2019 Fantasia International Film Festival final wrap-up and recommendations:
Somehow I managed to catch sixty-four screenings for a total of sixty-three new movies. You may recall that I watched one film, Koko-di, Koko-da, twice, and that suggests it’s my top recommendation. It was the most talked-about movie among my crew of fellow reviewers, and it elicited strong reactions on both edges of the hate/love spectrum; I did not come across anyone saying something noncommittal about it. So I give it “First Prize.” Tailing close on its heels is Why Don’t You Just Die! This was met with universal approval among all those with whom I spoke, which is quite a coup considering how extremely violent it is. That it’s also extremely funny is just icing on the blood.
The third place designation is a bit a tougher, so I’ll go easy on myself with a tie between Dreamland—for being most atmospherically weird—and The Gangster, the Cop, and the Devil, as probably the best example of straight-up fun and straight-up badassery. But bear in mind, such parsing is a really tough assignment when looking back on over five dozen movies.
The bottom three were a lot easier to decide on, as I had already done so as I came across them. Sadoko set the baseline as an achievement in tedium. Flying in the face of critical and popular consensus, I designate Knives and Skin as the Most Pointlessly Melodramatic Film. I do not agree with the two defenses of the movie: strong feminist agenda (so what? There are plenty of feminist movies that have intelligent characters you can care about) and “capturing an emotional mood.” The emotional mood I found in this movie was one of idiocy. I have lived through the teenage years and knew plenty of people who had real problems. The maudlin sob-story of Knives and Skin fell flat.
Jessica Forever manages to combine the shortcomings of both of the above movies. If it’s an example of “alternative French cinema,” I understand the success of “mainstream French cinema.” Disenchanted, blandly handsome young Frenchmen who get the authorities’ dander up “just because” they go on some killing sprees? I don’t know why that seemed like a good premise.
I quite enjoyed my previous trips to Fantasia, and this year was no exception. And I’m inclined to feel like I’ve become part of the family there; by the end of the festival, all the staff knew who I was and I got to know many of them myself. I’m hopeful that in future I don’t try to match to my new record film tally, but strongly suspect I won’t be able to help myself. Thanks everyone for reading; cheers.
Congratulations to those of you who’ve figured out what I’ve been up to with each of the omnibus sub-headings.