FANTASIA 2018: The Final Week's Recap!

In this final week of the Fantasia film festival, I only had one free day. This meant that I had to see as many films as possible. Even though the festival is wrapping up, I hope to catch some of the other Fantasia films when they are released in the months ahead!



I was very lucky to catch a screening of this film on the day that I took off specifically for this screening. Mandy, from director Panos Cosmatos, is an action film that stars notable thespian actor Nicolas Cage, who attains a new level on the "rage Cage” meter. Red (Nicolas Cage) lives a quiet life in the isolated woods with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). Mandy catches the eye of a cult, who kidnaps Mandy. Not to get much into spoilers, but the film then switches gears as a revenge story. Cage’s character, who starts out as subdued and quiet, reveals all the anger that comes with the stages of rage and revenge. He methodically goes through the stages of grief right to anger in an instant. Cage is truly a virtuoso method actor of this genre of movie. Cosmatos gives the film a great vision, with the graininess of the film, the red and dark blue hues, and trippy sequences. This is probably my favourite film of the festival. 


People's Republic of Desire

This was the final film from the documentary section of the festival that I had the chance to watch. Director Hao Wu gives you unprecedented access to the world of live-streaming showrooms (YY) in China and the personalities behind the showrooms. Two individuals that are closely followed are Shen Man, an aspiring singer, and Big Li, a comedian with a big personality. We see the rise and fall of these two big personalities and how social media controls every minute of their lives, but it comes with a big payout if you are the number one personality. There are also the negative aspects that come in the form of the online trolls and when you base your career on YY—a career that can become short lived if you’re not the top personality. On the other side of the spectrum, we see the talent managers for the personalities, the big spenders, and the underclass who see the personalities as their role models. Hao Wu goes behind the camera and showcases the personalities as a cinéma vérité, but also it is a cautionary tale about the power of social media controlling lives of people minute to minute.


Chained For Life

This next film came from a strong recommendation from my At The Movies show co-host Danny Aubry. From the Camera Lucida section of the festival comes Chained For Lifedirected by Aaron Schimberg. While filming a B-horror film, a beautiful Hollywood actress, Mabel (Jess Weixler), strikes up a relationship with a disabled actor with a facial deformity, Rosenthal (Adam Pearson). Mabel’s character in the horror film becomes blind, which some people are already calling bad taste. A group of disabled actors and actresses are brought in, and then there is the question of if the film is being exploitive or not. This is best seen at the end of the days of filming, as the disabled actors stay on set—an abandoned hospital—while the rest of the cast gets to stay at the hotel. Aaron Schimberg has some strong scenes that focus on the group of disabled actors on their downtime between filming, and shows that they live ordinary lives despite their disability. 



The final film that I got to see at the festival was Arizona, a dark comedy from Jonathan Watson. The film stars Danny McBride as Sonny, a recent divorcé living in Arizona. He’s a pretty cool guy, unless you meet his bad temperament, which results in people having “accidents.” Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt), a real-estate agent, has had the misfortune of stumbling on Sonny’s “accidents” and is now in his crosshairs. Watson also takes the issue of the housing market collapse in this very dark comedy. McBride is a chameleon that switches from the cool guy charm to bad tempered on a dime with a great comedic. This is probably the film that got the most chuckles out of me this Fantasia. 


With this year’s festival coming to a close, a big thank you to the team over at CJLO 1690AM and their magazine department for sending me to this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Also, thank you to the great team behind the festival for delivering a stellar lineup of genre films, and I hope to catch up with the rest of the films in the months to come of their release! Tune in to At The Movies (With Iconic Sounds) on August 14th at 8AM to hear a recap of the festival experience.