Fantasia 2017: Cocolors (Japan, 2017)

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for Cinetalk.net

Blind faith in the reality of an outside world pushes Cocolors’ protagonists ahead in a mission to see what they’ve been told that they cannot. Toshihisa Yokoshima’s animated gem constructs a dystopia where children still act like kids despite their full-body protective gear, and the frailness their society’s inhabitants have inherited. Living underground after a natural disaster, Aki tries to bring hope to himself and everyone around him, but his words fall flat. His friend, Fuyu (re)invents the traditional Japanese art of woodblock printing. He is missing just one special ink color to complete his piece. Alas, it only exists “out there”.

Fatalism is pit against naive optimism in a toon shaded digital animation world (toon shading creates flat color areas – similar to woodblock printing techniques – instead of rendering objects with 3D volume). Set to a lovely score by Abe Ryudai and Hirose Kiyoshi, Cocolors premiered in Japan as a multimedia performance where Continue reading

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

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DARIA GAMLIEL for Cinetalk.net

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: Bad Genius (Thailand – 2017)

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for Cinetalk.net

Nattawut Poonpiriya’s Bad Genius is a fun ride. The Buzz around the film is so good, the Fantasia Film Fest team added a screening.

A Math exam cheating story shot as a thriller? Yes!

In Bad genius Lynn is a gifted Math student who comes from humble background. In exchange of money, she helps a fellow student, from a wealthier family, by finding a (suspenseful) way to share with her the results to a difficult test. What is a sole effort eventually becomes a more elaborate scam involving an exam-cheating syndicate. Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Oscar (Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre, Canada)

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DARIA GAMLIEL for Cinetalk.net

The short animated film, Oscar by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre begins without beating around the bush. There is no flowery intro or slow lead-in. Oscar Peterson’s voice appears in the opening sequence with assurance and purpose, announcing, “I love what I do.”

There is nothing revolutionary here in terms of ‘plot’. Instead it feels more like a glimpse of the musician for audiences who may already know a bit about him. In just 12 minutes, however, we learn about loneliness on the road and the melancholy of having great news to share about last night’s performance, with family not physically present to hear about it. It is with regret that Peterson speaks Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Fritz Lang ( Germany – 2016)

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for Cinetalk.net

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