids try to survive. Kind of like Empire of the Sun meets Devil's Backbone.|
|09.25.17||My Friend Dahmer||Marc Meyers||next up was this story of Jeffrey Dahmer in highschool. I guess it was based off a graphic novel from a guy who hung out with Dahmer back then. This was pretty good, if a bit minor in terms of importance. It doesn't really go anywhere surprising, but I did enjoy that they shot in the real town, the real house even that Dahmer lived in back then. There's a wooden shack in the woods that the director said they rebuilt in the exact spot of the original. So I feel like I got a pretty authentic glimpse of Dahmer's teenage years.|
|09.25.17||Under the Tree||Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurosson||This is an Icelandic movie about neighbors who engage in an escalating passive aggressive war because one neighbor's tree casts a shadow on the others' porch. It's pretty good but ultimately ends up where you'd think it would.|
|09.25.17||The Death of Stalin||Armando Iannucci||The fest's only non-AGFA secret screening. I didn't really know this movie even existed but could tell after about 15 minutes that this was a Iannucci joint. It's roughly the story of how Kruschev succeeded Stalin, but it's played in Iannucci political comedy style a la Veep or The Thick of It. All of the actors use their native accents which is a great choice. Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, Paddy Considine, Michael Palin, etc. It's very funny in a mostly dark dark way. Loved it.|
Incidentally, the AGFA secret screening turned out to be a lost Ed Wood film, apparently his final one which was a nudie cutie starring himself in full drag. Unfortunately, it was programmed against Kier-la's Nude Vampire screening and the second showing was cancelled due to public outrage at being tricked into seeing boobs.
ANYWAY, I finished the night with the Fantastic Fued. This year, since Scott Weinberg stayed home in protest, Max took over hosting duties. He did a pretty good job; I felt like it was the most on-track that the feud's ever been. It was a bit too long though and I still contend that the survey questions are too hard to answer.
|09.26.17||3 Foot Ball & Souls||Yoshio Kato||Day Six starts with this Japanese story of a group of people meeting to commit group suicide but caught in a Groundhog Day effect until they decide not to. It was ok. To be honest, by this part in the fest I'm down to second or third choices for each slot. While I wound up taking a lot of chances to see things I might not have seen otherwise, I do wish the schedule was a little more thoughtful to not bunch so many things in the same slots over and over. I feel like there were fewer adaptable "buzz screenings" this year, and I'm sure having several films drop out of the schedule at the last moment didn't help things.|
Anyway, this was ok.
|09.26.17||Anyab||Mohammed Shebl||AKA Fangs.|
This is an Egyptian film that's basically a beat-for-beat remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show, except it trades the sexual dynamics of the original for vampires and social commentary on circa 1980-Egyptian society. I liked this.
-There's a great disco/funk tune that I guess is analogous to the timewarp in the original film? I dunno, it's this instrumental disco jam where these partygoers in masks are doing a dance and the main vampire (named Dracula) rises from his grave. Oh man I love that bass guitar part.
-What seems like the whole second act is the professor character going on a tangent to demonstrate how there are vampires in real life, giving example after example of real life situations where the Brad and Janet characters are price gouged or cheated in some way. Each scenario involves some unseen person that perpetrates the injustice such as a mechanic or real estate agent or doctor or merchant who revealed to be Dracula (with terrible fake vampire teeth, like the kind that come with kids' halloween costumes) and this crazy music cue (often completely stolen, like the Jaws theme, music from A Clockwork Orange, the James Bond theme, the Pink Panther theme, Ennio Morricone) then followed by the professor character laughing into camera. What makes this crazy is that it happens like 8 times in a row before the professor says "ok that's enough, back to the story")
So yeah, I really loved parts of this.
|09.26.17||The Merciless||Sung-hyun Byun||Next up was this Korean crime movie along the same lines as the Infernal Affairs series. I love me some Korean action movies and there were two playing the fest. I could only fit this one in (I heard the other was pretty slow) but i'm glad I did. It kept me guessing in terms of whether a certain character was a double, triple, or quadruple agent and the action was slick, the performances solid and story engaging. I liked it.|
|09.26.17||Brawl in Cell Block 99||Craig Zahler||Prison, Baby, Prison! Vince Vaughn stars as a tough guy sent to jail then forced to fight his way into super max medieval dungeon prison in order to save his kidnapped pregnant wife. So... I liked Bone Tomahawk. But this was not good.|
For one, it takes forever for him to get to prison, so you're just waiting like a long time for that to happen. Then this cell block 99 thing, is not even in the realm of Earth. Don Johnson's prison warden is like straight out of a Human Centipede or Women in Prison movie.
So really the only thing this movie has going for it is the gore. The violence is really brutal and explicit. They're quick cuts because i think it all looks kind of plastic and fake but the surprise of it works (just like it did in Bone Tomahawk, ahem).
Vince Vaughn is clearly trying to be a tough guy here - Shaved head, head tattoo, worked his belly off, etc. - but he comes off as something like Superman. He breaks a dude's back by bear hugging him? So i don't know... The fighting was really the only good stuff, buried pretty deep in two and a half hours of Vince Vaughn's blank face and bad southern accent. Miss.
|09.26.17||Anna and the Apocalypse||John McPhail||I succumbed to public opinion and chose this for the midnight. It's a British zombie musical set during Christmas. Really, it's like High School Musical with zombies. The songs don't have anything to do with christmas or zombies, the antagonist is not developed at all, the post-modern zombie humor was done way better in Shaun of the Dead... but it looked good and wasn't terrible and the director seemed like a really nice guy. All I wanted was a song with a zombie chorus though... If you gave me that, I'd like this movie ten times better.|
|09.27.17||Juvenile||Bradley Buecker||Day Seven starts with my least favorite film of the festival. This is about some idiot teenagers who carjack for fun until one guy has enough and runs away, but then another one of the crew gets shot and so the runaway kid has to go back and really it's the other kid who's a real psycho bully or whatever. And there's also a cute girl. Whatever. The writing was very poor and it goes downhill from there. It's the only film I contemplated walking out of. My note was going to be one word long ("sucked") but I want to remind myself not to see this ever again.|
|09.27.17||Blue My Mind||Lisa Bruhlmann||SPOILERS|
This is kind of like that movie Thirteen except one of the girls turns into a fish.
Well, a mermaid really, but she does it in more of a vampire way like having urges to drink saltwater and eat goldfish.
It has a few great moments and, considering this was another student graduation film, is really impressive for a first effort.
|09.27.17||Applecart||Brad Baruh||I'd heard meh things about this but kind of wanted to see it anyway since AJ Bowen and Barbara Crampton were in it. It's a slasher that tries to be clever by intercutting a true crime tv show about the murders with the more typical slasher footage. It doesn't really work. You know all the deaths beforehand because the tv show tells you, so it's really all put on the shoulders of this reveal of WHY the murders happen, which i didn't find that interesting. Pretty bored with it, honestly.|
|09.27.17||Good Manners||Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas||SPOILERS|
This starts off as maybe a lesbian romance movie but then one girl dies giving birth to a werewolf baby and the other girl tries to raise it. It kind of has a Place Beyond the Pines structure where the extended last act takes place several years after the first. The werewolf effects kind of come out of left field and are pretty well done, but they don't quite develop it enough to fully make things resonate. I would've shortened the last half into a second act and put in a third act where the boy werewolf grows up after his mom sacrificed herself to the unruly mob and showed him as an adult now completely in control of his powers. As it is, it feels like a story and an extended coda that doesn't really go anywhere.
|09.27.17||Super Dark Times||Kevin Phillips||Described as Stand By Me meets River's Edge, this is about highschool kids in 90s new england who accidentally kill an annoying kid and fall apart trying to hide it. It would be ok but the last act really falls apart.|
|09.28.17||Haunters||Jon Schnitzer||My last day at the fest starts with this documentary about haunted houses, particularly with McKamey Manor and the "extreme" haunts that basically torture you. I liked this doc but found that it covered a lot of stuff (maybe too much stuff) to remain focused. Compared to a previous fest entry called The American Scream, this seemed like less of a story being told and more of a shallow skip along several much larger topics. Justin called it right when he said it would make a better miniseries because the film basically focuses on two houses and all the other ones that are mentioned or appear very quickly kind of get left behind. I'd love to see an hour on McKamey Manor and Blackout and all the more extreme stuff then a separate hour on the high budget theme park events like Knott's Scary farm and Universal's Horror Nights, maybe an hour on the history and evangelical origins of the haunts themselves through Campus Life and Jaycees, then maybe a final hour on the homebrew stuff like The American Scream and Nightmare on Loganberry. Having everything stuffed into 90 minutes was a bit much.|
|09.28.17||Bad Genius||Nattawut Poonpiriya||Next up was this story of Thai highschool students cheating on standardized exams. It was well made and easy to watch since it basically turned into a heist movie halfway through, but the ending seemed very mandated like American movies from the 50s where bad characters are not allowed to come out victorious. Also, presenter James Marsh's ability to pronounce the lead actress's name was really impressive (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, go on and give that a try).|
|09.28.17||The Endless||Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead||SPOILERS |
My Second to last movie of the fest was this low-budget kinda-thriller about two brothers who return to the cult they escaped ten years ago to discover weird things going on. Basically, some unseen antagonist has put these time-looping bubbles all over this stretch of land that the cult is trapped in so they are forced to live out the same loop forever, never aging. It gets more confusing than that, with different bubbles having different loop lengths and a weird time-variable law that allows people to leave the bubbles or get stuck within them. Honestly, this stuff slows down the last half more than it should. It almost becomes like a video game where the characters have to follow a map to retrieve a gun for a guy in order for him to supply another map on how to find their car so they can escape before the time loop ends and they get stuck forever.
I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. I liked how the two dudes basically made the movie on their own. They wrote it, directed it, starred in it, and did their own effects.
|09.28.17||Downsizing||Alexander Payne||The closing night film this year was the new Alexander Payne where people can be shrunk in order to extend the Earth's resources and save us from catastrophic climate change.|
The novelty of the conceit is cool. All the stuff they do that deals with scale was awesome and funny. There's also a surprisingly deep cast, with familiar faces popping up all throughout the film. Unfortunately, it pretty quickly leaves the scaling behind and gets pretty message-y... except then I feel like it delivers a pretty muddled ending. Overall it never really came together for me. It felt much more like About Schmidt than Sideways.
OK, the closing night party was in an AFS sound stage, which I think would've worked ok if it was a bit cooler and hadn't rained. Instead, the roof leaked from a dozen places making the inside a muggy sweatbox with wet floors. There was an "arcade" or like 3 games, a food truck with bread-heavy tortas, a single carnival ride, and a stage for the band Itchy-o to use when they felt like coming out. It was a strain to stand around sweating waiting for the band to start, but I toughed it out to see the crazy mayhem that really impressed me two years ago. I did feel a tiny bit of diminishing returns this time since I'd kind of seen it before, but it was still cool and loud and crazy. I left just before the end of their set though.
So that's the fest. Overall I felt it was a good-not-great year filled with good-not-great movies. The highlight was hanging out with Daniel and Chris and Grant and Justin and seeing old friends like Kayla, Eric and Aaron, and Austin again.
Now, I'll spend a few long paragraphs talking about all the shit that happened this week that sucked. When the program went up online and we could read the film synopses, Devin Faraci's name appeared on a couple of the write-ups. George started a facebook discussion about this which lead to Tim League making an announcement that he had hired Devin back on to write copy for drafthouse.com (not Birth Movies Death). This news was picked up by The Hollywood Reporter which also used quotes from an unnamed ex-Alamo employee (we'll call this person "TS") saying that League's announcement was somewhat misleading because Devin had been on the payroll for months. Really it was more like instead of getting fired from Birth, Movies, Death, he was just transitioned to writing anonymous copy for drafthouse. This sparked more controversy which led League to first defend his actions by saying he believed in second chances but then quickly added that Faraci was now no longer employed at all. This (really it was the fact that Devin was re-hired without his knowledge) led Todd Brown to step down as a programmer for Fantastic Fest. This led Scott weinberg to say he won't be here. This also led to Fox pulling the opening night film (Three Billboards in... somewhere) and Grady Hendrix to cancel his planned 2 presentations. In some of the comments on George's facebook discussion, several people hinted that other people in the community had done far worse and it was time they were exposed as well. Coincidentally, the Alamo removed aint it cool news from the list of festival sponsors and it was rumored that they had asked Harry Knowles not to appear at the fest this year. Ex Alamo employee (who left in a contentious way I might add) Tim Doyle pounced on this and pushed it. A couple days into the fest, Jasmine Baker came forward and accused Harry Knowles of groping and other forms of sexual harassment in previous years. This led to Eric Vespe and the dude who went by Capone to leave aint it cool. A day or so later, another ex alamo employee posted on facebook a long history of having to put up with creeps in the audience, citing one person in particular as "creepy but harmless" and how Tim League had him sign some legal waiver saying he'd be banned from the theater if he did it again along with several other instances of her reporting issues and Alamo management doing nothing. Oh, also another person had saved a screenshot of an email they sent where they disclosed that Devin made some untoward advances and Tim League wrote back asking not to make it public knowledge. So also, several other women come forward and call Harry Knowles a predator. Jasmine also outs David Strong as the "creepy but harmless" guy and calls Eric Vespe a complicit creep for not quitting sooner. I heard David Strong, who had been at the fest while all this was happening, was asked to leave and escorted off the premises. Meanwhile, Todd Brown and Tim Doyle are harping on the fest playing movies like Bat Pussy and the Ed Wood film as bad form and bad optics. And Jasmine announces that she will start a non-profit to affect cultural change. Finally, the Alamo pulls a previously-scheduled screening of Blade 2 because one of Harry's old reviews (where he talks about Blade 2 by calling Guillermo del Toro good at eating pussy) is making the rounds and doesn't want to court any more scandal.
So I think that's everything news-wise that happened. As a festival-goer, the net effect was that I didn't get to see several things that I wanted to see and ended up feeling a little exploited by all these people who were not at the fest twisting events out of context to suit their purposes. Particularly with the AGFA stuff... Todd Brown has been a programmer at this festival for 10 years, he's programmed stuff waaay more offensive in previous years. Maybe there's some sort of temporary sensitivity that should come into effect because there's currently a spotlight on the Alamo but that's bullshit too. All the people who threatened to boycott the theater at the first sign of bad press are probably the same people who've completely forgotten about their United boycott for forcibly removing that guy off their plane. Cancelling the AGFA and Blade 2 screenings scream of weakness to me. I guess it's a lose/lose for them but in the long run I thought fantastic fest was a festival with balls and those have just been snipped because people are afraid of getting more bad press. There's also a mob mentality on facebook that I can't stand. No one talked about Revenge which was a rape/revenge movie playing the fest this year that contained a lot more violence toward women than either Bat pussy or the Ed Wood film had. Tim League definitely made a few mistakes by tolerating intolerable behavior from friends over the years which he is paying for now, but I felt a "blood in the water" atmosphere all week where it seemed like every day would bring some new tragedy in the austin film community. I think some of it must be transference because of our current president and how terrible a lot of global things out of our control seem these days, but it put a weird cloud over the week that I selfishly saw no reason why it couldn't wait a few weeks to address. I'm a white male so all of this doesn't amount to jack shit but whatever.
To conclude: my top 5:
-The Death of Stalin
-Brimstone & Glory
and my bottom 4:
-Brawl in Cell Block 99