Ingrid Goes West (US – 2017)



Meet Ingrid. Fresh out of a mental wellness facility but not quite ‘cured’ of her social awkwardness. How can we cure what the Internet and Smartphones have created? There is, at present, no quick remedy for social media fixation and stalking. First-time feature film director Matt Spicer’s dark comedy, Ingrid Goes West introduces its story through a pastiche of familiar fonts and cliché travel photography. It’s like being in an Instagram photo collage app. Only, reality clouds the arty pretentiousness very quickly.

Debating whether the perfect reply to your SNS buddies is Hahaha or Hehehe? Salivating over those three dots that indicate someone is responding to your message? So is Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza). She is like us and not like us. We want to like her but Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Spoor (Poland – 2017)



Director Agnieszka Holland learned her trade with Krzysztof Zanussi and Andrzej Wajda. The Polish director is a three times Oscar Nominee, for Angry Harvest, In Darkness (both in the Best foreign language film category)and Europa, Europa (Best screenplay category, 1990).

Spoor, Holland’s new film (co-directed by, Kasia Adamik, her daughter)is based upon the book by Olga Tokarczuk.

A strange series of killings occur in Poland’s beautiful Kłodzko Valley (Near Czech Republic border). Animal rights activist Janina (played by Agnieszka Mandat) regularly confronts the local corrupted power (which share link with poachers) and befriend the outcasts of the village. Soon, poachers and officials are dying, one after another, and she tries to convince authorities it is animal vengeance. Could it be that she is right? Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Rage (Lee Sang-il, 2016)



Without knowing in advance about the premise or plot, Rage throws at-first disjointed events and characters at the viewer. The connections slowly unfurl with a manhunt revealing three possible identities of a murderer. If however, the viewer goes into this 142-minute drama cum suspense thriller with the notion that it is a horror film, this isn’t the case. Perhaps by design, the mis-typing of Lee Sang-il’s film gives it the advantage of surprising its audience. It is Shunji Iwai-esque in its epic-length and treatment of subject matter. It follows multiple characters – misfits – whose confusion and grief propel their coming-of-age. Scenic Okinawan locations are juxtaposed against the neons of Tokyo, and the viewer is drawn into the relation between characters and environment.

Rarely seen in Japanese film, the gay community is surprisingly well showcased. Rage tackles several still-taboo subjects in this area, such as online hookups, what constitutes a ‘family’, and how to deal with chosen-family burial. The exchanges between characters in this story arc are Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Fritz Lang ( Germany – 2016)



With Fritz Lang, Gordian Maugg directed a risky fantasized story about the famous German director set at the beginning of the 1930’s. Lang had yet to direct his first talkie, Germany was on the verge of disasters to come with the rise of the Nazi party, a series of gruesome murders, by serial killers, was terrorized the German public.

Fritz Lang & wife/ screenwriter Thea von Harbou, for their first sound film, that would become the celebrated M (1931), draw inspirations from serial killer Peter Kürten, dubbed the “Vampire of Düsseldorf “, but also from the Fritz Haarmann and Carl Grobmann cases.

Fritz Lang is not your typical biopic. It approaches its subject as if Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Town in a lake (2015 – Philippines)



Jet Leyco’s Matangtubig (Town in a lake) is a slow paced, atmospheric and enigmatic piece on a tropical paradise suddenly turned upside down.

The peaceful balance of a remote village is challenged by a brutal murder, abduction case becoming the focus of national media coverage.

The gorgeous scenery is the backdrop for a metaphor on political turmoil and struggles against the country’s tradition and faith, more than it is about the crime’s resolution. It depicts corruption, alienation within a tight-knit micro society bound by what seems like an omertà. Collective conscience is at stake Continue reading