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2019 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL: OMNIBUS FIELD REPORT #2

Film Is a Man’s Best Friend

By now, I should be able to slow down to mere double features to match last year’s tally; but that would mean slowing down.

7/18: Knives and Skin

Still from Knives and SkinI’ve been mulling over what to say about this movie for close to twenty-four hours and I’ve still got nothing. My fear is, I suppose, that if I started going on about the various misteps, I might not stop, and that would send an inaccurate message about Jennifer Reeder’s earnest, feminist, melodramatic feature debut. Various crummy home lives are explored as we observe a small cross-section of No Name, USA, in this movie about people making decisions of varying degrees of emotional stupidity during the aftermath of a student’s disappearance and death.

But why do these women (and they are predominately women) insist on conducting their lives in such a way? From all the narrative facts revealed, they each have far more agency than they care to take advantage of. There’s a quasi-rape scene of a young woman set up to dismay the audience, but there’s also a quasi-rape scene of a young man that is just dropped by the wayside. I’ve noticed acutely since this Festival began that there’s far too large a market for emotional movies about emotional idiots. I wanted to care about these people, and I managed to do so briefly for some of them, but when they keep shooting themselves in the foot over and over, I can only invest so much sympathy. (And frankly it didn’t help that the filmmaker dissected, a-capella’d, and dirge-ified Modern English’s new wave classic “I Melt With You.”) If anyone wants to tell me in the comments what’s up with this movie, I would be very happy to talk with you.

7/19: It Comes

Still from It ComesAnd boy did it. And in so coming, my faith in J-Horror was restored. Obviously this is mainstream fare—I wasn’t jumping out of my seat or suffering nightmares afterwards—but it had an unsettling edge to it, characters who evolved, and a really gangbusters finale involving exorcists from all known religions, cracking timbers, and blood-soaked caterpillars. Director Tetsuya Nakashima made what will be looked upon fondly as one of my favorite Christmas movies (yep, things come to head on 12/25), as well as one of my favorite dream sequences, where we can see the rice-omelette visions of a cheerfully sleeping two-year-old girl. I’ll admit it was a bit long-winded, but that allowed for a rare, full dissection of all the characters’ motivations—and while I didn’t find them entirely Continue reading 2019 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL: OMNIBUS FIELD REPORT #2