FANTASIA 2018: The First Week's Recap!

It feels great to be back covering the Fantasia Film Festival for the CJLO 1690 AM team. Normally, the first week of the festival requires a light viewing as I try to balance my schedule. I also try to make a master schedule, so that I can make the final push to see what I wanted to see in the final weeks of the festival. Everyone, including CJLO DJ’s, is in my ears telling me what I need to check out. I am very happy that I got time to make it to my final Thursday screening of Under The Silver Lake. Check out the first week’s recap below!

Playing Hard 

The first film that I checked out was the documentary Playing Hard from director Jean-Simon Chartier. The film gives you unprecedented access to Ubisoft’s Montreal Studios and the five-year process that went into making the game that would be known as For Honor. From Jason Vandenberghe pitching the original concept, to the development of game under the eyes of Stéphane Cardin, we quite literally see the blood, sweat and tears that went into making the game. We also see how the personal five-year project can bring people at a certain breaking point and affect their personal life. Small vindictive aspects of the real world in the video game industry are also part of the film. Chartier showcases the perseverance and dedication it takes to make a blockbuster video game, but also shows the human side behind the game-making process and the tumultuous toll it takes on their lives. 


Keeping with the thematic élément du jour, I checked out Relaxer from director Joel Potrykus. Everyone loves a good challenge. What about a good video game challenge? Abbie (Joshua Burge) keeps on failing the challenges set up by Mr. Personality Cam (David Dastmalchiathen). Let’s just say that Cam’s challenges are not for the faint of heart or the stomach. With Y2K approaching, Cam gives Abbie one final challenge: beat the unbeatable level 256 on Pac-Man without getting up from the couch until the challenge has been complete. What follows next are an array of friends who drop by to see Abbie, either to help or comically impede his challenge. Abbie also has some special abilities that go beyond the joystick in this slacker comedy. The audience cheered with every victory in game and out game that Abby accomplishes. Poltrykus uses a minimal mise en scène and lets the characters interact with one another in this cleverly crafted slacker comedy. You might want to play some Pac-Man or have a strong distaste for milk after this film. I came out of this film by putting a few quarters in Ms. Pac-Man as I waited to catch a showing of Sorry to Bother You

Mega Time Squad 

Upon my return the next day, I decided to check out the New Zealand comedy Mega Time Squad from director Tim van Dammen. A bunch of low-level criminal misfits get mixed up in more than they bargained for when they steal an ancient Chinese bracelet that gives the central protagonist, John (Anton Tennet), time travelling abilities. With these new abilities, John can go back in time and rectify any situation. Kind of useful, when you stole someone else’s money from your crime boss, and now you have two criminal organizations chasing you. With its wacky characters, who don’t make great criminals, and funny call backs to past joke references, Dammen tickled my funny bone. 

Under The Silver Lake

I won’t say much about this film, given the fact it’s being released later this Christmas. However, thank the movie gods I made it to the one showing I wanted to make it to this year for FantasiaUnder The Silver Lakefrom director David Robert Mitchell, screened at Cannes and earned mixed reactions. The film follows Sam (Andrew Garfield) as he investigates the disappearance of his neighbour and a billionaire mogul that might be correlated. All of this takes place in seedy LA with all its glitz, glamour and vanity. This is not an old tapping into the underside of Hollywood and showing it’s seedy nature; however, Mittchell is well aware of this, as Garfield tries to lose the Spider-Man persona that haunts him. With reminiscent elements of David Lynch (Mulholland Drive) and David Cronenberg (Maps To The Stars) and their dark exposés of Hollywood, Under The Silver Lake continues the thematic elements set to the score of Disasterpiece.