Fantasia Fest Blog 2: The Zero Theorem

THE ZERO THEOREM (2013)

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Pat Rushin
Stars: Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis

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Synopsis:

Qohen is waiting for a phone call which will explain the meaning of his existence. In the meantime, he works for Mancom, crunching numbers, avoiding interactions. This worries Management, who sends in a couple of life-defining characters to distract him a little and perhaps force him to venture outside and live.

Review:

Ahh, Gilliam, back to Brazil. The comparisons are there and not really difficult to spot: two men (Qohen and Sam), trying to disconnect from the daily grind, constantly bothered by colourful people. But it wouldn’t do The Zero Theorem any justice to say that the two movies are alike. Sure, they’re both goofy and strangely anachronic but this is where comparisons end. Sam was trying to evade the oppressive, drastic (and indirectly amusing) government, while Qohen is only a victim of his own faith in the universe’s meaning and his place in it. Corporations rule but everyone is happy, saturated with pleasure. It’s Qohen who is the oppressive force of his own universe, refusing to partake, to enjoy living life. Instead, he focuses on being provided the answers to what he should be. That’s a very different path and it’s enjoyable to see him go through it.

What can I say about the actors that you don’t already know? Christoph Waltz is someone we should have known way before Inglourious Basterds. He’s phenomenal! And for someone born in 1956, he’s in damn good shape. Melanie Thierry and Lucas Hedges are also great at playing around Qohen and the support cast is amusing, in a clown sort of way. Tilda Swinton and Matt Damon both play very… peculiar characters.

The Zero Theorem was certainly an enjoyable experience but I need to stress out a point. Something was bothering me as I was watching and I think I’ve found the issue. I seem to be getting “Burtonitis” from Gilliam’s work as of late. Like Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam’s work is certainly quirky and has a very distinct feel to it but in some of the scenes, I felt the same kind of cringe I now get from all of Tim Burton’s work, post Sweeney Todd. That is to say, some of the stuff is starting to feel like a caricature of Gilliam’s style. It’s still damn good entertainment but it might just be that, like Burton (and Wes Anderson’s work since The Royal Tenenbaums), it is no longer for me.

Score:

♥♥♥ 3/4

Fantasia Fest Blog 1: Faults (2014)

FAULTS (2014)

Director: Riley Stearns
Writer: Riley Stearns
Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jon Gries, Lance Reddick

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Synopsis:

A washed-out specialist on cult and manipulators is paid by a couple to help deprogram their daughter, Claire, who has been taken over by a new cult, named Faults.

Review:

What a start! The best way to describe Faults would be to imagine an episode of the original The Twilight Zone, written and directed by Kurt Vonnegut in the styling of Breakfast of Champions, the movie adaptation of his book (directed by Alan Rudolph), with a couple moments straight from Rosemary’s Baby. It’s almost a one room set movie, which always makes me happy, as you well know: it permits the actors to carry their movie through acting rather than props. And oh boy, does it deliver.

Obviously, I can’t explain too much of what’s going on, as I would quickly spoil the fun. Needless to say, the situation in which Terry the cult specialist finds himself is not at all what he and the viewer expected and it quickly derails into a bizarre set of events that makes you doubt what you’re seeing. Which is entirely the point the movie succeeds in making; the guts of the story is very much about control dynamics and the illusion of control. And as Terry tries his “shtick” to make Claire doubt the certitude of her cult’s message, the viewer also starts doubting himself.

Moving on to the acting. Superb work by Jon Gries and even more so by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Yes, you’re already aware of my undying crush on the actress but it’s more than simple affection here. It’s refreshing to see her in a role where she has nothing but her talent to use, instead of being cast in schlock after schlock, after schlock after schlock. She shines here and putting her against Jon Gries’ Terry works wonders.

Also, kudos to whoever thought of doing the white, silent credits at the end. It was quite uncomfortable and a definite show of the movie’s control over my feelings. Brilliant.

Score:

♥♥♥♥

Fantasia Fest 2014

This year again, I’ll be going to Montreal’s Fantasia Festival. They’re 18 years strong and getting bigger every year! Now with completely renovated locations and their first 3D projectors, they’re able to show movies like the premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy!

Here’s a list of what I’m going to see. Of course, anything pertaining to thriller/horror flicks will be reviewed here!

-Riley Stearns’ Faults
-Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem
-Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead
-James Rolfe’s Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
-Lowell Dean’s Wolfcop (I CAN’T WAIT!)
-Jack Plotnick’s Space Station 76
-James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy
-Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno
-Small Gauge Trauma 2014 (a collective of dark/horror shorts)

Those are the confirmed viewings I’ll go to. A bunch of friends have VIP passes (which I’ll borrow), so I’m also looking to other titles, like these:

-Patrick Brice’s Creep
-Jim Mickle’s Cold in July
-The Mo Brother’s Killers

The Festival starts on July 18th, where I’ll be seeing Faults. Expect something from me not too long afterwards!

So Few Words

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Hey everyone,

Back from vacation! Went to New Vegas… er… Las Vegas, and had tons of fun. I should be resuming my reviewer duties shortly, especially since the Montreal Fantasia Festival starts in two weeks!

Until then, please take a peek at another side-blog of mine, So Few Words, where I’ll try to pick up the challenge that one of my followers took, 300 stories ago: write 300 pieces of flash fiction, in a year.

Cheers!

-Rev

Doc of the Dead (2014)

DOC OF THE DEAD (2014)

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
Writers: Chad Herschberger, Alexandre O. Philippe
Stars: George Romero, Bruce Campbell, Max Brooks, Simon Pegg and dozens more.
Trailer: [Link]

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Synopsis
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Holy crap. How was this documentary ever made? It has so many of the people I love in it! They call it the ultimate zombie documentary. They’re not far off!

Review:

Okay so the gang behind The People vs George Lucas, as well as Redlettermedia (my favorite internet people) made this and somehow got so many people in it, it’s worth watching even if only for the stars and their soundbites. From Bruce Campbell and Simon Pegg talking about their respective movies, to Max Brooks about his survival zombie guide, to Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead, to Stuart Gordon, Tom Savini, George Romero and so on; it’s a veritable mish-mash of everyone that’s made zombie movies my passion.

They go in details about the origin of zombie cinema, slowly coming to contemporary pieces and ending with a question: why the love for zombies? Romero, Savini, Brooks and company all try to answer what makes zombies so appealing and it’s definitely interesting to see how different their answers are and how repulsed by zombies the older crew are, versus the young filmmakers.

You even have scenes with Mr.Plinkett. It’s definitely worth a watch. I can’t however give it a perfect score due to the fact this documentary is still very USA-centric in its content. Sure, they mention Shaun of the Dead but where are the Italian zombie movies? Død snø? Die Nacht der lebenden LoserTitles as valid as any other. Hell, where’s Braindead?

Score:

♥♥♥♥