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I am ensconced above three delightful restaurants just two blocks from the venue. This is almost criminal.
7/20: Mami Wata
A period of transition threatens the village of Iyi, a period that has been a long-time coming. C.J. “Fiery” Obasi’s film plays out with beautiful cinematography full of closeups of decorated black tribesfolk whose faith in Mami Wata, the goddess of water, begins to crumble just as a stranger washes ashore near their isolated village. Modernity has barely touched this world, wherein two sisters (adopted daughters of the village’s “Intermediary”, or chieftess/priestess) must restore their villager’s safety, their own sovereignty, and faith in their life-giving deity.
While watching Mami Wata, the thought occurred that black and white is wasted on white folk. The natural lighting on the tribal make-up adorning the high priestess and her daughters, the chiaroscuro (both generally, and particularly when light plays around and through the intricate hairstyles), and the lively incidental sheen from the beautiful dark tones of the actors make for a visual experience I had not before seen. The story has classically tragic overtones, and a strange twist to events during the climax before the state of affairs is put to rights, and any doubts of the villagers are quelled with a truly striking vision in tidal blues, greens, and browns.
is no stranger to monster movies; in one form or another, they’re just about his entire oeuvre. Blackout starts with a bit of classic-style violence—a “hard” R-rated update to the ’30s monster scene—and quickly segues into social commentary: pro-immigration, anti-environmental destruction, pro-MILF-y lawyers, &c. It’s an odd combination of breezy charm, small town melodrama, intermittent eccentricity, and, of course, supernatural horror.
It is also quite obviously a project enjoyed by everyone involved in it. Performances range from “meh-but-good-enough” (looking at you, Marshall Bell) to “I’m impressed that I’m believing this guy” (Alex Hurt, looking rather like Tom Cruise or Chuck Norris, depending upon his beardedness in the scene), to “we are touching sublimely odd” (Joseph Castillo-Midyett, who never found a middle-distance he didn’t prefer to look toward, or a cup of coffee he didn’t want to empty before ever taking a sip). As with so much of the output from Fessenden and the larger family of contemporary horror creatives, the technical floor of quality is more than high enough, with random reaches up toward that genre’s ceiling: some unlikely animation, Continue reading 2023 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL: “MEGA-MEMORANDA”, PART ONE